Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What State Are You In?

When training or really protecting yourself or someone else you want to invoke one of three states in your advisory. At first, as you progress in your training you will learn to cause one of these states and then as you grow you learn to produce two, but the goal is cause 3 different yet specifc states to your uke/advisory. A form of san shin if you will.

In Taijutsu we employ all things to our advantage, but our biggest advantage is our opponents own mind! Why defeat someone all by yourself when you can actually have him help you? So how do we achieve this? Well the answer is the use of Kukan, kyojutsu, and kyusho. See there you have it!

Clear as mud?

Those three are pretty vague principles and unbelievably there are many Bujinkan members who don’t know what these concepts are really about. Sure they have heard the terms, but don’t really grasp the fullness of these concepts and strategies or what they encapsulate. Now because of this, I developed a simple way of breaking these down these concepts to their most raw states.

I personally teach the C.F.P. method. C.F.P. stands for confusion, fear, and pain. Ultimintly you want your opponent to be experiencing all of these interchanging states. Now you don’t want to just focus on one state. This can be dangerous! For example let say by chance you actually have you opponent in a state of fear, this will only last so long before they develop the moxy in the moment to fight back or do something unexpected. As the adage goes even a mouse will attack a cat if out of options. So what you want to do to avoid this is to cycle through the states. Interchanging these states will never allow the opponent to be able to adapt to the situation. Fear can be overcome, pain can be defeated with adrenaline and confusion only lasts so long before they understand what's going on, but if you cycle through the states they can never adapt.

As an example, if you use a kyusho* to cause pain, which in this case will be the first state, but the pain will not last long so while the opponent is trying to escape the pain you take the pain off, instantly putting them one step behind because they are fighting something that no longer exist. Now in that moment you put them in a lock. Next you let go of the lock to apply pain somewhere else and maybe another lock. Now you’re using kyojutsu or confusion. You don’t let the opponent know where the next attack will be coming from. This will allow you to hold and create space or Kukan due to the fact the opponent is in a state of confusion, now when you gain a good position to let go of everything and just have yourself and presence in the Kukan; this will create the fear. He will be in a state of fear because he can feel the potential danger but cannot predict or know where the next thing will come from. You are able to do this due to the fact you are free from and not confined by technique. In this state you will again cycle through the CFP until a desired result is reached.

Once you can create these states and use these principles then you will have your opponent doing most of the work. They will start fighting themselves rather then you. They will be too busy trying to stop hurting, start understanding and stop fearing what will happen next to effectively fight you. They have to many battles going on while you are being a ninja and removing yourself from the fight. You will prevail where your opponents own emotions and thoughts are your best weapons.

Watch Sokes movement and then watch his uke, he is always using CFP!

Now just for clarification, Kukan, kyojutsu and kyusho are by no means limited to these basic definitions, in fact they can be quite complex. This is just one way of looking at training and a way to help describe and understand Sokes Taijutsu.

So next time your at training see if can move your uke through the different states using my C.F.P. method and see your taijustu transform.

*(Kyusho is a reference to specific weak points on the body, my definition is a little more ambiguous. I view kyusho as any week or venerable points on body, mind or spirit.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Are you getting your students killed?

Do you play dungeons and dragons? Magik, world of warcraft or other role playing games where the consequences of your actions are based in fantasy?

Now the important question… Do you go to the dojo and teach things that are based in fantasy to your students because its fun to play Ninja? It’s the ultimate game of ninja and samurai where you are the master and the students are the players learning your game of fantasy and imagination. The only problem is in this game the players trust you and your information to keep them safe but in this game their well being and possibly lives are on the line.. For real!

Unfortunately this is happening all over the world. People teaching nieve students that want to learn how to protect themselves and instructors teaching techniques that are not based in reality. So why do they teach it? More importantly, do they know they are teaching fantasy? I would have to say No!

But why don’t they know? More then likely they were taught by someone and they took it as gospel and never bothered to see if it was true or effective. This is more common then you think. Even people who go to Japan come back with information that could be potentially fatal to a student if tried for real.

