|[ olvasnivaló » Ura & Omote - 1996 November ]|
For this technique, you are standing up in Shizen no kamae, holding your sword with only your right hand near the "tsuba." You rest the inside of your wrist on top of your head so that the sword hangs straight down your back along your spine. Try not to let it sway. The technique requires you to bend forward at the waist, slicing down. By pivoting from the hip and using your spine, you are "throwing" your sword forward. Your right leg should bend at the knee and raise up behind you naturally, acting as a counterweight when you bend forward. Hatsumi-sensei also threw in this anecdote to discourage us from using our hands, "The other day, Someya-sensei came with me. He had his hand all taped up (due to an injury), but he was able to do this technique. It's because you're not using your hands to cut." The next step is to be in the same ready position, but be able to spin or turn in any direction before letting the sword "fly." We practiced this basic cut for a while. From there, he had us lay down our katana and work with wakizashi. For this smaller weapon, you actually WANT to throw the weapon. You should practice throwing the weapon so it flies straight. Be careful not to hit anyone, and that you don't make too much noise.
We then switched back to the katana and did the first cut down (using the head). As you know, your right leg, which is acting as a counter-weight, is up and wants to find stable ground from there. Rather than just letting it fall wherever, Soke instructed us to try to turn around and cut an opponent behind us. To do so, practice bringing your right leg tight across the front of the left, then as you move into a horse stance facing the opposite direction, come down with a mighty Conan hack.
Things really hit the fan when we moved into the next technique. It was the most difficult and almost no one was able to do it. It starts as the last one (with the first cut), but instead of turning around, you want to bring the right foot forward into an extended front stance and attack at a 20 degree angle. It seems like it would be easy, but the important thing is to make sure the sword proceeds the body. "If your taijutsu is bad, you won't be able to do this technique," Hatsumi-sensei encouraged us as only he could.
After a few minutes of practice, he started calling on people to do the technique in front of everyone. Some of the best practitioners in Japan, including Shiraishi, Nakadai, Andrew Young, Honma, and Yoshida, fell victim to this technique and Soke's grumpy mood.
"No good! Fine, you're cutting something, but it's too slow. You're dead. You're dead again. . . Too weak! No! Too weak! The second cut is too slow. Again. Again. No, no good. That's better. See you're getting it. . .Sloppy. You're overextending yourself. See. . .No! Your limbs are flying all over the place. Your bad habits are showing themselves with this technique. You see that, don't you?. . .Your bad habits become evident when you get a sword in your hands like this. And because you are teaching without addressing your own problems, your students will get your bad habits." As you can see, Hatsumi-sensei was no longer very cheery.
Later, the technique was best explained as draw a line straight out in front of you from your nose. The first strike comes right down on that line. Then without bringing your sword back across that line, just fully extend your arms out at the 20 degree angle. It's a single move (not a "one-two") whereby the first cut flows naturally into the next one. If you bring your sword back over the line (by bending your arms, for example) as you move your foot forward, the body will precede the sword blade and you're dead. Noguchi-sensei also compared the movement with Kihon Happo. "Everything is basics." You're moving your arm forward from that line because otherwise you'd be opening yourself up. Hatsumi-sensei summarized the importance of having the arms extended by stating, "In a real confrontation, your life may depend on the choice of whether to extend your arms or keep them slightly bent. This is very important point." I'm inclined to believe him.
That Friday, we began practice with that same dreaded technique. Perhaps he wanted to see who had actually practiced it on their own. Soke called on the likes of Yoshida and Honma again. Soon after each began, he interrupted them and said, "Don't use that sword. Go ahead, use mine." What an honor, I thought to myself. The same technique done with Hatsumi-sensei's sword suddenly sliced through the air with a beautiful whistle. "Don't use inferior swords to practice this technique. You will be limited by the flaws of the weapon and will never truly get the point."
One person who had practiced was Andrew Young. He pointed to Andrew and said the one word no one wants to hear at Ayase: "Teach!" Andrew chose to focus on the technique using a two-handed grip. Later that evening over beers, Andrew explained that he thought the secret of the technique was to keep the left hand on the butt of the hilt, while you allowed the right hand near the "tsuba" to move freely up and down (from the "tsuba" to the top of the left-hand). When you "throw" your sword forward, you should be allowing the right hand to slide back from the "tsuba," giving you increased range. When you turn to go into the other cut, you are moving your hand back up to the "tsuba" to get a stronger grip.
