|[ olvasnivaló » Ura & Omote - 1996 January ]|
Well. . . Let's discuss this logically. First, I will say that Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi himself stated this in his book "Hiden Ninja Submission", not me. There is a section in the book that shows a detailed lineage chart (pg. 48-49) linking our schools together. Hatsumi goes on to give a short history of the origin of each of the nine schools (pg. 50-52). As far as I know, this is the only book that Hatsumi does this in. I am surprised that there are people that have overlooked this rather large detail.
In his book "Hiden Ninja Submission" under the subtitle 'Gyokko Ryu', the following statement is made by Masaaki Hatsumi: "It is not known exactly by whom this technique was introduced, but it is assumed that this Koshijutsu was developed based upon Chinese Kenpo. Although Koshijutsu means 'to be able to knock an enemy down with one finger,' it is considered that it rather denotes 'the backbone (Koshi)' of martial arts. This Gyokko Ryu has later become the basis of various martial arts of Iga."
According to the "Bugei Ryuha Daijiten" the Gyokko Ryu contains Koshijutsu, Shitojutsu, and Ninpo. The Gyokko Ryu also incorporates Tenmon Chimon, Saryaku Hiden (Koshijutsu Kata) Baku-in Sanpo Hiden (Kuji) and the idea of Shinshin Shingan. . . The Gyokko Ryu is the oldest of the nine schools of the Bujinkan. The Togakure Ryu is next, even though it has had more generation leaders than the Gyokko Ryu (some did not live to long). The following shows the initial founders that mark the formal beginning of the teaching of the Koshijutsu in Japan. Note that I have given the relationship of each Ryu to this foundation. I have not given a lot of detail on the history; I only want to point out that there is a trace to the Koshijutsu in all but the Takagiyoshin Ryu. I am only saying that the arts have a common historical point of origin not that they are all Ninja Ryu or that they are all practiced the same conceptually. Qualifications for a Ninja Ryu is another topic on the Ninja no Hachimon, and when in the school's history it used or adopted certain practices. I am not saying that this information is gospel, but it is based on the best possible sources.
Lineage: Cho Gyokko -> Cho Buren -> Chan Busho (Ikai) -> Gamon Doshi -> Garyu Doshi . . . ->
Gyokko Ryu: Garyu Doshi -> Hachiryu Nyudo -> Tozawa Hakuunsai (Formal founder of the Gyoko)
Koto Ryu Koppojutsu: There are several theories that all link this Ryu to the Gyokko Ryu, just differently. The "Bugei Ryuha Daijiten" says that the Koto Ryu comes from the Koshijutsu of the Gyokko Ryu. Hatsumi says it was founded in the middle of the 16th century by Toda Sakyo Ishinsai who had learned the Gyokko Ryu from Gyokkan, a Buddhist monk (found in the book "Hiden Ninja Submission".)
Togakure Ryu Ninpo: Garyu Doshi -> Kimon Hei Bei -> Hakuun Doshi -> Kain Doshi -> Togakure Daisuke I. Again in "Hiden Ninja Submission" Hatsumi says that the Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu is a branch of the Koshijutsu.
Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo: Garyu Doshi -> Yasukiyo Heinai Iga -> Heiraizaemon Ienaga Iga (Kumogakure Hoshi) who is believed to be the founder of Iga Ryu Ninpo.
Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu: A branch of the Gyokko Ryu Koshijutsu as mentioned by both the "Bugei Ryuha Daijiten" and Hatsumi Sensei ("Hiden Ninja Submission".)
Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo: Stated in "Hiden Ninja Submission" to be traced back to the Koshijutsu. The "Bugei Ryuha Daijiten" also traces it back to the Koshijutsu.
Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu: Garyu Doshi -> Izumo Kanja Yoshiteru (founder of the Ryu) Masaaki Hatsumi states in the book "Hiden Ninja Submission" that this Ryu can be traced back to the Koshijutsu.
Kukishinden Ryu: Garyu Doshi -> Izumo Kanja Yoshiteru (the founder of the Ryu; the founder of Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu.) This Ryu has major influences outside of it's link to the Koshijutsu. For example it's link to the Amatsu Tatara Hibumi.
Takagi Yoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu: This is the only Ryu that I personally cannot show a trace back to the Koshijutsu. I can however state the extensive history provided by the "Bugei Ryuha Daijiten" and other old Japanese martial dictionaries discuss the extensive deep relationship to the Kukishin family arts. It is inseparable. This relationship itself is not a link to the Koshijutsu but an important point. It would not have evolved as it has without the connection to the Kukishin family. The Takagiyoshin Ryu traces back to the Rinpiden scrolls that were studied by a warrior monk. When you understand the eclectic nature found in the history of this Ryu you should begin to see how possible it is that somewhere in time it could have been influenced by the Koshijutsu. It would be near impossible to find this connection but it is still a possibility. There are many other relationships that the Ryu shares that suggests such a connection.