Am I saying not to trust your teacher… ummm yes and no. It is our job as student to do our due diligence to make sure the information passed on to us is accurate, but there is always an ura and omote. The other side of this is the teacher should contsently checking and validating the information he is teaching. Just because you were taught something in the 80’s or 90,s and feel that you have a handle on this teaching due to the time you have had to practice it does not mean the original teaching was correct! It means it is possible you have been wasting 10 to 20 years on something that was not the truth, but rather a fragment of the truth to help you move on to the truth once you were ready. Waza and Kihon Happo is a way of teaching you principles and what's possible. It is not the answer to the problem rather a tool to help you figure out how to get the answer. Another thing you must do is consider the source of where the information comes from. Did it come from Soke? ask yourself “have I ever seen Soke teach or do that”? If the answer is no…THEN WHY THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IT? There are people running around acting like experts in what the densho says. They believe just because they can read the densho that they have some special understanding or knowledge. Well let me tell you tell you this mentality is so dangerous. Simply knowing the Japanese characters are not enough, you have to have the experience to understand it. This is why Soke says that it does not matter if the makimono (scrolls) are stolen. He also has been saying a lot lately that this is why historians will die in real combat. When in doubt trust Soke. He is the living Densho.
Now with that said here is a simple way to check to see if what you’re doing is based in truth. Just find out if the information, (if youre not getting it yourself) is from Soke Hatsumi (and not information he gave out 10 years ago, but rather what he teaches currently) or from the shitenou (Seno, Oguri, Noguchi, Nagato). If it is not directly from them, I personally will question the information. And to be completely honest anything I learn from the shitenou, I cross check with Soke. Sometimes their personal feeling or ideas will slip into the teachings and I need to weed that out so my Taijutsu doesn’t get stylized. I do not want to do Nagato or Noguchi style, not because they are not amazing, they are! But because I want to do Soke Hatsumis’ style! This is his art and so I wish to do it like him. But this tangent for another time.
Now I will make what seems to be a bold statement, but in reality not really. Not everything Soke shows is effective in combat! What?! How dare I say such a thing?! Lol. Well you have to understand the teacher if you wish to understand his art. Soke is not teaching, he is training and because he is training he will always only do what is necessary in the moment. So if all he has to do is move a little and touch the uke with his pinky and the guy goes flying, then that’s all he will do. If the uke wants to over commit to a strike and fall down easy then Soke will let him do so. Now here is our job as Ninja to do our Cho Ho. (information gathering) we have to recognize that what Sokes just preformed will be dangerous against a real fighter. It was effective in the moment but only in the moment and had the attack been different the response from Soke would be as well. We have to have the eyes to see these things and know whats real. Soke is always using Kyojutsu. He is like a magician putting on a show. But only other magicians can understand how he does the magic. Its not enough to just see the magic, you have to have the eyes to see it, then understand it and practice it!

If you are a teacher it is your responsibility to your students and Sokes’ art to continually educate yourself. Just because you have been training for 10, 20 or even 30 years in this art doesn’t mean you know it, have it or can share it. As teachers we can’t be complacent with our skill and understanding. We must constantly question and refine what it is we think we know. We must do this not only for our own sake but also for the sake of the ones who call us their teacher. It is their lives we put at risk with our teachings. Can you look in the mirror and honestly say you train and study as much as you could? If after every class you knew your student were going to be in a life and death situation could you sleep at night satisfied with the information you just taught? Luckily most of us are not in this position, but you never know what can happen.

Think about what you are teaching. If you were held personably responsible for the injury or death of a student would you still teach the same material? Would you still teach at all?

The point of this writing is to act like the mirror on the kamidana. For us to reflect on ourselves and our training and teaching.

