Basics & Fundamentals (4)

From Shiro Kuma's Weblog by kumafr

Seigan no Kamae by Chris Bernsdorf (Ger)

Kamae is attitude” was written a few years ago, this is an updated version of it.

Budo Taijutsu begins with the study of “kamae” or body posture. This first introduction to budô gives us a strong physical foundation, which allow us to grasp the true essence of natural body movement. Unfortunately with time passing, we seem to forget the value of training the basics in general and particularly the body postures. In each Bujinkan Ryûha there is a set of given kamae that is called kurai-dori. If we translate “kurai” and then “dori” the meaning is “about grabbing” and it looks that it is dealing only with the physical aspect of fight.  But a good dictionary tells you that “kuraidori” in one word means “positional notation”, like the digits after the comma. This induces precision and it translates by “precise notes for postures”. It is a lot different from kurai + dori !

Even though the Ten Chi Jin ryaku no maki has a basic set of 9 kamae, each particular ryû has differences which depend upon the time where the kamae were created, and the evolution of warfare they had to adapt to. How do you “Ukemi” (receive, dodge, absorb) a bullet?  So kamae is not only physical, the mind gives also value to the posture.  ”kamae” means posture or attitude, so apart from the “physical attitude” we now have to consider the “mental attitude”. This is why when teaching the basics we speak of “tai gamae” and “kokoro gamae“. The tai gamae is the body posture where the kokoro gamae is the mental attitude.

If we broaden this understanding it can be also understood as our “attitude in life”. Having good kamae in the dôjô is nice nut it is even better to have a good kamae in life. This is our human attitude that makes us different. Having a good technical ability is not enough and from my perspective too many do not have a good attitude in life as human beings. If you thoroughly study your kamae on the mats they will change your attitude in life. When sensei says that our goal “in the Bujinkan is to create better human beings” he means that the study of the tai gamae will change your kokoro gamae, not only in the dôjô but also in life. Even though there is no spiritual teaching in the Bujinkan, no link to any religion or mystical system, Hatsumi sensei has created and transmitted a powerful tool to help us become true human beings (bujin).

As always there is always more in the ura of things than the omote let you think there were.


Yoroi is Balance

From Shiro Kuma's Weblog by kumafr

Black belts should wear the yoroi to understand the value of balance. When you are dressed with the yoroi, the weight is spread all around the body and not only on the back as we experienced it with a backpack.

Naturally the extra weight transforms the body repartition and we move with about 50% of our weight on each leg. This is why the kukishin ryû and the takagi yôshin ryû kamae do not have the same appearance compared to the togakure or other low kamae systems.

Peter on the picture is showing here the kosei no kamae as if he was receiving some kind of attack from his opponent. As though “kosei” means “attack” he is absorbing the blow with his protected forearm (aite to kumu kokoro gamae) and uses his legs to cushion it. Next he will spring forward and take uke‘s balance to counter-attack. Once the blow has been received, there is no power left in the weapon, the momentum is gone.

As sensei said back in 2003, concerning the yoroi kumiuchi: “when there are two attacks (body or weapon) they are not of the same quality”. The first attack is fuelled by the footwork and his strong and fast, the second starts where the first one was stopped and uses a different distance.

Note that the back hand stays at the hip level as if Peter was holding a tachi.

Every waza in Japan originated from yoroi kumiuchi.


Basics & Fundamentals (part 3)

From Shiro Kuma's Weblog by kumafr

Why is the Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki so important?
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Until 1990, we had very little knowledge about the schools and the weapons. Remember that we really began the weapons in 1993 with the and the study of the schools only in 1998! From the beginning of the Bujinkan (and more precisely when the Togakure Ryû Ninpô Taijutsu was published in 1983) the basics were transmittedthrough the Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki. Each student at that time was studying the Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki to improve his fundamentals. The Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki was the basic program to reach the black belt. The spreading of the Bujinkan over the last twenty years has abandoned the Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki and it has been often discarded by the new generation of teachers.
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What is a Bujinkan black belt?
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A Bujinkan black belt is someone who knows the Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki so well that every technique demonstrated looks like a patchwork of elemental bricks taken from the Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki. Too often students receive a black belt without the knowledge of the Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki and this lack in their practice leads to big flaws in their movements. In 2009 I gave a 5-day seminar on the full Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki in India. When the Indian group went to Daikomyô Sai last December they told their teachers that they could see every component of the techniques taught by sensei and the shihan and recognize the strength of the Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki.
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Are you a Bujinkan black belt?
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Then you must know “by heart” the ten and the chi and be familiar enough with the jin. Without this basic knowledge you will not be able to go far within the Bujinkan system. The heart of “kokoro no budô” is the Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki. Learn it, study it and you will see your technical level excel and reach a new understanding. Without studying the Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki attending seminars is a loss of time. It is like watching a movie of which you are not part of. Learn the Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki and become the actor your own life instead of being a passive observer!
Ryaku in Japanese means “principle” but also “truth”. Learn the truth of things and you will become a true human being able to link the sky and the earth; able to be one with nature. :)