A few years ago in Japan Hatsumi said that to truly understand the nature of the martial arts we have to become anthropologists in our approach to studying the history. He also stated that in the taijutsu the past, present and future become one. So, I offer the following as a minimum when looking at the historical significance of our art.
When we begin to further research the history of our schools outside the realms of the Bujinkan, we can begin to practice the concepts of our oldest tradition. Using the three fold approach of the Sanshin we can take a look backward with the help of the "Bugei Ryuha Daijiten", "Nihon Kobudo Jiten", and the "Nihon Kobujutsu". These three books on the history of Japanese martial arts together form the spectacles through which we can begin to see the historical relationships and progressions of the Ryuha from a non biased view. If we wish to look from the past forward to understand the practical points of our traditional views and techniques we have to look somewhere else. We need to call on the assistance of the Bansenshukai, Shoninki, and the Ninpiden to forge our view from that perspective. These are the three most complete writing on Ninjutsu. They were written during one of the most important times in the history of the Ninja, by Ninja. It is difficult, but possible, to find all of these books written in modern, readable Japanese. It is part of the quest to tackle such obstacles. Another important place to look for information is by reading all the books written by such authors as Yumio Nawa, Heishichiro Okuse, Koyama Ryotaro, Gingetsu, etc. . . all of who are or were Ninja historians in the native country of the Ninja. I assume that any aspiring ninja anthropologist worth their weight would first collect, and read all books written by the foremost experts of this century before drawing conclusions and writing "The Concise History of the Ninja" only after looking at the art from an insider's point of view. I hope no one would pretend to have all of the answers after only learning from one source.
I will say that myself and many others are well on the way to becoming true anthropologists on this art. It has been very expensive - I have spent thousands of dollars for out of print Japanese books on Ninjutsu (and related topics) after the cost of flying to the country. Those of us who are intrigued to that point are far fewer than those who have a friend who told them that so and so said that there are 'X' number of kata in the Gikan Ryu. I feel that I would be doing the Bujinkan a disservice by posting articles on the historical aspects of the art we study. There is far too much room for error, and things that no one will ever know. No information is far better than mis-information. Leave it to Hatsumi Sensei and the Sanmyaku Bujinkan Densho to bring the necessary information to the organization. There are many aspects of the information that are cut and dry, but unfortunately too many people want to get rich and famous by announcing that they are the Ninpo Messiah, bearer of the direct knowledge. It's not that I want to hoard the information, just protect it from those who want just to possess it for it's resale value.
In closing, I have discussed different methods of looking at history to help us to relate to and understand what we learn now in training. The things I mentioned will hopefully spark an interest and give a starting point for those who want to pursue the study of our art's vast history. As practitioners we have some sense of the future of the art, we have a confidence that the art will persevere. Survival is the very nature of what we do. Practice and study can help us insure that the Bujinkan arts are preserved. Masaaki Hatsumi made an interesting point at the last Daikomyosai in Japan, he said that if you don't study correctly and honestly that the very nature of Ninjutsu would come forth, you would become invisible by erasing yourself from the Bujinkan. Let's keep in mind one truth that has proven itself over time, that history is our greatest teacher. History has also been distorted and changed to suit the needs of a people, we need be careful of this. Let's work together in the Bujinkan to learn the correct history of what we study, and work as a family to protect and preserve what we learn from it...
NOTE: All sources of information listed within this article reside on my personal bookshelf. I will assure you that they are all readable (in modern Japanese.) I have been able to collect over 50 books on Ninjutsu in Japanese many of which are out of print. It has been a fun hobby trying to find original copies of the books I mentioned, but well worth the time and money spent. I spend most of my time training, research is important but not substitute for training.
"I can't get it right," he would complain.
"No one," I replied, "not even the black belt students, gets everything right the first time. In fact," I added, "there is no such thing as 'right'. Technique is not a matter of black and white; only shades of gray."
Yes, a technique can be performed totally wrong, if timing, distancing and angling are poor; but because of the changing nature of real combat, there is no perfect way to do anything. What is a good technique in one situation may become insufficient if the attacker alters his approach even in the slightest. Bujinkan Taijutsu in the end is not about techniques, but about moving your body well, translating thought into action. Hatsumi Soke has said over and over again that it doesn't matter whether you're a good technician or a poor one, as long as you can survive.
When practicing a technique, whether you're being taught by your local teacher or by Hatsumi Soke, try to extract the important ideas from what you are being shown. These important ideas take the form of certain ways of moving, stepping or shifting, specific targets and body weapons, a new way to use timing, distancing or angling, etc. Whether you can remember or memorize a technique or kata is unimportant, as long as you understand it in that moment and can catch the feeling of it. It is what you learn that is important, not what you remember.
