Fuyû, Asobi: Suspension and Baseball


What I love about the classes with Senô sensei, is that I always learn new ways of doing what we do.

Like all the students who’ve been here for 25 years, I’m quite aware of the forms. What I still need to learn is hiding in the details. Life is about learning, and his classes are full of insights. The point of visiting Japan three times a year is to improve my abilities.

Today I learned two things:
1. There is more than the “1, 2, 3” sequence in a waza;
2. That we have to create a Fuyû (1), a point of suspension where uke is trapped by his own force.

Senō sensei explained today that in a given technique “1, 2, 3” there is more than those steps. Between “1 and 2” , and “2 and 3” , there are numerous hidden technical points.  Details that change everything,  and make your Taijutsu effortless and powerful at the same time.

The body reacts as a whole because distance, angles, and rhythm are trained slowly to become perfect. Like what has already been said this trip by Hatsumi sensei and Nagato sensei, it is necessary to move slowly in order to unfold the possibilities.

His Uke attacked with a Gyokko ryû like attack. Right fist attack followed by a right kick. Senō sensei went back in line with the opponent’s fist, simply making a light contact on the hand.  It was a simple double shuffling step in slow motion, that put him out of reach (Juppō Sesshō). The target being still reachable,  this triggered uke to continue with the kick in the same side. Effortlessly,  Senō sensei pivoted sideways, he spoke about Kosshi (2), and took the leg with his right leg. At the same time he was controlling the attacking hand by driving it, softly, to the left. This ended with uke falling on his back. From the outside it looked like uke stepped on a banana peel. It was simple and efficient. 
After a few tries,  uke began not to give away his body weight and therefore was able to keep his balance. This is when details are everything.

When this happened, Senō sensei would put the hand on his belt, turn close towards uke, barring the elbow with his right forearm. There was no grabbing, simply body pressure. We then spent a long time on this control. He explained that by rotating the bones of his forearm slightly, it was possible to get uke’s balance without force. It worked. 
I know that it might be difficult to visualize it, but I invite you to try it on the mats during your next training. Try many angles and hopefully you will understand it.

The other interesting point today was Fuyû, suspension. (1)
Senō sensei explained that our body reactions should create a state of suspended gravity. When uke begins to think he is sorted by your body (technically, he thinks he is getting you), this is when you let go. This is the true meaning of Kokû (3). 
Each time it is possible, break contact with your opponent in order to create this vacuum. Hatsumi sensei said that this is the real meaning of Nin, persevere. (4)
To persevere is not to resist but to be brave enough to go at the last possible second. This is the essence of Mutō Dori, the theme of this year. Positioning your body slowly at the exact distance, and at the last second, you create an in-between state. Uke is unaware that he is losing his balance and uses more strength to recover it when he sees it to late.

This is Fuyû.

Senō added that we have to play (Asobi) with this Fuyû feeling. But when you look at the kanji you discover that Fuyû is composed of “Fu + Asobi”, float + play (5).

In baseball, Asobi is “to intentionally throw a ball to lower the batter’s concentration”. This is exactly what Senō sensei wants us to do,  lower the attacker’s concentration by creating a state is suspension. 
1.  浮遊/fuyuu/floating; wandering; suspension
2. Kosshi is the backbone and symbolizes the pivoting vertical axis of the body. (Gyokko ryû) 
3. 虚空/kokuu/empty space; empty sky
4. 忍/nin/endurance; perseverance; forbearance; patience
5. 遊ぶ/asobu/to play; to enjoy oneself; to have a good time|to mess about (with alcohol, gambling, philandery, etc.)|to be idle; to do nothing; to be unused|to go to (for pleasure or for study)|(baseb) to intentionally throw a ball to lower the batter’s concentration

Ninpô Taijutsu Gen


Jack began sensei’s class with a mix of Katame Dori, ending in a sort of Omote Gyaku / Ganseki Oshi. Sensei used it to develop the concept of Kyomu, nothingness, which is at the core of Ninpô Taijutsu. (1)

This Ninpô Taijutsu Gen (2) is a holistic fighting. The physical is reinforced by the spiritual. Uke is not defeated by the body movements, but rather by his wrong perception of reality. His mind is played by Tori’s attitude. Again the class yesterday class was about illusion.
It is interesting to see that “Kyomu” bears the same kanji as Kyojitsu (3), the alternating stages of truth and falsehood.

