Paris taikai registration opened

IMG_20120420_142351Registration for the Paris taikai 2013 is open.

Since 2002 the Bujinkan France invites you to share 3 days of training in Paris with the Shi Tennô: Pedro Fleitas, Sveneric Bogsater, Peter King, and Arnaud Cousergue in our three Dôjô located in the city of Vincennes.
Each year around 150 Bujinkan participants gather there to share training and insights with the Shi Tenno under the Parisian summer sun.
As always lunches are included, tshirts are included, and free sleeping at the Dôjô.

Come to Paris and enjoy some memorable moments on the mats and outside and discover the French Capital.
This taikai happens around the French National Day (July14th), which means:

  • many fireworks,
  • a lot of dancing,
  • good time.

Places are limited so don’t wait too long!

Registration is mandatory to participate:

Bô jutsu: Weapon of Consciousness

When in 1993 Hatsumi sensei began to teach the now famous “themes of the year” he decided to begin with the study of bô jutsu. It opened a five year cycle dedicated to the weaons of the bujinkan.Amongst all the weapons of the bujinkan the bô jutsu is the most complete of all with an extensive set of techniques and levels that influences greatly our taijutsu both at the technical and spiritual level.Sensei speaks of “roku shaku bô jutsu” (六尺棒術) and this is the title of his first bô dvd. But many see only the size of the weapon. It is right to say that in the past the roku shaku was the size of the weapon. As you know even if the Japanese government began to follow the metric system at the beginning of the 19th century he kept alive the kanejaku (矩尺), the old measurement system. Even today people refer to the size of a room in number of tatami (疊).One tatami represents the surface of a measurement unit called the “ken” (間) and which has a length of 6 shaku. Until the 19th century all temples, castles, and houses were built with this unit. For more on this please look for “kanejaku” on the net.

But when it comes to the training we have to keep in mind that Japanese people before the 20th century were not tall (often around 150 cm). So, for us westerners, in order to keep the same ratio size/length in the buki waza (武器), our long staff should have a length of at least 2m. Note that buki (技) means also technique or art…

Now, when sensei speaks of the roku shaku (六尺) he is speaking of shiki (識), consciousness (vijnana in buddhism). Sensei implies that bô jutsu is the key to reach shiki (識) the 6th element of the gogyô, consciousness. By training the many waza of bô jutsu you are in fact developing your consciousness and become able to use it in every aspect of your life. By introducing this concept of shiki back in 2005, sensei forced us to do a major leap in our understanding of the bujinkan arts.

And remember that training the weapon -omote (表)- develop our consciousness of life – ura (裏). This is why bô jutsu is so important in the bujinkan.

Bô jutsu is the first step to free our taijutsu from the form. But to free yourself from something you must first be “trapped” by it. But how is it possible to achieve formlessness from something you don’t know?

We have to learn and study a lot to get the forms correctly until we can strip the forms off.

The bujinkan is a paradoxical system in which we are looking for something “natural” by studying things that are “not natural”. In fact the bô is the entry gate for the weapons and the necessary step to take in order to improve our whole taijutsu.

Until now no tools were available to review all those techniques this is why we have decided to record them all. We have also added for each technique, the kaeshi waza (返し技) to show you how to win against the bô. It took us four days of recording to do so and many bruises too.

With (online streaming) or with (dvds) you can now discover or rediscover the richness of the bô jutsu from the kukishin ryû. We recorded all the techniques (11 dvds) to help you unleash the power of your taijutsu with this fantastic weapon.

The bô (棒) is the link to the ten (天) and the chi (地) to become a real jin (人), a shiki no jin, a conscious human being (識の人間).

By the way did you notice that the kanji for “ken” (間) is identical to the second kanji of human being (間) …

Gyokko Ryû: The Origin of Budô

Hanno banitsu no kamae

I recently finished the recording of the Gyokko ryû Kosshi jutsu and to prepare myself correctly I went through all the notes I took over the past years, the dvds by sensei, my own seminars and the articles I committed for the internet. The Kosshijutsu of Gyokko ryû (and other ryûha) have been studied in the Bujinkan since my first visit to Noda in 1990.

