Listen With Your Body

IMG_20171126_101547A class with Senō sensei is always a pleasure. First he is a gentleman; second, you get out of it more confused than when you entered. His last two classes were no exception!

If we began with the Kunai, the beauty of his taijutsu was not about the weapon. The Kunai was an excuse to show his perfect sense of distance and control. Hatsumi Sensei speaks about controlling at every class, Senō sensei showed it. From his classes, I got a few interesting points that I want to share with you. They are four and should be done together.

1- Absorb with the legs, don’t put any strength in your arms and hands.

When you are in contact with Uke, don’t let your upper body do the technique. Instead, use your knees and legs to get the balance. Too often, when we are close to the opponent, we tend to use the upper body. Taijutsu is about using the body, and this is why we call it TAI-jutsu or “techniques with the body.”

2- The Kunai makes contact and defines a Shiten. (1)

With a Kunai, a Tantō, or your fingers, the point of contact with the opponent becomes your new vertical axis. From this fulcrum, you turn around it and get Uke’s balance. I asked Senō sensei to show it to me several times and each time I was feeling nothing. That was a weird sensation. It was like fighting the wind. When he is in contact with you, his legs turn around the Shiten, and you lose your balance by the lack of power applied to it. You do this Mawari movement (2) only with the legs. Uke sees the contact on the upper body. But as he cannot feel anything, his balance disappears when he walks around.

3- Get rid of any support.

The moment Uke leans onto you, and you feel his weigh is when you drop your support. That is “Jokyo”, or “to get rid of the support”. It was a fantastic sensation. There is no Chikara at all. (4)
Because of the lack of presence of Tori, Uke is alone, suspended in the air. He falls as a result. This concept of Jokyo is the evolution of Fuyū (5) used by Senō sensei until now. Jokyo comes after Fuyū. It is its evolution. After you become able to put Uke in suspension, you let him fall by removing any support he is using. Let gravity play its role.

4- Listen to Uke’s tension with your body.

Do not analyse. Feel the tensions in Uke’s body. And react by adjusting your body position with your legs.

When you can do these four things together:

  • absorb with your legs,
  • create a Shiten,
  • apply Jokyo,
  • listen with your whole body,
    you are always protected.

During the last class, I was training with my friend Juan Manuel Guttierez from Argentina. We were unable to unify those four aspects of Senō sensei’s taijutsu. We did our best to get the four concepts together, but there was always one or two missing. It felt like trying to keep water in your hands. It feels impossible to do it.

Because of training like this one, you see the importance of studying in Japan several times a year. How are the others teachers able to teach without coming here? I don’t know.

When you know the Waza from the schools, and the weapons, then the real study can begin. And this is only about feeling. And this is the level of Mutō Dori that they teach these days here in Japan.
1- Shiten: 支点, fulcrum; support
2- Mawari: 周り, circumference, turning around a point (different from pivoting which is mawashi)
3- Jokyo: 除去, removal; getting rid of​
4- Chikara: 力, force; strength; might; vigour (vigor); energy​
5- Fuyū: 浮遊, floating; wandering; suspension

Who Is The Boss?

IMG_20170723_121157It’s been a long time since I got angry. Today I am.

Hatsumi Sensei has announced a few modifications to the way we deal with the Honbu Dōjō. These changes concern the Dai Shihan in the first place, and their followers. They will the ones putting into place this new organisation. I have read a few comments criticising the number of newly promoted Dai Shihan.

Strangely, the critics come from those who don’t have the promotion yet. That is wrong! Whatever Sensei does, he has a reason for it. If you don’t know it, it is because you don’t see the big picture.

He also insisted that we DO NOT use the internet to communicate about it but to do it face to face. I wrote about it and still, I get personal messages on the internet from people asking to know more. What is wrong with them? Sensei said NO internet!

Next Sunday, there will be a Bujinkan gathering in Atago. We will celebrate the 50 years of the creation of the Bujinkan. Sensei might (or might not) explain his new vision at this occasion. Until then, be patient.

I see all that I described above as a lack of respect for Sensei’s decisions. The Bujinkan is not a democracy, it belongs to Hatsumi Sōke and follows the Japanese ways. Hatsumi Sensei is our leader. He is your boss, and his decisions you have to respect them, even if you do not understand them.

Hatsumi Sensei is the Bujinkan. If you don’t agree with how he deals with his Bujinkan, then shut up and leave. There is nothing to argue. His words define what the Bujinkan is, and how it evolves. No one should discuss his choices.

You can exchange in private, but questioning his authority is not the way to go. We have a boss, we have chosen him, and your rank is not an excuse to rant about his actions.

Please remember that, accept it, or leave the Bujinkan.
No one is forcing you to stay if you don’t like it.

Who is the Boss? Hatsumi Sōke.

Kashiwa November 28th, 2017
From an angry Polar Bear

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