Ninpô Taijutsu Gen

Sensei did many henka on Omote Gyaku, showing tens of variations. The Omote Gyaku Waza imposed itself at some point in a natural manner.

I find interesting to study it again, after the class we had with Nagato sensei on the same subject. It looked like “the next step” that sensei keep speaking about.

When you move with this natural reaction,  everything is soft and looks quite slow. But the key point is to awaseru, to meet the opponent’s attack, fearless. It felt like going back to the year of Kuki taishô (4) I guess it is hard for the new generation to comprehend what sensei is doing these days,  because everything is based upon the teachings on Juppô sesshō that we began in 2003. In fact,  he said that because of Juppô sesshō,   there was no left,  right,  fast,  slow,  win,  lose. Everything that he did is logical with the understanding of the situation he is facing. And it looked logical, soft and natural.

He illustrated this Juppō Sesshō with some sword techniques. As the theme this year is Mutô Dori,  he began unarmed and then moved to two swords, which is also mutō dori (5). In Koteki Ryûda Juppō Sesshō Hibun no Kami (6), theme of 2003, the eight directions of the happō are completed with the vertical axis of heaven and earth. Heaven is ryûda, the flying dragon; and koteki is the crouching tiger. In the encounter you are dragon and Tiger alternatively, soft and hard, slow and fast. In the sword techniques  sensei explained that you do not try to cut but apply multiple hits like if uke was attacked by a swarm of bees. This reminded me of the Amo Isshun no Tamamushi. (8) Uke is defeated by the many micro attacks he receives. In unarmed defense the sword his are replaced by Yubi Kudaki.
This holistic movement is what sensei calls zenten (7). The body adjusts naturally to the suki (openings) of the attack / of the attacker.
In both situations (with and without sword), you are soft and react naturally to the attack. Because of zenten,  you move either in one direction or another like a skipping stone. Uke is the wave and naturally surf on his intentions.

Last class was really magic and helped me to grasp the essence of Ninpô Taijutsu Gen.
1.  虚無/kyomu/nihility; nothingness
2.  忍法/ninpou/ninja arts
体術/taijutsu/classical form of martial art
幻術/genjutsu/magic; witchcraft
3. Kyojitsu vs kyojutsu: there is often a misconception about this two terms. Kyojitsu 虚実/kyojitsu/truth or falsehood, and kyojutsu is 虚/kyo/unpreparedness|falsehood + 術/jutsu/art; means; technique. Therefore,  kyojitsu is the concept used in kyojitsu techniques.
4. Kuki taishō (theme of 2007): 九/kyuu/nine,  気/ki/spirit; mind; heart|nature; disposition|motivation; intention|mood; feelings|atmosphere; essence,  大勝/taishou/great victory; crushing victory
5. Reminder Mutō Dori is not only defending oneself unarmed facing a weapon. It is above all, having the courage to face a potential death. I wrote a few posts on that last year in this blog. Check them.
6. My book on ” Koteki Ryûda Juppō Sesshō Hibun no Kami” can be found at http://www.budomart.eu and will soon be available in ebook at Amazon.com (January 2016).
7. Zenten is 全天/zenten/all heaven,  but can also be understood as 全店/zenten/the whole (store).
8. Amo isshun no tamamushi 中一瞬 の 吉丁虫
中 amo:center, inside, during
一瞬 isshun: one moment
吉丁虫  tamamushi: jewel beetle, bee