Esprit du Geste

Esprit du Geste

Transboréal, mon éditeur, vient de republier mon livre sur les arts martiaux et sur mes rencontres avec Hatsumi Sensei depuis plus de 20 ans.
Ce petit livre qui s’est dejà écoulé à 3500 exemplaires revient avec 2000 copies de plus.
Il est en vente à la FNAC, Nature et découvertes ou directement sur

Shingin Budô? No! Shining Budô!

Shingin Budô? No Shining Budô!

We had a 1-day seminar in Bonn last Saturday and we studied the “nagare” or how to put flow into the 1, 2, 3 techniques. It was fun and demanding but I really appreciated this day of training. Firstly because students came not only from Germany, but also from Belgium, Spain*, and India**.

So even though the theme of the year is about “Shingin Budô”, I lived that day as Shining Budô, with the good feeling with which we trained during the 6-hour training day.

Thank you all to have joined us! And I hope to see you again for our next seminar at the Kurage Dôjô in Munich on March 15th-16th***

(a special thank you goes also to the “viking” who suffered (see picture) more than any other participant)

*Ralf is a student of Juan Manuel Serrano but lives near Strasbourg.
** Arjun is a student of Shiva but lives in Berlin for a few months.
***kurage seminar

Not Wanting, In Order To Get It!

collage_glassclockBeing a student of the Bujinkan Martial Arts system is not easy and requires a lot of commitment. You have to keep the connection with everything, learn, memorize, and always be eager to improve your skills. This is a long path but it is worth it.
The life of a Bujinkan practitioner can be seen as a glass of water in which you pour the desired quantity of liquid. The water level in the glass will only depends on you.
If you want to drink water, you will have to define three things:
How much water do you have in the jug.
How thirsty you are.
How big the glass is.
If we compare the glass of water to training, we can see the Bujinkan martial arts like a huge jug of water. First you have to understand that it is your responsibility to “drink” it (and not your teacher’s).
A teacher is like the jug of water. A sensei is an older practitioner who has been thirsty long before you (see the meaning of sensei)*; and who learnt to quench his thirst. Because he “experienced” this, he is now capable of explaining it to you. But if you are not thirsty or committed to learn, you will not drink. Whatever you chose to do is always your choice. Your sensei will not be thirsty for you.
Your brain can “drink” more than you think as long as you believe you can learn and improve. Even if you have a small glass you can learn a lot, you simply have to refill the glass many times until your thirst is satisfied. But to be satisfied requires high expectations. Sadly many students stop training after black belt because this is what they wanted (low expectations). But Shodan is nothing, it is only the beginning. Be thirsty!
This “water sanshin” of  the “jug-thirst-glass” is another way to understand the concept of Sainô Konki (ability-soul-container). The soul wants to drink and prepares the glass (container) to receive the ability (water) through long training because the path is long.
The Bujinkan path follows three steps:
1) learn the basic forms (kihon, waza);
2) turn them into situations (kata),
3) in order to forget them and to be yourself.**
Before forgetting the forms you have to remember a lot of them. Your kamae (attitude) in that respect, is important. If you don’t pay attention to the details and go with the “in ninjutsu we can do anything we want” that we often hear, then you will go nowhere. You have to be curious of everything. As Richard Whately said “Curiosity is as much the parent of attention, as attention is of memory.”
Without curiosity/attention/memory you will simply mimick the movements and never reach the ura of things. What Hatsumi sensei is teaching
us is not a set of techniques but an ability to discover and understand the world by ourself. This is why kokoroe is vital. You have to learn and memorize.
Everyone one of us uses clocks, watches, or a phone to know the time, but when those tools are missing (or more likely when the batteries
are dead) do you know how to estimate the time and direction like a real ninja?*** I guess not: this is what “curiosity” is about, always having a “plan B” for everything you do.
When in the army I learnt those things, and even today where GPS devices are available, we still train with the compass and the map.
This the “just in case Murphy was right” attitude.****
In the Bujinkan we have a huge collection of techniques (our “jug of water”).
The techniques are first taught as basics in the Tenchijin. This is our compass and map. But then the second step is to learn them “anew” in their  original Ryû. Now, even though some of  these fighting techniques are included in the basic Tenchijin that we studied, they change completely when reinserted in their original system. A Ryû presents the waza in a very specific order because in each level the second technique is the evolution of the first; the third of the second etc. Ignoring that will get you misled and you will never get the kokoroe***** of fighting in this specific system.
One you have done that with the Tenchijin and the Ryûha, and with the weapons you are entering the third level of training where things are not decided but come naturally to you. You have learnt to surf the flow of possibilities and became able to survive by your own ability. But until you reach this third level, everything you will try to do will be unnatural, forced and lack nagare. Someone once said: “How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?”. And this is exactly where you will arrive if you forget before studying; think before act; and want before accepting the natural flow of the Universe.
The Universe is there to serve you as long as your ego is not in the way. Stop with the “I want to do a natural technique” and move to “I flow with nature”. Remember the concept of 真如, Shinyô (the ultimate nature of all things)******
*先生, sensei means “the (one) born (in the art) before (you).
** do you remember the last glass of water you drank? no, once you drank it, you forgot about it. Techniques are the same, you learn them to forget them more efficiently.
*****kokoroe is knowledge (see previous posts)
******Shinyo (tathatâ in sanskrit).  In “Advanced Stick Fighting”, book by Hatsumi sensei, P38, Kodansha Edition or the definition here

