Tsunagari Through Hanpa


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I opened the session with two taijutsu techniques trying to put into life the Ishitobashi 石飛ばし concept I had trained since my last trip in May. (1)
After doing a few variations, sensei applied the same concept to sword techniques. As always I am in awe when he takes whatever is demonstrated and bring it to the next level.
These days, Hatsumi Sensei is insisting on Tsunagari (2), the connection between uke and Tori, and the weapons. This connection is the first step to the Enno Kirinai (3). Once Tsunagari is done, you must keep this connection.

To do so, he said that we must not finish the movements (Hanpa). (4) Hanpa is not new to us; we studied it a few years ago with Chūto Hanpa 中途半端, the half cooked techniques. (5)

Hanpa allows the Tsunagari and we keep the connection with Enno Kirinai. There is no intention; we are “zero” and simply surfing on uke’s movements. Keeping the connection, we can “cut with the leg movement”, Ashi Kiri 足切, and move like a skipping stone. As the sword is a shield and cutting not being the main point, we move the sword with footwork and not with the arms. Sensei said (again) to use no strength Chikara Janai 力じゃない, but only the body movements Karada 体 (body) not Chikara 力 (strength).
To reach this non-action state, he added that mastering Kihon Happō and Sanshin are the prerequisites. He insisted again on the importance of building a strong foundation to our taijutsu. The quality of your taijutsu foundations is the path to understanding what Sensei is doing these days. When you master the basics, they are ingrained, you don’t think about doing a movement. This the “ri” of “Shuhari”. (6)

At the “ri” level, you can now focus on the intention. As Sensei said during class, you have to be Honto 本当 real in your actions, to influence uke’s reactions. (7)
Paradoxically this forces you to alternate the “no intention” with “full intention”. He added that that this is part of human nature “ningensei” 人間性 to feel danger or to expect danger (whether it is real or not). By alternating those two states, you create openings in uke’s atavic reactions and overcome his intentions. This animal reaction is inyō 陰陽, better known as the yin yang.

Strangely, Ashi Kiri 足切 can be written Ashi Kiri 足霧, where “Kiri” means fog. So we can say that bu cutting with the legs, we are also creating a metsubushi like movement that capture uke’s mind and make him react wrong to our non-actions.

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1. Ishitobashi 石飛ばし
Skipping stone principle. See previous blog entry “Ishitobashi.”
2. Tsunagari / 繋がり
connection; link; relationship
3. Enno kirinai / 縁の切ない
Do not sever the connection
4. Hanpa / 半端
remnant; fragment; incomplete set; fraction; odd sum; incompleteness
5. Chūto Hanpa 中途半端
For more on this, see blog post https://kumafr.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/consciously-unconscious/
6. Shuhari / 守破離
Shuhari; three stages of learning mastery: the fundamentals, breaking with tradition, parting with traditional wisdom
7. Honto / 本当
Truth, reality

Karada Gaeshi


weaponsThe first class with Sensei felt like the continuation of my last trip two months ago. As it is now common, when there are not so many participants, we do a lot of weapon techniques during the class (yari and sword).

The main point is to use Karada gaeshi 体返し. The body is deflecting the attack through the weapon. The yari or the sword become the natural extension of your body movements. There is no intention in your weapon, uke attacks, and you walk with your sword in front. The weapon is a shield, stabbing or cutting are not the objectives.

You don’t do a technique you simply protect yourself. You do not have to apply a technique because you control uke’s movements, and the distance by using your body. The trick here is to be close enough to prevent us from attacking again, and also to have enough space to use the yari or the sword. The correct distance is important.
In May, Sensei spoke of Kasumi no kaeru 霞の反る, or to put uke in a “fog like” situation. As you don’t try to escape and stay close to uke, he cannot grab the correct distance to maximize the use of his weapon.

On the sword techniques, Sensei also insisted on not cutting but using the air pockets of the ishitobashi* (see previous posts). When you use a sword, you have to understand its potential. You don’t need to cut because uke is using the Yoroi as a protection**.
When he is not wearing the Yoroi, then you have to know that the sword cuts by itself because it is its nature. I remember what my Musō Shinden teacher used to say. It was exactly the same. “The nature of the katana is to cut; the hardest part is to know how to stop it” (i.e. not to create a suki, an opening after the cutting motion). As Nagato sensei said, it is always necessary to keep our body protected. This need to be protected is why Sensei keeps repeating that we have to use the sword as a shield in the Bujinkan.

The sword of 2015 is the evolution of the sword of 1996. In 1996, we learned the forms, today we are learning strategy. If you are not good at doing the techniques (omote), then this pure feeling (ura) might escape you. The biken waza from Kukishin Ryû and Togakure Ryû are the foundation of what sensei is teaching these days.

The weapon being a shield then Karada gaeshi is the only logical answer.
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*石飛ばし
**Reminder: the Yoroi was designed to protect the Samurai from the Yari.