|[ olvasnivaló » Ura & Omote - 1995 August ]|
One day I was sitting in my master's room when he said to me: "Wait here with your eyes closed, and do not open them no matter what happens." I loosened myself up after I felt he was gone. Soon, I did a side roll after I had felt a certain heaviness and saw a shadow as if my body had been split in half. Next I did a front ukemi after I felt that my head would fly away. When I recovered to the position of shizen fudoza, I opened my eyes to his voice saying: "Well done; you can open your eyes." I saw Takamatsu Sensei standing with a sword in his right hand. Being unbelievably calm, I realized that this was the spiritual technique by the sixth sense. I then received the sword from my master. Later I was told that this was Juji Giri Mumei no Itto.
A year before Takamatsu Sensei passed away he said to me: "I leave the martial arts in your hands." Nine years since he passed away, I've been training hard and lately, I can assert that this is true Budo. By the way, in the test for Godan in the Bujinkan Dojo, I attack with menace from behind the student who is sitting with his eyes closed. If he dodges, he passes. This is the beginning. This is not just a dodging of an attack from behind. Sometimes you have to know the other side of the world. In human relations, the person you trust might someday betray you. Even then you can realize the courage which keeps the peace through this training. It is just a trick to cultivate only the sense which permits you to dodge an attack from behind. This kind of mentality makes a distance between you and the truth of life, and ruins life. That kind of mentality is the cancer to correct growth. In this sense Juji Giri Mumei no Itto is the operation to remove this cancer in the early stages. It can also be said that one should stop teaching the person who should not be taught.
When you teach a lot of students, then some kind of sense is important. Buddha taught the ten followers, but one failed. One of Christ's 12 followers was a rebel. Even a relationship between the master and pupil has a failure. The relationship between the teachers and students in a modern school system is bad. In these situations it is the most important principle which keeps: to learn the true martial arts mind.
When you pass the test for Godan, the way of training will change necessarily. It changes to invisible training; incomprehensible training. I teach students who have been training for more that 20 years, but only cordially. It would be the instruction of incomprehensibly strange techniques to them. They understand, but they can't do it. They might understand but they don't really understand. Like this, strange techniques start breathing. It's OK with me if they don't understand, because I'm teaching incomprehensible techniques. If they understand, they are Superman. They will improve because they don't understand.
One day, one of my senior students came up to me and said: "I heard there is a technique which allows us to throw an opponent without touching him." I decided to try and teach this without letting my students get hurt. Myself, along with the student and four other students went to a place that had a video camera. Nine eyes are staring. "Come on!" "Yes sir." We passed each other. My senior student flew by me and fell down. A few minutes later he got up with blood coming out of his mouth. "Understand?" "No sir." "Rest of you understand?" "No sir, but we think we will understand with the video which we will watch later." "You won't understand," I told them. We watched the video, but none of the students could catch the picture in their eyes. This is martial arts. It is impossible to learn the strange techniques with taking pictures and writing down notes. In another way of thinking about this, even if you showed your techniques on a scroll and it is stolen, that's OK. This is the essence of martial arts. Taking pictures or writing down is useless. There is no other way than to study under a master and do what he says.
On the occasion of publishing this book, I introduce for your information the part of the book which Takamatsu Sensei had taught me. As a rule of this Ryu, writing down is forbidden. Because if you write down, the depth of its essence comes to an end. The martial arts will be the secret without limitations. So writing this book is against my will. Even if I write with explanation for later study, nobody will truly learn. As Takamatsu Sensei said, "Learn with hard training."
One year before his death, Takamatsu said to me: "You are a fine martial artist now. I've been rewarded the favors of my masters." I was half in doubt. I believed that you can master the essence of the martial arts a few years after you are taught. So since the master passed away, I have been asking myself for nine years, and now I decided to publish this book.
One day, I talked with a conductor who was living in the USA, about the expression of the martial arts by writing is just like a sheet of music. Martial art has grown from the space of the unlimited zero which was maintained in the paper. Even if a computer was developed to hold all the information, it wouldn't be able to calculate the zero. Even if it did, they wouldn't be able to pressure the strange techniques of the zero without reaching the stage of the consistent martial arts-like power. The dream-like martial artist is living in such a place.
Brought to you by the Missouri Ninja Center
8336 Watson Road
St. Louis, MO 63119
Feel free to distribute this information to anyone either electronically or on paper provided that:
If I see that this is done properly, and if people request it, I will release more of this hard to come by information. This is part of a series of translations of authentic Ninjutsu material available in the martial arts section of America OnLine. Type Keyword: Grandstand. Send feedback to Shadowswrd@aol.com - Ken Harding.
Now, in terms of the way it's actually practised, what we'll do is pick a particular character. And this is done in initiation. You might have one of these mandala layouts with all of these characters, and each one has a very specific expression on his or her face. I say his or her, but actually they're kind of asexual. Some of them look more male or look more female, but these are forces that work within us. Some of them have a sword that's on fire, and this one has in his left hand a rope that's made out of five colours, and this one over here has three eyes; this one up here has a lotus and a scroll; this one has a thunderbolt implement which looks like a little pitchfork on both ends, and they all look different. Each one represents a particular beginning focus. Maybe you could say it's where we're going to begin. It's the door that we're going to come through. How? Maybe we were born doing it. Genetically we were predisposed to see life a certain way. And that's true, right? I mean, genetically, you either see life as a male or a female, based on your birth. Genetically I'm not going to see life as a six foot four blond-haired guy. I'm just not going to do that. So, genetically, I'm predisposed to see life a certain way, and genetically, because I was born where I was born, karmically - if you're comfortable using that word - I tend to address life through the English language as a primary language. So there are all these conditioners.
Also conditioned about me is my metabolism, the way my body responds to food and air and things, that it creates a certain personality in me, and again we're all in agreement on that. Any of you know somebody that you might think of as a real hotheaded individual? Know anybody else who is a real coolheaded individual? Sure, certain ones pop into our mind. We think about that. Why? Do they study how to be hotheaded? Did you practise how to get angry easily? "Yes, I remember as a small child looking at that and considering that 'You know, I'm a little slow to anger. Maybe what I need are angry lessons.'" No, you just came by it naturally.
So that's our door in. In this initiation ceremony, we have a flower and a blindfold, and this flower is tossed and it lands somewhere on this giant mandala, and it's an indication of probably where you might want to start your search. So there's some - what would you want to call it? - fate or chance or intervention that makes the flower fall where it does, and then we begin our practice. Now, once we get there, what we're going to do is look at the strength of any one of these characters, and we're going to imitate it in three ways. This is called the San Mitsu or the three secrets. What we're going to do is take a character - maybe it's easier to identify with some of these on the periphery, because they're more detailed, more specific - as I say, one has a sword, one has a pen, and it makes a big difference. Closer to the centre, the closer to universality you get. So we're going to pick a particular character and we're going to imitate it. What we're going to do is say "Alright, if I wanted to be enlightened, what I would want to do is see the world like an enlightened being would." So, in my own mind what I do is I want to adjust my vision, so that I see things a different way. In the beginning I have to pretend, because there are jerks in jeeps that cut us off, and all kinds of stuff going on. What I have to do is pretend I'm enlightened, pretend I see the value, pretend I can identify with everything that comes along.
