Ayase Tonight

Ayase Budokan

I am just coming back from the Ayase class (exceptionally on Friday). The first class with sensei after four months of  diet is always a good experience. Before the class I gave him his “official” Yûro Shi Tennô t-shirt made specially for him and he wore it right away. This is our little “post Paris Taikai ritual” that has been going on for a few years now.

As usual he asked me to open the class and we did a nice “flowing” movement receiving an attack in a very soft uke nagashi, moving uke off balance with the footwork, changing hand an ending in a sort of omote gyaku. No grab, no violence, only a nice nagare keeping uke in motion preventing him from attacking twice and taking his balance. On top of that sensei did it better with less movements and a better efficiency. I guess this is why he is the teacher and me the student. Every time I have the chance to demonstrate a technique I am always amazed at his ability to simplify my movements and to make it so good that I cannot reproduce it, even though it was my movement in the first place.  I did three other techniques during the class and  each time sensei was developing more flow by moving less. when you watch him moving you easily forget that he is over 80 years old. He looks like a young man!

His natural movement is really like “magic” as he is able to grab a form and to add life into it. When you are his uke you feel no danger at all and when he controls you on the ground he is hardly touching you, but you still cannot move. In fact this is not that you cannot move, you could but you do not want to move as if his presence manifested by a very slight physical contact was draining any intention of retaliation from your brain. All those who have had the chance to be his uke can tell you that. Power is expressed in such a subtle way that your decision process is blocked. In a way you feel so safe that you are not willing to move anymore.

Today during the class sensei covered many aspects of budô. He  insisted on the importance of understanding the juppô sesshô to be able to fight without fighting and to be in control of the utsuwa (– ki) with our tamashii ( – kon). He didn’t use these terms from last year but this is the easiest way to express it. In one technique that  I did that was ending with yoko nagare, he insisted that we move in a direction opposed to the other possible opponents. That is what I prefer in the bujinkan training. It is not only two fighters but always more than two fighting and our actions should unfold in a natural manner in order to stay protected in any directions potentially dangerous. The movement is limited and by using uke as a shield we are able to protect ourselves using our first opponent against his partner(s). This is to me the real difference between sport martial arts and true budô. In the bujinkan strength is not the point and violence is useless, the whole thing is to develop the correct attitude to help us flowing without thinking in  the action.

The true movement is not a technique it is a response to a situation where no preconceived answer can be applied. Sensei insisted once again in not grabbing the opponent. When you grab uke you are actually showing your intention, grabbing yourself, and freezing your flow. This is why he insisted again in the juppô sesshô concept in the sense of “negotiating” (折衝 – sesshô) in all directions (juppô = 10 directions). On controlling uke he said that we have to control uke not with our strength but with our legs activating the kûkan (空間). The known concept of yubi ippon jubun (one finger is enough) to control uke was used extensively to create the sanken (a series of three hits) followed rapidly in different part of the body and to prevent uke from thinking properly or understanding what is happening. We did also techniques against kicks and used the kake taoshi hitting uke to sai with sokki ken. Once again sensei insisted that we hit with the body not the knee. He used the same explanation when controlling uke on the ground “choke him with kûkan” by using your legs.

Finally he referred to henso jutsu explaining that historically there were 7 ways to disguise yourself (cf. sarugaku, kumuso, yamabushi, hokashi, sukke, tsunegata, akindo). But this was for us to understand that we must adapt the techniques to the type of clothes worn by the opponent. Part of our study of budô should be dedicated to learn how to adapt a given technique to the type of cloth the opponent is wearing.

In conclusion quite a nice class full of tips and tricks to work on in the future weeks.

Tomorrow at lunch I am invited with a few other jûgodan in his second house. I will take a few pictures of Takamatsu sensei’s memorial and of the lunch and share them with you on this blog (hopefully tomorrow). Stay tuned!

Be happy!

Ten Chi Jin: Teachers Are Responsible

Hatsumi Sensei told me last April that the bujinkan was now 200000 practitioners worldwide. Many dôjô claim to be “bujinkan” even though they ignore the true foundations of the bujinkan.

During my last seminar I had the opportunity to speak with a group of beginners students about the importance of the ten chi jin ryaku no maki and they really had no clue about it. One even told me that ” this is the first time he heard about it”. And he was already 6th kyû!

As teachers, this is our responsability to give the beginners the necessary basics so that their bujinkan path is successful. Many teachers never received the basics either but they were given high ranks. And when they began teaching their own students they duplicated the teachings they had received from their original instructor. Everyone is sincere but the results for the beginners are not good.

