One of my friends who has been living in Japan for many years told me once that sensei was not teaching taijutsu but mejutsu (eye technique). By training we learn to watch things differently, to think outside of the box.
For the last ten years I have traveled the world quite a lot from snow countries such as Canada, Finland or Sweden to hot countries such as Brasil, Mexico or India; and because what we are taught is to see through the appearances of things, I noticed that people do not walk the same. In fact we can say that depending on the ten, the way the jin use the chi is different.
Aruki waza is part of our basic training but not so many students try to understand the importance of it. The way you walk can save your life and the waza should adapt to the reality on the tenchi in which you are. To make myself clear I took a picture of my feet to illustrate this article. Footwork is the basis of the bujinkan taijutsu. We should see the foot as being divided into three parts related to the tenchijin: The heel is chi, the ball of the foot is jin, and the toes are ten.
When you move your feet on the ground this knowledge allow you to pivot from any combination of this 3X2 matrix. You can move tenten (toes/toes), tenchi (toes/heel), tenjin (toes/ball) etc. In fact you have 3² possibilities of walking. Now the interesting thing on top of that is the type of ground you are walking on. One day in Canada I noticed that the Canadians were attacking the ground “flat” with no unrolling of the sole (tenchijin as one). I confirmed this observation recently in Finland. A few weeks ago in the the Indian jungle we went to some kind of procession in a deep valley of the Nilgiri (the blue mountains of Blavatsky) and the tribal people we met were barefoot and were attacking the ground only in a chijin sequence, letting the toes coming long after ground contact. What I got from these two observations can be related to the Japanese and the funny ways they designed the waraji where the toes are out of the sole protection.
To synthesize, in snow countries we attack the ground as one, perpendicularly to avoid falling; and in hot countries we attack the ground from heel to ball to balance the footwork and ground our body.
The picture shows the diagonal heel/ball to learn how to walk correctly. But understand also that your way of walking is giving informations to your opponent. Last month I welcomed a new student in the dôjô and watching his footwork, even though I knew nothing about him, I told him that he had spent his youth in the mountains. You should have seen his face fullof astonishment when he said: “how do you know that?”
After this discovery I decided to change/modify my footwork and I trained walking in the streets, it changed totally the way I am balancing my body.
The bujinkan is not about techniques it is about learning to see.
Kan (勘 – perception) will lead you to become kanpeki (完璧 – perfect).
Oh, by the way, the 3² matrix is 9…