Organising and hosting such a big event as the Paris Taikai is always a challenge. Every year over 120 people from more than 20 countries gathers in the Bujinkan France dōjō for 3 days.
This year, the Yuro Shi Tenno: Sven, Peter, Pedro, Arnaud, promoted to Bujinkan Dai Shihan last year, will share what they learned in Japan in 2016 with Sōke Hatsumi. There are around 15 Dai Shihan amongst the half million Bujinkan members, and four of them will be there for you!
But don’t expect something too formal. The Paris Taikai is more like a family reunion. The four Dai Shihan have been training together for more than 30 years, and the attendees are friends from all over Europe that we meet regularly during our seminars or in Japan. If you didn’t have the chance to go to Japan this year, this is your best opportunity to understand better what Sensei has been unfolding recently.
The theme for 2016 is multiple: Zero, Katana, Mutō Dori, and the New cycle of 42 years. This will be the subject of study for this Taikai.
Sensei began the year in Japan, with a lot of sword training. He spoke about Yamaoka Tesshu, a famous swordsman, Zen master, calligrapher (1)(2).
Then his classes focussed more with Mutō Dori and the concept of “Zero” (3). In taijutsu and with/against the sword. More than a waza, Mutō Dori (4) is more than we think, it is the genuine philosophy of Natural movement.
Sensei spoke a lot about the “new cycle of 42 years” which he sees as a new beginning for the Bujinkan. After reading the “H2G2,” you all know the answer (5). But seriously, “42” has been used by many, over thousands of years and this is where the Bujinkan is heading now (6). To summarize, there will be a lot of sword study, and also a lot of taijutsu.
Sensei was very energetic last April at the Honbu, and he gave us many insights that we will cover during this Taikai.
To me, the best part of this April trip was that the four of us were reunited for Takamatsu Sensei’s memorial. Such a thing didn’t happen since the beginning of the century!
It was nice, and we had superb moments together, even if the Honbu was filled with 300 participants at each of Sensei’s classes! As one of my friend said, “during the memorial, the new honbu passed its sakki test.”
So, I officially invite you all to join the four Dai Shihan: Sven, Peter, Pedro, Arnaud for three days of sharing and studying.
Each one of us has been developing his own understanding of Sensei’s Budō over the last thirty years. And the Paris Taikai is the opportunity to meet these differences. As Sensei said once “ninjutsu is multiplicity within simplicity.” As we are four, then it will be simple.
The Paris Taikai is lasting three days and has become an institution in the Bujinkan community. For 12 years (I don’t remember exactly when we began), we have been conducting these 3-day seminars, the way we organized the Taikai for Hatsumi Sensei.
Another important aspect of this international workshop is that the group of participants is divided by rank into four groups. As we have four training halls, it is convenient. Each participant receives a lesson suiting his or her abilities. Pedagogically this is always a fantastic experience for all. The end of each day concludes with a class gathering everyone and the Shi Tennō.
There are four groups sorted by level: Kyū, Dan, Shidōshi, and Shihan. Each training group has around 30 trainees (6). For me, this is a fantastic chance given to any Bujinkan member, whatever his rank, to exchange privately with the Bujinkan Dai Shihan.
During the memorial, Sensei some strange happened. Sensei was holding the shinken (real sword) he received from Takamatsu sensei with the 9 Ryūha. He was on stage, the sword was naked.
Then he called each Dai Shihan one by one and asked to grab the naked blade. It was highly symbolic, like some kind of transmission, similar to this cold winter day in Kobe, when Takamatsu sensei asked him to grab the same naked blade. (7)
I hope this post will decide those still uncertain to join us. We are happy to welcome you to Paris mid-July. The last count I received from the Bujinkan France, there was already over 90 participants pre-booked. As we can accept 130 students, you still have time, but don’t wait too long…
- Yamaoka: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamaoka_Tessh%C5%AB
- Biography of Yamaoka: http://www.amazon.com/Sword-No-Sword-Master-Warrior-Tesshu/dp/1570620504
- H2G2, read the book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy
- I will soon write about it more extensively.