During the flight from Japan to India, I was sorting my training notes, and I remembered this sentence by Sunzi: “the Supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
It is quite similar to “Mutō Dori is not about fighting, it’s about controlling” that Hatsumi sensei kept repeating in each class.
The focus these days at the Honbu is not only about controlling the attacker (Jin), but also the environment in every possible way. Without proper control of the situation, you are limiting your options solely to the Jin Ryaku! If you can manage the space of the Ten Ryaku (weather) and the Chi Ryaku (terrain) together with the Jin, then the control is total.
I call that “Sanshin no Seigyo” (1): controlling the three aspects of the Tenchijin.
The Sanshin no Seigyo is not a technique, it is an attitude that goes beyond the Waza learned in the dōjō. As Sensei said, “everyone can do a Waza correctly, but controlling is more high level.”
It is linked to this year’s theme “Kannin Dokuson”. (2)
By controlling the Sanshin no Seigyo, you apply the three aspects of Kannin Dokuson based upon respect.
They are the respect for your attacker, for yourself, and mutual respect. Respect in Japanese is Tattobu (3), this is also the “Kan” in Kannin Dokuson.
But don’t get it wrong. Respect is not only to esteem, but it also means that you have to pay attention to your attacker’s intent; to show nothing about your intentions, and to develop a full awareness of your space and environment. The management of space includes the attacker, the defender, and the surroundings. Forget this simple complexity, and you lower your technical level to a mere Waza. And control is not about doing Waza!
On a sword attack by a Japanese Shihan, Sensei added that “you have to control the Kûkan in which the sword is moving in”. This space is not static; it is moving and unfolding in the moment. If you try to react to the cut, you end up dead. On the contrary, if you grab the space and control it, nothing will surprise you, and you will be able to react correctly before the blow hits you. Obviously, this requires a high level of expertise. I must admit that I find it hard to achieve. I’m working on it.
Sanshin no Seigyo seems to me to be the next step of my Budō evolution, maybe it should be yours, too, because controlling is stronger than fighting.
1. 制禦/seigyo/control; governing; checking; suppression; repression; restraint; mastery; management
2, Kannin Dokuson: 貫忍 独尊: Kan 貫/ 貴ぶ/tattobu/to value; to prize; to esteem; to respect
Nin 忍/nin/endurance; forbearance; patience; self-restraint
Dokuson 独り/Hitori/one person|alone; unmarried; solitary and
Son 尊ぶ/tattobu/to value; to prize; to esteem; to respect
3, Tattobu 貴ぶ, to value; to prize; to esteem; to respect.