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[ olvasnivaló » Ura & Omote - 1995 July ]

Ura & Omote - 1995 July


Content



SHIN-GI-TAI

Joe Maurantonio

The Japanese principle of unification of Shin [mind], Gi [skill], and Tai [body] is an important concept in modern Budo. It is herein that a person can develop him or herself to the point of selflessness and achieve the ultimate of the martial arts.

Let us take a brief look at the component parts of this concept.

The Japanese Kanji for Shin presents the meaning of mind at its most basic level. To view the character with deeper insight we come to the meanings of heart and moral integrity. And from this we come to the understanding of doing a task for the love of it and not for gain. It is here that we must gather our emotions and focus them on the task at hand.

Secondly, the character for Gi, also called Waza, presents us with the translation of technique or technical skills. Herein we can see the necessity for learning and developing skills that will benefit ourselves and thus benefit our society. Training, though arduous at times, is for the betterment of the form and progression of ability.

The final character is that of Tai which translates to body and confers the notion that our physical forms must be cultivated to the pinnacle of human ability. That man is limited only by his own personal limitations and that these "self imposed limits" need not exist.

Shin-Gi-Tai is the coming together of the mind, skill and body to produce a "complete person". These three human qualities are indicative of the essence of the heavens (represented by a person's mind), earth (an individual's skills) and man (by the body).

For instance, think of these coming together in the form of a man who plays guitar. Like Eric Clapton playing solo "unplugged". He sits and puts all of himself into each note, striking not only the guitar's strings but the "cords" in the audience's heart and bringing tears to their eyes.

An important point is that a martial artist, as well as any other individual that seeks to this level of capability, must understand that this path is fraught with certain pitfalls. The least of these being that to actually be conscious, to take deliberate action in any of Shin, Gi or Tai is to unbalance the unification and "lose" this ability.

Hatsumi Sensei has said that this unification of Shin-Gi-Tai is the ultimate quest for the martial artist. This is the purpose of his or her training. And though we may not be able to have this intensity in every moment of our lives, it is the "journey", the training on the way, that we endeavor towards.


This article was written by Shidoshi Joe Maurantonio, Director of the Bujinkan New York Dojo, Ass't Editor of SANMYAKU (Soke Hatsumi's newsletter) and Editor of the "Heart, Faith & Steel" newsletter from which it is taken [V.1, N.3]. For more info contact Adrian Kaehler at alk13@columbia.edu .


POWER, PASSION AND ANGER

Courtland J. Elliot
a talk by Stephen K. Hayes
March 26, 1992 at the Medical Sciences Building, University of Toronto

J. COURTLAND ELLIOTT: My name is Court Elliott, and I would like to welcome you to the first part of the 10th Anniversary Canadian Ninpo Seminar. Ten years ago, Ninpo was first introduced to Canada. I was lucky enough to be there, and I'm lucky enough still to be here. Our host for this evening's talk is Professor Neil McMullin, the Director of the Graduate Centre for Religious Studies and a noted Tendai scholar, and I would like to ask him to say a few words.

PROFESSOR NEIL MCMULLIN: Thank you, Court, and good evening. There is a custom in Japan, according to which, when one stands before a group of people whom one does not know, one says to the people 'dozo yoroshiku'. 'Dozo' means 'please', and 'yoroshiku' means 'be good to me'. So, dozo yoroshiku. It's my pleasure to have the task of introducing the person whom you have come to see. I've been asked by Court to say a little bit about Tendai Buddhism.

My own field is the study of Tendai Buddhism, Tendai being the Japanese name of the older school, I suppose, the Chinese school, T'ien T'ai Buddhism. There are only about four or five of us in North America, as far as I know - and I would know otherwise - who are studying this particular tradition. And I would say there are two reasons why one would, should, or might find it interesting to do this. One is, that Tendai is the grand, eclectic, intellectual, rubrical, liturgical, institutional Buddhist tradition in all of these things. There are some people who suffer under the illusion that Zen Buddhism is sort of the representative form of Buddhism, but I think that one can rather easily make the case that Tendai is the grand bearer of the Buddhist intellectual tradition. And not just intellectual, but - I am reminded when I saw these mandalas flashed on the screen back here - it is also the grand ritual tradition. That is to say, that the font of all major - no exaggeration - intellectual activity, ritual activity, lineage activity in Japan for just over twelve hundred years now is found in the Tendai tradition, and our speaker tonight is ordained in the Tendai tradition.

The other reason why Tendai is most worthy of study - and it's as close as I get myself to the Ninjutsu tradition - is that, at least in Japanese history, the martial arts tradition is first known, as far as I can tell, around the end of the 9th and early in the 10th century, at the head monastery of the Tendai School of Buddhism. There is a type of monk that appeared, so to speak, at the Enryaku-Ji (Chief Tendai temple) just outside of Kyoto, that was referred to as a Sohei. The word 'so' is the ideograph for 'monk' or 'priest', and 'hei' is the ideograph for 'warrior'. So there was a group, if not a class, if not an organization, of people called 'sohei' - warrior-monks. We expect that they must have had some kind of organized tradition, some kind of self consciousness of their own practice, and in fact Professor David Waterhouse here gave a talk on this very topic about a week ago I guess at the Oriental Society of Toronto.

So, in a sense, what we have combined here tonight is one whole lineage of the Tendai tradition, namely the doctrinal, the esoteric, primal tradition in the form, at least, of this mandala, and the other side, actually the side that I'm more interested in terms of my research, namely the 'sohei', the warrior-monk tradition, which, at least, in some modern version we have personified over here in the form of Mr. Hayes. So, as the cliche goes, without further ado, I myself much look forward to and would love to hear a good explication of this (points to mandalas), and therefore will turn over the floor to someone more courageous than I.

STEPHEN K. HAYES: Thank you Professor McMullin and good evening. I got involved in this Tendai, esoteric Buddhist practice kind of through a back door, through my martial arts studies, and here I am speaking to you tonight, aware very much that with people like Dr. McMullin and Dr. Waterhouse sitting here in the auditorium, it's kind of like a cough drop salesman addressing the College of Surgeons. (laughter) But I'm going to give you my best shot at my experience of this.

As I mentioned, I started out through martial arts. So I discovered this almost by accident, or by mistake. How many of you in the audience are involved or have done some kind of martial art training? Okay, a lot of you. How many of you have formally studied the Tendai esoteric Buddhist tradition? A few. More sluggers than meditators here. So you can identify, maybe, when you went into your first martial art classes, the kinds of things that you may have expected to get. I don't know about you, but I remember what I expected to get. I started out as a five-year-old - I didn't start training then, but that's when I started getting ready to train. I was obsessed with this. I mean, I was fascinated by the idea of these warrior beings of character and enlightenment. This was what I was ready to go find when I went to my first strip shopping centre martial arts school and signed up for training. How about you? Is that what you were looking for?

Remember the old Kung Fu TV show? Some of you weren't even born when that program was on, so we're going into ancient history here. Do you remember that, there were these monks who were the epitome of enlightened wisdom on one hand, but if you rubbed them the wrong way, they could knock you out in a heart beat with a flying foot? Well I thought that was an admirable thing to approach/study/be (laughter). Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could have, on one hand, the ability to deal with all personal security issues, and on the other hand, feel safe to be as kind and benevolent and as helpful in society as we could be? Well, that was my original goal, and a lot of martial artists I talk to, when I mention that, we all sort of grin together, and have a little chuckle over it because probably, like me, you didn't have a whole lot of teachers who were available to approach the study of the martial arts that way when you began.

Now, I found a lot of people who had a lot of the pieces. Indeed, I remember certain teachers that were just like thunder and lightning. I mean, feet flying every which way, and they'd have you pinned to the mat in a heart beat, but once they took off their 'gi', their training uniform, they weren't the kind of folks I wanted to spend a lot of time with. Then I met other people who were the opposite. They had all kinds of grades, you know, these belt things that people wear with the stripes and fringe, and more degrees than a thermometer hanging on that thing. Wonderful people, and they spoke a lot about the ideal of warriorship and so forth, but they had to become careful who they let come into the training hall, because really there was nothing physical to back it up. So, I refer to these as the 'partial arts' (laughter). We might have little bits of this, little bits of that. What I did was I kind of wandered around and studied with a lot of these people that had a lot of these parts to offer, and a lot of you can identify with that as well.

