I’m packed and ready to share my “misunderstandings” in Paris next weekend for the traditional “dkms seminar” of December.
Traveling to Japan is like going back to school. The more you study, the more subtle details you learn.
This trip was no different and I now have four months to make sense of everything I saw, felt, heared.
Our five senses might be limited but they are the only ones we have, to understand how to develop our sixth sense.
Yesterday night was the last class with Sōke and we a lot. After Peter and I opened the class, Sensei moved directly to Bō jutsu, biken jutsu, and Mutô Dori. While teaching, he reminded us that Mutō Dori this year is the essence of what he has been teaching for the last 42 years.
He insisted on the importance of not cutting with the sword, Kiru janai (1) It reminded me of the En no Kirinai, “don’t sever the connection” that we studied a few years back. (2)
This is when we began to do Ura Nami with the Bō and then with the sword. (3) Ura Nami is moving like an inlet wave, hiding is power until too late. To do so, our taijutsu is direct. We do not try to avoid contact, we dodge the blow by a slight body movement of the body, and reach out to the target. The are many targets: neck, chest, hands and fingers from above the attacker’s weapon or from under. It called that “Ura Nami no Juppō Sesshō”.
In fact, he added that, we have to move in such an illogical way, that the opponent is unable to read our movements. Or unorthodox way of moving, might also give him extra confidence when he thinks that we are not good. This is this strange behavior that creates the opportunity. Sensei precise that he was mainly using the dynamic Yoko Aruki footwork from the Koto Ryû.
Sensei insisted that to apply this, you had to be connected to the attacker through the breathing, Kokyû. (4) When you can successfully match uke’s rhythm, you can avoid any attack he is throwing at you because you know his timing. He used the analogy of the baseball catcher who “knows naturally” where the ball is going to land. That made me think of the book “gut feelings”, in which the author explains what he calls the “gaze heuristic”. As with the sword attacking you, and because you are connected to uke through the same breathing, you “know/feel” where, and how to counter his movements. (5)
With those three new tools: Kiru Janai, Ura Nami, and Kokyû, I have enough study and changes to apply in my taijutsu, before my next trip in March.
Lao Tzu said: ” If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
Thank you Sensei, for forcing us to change permanently, and to make us head towards natural perfection.
1. 切る/kiru/to cut; to cut through; to perform (surgery)|to sever (connections, ties)|to turn off (i.e. the light)|to terminate (i.e. a conversation); to disconnect; じゃない janai/is not; am not; are not.
2. En no Kirinai 縁の切りない:
縁/en/fate; destiny (esp. as a mysterious force that binds two people together)|relationship (e.g. between two people); bond; link; connection.
切りない /kirinai/to sever, not
3. 浦波/uranami/(seaside) breakers
4. 呼吸/kokyû/breath; respiration|knack; trick; secret (of doing something)
5. Gut feelings or the intelligence of the unconscious, by Gerd Gigerenzer.
Read this book, it will help down your understanding of Budō. Here is a quote about the baseball catcher analogy: “Experimental studies have shown that experienced players in fact use several rules of thumb. (…) One of these is the gaze heuristic, which works in situations where a ball is already high up in the air: Fix your gaze on the ball, start running, and adjust your running speed so that the angle of gaze remains constant. The angle of gaze is the angle between the eye and the ball, relative to the ground. A player who uses this rule does not need to measure wind, air resistance, spin, or the other causal variables. All the relevant facts are contained in one variable: the angle of gaze. The gaze heuristic (…) work for a class of problems that involve the interception of moving objects. In both ball games and pursuit , it helps to generate collisions, while in flying and sailing, it helps to avoid them. Intercepting moving objects is an important adaptive task in human history, and we easily generalize the gaze heuristic from its evolutionary origins— such as hunting—to ball games.”