Each one of the ryu waza of the Bujinkan Dojo contain these things, moments completely unique to themselves. As an example, take any kata you like. Why did someone take the time to write it down in the old scrolls? Because they thought that it contained concepts so important, ideas that weren't found in any other form, that it was necessary to write it all down and transmit the feeling to future warriors of their clan. They were trying to tell us something with each of the forms that they took the time to write down. I have previously called this "a message in a bottle, cast into the sea of time", and while that may sound melodramatic, the meaning behind it is crucially important. What I meant is that the kata are merely bottles, conveying important concepts for real fighting. They are a means to an end, not the end themselves. They teach your body to properly use taijutsu and your mind to move in the way of a warrior. Learn the forms, understand them, and then forget them so that you can use them. They are of no use to you until you can forget them and not think. This is exactly what Hatsumi Sensei has been teaching. But it is not an instant process.
Some people, even those who have been in the Bujinkan a long time, have not yet realized this concept. They look only at the forms and this leads them to believe that the art is not very effective for modern types of fighting. They see Hatsumi Sensei teaching in a very ethereal, esoteric manner, sometimes very soft and at times a bit fanciful. At times like these you have to look very closely and try to hear what he is saying to you. Taijutsu has nothing to do with words; it is a language spoken with the body that transcends time, borders and nationalities. I hope these people can reexamine what they think they see in this art, and to break open the bottle to read the message inside.
As a Christian, and student of Budo Taijutsu, I would like to share my perceptions on how these two lifestyles blend. There are three areas of major concern; whether a Christian should learn to fight at all, are there specific non-Christian religious mechanisms in our art, and, lastly, how do I know where to draw the line. Please keep in mind that these are my personal perceptions; every Christian will have to make their own decisions based on their prayers.
Should a Christian practice a combat art? The answer is a simple "it depends." It depends on whether you practice the art as a part of an holistic lifestyle to glorify God and his blessings in your life; or if you practice out of fear, or anger, or from the need to satisfy your ego. The intention of the training, and the conflict, determines if it is a sin. I feel the rightness of defending myself and my family. Christ accepted the Roman Centurion (a military officer). Our society could not function without police officers; yet are these officers forbidden to be Christians? Taijutsu is a good physical medium to express the glory of the physical body God gave us.
The second question, "Are there specific non-Christian aspects to our art?" needs to be answered "Yes". Deeply ingrained into many martial arts, and ours in particular, are occult trappings that can explored after several years of training. At the Ohio conference, Shidoshi Hayes explained the nine levels of development. It is my conviction that there is an involvement in the occult at the upper levels. I believe there will come a time in my taijutsu that I will have to turn down opportunities in training. Does this bother me? Of course. But the long term benefit, to a Christian, outweighs the short term benefits of the extra powers. Does this mean that all Christians must train for just a couple years and then quit? I don't think so. My belief is that I can continue to develop my physical skills to my own personal maximum. Although I may never make Godan, give me a few years and I'll have a smooth ganseki nage. As a Christian, take your training as one part of the development of the whole person you are; God will provide opportunities for you to make no one else can. And keep in mind, you are always an example of Christ, inside and outside the dojo.
The last question is the most personal. "Where do I draw the line?" As a Christian, the answer is "On your knees!" Only through prayer, and the support of mature Christians who you can talk to will give you the strength to live life in the method God intended for you. God has a divine plan for your life. Taijutsu is just one more tool that God can use to make you the person you can be. But the possibilities for deception and compromise are rampant. Anything you do can be scrutinized because you claim to represent Christ. But keep in mind the brotherhood that Christ has called us to; we are to reach out to those around us, those we know best. Don't think it is right to go into the dojo and look down on someone because their faith is different! It is a challenge to you, from God: "Go out into the world..."
In closing, I ask you to take a moment of self-examination. Use the discipline taijutsu has taught you, and the loving openness of the Christian walk. Examine your own heart, and life, for places you may have compromised, or people you may have unknowingly offended. Take the mature step, and ask Christ to work in your life, and commend your taijutsu training to Him. He will open doors for you that were never even seen!
I have recently experienced some of these by-products that arise from active exercise of "ninpo" in my path outside of the dojo. With that comes to mind an incident that occurred in an Irish tavern.
On a Friday evening, after meeting a very close female friend at work, I suggested we retire to a local tavern to enjoy a pint of our favorite winter brew. I was well aware that the general crowd at this establishment was comprised of aging businessmen, whose poor taste in cigars was only surpassed by their pompous rhetoric and obvious disdain for the blue collar fellow. Nonetheless, I was not to be deterred by the behavior of others from enjoying a pint of Pete's Wicked Winter Brew.
