Sven at the YSTT2010

My very good friend Sveneric Bogsater

Sveneric is one of my best friends. He is a very close student of sensei and has started the bujinkan even before I began training!

I consider Sven like my elder brother as his teachings are always full of wisdom and help me to improve my understanding of the art. I am privileged to teach with him quite often and this is always a great moment of learning, sharing and friendship.

Sven will share his knowledge with Peter, Pedro and myself at the YSTT once again this year in July. If you want to attend to the YSTT (see details on this blog’s pages) or register now there are a few places available.

Attend three days of training in Paris and learn from Sven and the “yûro shi tennô” as sensei called us.

29 days left to attend to the YSTT


Ten Chi Jin Ten


Your taijutsu is created by the steady study of the ten chi jin ryaku no maki program which contains all the basics of the nine schools of the bujinkan. All fundamentals have been regrouped  into one single syllabus in order to give the beginners a chance to understand quickly what it is they have to learn and master.

But what is happening after you learnt the ten chi jin? You learn the schools,  you learn the weapons, you learn the juppô sesshô. In fact if you look at it carefully you should see the first stage  of your progression through the ten chi jin as the first circle of a metallic spring (see picture). Through the taihen kûden shinden succession we finish the first circle of learning and begin another one. This second cycle of learning begins with another ten but of a higher level.

Each circle is following the previous one and is linked to it. Life is similar, each action we take determines and/or influences our futures choices and actions.

To answer the original question as to know what is coming after the ten chi jin? the answer is always another ten and then another chi and jin, and so endlessly.

Walking Good

My feet with the tenchijin and the chijin

One of my friends who has been living in Japan for many years told me once that sensei was not teaching taijutsu but mejutsu (eye technique). By training we learn to watch things differently, to think outside of the box.

For the last ten years I have traveled the world quite a lot from snow countries such as Canada, Finland or Sweden to hot countries such as Brasil, Mexico or India; and because what we are taught is to see through the appearances of things, I noticed that people do not walk the same. In fact we can say that depending on the ten, the way the jin use the chi is different.

Aruki waza is part of our basic training but not so many students try to understand the importance of it. The way you walk can save your life and the waza should adapt to the reality on the tenchi in which you are. To make myself clear I took a picture of my feet to illustrate this article. Footwork is the basis of the bujinkan taijutsu. We should see the foot as being divided into three parts related to the tenchijin: The heel is chi, the ball of the foot is jin, and the toes are ten.

When you move your feet on the ground this knowledge allow you to pivot from any combination of this 3X2 matrix. You can move tenten (toes/toes), tenchi (toes/heel), tenjin (toes/ball) etc. In fact you have 3² possibilities of walking. Now the interesting thing on top of that is the type of ground you are walking on. One day in Canada I noticed that the Canadians were attacking the ground “flat” with no unrolling of the sole (tenchijin as one). I confirmed this observation recently in Finland. A few weeks ago in the the Indian jungle we went to some kind of procession in a deep valley of the Nilgiri (the blue mountains of Blavatsky) and the tribal people we met were barefoot and were attacking the ground only in a chijin sequence, letting the toes coming long after ground contact. What I got from these two observations can be related to the Japanese and the funny ways they designed the waraji where the toes are out of the sole protection.

To synthesize, in snow countries we attack the ground as one, perpendicularly to avoid falling; and in hot countries we attack the ground from heel to ball to balance the footwork and ground our body.

The picture shows the diagonal heel/ball to learn how to walk correctly. But understand also that your way of walking is giving informations to your opponent. Last month I welcomed a new student in the dôjô and watching his footwork, even though I knew nothing about him, I told him that he had spent his youth in the mountains. You should have seen his face fullof astonishment when he said: “how do you know that?”

After this discovery I decided to change/modify my footwork and I trained walking in the streets, it changed totally the way I am balancing my body.

The bujinkan is not about techniques it is about learning to see.

Kan (勘 – perception) will lead you to become kanpeki (完璧 – perfect).

Oh, by the way, the 3² matrix is 9…

Tachi Tips & Tricks (8)

When you get attuned to the tachi, you discover that it is using the specificities of all the other weapons.

The tachi is a hanbô, a jo, a , a yari, a naginata … and sometimes a sword…

You lock the opponent like you would do with the hanbô,

You control the distances like you would do with the jo or the ,

You stab like you would do with the yari, the naginata or the sword.