The other thing we're going to pretend to do is communicate our vision out into the world, either through the spoken word or the written word, or the way that we even communicate with an eyebrow or a tilt of the shoulder. So this is referred to as the secret of speech. So, what it is, I've got to pretend I've got this vision, and I work to keep it in my mind. I visualize it, I imagine myself as my goal. Maybe what I do is pick up a hero from this, and imagine myself as that. What if I were enlightened scholarship? What if I were enlightened righteousness? What if I were enlightened compassion? What would that look like? So I have a hero in my mind, and then I speak like that hero. And then I act, I imitate that hero. And again, none of this stuff is shocking when we hear about it, although it's called the 'three secrets'. None of it's shocking; it makes so much sense. I mean, people go to business classes to learn how you should wear a white shirt if your boss wears a white shirt. It comes right down to everyday nuts and bolts. It's just that the goal, maybe, that we're talking about.
(He now refers to the Kongokai mandala)
So, we look at these. There are two of these images here on either side. One is called the 'Diamond Path', and the other is this 'Lotus Realm' one. I'm going to talk about some of these characters in the beginning here, just to give you an idea of where we may go. This is the central portion of that one, and there are some polarities that I'm going to talk about in here tonight. And again, this is way too brief a talk on way too deep a subject, so what I thought we might do is just look at how some of this stuff works. The idea behind these characters here is that in the centre of each one of these quadrants is an epitome of some form of what it would be like if absolute enlightened clarity were to come to some particular make-up of the world as we know it. And it relates to the physical world as we know it, the hard things. So there's an area that's associated with what we call Earth, the earth element - hard things, like our nails and teeth, hard things in the world, the physical make-up. There's water, there's fluids, fluidity. There's fire, what we would call the give and take of energy. There is wind, freedom of movement, and so forth.
These are symbols that we are going to use to locate it. And in the centre is kind of a hard one for us to describe. We might call that the subatomic potential behind all the elements. We use to have this thing we call 'ether', which fell out of popularity in recent generations. Ironically now, some physicists are bringing it back, thinking that there might be something to it. And these work. They also stand for our make-up, our personal make-up. So, the title of this talk was to deal with this passion and anger, because what we're going to do is that we're going to start in, just like that guy working me over in the training hall, with our body. We learn what our limitations are; you're not going to argue with it; you're not going to change it. All we can do is recognize it and use it.
So, just for fun, let's just take a little tour around here. First, 'earth'. If that's in your nature, if that's kind of the way you came into the world, you have this proclivity to see things from a so-called 'earth'-like way. If you think of somebody as being earthy, or you're describing them as real down to earth, or this individual has two feet firmly on the ground, what kind of images come into your mind? 'Earth', a stability kind of an image, a firm, two feet on the ground kind of an image. Some of us have that nature. Now, it can go too far. If we get too far away from the centre, if we get a little bit out here, it can go too far to where we become captured by this. It starts to run our life, instead of being something that we can utilize. See, every one of these can represent a negative view, a negative orientation, because it's out of balance.
Let's say these are archetypes, or potentials in us, all of these are potentials of the way we could operate in the world, and we have one that's always working, it means one is not getting enough exercise. So, on a balance, it means one's drowning out here while the other is out here getting sun burnt, if you want to look at it that way. Or one is getting worked to death, while the other one is atrophying. Well we can do that. You may know somebody who is a single element kind of individual.
So, in the code, the way this looks, when you get too much earth in there and not enough of the rest of the balance, it provides a personality that's associated with stubbornness, seeing things only from a particular viewpoint, 'my way'. It's the individual that's willing to see both sides of every argument - "There's my side, and there's the wrong side" - you know, it's that kind of a look on it. So 'earth'. And our challenge, if that's where we are, is to see how that becomes a benefit. How does that work to assist us?
There are things that we call rituals which, often, isn't a popular word to use in North America, but a ritual, where what we're going to do is say 'okay, if that's my nature, if that's the way I am, what we're going to do is work with that in such a way that I see the value of it. I'm going to say certain things, whether I believe it or not. And I'm going to visualize certain things, whether I believe it or not. And I'm going to behave in a certain way, whether I believe in it or not. And I'm going to programme myself to bring out the best.' Now the target audience of the ritual is my subconscious mind, that thing that gets in the way of allowing me to operate as a fully functional enlightened entity. So, after I imitate it long enough, people watch and they go, "You know, you move around like a powerful, enlightened being, talk like a powerful, enlightened being, seem to see the world like a powerful, enlightened being. We thought you were one." In a lot a cases, we may be the last one to get the message. So, we're going to do that. We're going to take this kind of stubbornness, a pride that keeps us from moving ahead. And we're going to look at how that operates and make that help us out.
Way across here would be the opposite. What would be the opposite of having one way and one way only to do this particular thing, and not being willing to entertain anything else? The opposite to that kind of pride is over here in the 'wind' element - and again, 'wind'. How does that sound if a person is 'wind'? 'Leaf in the wind', 'gone with the wind', 'blowhard', all of these kind of things we talk about. You might imagine a person not being very rooted at all. Indeed, it's the opposite of this 'earth'. If 'earth' is hanging on and being too stubborn, 'wind' over here is the opposite. "I don't believe in anything I've got. All I can see is all the advantages that everybody else has. So what I think I'm going to do is try and be everything." So here's a person racing around. If this one ('earth') is stuck in the mud, this one's spinning wheels, going all over the place. Doesn't know what really works for him or her, but sees somebody doing this for this minute, and all of a sudden we're going to jump in and become a part of that cause until that fades from fashion and something else catches our eye. So it's a very racing around kind of a person, always looking at somebody else and seeing what they've got. This is 'wind' - I envy what he has, oh I wish I could do that so I'm going to run over and be that until I get there and then I'm going to see what someone else is doing. They're across from each other.
As you can see they're both limited viewpoints of life, and neither one, if we stayed there, would be particularly desirable. Well how the ritual works is - and I'm not going to go into the details but the process is pretty interesting - these people, as examples, as extremes, really are their own cure. Let me explain how that might go. What would be the opposite, if this person (earth) recognizes his or her limitations? "Yeah, I'm just a real stick in the mud. I can't help it. I always do it this way; this is my nature. There's a right way and there's your way. And it's just the way I am. I go with the tried and true and I know what's happening and I know it's a value". Then they start to see it as a limitation. How would you describe that as a limitation? "Gee, I'm narrow minded, I get stuck". This is easier to do, right? We're our own worst critics. "I get stuck in the mud, oh gee, I'm just too domineering. People can't even ask me questions; they know I'm going to shut them down all the time. I'm too cocky, I've got all the answers." Anyway, all of those, if you were to phrase it a little differently, it's this person's (wind's) solution. Or this one (earth) is a solution for that (wind) - freedom, easy going, entertaining, new view at any given time. See, that would be the cure for this (earth) This person (wind) sees themself as wishy-washy, flighty, competitive, always on the go, never having a target. What they need is a little bit more of this (earth) over here.
Now we have codes here. These are referred to as influences towards enlightenment, Boddhisattvas or Bosatsu in the Japanese language, Buddhas or Hotoke in the Japanese language. I'm not really addressing that tonight. What I'm talking about is how I got into this, how I learned it through the martial arts.
