JUST2: Arnaud in Japan


Sensei and his two monkeys

Tonight was the first class of this trip. Selfishly I was hoping for a very small group and we were already around 30, it seems that fear is going away.

It was nice to meet my buyu and the Japanese Shihan again, but most important it was nice to see sensei and to train with him. He was in a great mood and I often question if he is really 81 years old as he moves like a young man.

What did we do tonight?

After I demonstrated a kind of musha + omote, sensei used it to apply many different omote, ura, musha and musô to his poor uke ending always by pressuring one or more fingers at the nail level. “this is the way yo control in the Takagi Yôshin ryû”.
The general idea is not to do a technique but mainly to react freely to the flow of the opponent until he gives you one or more fingers that you use to pin him down with a lot of pain.

Then Pedro did a very interesting mix of half-cooked movements trapping uke in his mind in such a way that exploding to the floor seemed to be the only logical solution. Uke attacks with a right Tsuki, you deflect it softly with your right hand by walking to the right (inside – ura); uke reacts to that and you begin an omote gyaku that transforms itself into an ura gyaku when goes to the ground in pain (quite similar to the omote-ura gayku of the gyokko ryû).  Very nice piece of Taijutsu by Pedro that many in the dôjô had a hard time too understand and to do.

From there sensei used the start of this half-cooked technique to develop once again on the “chutô hanpa”. He did like a dozen variations on this on one tsuki double tsuki, with two uke, etc.

Finally he did it with the sword in Uke’s belt (daisho sabaki technique) explaining a few times that the Tsuka, or the saya is going itself into the hand. “Don’t try yo grab it, it comes naturally into your hand”. Sensei stressed the importance in all the techniques to use the “karada” body instead of using the hand and the head. We can summarize that with the sentence: “don’t think or grab, don’t use power, walk”.

Calligraphy session: you can see the number of attendees tonight

At the end of the class we did a biken technique similar to the kukishinden ryû Tsuki komi np sayu gyaku. Uke attacks daijodan and tori move lightly and slowly to position the kissaki on the left wrist of uke. If uke tries to cut dô kiri, then tori’s sword rotates around the point of contact and deflect the blade naturally, tori lift his sword and hit (not cut) the right wrist with the power of the legs bending. Sensei insisted a lot on not cutting uke: “it is simple to cut, it is much more difficult to control uke without cutting him”. The secret is to move slowly with the body; Sensei added that what is common sense to sport budô (gendai budô and MMA styles) is uncommon sense to us. Fighting is not about power and speed it is about softness and slowliness.

We did many variations around this theme absorbing backwards while moving forward, giving uke a wrong sense of distance as explained by Nakadai sensei.
The class went fast like in a dream and it was already time for the sakki test. The bujinkan is richer by 2 shidôshi: Pedro did the sakki test on an Australian guy and I did it on a Swedish one. Speaking of which, Christian Appelt who tested heavy pain tonight under sensei was promoted to Jugodan, congratulations!

After the class sensei spoke to a group of jugodan and insisted once again upon the importance of jugodan working together and keeping the connection between us all. It reminded me of the “en no kirinai” studied last year.

He also spoke about the new book he is working on, called “ninja daizen” (I’m not sure about the title) that will expose many new things about ninjutsu (sensei spoke of ninja in Kyushu during the Edo period). He added that ninjutsu was not limited to the sole Iga and Koga clans… I guess we will have to wait for the book to be published to know more about that.

Conclusion:

  • If you should have been here tonight and didn’t come: too bad for you!
  • The bujinkan is still alive and the many people coming from all over the world were there to prove it.
  • Sensei and all the shihan are in good health and life is back to normal (too bad you didn’t come).
  • Today: no earthquake, no tsunami, no radioactive cloud, but a very good class (too bad you were not there).
  • Tomorrow two classes: Senô sensei and Oguri sensei (yes he is back on Saturdays). I keep you updated.

PS: Many airlines have empty seats on their flights to Japan these days. The Kashiwa Plaza is quite empty too… it is still time to join us and train.. 🙂

Bô jutsu: Weapon of Consciousness


When in 1993 Hatsumi sensei began to teach the now famous “themes of the year” he decided to begin with the study of bô jutsu. It opened a five year cycle dedicated to the weaons of the bujinkan.Amongst all the weapons of the bujinkan the bô jutsu is the most complete of all with an extensive set of techniques and levels that influences greatly our taijutsu both at the technical and spiritual level.Sensei speaks of “roku shaku bô jutsu” (六尺棒術) and this is the title of his first bô dvd. But many see only the size of the weapon. It is right to say that in the past the roku shaku was the size of the weapon. As you know even if the Japanese government began to follow the metric system at the beginning of the 19th century he kept alive the kanejaku (矩尺), the old measurement system. Even today people refer to the size of a room in number of tatami (疊).One tatami represents the surface of a measurement unit called the “ken” (間) and which has a length of 6 shaku. Until the 19th century all temples, castles, and houses were built with this unit. For more on this please look for “kanejaku” on the net.

