Tōtoku Hyōshi, Protect Your Self


To say that yesterday night, the Honbu was packed would be an understatement. There were so many people that my camera couldn’t focus properly. :mrgreen:
And there are still new people pouring in every day. Next Friday, I guess that some might have to train outside!

Sven, who arrived the day before, opened the class with a movement (grab + tsuki), that allowed sensei to dwell into the Tōtoku Hyōshi and many other concepts.

We all know Tōtoku Hyōshi, a biken jutsu Kamae where, in Hanza, we (supposedly) protect the body and dodge a Shuriken, with the blade put vertically in front of us. (1)

But yesterday, Sensei, teaching Mutō Dori, simply used his shoulder. Lifting his shoulder, he was deflecting the tsuki by turning in, and applying a kind of Omote Gyaku on the grabbing hand. This subtle lift of the shoulder acted as a Ô Sode (the shield on the Yoroi) and protected him, even though he was getting closer.

The movement was so slow and relaxed that uke was falling into a Kûkan. There was no opposition, no intention at all. Once again, he insisted on not putting any strength (Chikara janai), and on not grabbing. Then Sensei added a few times that we have to use “Nuku”, to slip into the distance.

Using Moguri, Sensei lowered his hips, throwing his elbow towards the face of Uke. There was no physical contact, but the attacker reacted with his whole body, which gave the opening for Sensei to apply a sort of Omote Gyaku. (3) 
This was not the regular Omote Gyaku as Sensei pivoting in,  grabbed the forearm and drove his four fingers deep into the flesh to reach the tendons.

I asked him to feel the movement, and you can see the result in the picture. It felt like being crushed by the claws of an eagle. While the pain was building up when he dug deeper and deeper into my forearm, I noticed that the rest of his body remained totally relaxed. Impressive … and very painful. Remember that pain is your best teacher.

Hatsumi sensei said, this grab was Shishin ken. (4) Too often, practitioners think of “shishin” as being only the pinky. In fact, each finger can be used to do it. (5) He also illustrated it by using his “claws”, with double digging on the face, the ears, and poking the eyes. (6)


During the rest of the class, Sensei showed how to apply all of these concepts against sword or knives. Being zero is the hardest thing to do. The brain understands what being “zero” means, but it is hard to express it with the body. In order to achieve it, you have to let go of the forms that built your taijutsu, and free yourself of any intent. As Yamaoka Tesshû said, even if you’re facing certain death, don’t hesitate and move forward.

After the Sakki tests, I spoke to Rico,  a new Shidōshi from Delaware Bujinkan Dōjō, who did a nice test. He said that “at first I had a lot of fear,  then I let go, and my body did it. I only knew that I succeeded when, standing up, I heard the people applauding”. The Bujinkan is about “letting go” and “not being afraid”, this is Kuki Taishō.*

On the mats, you will get pain. But each time you freak out instead of facing the opponent, you lose a chance to improve yourself. Training is useless if you don’t use it to develop your inner strength. Dōjō training allows you to learn concepts such as Tōtoku Hyōshi, Nuku, Moguri, Shishin Ken, and to apply them in your daily lives. If you don’t get that, then I think you are losing your time on the mats.

Don’t be a “nuku”. (7) Train harder with sincerity, and work to become a true human being by using the protection of Tōtoku Hyōshi !

1. 刀/tou/(single-edged) sword; katana|dagger; knife|scalpel
匿/toku/shelter; shield; hide
拍子/hyōshi/(musical) time; tempo; beat; rhythm|the moment; the instance; chance
2. 抜く/nuku/to extract; to omit; to surpass; to overtake; to draw out; to unplug|to do something to the end
抜ける/nukeru/to come out; to fall out; to be omitted; to be missing; to escape; to come loose|to fade; to discolour|to wear a hole (e.g. clothes)|to leave (e.g. a meeting)|to be clear; to be transparent (e.g. of the sky)|to be stupid; to be absentminded; to be careless; to be inattentive|to exit (a program loop).
Note: there’s also another “politically incorrect” meaning for this word.
3. 潜り/moguri/diving; diver|unlicensed (doctor, driver, etc.); unregistered; unqualified
4. 指針/shishin/needle ; indicator; pointer; index|guiding principle; guideline; guide
5. I think that this is because in the Tōgakure Ryû Ninpō Taijutsu book (published in 1983 by Sensei), the technique is only shown with the pinky. I have to repeat here, that this knowledge can only be acquired here in Japan when you train with Sōke. You have to experience it directly from the source. 
6. Sensei was always using two fingers,  one inside the eye socket, one inside the ear. Fernando, Pedro, Oliver and others can show you their marks. 
7. 温/nuku/idiot; dummy; slow person
* More on Kuki Taishō at http://www.koimartialart.com

Author: kumablog

I share here on a regular basis my thoughts about the Bujinkan martial arts, training in Japan and all over the world, and

One thought on “Tōtoku Hyōshi, Protect Your Self”

  1. Pingback: INFOS BUJINKAN

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