Hiden – Togakure Ryū – article translation

What follows a translation I have been mulling over for a time of a single sheet handed out by Hatsumi sensei at class in Ayase.

What his reasons were at the time for passing this around I do not know (most probably it was found buried under a pile of other books, weapons and objects in the Bujinkan office – that being the same situation for me when I rediscovered it a few months back). It is a photocopy of a page from the Japanese martial arts magazine Kakutogi Tsuushin 格闘技通信. The date written by hand at the bottom left is 平成25(the fifth month of the second year of the Heisei era) or May 1990.
(* 9 Jul – corrected source ref from Hiden to Kakutogi Tsuushin)

I have endeavoured to translate the text into English without much in the way of interpretation or rearrangement, some parts may therefore seem a little clumsy or confusing whilst reading. First I’ll present the Japanese text that I have had to write from scratch onto the laptop, then my translation paragraph by paragraph, followed by any notes or explanations that seem relevant. I will present this translation over several blog entries over the next few days or weeks.

To describe the page – after the heading and sub heading there is a genealogy chart that lists notable people and the styles or schools (ryū) demonstrating their connections and eventual merging together under Takamatsu Toshitsugu to be passed on to Hatsumi Masaaki. The text under the table is from an interview where Hatsumi sensei gives a summary of the different origins of the schools he has inherited, then some information on each of the 9 schools, concluding with a profile of Hatsumi sensei.

Title and Headings…

戸隠流忍法体術–後篇
伊賀のかくれ里と聖域•熊野が育んだ秘術
初見氏が受け継いだ流派の系譜

Togakure ryū ninpō taijutsu – the last part
Hidden village and sanctuary of Iga • mysteries nurtured in Kumano
As successor and inheritor Mr Hatsumi’s nine schools genealogy

Genealogy table image…

Main text…

初見氏が受け継いでいる武術では、伝書の類をあまり重視していない。というのは、どこで誰が始めたとはっきり言えるような類の術ではなく、多種多様な文化交流の中で自然発生的に生れてきたものだと解釈しているからである。その発生期を考えれば、世紀頃にさかのぼらなければならない。その頃、大陸から渡ってきた僧やクグツ奇術師などが、拳法や幻術を持ちこんだ。また、同じ頃修験道が起こり、それに密教がかわってくる。

In the martial arts that Mr Hatsumi has inherited there has not been much focus on the variety of densho. In other words, rather than to say clearly that this kind of art comes from a great variety or diversity (of sources) … because some have interpreted that it is something that is born spontaneously through the cultural exchange of a wide variety of styles/arts. If you think of this origin time then you have to go back to the 7th Century. At that time monks and magicians (puppeteers and illusionists) came over from the continent (China) and brought martial arts (kenpō) and magic (genjutsu). Also, at the same time there are changes brought to Esoteric Buddism and Shugendō appears.

そういった初期の武士や修験者、僧などが、人里を離れて山中に集団生活を営むようになった。周囲に深山を囲まれた伊賀は、彼らの絶好のかくれ里で、いわば文化の吹きだまりだったのだ。そういった中から次第にいろんな術がまとめられ、やがて多くの武術の流派を生み出していった。その過程を示したのが系図の左側のブロックである。

Such early warriors, shugensha and monks began living a communal life secluded in the mountains. Iga is surrounded by mountains and ideal for their hidden villages, it was a kind of drifting together of cultures. In such a place where many arts gradually came together, eventually many martial arts schools were created. The block on the left side of the genealogy table illustrates this process.

初見氏が持っている伝書の類は、発生期の頃の記述があいまいだが、それは複雑にからみ合った歴史の流れを一種のモデルケースとしてまとめたものだと考えればいいだろう。初見氏に昔の技を見せてくださいと頼んだらいつの時代の技ですかと訊き返された。当然である。時代の文化背景によって技も兵法も常に変化し続けているのだ。紙に書かれた歴史も史料として大切だが、それよりも、それぞれの時代の文化を肌触りとして伝え続けた武術が、現代に受け継がれているということの感動である。まさに数百年に渡る知恵の結集なのだ。

In the kind of densho Mr Hatsumi holds, the description of the time of the origin is ambiguous/vague, when you think of it as a summary – a kind of model case – of the intricately intertwined course of history. I requested Mr Hatsumi “please show me the ancient techniques” and asked “what techniques have been around for all time?”.  The techniques and tactics are constantly changing depending on the cultural background of different eras. Written or recorded history and historical records are also important, however, each cultural period has continually transmitted the feeling of martial arts, with passionate people some of these have been handed down to the present day. He brings together wisdom from over hundreds of years.

一方、伊賀からやや南下した熊野は、古く神道のメッカとされた聖域だ。ここでは神道の行法を取り入れた武術が育まれた。それが系図右側のブロックである。また、熊野灘には熊野水軍や九鬼水軍と呼ばれる海賊一種の海上武士団が勢力を誇っており、彼らが武術を育てたことも見逃せない。

Contrast this with Kumano, a little south of Iga, that has been a sanctuary and Mecca for old Shintō. In this area martial arts that incorporate Shintō have been nurtured/cultivated/flourished. The block on the right side of the genealogy table illustrates this process. Also, they could boast of the Kumano navy known as the Kuki navy and also called pirates (one kind of maritime warrior group) that used the open sea around Kumano, I cannot miss out the martial arts they were raised in?