I hope this experiment has worked for you all. This technique does not come easily. Practice hard, understand your weapon, and above all else, have a great time training.
To avoid this deadly trap, you must be mindful of your training methods. This means actively guiding your training instead of just drifting along with whatever comes to you at the moment. As a starting place for directing your training, consider the suggestions that follow.
Staying interested in something requires openness and effort. You must apply your brain. If all you can do is flit from one thing to the next as your interest wanes, you'll be trapped like an animal. Observe with your eyes, your mind and your heart. Then you'll discover the richness of what is before you.
As with any weapon, using a kusarifundo efficiently entails having good kamae and flow. Your kamae is the foundation for all movement, armed or unarmed. Therefore, your movement with a weapon should be very similar to, if not exactly like, your unarmed movement. Make sure that you practice moving fluidly and efficiently in and through your kamae. Check your positioning frequently, as a beginner, and remember to go over key points? Are your knees bent? Is your back straight? Are you stable? Are you breathing properly or are you holding your breath? If you drill bad habits and practice improper kamae, then under pressure your body will revert into inefficient ways of moving. Depending upon the severity of the situation, this may get you killed!
Along with kamae, make sure that you watch your distancing. You should be using all of the chain's length to keep your attacker at bay, making sure through your kamae that you are not hitting yourself or entangling yourself with the weapon.
At New York Budo, kusarifundo applications and movement are emphasized at sixth kyu, along with the circular, evasive footwork of Hira no kamae. However, you can use the kusarifundo from other postures as well, so don't get hung up as to what you SHOULD be standing in. Make sure that your feet are moving, not just your hands or arms.
Here are five basic kamae directly associated with the kusarifundo:
In Goho no kamae, you stand in a good shizen no kamae. Holding one of the kusarifundo's weights with the three lower fingers of your right hand, you allow the chain to drop and coil into your palm. Then you can grab the remaining weight with the index finger of your right hand, allowing the top of the weight to jut out by the thumb and the end to jut out between the index and middle fingers. Holding your hands in front of your body, you place your left hand over the right, effectively concealing the weapon, ready for whatever may come your way. From this position you can launch the chain forward into a tsuki thrust at the attackers face, or you can let the chain slip out from between your fingers to prepare for a strike.
In Issei no kamae, you also stand in shizen, this time with both hands naturally at your sides. You can either keep the kusarifundo coiled up and concealed in your right hand or you can allow it to hang down by your right side.
For Tenchi no kamae, one kusarifundo weigh is held in the right hand and the other end is held in the left hand. Allow the left hand to hang naturally along the left side of the body. The right hand is then held at the left shoulder with the chain taut between the hands.
Shumoku no kamae is similar to Tenchi in that the chain is held taught in both hands. This time the left arm is extended backwards from the body, with the right hand in front of the left shoulder. Think of launching a strike, then catching the chain and pulling it back to get it ready again.
Finally, in Ippu no kamae the kusarifundo is again held taut between the right and left hands. This time the right hand is up and positioned by the right shoulder. The chain falls along the back of the body and the remaining free weight is grabbed by the left hand, which is roughly at abdomen level.
Remember that these kamae are only moments in time. You will flow from one to the other as you execute and recover from your strikes. Think of how silly standing Ippu no kamae for an extended period of time would be. . . then practice going from one kamae to the other.
Try practicing the nine-directional strikes with your kusarifundo. The most important things to remember are to keep your flow from strike to strike, and to use your footwork to efficiently deliver the strikes. The kusarifundo can also be used as a striking weapon -- striking a kyusho or the fist with one of the weights is very painful. Finally, the kusarifundo can be used as an entangling tool, i.e. throwing it around an adversary's neck for a choke.
These days, carrying around a kusarifundo may not be too practical, and is illegal in many states. However, improvised kusarifundo are easily made. These include, but are by no means limited to, a belt with a heavy buckle, an orange in a plastic bag, the infamous sock full of quarters, a bike chain with a padlock on the end, or a woman's handbag. Any of these improvised weapons can be effectively used with the same body dynamics as a regular kusarifundo -- with equivalent results. I've heard one story of how Hatsumi Sensei knocked out an uke using an improvised kusarifundo -- a piece of gauze cotton on a string!