Over the past twenty years we have been studying the Gyokko ryû densho quite a lot but never did we have the chance to go through a full system in one time. In 2001 during the « school cycle » (1998-2002) we discovered the richness of this fighting system considered by Takamatsu sensei as the root of budô. Hatsumi Sensei in his « unarmed fighting techniques of the samurai » states that: « it is taught that Gyokko ryû Kosshi jutsu is the foundation of Japanese budô » (kodansha, chapter 3, page 46).

Having studied the taijutsu we applied our knowledge of Kosshi jutsu on the in 2005 when we entered the year of kasumi no hô (the fog principle) and studied the kasumi no bô (the moves like the fog). Even though those techniques were coming from the Kukishin ryû, we applied the feeling and principles of the Gyokko ryû Kosshi jutsu.

As always, all previous learning is added to the already known and the understanding of 2010 is far from what we learnt back in 2001. But the key is to see how sensei changed our general understanding of those techniques back in 2001. And I have decided to publish again the following article written in 2001 right after I came back from a trip to Japan in April.

I have added comments to the original text, they are preceded by « 2010 ». The original text always begins with « 2001 ».

Here it is:

2001: With the new century Hatsumi Sensei entered in a new era in the Bujinkan System. The theme for this year is Kosshi jutsu, mainly studied through the techniques of the Gyokko Ryû. From the notes I received from friends in Noda and from my personal experience last April, I will try to expose here what is, for me, the new approach taught by Sensei. As usual this text will give my point of view but not any official explanation by Sensei. If you do not agree, maybe it is because I am wrong.

First, we have to understand that the techniques in the Gyokko ryû are only excuses to demonstrate the spirit and reality of the Kosshi jutsu. In this respect, it is not different from our study of Koppô jutsu of 2000, where the techniques of the Koto ryû where only an excuse to express the knack of Koppô jutsu.

2010: Even though we have studied the techniques of the Gyokko ryû, the principles explained are also available for the other ryûha. In 2003 sensei explained that the study of the « school cycle » was not to learn the techniques of the schools but only to understand the five pilars of Budô taijutsu: taihen jutsu, daken taijutsu, koppô jutsu, kosshi jutsu, & jû taijutsu.

2001: Second, we have to understand fully the reasons that motivated sensei to develop this new approach. Obviously all teachers had already the techniques written on paper as we have been studying the techniques of the Gyokko ryû extensively over the years (sic.). But what are the main differences? Kamae are different, physical attitudes are different, inner feelings are different, kamae are different in both their physical and mental expressions. Sensei referred to some of these new kamae in his writings (cf. « wisdom of life » by Joe Maurantonio) but he did not give any explanation to them.

The four kamae are the following:

  • Ten Ryaku Uchu Gassho no kamae,
  • Chi Ryaku Fûten Goshin Gassho no kamae,
  • Jin Ryaku Chi Sui Ka Henka* no kamae,
  • and the most important one Tenchi Inyo no kamae.

2010: In fact, one must no forget that a kamae is a still picture of a moment. Those “3 +1” kamae listed above are in fact hira no kamae (ten ryaku uchu gassho, fûten goshin gassho, hanno banitsu) moving through tenchi inyo in one of the 3 basic kamae (ichimonji, hichô, jûmonji).

2001: In my understanding (of Japanese) ten ryaku uchu gassho can be translated as “prayer for divine transmission coming from space”.

Chi ryaku fûten goshin gassho means “defense prayer from the either the vault of Heaven or the whole world”.

Jin ryaku chi sui ka henka ryaku no kamae* means “attitude transmitted to mankind from the endless variations of Earth, Water and Fire”;

Tenchi inyo no kamae means “attitude of the link between Heaven and Earth and Yin and Yang“.

2010: To make it simple (kiss) we can now say that:

  • Ten ryaku uchu gassho is the ten going down on the opponent
  • Fûten goshin gassho is the chi lifting the opponent
  • Hanno banitsu is the jin moving forward to stop the opponent.

