During my last trip to India, Eugenio Penna (10th dan Italy) was with us to share the five days seminar we had on kukishin bôjutsu, gyokko ryû kosshi jutsu and nawa jutsu. After coming with Beth Faulds (6th dan) last February, Eugenio came back to India to experience with us these very special (and very painful moments).
Sensei often speaks about friendship but it seems that his words are not really understood by many practitioners. The concept of buyu goes further than simply sharing a few meals together, it is a strong feeling that builds up through hard training and sharing. Shiva (Shidôshi) who was hosting the seminar here in Bangalore and Eugenio are true buyu beyond the limits of their own personal culture, language and experience of life. The buyu friendship is about sharing together a common experience on the mats by learning and learning to understand the other.
Whoever we are, we view the world in our own personal way and are often surprised by the differences emerging in our discussions, but on the mats we are on the same unknown terrain and we have to share with the others in order to survive. It is because of our differences that we can grow faster. For many years I have been travelling the world and in Japan and I appreciate the connections between cultures that the bujinkan offers. I believe that the buyu connection doesn’t know borders and that it is really what sensei wants us to do and this picture illustrates my point perfectly, happiness is inevitable. This is rokkon shôjô. The picture was taken right before a two hour trekk in the nilgiri (blue mountains) to reach an ancient tribal ceremony, in a deeply hidden valley.
The buyu are rich of their differences like the Indian slogan “unity in diversity” which resonates in harmony with the bujinkan .
In the process of training techniques in the dôjô, you should always be aware of the environment i.e. the room or your friends training, as waving the bô in the air around you can be dangerous.
Outside of the dôjô this awareness can save your life. The technique is nothing if you cannot stay alive. Do not trust the densho or the waza because they never answer the particular situation in which you are caught. The waza have to be trained extensively in the dôjô so that their benefits are acquired by the body. Once acquired by the body, the brain will not think these waza again and adapt your moves according to the situation. Permanent adaptation is what makes you stay out of danger.
Ninpô is about protecting life, yours and the ones around you (friends or foes). Do not count on yourself only but trust your partners to help you stay alive. Danger is not predictable by nature but nature is not dangerous as long as you are aware of the “general picture” in which you evolve. This is why teamwork is so important.
The basics are done for yourself only but the interconnexion with the movements of your partners reveals a more powerful set of possibilities. Alone you are nothing, in a team you exist. The team increases your awareness of danger.
In order to stay alive, Bujinkan practitioners should develop teamwork abilities, and to do so train the basics more intensely.
When you train you often forget the goal you are trying to reach and you lose your focus. Whether you are on the tatami or outside the dôjô, this is the quality of your focus and what you live that gives you the solution.
Do not believe the waza, they are only there to channel an idea in order to decipher the feeling that is not written. Focusing on each moment of your life guarantees success. Do not try to achieve a result as you would project your intention into a non defined future. On the contrary focus on the instant like in nakaima (middle of now) and you will be adaptable to any change happening in the instant. If you are doing a technique, you are actually seeing your victory that has not happened yet. Your tamashii (spirit, soul) is the tool allowing you to use your saino (ability) level to its best, in the utsuwa in which you are caught.
This permanent focusing of the total being (body and mind) by the use of saino konki renders possible the reaching of your goals whatever they are. The goal is not important per se but it will, like a waza, bring to your understanding, things that are not obvious at first sight.
Remember our art is to “render the invisible visible”. This is how we must see Life. And when you are able to do that, in and outside the dôjô, you are living into the rokkon shôjô.
We finished the three levels of kukishin bô today. And we will do the keiko sabaki gata next week-end. Each time I go through the bô jutsu levels I am amazed by the insight we can get from them. I understand why bôjutsu was a ryû in itself. We also did all the kaeshi waza for each one of the 27 techniques! I can’t wait to see the rushes for these new dvds. 🙂
Bô jutsu is one of the key to enter the kûkan as it gives access to distance. Too often in training we are trapped by the form (waza) and do not dwell enough into the feeling (kankaku). When sensei introduced us to the “cycle of weapons” in 1993, many bujinkan members were surprised as bô jutsu did not seem to be “ninja” enough to them.
But bô jutsu was only an excuse to excel. Bujinkan is footwork. When we train the bô, the technique traps our brain and our movements follow a “1, 2, 3” sequence. After repeating those forms long enough, something fresh comes out of them. Through mechanical repetition the brain frees itself and a natural movement is created only because footwork adds itself to a new understanding of distance.
In one of the bujinkan schools, it says: “ahead lies paradise” meaning that in a fight you get protected by entering the distance to the opponent. By accepting the encounter, you actually enable yourself to be safe and free in your actions. This knowledge of how to distance yourself correctly is the first thing you learn with the use of long weapons. This freedom has created a kûkan of which you were not aware of before. Through the study of bô jutsu you are now able to enter this kûkan and bring your taijutsu up to a new dimension.
Weapons are our best teachers. We move our bodies and we now learn to do it with an artifical extension offering new possibilities.
Bô jutsu is not “ninja“? maybe not, but our skills improve a lot through this type of study. We understand now distance and angles in a wider sense and can play freely with a new created space.
Maybe this is why divinities are often represented with a long staff. 🙂
In a few minutes we will begin our seminar in Bangalore on kukishinden ryû bô jutsu.
The kukishin bô is amazing and always a pleasure to rediscover: the kotsu, the kamae, the bô no uchi, the gogyô no bô, the three levels of shoden, chûden, okuden and the devastating keiko sabaki gata.
Bô jutsu is the essence of the long weapons in the bujinkan system. This is the entry gate of the sanshin of bô, yari and naginata. Rokushaku bô can be seen as reaching consciousness (roku = 6th = consciousness) through the bô linking heaven and earth. Maybe that is why we began weapon training in 1993 with the bô…
The weather is nice even though humid, the camera crew ready, the sticks polished, the 9 demons can enter now into the arena.
In the airline’s magazine I was flipping the pages when I stopped at an add presenting a beautiful Indian woman with a caption reading: “elegance is an attitude”. Immediately it made me feel happy!
Wherever you go you have to be aware of the connections between jissen (true life) and jissen (true fight). The world is our training ground and coincidences are there to teach us something.
We explained that yûgen is the invisible world rendered visible and that it is the Japanese word for elegance. We also discussed the word kamae as being more an attitude than a simple body posture.
This caption in a bujinkan understanding could be the following: “yûgen is kamae“. When your basics are assimilated and your body flow created, your attitude towards life becomes elegant. Elegance is not something you can ad by yourself; elegance is not omote, it is ura. It is something that is born from your being and that spreads around you like a perfume. There is no technique to learn it, elegance comes naturally when your attitude is correct.
The beauty of the bujinkan system is that through a long and strenuous training period you reach this level of elegance. You don’t do things because you want to but because you are true to yourself.