Study the proper dynamics, and above all be careful. A recommendation for beginners is to make a practice kusarifundo of rope with large knots on the end. If you must use a real kusarifundo, wear a bike or motorcycle helmet and appropriate eye protection. Finally, have fun. The kusarifundo is a very free and powerful weapon to use.
As with all throws, Uchi Mata involves unbalancing your opponent by using your kamae, or body movement. One set-up for Uchi Mata involves two people struggling around, trying to unbalance the other. The winner takes control of the situation by unbalancing the opponent with a push-pull motion -- pushing into one shoulder while pulling down on the opposite arm, while simultaneously cross-stepping into the attacker's center-line. This causes the opponent's upper body to turn sideways and slightly downwards, placing his weight over the lead leg, and sets the winner up to finish out the technique by kicking out the rear leg.
The following tips may help make your Uchi Mata technique smoother:
1. Make sure that your uke is unbalanced and that his weight is over his front (supporting leg.) This prevents him from being able to stand up or struggle further. When his rear leg is kicked out, the uke's front leg can not support all of his body weight and will collapse causing the throw to happen.
2. The closer you can cross-step back into your opponent's body, the better the throw. Try to get as close to the center line as possible. Vary your entry into the technique until you find the position that you need to be in.
3. Uchi Mata usually involves a kick to the rear leg. If your legs are short, or the distancing improper, you may still be able to finish the technique by slamming your whole leg and not just your foot into the uke's leg. Slamming the back of your thigh into their leg may also be dynamically better suited to you if you are a smaller person.
4. Use your body to turn your opponent, not just your hands. Remember to also use the power contained in the yoko aruki -- the twisting of the hips, the bending of the knees. Good taijutsu will make the throw happen effortlessly. If you find yourself struggling or having a hard time moving your partner around, it may be because you are concentrating solely on your upper body. Examine what your feet are doing as well.
These are some of my insights into Uchi Mata, my second favorite throw -- Taki Otoshi winning the prize in my book. I hope that they've helped to clear up some of your questions. Try them out -- carefully -- and let me know the results!
Daisuke was on the losing side of a battle in the 1180s and was forced to flee to Iga. Here he was found by Kain Doshi (possible known as Kagakure Doshi). He adopted Doshi's warrior teachings to his own Shugendo and the beginnings of Togakure Ryu were formed. Togakure Ryu never had an official founding as other martial arts have. The founders were Daisuke and Shima who was also alive at the same time and worked with Daisuke. Goro Togakure is recognized as being the person who officially formed the family of Togakure into the Ninjutsu system that we learn today. Of the first 8 generations, 5 had the name of Togakure; as with most martial traditions it is possible that they passed from father to son. It is said that it continued in this way until the 1600s(?). When the immediate family died out, the chief branch of the clan Toda took over leadership. The 33rd Soke Takamatsu, was the last member of the Toda line. It was interesting to note that the 11, 12 and 13th Soke of the Ryu are named after the main town of Iga, Ueno. It was the tradition in those days to be named after the town or village that one came from.
The 2nd Soke of the Ryu, Shima Kosanta Minamoto No Kanesada was a Samurai retainer having the rank of Kosho, for one of the most powerful Samurai, Kiso Yoshinaka, a general in the Minamoto army. The Minamoto were to become, in time (1185), the first hereditary Shoguns. When he was 16, Shima fought against the Tiara family, the rivals of the Minamoto family. That battle took place at Awazu, Yoshinaka was on the losing side. It is thought that Shima was wounded in the battle, and fled to one of the nearby mountainous areas near to the battle site. Shima only did this at the request of Yoshinaka.
Kagakure Doshi, a Ninja of the Hakuun Ryu found Shima and together they fled to Iga. Kagakure was also one of the teachers of Daisuke Togakure, who later on took Shima into his care. The Hakuun Ryu of Ninjutsu was founded by Garyu Doji, but was later completed by Hakuun Doji who later gave the Ryu its name. 32nd Soke of Togakure Ryu, Shinryuken Masamitsu Toda was also a master in the Bikenshin Ryu and was the sword instructor for the Tokugawa Shogunate in the mid 19th century.