I finally got to the point where I just couldn't find any more of that which I was looking for here in North America. So I took a wild gamble and I ended up going to Japan. I had read in a James Bond novel that there were these warriors called Ninja in Japan. It sounded pretty good to me. This was everything I was looking for in a martial art. Later on I talked to some Japanese people who assured me that well, no, they don't exist. That was only a James Bond novel, right? They also have little laser things that they'd usually carry around in their belt buckle and all kinds of things that James Bond has that were just made up for fun. Well, it was pretty heartbreaking, so heartbreaking that I didn't want to believe it. Have you ever done that, where, against rational thought and everything you know to be true, you do something anyway? So my superstition was, well, they must really exist, and this is some kind of a screen here to keep me from getting this.

Anyway, I went to Japan and was accepted in a 34-generation-old tradition, which in itself is pretty amazing. You know, a lot of times, when I told people that, they'd say "Really? You mean, you didn't have to prove yourself? I mean, I've heard stories about Zen monasteries where you'd have to sit there for three days just waiting to get into the place. And other martial arts, they're real rough on people and you have to clean up the toilet for the sensei for a year before they teach you even how to hold a sword." I said, "No, I was quite honoured. They accepted me the first night." The grandmaster met me in this little inn and said "Tomorrow night you can train with this man here, who is one of our seniors, and he'll show you how to begin training."

So, of course I was overwhelmed with the significance of all this. Here I'd come through all of these lifetimes to come to this special inn and meet this person, and they were so ready to accept me. Years later I heard their side of the story. A friend of ours from Japan was speaking with my wife Rumiko, and she was telling the story about when I was first accepted, and this man, in characteristic Japanese fashion, cocked his head a little bit, looked sideways out of his eyes, and said something to the effect of "Oh, oh, is that what he thought was going on?" (laughter) See, what it was - and I didn't know this - compared to these people in the school, I was a big guy. And I had come over from America all open, polite and everything. So the head man had told a couple of his senior students, "Have fun with this guy. See if this stuff really works. And when he's done, he'll go away, and we can get back to regular training." (laughter)

I didn't know this. It was such a small school that I figured this was the way they handled all the new people. Oh, it was brutal. It was brutal, and I loved it, because here I could really see the kind of techniques that I'd been looking for all my life. I just thought they were that brutal with everybody. It was only later on that I learned the truth. So, in some cases ignorance will assist you to get places.

I stayed in there, and the other thing that was amazing to me, the more I looked at a lot of this brutal physical work, the way that worked was they would show me a particular technique, and in order to convince me of the validity of the training in this, they'd show me how it worked. And they had all these little sneaky spots that I could be hit on the body where I couldn't tense up any muscle because there isn't any muscle, and in fact the more I would tense up the worse it would hurt. And so what I discovered as the months turned into years, was that what they were doing really was showing me where I was vulnerable, and making the statement that there are certain spots on the human body where you just are vulnerable. There's no way you're going to be not vulnerable and that's it. So, you've got a couple of choices. You can either change truth - you can make human bodies not be that way anymore. Well, that's going to be a hard one to do. Or, maybe what you can do is learn to put up with it, learn how a human body can adapt to it.

So what I had to do was get used to not being driven crazy by these techniques. And, in fact, I remember one night, the first night when I was able to make this kind of a breakthrough. It was a horrible technique, where the teacher would grab me by the lapels of my training suit , pull me forward and then turn his thumbs in at the same time, go right underneath the larynx into where it's flexible, like a rubber hose or tube. And what he would do is hit both sides of that at the same time so that the rubber tube would flex in and the sides of my windpipe would touch each other. It's rubbery, so it pops right back open, but it was the most awful experience I've had in my whole life. Everything would go white and I'd be sort of scrambling around trying to get out of there. And I remember he used to delight in doing this (laughter) to show me that the technique worked, and also to prove it to the other students. I still remember the night when he did that again, and there it was, that same awful sensation. But my eyes stayed open, and hurt though it did, my hands found their way to his lapel and his arm and I pulled his arm off my throat. Now this was the grandmaster of this ancient warrior lineage we're talking about here. So that's about as far as I went. You don't get cute in those kind of places, you know (laughter).

What a breakthrough. Yes, it hurt, yes it was annoying, but I was able to go right on through it. And then I was introduced to the idea that, well, training doesn't stop here, either, you see, because if an enemy can't get you with their body, they'll get you with the mind. And so another phase of my training began, where they would tell me one thing and I'd get to just where I believed in that, and all of sudden they'd completely change their story and claim that what I had been told wasn't true at all. This was equally painful. To be honest, maybe even more painful, because I didn't know where it was coming from. Confusion, intellectual confusion.

When this training began was when I first became familiar with this word 'Mikkyo', or these esoteric Buddhist teachings, because this confusion of the mind and the ability to just go through that and not make it stop-just like I couldn't make the physical technique stop-was what I had to do to get myself to a position where it no longer dominated me, where it no longer immobilized me. The same with these mental aspects. And so I went through several years of that training, and it didn't stop there either. Beyond that was what you might call spiritual training, and it happens the same way, where the teacher's job is to dis-spirit the student. This means calling up everything that we hold to be dear and true and honest and right and so forth about life, and making a mockery out of it. How to look in someone's eyes and express absolute commitment, friendship and love, and the next day have that person be the one who's causing your downfall. These are things that happen in life and they dis-spirit us, if we let them, just like to be touched on the throat will take all the fight out of an individual, if we let it.

So this is where I began my investigation in this phenomenon known as Mikkyo. Mikkyo, translated literally, means 'himitsu' or a secret, or something held close, and 'kyo' is knowledge, in this case 'bukyo' which means knowledge of Buddhism - so the secret, the secret teachings, the secret doctrine. And these are called secret, not so much because it's this thing that we want to keep from everybody else. Oh, there's a little bit of that in there, the mystery of it. But the real essence of this secret doctrine means that it's esoteric. You can show somebody this on the surface, and they still don't get it. It's the same with our martial art. We're not here to do a demo - we're going to do that later this weekend - but with a lot of things in our martial art, if people come in and watch it, they don't understand how it works. We touch a person here and move our body this way, and all of sudden they're flying into the wall. "What is this, the Vulcan death touch you guys are doing here, or what?" (laughter) No, no, but it's just that when you put your pressure here and you move your body, the kinesthetics, just the way it moves, it shoves that person against where they think their balance is going to be...and see, this doesn't make any sense, does it? You have to see it, you have to feel it. It's the same with this particular approach to Buddhist teachings. You can't really read it and get it and go "Oh, okay, got that", and move on. There has to be an experience. So therefore it's called the secret, or the esoteric. What's on the surface doesn't always make sense. You've got to go deeper into that.

Well, I began my training in this, in this martial arts school, and as I kept going with this, I discovered certain things, certain images, certain references that showed up in our technique. One of the references were these mandala prints, which we've illustrated here. They're giant graphics. When I first saw that, coming from the West, I didn't know anything about Buddhism or anything about Eastern religions. Oh, when I was in college I read a few books on Taoism, which, back in 1969, everybody did. You know, we all thought that we were Taoists because that made so much sense. But that was all. So, when I came to here, I was thinking about Christian saints and angels and gods, and gee, they've sure got a lot of gods on there. Look at all of those there. How would you even know which one to pray to, and for what? And most of the people I asked about it really didn't even try to give me any better idea. In fact, they would tell me "All these are gods. This one here is the Goddess of Mercy. It's called Kannon. This one here is Monju. That's the God of Scholars, of people who study."

So I'm looking at all of these gods and goddesses, again, wondering how people would keep all that straight. Well, it's certainly not anything I wanted to get into. But it was interesting because it was on the wall, and was part of the heritage. What I wanted to find out is how to not have my windpipe fold up every time the guy grabs me there, or how to not get confused by all these tactics and things, and certainly how to not lose my spirit in a time of great conflict, when I might need to be the one who had all the spirit. That's what I wanted to learn about.

Well, as it turned out for me, this was my way in, the key in. It was a temporary discipline that I had to do. I had to look at these and begin to study. So what I want to share with you tonight are a few observations on how this works. Ultimately these are not gods and goddesses, I can tell you that right up front. That was a convenient translation that some people gave to me. They're not gods and goddesses the way we might think of them over here. Indeed, these represent processes by which we can come to recognize different levels of reality. I'll just say that and drop that, and we'll come back to that a little bit later on.

So what I want to share with you tonight is how some of these processes work, maybe some of my own experiences with that. And as you can see, there are a lot of faces on there. A lot of characters we're not going to define for you, or even tell you how each one works, or even attempt to do that. But maybe in some broad strokes how we might approach this, how this might work. Also, we'll save a little bit of time at the end of our session here tonight in case there are some specific questions that you would like to ask.