Let me take this one step closer to another kind of reality, and say, well, these are characters. If this is wisdom, if this is a form of enlightenment, who would these be in their fullest form? If that's my nature, if this 'earth' kind of being right and being in charge and holding on and knowing all the answers, if that's my nature and it were developed to its fullest extent, what would we have on our hands? And so these become keys for the way wisdom operates.
So what I like to suggest to people is, okay, on this side - 'earth' - this is called Hosho Nyorai, the Buddha that in this case is a force that works in the world, the Buddha that provides, that gives, that rewards, that traditionally is seen as providing the access to the true teachings, which are called dharma or po. It's the one who gives, stabilizes, richness, gold. All of these things are associated with this particular character. And when you remember being real little, and, you think about that person in your life, maybe not a Buddha, who gave you some boundaries, who told you what was right and what was wrong, and maybe saved your life because they did that, rewarded you when you did something well, provided an inspiration for you. Do you remember anybody who sounds like that? Sure, our parents. Remember how much you wanted to please them as a small child? Your parents, that person who just seems so grown up and brave and knew everything, and had more money than you could count, right. Yours did too, just like mine, right? When you're five they appear to. They can always reach into their pocket and give you a quarter. I thought we were rich when I was growing up until I got a little bit older. I had a talk with my dad and found out how much we didn't have. A lot of kids see their parents that way. So this could be that force, that influence.Now if we go beyond the family, who would that be? Some kind of an ideal, some kind of thing or person that causes us to be inspired, causes us to want to do great things. And we want to please this person, we want the rewards from this person. Maybe it's the emperor or the Shogun, the military leader or the commander, the ruler, and just to be around this person is a wonderful experience, and again think about it, when you were a kid, maybe you even fought with some of your brothers and sisters just to be in the eyes of your parents. Do you remember doing that at all? Couldn't get enough attention, so I'd kick this one, and she went to scream - then they'd look at me and say "He's being good..." - this kind of stuff. We all wanted to be in the space, we all wanted to be in the eyes of that one that we looked to for inspiration.
I think it's the same today. How wonderful it is to have some kind of leader, whether it's at your office or at your university or in your own realm of activity, that's worthy of your support. Well, what's the opposite? What's over here (wind), the one that moves all around? Well, if this (earth) is the leader who sits on the throne or a tiger skin and is worthy of being served, worthy of inspiration, over here Fokujoju Nyorai or Amogashibi, is the representative of all this movement, stuff going on and that's their nature, get with it and make it work as an action. So what would be the opposite of the leader? The one who serves, the one who gets things done. If the leader is inspiration, this is inspired to do things. So this is the Buddha of all accomplishing activity, or being able to always be in just the right space at the right time with just the right thing. Perfection of action, perfection of activity. And again, tonight I'm relating it to us as human beings and how we operate in our society. There's a molecular level at which this operates and there's a cosmic level. I'm not going to have time to go into those tonight.
This is the server (wind), or from my viewpoint, from the way I was trained, this was the warrior, the one who would defend. In fact the original word for 'samurai' in Japanese - maybe you've heard that word samurai, the aristocratic warrior - comes from a word samurau which means to serve. Now maybe, if you were like me when you were growing up, if you heard of the samurai, you'd remember that guy in the glistening armour with all the swords. Remember in Shogun - did you see Shogun? - when the one guy didn't bow quite fast enough and with that, 'shhhht', off goes his head? The Samurai had the right to kill anybody who wasn't polite to him. Well, wouldn't that be cool in this day and age? (laughter) We can really have a respectful society here. Well, it really probably didn't work that way. See, the samurai was the server, he was the one who protected the community, and for him to just lop somebody's head off because they bowed a little slow, it means there's one fewer rice producer now, one fewer rice producer who probably left about five or six kids and a wife. Now we've got to make up for the fact that he's not around. It's an exaggeration; it's a perversion. The samurai warrior was the one who served.
And what did they serve? Their leader. That's famous in Japanese lore. That this person, when the leader suffered shame, he himself would jump in there and share in the shame. They'd both kill themselves ritually. So, to have something worthy of being served and what a wonderful thing that is to experience. Again, like our parents, and how we remember our parents, or a great leader, or somebody of inspiration. Wasn't it wonderful? Maybe now or some time in your own life to have something that was bigger than you, that was worth any amount of sacrifice. And soldiers, protectors do this in a war. They'll go out and sleep in the mud and not eat good food, and bullets are zinging around. "Well, why are you doing that? You really like that, huh?" "No, we don't like it. We don't have any other choice. Our little kingdom is being invaded by this big kingdom and I don't want my children to be slaves. I'll do that; I'll sleep in the mud and dodge the knives and the bullets and so forth. Why? There's something bigger than me." And we yearn for that.
So here's one polarity. How about yourself? See, there's one of these in every one of us, and it comes out more or less, depending on how we allow it to. How about yourself? Are you taking charge of your own life? Is there a ruler, is there a leader, is there an ideal that guides you and guides your life, so that you know exactly what you're doing, and exactly what you're going for? My feeling is, in North America, a lot of folks I talk to, this one's (wind) starving to death. I mean, it's crazy out there, isn't it? Everything's upside down. Just to look at the headlines, gee, the head of our church is no longer the head of our church because he and the other guys were in line to gang rape the secretary, and everything's upside down, everything's crazy. So a lot of us lack leadership, and we see a lack of leadership in our own community now, where people are willing to poison the earth. Not too far from my home, they just discovered that a particular company was drilling real deep wells way down safely underneath the water table, so they could put all of these chemicals from a manufacturing process down there. Well, it didn't work out quite as safe as they thought it was going to, of course. Where's the guy who is responsible for that? He's already fulfilled his contract for that corporation. He took his 17.6 million dollars - that's what they paid him for doing that four years of work - he's gone, living on the beach somewhere. Now, that's not isolated, is it? We hear about that kind of stuff all the time, where leadership fails us. And then the servers don't have anything to serve.
Remember all these comments? You heard them maybe here in Canada. We heard them in the U.S. The Japanese referring to the American work force...boy, the American work force didn't like to hear that, but you know what, there's a lot of truth to it. The workers don't have anything to serve over here. And the fact that there's no leadership inspires the servers to just do whatever they need to get it done. When the server becomes his own leader, that's when you have things like the samurai taking a head off, or big countries invading smaller ones. So here's a polarity in there. How about yourself? Do you have something that you're connected with that's worth serving? Something that, even though it's Monday morning, and it's a drizzly old miserable day, and it's so nice and warm under the covers, that you wouldn't even think of staying under the covers, because what you've got to do is so important that your own comfort doesn't matter? How about that? And that's one that exists in all of us. We want to serve something that's greater.
