I teach Dai Shihan Only!
This is how Hatsumi Sensei opened the class today. Classes are still opened to anyone. But what he teaches now is for those who, supposedly, understand the Bujinkan martial arts.
I write “supposedly” on purpose. With over 800 Dai Shihanacross the planet, I doubt all have the vast knowledge to teach students. This is sad and has been like that since the creation of the Bujinkan.
So for the sake of this post, we will assume there are only good ones.
Teaching only to Dai Shihan means that Sensei is moving away from the techniques to enter a new aspect of Mutō Dori. I would call it “Mutōsai Dori” or grabbing without control. (1)
He spoke of “Mutō Dori no Sekai,” the “dimension of Mutō Dori.” This is a new layer of the Bujinkan structure based on the proper understanding of Juppō Sesshō. (2)
Before the class, he showed us some new swords as he is doing now. What he explained might help you to get what is above.
After repeating he now has more than 200 rare swords of value, he presented us with a Kogarasu Maru blade. Please note the return of the god crow Yatagarasu.
This type of sword has a second cutting edge on the last part of the Mune above the Kissaki. The name is Kissaki Moroha Zukuri. (3)
The Kogarasu Maru blades with Kissaki Moroha Zukuri are a thing from the past. They were in use until the 12th century. With the need for more efficiency on the battlefield, they disappeared. They came back into “fashion” around the 19th century. (4)
I liked that Sensei showed how to put the sword back correctly into the Saya. At least if you want to keep your scabbard in one piece, and keep all your fingers. If you sheath the blade like a regular one, you will cut the wood inside the Saya and more likely cut yourself.
Then he showed two new Ninjatō. From the outside, they look like regular swords. But with a smaller blade, you can draw it faster even in a confined space by pulling the Saya to the back with the left hand. He said, “this is the iai of ninjutsu.”
Later during class, he asked a few Dai Shihan to show a technique from Tōsui no kamae. The metallic blade of the Ninjatō was black to avoid reflection. The Ninja would use a special charcoal coating. The smell of the charcoal layer was specific to each Ryū. So you knew if your opponent was from the same Ryū or not, by the scent of his blade. And you never fight a fellow member.
During all the demonstrations today, he insisted on the fact that “the reality is often fake.” We have to be aware of the unexpected. This is Mutō Dori no Sekai, you control Uke “by keeping an uncontrolled attitude, you are ready for anything.” It is like the concept of “Banpen Fugyō” from the Gyokko Ryū.
This is the type of Budō he wants us, Dai Shihan, to understand. Anyone can fight one opponent in a dōjō. The real fight always includes more than one attacker, and often not facing you. They attack when you do not watch, and carry hidden weapons. Fair play in a fight exists only in movies. To survive, we have to develop our sixth sense, be aware, and expect anything.
When you watch Sensei, it looks like Uke loses not by Sōke’s moves, but by his own expectations. “Don’t think!” now makes sense. And this is the only way to fight.
I also noticed that Sensei changed his way of teaching since the last time I was there. He is correcting the Dai Shihan when they do wrong.
From his seat, he yells: “your kamae is too stiff,” “use your knees,” “stop doing a technique,” “move freely with your blade,” “stop thinking.” That is new and refreshing. My students will stop complaining.
So, my advice. If you are a Dai Shihan but don’t feel like being corrected, then don’t bother coming here because as he said, he is “teaching Dai Shihan only!”.
1/ 無統制, Mutōsai: uncontrolled
2/ 無刀取りの世界: Mutō Dori no Sekai then is “the dimension where the control is done by not controlling.”
3/ 切っ先諸刃空くり, Kissaki Moroha Zukuri: point of a double-edged blade thinning out