Kantan Desu


This has been a tremendous trip this time again and I have enough to study and train for the next four months before I come back.Today was my last class with Sôke and because of that I was asked to open the ball, in fact the first five dances were for me.

It is pointless to repeat here that after each technique I did, his interpretation was far beyond my understanding. He always does it, and I’m always hoping that his movement will be reachable. It’s not.Being uke with sensei is like going back to kindergarten. Nothing to feel, nothing to understand, only the feeling that attacking him was really a bad idea. No strength from his part, and no chance of survival from mine.

Luckily sensei speaks a lot. And today (but also during all the other classes), he spoke about Juppô Sesshô no jutsu. Since 2003, and the sanjigen no sekai we started the Juppô Sesshô cycle. This cycle is still on and it is really the highest form of expression of budô. I wonder how many other material arts teachers have mastered this superior form, no one other than Hatsumi sensei I guess. Nagato sensei commented that Takamatsu never taught sensei any of the Tsurugi, but he told him that when the time come, he would know how to deal with this weapon. Takamatsu sensei was right.

Commenting one of his movements Sôke said that he was zero and that zero is ten, which in turn is Juppô Sesshô. “Zero is ten” means that after nine we go back to zero (10 = 1 + 0), this is a new beginning (like with the 42 cycle – read previous post).

By being zero in the movement you can adapt to any change in uke ‘s attitude. By not having any intention yourself, by being zero, you can overcome any attack without strength, or speed.

Sensei added that the use of strength and speed was a “childish conception of martial arts”. Real budô is about moving naturally, walking without hurry. Slow motion is the essence of budô. This is particularly true when the same taijutsu techniques are applied with weapons. And today we also used both the bô and the Tsurugi with the same taijutsu movements.

During the morning class, Nagato sensei repeated once again that in budô we don’t try to make it look good. In a real fight it is simply about efficiency. And if it looks good, it’s a bonus.Kûkan is everything and sensei said that by changing the angle of our footwork, we can increase the Kûkan. Space and timing define Kûkan. Then in this new increased Kûkan, the weapons can be drawn easily. In taijutsu close distance is possible but when dealing with weapons, our distance must be adjusted to the size of our weapons.

The Bujinkan is a fantastic martial art system, and it is quite simple after all. But to make it simple, in appearance, is quite difficult.Today, the last class with sensei was simply a difficult one.

In the morning, Nagato sensei, with a smile on his face, kept repeating 簡単 kantan desu (it’s easy) but maybe he was trying to say 感歎 kantan desu (astonishing)!

Each trip for me is a permanent astonishment, I learn more about myself, about my errors and misconceptions, and I always feel I’m richer after sweating in the dôjô with sensei and the Shihan than before coming here.

Bergson said that “to exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly”.  So I guess that each trip makes my existence a little better and that it is helping me to create myself a little more.

Thank you sensei for having created this opportunity for us and to have shared it with the world.

“42 “: The End Of The Cycle


“The need to be right is the sign of a vulgar mind” said French writer and Nobel prize laureate Albert Camus. To change your mind and recognize that you might be wrong is what the Bujinkan is teaching us. Being right or wrong, strong or weak is irrelevant, it is “vulgar ” and a low understanding of true martial arts.

When you have the chance to spend some private time with Sôke, you have to be ready to see the world differently afterward. Each time I meet him in his house I come with a list of questions. But even though I have already my own answers, I always come to him with an open mind ready to modify my perception of the problem. When you speak with sensei, it is like what they say in Zen Buddhism, you have to come with an empty glass, so that it can be filled. If your glass is already full then nothing can be poured into it.

Yesterday in sensei ‘s house I had the chance to spend some quality time with him. While walking the dog, we began to speak about some technical points I wanted to get advice on (see detail in previous entry).
But then once my glass had been emptied, he began to speak about the Bujinkan. He said that we were ending a cycle of 42 years and we are beginning another one right now. He kept repeating “this is the end of the cycle “. By chance Darren and his translator joined us and communication was easier.

What I understood is that the number 42 is an important symbol not only in H2G2* but in many ancient traditions. In Japan it is often considered as a negative symbol because when you read the figure “42” as “4” & “2” it means death**.

Takamatsu sensei died when Hatsumi sensei was 42 years old. So this year he said, we have to be cautious. Maybe this is why we will not have the usual daikomyô sai this year. But this bad omen can also be tuned into a positive one, the end of the cycle being the new beginning (remember the new season in the kihon happô year).

Hatsumi sensei said that now it is up to the jûgodan to conduct this new cycle. This is not new as this was inferred by the scroll hanging in the dôjô this year giving the theme. Don’t panic! It doesn’t mean he is quitting. Sensei said that his budô is not Japanese but belongs to the world. During this 42 years cycle, he said, he has been spreading what true budô is. And this is not limited to the Japanese martial arts as “learning to survive is a human being quality, it is not limited by any borders “.

A few years ago, sensei said in class that “the Bujinkan is not made in Japan, it is made in Human”. The Bujinkan Budô he is teaching is based exclusively on survival and not on waza.
In order to survive “everything can be used”, he added, “a pen, a spoon, a cup can be tuned into deadly weapons and ensure your survival, if you understand the essence of budô “. The ryûha, the weapons are only tools to develop this understanding, the core essence of our training is Juppô Sesshô.

Since 2003, we are learning this Juppô Sesshô and this is the highest path of budô. Katachi are necessary to access the true kankaku. The saino konki is not in the forms, it is developed by and depending on his or her commitment and understanding. Only time and experience matter.

In the class after our meeting I asked him to paint a scroll with the text hanging by the shinden. But when he did it there were more kanji than on the original one. I asked why and he said: “I transformed it so that now it is a 御守 Omamori”. This new “42” cycle begins well.

Let me quote Albert Camus once more:  “You cannot create experience. You must undergo it”. So I hope to see you soon on the mats so that we can undergo our experience together.

* Hitchhiker ‘s guide to the galaxy
En español para MF2: http://es.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy  😉
** Symbolism of 42: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/42_(number)
*** Omamori: good luck charm, amulet

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