My advice to be more secure in your teaching is.
1. stop making fucking excuses and go to Japan (more if you already go)
2. Don’t go to Japan to be seen, go to learn!
3. Forget what you were taught 2, 5, 10, 25 years ago. It’s a trap that keeps your utsuwa small! Prior teaching was only a tool to get you here to the present, ready for the teachings now.
4. Train in some way everyday.
5. Ask yourself WWSD? (what would Soke do)

I am sure there is much more, but that is a good start. So get to soul searching and stop doing things that will get your students killed. I am sure Soke would appreciate it!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Path to Zero

It seems we need technique or form in our lives and budo because we have not reached a state of no-mind or Mushin, in the bujinkan we refer to this state as being zero. If we can achieve Mushin then we will lose our need for the Attachment to a result therefore releasing the ego or desire and eliminating our need for technique. To me no-mind is really about clarity. Only with this clarity of thought and emotion can we truly read and see the Kukan. If you are in a state of Mushin then you will be free to move correctly because you will be free from fear. Fear is a state of attachment. We have to learn to let go of our attachments. Now when one thinks of letting go, I believe they only think about letting go of the negative states, but to be truly Zero, you have to let go of what would be considered the positive as well. To be in Mushin you can not be attached to the ideas of winning or success. Only by letting go of everything can you reach Mushin. This is martial arts homeostasis.
When the body is + or – it is not in a healthy state, but when it is neutral or zero it is healthy and at its greatest potential. Body and mind are the same.

So now the question is, “How do I reach this No Mind or zero”? I think maybe this is the point of training. If we could really reach zero would there still be a need for training? It might be that training will bring us closer to it and the more we train (correctly) the closer we get. I do have to say that I don’t believe just training is enough, you have to live it. To reach this super consciousness or Mushin there has to be an integration of life and training. There can not be any separation; they should be one in the same. By living what you train and training what you live, you will be closer to the path of Zero knowing that the journey to it might just be more important then destination. What lesson might we learn about the self if we look to remove what typical humans define themselves by (thoughts, feeling, emotions) and leave only actions, spontaneous actions based upon unison with our environment and space (Kukan) with no judgments or attachments. Now I don’t think to reach Mushin we have to be devoid of the human condition, just not ruled or controlled by it.

IF you could erase all fear ad doubt and left with just yourself in your natural form, free, zero, what potential might you have? To be zero is the ability to move in all directions in life with no barriers; maybe this is one of the secrets of happo hikenjutsu.

So in conclusion, when in doubt let go of technique and take the path that leads to nothing…..

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Take It And Like It!

Will your head roll thanks to ukemi?

Ukemi: to receive. It does not mean to flip around like a fish or roll around like your trying to win the gold metal at the special Ninja Olympics in gymnastics. Ukemi is the first and most important thing one should learn when starting a martial art. If your opponent cant permanently hurt you then you have already won! For training purposes there is uke and tori but in reality there is no uke and tori they are one in the same. In our minds we can not have such dangerous concepts as uke and tori. We can not go into "I’m going to take Ukemi" mode. This will result in injury or death when confronted with a real situation. In order to save your arm from breaking you can then take Ukemi prevent the limb from breaking, if that’s the situation your in. Now if you are in that situation it means you lost a lot of battles along the way. You lost the distance, verbal, emotional, mental, and physical battles. If Ukemi and Taijutsu is good you would not be in the situation to be in an arm bar or some other technique that shouldn’t ever work anyway.

Ukemi is not just physical. You have to have mental and emotional Ukemi. You have to receive a mental or emotional attack the same way you do a physical one. Verbal attacks are usually the spark to the flame of a physical attack.
Now because uke and tori are one in the same, the uke needs to be at zero. We must try to achieve this just as we do as the tori. This is just like the godan test. If you are not at zero you get a headache for your trouble. When you are zero as an uke during the godan test there is no trying to dodge it. You move when it’s the time to move. Your action becomes you thought and thought the action. In the instant you are 1, but you only truly pass when you remove yourself thus 1-1 = zero.

Yes I am implying that people have been awarded godan without in my opinion truly passing. Just because you dodge the sword does not mean you "received" the godan. But that’s not my concern, that’s something you have to live with on your conscious. I sleep just fine. I am just pointing it out for the sake of the discussion.

