Sanshin: Body & Mind Are Unity

Saino Tamashii Utsuwa
In the year 2009 the theme was  才能 魂 器 “saino konki” or “saino tamashii utsuwa”. It just occurred to me today that this sanshin is in fact the essence of the tenchijin. The true Sanshin!
These three words can have the following meanings: ability, soul, container. If we understand easily the meanings of ability and soul, the container, until today, was limited for me to the space in which the encounter is taking place. 
But what if in fact if this utsuwa is also defining the body. I think that both (space and body) are correct, but here I want to dwell a little more on this new understanding of the body being the container.
When we study the martial arts, we often come down to the sentence “body and mind are one”. If we assume that this “body/mind” which is not duality but unity, is in fact the expression of a superior inyo (yinyang); then this inyo can be the “ten” and the “chi”. And therefore it is quite logical to see 才能 saino (ability) as “jin”, making the saino konki the Sanshin of tenchijin. Strangely (or not) this is the theme sensei had chosen when he asked the high ranks to teach again the tenchijin to the new generations of bujinkan students.
In the “demon’s sermon on the martial arts”, Issai Chozanshi writes: “there is no form to principle, and principle’s function manifests itself according  to the vessel. If there is no vessel, you will not see the principle.”  Sensei has been teaching natural movement for years now and many of us are still caught into a dualistic view of the techniques. But since the beginning, Sensei is speaking of “principles” and he uses the “techniques” only to make it easy for us to grasp the true essence of martial arts.
Chozanshi adds later  that “when the mind and the form become two, you will be unable to act with freedom”. And this is exactly what happened to us many times. 
The Bujinkan is a superior martial art as it forces us to unite both our spirit and body in order to be able to express life in any occasion. Now, and this is what I understood this morning, when the “vessel” (body) is fully united with the 魂 “tamashii” (soul); when there is no thinking to analyse; when the natural mix of body and mind is achieved, then true 才能 saino (ability) can be expressed with no obstruction.
Don’t think! repeats sensei occasionally. Our permanent thinking process is killing us. And we think mainly because we didn’t forge the best vessel (body/mind) possible. We think because our bodies are unable to react as a result of a lack of work and training. 
The Bujinkan has everything, all the tools we need to excel.  But in order to be able of doing the “no form” we first have to master the waza form correctly. Each waza exists for a reason, and it is by repeating it over and over, and for many years, that at some point it gets into yourself. You don’t think the form anymore because your body/mind reacts by itself.  
But these waza are useless if you do not have strong basics. And these basics were also given to us by sensei with the tenchijin. 
Once the tenchijin has been mastered; once the waza have been absorbed by the body/mind unit, nothing can obstruct its free expression. 
The utsuwa (container) intimately fusioned with the tamashii (soul) is the reason to our saino (ability). 
Train hard in your basics, train hard in your forms and one day all the principles will be yours. There is no shortcut to 俊shû (excellence), it only demands time and effort. Body and mind being united, 流れ  nagare (flow) is created, there is no thinking only 気付き kizuki (awareness). Body and mind united are 1. Sanshin is 1.
There is no thinking anymore because there is no reason to think as we only flow naturally with the situation.

Who Is Stupid?


There is a new trend recently that is developing amongst the high ranks of the Bujinkan.
Searching for the true and original Bujinkan they are unearthing the past and reactivate unfinished programs discarded by Sôke.
Maybe because of our Christian origin, we think that “printed matter” is truth, and that the oldest the material is, the more we can trust it.
But concerning the Bujinkan program this is not the case.
Hatsumi sensei developed a syllabus called the Tenchijin basic program (aka bushinkan shinden kihon gata) and that it took him many years to come up with a (nearly) finished set of techniques.
Here is the genealogy of the Tenchijin program (the way I see it):
  1. In the sixties, Hatsumi sensei tells Takamatsu sensei that he wants to create a program regrouping the nine ryûha into one single one. Takamatsu sensei rejected the idea adding something like: “each system is important and they are all different, this is why they should be taught separately”.
  2. Fourty years ago, in April 1972, Takamatsu sensei leaves us. Hatsumi sensei is now alone, he begins to develop the Bujinkan system.
  3. Having had time to think it over, Hatsumi sensei abandoned the idea of a common program for the nine ryûha but takes the decision instead of regrouping all the basics of the ryûha into one set of techniques: this is the Tenchijin Ryaku no Maki  天地人 略 の 巻. The title says it all as 略 (ryaku) means shorten, abbreviation, outline. His idea, therefore is to create a simplified program to prepare for the study of the nine Ryûha.
  4. At the end of the 70s, Hatsumi sensei creates his first Tenchijin program. It is presented in the form of 3 stencil like booklets and is only in japanese, no pictures.
  5. In1983, Hatsumi sensei publishes, in Japanese only, the evolution of the first paper version. He calls it: “Togakure Ryû Ninpô Taijutsu”. It follows the tenchijin structure. This published version of the Tenchijin contains 267 pages and presents three parts: Ten ryaku no Maki, Chi ryaku no Maki, and Jin ryaku no Maki. Shuriken and kakushi buki are added in the Jin Ryaku.
  6. In 1987, some western students receive from Japan a photocopied booklet written on a typewriter and entitled: “Bujinkan Shinden Kihon Gata”. The subtitle is Tenchijin Ryaku no Maki. It contains many changes to the 1983 version. The Kyûsho are gone, the weapons are gone, and the techniques are reshuffled and simplified.
  7. In the “official” Kihon Happô, Ganseki Nage is replaced by Musô Dori.
Since then the tenchijin of 1987 became the basic programme of the Bujinkan to teach the basics. It is the third and final evolution of the first tenchijin amended by Soke and this is the more developed programme of the three versions.