We also want to be around these. They're cultural heroes. The server in the States...we had a little 12 minute war over in Saudi Arabia a year ago, where some guys flew in bombs and bombed the cities and so forth. But the head of that battle group over there, Norman Schwarzkopf was like an instant national hero. He was in ads and he was on the cover of People magazine. Why? Because he's the closest thing we had to Ike and MacArthur and so forth in this generation, and we want to see that in our society. We want to salute the servers, the warriors. And the leader over here, too. We want to have leaders; we want to be around those kind of people. They're inspiring. Unfortunately there aren't a lot. We're trying to have a presidential election in America right now, and it's kind of pathetic down there. We're looking at all these candidates that are coming up in front of us, going, "Geez, couldn't they get anybody better than this?" Well, they could get somebody better if they paid better and you didn't get shot at all the time, and they didn't go snooping into what you did on every date that you've ever had in your life. Nobody wants the job. Why? Well, it's not a time conducive to bringing out heroes, I guess. Anyway, we like to spend time around them.
That's one polarity. This is how we operate in the world (earth). (< - >). Or, maybe we can call that polarity how we operate in the world (wind). And we're both of these. Sometimes we're the server. See, the ultimate leader is a server. The ultimate leader looks around and says, "Well, nobody else would do it. I better do it. And so I serve the interests of the people I serve, the interests of the community I serve, the interests of the spirit of the universe by taking charge and being a leader. And ultimately every server is his or her own leader, in a way. We've got to know how to best apply our gifts.
Here's another polarity. 'Water' down here and 'fire' up there. And very briefly, the so-called defilement associated with this (water) is a tendency to be alienated from people. It's an alienation from people, aversion to people. And it shows up in its extreme form as hatred or malice. And some of us have that kind of an approach, where we're just angry, we're angry and we see that other people are what gets in the way of our getting things done. Now where do we learn this? I don't know. Early last year, the Dalai Lama of Tibet was in Ohio and he was addressing a crowd and he was referring to this anger, and he said, "You know, when you think about anger, and how popular anger is. You see it demonstrated all the time and yet, what is the value of it?" Could you imagine ever going to the doctor and having the doctor look at you and say "You're in bad shape. What I suggest is that you be more angry. Be more angry more often. Increase your blood pressure and see if you can work up some more tension in your life"? Of course not. No one is ever going to predict that as a solution for health. But we're comfortable with it and we use it.
Opposite of anger is the opposite of alienation from those things outside. This (fire) would be what we might call frantic passion, where what I want to do is have everything, be in touch with everything. So if this (water) is being so self-centred inside myself that people cease to exist, and this (fire) is the opposite - there's no self in there, there's nothing home, everything's on the surface. That becomes how we operate or function in the world (this vertical axis). And again, let's look at this and how it may show up. This is water and this fire - two extremes. Inside this one here (water) is the realm of kongosatta or 'the one that inspires us to take up the study of these materials', and this again is a force that works within us.
Science I associate water with. Knowing things, so inside of myself I study and I know. So this would be the realm of the scientist, the scholar, the person who knows things, understands them. And you can learn a lot by being by yourself in a room - if you have enough books and enough videos and enough time to think about it, you don't need anybody around. This (fire) would be the opposite. This is that part of us that relates to the world and touches the world and allows it to touch us. If this is being so inside of myself, this is the opposite, on the surface. This would be, for our analogy here, maybe the artist, the one who expresses, the one who touches others. This is the artist, and this (water) is the scientist, and like the leader and the server, it's not to say that a scientist or scholar can't be an artist, or that an artist can't know things. It's just that they're extremes. Now as they show up as a negative personality, this (fire) is one who can't get enough. Enough of what? Just can't get enough of anything. Anything we get our hands on is old hat. Very surface, very flashy, where I care so much about what other people think about that I don't even notice that there's a me to think about it. So we've got to have the latest fashion, the latest style, the brightest car, the wildest hairdo. This is a disease in that aspect. So, in being fascinated by what people think, that there's nobody home in the centre.
And this (water), in its exaggerated form would be just the opposite, totally cut off from people, or anything to do with people. So, in its extremely negative form, these (fire) are the artists that become legends in our time, legends in our culture. Elvis - I know he's dead now but.... Can you imagine being Elvis Presley? Geez, good looking guy, in the old movies real lean, look at that body. Every female in America wanted to chase him around. More money than he could even imagine counting. He used to give Cadillacs as tips to bellhops, remember? I read that somewhere. Imagine being that, everybody just hanging on your word, anything you do is gold, anybody you want to see, you can see them. Wasn't there a story about Elvis, who got in to the see the President and he wanted to be an FBI agent, and they gave him a badge? Can you imagine that? Everybody else has got to go to law school first. But Elvis has got one. Can you imagine? Wouldn't that be the most phenomenal existence in the world? Obviously not, because Elvis killed himself. Well, somebody may want to argue with me about it, but when you keep dumping all these drugs in your body on top of alcohol, I would call that killing yourself. Why?
Or how about his female counterpart? Same time frame in America. Remember Marilyn Monroe? Same thing, like Elvis. Talk about having everything you would dream a human could want in life. Look at that body. Every man in the world chasing after her. You've got more money than you can even imagine counting. Everybody hangs on your words. You're going to interview Marilyn Monroe and people listen. And you'd think that would be the ultimate existence, right? Nope. She killed herself too. Why? Because, well, I would imagine that a person gets to that kind of a point and they've got everything externally that you could ever dream of having, and you look around and you say well, why does life still hurt? And you might just figure that's all there is, and you can't live with that knowledge, so you blow your brains out.
The big event in the news this month was the discovery and arrest of the leader of the group responsible for the gas attacks on the subways of Tokyo in March. Shoko Asahara, the guru leader of the cult "Aum Supreme Truth", was found and apprehended on May 16. That was two weeks ago. So far his only comment has been that a warrior does not have to explain his actions (scary, don't you think?). Some of his henchmen, who were arrested in earlier raids, are beginning to tell stories of various events leading up to, and the actual ordering of, his attacks.
Another matter that is a cause for concern with the authorities here, is the increase in deaths by gun shootings. Japan has always been a country where the general public has been banned from having firearms. Legally, only the military and the police are allowed to possess them. Illegally, the Yakuza (which includes a large part of the criminal population of Japan) have always had access to them. With the present state of the economy in recession, the profits from the Yakuza's "amusement" businesses (drugs, prostitution and gambling) have been considerably lower than usual. As a means of making up some of their losses, gun smuggling has increased and they are now selling guns to the public. As a result, the number of deaths involving firearms is higher than it has ever been in the past. Long standing conditions are rapidly changing here in Japan. As the conditions here become more like those of other places in the world, is it possible that our martial art will eventually be recognized as having usefulness even in the country of its birth? We shall see as only time will tell...
Lately, there have been some changes in the Bujinkan as well. Hatsumi Sensei has announced the change of his Bugyo [martial name]. Originally it was Byakuryu, which means "white dragon." Most recently, he has been referred to as Tetsuzan, which means "iron mountain." The new name that he has taken is Hisamune. He explained that it is made up of the characters from Takamatsu's names and the character of So from soke. His reasons for the change is that Tetsuzan represents an image of strength - which is fine for a younger man, but as Sensei gets along in years (he's now in his 60's) he feels that a softer image and one that relates to nature and naturalness is much more appropriate at this time. I can't help but note, that one of the ideas from our art is to act or move appropriately to deal with an opponent's attack. It has started me thinking...
