Each action should be following each other in a logical manner. In the technique, we move to one point of control to another as if climbing a rope, as sensei put it we “should control the opponent as if going up or down an acupuncture meridian.”*
But sensei’s was not trying to teach us any japanese medicine or acupuncture**, he was using this image in order to explain that “like on a meridian” each point of control belongs to the same line. Uke cen be controlled on any point of the same logical line. Balance is taken the same way on each point of the same logical line. Balance is lost when we control a point on one line and then move to another point located on another line.
This is why it is important in your training to understand the bio mechanics of the human body. By moving from one point to another point of the same line, you keep the off balancing at all time and it doesn’t matter if the first point is at the arm and the second one at the belly or the leg.
Often these days this control is done with the legs using the sha ha ashi principle. This has been done repeatedly by sensei, Senô sensei, Nagato sensei and Noguchi sensei. This gokui of taijutsu is used a lot. By using your legs to continue the off balancing of uke you free your hands and ready them for another action. Also as uke reacts according to what he perceives and see, uke will often be unaware of what is going on at ground level. This mienai waza is a real asset in your taijutsu.
This natural action of your legs also frees your body and you can then develop your intention. But to be really efficient you should know when to show your intentions and when not to show it. In the tenchijin of 1987 it is said that you should “be able to bend when there is wind, and not to bend hen there is no wind”. Adapting our behaviour to uke’s perceptions, to our environment, and to our intuition is the goal of taijutsu.
Waza without Kankaku is only a dead movement if you are not able to change it according to the situation and to uke’s reactions. In Nagato sensei’s class today, he mentionned the fact the “doing a good looking but inefficient technique is stupid. It is better to do something “ugly” but efficient than dying doing a beautiful waza. The Kankuku is what allows you to adapt the kata.
A few years ago, Senô sensei explained that a kata was to be considered as a channel. A kata includes some kaname that you have to pass in order to achieve the result you are looking for. At first, your kata is mechanical and inefficient. With hundreds of repetitions you acquire the nagare (the flow) and turn a dead movement into a part of your taijutsu. The Kata becomes alive with the adding of the kankaku.
Be careful as the kankaku alone will not suffice. You do have to learn the form to discard it. You learn an “inanimated” kata to “channel” your body mechanical movement. You train a kata to “animate” it and put life into it. You destroy the kata to express your natural body movement. And this destruction arrives only and only when you have mastered the initial form. Nagato sensei was complaining the other day that in the bujinkan too many students (high ranks included) didn’t put enough effort in learning the forms.
I see many bujinkan teachers applying “henka” without having the essence, the kaname of the original technique. Without hard work there is no improvement possible. This lack of work often leads these teachers to train fast, use force and be violent (and dangerous to their students). This is not the proper way of training.
Please never forget that there is no shortcut ot excellence, it takes time, effort, and requires hundreds of repetitions***.
As Nagato sensei likes to put it: “Only stupid people train fast, try to be clever, train slowly”.
*note: The human body has 12 meridians: 6 on the hands and six on the feet. There are also 2 additional ones going around the body. These two meridians are called tenmo and chimo (ten and chi) and link the front of the body (tongue to scrotum) and the back of the body (upper palatal teeth to scrotum), creating a ring flowing up and down the body. On a different logic the Japanese consider the fingers as the five elements. They are counted from chi, the little finger; to kû for the thumb. If you add tenmo chimo and the elements you get a tenchijin.
**note: I remember one student asking him about the kyûsho and the acupuncture meridians and his answer: “if you want to learn them then become a therapist, we are doing budô here not medicine”. Don’t loose the objective.
***note: If you have no plug behind your head you are still in the matrix and you have to learn the hard way. Excellence and proficiency cannot be downloaded to your body.