As you know to put out a comprehensive program is not an easy task and it took Sensei nearly 20 years to come up with a final tool. We can see the creation of this program as a famous painting like “Mona Lisa la Gioconda” by Leonardo Da Vinci, who spent 4 years to paint it. According to Leonardo’s contemporary: “after he had lingered over it four years, (he) left it unfinished”. Leonardo, later in his life, is said to have regretted “never having completed a single work”*.
This is the same with the Tenchijin.

The first version (tcj1) was a sketch.
The second version of 1983 (tcj2) a prototype. A beta version.
The third version of 1987(tcj3), the Tenchijin 1.0. Unfinished but good enough.

Today in 2013, some 30 years after the Beta version (tcj2), I am surprised to see many high ranks trying to discover a new hidden truth by basing their teaching on the first tries by sensei.

Unable to exist by themselves they try to create some kind of “competitive advantage” by putting back to light the first unstable versions created by sensei. Many base their syllabus on version tcj2 or even worse on version tcj1. This is why we see many old terms unearthed from these pre versions of the tcj reappearing today.

But I wonder how can these high ranks be so wrong in their analysis?

Do they think that created first the perfect programme and that he destroyed it version after version?
Do they think he is stupid?

The tenchijin was an attempt to summarize all the basics of the nine schools into a single tool to make it easier to enter the specific study of the Bujinkan Ryûha.

Please keep in mind that:

  1. The terms used in the tenchijin are generic (or became generic).
  2. Similar techniques in various Ryû can be named differently.
  3. A technique is a mix of several basic generic moves
  4. Techniques “look like” some basic techniques but are not to be done fully to the end.
  5. Some concepts, some techniques are missing from one version to the other.
  6. Some concepts, some techniques are added from one version to the other.
  7. The structure if the tenchijin is evolving from one version to the other.
  8. Some techniques from the Chi enter the Jin.
  9. Some techniques from the Jin are now into the Ten, etc.
To me it is as if Sensei through trial and error had been tuning and adjusting his first programs (tcj1 the tcj2) in order to make a common platform for learning the schools. The Tenchijin is only a tool designed to help the practitioner to undda erstand the Bujinkan. The last version tcj3 (1987) is the best one to do that.
But like Leonardo Da Vinci’s  “Gioconda”, please keep in mind that the Tenchijin of 87 is still unfinished so it is correct to mix with the tcj3 some of the concepts and techniques from tcj2 (the Kyûsho for example). Like in the Pareto distribution it should still respect the 80-20 ratio no more. Remember Sensei tried to make it simple.

With all that in mind, please see the overall logic followed by sensei since the death of his mentor:

  • Ninjutsu: Hatsumi Sensei develops the Bujinkan through 20 years of Tenchijin practice (1973-1992)
  • 1993-1997 – Budô Taijutsu Omote: He teaches the weapons, to emphasize knowledge of angles and distances (5 years),
  • 1998-2002 – Budô Taijutsu Ura: The five aspects of Taijutsu and body movement through five ryûha (5 years),
  • 2003-2012 – Juppô Sesshô: and then sensei continued with Ninpô Taijutsu: 5 years of Juppô Sesshô Omote and 5 years of Juppô Sesshô Ura.
  • 2013: This is where we are today with a Tsurugi in the hand.
When I look at it globally it seems to me that Sensei has been following some kind of very smart plan to bring us to his level of understanding. After all this is exactly what the word sensei means, no?
So please trust him, he knows what he is doing and he is the Tamashii (soul) of the Bujinkan.
If some high ranks in the West think they are smarter than Sensei, this is strange but after all they are adults.
If they decide not to follow Hatsumi Sensei’s vision and prefer to replace the Tenchijin programme 1987 (tcj3) by its former beta versions, let them continue. Everyone is responsible for his choices.
But if you are a dedicated Bujinkan instructor and if you want your students to grasp the essence of Hatsumi Sensei’s Budô, and to get a better chance to survive, then I urge you to think about it and to follow the only true and logical path: The one Budô path defined by Hatsumi Sensei!

