Katana o Nuku, Chikara o Nuku

Katana o Nuku, Chikara o Nuku

In his last classes, Hatsumi Sensei has developed a new set of concepts, namely “katana o nuku, chikara o nuku”, “iai o nuku”, kakogenzaimirai”. I would like here to dwell into these concepts as they are, in my opinion, defining where the Bujinkan is heading to in 2013.

Each trip to Japan is a fantastic occasion to get a new understanding of what sensei is trying to transmit. For years, because of our lack of understanding, he was mainly trying to get us into the “omote” of movements. Then starting in 2003, we entered the world of Juppô Sesshô.

Sensei began to use deep philosophical ideas linking this “omote” to a type of “ura”. But this was only the “ura” of the physical world.

For me this was the Omote of Juppô Sesshô (2003-2007).

In 2008, we began to consider this physical Ura (Juppô Sesshô of 2003-2007) as another Omote as he began to speak about the Ura of the Ura. This time the physical expression of movement doesn’t count anymore, we are playing with consciousness, shiki (14).

This is what I call the Ura of Juppô Sesshô.

As we explained many times in this blog, it seems that sensei (willingly or not) is following a 5 years pattern:

  • 1993-1997: bô, yari, naginata, biken, jô.
  • 1998-2002: taihenjutsu, daken taijutsu, koppô jutsu, kosshi jutsu, jûtaijutsu.
  • 2003-2007: Juppô Sesshô (omote): sanjigen no Sekai, yûgen no sekai, kasumi no hô, shizen, kuki taisho
  • 2008-2012: Juppô Sesshô (ura): Menkyô Kaiden, Sainô Konki, Rokkon Shojô, Kihon Happô, Jinryû no Kaname o Mamoru.

Next year will see the beginning of the next cycle of 5 years, and my guess is that we will focus on Goshin jutsu (as this is the theme of next March Taikai in Japan). But I am sure that he will come up with some more concept to put around. So these new concepts detailed below should be seen as the introduction to next year’s theme.

Note: At the end of this article I put the English meanings for each one of the terms used in this article in order to ease the understanding of the text and at the same time to give you a wider understanding of the image depicted in one single Japanese word.

“katana o nuku, chikara o nuku”;  “iai o nuku”:

When you look at the two kanji: 刀 (1) and 力 (2) you see that those kanji are linked in some way. As you all know, because this is the upper kanji of shinobu 忍 (10), the 刀 represents the saya (11) protecting the blade, and “丿” (12) is the blade. In chikara 力 (2), the blade  “丿” is going through the saya. Chikara (2) therefore can be seen as physical strength, energy; but also as surpassing our own limits.

The old kanji “nuku” (4) is often replaced today by “nukeru” (5) this is why I put both here. Both nuku and nukeru have this idea of releasing or to let go. And this idea of surpassing our limits has been emphasized by Sensei later during the class when he added the idea of “iai no nuku” (6).

You have to let go of everything you know, every form to be in full symbiosis with uke’s inention. When you achieve that you are always “surfing” on uke’s movements and can redirect his chikara against him. Uke when attacking is fully committed to get you, he is using a lot of strength and intention. If you are neutral you follow the movements like the branchees of the willow tree moving freely in the wind. As you have no intention you cannot be read by uke. This was the first thing we learned in 2003 when being introduced to the world of Juppô sesshô through the Sanjigen no Sekai. Uke when attacking makes a decision (intention). This locks him into his “present”, genzai (8), a moment that will become “the past”, kako (7) when he begins to move. Now his intention is focused towards a given target in his “future”, mirai (9).


This is the “kakogenzaimirai”. Uke is never in the present, genzai (8) as he is trapped by his intention in his future mirai (9) and still attached to his past kako (7). This is like a boat still attached to the pier and going at sea, it will last the time for the length of rope to be fully extended, and the tension will pull it back to the pier or stop it.

Tori having no intention is always in the present and adapts permanently to the changes (like the branch of the willow tree moving freely with the wind). In fact there is no good or bad timing, there is only present.

Last week, Sensei said in class there was no timing. But maybe he meant that time doesn’t exist.  the permanent present of nakaima  (13), the middle of now only exists. The “now” is only a spark of time renewing itself permanently. When you think; when you prepare a counter movement to what you expect will do, you become also trapped in the dark side of the sanshin of the kakogenzaimirai world.

Be soft and relaxed, stay in this permanent present and you will always be able to surf the positive aspect of kakogenzaimirai.

At the end of the class, Sensei added that we now have to become gentlemen and not to use chikara at all. In fact we should develop a more feminin way of behaving, more subtle, using no strength and above all not grabbing. We simply have to redirect uke’s intention and force.

There is no technique there is only opportunity. This is goshin jutsu.

Get rid of the forms, don’t finish a movement, surf freely.

This is the elegant simplicity, the Yûgen (15) of a true Art.

“katana o nuku, chikara o nuku”

1 刀 katana (single-edged) sword; katana;
2力 chikara force; strength; might; vigour; energy;capability; ability; proficiency; capacity; faculty; efficacy; effect; effort; endeavours; exertions; power; authority; influence; good offices; agency; support; help; aid; assistance; stress; emphasis; means; resources;
3温 nuku idiot; dummy; slow person
4抜く nuku to extract; to omit; to surpass; to overtake; to draw out; to unplug; to do something to the end;
5抜ける nukeru to come out; to fall out; to be omitted; to be missing; to escape; to come loose; to fade; to discolour; to wear out (to the point of forming a hole, e.g. Clothes); to leave (e.g. a meeting); to be clear; to be transparent (e.g. of the sky);

“Iai no nuku”

6居合 iai art of drawing one’s sword, cutting down one’s opponent and sheathing the sword afterwards

“kakogenzaimirai” and other words

7過去 kako the past; bygone days; the previous; a past (i.e. a personal history one would prefer remained secret); one’s past; (Buddhist term) previous life
8 現在 genzai now; current; present; present time; as of
9 未来 mirai the future (usually distant); the world to come
10 忍 nin endurance; forbearance; patience; self-restraint

11 The upper strike looking like a reverse V symbolizes the scabbard

12 the lower strike: “丿” symbolizes the sword

13 中今 nakaima the present (esp. as a privileged moment in eternity).  Nakaima is explained in the “Way of the ninja”, book by Hatsumi Sensei;
14 識 shiki (Buddhist term) acquaintanceship; vijnana (consciousness);
15幽玄 Yûgen subtle grace; hidden beauty; mysterious profundity; elegant simplicity; the subtle and profound; the occult

Author: kumablog

I share here on a regular basis my thoughts about the Bujinkan martial arts, training in Japan and all over the world, and

6 thoughts on “Katana o Nuku, Chikara o Nuku”

  1. Interesting history report, hope the next five year will be good goshin jutsu!
    Always good, getting information directly from japan, thanks a lot.


  2. Very kind from Arnaud, always working to the Bujinkan community. Un verdadero apoyo para nuestra comprensión del Budô de Hatsumi Sensei.
    Trabajador infatigable, hermano. Nos vemos esta noche.
    Thanks to help us every time.


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