Back to Ukemi mode. In 1998 Soke talked about not taking Ukemi. This didn’t mean to be a resistant uke but rather to not mentally defeat yourself by taking Ukemi or going into Ukemi mode. Again you should be at zero. So how do you become zero as an uke? Well the same way you do when you’re a tori. You take distance, read the kukan and understand juppo sessho and you respond correctly in the space. You may roll, or you may punch them in their face. If somebody grabs your limb and tries to torque it in some direction. Stop them from doing it. Keeping ourselves safe is the point of what we do. Rolling is a part of that but its not the only way. By regaining your structure you may not have to do your back flip out of that oni kudaki. Or whatever. The flips and rolls that you do are by necessity. If your arm will break if you do not utilize your Ukemi (roll, flip, jump,) then you have to choose one of those options, but if you do not go into Ukemi mode then there might be a way of changing your structure and regaining your kamae to not have to tumble and you can stay in the fight. The whole idea behind not taking Ukemi is to stay in the situation long enough to see what the opportunity the Kukan might offer you, but if you take your self out of the situation by "taking" Ukemi then you have helped your opponent defeat you.

Again Ukemi is not just physical. Most fights could be avoided if persons mental or emotional Ukemi is good. Ukemi is to receive, so you must be able to receive insults and such and not be controlled or bated by them.


Before you take that roll, or square up with someone just because somebody made a your momma joke, remember it is our job and role as warriors to "receive" what the world has to throw at us, but if you have good ukemi you wont have to take it in the end. ;)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Seminar in San Diego!

Kukan No Kyojutsu

Join Shihan Dan Ordoins and I at the La Jolla Shores in beautiful San Diego,CA on Auguest 22nd and 23rd.

Dan and I will be covering the movement and feeling of Kyojutsu, Kukan and Chuto Hampa.

Dan and I have taken several trip to Japan this year and are now teaming up to share the feeling and movment of Soke Hatsumi.

Dont miss this exciting, fun and informative event!

bring Katana, rope, hanbo and knifes.

No sharp or live weapons!

The event will be held at:
On Saturday:
Kellogg park
8200 Camino Del Oro , La Jolla Shores , San Diego

On Sunday:
kyokushin Karate
5505 clairmontmesa blvd

Registration: 9:30
training: 10:00am - 4:00pm or possiably later.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

You will get your ass kicked!!!

Now, I already know what you are probably thinking when you read the title of this post. You are sitting there thinking, “no way, not me, I have been training in martial arts for x number of years. I’m a trained martial artist!” Or, you think that because you spar or wrestle or randori that you have prepared yourself for a real life attack. Just because you play-fight in a ring or cage or mat, please don’t think that is anything like a real fight for your life. Those are controlled environments with rules, time limits, and no real intent to harm.

Ok, so now that you are either interested in what I have to say, or your ego is making you pissed off at what I am saying. Either way, lets explore why you will get your ass kicked in a fight.

The reality of what I am talking about should actually make the title of this post, “Why you will get your ass killed in a fight!” In the fight I am talking about, there are no rules, there is no safety gear, there are no refs that will jump in if you are not “intelligently defending yourself.” No this fight is with someone who will not care what happens to you, will not obey rules, will not stop until you are lifeless! This person has pure intent and will not play cat and mouse with you around the ring.

This is a fight.

So, how could you possibly lose against this type of attacker if you have been training so long? Because you don’t understand the true nature of the situation. You have not been training for this fight. How would you train if you knew your life depended on it? If you think it would be the same as your training now, you a naïve. Or in some cases, just stupid.

Most people who instinctually grapple, cant strike well. Most people who instinctually strike, don’t grapple well. And those who try to do both often end up being half-assed all the way around.

MMA guys usually say that they are good at both. And often that appears to be true. But watch their fights, they are either in strike mode or grapple mode. They don’t really know how one leads to the other, that in real fighting there is no going into a mode, there is just movement.

If your taijutsu is good, strikes will naturally come out while grappling and grappling with naturally happen while striking. This goes back to not going for anything. Just be in the space and it will dictate the response.

Most people in the bujinkan couldn’t hurt my 12-year-old cousin with a uke nagashi or shuto let alone an attacker coming to kill them. Most people’s foundation is off, way off! This is why at the last Daikomyosai we did basics! After talks with Nagato and Oguri Shihans, they explained that everyone’s basics are bad.

Imagine how I felt, after the many years of traveling to Japan and training, to be told that what I was doing was wrong! But instead of being butt hurt about it, I become proactive and asked the Shihans to correct me. So, after years of thinking I was doing something right, but actually doing it wrong, I was shown how things really work. I spent an entire class with Oguri Shihan just working on how to punch right! Humbling! I might not have it down, but it is always a work in progress.