(Refers to Taizokai Mandala on wall) Now, you can see a lot of faces on there, a lot of things going on. There's a lot of material behind this, where it came from, the history, the lineage behind it. I'm not even going to touch on that. There are books you can read about that. What I would like to do tonight is to refer more to some of my experiences with these, and how I came to discover this in a backwards sort of way.

There are, as you saw, two of these mandala, and this one here is referred to as Taizokai mandala, and actually I'm not going to refer too much to this one in tonight's lecture, just because of time. But I like to use this as an illustration of a concept. And again, any one thing I say tonight, I better warn you right up front, any one thing I say here tonight is going to have about eight or nine contradictions if you look at it from a different way. It's just the nature of the phenomenon. As Dr. McMullin mentioned earlier, most of us, when we think of Japanese Buddhism, probably think of Zen. Even if you don't know anything about Buddhism - "Oh, Zen". It became very popular, and most people don't even know that there is a thing such as Tendai or esoteric Buddhism. It's very complicated to get across. Have any of you ever done a Zen workshop? A couple of you, okay. Pretty straight forward, huh? You go in, there's some basic explanations, and then you do the practice. In fact, if you ask too many questions, remember what the Roshi did when you asked too many questions? He gave you a funny look and told you, "You better sit down for a little while longer. Too intellectual, get out of your head. This is an experience." It's much easier, I think, to transmit Zen. This is going to be very complicated.

What this represents, then, are some processes. And as I mentioned here, any one thing I say is going to have about eight or nine contradictions. Kind of like your house. You can imagine somebody describing your house. If you think of your front door and the steps that lead to your front door, you might even have a snapshot of that. And then here's the front door, and what do you see when you open the door and go in? Well you have some kind of an entryway, right? Okay, so you got that snapshot, and adjacent to that maybe there's a living room in there. You go through the living room and here's a dining area, and then you're back at the kitchen. And that's your house. Now if somebody else were to describe it, it's "No, no, all wrong. The kitchen is what's first, and then next to the kitchen is a dining room, and then you go into a living room, and then you go to the reception. You're all wrong." Well, who is right? It just depends on which door you came into the house. So, alright, you have all these different doorways represented in the mandala. What I'm doing is setting myself up for the fact that some of the things I'm going to say here tonight are going to be extremely limited. Your own experience may get you to look at it a different way. I'm going to talk about some of my experiences in here.

I like this, because, from one way of interpreting it, this central character here, who is called 'Dainichi Nyorai' , is a way to think of absolute, total, all-inclusive consciousness of the universe. And again, this is going to be words. It's hard to identify with, but let's see what we can do. What if the entire universe, past, present and future, were operating in a totally integrated and brightened and enlightened place where every aspect of the universe - you, me, the chair, our dog, our grandmother's dog - every aspect of that universe is totally conscious of what it is supposed to be in relationship to the whole. Imagine such a thing. Anyway, that might be one explanation of what this experience might be like.

Well, I don't know. There's not too much we can do about the universe per se, as an individual listening in a lecture room here. So what I'd like to do tonight is limit most of this to a look at ourself. See, anything that's going on in the universal process has its mirror in our body, and that's a belief system that comes along with this study, that I'm a mirror - I'm not odd, I'm not different. We, as structures of spirit and physical matter moving around in the universe, are not different from natural law. We don't contradict natural law, as if we were just somehow created to be totally different. We reflect natural law. So, if we study Nature and its natural law, made up of atoms that produce hard things like our nails, and fluid things like our blood, and warmth like our breath and our metabolism, and gaseous things like our breath and so forth, we can look down to these elements, or we can look up to these in grander concepts, grander principles as they work. Where I'm really going to relate this to tonight is right in between, in the human realm.

What if this were me? What if this were you? Look at all these faces that you have there. Can anybody imagine yourself looking like this, all of these faces there? Well, sure. Don't people call you different things? I know they do me. So, I mean, here I am centred, if I'm really together, and I'm in balance and I'm looking squared away at the world. There are moments when I'm approaching this kind of centredness, but most of the time I have a particular role I'm playing. I'm somewhere out here in the specifics, where, maybe what it is that one person calls me 'father'. That's what they call me. When they say "dad", I turn around, I know just who they are. But another person doesn't call me 'dad'. Another person calls me 'son'. So that's two different roles that I have. Now which is the real me? Is the real me the son or is the real me the dad? Well, it depends on who is asking. It just depends on who is asking. Other people call me 'husband'; other people call me 'sensei/teacher'. Other people call me 'student' as my title in their place. And there are some descriptive terms that other people call me. We have all these roles that we play. Some of them we can identify with; some of them we can't identify with.

Anybody ever insult you? Some people call me a 'jerk', or other terms that maybe I wouldn't want to use out here. To them, I am that. That's the role I play. Now I don't see myself like that necessarily, but they do. Here I am, I'm driving along, I'm moving around, I know I've got to get over to that lane of traffic there, because I've got something important to do; I'm going to help this person here. So I look in my mirror - nobody there - alright, I signal and I get over. Well, they've just happened to have come around me in some way, so instead of being Stephen Hayes, this person who just needed to be in that space at that time, while he was out doing some nice things in the world, no, I become 'that jerk in the jeep'. And I'm probably referred to for the rest of the day as 'that jerk in the jeep', and the person will go around and probably tell a lot of his friends about how he almost had a wreck with 'that jerk in the jeep' (laughter). I don't identify with it but nonetheless it was a role that I played in someone's life on that particular afternoon.

So, we may want to think about it that these are all faces that make us up. Some of them don't come out and make themselves very obvious. See, up until nine years ago, no-one called me dad. That wasn't a term that was used. So it was sort of on reserve. I use this word 'archetypes'. They're like archetypes, they're things down in us, they're potentials that have their way of coming out. So being a dad was on reserve. And there are other ones that are on reserve. So maybe we can think of this as the human make-up with all of these as faces on reserve.

But what's this mean, what's the point of it? What's the value of it? Well, the value is, that if we understand that we are going to be playing different roles from moment to moment in life, and that ultimately, there really is no 'me' per se...Well, which am I? Am I the jerk in the jeep, or am I dad? Or am I the guy who didn't do his chemistry lesson in the tenth grade very well? Where am I? Who am I, really? And the more diligently I try to pin that down, of course, the more frustrating it becomes. So, if we can give that up, if we can let go of that, and accept the fact that it's all conditional, it's all conditional....it's conditioned by who is making the reference...it's even more conditional than that. The guy who thinks of me as the jerk in the jeep, he's conditional too. See, he had certain things that happened to him that day or that month or that lifetime that led him up to responding angrily when somebody pulled in front of him, even after he signaled and the lane was clear. So, it's even more conditional than we might dream.

Well, if it's all conditional, and it's all kind of swimming around, we have all these potentials, and hey, we've got things that we're going to be, but we aren't yet, like you're saying, Stephen, how do we begin to approach it? We begin to approach it by looking at that and saying we're not going to argue with that. Just like we're not going to argue with what causes pain in the human body, we're not going to argue with it. We're going to accept it and go with it. So, we might say that this is a model of our potential, a model of looking at our potential.

- The transcript of this talk was submitted by J. Courtland Elliott. The second half of this article will appear in August. J. Courtland Elliott is one of those folks who have been around forever and still haven't figured it out. He started training with Stephen K. Hayes at the 1st Ninja Matsuri in 1981, and hasn't stopped evangelizing since. Currently holding back at Sandan (from SKH, Dr. Hatsumi, and having been offered it by Doron Navon), he is also well versed in other martial arts, most notably Jujutsu (Nidan from Harold Howard of UFC fame). He has recently become a WebHead and co-ordinates the Musashi Web for Travelers (www.io.org/~jcebujin/musashi.html), a resource for Martial Artists on the move. He can be reached at: jcebujin@io.org



WHAT IS KASUMI-AN?

Jean-Pierre Seibel

In 1972, Toshitsugu Takamatsu, the 33rd Soke of the Togakure Ryu Ninja died. He passed on the title of Soke to his student and protégé M. Hatsumi. To honor his teacher, the new Soke named his school Bujinkan Dojo. Bujin means divine warrior and kan means hall. In this school he taught a small group of tough, dedicated students the art of the ninja.