Another change that Sensei has made recently is on the ranking certificates. For the last couple of years he has talked about the negative image that the word ninja brings to most peoples mind's, and how it is only a small part of the 9 schools that he teaches in the Bujinkan system. He has mentioned his desire that people who practice his art should look at themselves as martial artists, with the emphasis on the "art" component. The art is supposed to teach you how to live, how to be a complete human being. It is supposed to have a positive and beneficial effect on you, and then through you on you community, and eventually the world. This negative image that people have of ninjutsu and the ninja tends to negate some of the possible positive effects from the beginning. It seems that this image is not something that can be changed very easily. When Sensei came to the United States the first few times, he did his best to stop the "Ninja Boom" and show people that the ideas that they had about ninjutsu and the ninja were incorrect. But here we are, years later, and many of those ideas still persist. In the past, the rank certificates have given us grades in Bujinkan Ninpo Taijutsu. The characters have been changed and from now on the ranks are in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. This term, which translates as "martial art", is broader and more complete, covering the fact that the Bujinkan system is several different martial styles, including ninjutsu. It seems that we have come full circle in a way. In the days of Toshitsugu Takamatsu, they trained in white uniforms to blend in with the other martial arts practitioners of that time, and not draw attention to themselves. To me it seems that this is much more "ninja-like" - in that we hide the fact of who we are. I don't expect that the training will change, just what it is called. Does not a rose by any other name smell as sweet? I know that some people who have schools around the world, have been using the "n" words as a form of advertising (its been pretty effective too - the negative image is not so bad in some places). are they going to have to give this up? I don't know, again only time will tell... but Hatsumi Sensei has now made the change here in Japan. It's something to think about.
Another change for someone here recently is Manaka Shihan, who has a career with the Japanese military, has been stationed in Sendai, which is 4 hours north of Noda city. Fortunately, he is going to return to the Noda area every weekend to visit his family. He will continue to teach his class at a local community center on Sundays. Manaka Shihan - who is a 10th dan and a longtime student of Hatsumi Sensei, has for the past few years been teaching the traditional techniques from some of the various styles in the Bujinkan system. In the past he has covered Gyokko Ryu, Koto Ryu, Takagi Yoshin Ryu, and Shinden Fudo Ryu. He has also covered techniques dealing with the basics of several weapons including hanbo, rokushaku bo, spear, naginata and, for the last couple of years, the sword. At present he is covering the techniques from Kukishinden Ryu Dakentaijutsu, which he began last year. He is very popular with many of the foreigners that come here to train because of his straight-forward teaching style. His classes are very easy to understand and the pace is not too fast. He usually cover one or two traditional techniques per lesson and a few variations that demonstrate the main point of the original technique. He also has special one-day seminars, held in a local gym here in Noda. In the last two he went over the beginning and continuation of a list of techniques dealing with the use of the hanbo and a shorter stick. The most recent seminar, held at the end of March, will cover techniques having to do with using short range weapons including knife, jutte and kusari fundo. The pace of these seminars is a bit faster with a lot more material covered but the general feeling from the people who attended in the past is that the training experience is well worth it.
This next item is of particular interest to those practitioners who are part of the military community. There are several U.S. military bases here in Japan. In the past I have known several people who have used there military careers as a vehicle to be stationed over here to get closer to the training. When they arrive here they find that the distance to the local training can be as much as 2 to 3 hours of travel time. So, even though they are here in Japan, they don't train that often because they only have the time to get to training infrequently. Now, something that could change this situation is that there are branches of the Bujinkan Dojo on 3 of the local military radio stations. The first opened last year on Yokota Air Force Base. This year 2 more opened: Yokosuka Navy Base and Camp Zama Army Base. These are all under the direction of a Shidoshi level instructor who trains regularly with Hatsumi Sensei. Appearances have been made be some of the Shihan as guest instructors. So, military people can train with Hatsumi Sensei every chance they get and attend weekly classes on base in the meantime. Anyone wishing more information about this training should contact the Editor (of Heart, Faith & Steel).
With the arrival of the new year and now Spring, its that time again, Bujinkan membership renewal time. Most of the Japanese take care of their renewals before the end of January. I have heard that the new fiscal year starts in March so some people don't do it until then. Either way if you were waiting for some reason, it's time now. If you belong to a training group or dojo that is under the direction of a Shidoshi or Shidoshi-ho, the collection of membership fees is their responsibility. And if he's really together and on top of things, he probably already collected the fees from you before the end of last year, and maybe you have already received your new membership cards. If you are one of these people, great. But I know that is not necessarily the case with a lot of Bujinkan people out there. Many of us just aren't that well organized. Maybe you just train in somebody's backyard or garage, or maybe get together with friends at a park. Maybe you don't really have a teacher, but watch Sensei's videos and read his books, and the only real instruction you receive is when you go to the Tai Kai, or a seminar. Perhaps, your just trying to learn this art anyway you can. Or maybe you have a teacher but he's not too closely connected to Japan, and doesn't think that a membership is "that" important, so he doesn't bother with it. All I can say is that Hatsumi Sensei thinks that it is very important. In several of his conversations of late he has been talking a lot about two subjects: Sanmyaku and Bujinkan Membership. He wants everyone who practices this art to get and read Sanmyaku. This is like his personal letter to everyone in the Bujinkan. He is making this available to everyone, if they choose to accept it. Bujinkan membership is a requirement and is discussed extensively in the "Rules of the Bujinkan Dojo":
Membership provides you with a connection to the organization here in Japan, especially those of you who don't have a real teacher and are trying to learn this art the hard way. It also gives you a way to show that you support Hatsumi Sensei and his art. So, now you know. If you don't have a membership card and would like to get one, you can do so directly. Cash is preferred over here, but an international Postal Money Order will also be accepted. (Do not send Bank Money Orders - they will NOT be accepted.) If the money order is not made out in the Yen amount, then make sure you include enough money to cover the exchange. The Post Office should be able to tell you how much to send to have it come out to the correct amount. Include with the money order, your name printed clearly and the words "Bujinkan Dojo Membership" on a slip of paper [with your return address]. Request for membership does not have to be in Japanese if it is printed clearly and simply. Send to the Hombu address mentioned earlier.
That brings us to the last item. The latest copy of Sanmyaku [available in the USA for $45 from WIN, P.O. Box 30338, Stockton, CA 95213] to come out over here contains several things related to Daisho Sabaki, which is one of the themes of the training this year. There are descriptions of each of the Takagi Yoshin Ryu Daisho Sabaki waza that Sensei has been teaching at his Ayase classes. There are also illustrations showing the different names and parts of the sword as well as one that shows the various targets on the body. Since this issue came out here recently, it will probably be coming out in other countries before too long. It's something to look for. From Japan, until next time...
A recent incident which occurred there reminded me of the enormous responsibility we as instructors have to our students. For me it illustrated the concept of giri (duty) that all people in authority must bear.
It was another gray day in the middle of April. "Will it rain or are the clouds just hiding the sun?", I thought as I entered the mess hall. As I looked around, an eerie silence greeted me. Normally there would be loud chatter and tales of bravado. But today the officers sat eating quietly, with a distant look in their eyes. It was only the beginning of spring and already we had responded to three major disturbances. Just as I was about to sit down, the call came over the radio, "Capt. Serrano report to the control room immediately". The officers looked at each other and then at me. They followed me without a word.