馬 uma


Be ready for a galloping year of the horse where things might not be as they look like in this Japanese proverb:

“Ningen banji saiou ga uma” is one of the Japanese proverbs. The literal translation is “All human affairs are like Saiou’s horse”. It means, “One can never know what will prove to be lucky or unlucky”.  The meaning came from a Chinese folk tale about an old man called Sai. ( “~ ou”, also read as okina, means “old man”.) Here is the story.

Once upon a time, an old man, Sai, lived near the Chinese Northern Fort. One day his horse ran away. His neighbors commiserated with him over his misfortune, but Sai said “How do you know this is not really good luck?”. A few days later the horse returned, bringing another horse with it. However when his neighbors congratulated him on his good luck, the old man said “How do you know this is really good luck?” Sure enough, some while later Sai’s son fell while riding the horse, and broke his leg. However this turned out to be good fortune when all the young men of the village were ordered to join the Emperor’s army. Sai’s son didn’t have to go since he had a broken leg.


Genkaku no Sekai

This is an illusion! it is not me.
In Japanese 幻覚 genkaku is illusion or hallucination. This is the “gen” from genjutsu.
But when you try to understand what illusion really is, or why reality is considered an illusion, you need to get some advice from our elders. Plato has always been one of my favorite philosopher and today I stumbled upon this sentence that made me think a lot about this “illusion/reality” duality. I know now that where there is duality there is lack of unity, and unity is what we are looking for in the Bujinkan. So I tried to unite this dual aspect. 


“A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true”.

Asian philosophies (and many others) have taught us that the world in which we live is not “reality”, that it is “illusion”. And we’ve all accepted it, thinking: “if those clever Asian guys said it so long ago, it must be true”. But is it really true? And here, Plato, who wasn’t really from Asia, helps us understand it better.

The “relative emotional values” (REV) he is referring to are created by ourselves (brain, education, ego) and these REV, in fact, act like shields preventing us from seeing clearly was we have in front of us. It is because we are unable to see correctly with the 心神心眼, shinshin shingan (the eyes and the mind of the gods) that we are stuck in the world of illusion*.

The first problem is that people have accepted this and are happy with it, not trying to see beyond the veil. They know it is wrong but they are too lazy to even try to change it. This is the same in the dôjô, where many come from an illusion of what ninjutsu is and once taught properly stay or leave the dôjô because they do not want to change their initial wrong vision.

The second problem is the concept of “morality”. And the main issue is that the concept of morality bears many definitions** if it refers to onself, the group/family, the city, the country, etc. But whatever morality is, is it still morality when based upon emotions? No.

Our emotions are flawed and make us see things different from what they are. Therefore when morality derives from emotions that are based upon our inability to see reality; what we obtain is a “system of morality” that is not able to provide us with the tools to survive in the real world. The Chinese were the first to understand the difference between theory and praxis. Apparently this system of morality is only theoretical and not at all practical.

So I would rephrase Plato’s sentence and say instead: “A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values defines a theoretical reality, and a practical illusion”.

We do not live in 幻覚の世界, genkaku no sekai (the world of illusion) but in 現実の世界, genjitsu no sekai (the world of reality). The Bujinkan is an art based solely on practical reality.

 * This is the blue pill/red pill of the Matrix movies

New website for my 2014 Seminars

New website for my 2014 Seminars

I teach all over the world so I finally decided to regroup all the information you need if you want to join me for a seminar and fantastic Budô moments.
Click on the picture and you will go straight to the website.
I hope to see you soon in 2014

Click here

%d bloggers like this: