The first day of any Bujinkan trip to Japan starts with a marathon. 20 hours of travel by Plane train, and automobile. Also, a lot of walking with a heavy backpack up and down stairs, through airports and train stations, and of course to the Honbu Dojo!
Because I’m crazy, I arrived at the airport and went straight to Noguchi Sensei’s class. The class was smallish, maybe 20 people. I was a little shaky on my feet so I slammed some milk tea to get my energy back up. I partnered with Mario From Croatia.
Noguchi began with 中伝之捌型 Chūden no Sabaki Gata from 高木揚心流 Takagi Yoshin Ryū. He put a lot of focus into what the opposite hand was doing (the non technique hand). Controlling the shoulder or elbow. Pushing the other side away while capturing a lock on the wrist, elbow, or shoulder. And lots of 虚実 kyojitsu!
I was intrigued by 腰投鎌 koshi nage gakari, because he pivoted under the grabbing hand using his head to pass through. Then he gripped the opponent’s belt from behind for the throw. What was hard to understand was that he really threw using his own head and body position against the back of the opponent’s arm. In fact he did many no handed techniques using just his head.
He did so much kyojitsu. In fact, during one technique, he said to cover 反対 hantai, so he turned his thumb down and covered the opponent’s rear hand with his elbow. But the elbow was a threat and became kyojitsu hiding the claw or finger strike to 五輪 gorin.
When I arrived in Japan, I first noticed all of the construction and changes since my last trip. Nostalgia made me reflect on something Hatsumi Sensei said,
Just because someone’s been training for 40 or 50 years it doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been training, it’s nothing special. I’m still walking along behind Takamatsu Sensei. That’s what the tradition means.
It made me think that I am doing the same by following Hatsumi Sensei. As a Jūgodan and a Daishihan, I feel this as my duty and responsibility. Soke went on to tell everyone at the dojo,
There are many people at a high level, 15th dan and above. Please train with them. These people at the 15th dan level are showing this important feeling. They are moving at this high rank, but at my level I’m doing what I learned from Takamatsu Sensei.
Soke said this last part because he could tell we did not understand what he was showing us. How could we understand something that he learned from Takamatsu Sensei and that he has been perfecting for many decades? The reality is, we all only can see from our own level. The same happens with my own students. I am following in Hatsumi Sensei’s footsteps, but they are following in mine.
He said that the Daishihan are born from him. Training with people who have this connection is how you get a direct line to the teaching in Japan. It is also how to stay connected to the ancient lineage of all who have come before. I can trace my line from Hatsumi Sensei back to Takamatsu Sensei, and those who came before. And I remain a humble student following in their footsteps.
Forgive the video quality, I was testing a new app and quickly discovered I didn’t know how to use it. For all the future Japan Reports, I abandoned it and stuck to the familiar. My next Bujinkan trip report is here: Japan Report Two 令和5年
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