In the mid 70's Hatsumi Sensei started a group called the Shidoshi-kai. This group of students were charged with going out and teaching the fundamentals of the arts. Each was given a hand-made book called "Tenchijin Ryaku No Maki," that served as a list of technical basics and a certification of authority to teach. The new teachers were told to develop their own curriculum for teaching the art. Each was given total independence as far as interpretation and emphasis of the material in the book. Stephen K. Hayes, the only westerner in the original Shidoshi-kai, was charged with taking the information outside of Japan to share it with the world.

Being Japanese, all the other original members of the group could use their own name for their school, for example, Bujinkan Manaka Dojo. Shidoshi Hayes did not like the sound of a western name mixed with Japanese words, as in Bujinkan Hayes Dojo, so he decided to use the name Bujinkan Kasumi-An Dojo. Kasumi means "haze" in Japanese, a play on words.

After Shidoshi Hayes' return from Japan, he started teaching this art around the world. He attracted many students, and the great western ninja boom started. Spending thousands of hours teaching classes, workshops and seminars, Shidoshi Hayes' refined his curriculum to be a very efficient way of teaching westerners the art described in the "Tenchijin Ryaku No Maki," and taught to him by Hatsumi Sensei.

As time went by, and the art grew, students became teachers. Students who studied with Shidoshi Hayes long enough qualified to use the Bujinkan Kasumi-An curriculum, if they wanted to. Some of the early students, such as Bud Malstrom and I decided to. Some of Shidoshi Hayes' students, such as Jack Hoban, decided to write their own. Now we are up to the 4th generation of some of these student teachers, so the art has become very diverse.

At New York Budo, I've decided to stay with the Kasumi-An program. Of all the Bujinkan interpretations I've seen, it is the easiest for American students to learn, and the most useful in this more violent country.

Hatsumi Sensei has given the instructors of the world something. The freedom to teach as they like. Whether it is a gift or a curse is up to each instructor. Each student needs to consider that when training at any dojo, including mine.

"We are each given a book of rules, and box of tools, and a shapeless mass. It is up to each of us to decide whether they will build a stepping stone, or a stumbling block." - unknown author

- Jean-Pierre Seibel is the Dojo Cho of New York Budo, a Manhattan-based martial arts school teaching the techniques of the Togakure Ryu Ninja. He may be contacted via E-mail at: mailto:NYBUDO@aol.com



REPLY TO "THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE"

Michael Fazekas


I began my training under Shidoshi Hayes, and after several years decided that I wanted to follow a style of learning that more closely related to what Soke was presenting. When I left the Shadows of Iga, I did so without rancor and without making any enemies. I still have many friends who train directly under Stephen Hayes. I consider those under Mr. Hayes to still be students of the Bujinkan. But I also believe that they are studying areas that I have no interest in. Therefore, I spend my time seeking out material that concerns the Bujinkan as a whole. I was most surprised to read the editorial written by Mr. Miller. It is obvious to me that Mr. Miller, in his professed 11 years of training, still has not learned how to observe. But more importantly, Mr. Miller has no grasp of the true purpose of the Bujinkan. When asked why he now teaches openly this once hidden art, Soke has said: "That all men be friends." But in his retaliatory article, Mr. Miller continually holds Stephen Hayes up as "The one selected by Hatsumi-sensei to be the true voice for the western students." He also criticizes those that attended the 1994 Tai Kai as those who "seem to be interested in doing it the Japanese-way."

Well, Mr. Miller, it is obvious to the majority of ninjutsu students in the U.S. that there is no one person that has been selected as the "true voice of ninjutsu in the West". By definition, this role cannot even exist. In an art that relies upon being unlimited and undefined by labels, selecting only one person to be the single voice of authority would be a death blow to the art. That is why Soke has so many of his students in teaching roles across the globe, and asks so many of them to demonstrate their techniques. It is important that the other students have as many examples of the art as possible.

As for your demand that the people demonstrating speak of what they learned, Mr. Miller, that is precisely what they are doing! When someone says "What I saw when Soke did the technique...," the operative phrase is "What I saw," i.e., "My take on this technique is..." Mr. Miller, you simply haven't learned to observe quietly. As for the quotation "doing it the Japanese-way," there are many, many students who believe that since this is a Japanese art, the best way to learn it is to study the way the Japanese do it. This does not make us compulsive or even cultists. It simply proves that we are following what we believe in, as you do. But to fault us for doing exactly what Stephen Hayes once did (I am referring to his extensive time spent in Japan with Soke) is inane to the extreme. If anything, what those of the "American Bujinkan (sic)" are doing is more akin to the path once taken by Stephen Hayes than that you are currently following. This is especially true since Stephen Hayes has decided to augment the training of his students with material learned from other sources.

In the end, Mr. Miller, you are going to find that we are no different than you. We share the excitement of a good class, and the warmth of good fellowship. The difference is that we have decided to follow someone who holds a different view than yours. This is what you are really upset about. That not everyone holds the same values as you. And this is what I am upset about: I was hoping that U&O would be able to remain outside the fracas between the "Hayeslings" and the "Bujies." Adding fuel to this fire, as Mr. Miller's editorial has done, does nothing to further the art itself or the training of those who participate.


Michael Fazekas is a 4th Dan and a Shidoshi-ho training at the Bujinkan Akahige Dojo near Cincinnati, Ohio. He began his training in Ninpo in 1982 under Stephen Hayes. He also holds a 3rd Dan in the Korean martial art of Hapkido. He can be reached at MFazekas@aol.com .


SEMPAI YO!: TRY SOMETHING NEW

Regina Brice

Tai Kai is over for another year, and American Sempai have significant work to do. Sitting with Mrs. Hatsumi was a peculiar education, indeed, but the rest of the year, I will continue to train.

Basically, we in the middle have to figure out what we really want. Is our training a means or an end? If your goal is to learn what Hatsumi-sensei teaches, then you must do whatever your power allows to get to where Hatsumi-sensei is. Stop expecting the mountain to move, never ever be satisfied with second best, and recapture the power you now give to excuses that keep you from doing what you should.

If you cannot afford to go to Japan, you must go to Tai Kai and attend seminars by Japanese Shihan with all your faculties and not just your physical presence. Then train regularly with the best American Sempai you can find. Test out everyone you encounter.

Yet, unless you have a command of basic techniques (the test: are you a Japanese Shihan with years of consistent training under Soke?), you must go to a teacher who can give you the tools you need to break down what Soke shows. Sempai, be not proud: know what you don't know and find someone who can help you. If you see someone on a tape do something you can't do, identify that person and ask questions! Things that can be bought and put on the shelf are simply not enough.

As a lawyer, I have yet to see a contract which says: "I sold, you bought, cool." People prefer complexity, because it gives them the excuse of confusion, which leads to conflict caused by misplaced aggression. It also keeps politicians, talk-show hosts, priests, economists, lawyers, and therefore doctors, gainfully employed. Sempai should provide protection from conflict by delivering a simple message, not a more complex one in a vampiric feeding frenzy upon others' insecurity and confusion.

I do have a problem, therefore, with Shidoshi who say that they are teaching others as Hatsumi-sensei instructs, legitimize their dojos with his pictures and certificates, yet reject that teaching in thought, word and deed by doing as they darned well please. I don't think Hatsumi-sensei suffers, but it is annoying to hear them complain about "not getting it." The Ten Commandments are only difficult for Apostles in denial. Perhaps it is a human tendency to take the easy route, but Shidoshi should at least TRY to do a little better.

I too am fascinated by modern warfare, but this is not Taijutsu. In fact, unless the basics are understood, playing with any weapon may well get a student killed through arrogance. Nor is Taijutsu necessarily bound up in religious practice or "self-defense." These are merely diversions. Too many teachers teaching what THEY think is fun, instead of passing down Bujinkan tradition as they were taught, will cause more damage than anything else.

Tai Kai proves annually, therefore, that the most important thing is to train. Reserve some time to question, read and teach, but reserve the most time for physical training. If teaching is all you can do for money, then why not pick up another profession? It's never too late. This is America, but at least for us, freedom should be bundled with responsibility. Instructors, stop changing the training to make yourselves seem more knowledgeable!

Any Shidoshi can wow an audience on the spur of the moment. But, how many can readily synthesize and show what Hatsumi-sensei teaches? Someya-sensei, Iwata-san, Alex and Mike - the only ones who understood what Hatsumi-sensei taught (because they had the luxury of prolonged training in Japan), - spent their time training even as they knew they had to demonstrate. Almost no one ASKED them how to do anything. What a pity for American students.