During the DKMS 2008 Hatsumi sensei insisted to the people attending the seminar that they focus on teaching the basics of the ten chi jin for the year 2009 as “many bujinkan students have never been exposed to the basics”. We are now in July 2010 and the students I meet in my seminars still do not know the fundamental techniques of the bujinkan.

Teachers: please teach the basics to your students, not the ones you think are the basics but the ones that were exposed by Hatsumi sensei back in 1983 in his first technical book: “togakure ryû ninpô taijutsu“. This book in Japanese was then translated into English (and greatly modified) in 1987. This should be the core of your teaching to the kyû belts.

The bujinkan is a fantastic system not because of its name but because it is the answer to actual fighting. It is not about strength or violence it is about footwork and simple body mechanics. Learn them and improve your skills dramatically!

In my next summer camp I will have written exams again every day so that the participants will know the names and content of the various sets of techniques included into the ten chin jin ryaku no maki. If there is no study there is no knowledge.

If you are a students remember that your teacher is the one guiding you on the bujinkan path but at the end of the day YOU are the one walking the path. Remember that you train for yourself for your own good and that no one is higher than you as we are all human beings. Get the knowledge you need where you an find it. respect your teacher for what he is giving you but please be pro-active and do not wait to receive the knowledge, as sensei used to say: “steal the knowledge where it is!”

Summer is a good moment to think back about our yearly achievements and to make new plans for the new season of training beginning in September. Please add “basics” in your plans.

Have a happy summer in the spirit of rokkon shôjô.

Jupi Summer Camp 2010 is Online!

Dear friends,

You can now register to the Jupi Summer Camp 2010 and be one of the 25 participants accepted.

The theme this year is nagare, the flow. And we will use the fundamentals of the tenchijin ryaku no maki and the feeling of rokkon shôjô to express it.

The Jupi Seminar has now become a legend in the bujinkan. Until last year this seminar was open to black belts only and mainly shidôshi.

This year in order to celebrate the 20th edition of this seminar, I have decided to open it to anyone with at least 1 year of training in the bujinkan. Now, if you are more experienced the better.

The seminar begins in 1 month so if you are interested check the website now and register to be one of the “happy fews”.


YSTT day 1

Today was the first day of the YSTT and we had a lot of fun even if the heat was terrible  over 33°. As always it was a real pleasure to give class with my three friends: Peter, Pedro & Sven.

We had the chance to meet hatsumi sensei and the bujinkan at the beginning and to create this friendship. But without sensei, his budô, and his vision of life this friendship would not have existed.

This taikai in Paris is my way to thank them all for this great opportunity.

Thank you sensei, thank you my friends.

Budomart.com Success

Note to the Budomart customers:

After the post on our new dvd products yesterday we have received so many orders that I am not sure to be able to supply the dvds immediately. Some delay might occur.

Some precisions concerning these new sets:

The Bujinkan Kyû Program (BKP) represents 19 dvds in 9 boxes, one per kyû. Each Kyû follows the grading requirements based upon the three volumes of the memento. The whole set of the BKP  covers the whole ten chi jin ryaku no maki and the basics of Tantô, Kunai, Shotô, Hanbô, Jo, Biken, Bô, Yari, Naginata.

The Buki Waza Basics for Tantô, Kunai, Shotô, Hanbô, Jo, Biken, Bô, Yari, Naginata represent 8 dvds in 3 boxes. Please note that the weapon footage is the same in the BKP and in the Buki set. The only difference is that the Buki includes the kaeshi waza (counter-techniques) and not the kyû from the BKP.

All products are available but I didn’t expect such a reaction. Therefore I must inform you that the first sets are reserved in priority for the sales at the Paris Taikai this week-end. Bur as I am in Paris tomorrow I will re-order all the dvds so that you will get them with only a few days of delay.

Thank you for your understanding.



Nagare: Sanshin to Mushin

As individuals our actions have very little chance to change the way the Universe is running because Nature does not take our human desires into account.  The meteorite that crashed in the Yucatan 65 millions years ago might have been obeying the laws of the Universe, the dinosaurs didn’t agree with it crushing them all!

As we cannot influence what is outside our Body&Mind (B&M) complex/entity, we must recenter our actions for the exclusive benefit of ourselves by flowing and drifting aimlessly within (or on top of) the outside world. The B&M has to learn to achieve “total coordination” in order to develop this natural ability to flow.