Sensei can be called many names but “stupid” is definitely not the appropriate one!

This man is a fantastic human being who has been guiding us on the path for the last 40 years.
Choosing another path is like leaving the Bujinkan and his creator.
So, who is stupid now?

Paris Taikai 2013

Memories: picture taken during one of the first Shi Tennô seminar organized by Steve Byrne in 2001 in Trinity College in Dublin.
Memories: picture taken during one of the first Shi Tennô seminar organized by Steve Byrne in 2001 in Trinity College in Dublin.

Watching the nice blue sky through the window, I began to think about the next Yûro Shitennô Paris Taikai next July in Paris.

This seminar have been going on for more than ten years and it has always been a pleasure to welcome you all in our dôjô.

Many of you are already familiar with this extraordinary seminar but I think it is time to explain its origin once again for those of you who aren’t.

Around the year 2003, I was on the phone with Pedro and we were speaking of the “good old days” when the Shi Tennô could meet twice a year for a joint seminar called “Shi Tennô Seminar” (see picture above). But at the turn of the century, these seminars were not organized anymore. Many reasons for that.

First of all, the financial risk of having the 4 Shi tennô for a two days seminar was too big. Second, since our beginning (the first Shi Tennô took place in 1993), many new high rank instructors arrived on the market and there were more seminars available. Today each weekend in a 500km radius, there are at least two or three seminars organized.

Also our personal seminars schedule being so full we had some difficulty putting up a common date together.

Over the phone, we decided to organize it ourselves and this is how the first Paris Taikai was created in 2003. It was such a success that I decided to continue organizing it year after year. This year is the 10th one!

But what is a Paris Taikai?

Until the year 2002, Hatsumi would come to Europe to give three days seminars, they were called Taikai. I attended over 30 Taikai since the first one organized by my friend Peter King. The Paris Taikai was meant to replace the absence of sensei in our countries.

When we decided to organize the Paris Taikai, Sensei approved the idea and called it: “Yûro Shi Tennô Taikai”. Yûro 融朗 means “brightness”but is also a pun with “europa” pronounced by Japanese “yuropa”. Basically this is the Taikai organized by the European Shi Tennô: Peter, Sven, Pedro, and me.

The Paris Taikai follows the same structure as the Taikai of the past where we used to train during three days. But this one is also different as we train in three different dôjô at the same time. Also the group of participants is divided into 4 groups: beginners, intermediates, advanced, shidôshi. We make sure that each group is about the same size.

The Bujinkan France teached in a facility that is made of three dôjô: 1 big dôjô (150 to 200 people) with mats and two smaller ones (around 60-80 m2), one with mats and one with wooden floor. Trainings are conducted in the three dôjô at the same time and each hour teachers and students are changing location.

Each hour one group is taught by one Shi Tennô in the two small dôjô, and two groups (always beginner-intermediate; or advanced-shidôshi) are taught by 2 Shi Tennô in the big dôjô. This is why whatever your technical level you will receive the teaching that you can understand. Many times when you are attending a seminar, the teacher has to teach a certain level. When he is teaching high level, beginners are lost, and conversely when he is teaching basics, the advanced practitioners are bored! This is not happening at the Paris Taikai.

This Taikai is also the chance to meet people from all over the world (there are around 15 to 20 countries attending) and to connect or reconnect with friends from everywhere.

When you register for the Taikai (which is limited to 150 participants) you get:

  • 3 full days of training (10am-5pm)
  • 3 meals regular or veggie (lunch time only)
  • Paris Taikai tee-shirt
  • Certificate of attendance
  • Goodbye drink on the last day
  • Free sleeping (Thursday to Monday) at the dôjô

Also do not forget that this event takes place right during the weekend of the French National day, and Paris is full of laughter, fireworks, drinking, dancing; and the weather is around 30° Celsius.