How does this "Mini Tai Kai" thing fit in? Well, it is an excellent idea. A teach-in would be a perfect opportunity for those who attended Tai Kai to compare notes and reach a better personal understanding of what Soke showed. It would also be an excellent training opportunity for their students to train with those who have a direct ability to access what Soke teaches. If that's what they want, cool. It's certainly time to try something new.


Shidoshi Regina Brice's primary life skills are in law (int'l corporate and family) and Japanese translation. She uploads legal FAQs to rec.martial-arts (a newsgroup on the internet) every few weeks. "A Martial Artist's Guide To American Law" (560 pages) is now $50; those who've already bought it will receive the first-year update free. She translates letters at $25/page and does seminar interpretation at $250/day + expenses. She will also paraphrase Japanese books ($50 per original page) but Soke's works are for individual instructor use only. In spite of her "slacker" front, a training group has re-formed on Sunday AM; she's flexible if you're out that way. She may be contacted via E-mail: Happo@aol.com , or write Regina Brice, P.O. Box 87, Oberlin, OH 44074.


IF YOU SEEK IT, YOU WILL NOT FIND IT

Ken Harding

* * IF YOU SEEK IT, YOU WILL NOT FIND IT. * *

This is an ancient Zen axiom which has puzzled seekers of wisdom for centuries. It is wonderfully simple in its directness, yet some people do not understand its implications in their everyday lives. What is meant is that if you try very hard to achieve something, in this case Ninpo Taijutsu, the very process of trying to understand it is what keeps you from getting it. If you want to be an expert with a particular weapon, say, the sword or knife, and you constantly try to master these weapons to the exclusion of all else, your extreme efforts will only provide you with a false appearance of mastery. You may understand a few of the "omote", or obvious aspects of that art, but the "ura", or the real feeling will elude you because of your misaligned spirit.

Many practitioners have no clue of this - and still others think they understand, but then do the opposite! This is why several of you commented at the Tai Kai about the low skill level of many of the other instructors from different Bujinkan dojos. They too have missed the "feeling of the art".

If you try to force something, you lose the natural feeling of it. Sometimes it is best not to try so hard, and just relax. The harder you try to understand, the more you are thinking, and the worse it gets. Don't try - don't think: just do.

That's all that needs to be said on the subject. It's that simple. Don't read any more into it than that. Some people go to the other extreme, getting far too mystical and metaphysical and religious with these concepts. If you do that, then you are again missing the feeling, cluttering your mind and spirit with unimportant illusions.


Shidoshi Ken Harding, 6th Dan, heads the Missouri Ninja Center in St. Louis. He started his training in 1984, has trained with Hatsumi Soke in Japan, and studies Japanese, Yoga, shiatsu, herbology and nutrition. He may be contacted via E-mail: Shadowswrd@aol.com.


METHOD ACTING & NINPO

David J. Bockman

Like so many of us out there who have the urge to write about Taijutsu, I often find myself sitting down to put my thoughts to paper, only to discover that I truly don't know enough to add to the greater knowledge of Mankind! However I recently made a somewhat interesting connection between the two great interests in my life - acting and Ninpo, and thought to share them with my fellow practitioners of this wonderful art.

We often speak about free response and instinctual training in Taijutsu. And why not? I think everyone deep down wants to know that, if thing turn ugly, their response will be immediate, appropriate, and effortless. How often have I wondered, "If I did get jumped, would I handle it using these wonderful katas and henkas that I've studied? Will it even remotely look like Taijutsu? Or will I just go nuts, plowing into everyone and everything that gets in my way? Will I overreact? What if I seriously injure or even kill someone just because I 'sensed' danger? Will I ever be able to actually strip bark off of trees with my bare hands?" Other than that last question, I call this litany that runs through my head my 'internal critic'. Every time I step into the circle, or participate in a belt test, my internal critic comes along, and keeps up a constant annoying patter as I attempt to flow. "You're going to actually hurt one of your uke because you don't know how to control yourself! I can't believe you just responded that way! Could you be more stiff? What the hell was that supposed to be - a shuto? My mother could shuto better than that!" I have a brutal critic. What's more, this constant monitoring and critiquing of my actions cause inhibitions and momentary halting of my instinctual responses. That looks bad and is embarrassing in class, but it could have lethal ramifications on the street.

I first met my internal critic way back in my first year of undergraduate school, when I was studying acting and theatre. Back then he was much less subtle, and pretty much just yelled 'You SUCK!!" over and over every time I rehearsed or performed on-stage. Such a barrage of constant self-critiquing had an obvious result - I did suck! I froze, I stammered, and generally I stifled every creative instinct that I had. In talks with my acting teacher, we often discussed this phenomena, and how to overcome it.

We discussed the essence of acting. According to proponents of "The Method", which emphasizes emotional truth in all actions on-stage, acting means: 'The creation of a living human being and the artistic rendering of that being on-stage.' Deep stuff. Or is it? Even the word that we use to describe what I do for a living is short and sweet. ACTing. ACTor. As an actor in the rehearsal process, my job was filled with choices-how to move, how to speak, when to speak, when to move, as well as the deeper aspects of creating a character; emotional obligations, wants and motivations, ego and conflict all had to be clearly defined in order for my character to come alive, be interesting, and fulfill the dramatic requirements of the play each night. We often emphasized the physicality of a character as a means of discovering the true nature of the play, the character, everything. Obviously I'm not going to move or speak like Stanley Kowalski while participating in an eighteenth century French farce. Likewise I won't mince about the set, shooting my cuffs and taking snuff while acting in "A Streetcar Named Desire". Yet each choice, given the right play (read: circumstances) is correct and 'appropriate.' So the rehearsal became a time where I would purposefully do things wrong, so I could feel it in my bones and muscles. I had to slowly learn that in class or in rehearsal, you have to suck before you get it right, or else you'll never know what right and wrong feel like.

On-stage, the smallest amount of divisible time is called a 'beat'. Each beat is one 'I want'. "I want to charm her." "I want to cajole him." "I want to leave this room." "I want to seduce her." Simply put, one follows the beat until it is no longer viable, working or effective. Then one finds a new beat. A new want, a new tactic to achieve that want, until that one must flow into yet anotherx and so on, flowing forward to the play's end. Obviously, such a myriad of decisions will result in inappropriate choices from time to time. "This doesn't feel right" is the bane of all directors, but it is absolutely essential for the actor to follow his instincts if Truth is to be obtained in the process.

So what did my acting teacher tell me? Simply this: Trust your instincts. Go with the flow. Don't stop. Now, where have I head this before? I suspect "The Boss" is a superior actor! I came away from years of training in acting, as well as countless seminars hosted by such theatre luminaries as Ian Macellen, Patrick Stewart, Eric Morris, James Earl Jones, and one of my favorites, Kelly McGillis-whom I had the honor of working with at the Shakespeare Theatre at The Folger-with the following philosophy towards acting, which has heavily impacted my studies in Ninpo: Live in the moment. Never stop. Be honest. When something doesn't feel right, go back and look at what artifice you have placed on the moment. (A pre-determined outcome, or expected response to an attack, perhaps.) I find myself, after physical confrontations, rewinding and replaying the tape over and over in my head, wondering what I could have done better, how I could have more effectively moved and responded. Inevitably the answers lie in not being grounded in the moment and feeling what is actually happening to my body and emotions.

It would appear then that all those years of training in theatre were but a prelude to my next great passion: Ninpo Taijutsu. I wish I could say that all the training in Method acting has resulted in an expertise in Taijutsu rarely found outside of Japan, but alas, such is not the case. As it turns out, the internal critic delights in all manifestations of the word 'act', and hammers away at every opportunity, giving me little respite despite my efforts to silence him. I became aware of the critic's yammering once again during my green belt test-the test which historically signifies one's initiation into the Bujinkan and pledge to continue down the path towards enlightenment. In our school, the infamous test was essentially 'Survive or Get Hammered', with student after student attacking until *snap!* you lose all hope of flowing and start fighting for your life. Bloody noses and bruised egos are the order of the day, but there could be no better wake up call for those initiates, myself included. I had to get to the point where I could stop thinking, and start acting - and the senior students happily obliged me. I had to visit that place where conscious thought and the consequent movement are not only unacceptable, but deadly. I kept thinking, "Do this technique! Do that technique?" And I failed miserably. I eventually stopped wanting to defend against everyone with wonderful Taijutsu techniques, and started wanting to defeat them any way possible. What I did was nothing like Taijutsu, but it worked-and that is what it's all about. The worst attitude for an initiate to have is "I have studied for awhile. I now how to fight now." Because your head may know, but your muscles are still in the dark. It takes time, patience, and the willingness to do it wrong before it can be done right.

