三心の構 Sanshin no Kamae: Silent and Deadly

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Bujinkan Santa Monica

photo by ngader
We can learn a lot from the Kamae in our art. For example, there are three Kamae that are often associated with hanbo that Takamatsu Sensei called 三心の構  Sanshin no Kamae. These three simple looking kamae contain important insights about the nature of fighting and combat that can change everything about the way you understand Kamae and Bujinkan Taijutsu.

Hatsumi sensei says these Kamae are "three phases:"

型破の構 Kata Yaburi no Kamae – form breaking

無念無想の構 Munen Muso no Kamae – no intention, no thought

音無しの構 Otonashi no Kamae – silent posture

The stances betray no outward signs of readiness for action, offensive or defensive. You stand exposed, weapons lowered, and your body square to the opponent. This emptiness makes these kamae positions of pure, unlimited potential from which all manner of henka can arise. These kamae all pass rapidly from stillness into motion and motion into stillness. Offense and defense are one and the same. Emptiness and reality are embodied in the stances with kyojitsu tenkan ho being a primary strategy.

With 型破の構 Kata Yaburi no Kamae you move in a way to break or destroy the opponent's form. Whether that be the form of his attack or breaking the "form" of his spirit. But this also suggests the destruction of your own form. Or the erasing of your own ego. Which leads us to,

無念無想の構 Munen Muso no Kamae, sometimes referred to as mugamae (non form), is the intention of no-intention, no-thought throughout your body or any weapon you hold.

So with 音無しの構 Otonashi no Kamae, you are lying low;  saying nothing and waiting for an opportunity. It is critical to use space, without showing your weapon, the form, the shape, or the sound. Use it in the unguarded space to take away the opponent's fighting power.

Soke describes this,
"you stand silently in otonashi no kamae (the silent posture) with both hands lowered. Even against a strong opponent you maintain this form. The cross style of this form has a secret meaning that includes both desperation and sacrifice."

The power of this stance often appears in cinema and theater.  Sawada Shojiro returned to Tokyo with Daibosatsu Toge, 1921-1922).  In this performance Sawada played Tsukue Ryunosuke, a ruthless and nihilistic swordsman who goes blind but his swordsmanship does not diminish. Ryunosuke's "soundless stance" (otonashi-no-kamae) sword-fighting style inspired many chanbara heroes that followed including the blind swordsman Zato Ichi.

The role of Ryunosuke Tsukue was reprised in the movie "Sword of Doom" by Tatsuya Nakadai in 1966. In this clip we can see Otonashi no kamae at work (WARNING graphic sword fight):

There is a new supplier of training weapons

From 8þ Kabutoshimen by admin

I recently got some new training tools from Mr Gary Phillips from Budo Buki, and I can’t wait to start using them. Not seen on the picture was also a Hanbo in the same colour. I chosed the colours, I guess you can get them in any colour you want.

Budo Buki is committed to providing quality handmade, affordable, padded training tools for the martial arts community. Through a great deal of research, we have developed strong, lightweight, durable products for Budo training. Seeing a lack of safe training tools on the market, we decided to fill the need with our line of covered and padded swords, staffs and long tools.

Good luck to Mr Phillips and the Budo Buki shop.

Happy training!

The post There is a new supplier of training weapons appeared first on 8þ Kabutoshimen.

Seimeisen 生命線: Walking the Line of Life and Death

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Bujinkan Santa Monica

Photo from Gifu Prefecture by tallkev
One of the hiden 秘伝  (secret teaching) ideas of the sword is that life and death are just flip sides of the same instant. The reason this is a secret is not because no one talks about it, but because you must discover its mystery for yourself. Hatsumi Sensei is always reminding us that just as we can end life with the blade, we can also protect life or what he calls, the "life giving sword."

So what about this secret and how does this translate into sword technique? When you are in kamae, and about to cut or thrust to your opponent's suki, there is a Seimeisen 生命線, or an invisible lifeline between you. If your sword is on this line, it is "live," if not it is   considered dead. This line is very fine and there isn't room for two blades there. So only one blade can give or take life. This is also an aspect of Shisen 死線, the point between life and death.

To truly understand this lifeline requires a state of fudoshin. That is the only way you can stay on the line without being diverted. And when you are in that place it gives you a mysterious perspective that allows for some useful sword strategy:

後の先 Go no sen when you know where your opponent will strike so you let them strike there before you counter.

先の先 sen no sen is where you know what your opponent will do so you strike him first before he can move. Similar to tai no sen.

先々の先 Sen sen no sen where you sense what the right strategy is by intuition alone and subtly guide your opponent's strategy so that you may win.

Sen 先 and Saki share the same kanji but one meaning is future and one is previous. So Saki no Saki may be a more familiar feeling to anyone that has taken the Godan test.

蝦蛄拳 Shako Ken: Strike Like A Hawk

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Bujinkan Santa Monica

photo by shirokazan
Hatsumi Sensei was trying to help us understand an aspect of kosshijutsu while we were studying 隼雄 Shunū from Gyokko Ryu and he said to hold the opponent's kashira like a falcon.

He went on to explore henka using variations of 蝦蛄拳 Shako Ken and 指刀拳 Shitō Ken. Soke told us,
"Not using just your fingertips, but using your whole body here. Doing this with shuko- it becomes even more scary. It's like a hawk catching its prey.

This is not just your fingernails, it becomes like your canine teeth, incisors."
What are the talons of a hawk, or the canine teeth for? They are for piercing flesh and tearing it away from bones.

This is kosshijutsu. Scary indeed.
photo by MJ/TR (´・ω・)

How to Instantly Flip Out With 豹変 Hyōhen 

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Bujinkan Santa Monica

photo by genvessel
One of the gokui or essences of budo is change. But changing what? Where does the change come from?  Here I try to catch the feeling or kankaku in the air of a class with Sensei. He often reminds us we should pick up the scent of the gokui on the breeze blowing through the room.

That day Hatsumi Sensei was teaching us about kyuho no kamae. Or so I thought. As the class progressed, the naturalness of Soke's taijutsu allowed for unending variation. He had his uke basically throwing himself. It was the kind of thing if you saw a photo or video you might think it was BS. But in that room... the effect was palpable. Everyone watching knew that if they were his uke he would capture their spirit and work their body over in the same way. In fact, it felt as if we were ALL exposed.

The "winds" in the room had changed. Part of the lesson that day was perceiving this change and where it had come from. The atmosphere of the class went from casual and jovial, to very scary. It was a vulnerable feeling to be sure. But then, just as quickly, and without any announcements, we were back to relaxed, light or fun training.

Hatsumi Sensei said that this was something that could only be understood between you and your opponent. By adapting freely to the attack, and flowing in the space , kukan no nagare, you embody what Sensei explained to us was kyuhen no kamae.
Kyūhen 急変 may remind us of 豹変 Hyōhen from the densho of Shinden Fudo Ryu in the secret writings of Tatara Kishin: "Sudden change will always prevail." 豹変して必ず勝つ 
Sensei says that such teachings are passed from teacher to student through ishin denshin (divine transmission). Anyone who has been in a class like that with Sensei will definitely have stories about the feeling in the room.