Like an hourglass, the tachi is the beginning and the end (in-yo) of our weapon training. All weapons lead to the tachi and the tachi leads to the understanding of a new training dimension for the weapons. The whole training of the past 18 years begin to make sense. We learned the ways of the weapons (1993-1997), then the ways of the taijutsu: taihen, dakentai, koppô, kosshi, jûtai (1998-2002), then the ways of the shin/kokoro with the juppô sesshô (2003-2007). Then it was menkyô kaiden, saino konki, and this year rokkon shôjô with the discovery of tachi waza mixed with happiness!

But the tachi (大刀) is also the tachi (質 – quality, nature of a person) and tachi (館 – a castle or a nobleman) so the choice of this weapon might actually be more profound than it seems and it might imply that the bujinkan has now reached the point where we can all become kishi (騎士 – knights) the archetype of the nobleman; or the kishi(旗幟 -flag, banner, emblem) of a new era in the development of mankind. Like the sand passing through the middle of the hourglass the triangle of man can link the opposite triangle of the divine: kanjin kaname.

Thank you sensei for bringing us so far. 🙂

Errors are Correct

The more important things we learn through training in the bujinkan is that it is ok to make mistakes. By accepting that we are not perfect we can improve our skills.

The errors we make in the dôjô are our best teachers as long as we do our best to learn from them and correct our attitude (kamae). And then hopefully we will not make them outside when fighting time is coming.

Shu Ha Ri” can therefore be understood as: do, make mistakes, get rid of the mistakes. Whatever we do in life is about learning and our errors create our success.

Isn’t it why we keep repeating: “shikin haramitsu dai komyô“?


Enter the Dragon (2)

Technique without "goat" feeling is nothing

On Facebook one friend wrote: “without understanding what juppô sesshô is and its relation to the dragon and the tiger, you will stay forever in the mechanic world and never understand what is biomechanics” and another friend commented: “any movement you do is always biomechanical. Impossible to do a non-biomechanical movement by definition of the word.” I thank you both for your comments as they allow me to be more precise.

First of all, both are right and wrong. To the first one I would say that the dragon movement is by definition using the body and therefore belongs to the mechanical world. But to the second one I would object that a movement might not always be mechanical. When I am “moved” by the beauty of the landscape, a piece of music, or any artisitic masterpiece; I am moved but I do not physically move (except if I faint). 🙂

As always our language is limited and carries different conceptual schemes (cf. Quine: “word and object”) allowing various realities to cohabit. From the omote perspective, comment #2 is true; but from the ura perspective comment #1 is also true.

We should focus more on what we do than trying to give the exact definition of what we can do. Entering the dragon is more a feeling, a kankaku than a real movement but without the knowledge developed in the waza it is useless.

A Japanese shihan said to us once: “in the bujinkan you need to train both kankaku and waza as they are the two legs allowing to go forard on the path. If you focus on one leg only and exclude the other one you will not move forward very long”.

The bujinkan path you have chosen to follow is long and I can assure you that you will definitely need your two legs to go further.

Becoming a dragon does not mean that you will stop walking and fly instead!… but  who knows?…

Enter the Dragon

tiger and dragon...

Asian martial arts often refer to the opposition/unity of the tiger and the dragon. In 2003, the first year of the  juppô sesshô cycle, we learnt that the dragon is in the sky or ten and the tiger on the ground or chi.

We also learnt that the dragon was capturing while the tiger was hitting.

These two symbolic animals are showing the duality of possibilities offered to us at any given moment.

This is what sensei explained and you can find his explanation  in one of my books: koteki ryûda juppô sesshô hibun no kami. At the beginning of the year, sensei gave a copy of the densho to some of us and I was lucky to spend a lot of time with him and that he answered my questions. This link between tiger and dragon is paradoxically not an opposition but has to be understood as an union.

And once you are aware of these dual aspects in your Self  (brain & body can also be seen as the tiger and the dragon), you have to fuse them together in order to create Oneness. It is like the in-yo taichi.

The highest level of budô can only be achieved when you become able to “enter the dragon”. Like the “shu ha ri” supposing to mean: “learn, master, discard”; it can be seen as “shu hari” : to see the “truth by piercing through the appearances” (sensei April 2010).

When the duality of the ten-chi disappears you have one reality left, you became a dragon. Maybe this is why sensei gave to some of us dragon names in 1993. When you train in this year of the tiger please do not to forget the “crouching” dragon inside of you.

And remember that if dragons can fly they can land too, but that tigers will never fly.

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