Plan For Chaos, Fight Your Plan

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Bujinkan Santa Monica

by PhillipC
A commonly heard phrase in military circles is,
No plan ever survives contact with the enemy.
This quote was originally uttered by Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, a German Field Marshal during the 1800's.  But Colonel Tom Kolditz, head of the behavioral sciences division at West Point, sums it up this way:
You may start off trying to fight your plan, but the enemy gets a vote.  Unpredictable things happen- the weather changes, a key asset is destroyed, the enemy responds in a way you don't expect.  Many armies fail because they put all their emphasis into creating a plan that becomes useless ten minutes into the battle.
So what do we do as martial artists?  For the most part, martial arts is learning to deal with smaller battles with individual or few enemies.  But the same conundrum confronts us.  All of our training for battle, the years of classes and techniques we have learned, and all the hard work to stay fit- all of this will be upset by this simple truth of battle.

One answer can be found in the Bujinkan training method.  Soke's classes consist of a cascade of henka.  Unending change that teaches us to be very responsive.  But there is something more than that.  By becoming zero or empty we can respond in combat with tactics that can't be understood or defeated.

You can't teach this.  But you can use certain mental constructs to describe it.  One that I sometimes use in my classes is the concept of Past, Present, and Future in a fight.  If the attacker strikes, he is in the present.  If you respond, you are in the past.  Not the best place to be, especially if he is quicker or better than you are.

Better to connect to his rhythm and respond in the present as he attacks.  Real time.  If you are flowing in the present, it gives you the chance to counter if he falters or provides an opening.  But you also have the opportunity to disrupt his rhythm.

Even better is for you to be in the future.  Make him respond to you.  Or know where he is going to strike so you can trap him.

But the best is to do the unexplainable.  Once Hatsumi Sensei was asked,  "What would you do if a sniper shot at you from half a mile away while you were going out your door?  He said, "I would never walk through that door at that time."  We have many ideas to explain this unexplainable core of our training.  Things like Ku, Shizen Shugoku, Hi Jo Shiki and the like remind us that this art is bigger than any of our plans.
Maybe through this you can know Banpen Fugyou.

Bojutsu Gokui: How to Get Hit Over the Head by the Void.

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Bujinkan Santa Monica

by pusgums
We were in the middle of a bojutsu class and I had an epiphany.  I was trying to explain how to hold the staff.  "You must hold it lightly.  Yet firmly connected to your kamae and spirit."  My words failed me.

Yet, I was feeling something with the rokushakubo I wanted to communicate.  I tried demonstrating various aspects of the movement and grip on the bo.  And none of these things held the idea I felt. Luckily, I remembered a quote from Hatsumi Sensei and I dropped it on the students:

In a verse of the gokui: "striking the void, if there is a response in your hands, that is the gokui."  You must have the enlightenment of the Buddha of the void (koku-bosatsu), whose heart was as infinite as the void itself.  Thrusting the bo into the mist is in truth thrusting one's heart and mind, and this is one method of koku - void training.

Yes!  I was feeling it.  You have to hold the bo very lightly to feel the response from the void.  The response I felt was like creation.

Not long after this exciting insight I was hit on the head by my uke's bo.  If you mess about in the void you might get hurt.   That's one thing I love about training- the immediate feedback that keeps me humble.

Hiding Behind Totoku Hiyoshi No Kamae

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Bujinkan Santa Monica

Seeing Totoku Hiyoshi No Kamae for the first time can be misleading.  Usually a student's first exposure to this kamae is seeing someone hold a sword out in front of themselves while someone else throws shuriken at them.  Then the instructor hands the sword to you and says, "Next."

by eflon

This aspect of Totoku is often perceived as one of those quirky things in our training that we may try out, but never take seriously.  After all, who has had to dodge shuriken for real?  I'm not counting the dishes your girlfriend threw at you during a recent argument.  Maybe you try this out, maybe block a few rubber shuriken and then forget it.

Totoku forms part of some very rich strategy in our art.  And the more you look for it, the more you will encounter.  I personally have heard Hatsumi Sensei reference it many times, and it wasn't anything to do with shuriken blocking.  It is a running theme in our taijutsu that has to be experienced from a qualified teacher.

Maybe a starting place to understand this kamae can be from the Tachi.  This sword was mainly held in one hand.  There was little tradition of handheld shields in Japanese Budo.  So how do you deal with incoming arrows, spears, or enemy sword attacks?  You use your own sword.  The first use of the sword is to protect yourself before cutting.  It becomes your first line of defense and your shield.

What if you don't have a sword?  The idea of Totoku goes even deeper.  It moves into the idea of hiding yourself behind a shield.  But what is a shield?  Soke speaks about this in reference to Goton No Jutsu:

Examine the character for "Ton" as used above in Tongyo ("hiding one's form"; or alternatively, "the discretion doctrine"), and you can discover it to be a combination of the characters "fleeing" with a "shield" - just as along the path of Ninpo.  The priciple of recognizing the value gained by winning through flight is one of Ninjutsu's cardinal rules.  However it is not simply a question of escaping.  What can one use as a shield?  One can use:
  • the Five Elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water)
  • the Five Rings
  • the Five Ways (the way of enlightenment)
  • the Five Arts
  • the Five Teachings
  • the Five Confucian Virtues (benevolence, rightousness, prosperity, wisdom, and sincerity)
  • Nature
  • the shining (or shadowed) glory of the martial ways
  • beliefs
  • politics (or rather policies for life)
the shields are multiple and varied.

Soke says on another occasion,

Everything is a natural shield.  So, anything can be a natural shield.  One should move in a connected way like Juppo Sessho, and Koteki Ryoda which include these teachings.  Such things are written in old Japanese scrolls.

And finally, I watched one day as Soke was demonstrating some of his mysterious muto dori, and he explained, "You must evade by the thickness of air.  Use the air as your shield."

四世界 The four worlds

From Kabutoshimen by admin

I learned these stages of development a few years ago from my TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) teacher. He taught it as four levels of development in becoming a TCM master, but it goes with any trade or area of study.

The first stage is when you are in an incompetent awareness stage. When you start learning someting new you know that you are a beginner. You are humble and like a sponge, you absorb and learn everything new.

After some years of studying you are entering the incompetent unawareness state. The stage where you think you know it all. Be careful, many people get stuck in this level forever because of their ignorance. People say you are good, it is getting difficult to teach you because teaching can only go to a certain level, next you need experience and guidance. Maybe you heard about the “invisible training”? The more experienced you get the more transparent the teaching will be. Be careful that you don’t stop growing here or feed the ego to much. I’m sure you seen a few people that have some experience in other martial arts and after a few weeks or months they think they know Bujinkan.

When you get competent awared you have passed all the illusions and start seeing clearer. You know what you can do and can’t do. This is the stage when you are skilled in what you do, but hang on you’re not a master of the style yet. You need to always be aware of what you do to do it right.

The fourth level is when you are competent and unaware. In Bujinkan we often say it is the zero state. The art is so deep within us that we don’t need to think or remember any techniques at all. This is the level most people in Bujinkan is talking about. But I strongly believe you need to pass all levels. If you think you are at this level you could still very well be unaware of your incompitence.

You don’t need to think about this and try to figure out what level you are in. It’s no point doing that. Besides I remember Soke answering a question of what the highest level (in mikkyou, I think); he simply said there is no highest level. No matter how far you go you will never reach the end. This is also the 道 DOU, the path you have chosen to walk.