Please note that until 2001, all our movements were always going backwards. We started to move forward with the Gyokko ryû!

2001: Physical movements are different in respect to these kamae. The Gyokko ryû is now divided into Ten, Chi, Jin (instead of Jo Ryaku, Chû Ryaku and Ge Ryaku no Maki previously). Ten Ryaku is expressed through Uchu Gassho; Chi Ryaku is expressed through Fûten Goshin Gassho no kamae and Jin Ryaku is expressed through Chi, Sui Ka Henka Ryaku no kamae*. Each one of these kamae with their physical expressions lead to a new inner feeling. These kamae are “waiting stances” i.e. when you wait for the opponent to attack.

2010: Today we know that each one of the 3 hira (ten uchu gassho, fûten goshin gassho and hanno banitsu) are to be executed in relation to the 3 levels of ten, chi, jin. In his book « unarmed fighting techniques of the samurai », sensei uses both terminologies and call the 3 levels jo, chû, ge or ten, chi, jin. It seems that both are correct.

2001: The last kamae, tenchi Inyo no kamae is manifested when moving from the waiting stances, you assume tenchi inyo no kamae when moving in the attack, there you link the first stances (uchu gassho, fûten goshin, chi sui ka henka ryaku*) to the movement. Even if you do not show it (kokoro gamae instead of tai gamae).
Inner feelings also change, each attitude develop a feeling perceived by Uke that will lead him into his own destruction, uchu gassho gives unity (body and mind) to Tori. Fûten goshin gives power in the movements. Chi sui ka henka ryaku* frightens Uke. Let us now go beyond our regular senses. If you were able to see the energies from the body, you would notice that each of these kamae acts as a physical “mudra”. Uchu gassho builds a beam of white energy coming from Heaven and surrounding your whole body (like the teletransportation stuff in Star Trek). With fûten goshin gassho, Tori disappears from Uke‘s perceptions, Uke can only senses a very thin beam of light coming from the ground, Earth (it is like water coming from a tap). Tori when assuming this kamae moves like the wind. Chi sui ka henka ryaku no kamae* sends a feeling of fear to Uke. Uke‘s mind (and actions) is trapped by the stance. It is like a funnel of energy coming from Tori‘s body. You can think that I am exaggerating but this is the truth. Now these movements would be meaningless if there was nothing more. And there is a lot more. Everything you do from now on should imply a new understanding: “Banpen fûgyo“. Literally it means “10000 changes, no surprise”. This is the key to the understanding of Kosshi jutsu. Keeping this principle in mind will allow you to finally get to the “Shizen gyô un ryû sui” or “ever adapted movement” (this is what we often call the “natural movement”).

The Japanese are more concerned about the physical Nature where the Chinese are more concerned about divine Nature. For example, “Sui” is the water coming from the sky (Heaven, Ten) where “Mizu” is the water you find on the ground (Earth, Chi). “Hi” is the fire from the sun (Heaven, Ten) where “Ka” is the bonfire on the ground (Earth, Chi); “” is the wind from the sky (Heaven, Ten) where “Kaze” is the wind on the ground level (Earth, Chi). This “physical” understanding of life gives the Japanese a definitely different system of concepts.

2010: In the « unarmed fighting techniques of the samurai » the logic of chi, sui ka, fû, kû is different on the first edition (chi mizu, hi, kaze, kû) compared to the second edition. This is the way it was written in the original ten chi jin of 1987 (in the new edition of the book I changed it and put the names in use today). Strangely if you superpose the « ten approach of the Chinese » and the « chi approach of the Japanese » you get an interesting diagram…

Gyokko is Life?

