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.