So what would happen now if I were jumped in some dark alley? That, Grasshopper, even I don't know. I think it would (hopefully) look a teeny bit more like Taijutsu-give me twenty more years, and I'll know for sure!


David J. Bockman is a member of Actor's Equity, SAG/AFTRA, a certified Fight Director, and studies taijutsu at the Illinois Martial Arts Academy in Schaumberg, IL. He can be harangued online at Flex123@aol.com .


A TRUE WARRIOR

Leon Drucker

Last year I was very fortunate to visit Japan for the first time. For most of us, the $3,000 or so to make such a trip takes years of saving and planning, and usually something comes up which takes precedence. This time I had the money and, come hell or high water, I was going. I was very lucky to be going with my close friend and instructor Greg Kowalski. Greg had lived in Japan for 4 years and studied with Soke and the other Shihan and speaks fluent Japanese.

At the very least I thought his skills would get us from dojo to dojo. As it turned out it did much more than that. We wound up staying at Muramatsu Sensei's house! Here is a guy that I would cut off my left arm to train with and he was letting us stay with him. Any of you who do not know who Muramatsu is, ask someone who has been around for a while. They will tell you he is the closest thing to a real "Ninja" left alive. And if you doubt that just talk to Steve, Bud, Jack, Bill or any number of guys who have trained with him. Anyway I could fill books talking about this trip and my training in Japan, but I really want to share with you one special moment.

We had planned our visit to be able to go to the once a year Budo festival in Meji Park. This event brought out every martial art including the Zen Archers on horse back! It was a drizzly day but we were not going to let a little rain ruin this very special event. During the morning Greg introduced Muramatsu Sensei to a little old lady about 4 feet tall who's name I apologize for not remembering. She was, we found out from Greg, a teacher of Naginata-Do. Upon meeting her Muramatsu was to say later to us that she was a "treasure". Anyway during the course of the day this Shihan of Naginata was to demo along with her class. The demo was awesome and obviously everybody who could recognize what they saw were really impressed. As this tiny lady made her way back out of the demo area, out of all the countless martial artists, who would appear with umbrella in hand but Muramatsu. As he offered her his umbrella, he got down on his knees in the wet grass and wiped her feet off with a towel so she could put her feet clean and dry into her slippers! I looked over at Greg who was wiping tears from his eyes and understood what the true meaning of the Warrior was. For me this was one of the highlights of this trip and certainly an important lesson to remember.


Leon Drucker has been studying Martial Arts for over 30 years. His background includes a Shodan in Judo under Professor Ishikowa, 20 years of practicing and teaching Tai Chi Chuan and Northern Shoalin Kung Fu under BC Chin and 6 years of study in Ninjutsu, not counting the Stephen Hayes Seminar stretching back 12 years ago. He is a practicing Massage Therapist residing in New Hampshire, and facilitates a small training group under the supervision of Greg Kowalski. For comments or questions please contact him via e-mail: Shadowaryr@aol.com .


THE WILDERNESS SURVIVAL FIRST AID KIT

Ron Blackwood

Emergency first aid in the wilderness begins with your own personal first aid kit. The kit should be small and waterproof. A plastic or aluminum box with a tight fitting lid makes a good container. A heavy-duty ziplock or waterproof ditty bag may be used as well. It should contain the essential medical instruments and bandage materials listed. All items should be carried on backpack trips. Asterisked items ( * ) may be left in camp or automobile. The contents of a medical travel kit should be carefully chosen, using the type of trip, duration and distance from medical care as criteria. All medications should be stored in separate air-tight plastic containers and clearly labeled as to the name of the drug, dosage, and expiration date.

Medical Instruments & Bandage Materials For The Basic First Aid Kit

Medications For The Basic First Aid Kit

Aspirin - 5gm or 325mg tabs, 50. Two every 3 hours as needed. This is a highly effective agent for relief of minor pain and for lowering fevers. Its is an excellent exoskeletal anti-inflammatory agent. It will decrease fever; decrease the inflammation of tendinitis and sunburn. All brands are equally effective regardless of price. Purchase the 5gr USP size.
Precautions:Use with caution if you have a history of ulcers or asthma or are on anti-coagulants.

*Antacid tabs, 20. As needed. Use to neutralize stomach acid in the treatment of indigestion, heartburn and ulcers. Precautions:May cause self-limiting diarrhea. It can be used as a mild laxative.

Antihistamine - Decontaminate, 20. Follow package directions. This group of drugs blocks the release of histamine, a chemical released during allergic reactions. Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is highly effective in the treatment of mild allergic reactions to insect stings and hay fever. It may also be used to control motion sickness, nausea, vomiting and insomnia.
Precautions:Most antihistamines cause drowsiness.

Antibiotic Ointment, 1 oz. Apply externally as needed. Used to treat superficial bacterial skin infections. Bactracin Ointment is very effective and may be purchased over-the-counter. Precautions: Some individuals may be allergic to one component of the ointment.

*Tylenol tabs, 24. As directed. *Tylenol with Codeine 1/2 gm (or 32mg) tabs or Vicodin, 12. One every 4-6 hours for severe pain. May be used as an aspirin substitute but has no anti-inflammatory properties.

Liquid soap, 2-4 oz. Clean wounds.

Sunscreen SPF #15 or greater, 3-4 oz. As directed. SPF 15 or higher provides effective protection against sunburn. Banana Boat or Bullfrog are among the best products available.

Steroid Ointment or cream, 1-2 oz. Follow package directions. Used externally to decrease the inflammatory effects of insect bites and poison oak. Kenalog Ointment (0.1%) is very good but is available only by prescription
Precautions:Do not use on skin infections.

Insect Sting Kit (if allergic or hypersensitive to hymenoptera insect stings.), 1. As directed
Should be carried if you are severely allergic to bee or wasp stings. It contains epinephrine and is available only through a doctor's prescription. The Epipen Auto-Injection Kit is a good example and is used only for emergency treatment of anaphylactic reactions. It is injected intramuscularly to relieve breathing difficulties.
Precautions:It may cause, headache, tremor, restlessness or anxiety.

Insect repellent, 2-4 oz. As directed.
50% or better DEET is a very effective insect repellent. Natural repellents such as citronella have proven to be very effective as well.

*Throat lozenges, 10. As directed.

*Pepto-Bismol tabs, 24. As directed. *Immodium tabs, 12. As directed.
These are an effective treatment for diarrhea and soothe an upset stomach. Precautions: Use with caution if you have a history of ulcers, asthma, or are on anti-coagulant medications.

Lip Balm with sunscreen, 1 tube. As needed.

*Cavit - 7gm, 1 tube. As needed.
This is a pre mixed filling paste and is available from a dentist or a dental supply store. It relieves the pain of a chipped tooth or a lost filling.
Precautions:This is a temporary fix only until you can get to a dentist.

Water purification tabs, 1 bottle: As needed.

Ibuprofen 200mg tabs, 24. As directed.
May be used as an aspirin substitute. It is an effective anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. It may be used to reduce fever.
Precautions:Should not be used by people who are allergic to aspirin.

*Oral Rehydration Salt Packet, 2. As directed for dehydration.

Diamox - 250mg tabs, 15. As directed for prevention or treatment of acute mountain sickness.

The foregoing lists were prepared by Robert Vinton, M.D. who is a general practitioner, avid backpacker and bicycle tourist.

This information will give you an excellent first aid kit. No kit is any good without some medical training. I strongly suggest that you enroll in a first aid and CPR course if you haven't already done so. Additionally, read and understand the instructions on the medications before you have a medical emergency. There is no substitute for the old Boy Scout adage - "BE PREPARED!"

There is a new self-help book on travel and wilderness medicine that is available at most of the outdoor stores and outfitters. The title of the book is: "The Medical Guide for Third World Travelers" and it is written by Marc Robin, R.N. and Bradford Dessery, R.N. I recommend it highly.


Ron Blackwood just passed the Godan test at the 1995 Tai Kai. He has trained for 10 years under Kevin Millis, 9th Dan. His hobbies include technical rock climbing, Scuba Diving (1 more class to qualify as Master Diver) and competitive shooting. He's backpacked all over the country including Mt. Whitney. Ron can be contacted via e-mail at: OHOKO@aol.com .


DID YOU KNOW...?