Now lets talk about technique. Do you think that during a real attack, your attempts at putting on a specific maneuver would help you survive? Here is an experiment: put on safety gear and have a sparing match with someone outside of the Bujinkan and try to perform any of the kihon happo on them. You will inevitably find that while you are trying to “perform” an oni kudaki or omote gyakku or whichever specific technique you have in your mind, you’re opponent is beating your head in! Even though I don’t advocate training in pads, I think the experience would prove to be priceless.

Now lets talk about submissions and joint locks. Let’s just say you are a bad ass at putting people in locks. Well that’s all fine and dandy, but do you not understand that when you put a lock on somebody, in order to keep that submission lock, YOU are in fact locked as well? So while you are going for the key lock or whatever fancy hold you’ve got, your opponent will be reaching into his pocket to stab you to death. When you are focused on a physical lock, you are really mentally locked, and that is the MOST dangerous place to be during a fight. Hell, I’d let you break my arm if it kept you occupied while I flipped my blazing fast Kershaw folder out and stab you in your stupid ass. Which brings me to my next point. There is no such thing as a submission in real life! Ok, so you put me in a choke and I give up. Now I go to my car to get my weapons and come back to kill you. So, how effective was that submission choke? You will die because you thought it was about winning instead of stopping my ability to harm you. Well, you won but now you are dead. Congrats!

Please read and understand the next sentence carefully.

The techniques do not work.

Techniques are only there to teach us what is possible, not what to do!

Kukan and kyojutsu are what will allow you to find omote gyakku or anything of the sort. You can not take it.

So what is the point of saying this and pissing people off or sounding like an arrogant bastered? Well, because I actually care. Because I care about how we represent Soke Hatsumi. Did you not realize that everything you do as a practitioner of this art will ultimately reflect on Soke and the Bujinkan? Thanks to YouTube and traveling around doing seminars, I see how people are training. I can see that if they were in a real attack, they would at minimum get their ass kicked.

So, what is the solution? Work on your structure. Train your weapons. And by that I mean learn to punch & kick correctly. Understand what a real kamae is and work on doing real ukemi. Ukemi is not rolling! Rolling is gymnastics. Understand the difference between how the guys on the front line stand/fight (cannon fodder) and the how the skilled fighters fight. But the most important thing is to follow what Soke is doing and saying! Most people just watch what he does and ignore what he says, what a mistake! How can you watch something that is invisible! That’s the whole point of the art. It is to not show what you are doing! That’s why Soke says only the uke has a chance of understanding what he is doing.

I couldn’t possibly predict the outcome of a real life attack. There are so many variables, that despite my skills and training my survival is not guaranteed, but I know that I train to. I listen to my teacher and what he says is important rather then jumping to my own conclusions. I am willing to admit I don’t know shit and go to the source to at least attempt to understand and get corrected. If your only purpose for going to Japan is to be seen and get rank then stop going and crowding the dojo. There are people there willing to forget that they know anything and empty their cup for Soke to fill it up.

If you want your ass kicked or even killed in a fight then keep doing the techniques. If you want to survive and live, then let go of the past and train in the feeling that is being taught now. That which has been taught is gone, it served it purpose. Training in what is being taught now is what is important. What Soke taught in the past was just to prepare us for what was coming when we “grew up”. Don’t fret, there is hope for us. Train hard. Let go of all your excuses on why you are doing it your way instead of Sokes way (see interpretive dance blog) and stop adding shit that isn’t in our art! Takamatsu used this stuff for real and killed people with it. If there was something missing (sparring, groundwork, etc,) he would have said that it is important to do too.

Remember real combat is not about points, submissions, or even about winning. It is about life and death. Which will you choose?