Upon arriving at said establishment, I was pleased to hear the overture from The Who's "Quadrophenia" playing on the stereo and was quite comfortable with this. Therein, we ordered two pints of what we thought were Pete's Wicked Winter Brew.
After three sips, I decided that what I was served was not what I had ordered, but was in fact Samuel Adams. To further confirm my suspicions, I asked one of the attending bartenders to pour me a small taste of the Sam Adams. As I suspected, there was Pete's Wicked Winter Brew coming out of the Sam Adams tap and vice versa. I brought this to the attention of this particular bartender and asked if I could be compensated a pint of what I originally ordered. The gentlemen informed me that being a new employee, he would have to clear it with the senior bartender. The senior bartender seemed to take an affront to my appearance and what he felt was an attempt at getting a free beer. He shouted that I should have said something sooner and that to bring this matter up after what he considered "finishing my beer"(which was only three sips drained) was not worthy of consideration.
Now, given the fact that my only objective was to enjoy a pint of my desired ale, which was ill-dispensed, and was met with irritable disposition, I was compelled to action.
The action I took was to bring this matter to the attention of the manager, who immediately saw the validity in my argument and was more than happy to compensate me a round of drinks. While heading to the rear of the bar where we were originally situated, my counterpart was in the process of leaving. When I inquired as to the reason for her flight, she informed me that the aforementioned ill-mannered bartender was shouting at her in regards to my attempt to resolve this matter. When the manager instructed the bartender to pour us two beers, compliments of the house, he stubbornly refused and contested that I finished my beer and would not submit to the wishes of the manager.
At this point, I said I was no longer interested in having a beer and that it would be in the manager's best interest to reconsider the usefulness of this bartender to her establishment. Now this is where we arrive at what is known as "heart as sword"
It would have taken no effort on my part to channel the energy inherent in this situation in a less than considerate direction. I could have easily taken a poll on how many patrons were enjoying the two distinct beverages in discussion, announced that all were oblivious to the difference, and that the house was culpable. This could have taken the form of many irate patrons demanding compensation for their beverage purchases, and cast a poor reflection on the operators of the tavern. This is not the way of the benevolent warrior. Which brings to mind a Zen story of an emperor whose pompous ignorance and arrogance nearly costs him the "face" that the Japanese are legendary for keeping.
The exact details escape me, but the emperor of mention is the sort who would dine at a French restaurant, order escargot, thinking it's chic, and be insulted beyond words that his plate harbored snails. So this particular emperor decided he wanted to impress his guests and subjects at a banquet with a snake soup that was said to be very popular and delicious. He employed the services of a cook, who happened to be a Zen monk, to prepare this dish. When the meal was to commence, and all were in attendance, the emperor was enraged to find that there was a snake's head in his soup. Not realizing that it was the snake's head that gave the soup it's flavor, the emperor summoned the cook to his side to protest this unappetizing sight. When the cook was questioned as to "What is this in my soup?," he merely reached into the bowl, extracted the snake's head and devoured it, exclaiming, "Whatever it was, it was delicious". At this, all the guests present laughed heartily and the emperor kept face. But the emperor, secretly knew he was spared an embarrassment unbecoming an emperor, and was grateful to the cook for not showing the emperor for the fool he was. This story is coined "eating the blame".
Back at the tavern, it was made news to me that the "ill-mannered bartender" was dismissed and that should I return, that my first drink be on the house. The other bartender, who was more accommodating than the afore, was quite grateful to me because the sudden departure of his senior provided him with a substantial increase of work hours and pay. This also facilitated the acquisition of an apartment and furniture.
It was not my objective to effect this sort of re-action, but every action we commit elicits an equal or greater re-action. As practitioners of ninpo, it is our responsibility to cultivate this reality to a degree that benefits our friends and neighbors and our environment on a whole. To be involved in such a tradition and only walk away with the ability to defeat a physical adversary would be incomplete in its triumph and a terrible insult to our predecessors and "sempais". Participation in this art encompasses more than physical ability to overcome and overwhelm our enemies, but requires that we apply ourselves to the task of enlightening ourselves, our friends, and our adversaries.
During my training at New York Budo, I've come to realize that compassion is the greater part of valor. I've served proudly as a U.S Army Ranger (Airborne), and have witnessed actions by men both brave and meritorious. I aspire to continue to commit acts of merit and deeds of compassion to propagate the acts of those who have come before me in an attempt to not let their good works go unsung. From Hatsumi Sensei to Musashi, from General George Washington to General George S. Patton, all these men left us a guide by which to effect the greater good that man is capable of. My most sincere and deep gratitude for the ability to harness these abilities also goes out to Shidoshi Jean-Pierre Seibel and all the instructors at New York Budo, whose selfless disclosure of what they've learned is an inspiration to what we all can accomplish through ninpo.