As they assisted each other with the riot gear, I inspected everyone to ensure that they were bus headed for the House of Detention for Men, I gave instructions on how to follow my lead. It's my duty and responsibility to the officers to take them in and get them out in one piece.
When we entered the facility, there was a frenzy of movement going on. Other response teams from all over Rikers had converged on the scene and we awaited our orders. The Deputy Warden notified me that several gang members seriously injured an officer and were now refusing to leave the recreation yard. When the inmates were brought into the facility, my team was to secure the corridor, and assist in the strip search of all the inmates involved in the melee.
The search was almost completed when one of the inmates decided to make a stand. he was not going to allow himself to be searched. Rather than risk any action on his part which might set off the other gang members, I ordered him escorted out of the area. As an officer ushered him past me, this inmate decided that assaulting a captain would look good on is resume.
I saw the sucker punch coming out of the corner of my eye. I instinctively fell back into ichimonji. Simultaneously I struck the inside of his triceps with my baton. Rocking forward, I applied an onikudaki elbow lift. The right end of the baton smashed into his throat and his body hit the floor with a thud. I quickly looked around for any other attackers but my officers had the remaining inmates under control. After my challenger picked himself up off the floor, he couldn't get undressed fast enough. I was grateful that my officers and I had gotten through the incident unscathed.
After finishing our reports, we prepared to go back to our facility. As we waited for the bus, the officers assigned to this facility began to voice their anger. One of them received serious injuries and they blamed the administration. They felt it was the administration's lack of commitment and obligation to the officers that was the root of the problem.
As instructors we must have a very strong sense of commitment, obligation, and duty to our students. During class, I want to share with the students all I know about their potential attackers. Since I know first-hand what they are up against, I encourage my students to train as if their lives depended on it, because they do. It is no easy task to continually motivate students to take their training seriously. They must always be challenged to do better than yesterday. The students are given the benefit of all their instructor's collective knowledge and experience.
I find it inspiring to see the different methods used by instructors as they transmit the knowledge of our art. When a student does not understand a concept or technique, the instructors find a way for the student to solve the problem. In our dojo the instructors guide the students to achieve their ultimate potential. There are moments when we feel like proud parents watching the success of our students. Unfortunately, there is also disappointment and frustration. We give our all but some students give very little of themselves.
After class, many students thank us and let us know that they had a great time learning. Yet some students have said that the instructors in our dojo are too demanding. Given the choice, I'd rather be demanding and fulfill my duty than be easy and fail the student. I have seen the price for failing the people in your charge. I always challenge the student's perception of skill so it can withstand the reality that awaits them outside the dojo. All that I do, I do in the hopes that the student will be better for it. Through the ups and downs, we instructors will be there to help the students reach their goals, simply because it is our duty.
For instance, a friend of mine recently returned from Japan where Soke had recounted this tale over tea: Takamatsu was in a fight with an adversary who had a knife. This man cut at Takamatsu and, through luck or skill, opened a gashing wound in his abdomen. As the blood flowed forth, Takamatsu's intestines began to seep out. Undaunted, Takamatsu rained blow after blow at his adversary, who immediately ran from the fierce warrior. What kind of demon fights when he is gravely wounded?
Takamatsu gathered himself up, held the wound together and took care of it so as to live for many years after that incident. The lesson here is, of course, that even when one is faced with death, one must persevere. And that is one of the most important lessons in our Bujinkan Dojo training.
Takamatsu Sensei once said, "What does Victory really mean? I would never have mastered taijutsu if I had clung to that concept." It took me years to understand that Takamatsu Sensei is admonishing us to not try to force a win or victory but rather to persevere over obstacles that we come up against. Remember, there is a martial adage which states that the best way to win a fight is to never join in it.
One of my first stops was at the homepage of Furyu Magazine, published out of Hawaii by Wayne Muramoto and Charles Goodin. On the page, it is explained what Furyu tries to concentrate on and what is not covered. As I read down the page, I discovered they will not be discussing "whether ninja exist in America, hahahaha." Of course I immediately felt compelled to email Mr. Muramoto and get a more in-depth explanation from him as to what he meant by this.
Needless to say, I was surprised and rather pleased when Mr. Muramoto promptly replied and explained himself. According to him, the magazine holds what Hatsumi-sensei teaches in high regard, but will not publish articles about American ninjutsu since they feel that many American shihan are not doing Hatsumi-sensei justice via their actions and over-inflated egos. However, Mr. Muramoto quickly points out that his own teacher, Quentin Chambers, studied under Hatsumi-sensei and Mr. Muramoto does have respect for him, even though he feels Hatsumi-sensei can be confusing. I found myself agreeing more than not with Mr. Muramoto and found his magazine Furyu an excellent read and would heartily recommend it to anyone who finds the serious study of martial arts enjoyable. Cheered by this, I set out again.
From Furyu, I was able to obtain the e-mail for Aikido Journal, another excellent magazine. I e-mailed them and asked whether they would ever be doing an interview with Hatsumi-sensei since they had been interviewing other Japanese MA luminaries. Diane Skoss, the Managing Editor promptly replied that they were attempting to set up an interview for a future issue with Hatsumi-sensei as they have a good deal of respect for him. After a brief discussion of the possibilities of whether Morihei Ueshiba studied Kuki Shinden-ryu, our communications ended since the deadline was fast approaching for the next Aikido Journal.
A column in Furyu had led me to subscribe to the Aikido List. Throughout the day, messages would pop into my mailbox from devoted followers of Aikido discussing an assortment of topics both interesting and inane. I found myself dumping approximately 98% of what I received. At times, someone would post an interesting comment like the effects of atemi and the reasons for using them. This would be followed by a few responses and then it was back to such silly topics as discussing ways to apply shiho nage on a horse! Seriously, this was the main topic for a good two days! Complete, I might add, with as realistic a rendering as could be achieved using their keyboards.
It was here, however, that I ran into trouble. In the course of "conversation" someone asked about ranks which extended beyond tenth dan and this prompted a reply that included what I took to be a disrespectful comment aimed at Hatsumi-sensei and his addition of five new ranks to the Bujinkan grading system. I immediately attempted to correct the information and explain that there had probably been a misunderstanding regarding the five elemental grades which exist within tenth dan. This prompted the author to write back defiantly stating that adding five to ten did in fact equal fifteen. (Needless to say, I felt relieved that all those years in grade school had not been wasted as that was the sum I had also arrived at.)
Attempting to explain that these five ranks were not, in and of themselves, additional per se, but more likely an inclusive requirement of tenth dans, had little effect on the person who seemed rather set in his ways. I found his attitude wholly disrespectful and when I commented that Ninpo, at the very least for its history, was worthy of further study to any aikidoka, my mailbox got bombed with a three line message from someone suggesting that I was way out of line and that I reconsider my reasons for being on the list. He ended by attaching a flurry of important looking letters to his name and stating that he was Chief Instructor at such and such dojo in Santa Monica, CA.
Well, I was torn. As I sat down and listed everything I could attach to the end of my name (ex-USAF, security clearances, lover of Chinese food, struggling Japanese linguist, president of the Beavis and Butthead fan club, age I lost my virginity...you know, the stuff that makes us all proud), it occurred to me that I was perhaps standing at the brink of a very high cliff, looking a long way down.