But if Paris is a nice city to visit in summer; if the techniques demonstrated are done by 4 of the more advanced students of Sensei; above all what you are getting out of such an event is hours of happiness and friendship, and for me this is the most important part of a Taikai. The techniques are always nice but the feeling of belonging to a community is even better. This seminar is Bujinkan at its best!

Places are limited and pre-booking is going very fast this year so if you are interested to join us, please follow the link below:

And if you do not come some other Bujinkan member will be happy.

Rokkon Shojo!

Birthday Cake in Budapest: The Bujinkan Legacy

When Balázs and Laszlo asked me to give a seminar covering the Bujinkan themes of the last twenty years (1993-2012) I accepted but I didn’t immediately understand the “why?”, and I must admit that I didn’t see who would be interested.
The day before traveling to Budapest I began to be concerned about the “how?”, and in a short mail, I told Balázs that I didn’t know if I could do it as suddenly Iunderstood the vast task it was. But eventually everything went fine and this is a seminar that I would like to repeat anytime. At first covering twenty different themes in two days made the seminar looking like some kind of food buffet where you are tasting many different dishes.
2013-04-23 08.22.53
But those themes have been chosen wisely by sensei, and the benefits from previous themes are reused after. Each year adding its particularity, was nurturing the next one.
If we follow the themes chronologically we rapidly see a logic in the system. Bô calls for Yari and Yari for Naginata. This “Sanshin of long weapons” as Hatsumi sensei called them once, is the best introduction possible to enter Biken jutsu, and Biken to understand Jô jutsu. In fact before the Tsurugi and the Tachi I thought that Jô was the ultimate weapon!
This five year cycle (1993-1997) was followed by another five year cycle (1998-2002) focusing on the five different types of Taijutsu: Taihen jutsu, Daken Taijutsu, Koppô jutsu, Kosshi jutsu, Jû Taijutsu. During this period in order to illustrate these different Taijutsu, sensei used respectively the following schools: Shinden Fudô Ryû, Kukishin Ryû, Koto Ryû, Gyokko Ryû, Takagi Yôshin Ryû. Unfortunately very few people understood that the ryû that was taught was the omote and that the type of taijutsu taught through the school was the main thing.
These first ten themes (1993-2002) taught us the various sides if what sensei called “Budô Taijutsu”.
Once the foundation of Budô clearly established, sensei put “Ninpô Taijutsu” on top of it. This was the beginning of Juppô Sesshô. As he said to me once: “the five different styles of Taijutsu are the expression of Budô Taijutsu; but Juppô Sesshô is the expression of Ninpô Taijutsu”.
The next ten years (2003-2012) have been dedicated to Juppô Sesshô.  We began with five years of “Omote” Juppô Sesshô (2003-2007), they were then followed by five years of “Ura” Juppô Sesshô (2008-2012). The Omote Juppô Sesshô was based on the body, the themes were: Sanjigen no Sekai, Yûgen no sekai, Kasumi no hô, Shizen, Kuki Taishô. We studied various weapons and schools during this cycle but only to put into evidence the concepts brought by sensei (kunai, shotô, biken, bô, yoroi etc).
The Ura Juppô Sesshô is more about the soul, the mental side of the movements: Menkyo Kaiden, Saino konki, Rokkon shojo, Kihon Happô, Kaname. Once again we had to “listen” to sensei and understand the movement from the level of perception and not with our analytical mind and mechanical movements.
In fact it looks like a birthday cake with several levels. And in 2013, the Tachi hôken illustrated by the Tsurugi is like the candle on top of the cake. At the birthday party the cake is always good but what really matters in a birthday party, what is the most important thing is not the cake but the reason why people are gathered to eat it!
Thank you Balázs for giving me this opportunity, I learnt a lot and I hope that the participants felt richer after these two exhausting days*
*we had training from 10am to 6pm on both  days which left more or less 40 minutes per year of training… that was intensive.


Paris taikai registration opened

IMG_20120420_142351Registration for the Paris taikai 2013 is open.

Since 2002 the Bujinkan France invites you to share 3 days of training in Paris with the Shi Tennô: Pedro Fleitas, Sveneric Bogsater, Peter King, and Arnaud Cousergue in our three Dôjô located in the city of Vincennes.
Each year around 150 Bujinkan participants gather there to share training and insights with the Shi Tenno under the Parisian summer sun.
As always lunches are included, tshirts are included, and free sleeping at the Dôjô.

Come to Paris and enjoy some memorable moments on the mats and outside and discover the French Capital.
This taikai happens around the French National Day (July14th), which means:

  • many fireworks,
  • a lot of dancing,
  • good time.

Places are limited so don’t wait too long!

Registration is mandatory to participate:

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