In 1991, I got awarded my ninth kyu and I felt I was on the right track. That test was the only test I have been really prepared for. It was a very special feeling to tie my green belt around my gi - a feeling of pride. There were about 8-10 people who passed the ninth kyu test that day. Ten pioneers of Bujinkan in the Katrineholm-dojo. Today, only three of us are still active.
I have always believed that tests are boring, hard and not very inspiring. It is difficult for me to see them as a way to move forward as a martial artist. During my journey through the kyu-grades, I believe that my test for seventh kyu was my happiest one. Not particularly the diploma, but the meeting with the Bujinkan students at the Ostermalms budoschool in Stockholm who didn't believe that ninjutsu from "the forest" would be of any value. They had to change their minds. It was proven that the ninjas from the countryside were of good quality. As proof of that, my Sensei, Mats Brickman, was awarded 4th dan because Bo Munthe believed he should do the Godan-test in Japan some time later. And we all know how that went. . . (He passed).
Until the Shodan test I had always tried to postpone the tests, but, in the end, I have always done my duty and stood in front of my sensei and done my best. But this time it was different. I did not feel worthy to try for Shodan and I tried several times to have my test moved to a later date. But Sensei's answer was always the same: NO! and the motivation from the jury was: "It's not up to the student to decide when he or she is ready for a test". So it was my Sensei who made that decision. END OF DISCUSSION!
To ask nicely didn't work. What was I supposed to do? Steal Sensei's "Star Trek: The Next Generation" videos? Make threats about telling lies that Sensei owns a stereo from Phillips? Both alternatives would result in deep pain. I had to choose, fight or escape? I chose the first.
Despite anxiety and a feeling of being powerless I had to make the best of the situation. I had to try and memorize the two million techniques I was supposed to know. The closer I got towards the date of the test, the greater the frustration. On the Friday before the seminar I had reached a state of total apathy concerning the test. The first day of the seminar was great fun with a lot interesting techniques. One of the best seminar days of my life. I had a feeling of great energy and inspiration. My students seemed likewise.
Sunday, bloody Sunday, day two of the seminar. The last thing I said to Joakim, one of the teachers in the Hallstahammar-dojo was, "I won't do it". I heard him say something like, "It will be all right", but it didn't reach me. The test in itself didn't differ from other tests. Long and hard hours showing and describing techniques in front of one Shidoshi and two Nidans.
When it was time for the announcements of the results and diplomas, Sensei waited with me until the end. When I had to stand up in front of all the people at the seminar I thought of the BIG question; "Shodan or not?". I thought I hadn't make it, because I felt I had done a bad test. When Sensei actually ripped my green belt of me I thought about the Michael Jackson-hit, "Black or White"...
SHODAN! To tie the black belt around my gi was a feeling I can't describe. It was about the same feeling I had when I was awarded my green belt, but much stronger.
Finally I would like to say that the joy of seeing my students pass their tests is as great as the feeling of passing myself. Both things are payment of the hard work I've done. I hope I can make up to the demands of a Sensei. BUDO IKKAN.
I have spent the better part of my adult life exploring not so much the "how" of humankind (and the rest of the universe for that matter), but rather the "why" of what goes on here. This past year shines out as an example of what I have been trying to do.
I should probably tell you that I am a creature of rude flesh and bone (and nerve endings), having never had much aptitude for disciplines of the spirit, if you will - suffice it to say that I'm the only person I know who would consistently fall asleep doing zazen meditation.
1991 started off with not so much a bang as a whisper - I traveled down to the sunny South to spend 3 days learning about Chakras and a small Satori tapped me on the shoulder.
I realized that I wasn't so much a down-to-earth solid citizen but rather a creature of fire and energy! I learned in Tampa that I have been not allowing myself to express my passion, which may surprise those of you who know me.
I have spent years trying to calm myself, refining myself into that awesome Thunderbolt of compassion and wisdom. And all that time, I was falling into the trap of making accommodation for those around me and seeking approval for my acts. I didn't discriminate between those who wanted to pursue this life-long adventure along the path to total awareness and wisdom, and those idly passing their time just sight-seeing, so that I ended up heeding fools and tending to martyrs.
I could see that without Passion, one cannot truly become powerful and the world needs more powerful, positive, productive people. I began to cultivate those aspects of my life where I could show more resolution and started directing myself, and those closest to me, towards attainable empowering goals and objectives.
I also began formal study of an esoteric tradition that I have been "hanging around" for the last decade - not only do I want to become more powerful, but I have taken it upon myself to try to embrace the world with loving kindness.
At first this seems like a contradiction, but I have/am/will learned/learning/learn that this is exactly what I need to do to make myself a greater asset not only to my friends and family but all of the world around me. I have seen and felt the power of the Sanmitsu (the 3 Secrets), which has been defined as thought, word and deed, but I believe should be more accurately described as intention, ability and commitment.