And of course, in all my glory, I promptly stepped off the edge.
My message back was incendiary. All right, maybe it was a tad explosive. But, being human (and convinced this is only my third time around on the wheel) I was upset that these people were refusing to see why I was taking offense at their statements. The Ph.D. from California hadn't even (and still hasn't) articulated exactly why I was out of line, but his friend Mr. Cold Miser took great pleasure in retaliating and calling me such wonderful and time-honored things like "jerk", etc., etc.
Well, I read all of this the next morning at 6 AM. I think I should probably save bad mail for a later hour, but that's just hindsight. Instead, I sat back and reviewed what I had written. I found it emotional and definitely angry. I could see where I was attempting to make points but they seemed to get lost in the shuffle of my emotions.
So I wrote a new post. This time I was careful. I responded to each of the criticisms I received (and e-mailed several people privately) and once again set my points out as best I could. I apologized to the other people on the list and thanked them for putting up with me. I did not apologize to the two individuals that had delighted in calling me names. That was posted at approximately seven thirty in the morning.
At two o?clock that afternoon, one of my two detractors fired back another nasty letter that he foolishly posted to the entire list. He got bombed immediately by a number of people telling him to back off. Needless to say I was delighted. But my delight grew even more when I began receiving messages from people (privately) who were requesting information about Ninjutsu. I spent the next few days replying to queries for information and directed alot of people to resources better than myself. Most of the people were genuinely interested in learning about Ninjutsu. They readily admitted that there were many misconceptions about the art and wanted to rectify them in their own minds at least.
So out of controversy comes recognition. In attempting to correct the popular image of ninjutsu in general and Ninpo in particular, I had given free reign to an emotional outburst. But after realizing what I had done and attempted to correct it, I not only got alot of support from people but also (hopefully) helped some seekers better find what they might be looking for. Meanwhile my opponents overextended themselves and fell onto their own blades.
So now as I sit here contemplating whether this whole incident was just a verbal application of the kake hiki (sp) techniques in our sword work, I am glad that I've embarked on this perilous journey. Ninpo has a scarred reputation in this country, and perhaps more so on the internet where most of the martial inhabitants view themselves as slightly superior. Trying to establish the credibility of Ninpo is a daunting challenge in a cyberworld dominated by Tae Kwon Do and Aikido stylists. Hopefully, if more Ninpo people get involved, maybe we can change some opinions. Most of the people out there are willing to listen, and some even like Ninpo. Yes, there are some incredibly stubborn people but when you run into them, make sure you don't make the same mistakes I did. Keep your postings professional and riddled with facts, verifiable facts. Keep comments about your own training and accomplishments to a minimum. The intelligent people out there appreciate it so much more than listening to back-and-forth bickering (or flaming as they call it).
See you in the trenches.
Each rank advancement requires improvement on all skills learned previously. You should feel good for other people when they attain more rank. If you are fortunate enough to witness a black belt test, put all your goodwill behind the person taking the test, because one day it might be you facing the sword. If anybody passes the black belt test, you can too.
Anyone can become a black belt in this art. But not everyone does. Why not? Because they aren't willing to pay the price. What is the price? Hard work, superhuman effort, focus and determination, pain and hardship. and completely immersing oneself in Ninpo, physically, mentally and spiritually. If it was easy, everyone would do it. So each and every student who perseveres, ranked or not, should be recognized for their internal strength.
One thing to avoid, however, is a natural tendency to believe that just because you are a few ranks above another student, you are more powerful or dangerous. Everyone is dangerous. A bunny rabbit is tame and defenseless, right? But go and stick your hand down a rabbit hole and see what happens! People can surprise you, too. But for one person to truly dominate another, he has to be much more advanced. Anyway, you should always regard your fellow students as your brothers and sisters.
Someone famous once said: "Whether you think you can or think you can't, either way - you're right." That means if you think that you will never become a black belt, your own mind has already defeated you and you can never become a Shodan. On the other hand, if you believe that you can accomplish anything, you probably will if you are willing to pay the price. Here comes another paradox: keep these things in mind, but do not try to advance in rank. Just keep going, enjoy the training, and you will grow in confidence and skill, and then you will advance in a natural way. If not, then there is something out of balance in either your mind, body or spirit.
It sometimes may look as if rank is given out casually, almost nonchalantly, but in reality there is nothing more serious, because I feel a great responsibility toward all of my students. The tasks that have been laid upon me by Hatsumi Sensei are first to only admit into the dojo people who have a healthy mental attitude and good heart, then to properly transmit the art of Taijutsu and Ninpo, and to see that everyone has correctly understood the principles being taught, then to be sure that each individual has the maturity and proper spirit that is required for each level. Finally it is my responsibility to make sure that the powers I have instilled don't get misused. Hatsumi Sensei refers to this process: "like a ceramist who destroys his work if he doesn't like it."
To me, the most critical item to take with you is the sleeping bag. I don't think there is anything worse than freezing my buns off in the middle of the night on the hard ground. The following is a short course in the selection of a sleeping bag.
There are four types of fill and certain advantages to each:
HOLLOFIL 808 is a hollow short-crimped polyester fiber. It retains most of it's loft when wet. It must be sewn to another fabric to prevent clumping, shifting and cold spots. This adds weight. HOLLOFIL II is the same but has a silicone slickening agent added to make the fibers more resilient and more compressible.
POLARGARD is a continuous filament polyester that is manufactured in bats. These bats require no stabilizing fabric making the bag somewhat lighter. It too retains most of it's loft when wet.
QUALLOFIL is a four-hole microscopic short-crimped polyester fiber. Since it has more surface area, it is a superior insulator. It has a soft down-like feel and retains most of it's loft when wet.
DOWN is the best insulator with the widest comfort range. Look for at least 550 cubic inches per ounce as a fill guide. DOWN loses 90% of it's warmth when wet and will take atleast two days to dry. The synthetics lose only 10% of their warmth and will drip-dry in less than a day. Carry your bag in a waterproof stuff sack.
There are two styles of bags. The camping bag is rectangular in shape and is usually quite bulky. Rectangular bags are usually only good for weather well above freezing. The mummy style is less comfortable, but is more thermally efficient. The mummy style is excellent at sub-zero temperatures.
Selection of a sleeping bag is a personal decision but should be carefully thought out before spend a lot of money on any expensive mistake.
Weight: If you are going to be backpacking, this can be very important. Every pound will weigh ten pounds out on the trail. If you drive to your campsite, then weight is of no concern.
Temperature Rating: I would rather have a bag that is too hot than one that is too cold. If I get too warm, I can always unzip the bag or sleep on top of it. If the bag is too cold, there is nothing I can do to warm it up.
Size: I like a bag with more girth. If the bag is too tight then I feel constricted. If the bag is too short, then either your feet or your head will compress the insulation and either one end or the other will get cold and uncomfortable.
Price: A good quality sleeping bag will cost from $80 to $300 depending on the construction, fill, shell material, and the store you buy it from. In general, you should be able to buy an excellent sleeping bag for $200. I have purchased six sleeping bags over the last ten years before finally finding one I like.