The 流れ(flow, nagare) is more than a movement it is above all an attitude in Life, and this is exactly what I have  been learning during the last 26 years with Hatsumi sensei. We train to suppress the thinking and analytical process in our actions. This is the secret of Hatsumi sensei’s budô.

In a real fight if you are (body + mind + intention + analysis) you are dead . Fighting is about reacting without intention 無想 (musô), and not about having a perfect body shape, a fantastic mind, and a lot of intentions!

Our first objective is to find this unity and  instead of being three (body, mind, and consciousness) to become ONE. This unity is possibly achieved by training thoroughly the fundamentals and the basics of the bujinkan.

Unity is  結束 (kessoku) but the first kanji is 結 (like in yûgen) from which we understand that from the ONE we can find the invisible nagare and become ZERO.

When the practitioner reaches this level of “oneness” he gain access to the “zero state” of 無心 (mushin) he can flow without intentions on the stream of Life.

And the proof is that  無心, mushin has also the meaning of “innocence”, like the innocence of a 3 year old kid (cf. sanshin no kata). leads to mushin.

“3” becomes “1” and “1” becomes “0”

Budomart update

Dear friends,

I want to inform you that we have just released the new sets of dvds from 5th kyû to 1st kyû. Each set covers all the techniques (taijutsu and weapons required for the BKP.

The weapon techniques are also available in separate sets that include the counter techniques for the techniques of : jo, biken, bô, yari, and naginata.

They are regrouped in 3 sets: short weapons, medium size weapons and long weapons.

Please visit the www.budomart.com for more details.

Bear vs Lion: 1-0

Yelling & retreating

This week-end in Budapest after a nice seminar organized by Lazslo, we went to a zoo where I had the honour of meeting the “king of the animals”, a baby lion (5 months old). I have been living with cats all my life (I have 3 cats) and this chance offered by Lazslo to meet an actual lion was something I was eager to experience.

Before I entered the cage, another man was playing with him and it was nice to watch. I was hoping to have the same kind of playing time with the young lion. But as you can see on the picture, when I entered the cage, the little guy got so frightened of me that he stepped back and didn’t want to getting close to me. At what point he eventually  yelled and “roared” at me while getting protected behind the leg of his trainer. It took him 30 minutes to come to me but he never stayed. When he was away, his eyes and ears were always turned towards me.

The trainer said that this was the first time she was seeing this reaction with a human as this is the typical attitude of the young lion when facing his lion father. This little guy was afraid of me even though my attitude was very open. Some will say that this is also why young students are afraid of me. 🙂

Nevertheless I found that interesting and sad. Interesting because it proves that the sakki might be really something that is changing our attitude, and sad because I would have loved to play with this oversized kitty as I do with my own cats.

When we undergo the sakki test, something is revealed and grows and unfolds more over the years, this is why training is so important. Truth does not lie in the technique but in the attitude.

Keep going!

The King is Back

Controlling or healing?

In a few weeks now, Peter King will join the Shi Tennô Taikai in Paris like every year.

Peter is one of the oldest students of Hatsumi sensei and I am proud to count him amongst my best friends not only in the Bujinkan but also in Life.

The shi tennô: Peter, Sven, Pedro and Arnaud were friends in kokoro long before being friends in budô. As far as I remember, our friendship revealed itself when the four of us became the first Europeans promoted to 10th dan in the 90s’. Today everyone can easily consider becoming a jûdan or more but back then it was quite a huge responsibility to take.

Peter has always been there to support me even though he had a lot more experience in the bujinkan than me. To help me, Peter would often come to Paris to teach my students when I was in Japan, and my students use to train with him and to learn his “efficient” real fight oriented taijutsu. Of all the teachers I know, Peter is one of the few with real street fight experience as he spent a few decades in the wild parts of London as a police officer. Remember that until recently the bobbies were not allowed to carry any weapon… but the bad guys had weapons. So each encounter with a thug was like a true sakki test where failure meant death or injury.

Today after a long career in the police, Peter is a therapist and is the best Amatsu Tatara (he is menkyo kaiden) teacher you can find in the West. Knowing how to destroy he is now a healer. A nice example of inyo!

Peter who has been in Japan recently and will teach us at the YSTT, and I know for sure that we will, once again, learn a lot from him. It is still possible to attend this 3 day July seminar with the shi tennô in Paris, Fri 9th, Sat 10th, Sun 11th.

The only thing to do is to register here.

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