Of late, I have come to realize that the pendulum has perhaps swung too far. I have become a bit reckless and am only now recognizing this.
1992 promises to quite the year for me. In fact it is my year, being a Fire Monkey myself. I have major projects to complete, and significant goals to achieve.
MAY YOU ALL FIND YOUR PEACE IN THE YEAR TO COME. NINPO IKKAN!
(Originally written for Dimensions Magazine in 1992) As it happened, 1992 was a banner year for Court. He hosted the 10th Anniversary of Canadian Ninpo training with Stephen K. Hayes, arranged for him to be profiled on the TV series "The Originals", and was promoted to Sandan. Court may be reached at: <email@example.com>
So, I broadcast the event for three principal reasons, none of which are particularly about my ego (women with martial arts egos had better visit a shrink anyway!). First, I did it because I felt a responsibility, since I talk about martial arts law all the time, to talk about reality instead of text-book intellectualized legal stuff. It offered a way for others to think about how to approach this kind of problem before it happens, and to determine the ramifications. Second, folks - particularly those in the Bujinkan - need to be reminded that it can happen to anyone at any time. Indeed, given my approach to training, I thought it highly unlikely to happen to me. Are you all ready? Third, I did it because it shows we need some serious quality control in the Bujinkan, and shows what happens when you ignore your instincts and take anyone in.
With respect to the first point, people have many motivations for issuing a physical challenge. This guy could have disliked me personally, disliked the way I run training, disliked the Bujinkan, disliked women, - who knows! The bottom line is, his motivations don't matter. What matters is my safety, which I got back. I chose not to escalate and I thank my training for the fact that it was a conscious and considered choice. I learned a long time ago that there is always someone bigger, badder, cuter, taller, skinnier than me, so if I can lose safely, I will. Luckily, my martial arts teachers throughout the years prevented me from investing my ego in someone else's ability - or lack thereof. And, for heaven's sake, it's not about being a "teacher," for I was obviously not to this particular student. If I had someone with more training who follows Hatsumi-sensei, I'd study with them while waiting to get back to Japan! Many people know more, that's the easy part.
With respect to the third point, I have said many times that I have always had a problem with the quality of training in the States. The issue for me is not whether this stuff works. Clearly it does, because no one I've ever met could take the Boss, a 60-yr. + old Japanese man, in hand to hand combat - or with a traditional weapon. No one of common sense, experience and training would bother to try. In fact, even were I a UFC champion, I would not advise screwing with at least three of the Shihan. I don't have a penis to compare with his, so I don't bother. And, I know that when it comes to asking him to teach me, it is a matter of receiving whatever he chooses to show. Every parent knows the game of spelling out words before the child learns to read. I have to steal whatever I can, and I'm lucky enough to understand him when he chooses to use regular Japanese. It's that simple. Is it worth it? It is for me. And, I don't think I'm being abused for participating in this system. Others apparently do, some of whom apparently believe that Mr. Tanemura comes from such a different tradition that he will hand them what they want on a silver platter.
For me, the training is sacred because it will never end. There is no goal and it is not dependent upon a charismatic personality. I hold a fifth degree black belt: so what?! Some one else holds a 10th degree: so what?! The only thing it signifies for me is a relationship to the Boss - it sure as hell doesn't mean I'm half as good as Manaka-sensei! Me, I don't care if I ever learn to fight and I don't care if this stuff works in the "real world." My faith is grounded in experience which has nothing to do with some unknown assailant lurking in the shadows. I also don't care if I have to pay to get it: I already have to pay to get food, clean water and to practice my profession. In the Bujinkan, the only thing rank buys you is a better training partner, so I don't care if someone thinks I have earned it to their satisfaction or not.
Unfortunately, though, I thought I had been doing OK. After all, I had agonized for weeks about what I could possibly have to teach another guy who came to see me, and reached a solution. Truth to tell, he was much better and had more practice at actually hurting people, so I settled for driving him nuts by not being where his JKD, Gracie, Kung Fu, Kickboxing and fighting experience told him I should be. We played about and sparred for a few weeks, while I showed him my take on Taijutsu basics, so I could try to find some holes in his training. Once he caught on, we laughed a great deal and talked about it. We settled for my showing him some neat stuff, and I told him that if his horse sense told him something wouldn't work, cool, better to trust his instincts than my silly rambling. He determined I had something of value to share, and I thought "Wow, someone is actually going to let me play with him!" Heh, heh. The other guy didn't respect me or other people in the training, so he didn't belong there. Not too difficult a concept.