. . . the ninja of Japan were trained in eighteen fundamental areas of knowledge covering expertise in both the physical and mental. (1-3 are listed below; 4 - 18 will appear in succeeding articles)

1. Seishin tei kyoyo (spiritual refinement)

The Togakure ninja worked at developing a deep and accurate knowledge of himself, his personal power, his strengths and weaknesses, and his influence on the playing out of life. Exercises in mental endurance, perception, and perspective were taught to the ninja along with his physical skills. By cultivating a mystic's understanding of the universal process, the Togakure ryu ninja became a warrior philosopher. His engagements in combat were then motivated by love or reverence, and not by the mere thrill of violent danger or need for money.

2. Taijutsu (unarmed combat)

Skills of dakentaijutsu (striking, kicking, blocking), jutaijutsu (grappling, choking), and taihenjutsu (silent movement, rolling, leaping, tumbling) assisted the Togakure ninja in defensive situations.

3. Ninja ken (ninja sword)

The ninja's sword was considered to be his primary fighting tool. Two distinct sword skills were required of the ninja. Fast draw techniques centered around drawing the sword and cutting as a simultaneous defensive or attacking action. Fencing skills used the drawn sword in clashed with armed attackers.

. . . Shamatha meditation (focusing on one point of concentration) is one method of training in the dojo for responsive movement in stressful situations?


KATA & THE NATURE OF COMBAT

Jason DeJong

Introduction

Let us now take a look at forms of combat. Many of the martial systems taught today do this through the study of kata. In fact, looking at the majority of martial arts systems, kata might appear to be a prominent feature of the martial arts. To begin, let's define the term Kata. Kata are series of pre-defined movements which would apply to specific combative circumstances. The movements can usually be broken down into simple, individual sections, aiding in the memorization and understanding of specific elements in the art from which they came. With the majority of the martial arts systems trained and taught today placing a large emphasis on kata, several important questions come to light. How does the concept of kata aid in the development of realistic and effective combative skill? Is kata effective in this development of effective and efficient martial skill? This section will take a look at these questions and try to apply them to a contemporary setting.

When looking at kata, it can be seen that they are precise movements designed to be applied to very specific situations. An important point to consider is that these specific movements become static, in that the design parameters are never changed. Combat however, rarely conforms to the sequential, often rigid parameters implied by kata. The very dynamics of a fight suggest that combat is an ever changing and rarely static entity. The specifics of any two attacks are never identical, and this makes it very difficult, if not impossible to apply a static solution such as kata to the problem. This also makes it almost impossible to suggest that a specific kata can be taken from a Dojo and effectively applied in a street situation without modification. Where then does this leave kata in the study of combat? This is a question that many martial schools neglect. To instill within students the belief that kata is their way out of a fight might be seen as the encouragement of fatal tendencies. This is because non dynamic solutions are rarely capable of solving dynamic problems. Due to this unsuitability of fixed movements being applied to changing elements, there is a need to expand upon the concept of kata.

The Value Of Kata

All this is not to say that kata has no place in contemporary combative training. It may be a valuable tool in training. However, in order to be effective, the context of the kata must be examined and understood. The elements and components of kata bear merit in that kata contain specific techniques and physical combative principles. These principles and techniques may then be studied and expanded upon, using the original kata as a reference point. The specific techniques which are found in kata are often excellent in their effectiveness and efficiency. Whether or not these techniques relate to close in fighting skills (such as grappling, throwing, and wrestling) or long range distance fighting skills (such as punching, kicking, and striking), in the study of kata the concepts of balance, control, timing and coordination are introduced to technique. These four concepts are the keystone to most combative techniques. Without them, injury occurs in training, as well as the development of fatal tendencies and ineffective combative skill.

To quickly reiterate this key point: It is possible to train and develop the virtues of balance, control, timing and coordination through their application in kata. Herein lies the real value of kata. When kata is viewed as a tool used to perfect the physical dynamics and elements of technique, its' usefulness becomes strikingly apparent. Kata provides a student of the combative arts with a means to examine and perfect individual body movement. The parameters outlined by kata eliminate complexities which arise in live situations and allow the practitioner to isolate specific problems he or she may encounter in the application and learning of specific techniques. It is in the simplified form provided by kata that technique can be most effectively learned.

The Application Of Kata Through Henka

Once the principles of effective combative technique have been learned through properly taught kata, it becomes essential to tear apart the structure of the kata. Due to the extreme variation found in combat, memorizing fixed forms of movement for the purpose of applying them in a live altercation becomes dangerous at its best. Here, the concept of henka comes into play. Henka is most easily described as "variation". Once the fundamentals of techniques are learned, variations of these techniques should be created and practiced. To let a technique fall into one specific form is the development of fatal tendencies. One who is highly skilled in combative application of techniques is a fighter who is capable of varying the techniques he or she has spent years learning to accommodate the variable dynamics of a live situation. Where most anyone could be taught to punch according to the parameters defined by a kata, it is highly unlikely that this "specialized" punch would be encountered on the street. Different attackers have different body sizes and dynamics of movement. No two people will attack in precisely the same manner, nor will the reactions and effects of specific techniques be the same on any given two people. The vast variety which becomes possible in combat makes it necessary to prepare for variation. Training in such a manner, variation becomes an intricate and fundamental part of our combative study.

The majority of the techniques illustrated in many of the quality martial arts publications available today might be seen as kata. Individual techniques are shown, and the physical principles which govern the mechanics of the techniques are explained. Once these are understood, it is important to realize that these techniques may take on hundreds, if not thousands of different forms. Although they can all be explained scientifically through simple physics, many different variables can quickly be introduced which immediately complicate a technique. To feel the subtle changes which can have such a great effect on the effectiveness and dynamics of our own technique becomes a matter of practice. By preparing to modify technique, a skilled combatant is able to create his or her own skill as it is needed. It is this flexibility which is often overlooked in other systems.

Conclusion

Offering a platform on which to build technique, kata provides us with a means of learning different combative skills and techniques. The simple scientific principles of these techniques can be seen in kata, and it is here where they are most easily learned. It is the destruction of kata where their teachings becomes effective. Fixed form applies to fixed movements, and these fixed movements are seldom, if ever seen in actual combative application. Here, the need to adapt becomes strong. Kata let us learn our technique, but it is important to break down their structure through the practice of henka, creating a realistic ability to engage in combat and emerge successfully.
Jason DeJong is currently a student at the University of Calgary, just completing his 4th year. Having achieved the rank of shodan last year, he started training in Ninjutsu in 1989 under Sensei Jayson Creasey in Calgary, Alberta and continues to study there today. He is currently working on a revision of his first book, "Ninpo Taijutsu...Fundamental Principles of Effective Armed and Unarmed Combat." Jason can be contacted via e-mail at: jason@rrt.com .


KOSHIJUTSU VS. KOPPOJUTSU: A COMPARISON

Jeff Mueller

Last month I covered some of the differences and misconceptions between the Jutaijutsu and the Dakentaijutsu. This month I will try to clarify some points regarding the differences and similarities between Koppojutsu and Koshijutsu.

To begin, many people state that the Koppojutsu and Koshijutsu are sub-divisions of the Dakentaijutsu. This is simply untrue. They are all different arts with different principles and concepts. The commonly stated differences are usually gross over-simplifications of the true differences. The typical answers to the question "What's the difference between Koppojutsu and Koshijutsu?" are: Koppojutsu is bone-breaking, and Koshijutsu is muscle and tissue tearing using the fingertips. Some people go on to describe that the Koshijutsu tearing is done to the kyusho (nerve point or vital point). Well, this is um, kind of true. Maybe. Let's take an look at the two systems on their true base levels. Let's begin with the Koshijutsu. The Gyokko Ryu Koshijutsu is based on affecting the Kyusho at 45 degree angles by using the fingertips and STRIKES. The "muscle and tissue tearing" usually spoken of is a by-product of affecting the kyusho. But it is not limited to such action. There are many kyusho that are exploited in the Gyokko Ryu Koshijutsu that don't tear tissue or muscles. The method for developing power in the Koshijutsu is a pivoting action around the spinal column, which creates a solid, snapping strike.

Now let's look at the Koppojutsu. It has been simplified to the extreme, usually being summed up in two words, "Bone Breaking". Well, let's start at the beginning, the Koppojutsu comes from the Koshijutsu. The Koppojutsu deals with the use of the skeleton structure, also known as Kohtsu Po (Bone Method). The whole body method in the Koppojutsu causes the attacker to commit when attacking and thereby stretching himself out. This allows the Koppojutsu stylist to strike with the entire skeleton and body weight to throw the uke of balance with the initial contact. This creates a solid, crushing strike. It uses the principles of striking the kyusho at 45 degree angles as well as an added method of "bone-breaking." This deals with striking the kyusho at 90 degree angles to break the bone or create the feeling of numbness that accompanies a broken limb. As an interesting aside, the kyusho names used in the Bujinkan today come from the Koto Ryu Koppojutsu.