2001: If we go even deeper in the understanding of the new Gyokko ryû, we gradually make ours these concepts of gravity (uchu gassho) and wind (fûten goshin gassho). These feelings do not replace each other; they are added one to the other. To make myself clear, I would say that the three “transmissions” Ten, Chi, Jin are like the three skins of an onion. Ten is Ten, Chi is Ten plus Chi, Jin is Ten plus Chi plus Jin. This is a new sanshin no kata. At the Jin level you can expect the movements to be even more natural. As we do not know yet the inner feeling of the jin ryaku this is only a guess.[note: the third level was taught after April 2001]

2010: In my July 2001 trip sensei explained more about the gravity concept. In fact the Gyokko ryû deals with three concepts that are three different understanding of the same object.

  • Inryoku: magnetism 引力
  • Jûryoku: gravity 重力
  • Jiryoku: attraction/repulsion 磁力

Those 3 concepts explain three different aspects of reality. When teaching the Gyokko ryû sensei stressed the importance of fûsui (風水, feng shui); i.e. wind and water. All movements must express the flow of the wind (ten) and the water (chi) in order to counter jin.

*this kamae was then called Hanno banitsu no kamae (cf. « Unarmed fighting techniques of the samurai » page 46. I have a written note from 2001 by sensei where he wrote it differently « hanno bon itsu ».

New Dvds Are Coming Soon

Tentô Uchi

We finished the Yari Jutsu of the Kukishin Ryû and the taijutsu of the Gyokko ryû. The videos are being edited right now and will soon be availalbe on koimartialart and budomart.

In the last year we have been quite productive:

  • Ten Ryaku no Maki: short and extended version (4 dvds),
  • Chi Ryaku no Maki: short and extended version (3 dvds),
  • Jin Ryaku no Maki: short version (an extended version is being prepared),
  • Buki Waza basics for small weapons: tantô, Kunai, Shotô, (2 dvds)
  • Buki Waza basics for medium weapons: hanbô, jo, biken, (3 dvds)
  • Buki Waza basics for long weapons: bô, yari, naginata, (3 dvds)
  • Nawa Jutsu basics: nawame (knots) and rin (loops)
  • Gyokko Ryû Kosshi Jutsu: the first level is being duplicated now and should be available in a few days on budomart, (2 dvds)
  • Bô jutsu of the Kukishin Ryû: the complete set (ready for Christmas), (btw 6 and 10 dvds!)
  • Yari Jutsu of the Kukishin Ryû: the complete set (ready beginning og 2011), (btw 4 and 6 dvds)
  • Gyokko Ryu Kosshi Jutsu: the second and third levels are recording and will be available as soon as possible,  (4 dvds)
  • Manriki Gusari Basics: A general overview on the chain and the basics of the Masaki Ryû that Sensei learnt with Nawa sensei.

And I am not speaking of the “Foundation” series covering all the techniques Kyû per Kyû from 9th Kyû to 1st Kyû. (18 dvds)

We are planning to record soon a ne version of the Sanshin no Kata and of the Kihon Happô (Gyokko Ryû style) and a set of dvds on hanbô Jutsu. After that we will move to the other schools. The next schools are either Koto Ryû and then Shinden Fudô Ryû. Which one do you prefer to have next?

Be happy!

Arnaud Cousergue

India Seminars

Last August


I arrived yesterday in Bangalore to give two seminars. The monsoon is finished and the weather is cloudy but nice. This is a big change compared to my last trip here in June.

Our Indian Buyu are improving and developing fast. They have received Darren recently and Robin will be visiting them next November.

The first one begins tomorrow and will be covering the Gyokko Ryû Kosshi Jutsu. Te Gyokko ryû is a fantastic fighting system that apparently is theorigin of all Budô in Japan (cf. “Unarmed fighting techniques of the Samurai” by Hatsumi Sensei). Distancing and the structure of the school are brilliant!

The second seminar will cover the Yari Jutsu from the Kukishinden Ryû with the Kaeshi Waza. I really love the Yari because of its powerful thrusts and versatility. After the Bô Jutsu “marathon” of June, the participants are ready to move up to the next level.

These two seminars will be recorded and will be available soon on budomart and on koi.