Hatsumi-sensei says and shows pretty interesting offensive or defensive movement, but it's clear that physical movement is only a tool. What good is it unless you're in the position to use it ?! Contrary to public opinion, Japan isn't the safest place in the world - and foreigners are no longer immune from dangers natives have always endured. Besides, go back 100 years, and it was just as dangerous as here. People don't change that fast. In the States, it is clear that the person most likely to harm you is someone you know. For women, the person most likely to harm you is actually a lover or husband. All you can do is erect your best defense and move on. In any "real" situation, I would always prefer 100 feet and a gun that works properly, to having to use hands-on Taijutsu. Much more persuasive when killing is not necessary.
Now, for some people that's not enough. They need the illusion of invincibility or at least the comfort of heightened defenses. In the States, the rule is still to kill/maim rather than to try to make a better society through active participation. Upon my return from Japan and the glamour of a top law firm, I taught in public school and at a college while trying to figure out what to do with myself. I took on adolescents testing their limits and junior drug dealers, and in a variety of ways. When other teachers allowed children to comb their hair, on the last day of school I made kids do improvised arithmetic puzzles. I thank my training for allowing me to have standards, even at a lousy $40 per day. Perhaps, if we want to feel safer, maybe we should spend more energy teaching children to be better human beings, instead of learning how to take them out when they get older.
This fall, I decided to re-open my law practice in Michigan. I will be defending many clients who will be guilty of something, if not the crime charged. And, I will be one hell of a thorn to the prosecution. I will represent people in divorce, a truly horrible arena, hardly gentle and civilized like the corporate world pretends to be. The pleasure is that I have absolute control over whom I represent. My professional line is drawn at defending people who kill or batter those who depend upon them for love or survival. Martial arts instructors are no different! In the Bujinkan, we are free to decline to take in certain students, and to move on when our needs are not being met. Extraneous comment is unnecessary: it's between each student and Dr. Hatsumi. Instructor inactivity and criticism without a serious and sustained effort to promote positive change is not helpful to our school. I hope the New Year brings better things.
Knives and pistols are the equivalent to us that the ancient battlefield weapons were to Samurai. Knife and pistol fighting are an elevation of the seriousness of a situation. Bringing a knife or gun into play is an acceptance of the deadly nature of the encounter.
How does this differ from regular unarmed training? It shouldn't. There is an old saying that goes: "you'll never see the knife that cuts you." This alludes to the fact that a decent knife fighter will not let you see the blade until it's too late. Thus, all of your unarmed training should recognize the fact that a knife could be in your opponent's hand, and your taijutsu should reflect this recognition.
A lot of instructors will tell their students that, no matter what, you're going to get cut in a knife fight. In a sense, this is true. The next step to that statement is continued training to avoid that inevitable occurrence. Unfortunately, too many people hear that statement and stop there. In the final battle in the Musashi book, Musashi's opponent draws his sword and tosses away his scabbard. Musashi says "I've already won". The opponent had already decided he would lose and not need to put his sword away after the battle. Don't stop training there and decide you're going to get cut, instead learn and grow and decide not to get cut.
In knife fighting, much more than in unarmed fighting, your taijutsu must be very good to be effective. First and foremost it is important to get out of the way of any attack. If a swipe is coming for your face, and you don't move your face, it's going to get cut. It is only once you're clear of the attack that counter attacks can be launched.
A mistake I often see is someone moving into the attacker and launching their own attacks without addressing the knife. With a knife in an opponent's hand, you must control that weapon before entering into the attacker's space, or you will be cut.
It is with good reason that the front of Hatsumi's book "Knife and Pistol Fighting", has drawings of the basic wrist and elbow locks: uragyaku, omotegyaku, hongyaku, onikudaki, and others. These techniques effectively neutralize the knife attack and allow you to proceed with your attacks.
The next time you practice any of those wrist or elbow locks, imagine your opponent with a knife and see how effective your taijutsu is and where it might need improvement.
EARTH: slow, deep breath in, same deep breath out. Earth is stability, the rootedness. Glaciers don't exactly move at jogging speed. Breathe in deeply, feeling the breath and the energy of the body slowly moving around. Breathe in, slowly gathering power, relentlessly and calmly. Breathe out and exude stability. Nothing can phase you. Nothing can affect you. You are immovable.
WATER: slow, deep breath in, quick, expelling breath out. Water is the "power of the wave". See yourself as the ocean, drawing away as you gather air and then expelling air as a sea expels waves towards the shore.
FIRE: quick inhaling breath in, quick expelling breath out. Fire is fire, consuming air and throwing heat, light, and gas out just as quickly. When was the last time anyone has seen a leisurely fire? Fire burns quickly; you should be as such, quickly using the air around you, and increasing the intensity of your energy, your personal power.
WIND: Quick breath in, slow breath out. Wind is the element of surprise. Think of surprise and resolution- a quick gasp, followed by a long sigh, as the source of surprise dissipates into awareness. See yourself as a tornado, quickly gathering, and then dissipating slowly, carefully, with measured breathing.