Other items to consider are a ground cloth and/or sleeping pad. Both will keep the damp from accumulating under the bag. The pad should be either the self-inflating type (expensive) or made of a closed-cell foam. Both are lightweight and both make sleeping much softer and warmer. The final item to consider is either a ten or a bivouac sack (bivy sack). I'll discuss tents in a later issue. Bivy sacks are sacks into which you place your sleeping bag. The bivy should have Gore-Tex on the top to allow it to breathe and yet still be waterproof. The bottoms are usually made from a urethane coated nylon packcloth. The bivy will ad about 10 degrees to the rating of you sleeping bag. The bivy has the advantage of being significantly lighter than a tent. Bivy sacks cost between $90 and $150.
. . . that a mudra is a symbolic position of the hand(s). Mudras are physical representations of particular energies. Mudras are often seen in Buddhist iconography - statues and illustrations - but can also be used as an aid in meditation to help release the relevant energies in the person practicing these gestures. An example of a mudra would be Bhumisparsa where the deity/person is seated in a meditation posture and touches the ground with his fingertips, as Gautama Buddha did when the demon Mara challenged his resoluteness to gain enlightenment. Gautauma Buddha said that he would not move from his selected spot until he attained enlightenment and touched the earth. This mudra represents the invocation of the earth as a withness to the truth of your words.
Some of the general rules of good posture are the following:
The problem most people have is the first. In Ichimonji (or Seigan no Kamae) the back knee tends to collapse inward. This can cause knee problems. When in Ichimonji, try to have a feeling of pushing your knees apart. Another problem area is the shoulder. When punching or applying a technique like Ganseki Nage, many people tend to over-rotate their shoulders a let there arm get "behind" them. The strongest position is an angle of 135 degrees from the chest. Sometimes you may need to have a greater angle. Any further back then 170 and the arm becomes very weak. The last point above (7) is very important and should be explained orally.
Kamae also protects by the space or Ma-ai it creates. In Koto Ryu this is called Kurai Dori (standing capture). You want to capture the space around you. This is easiest to see by comparing the different Ryu. Koto Ryu creates a long Ma-ai (combative distancing). This making attacks against it longer in time (Kan) and more commented giving time for a strong Uke. In Gyokko Ryu, the kamae is shorter and hence the quicker uke. In Shinden Fudo Ryu Daken, there is only "Shizen'' no Kamae. Even this creates a space. The uke now becomes a snapping motion.
In this way all kamae are defensive.
Not only can the path be chosen but the time of the attack as well. If you kamae is strong your opponent will try to circle one way or another or use Kyojitsu Tenkon Ho (throwing feints) against you. You must hold fast. When you have his rhythm, let a small suki (hole) open, on the next beat he will attack. Hide the suki in your movement and let it appear naturally.
This can be worked on while practicing the Kihon, Ichimonji no Kata. Start in a strong kamae. Turn your hand over a bit. This weakens your kamae and creates a small suki to the outside. The your aite (partner) should punch. Once you have this done, start circling each other and have your aite punch when he sees the suki. Try to only let him in when you want.
Gyokko Ryu technique are quick, close in and circling. The kamae therefore has a bend front arm to get closer and cover more frontal area. The weight is more even and the back foot is 90 degrees from the line for the quick circular movement.
Koto Ryu techniques are long and powerful with angle movements. It's kamae are longer so you have more time to generate power. The weight is further back to keep as far away as possible. The rear foot is angle back to allow the angle movement.
Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakenjutsu has only the kamae is Shizen or "natural" kamae. However you stand is your kamae. It's techniques are characterized by the ability to move any direction.
Kukishin Ryu Yoroi Kumi Uchi (grappling in armor). The kamae is design to cover the unarmored areas. The arms are held close to the body to protect the insides of the arms and the under-arm. It also helps to support the weight. In this position the Sode (shoulder armor) is brought into a shielding position. The weight of the armor (60 lbs to 100 lbs) is supported on both legs. (note the only school in the bujinkan system that is a battle field system is kukishin. One can tell this from it kamae. A straight arm can not support the weight of the armor.)
"No, that won't happen, I know how to zone my body to be out of reach even if he does step around....."
The grab flies out of nowhere, shaking you around furiously. Just like in training you reach up and cover the offending hand. You shift your body to the outside and start to apply omote gyaku, just as both of your hands are pushing his hand out for the throw he steps around and punches at you finding you just out of reach. You smile at your good fortune just as the kick crushes your leg.....::
"Well, I could just slide my leg out of the way. It's not like I wouldn't see it coming...."
The grab flies out of nowhere, shaking you around furiously. Just like in training you reach up and cover the offending hand. You shift your body to the outside and start to apply omote gyaku, just as both of your hands are pushing his hand out for the throw he steps around and punches at you finding you just out of reach. You smile at your good fortune just as the kick flies out at your leg. You deftly slide it back out of harms way. You brain analyzes your position, you are now standing directly in front of the attacker holding his hand with both of yours and he sure looks angry...::
"Are you trying to tell me omote gyaku is useless?!?!?"
No, I'm not. Omote gyaku is a very important concept to learn, but a dangerous one to rely on unless you apply some other concepts along with it.
We are all aware of the concept of a "Safe Zone." An area we create with Tai Sabaki that keeps us away from the attacker's other weapons. These "Safe Zones" only last a split second for the most part though. With both of your hands tied up a split second probably won't be enough to save you. So what do you do? Well, I can't show you through a medium such as this. All I can do is give you some ideas to play with in your training.
What is the primary joint we control with omote gyaku? The wrist. Don't stop there, try and control a few more joints. Once you control a few joints, the opponent's mobility is slowed considerably. This in turn lengthens the life-span of the "Safe Zone" you created, which should now give you the time necessary to do the throw without getting punched! Now, what joints am I talking about? Primarily the elbow and closest knee. These can be controlled in a variety of ways. Simply pivoting your body around your spine should push the uke's closest knee away from you, putting a stall in any kicking or stepping attempt for a second. Pushing the hand back towards the uke's body should control the elbow quite nicely, making it hard for him to bring the other shoulder around also.
Those were two suggestions for you to try in training. The point behind this is to make you think about what you are doing and see the options available. Experiment with different ways of moving and see how those motions affect the opponent. But remember, you can always just let the lock go and kick him in the knee.
Hatsumi Sensei told me a story once about his early training with his teacher, Takamatsu Sensei. Several times a week, Hatsumi Sensei would travel for well over an hour to get to Takamatsu's house to train. When he arrived, they would sit together in the parlor. Mrs. Takamatsu would bring a tray with tea for both master and pupil. This she did every time he came. When she handed Hatsumi Sensei the cup, she told him what variety of tea he was drinking. This went on for a very long time. One day, Takamatsu Sensei brought out the tray. After he handed Hatsumi the tea, he asked of what variety it was. Hatsumi could not give the correct answer. Takamatsu Sensei scolded him, and said that it is important to be aware in all things. In this way it would be possible to detect if someone is trying to poison you. He said not to dull your senses with spices and over indulgence. After that, Hatsumi Sensei became aware of subtle things.
Work to free your mind from the useless chatter of everyday life. Float through the stream of your life like a leaf on the water, leaving no trace. If you move through the world in a natural and humane way, and maintain a pure and joyous heart, you will come to the way of the true warrior.
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That's all she wrote, fellas. Enjoy!
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