But when it comes to the training we have to keep in mind that Japanese people before the 20th century were not tall (often around 150 cm). So, for us westerners, in order to keep the same ratio size/length in the buki waza (武器), our long staff should have a length of at least 2m. Note that buki (技) means also technique or art…

Now, when sensei speaks of the roku shaku (六尺) he is speaking of shiki (識), consciousness (vijnana in buddhism). Sensei implies that bô jutsu is the key to reach shiki (識) the 6th element of the gogyô, consciousness. By training the many waza of bô jutsu you are in fact developing your consciousness and become able to use it in every aspect of your life. By introducing this concept of shiki back in 2005, sensei forced us to do a major leap in our understanding of the bujinkan arts.

And remember that training the weapon -omote (表)- develop our consciousness of life – ura (裏). This is why bô jutsu is so important in the bujinkan.

Bô jutsu is the first step to free our taijutsu from the form. But to free yourself from something you must first be “trapped” by it. But how is it possible to achieve formlessness from something you don’t know?

We have to learn and study a lot to get the forms correctly until we can strip the forms off.

The bujinkan is a paradoxical system in which we are looking for something “natural” by studying things that are “not natural”. In fact the bô is the entry gate for the weapons and the necessary step to take in order to improve our whole taijutsu.

Until now no tools were available to review all those techniques this is why we have decided to record them all. We have also added for each technique, the kaeshi waza (返し技) to show you how to win against the bô. It took us four days of recording to do so and many bruises too.

With www.koimartialart.com (online streaming) or with www.budomart.com (dvds) you can now discover or rediscover the richness of the bô jutsu from the kukishin ryû. We recorded all the techniques (11 dvds) to help you unleash the power of your taijutsu with this fantastic weapon.

The bô (棒) is the link to the ten (天) and the chi (地) to become a real jin (人), a shiki no jin, a conscious human being (識の人間).

By the way did you notice that the kanji for “ken” (間) is identical to the second kanji of human being (間) …

Tokyo VIP travel


JL408 to Tokyo

On Wednesday night at the airport it seems that the world has changed.

When I entered the boarding gate the room was empty or nearly. This is what one month of media howling have done! The news have been exaggerating so much the radioactive situation here in Tokyo that the whole world has the feeling that Japan is forbidden to go to. Once again I do not try to minimize the gravity of what happened but as Takamatsu sensei said:  “By opening his eyes and his mind, the ninja can responsively follow the subtle seasons and reasons of heaven, changing just as change is necessary, adapting always, so that in the end there is no such thing as surprise for the ninja”. So following Takamatsu sensei’s words please adapt to the misinformation and learn to read where the real dangers are. Fukushima Daiichi is a real problem but the radioactivity in Tokyo is far under the limits. Actually it is well under many other areas in Europe.

But let’s be honest, as a standard Frenchman  I love it when I have the feeling that I belong to some privilege group of people. And yesterday it seemed to me that I was belonging to the privileged group of “those allowed to fly to Japan!”

The plane, a Boeing 377-300 – no doubt the best flying machine in the sky these days – also was empty. I could have guessed it, though! and it reminded me of my early business years where I flew back from the Middle East one night with only 13 others persons. I love empty planes.

A B-777/300 can host 272 passengers and needs 13 crew members and 3 pilots to operate. We were 108 passengers traveling which, apart from the Buddhist symbol of 108, represents more than 1 stewardess per person!

The flight with JAL was awesome because:

  1. I had three seats for myself,
  2. I slept like a baby the most part of the flight,
  3. The food was good and served rapidly,
  4. I had an aisle AND a window,
  5. I got a lot of attention from the charming JAL stewardesses,
  6. the flight was quiet: no baby crying, old men coughing, or young playing,
  7. and JAL doesn’t stop in Seoul for obeying some pilot union (add 2h to your flight) and arrived on time 11 hours and a few minutes later!

It was like being a VIP or living in some kind of a dream.

A very quiet flight to Tokyo

Why was that?

Only because of the “nuclear terror auction” spread by the media since the catastrophe. For weeks they were not speaking about the 260000 people that lost everything but about something that sells more: “the terrible nuclear accident”. They got so much our attention that in the plane there were only Japanese people and nearly no one from Europe going to Japan and I guess that it will not change soon.

So if you want to train with a small group of buyu; if you want to enjoy calmness; and if you want to save money on your flight then do not hesitate, come now to Noda as this is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Training bujinkan is about learning to make good choices in life. Did you make a good choice recently?