There are hidden aspects to the breathing techniques; as a new practitioner to the art, I have had the good fortune of experiencing only one of the many himitsu. If I breathe properly during training, following the breathing appropriate to the technique or emotion I am practicing, I find the aggressor's attacks predictable. I am not sure why this happens, how this happens, or even what happens, but it does happen. A punch will come flying at my head and my response almost always seems to be appropriately timed if I am breathing correctly. If I'm not breathing correctly, I usually get clocked.
I am told that the breathing coincidentally happens to be very good practice for meditation, for enlightenment, for higher Tantric practices, and I am certain that more applications exist than those I am aware of. If we breathe right as beginners, then we are certain to breathe right as advanced practitioners. Given the legends that exist about ninja masters, how can we afford to pass up the chance for an early start towards success?
* Keto - Uke attacks with a kick. Step off 45 degrees and counter with a kick. Uke sees the kick and snatches it back, striking out with an uppercut to the midsection. Drop into ichimonji with gedan strike while dropping down. Lean in with shakoken to uke's face and heel stomp uke in the solar plexus.
* Yubi Kudaki (finger crusher) - Uke grabs your collar from behind. Place one hand on uke's hand. Pivot outside and jodan strike uke in the chest. Uke's hand should be pinned to your shoulder by your hand. Grab the pinkie and apply hon gyaku with pinkie.
KOTO-RYU KOPPOJUTSU * Setto (folding knockdown) - Uke does a lapel grab. Rock in with reverse shuto to flat of biceps/triceps. Rock out with reverse boshiken to uke's hip.
* Shito - Uke does a double lapel grab. Rake the arms with a double koppoken heading down the forearms to the head. With the inside hand, grab the uke and apply an omote gyaku to uke's outside hand. Turn on the spine with omote gyaku twisting inside and down towards ground. The koppoken is pushing from outside towards the ground at the temple.
* Ura Nami (inside wave) - Uke does a lapel grab. Jodan strike uke's arm while sinking back into ichimonji, Rock back in on movement and toe kick uke's calf just inside the shin. While kicking calf, punch uke in that the throat with a boshiken.
* Koyoku (wing & talon) - From ichimonji, jodan strike in the pectorals and ganseke nage uke.
* Shihaku - Uke punches twice. Strike both with jodan strikes. After 2nd strike, fake in with a high stomp kick, step down and fudoken uke in the jaw.
* Kyogi - Uke punches twice. Defend from ichimonji and strike both with jodan strikes. After 2nd strike, stomp kick uke's foot, lean in and punch uke in the ribs. If uke doesn't fall, push down with knee punch to his knee.
* Kako - Uke punches twice. Strike both with jodan strikes. After 2nd jodan, heel stomp uke's leading hip and finger strike uke in the throat notch.
* Ki Raku - same punch and kick sequence as Fuu-Uun, but replace the kick/onikudaki with an osotogake after kicking uke in the groin with a shin.
* Kengi - same as Fuu-Uun/Ki Raku but after the shin kick, slide the front hand to uke's wrist and turn the arm over. Step inside with left arm leading. Line uke's arm over left shoulder, Throw using reverse leverage.
*** OR Drag uke across raised knee by sawei nage-type move with ura gyaku and pin/finish face down on other side of body.
*** CRITICAL POINT**** When you step backward into ichimonji & strike the uke with your elbow, your ichimonji MUST be low enough to allow his arm that you grab to move freely over your head WITHOUT moving your head to one side or the other OR moving his arm over your head. It must be a very low ichimonji... not a gedan ichimonji dropping to one knee, but must be very low.
The correction for the Gikan Ryu lineage, however, is from a reliable source and I consider it to be authentic.
First off, the Seminar Listings will resume their monthly publication. I have found that this makes it easier for people to have seminar information on a more timely basis. Another feature that will be provided is that advance notice will be given for certain seminars, such as the various Tai Kais, the Shadows of Iga Festival, etc.
Second, the School/Training Group Listing will only be published in its entirety quarterly. However, this listing will ALWAYS be available in its entirety as a direct e-mail from me. The main reason for the elimination of the Listing's bi-monthly status is that it takes up more than half of the newsletter! Additions and corrections to the listing WILL be published monthly.
Lastly, Ura & Omote will soon be available as a direct regular MAIL subscription. The cost has not yet been determined, but I will only charge for postage and photocopying. Ura & Omote will always be available as a FREE newsletter via e-mail. I am making the "snail" mail subscription service available to those who don't have access to an e-mail account and must rely on a friend or relative for the newsletter. It is also available for those people who are sick and tired of formatting the newsletter themselves.
That being said, I hope you enjoy this month's edition and look for the aforementioned changes in following editions. As always, I'd like to thank all of the authors for their wonderful contributions to the newsletter. Because of them, we have great breadth and scope of experience and knowledge. Please e-mail them and let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.