Let's sum up. The Koshijutsu involves the striking and grabbing of kyusho at 45 degree angles. The power of these strikes comes from the rotation of the body and is generated by the limbs. The Koppojutsu involves striking the kyusho at 45 and 90 degree angles using the entire skeleton as the tool. They both involve striking the same kyusho, use the same method of 45 degree angle striking and grabbing. The difference is in where the power comes from and the added method of "bone-breaking" in the Koppojutsu. Now these are the differences as they apply to the Gyokko Ryu Koshijutsu and the Koto Ryu Koppojutsu and to any other system of Koshijutsu or Koppojutsu. And please remember that this article was written on the base level of understanding that students should have concerning these two integral concepts of the Bujinkan. There are many other differences, concerning throws, joint-locks, etc.... I hope this once again clears up any over-simplification of these important terms.


Jeff Mueller is the Head Instructor at the Bujinkan Musha no Tomodachi Dojo in Bowie, Maryland. He has been training in Ninpo Taijutsu since 1988 and has traveled to Japan to train with Hatsumi Sensei and the other Shihan. He may be contacted via e-mail at: JeffM777@aol.com .


THE NAGINATA

Mats Hjelm

The naginata (halberd) was used mainly by the female samurai to defend their family and territory when the husband was away. It is a longer weapon and could quite easily keep the swordsman at a safe distance while cutting his hands or legs.

The blade was curved, and often it was the blade from an old kodachi/wakizashi (the shorter sword that the samurai carried). The blade was used to cut rather than thrust (like the yari, spear). The shaft was also used to strike or distract before the final cut with the blade was delivered.

The heavier bisento was made of a thicker shaft and a heavier blade. This weapon was used in the battle field against samurai in armor. Rather than cut through the samurais' armour, the heavy blade was used to crush the enemy with its weight.

The naginata or bisento was also used against samurai who were riding on horses. Attacks directly to the legs of the horse were employed in order to take the samurai down to the ground. Once the horse unseated its rider, the weapon could be used to inflict further damage on the felled warrior.

The most common and natural techniques for the naginata employ cutting at the enemy's hands, arms or legs, from a safe distance before a more final ending.

When you train use a naginata made of wood - DON'T TRAIN WITH LIVE BLADES. If you don't own a wooden Naginata, you can use a bo staff (6ft staff). You can indicate which end is the "live" end, i.e. which end has a blade, by putting colored tape around one end of the bo. You can also tape a tennis ball to one end, again to simulate a blade, as well as for providing added safety when performing tsuki thrusts. Finally, you can also make your own wooden blade. Make sure that the end is rounded, and that the "blade" is well sanded. Above all be cautious. Wooden blade or no, you can still injure your training partner if you are not careful.


Contributed by Shidoshi Mats Hjelm, Sweden. Mats has been practicing ninpo taijutsu for the past ten years, has founded several Martial Arts BBSes, and has his own ninpo newsletter. He is accepting articles for his NinZine and may be contacted via E-mail: helmet@algonet.se .


BOOK REVIEW

Ellen Pearlman

The Bodhisattva Warrior
by Shifu Nagoboshi Tomio (Terence Dukes)
Samuel Weiser, Inc.

This is an exhaustively researched history concerning the development and symbolism of Buddhist martial arts which originated in India and their better known fighting variants as they migrated east to China, Korea and Japan. The author, a 4th degree black belt in Mushindo Kempo Karate worked as head Khempo, teaching at Cambridge University. He studied with Buddhist teachers in Asia and was ordained as a teacher at the Ryushini Temple in Japan. He also practiced as a Yamabushi or mountain ascetic. A book this thorough must be the culmination of his life's work and I have tremendous respect for that. I just wish it weren't so problematic.

What exactly is a Buddhist Martial Art? The answers lie scattered throughout different chapters, encompassing the elements, human characteristics, symbolism and experience, and healing and movement. However well thought out its presentation is, the first two chapters are a serious ride across archaic terminology. Passages which state that, "The essential nature of an integrated canonical and experiential endeavor meanings fully encompassing within one's nature, and without restriction, the whole potential of life in all its breadth and depth," are statements which left me gasping for air. I don't know if the editor understood the material or was cowed by it but I do know that all of the martial artists I spoke with, all of whom were all black belts, were initially very enthusiastic about the release of this book. In fact, they were hungry for it. But when it came time to actually read it, no one I knew could get through it because of its rambling style. In order to glean its treasures it seems you really do need to be a well-read Buddhist with the stubbornness of a mountain goat.

And there are treasures. The book finally breaks stride after about 200 pages. There are tiny, thoughtful revelations sprinkled all over if you look hard enough, such as "The Chinese and Japanese terms for purifying practice come from the Sanskrit root Kri, which indicates a spiritual activity of body and mind. From this root comes the Buddhist term Karma."

The warrior class of India, the Ksatreya, have origins in the Rig Veda, the most ancient literature of India with references to "Vajramukti" or "thunderbolt clasped hands," a basic military posture. In ancient India, Acaryas (masters) taught students Nata, or movements in both times of war and peace. This was considered a common, even necessary training for the ruling class. In fact, before he became the Buddha, Prince Siddhartha was a master archer and well versed practitioner of martial arts. Nata, currently thought of as dance in India, is actually mentioned as far back as the White Lotus Sutra, where it is broken down into "four classes of people who practice it" and viewed as a "skill in acts of non-harmful defense towards one's opponent." Dukes has enough political savvy to say that "Whether Buddhist or Taoist advisors rule at court had a direct bearing as to what form of martial art training was expoused by the populace."

The appendices in the book of Indian, Chinese, and Japanese terms are brilliant. One example defines Bodhi Mandala (Sanskrit); Tao Chang (Chinese) and Dojo (Japanese) as being the same thing, which is quite provocative to consider. There is a plethora of illustrations defining various points, and a useful historical chronicle of the first 1000 years of Buddhism. This book throws everything at you all at once, so you have to pick your way through what is actually useful. If you are not a historian of the martial arts, as I am not, it is difficult to know what in this book is true and what is open to interpretation. I leave this argument to future scholars to discern.

The real pith lies in the book's discussion of Chuan Fa, the Chinese monastic tradition based on Indian Vajramukti, which "teaches that while personal defense is ultimately pointless, the opportunity to help or teach others exists continually." The real revelation is in the discussion of "The Inner Meaning of the Nata". Dukes defines the smaller elements of martial arts training that I knew were true from my own experience, yet I did not have adequate terminology to discuss. He begins by defining the Sanskrit word "Pratima" as "shape or outer form". "Pratima" is the building block of shorter "Nata" or movement sequences which work simultaneously on a students' mind, body and breath. Each "Pratima" expressed a particular psychological pattern or orientation which is not revealed to the student so the master can assess the effect of various "Pratima" on their pupil. The central point of "Pratima" is to let a student to recognize "Sthana", defined as the "student's perceived and acknowledged self understanding". In training, both physical and mental "Sthana" are continually assessed by the master. Then, "by applying the(ir) various meditative practices students revelation of the personal "Sthana" entails direct confrontation with the totality of unskillful mental conditions called "Klesa". "Klesa" are the traditional Buddhist term to describe one's obscurations. To confront one's "Klesas", one acknowledges one's blind spots, the aim of cutting through one's habitual patterns. These blind spots manifest directly and physically in one's martial arts training. Dukes says "If exercise is not interrupted and goes on to the purification of mind, it will make what is immature become mature."

The process of a student becoming aware of their "Sthana", which is part of the practice towards enlightenment, was called "Samasthana" or "configuration." In Chuan Fa, the goal is achieve mastery over these "Samasthana" and the deepest level (laksya) of influence, thereby experiencing enlightened mind. Dukes also bemoans the fact that much of the original, spiritual understanding of martial arts practice has been lost. By publishing this book and hopefully a 2nd, more skillfully edited second edition, perhaps it can again be regained.


Ellen Pearlman is a writer living in New York City. She trains at New York Budo under the guidance of Jean-Pierre Seibel and may be contacted via e-mail at: ep128@columbia.edu .
2017 aug. 24.
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