So before you go down that dark ally, remember my 12-year-old cousin might be lurking in the shadows and boy is she mean!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Half Way to Zero

As you may have noticed, the name of my blog is chuta hampa. Some people translate it as “half ass” but that doesn’t really express the full feeling of chuta hampa. This feeling is akin to taking action without the attachment to the need for it to be completed. Much like how you can shut a door by giving it a push to start it moving, but then you can allow the weight of the door complete the motion. You do not need to push the entire distance in order for the door to shut. The initial push is enough. In fact one might say that one finger is enough ;)

This is the idea behind chuta hampa. It is not doing it “half assed.” In the context of ninjutsu, it is starting something with the uke and then moving on to the next thing while the uke is still trapped in the inertia of the first thing you started. This is another way to do/think/create the whole past, present, future thing I talked about in the previous kukan blog.

For example, the uke punches, you move to the inside space of where his punch is not. You rotated inward to have your chest facing his punch. Then, you use your front knee to hit his knee to lower him down and back slightly, bringing you his hand. You then apply ura gyakku on the uke. As soon so you twist his wrist, you let it go and let the momentum do the rest thus trapping him for a moment in the motion. Meanwhile, because you let go of the hand and are not attached to either the hand or the outcome, you are free to move into the next space created. Thus, moving into the future. Now, what you do from there is completely dependent upon how you read the space. What is important is that you visualize yourself letting go and moving on. You start something and then move on, then start something else and move on from that too. By understanding this concept you can begin to understand and create kyojutsu.

By utilizing the principle and essence of chuta hampa, you will always be a step ahead of your uke. While he is still reacting to the firs thing you did, you will have moved onto the second and third and beyond.

Do you really think you can out punch a boxer or out grapple a grappler? NO! But you can out maneuver them. You can confuse them and in that process be one step ahead.

For further illustration, I will be video blogging this soon….

Btw, two “half asses” do not make a whole!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Kukan: The Final Frontier

So, what the hell is this thing we call Kukan? You have heard the term over and over yet how do you know what it means. I hear a lot of teachers say things like “take his space” but do the student really understand what that means? Hell, does the teacher even know? Sometimes I think yes and sometimes, not so much.


Kukan; it is normally referred to as space, but I like to think of it as potential space. I have also heard it referred to as tactical space, which I don’t think this is inaccurate, just an incomplete description.


To understand Kukan we have to understand the relationship between uke and tori in relation to our surroundings or some might say terrain. Once you understand your relation to uke and everything around you, then you can work on understanding some of the concepts of infinite directions (happo hikan)  and our space/time relationship of past, present and future (juppo sessho). Still with me? Ok good. Now I believe the key to not only understanding Kukan but also utilizing it, is understanding the idea of potential. With potential the possibilities are endless. Soke says, ”wonderful thing can be born in the space”. I believe we have to let go of preconceived notions and ideas about what we are going to do in order for the creation in the space to take place. We must first just put ourselves in the space and like a good ninja read and adapt to what is born in the moment, it is only here where true mastery can exist. (Reference made by Soke in ayase may 2009)


If you watch Soke, how he controls his uke, he does so with the kukan or the potential of what could happen, not necessarily the reality of what will happen. In this way he can make his uke control himself through fear and doubt and confusion, all while Soke exerts no energy.


Kukan in a basic description is all the space around an opponent that the opponent is not occupying or using. This includes around, above and below (3 dimensions). But I believe that the concept of kukan reaches further then that. You have to understand what the space will be after the uke moves. The kukan changes as the uke does. This is one of the reasons why Soke says” it’s the next one.”


By keeping your uke in the past, while you’re in the present, you can know the future. This is another type of kukan.


Here is one way to look at space and how it changes. My good friend Rob Renner explains it as: “ look at a bowl, you understand the space of the bowl right? Now smash the bowl into pieces on the ground. Where is the space now?” This is a great way of understanding kukan and the concepts of this year of kukan no nawa! You have to go beyond the space and start to understand how the spaces are connected.


This is the next level. This is what we are currently training in this year,

We are not training in the stupid rope! Soke is only utilizing the rope as a metaphor to help us understand this concept.


If you understand the kukan and kukan no nawa then you learn to let go of your attachments to an outcome. You know that the spaces are connected so you travel through space as it changes without the desire of a result. This is why Soke says, “its not decided” this is like the godan test. Move through space with that feeling!


My good friend Dan Ordoins said this brillant qoute “attach to nothing to control everything” wow that one nails it! Like taijutsu,  that quote was born in the moment of being in the right space with the right feeling.