The 18 forms of Togakure Bujutsu :
* Kyojitsu Tenkan Ho: -- Unarmed Combat -- Swordsmanship -- Staff fighting -- Blade throwning -- Sickle and chain -- Spear -- Halberd -- Horsemanship -- Swimming -- Gunpowder -- Strategies -- Espionage -- Infiltration -- Lying low -- Disguise -- Meterology -- Geaography -- Spiritual refinement -- Philosophy.
This work is absolutely not to be taken as "true fact" since it is quite impossible to prove the Kuden. We would be happy for any kind of creative and serious research that you have found out, so if you have noticed some errors in this text or would like to point out something else worth noting please let us know so we could update and make this even more accurate. If possible, please try to back up your claims with some sort of verification or serious references. A big problem when one does research about the history of ninja and the Bujinkan is that when one compares information in books about the subject with general acknowledged history in history books they often do not agree. This means that all information in circulation is to be considered as gossip until it can be compared and proven against general history. This includes the text above.
Some of the people we wish to thank for the sources are here listed in no particular order. . . Sveneric Bogsaeter * Perti Ruha * Stan Skrabut * Mariette V. D. Vliet * Charles Daniels * Bernadette V. D. Vliet * Stephen Turnbull * Ben Jones * Paul Richardson * HATSUMI Masaaki * Gothenburg ninposaellskap (and possibly many others)
For more information like this, get hooked to Internet and browse over to http://www.algonet.se/~helmet/BUJINKAN/ or phone ++46-8-985948 to MokoNoTora FidoNet BBS.
This translation is allowed to be posted electronically or printed as long as it is left unedited or changed in any way. It is not allowed to be reprinted in any way for commercial purposes without permission. (c) MATS HJELM 1996
My friend Tracy got me into the habit of looking at the board each time I passed the dojo. She used to come in from Connecticut to train at the school and would often stay over at my apartment, in order to train during the weekend. On our way to class on Saturday mornings, she would read the messages to herself, looking to see "what the universe had to tell her." Funny thing was, sometimes the "universe's" message was dead on. There were many times that the message on the board amazed us.
Tracy taught me to look at the messages and intuit some meaning for myself. Often, the words had direct relevance to my life -- to what I was feeling or going through. Tracy's habit soon became my own, and I now go out of my way to read the board outside the church. I really look forward to "my" new message, my new direction each week. I can remember the board reading "Relax and Enjoy" weeks before my shodan. Another time it read, "The Power of Unanswered Prayers." Yet another message was "You Can Do It!"
Two weeks ago the title was "A Case for Optimism." These words came at just the right time for me. I was feeling all but optimistic then -- about my training, the dojo, my family life, my personal life and my career. In my eyes, the whole world was falling apart around me, and even my friends couldn't help pull me out of the downward spiral that I felt myself being sucked into. When I saw those particular words on the sign on my way to class one Monday, it sparked something in me. It made me think of how much I have to be optimistic for. . . and how my attitude would affect whether or not I would effect the changes that I wanted in my life. After all, if I wasn't optimistic about my training -- if I didn't believe in myself or my teachers or this system -- then I wouldn't train very hard nor would I attempt to learn. I realized that being optimistic would change my attitude -- force me to work at making things better. I started to slowly change my tune. I began to try to be more optimistic about everything -- and I worked very hard at making things better! Suddenly, life didn't seem quite as bad any more.
These messages, simple as they are, have meant a lot to me over the years. I usually smile and think of Tracy, who due to physical ailments, can't train right now. This was one of those "silly New Age" things that we shared as friends. A renewed outlook each week, to get us through the problems we were having with the training, with our lives. I remember, laughing at some of the messages that made no sense to me, but Tracy would look serious, and I knew that something had struck a chord within her.
I now try to look for the message's meaning and relevance in my life, no matter how obscure it might be. This may not be the "universe's" way of sending me a hint, but who knows? It's definitely helped to change some bad attitudes into good ones. And above all, it's kept me trying -- trying to improve my taijutsu, trying to sort out the messes in my life, trying to be a tatsujin. . . which is all one can hope for anyway.
That's it for this month, guys and gals! As always, please e-mail the authors with your support and recognition. Also, please e-mail me with any errors or adjustments to this newsletter.
One last note: SEND ME ARTICLES, PLEEEEASE! (I would hate to stop producing the newsletter as it is such a valuable service to all those who train. Trust me, I get tons of e-mail from people world-wide saying how much they appreciate the information in her.)