そして、伊賀と熊野という日本の文化史上重要なスポーツで育まれたつめ武術は、高松寿嗣によってひとつにまとめられ、初見氏に伝えられた。凄いものだと感心していると、初見氏が言った。はっきり言って昔のことはよくわからないですよそのつもりで各流派の解説を読んでほしい。

Also the 9 martial arts from Iga and Kumano are an important part of Japan’s cultural history and sports, combined into one by Takamatsu Toshitsugu and passed on to Mr Hatsumi. Mr Hatsumi said he was impressed to be given such an amazing thing. I do not know the old saying exactly, but please read the description of each school with that intention (bearing that in mind?)…


Hankyou 2008 – Kaigozan Christmas Seminar

Reflections of this years Bujinkan theme, Togakure-ryu ninpo taijutsu. Many people went to Japan this year and they all came together to share on this seminar.

The instructors was Paul Waserbrot, Mats Hjelm, Steven Helling, Daniel Bodin, Fredrik Markgren, Arvid Karlsson, Jens Lindstrand, Richard Maier, William Ustav.

Most of the instructions is in Swedish!

Recorded in Stockholm, Sweden December 2008

Note: Some of the instructors spoke Swedish, and others English.

This movie is available on DVD (click here!) or available as download, click button below.


100 minutes, 707 Mb for $11.99

Instructions are in SWEDISH!

Ninpo/Ninjutsu seminar update (next week)

JPNKanjo09-1-Tak-2 JPNKanjo09-1-Tak-15

Now it is less than a week until the Ninpo/Ninjutsu Seminar with Dean Rostohar. Here is some updates and news…

Dean is coming on Friday already, but we have no extra training planned. Dean is also bringing some of his top students with him this time, so I’m sure they will also help him with the teaching. This will be an exciting seminar, he will teach lot’s of stuff we usually don’t see in the trainings in a regular Bujinkan Dojo.

  • Place: We booked the dojo. We will be in Kaigozan Dojo on Sveavägen 130 in Stockholm city (here is the map).
  • Saturday training: We open the dojo after 10:00, the training start at 11:00 and finish at 18:00 with a longer lunch break.
  • Saturday evening: As usual we want everyone to join us for dinner at a local restaurant, if you don’t hear about this by e-mail we will inform you about it Saturday morning.
  • Sunday training: we start at 11:00 and finish around 15:00. We do not have a longer lunchbreak, so prepare yourself with something to eat during the short breaks.
  • Late people: if you haven’t signed up for the seminar do so immediately, or look at the web site first to see if there is places left before you come.
  • Seminar fee: One day training is 500 SEK, for both days 850 SEK. We suggest that you sign up and pay early next time to get the discount!
  • Seminar DVD: We will film this seminar and you can pre order the DVD for 200 SEK ( we will send it to your address when it is done) at the seminar, or you can buy it at the KGZ Budo Shop later… https://www.budoshop.se/store/

For more information about this seminar see this web site… http://kaigozan.se/seminars/2009-09-26/

空間感覚 Sense of space

As you know this years theme is the Togakure school. And what we is studying is the 面 OMOTE, outside or the visible and the 空間 KUUKAN. Next year we will be studying the 裏 URA, the inside, what is not visible or the secret. Soke said that next year we will go beyond kuukan.

First I’d like to remind you of my previous posts about not going ahead too soon, and instead follow the natural way and do things with good timing. So what he meant by going beyond kuukan we can leave for next year… no need to worry about that now.

空間 KUUKAN means space, room or air space. The first kanji KARA means emptyness, vacuum or blank, also SORA means sky or the heavens. The second kanji MA means space, room, time or pause. It can also mean many other things, for example KEN which is a measurement used between pillars, the same length as a tatami mat, 1,818 meters. In Koto-ryu for example you should be able to jump 2 ken sideways.

Other Japanese budo arts use and emphasize the same kanji for 間合い MAAI (interval), but in Bujinkan we instead speak of kuukan which has a deeper meaning. It is not just the distance, it is more how you use the distance that is important. For example if you have a pistol on your right side of the hip, you should keep this side away from the opponent so that he cannot take your weapon, and also so that you have room to draw your weapon off need be.

So this year we are developing our 空間感覚 Kuukankankaku, our sense of using the space between ourselves and the opponent as well as everything else around us, including possible weapons, doors, trees, stones, cars, other people etc.

In art they also speak of kuukan. For example using a big white paper and not too much black ink. Instead of looking at the black ink you look at the big white spaces. Or a zen garden one stone in the middle of a big field, it is the same thing, kept very simple. Maybe the same thing can be said about budo, keeping the techniques simple and leave plenty of room that can be used if needed, instead of complicated techniques that leaves out the freedom to henka, change. The key is to keep it simple, I think.

14 trainings in one week

We have trained mostly on the first six techniques from Santo Tonko no Kata, the 7th technique is two opponents and you throw metsubushi, strike and disappear, the 8th technique is two in front and two behind, and the 9th is three in front and two behind, you throw teppan and metsubushi, and then disappear. Training on these three techniques seems somewhat pointless, more important is that any technique you train on with your partner you should also try to see everyone else in the dojo as a potential opponent. But there is also many other techniques in Togakure-ryu I hope I will get a chance to study this trip.

This year is even more formless than before, the idea is that a really skilled fighter will pick up what technique you is about to do the same instant you think of it. Almost like the sakki test, but more advanced, it is like the really skilled person can read your mind. So how can we defeat someone that knows what you will do the second you think of the technique? Well, this is not easy, but this is the level Hatsumi Soke is teaching now. If you don’t understand, don’t worry he is teaching to those with 15th Dan, the so called true Shihan of Bujinkan. In other words those who have reached the highest rank in the Bujinkan system.

Traditionally the highest rank in a ryûha is called 免許皆伝 (men-kyo-kai-den、initiation into the secrets of the art), on the new scroll in the honbu Sôke has written Menkyo kaiden with alternative kanji ( 免虚怪伝 ), where the second character means void, emptiness or untrue, the third character means suspicious or mysterious. So maybe becoming a menkyô kaiden in Bujinkan means that you are walking along the mysterious tradition where nothing is as it seems.