So all you have to do is understand kukan, be able to read the kukan, move in the kukan, have the right kukan of the heart and know how it’s all connected and you’ll have it!


Until our next journey through space….



P.s. am glad I could help make this topic clear as mud for you. J

Friday, May 22, 2009

Just Another Bokken...

Learning a new technique is like having 100 bokkens and going out and buying another one. While each new bokken is nice to look at and fun to brag to all of your friends about, purchasing one more is pointless. What purpose is really served by having yet another bokken?

One could argue that comparing a technique to a bokken is not valid due to the fact that techniques are not all the same and are in fact very different.  However, I beg to differ. Techniques, while on the surface may look different, are actually based upon similar principles; timing, position, angle, leverage, etc. These underlying principles are the essence of the technique that come together to make them work. The techniques themselves are dead; they are only windows into the minds and lives of the martial artists of the past. Technique is our history book, a history that can only be brought to life by the movement and principles of taijutsu.

Now, back to the bokken. If you have been training in the Bujinkan for any length of time, you know that Soke says we must use our weapons as other weapons. As Soke says, it is all the same. So again, if you use a bokken like a hanbo, or a rope, or sword it makes no difference because only the taijutsu behind it will matter. This is why Soke says to throw away the technique. While we may think that it is the accumulation of technique that will save our lives in an attack, the truth is it will be that very thing that gets you killed. The technique cannot save you, only YOU can save yourself!

Now, this is not directed to the beginners. This is for the people who have been around long enough and have learned enough techniques to finally be able to forget them. Do you have to go out and practice the technique of driving your car? No! It is automatic; it is ingrained in you. You don’t even have to think about it. You can drive while illegally texting, eating a hamburger, and checking out the hottie in the rear view mirror; all while switching lanes and controlling the wheel with your knee so you don’t drop the burger on the floor and interrupt your texting. This is just like taijutsu, once you understand how and why and when an omote gyaku will work, you do not need to spend countless hours re-learning it again and again and again. You can simply apply the principles that make it work, especially the distance and timing necessary to even put you in the right position to do it, and let the magic happen.

If you want to be a bokken collector, that’s fine. They are fun to own. But if you want to know how to really use them against a skilled opponent, then stop collecting them and start learning the principles that make them work; juppo sessho, biken ishin, ikkan hasso, distance, timing, angling, and by far the most important of all, kokoro no kamae.

By the way, I have some really cool bokken for sale if you’re interested….

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Interpretive Dance?

Taijutsu: is there a method or is it just interpretive dance? It seems as though most people approach this issue as if it were open to personal interpretation. Taijutsu means roughly “the way of the body.” It is therefore a system centered on body movement, but what body movement? Is any type of movement fine? Or are there specific ways of movement?

From all of my trips to Japan and watching and listening to Soke Hatsumi, I have come to the realization that, yes there are very specific ways that we move, and no these ways are not open to interpretation. In order to achieve the kyojutsu and understand the kukan, you must be moving with a specific taijutsu. But where is this source of taijutsu? Where do we get it? How do we learn it? The answer is simple, yet everyone goes looking everywhere else other then the source. Soke Hatsumi!

This is not anyone else’s art! It is Soke's. If anyone else shows or tells you something, it is only that person’s best interpretation of what Soke has created. I personally don’t want filtered taijutsu, so I go to the source and watch, and feel and listen!

It seems that many students overlook the obvious. They either think that Soke is too far beyond their reach or that they don’t want “old man” taijutsu. Well, if I get the results that he does using this “old man” taijutsu, I will gladly have it! Soke moves the way that you have to move in order for everything to come together. Any deviation and it won’t work. Can you really see Soke out there wrestling some guy for an arm bar or trying to throw somebody? The answer is NO!

Soke does not try to do anything; he utilizes his movement and understanding of juppo sessho to have as he says, “wonderful things happen in the space.” He is always in the right spot because he understands and reads the space. If you use the correct movement with the correct heart in the Kukan you will win.  There is a saying “if you keep doing what you’re doing then you will keep getting what you’re getting.” If you want half-decent jujutsu, keep doing what you’re doing.  However, if you want to do Ninjutsu start doing what Soke's doing, not your interpretation.