DVDS: The first level of Gyokko Ryû and another one on Nawa Jutsu will be soon available. Unfortunately, the bô jutsu of the Kukishin Ryû will not be ready in time before I leave. For your information, the Bô jutsu after cleaning is 20 hours long of raw material; it should cover around 10 dvds!

It should be ready for Christmas so now you know what to ask Santa.

Be Happy!

Mistakes: The Path To Success

Senô sensei during the break

What everyone love about Jackie Chan’s movies are those last minutes at the end during the end credits of the film where we can watch the mistakes happening during the stunts sequences as if we were witnessing the shooting action.

Good stunts require many takes and sometimes end up in accidents. Once edited in the final version, the many “wrong” sequences are put into the action and everything looks smooth and perfect.

But we know this is a lie. Perfection is hard to get and will never be available on a one try movement a lot of time time, effort, and repetitive tries are necessary. Quality is an acquired result not a given one.

During Senô sensei’s class on Saturday he spoke of making mistakes during training. In the West through what Society teaches us we have been trained since kinder garden to do our best to avoid mistakes.

In fact, making mistakes is so bad that we often prefer to do nothing than to take the risk of an error. It is often related to our self esteem and ego and to the fact that we always want to look good in front of others. This is not the best way to learn budô. Thanks to Hatsumi sensei I learnt this error acceptance as it is part of sensei’s teaching. Many times in the past I would come to sensei telling him that I didn’t understand the movement he just did and many times he would stop the class and send me in the middle of the dôjô asking me to demonstrate it!

pre class discussion

How can you explain something you do not understand? You cannot! So you adapt your misunderstanding to the situation and do your best. The results at first were not good at all but through the many years with him they eventually improved and I grew up in confidence and expertise. It is good to accept to make mistakes because it makes you stronger. The judgement of others does not matter. You live and act for your own life.

Senô sensei’s approach to this “error” understanding is nice and can be easily applied in our daily lives (as long as we are ready to accept the consequences of our actions).

Basically Senô sensei explained that when we are discovering a new set of movements we are often wrong and make many “big” mistakes.

But through repetition though, the “size” of the mistake melts down until the point where the error level can be tolerated not for winning but for us not to lose. (Side note: this is why the Japanese shihan often ask us to train more slowly).

To make myself clear let’s say we do a movement for the first time with a 60% error level (EL). After a hundred repetition the EL percentage drops down to 30%. Add another 100 repetitions later we reach an EL of 10%, and a hundred repetitions later we get an acceptable rate of 5% EL.

After a thousand tries the movement will still have to be improved but the error level will be so low that only you will be able to see it and that it will make no difference on the outcome of the confrontation.

with Senô sensei

Our movements will never be perfect but through a consistent” trial and error” procedure we reach an error tolerance level (ETL) allowing us to make the movement correctly enough to survive in a real encounter. The beauty of this ETL training in the dôjô is that there is no risk at all (for us) even if the process takes many hours of training.

The dôjô is the place to study the movements so that they become permanent engrams available when necessary. Now consider the dôjô to be a laboratory for experiences and real life the field where to apply these acquired engrams (if not physically at least psychologically).

In the office, at the university or school, with your family and friends, your behavior will be naturally modified by the knowledge you acquired through hard work in the dôjô.

The ETL concept developed by Senô sensei is applicable to any activity in life. The acceptance of mistakes in our behavior frees us from stagnation and drives us faster towards the path of success.

The more we accept to make mistakes, the less we make mistakes. This is the best way to “create” and find the chance that sensei often speak about.

Be happy to be wrong as you are going to be right!

Rokkon shôjô!

Summer camp France

with Shiva (8th Dan) and Eugenio (10th Dan)

Based on the new discoveries here in Japan I have decided to modify lightly the initial progam of the JSC2010 and to include a few things seen here in Japan.

Even though the seminar will mainly deal with tenchijin basics and tachi in the understanding of the nagare, we will also review the many interesting things (techniques and concepts) that I am learning here.

There are still a few places left for the summer camp (JSC2010) I will give after I am coming back from Japan.

To participate please visit the JSC2010 website and register online at budomart

See you there!

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