Basics & Fundamentals (4)

Seigan no Kamae by Chris Bernsdorf (Ger)

Kamae is attitude” was written a few years ago, this is an updated version of it.

Budo Taijutsu begins with the study of “kamae” or body posture. This first introduction to budô gives us a strong physical foundation, which allow us to grasp the true essence of natural body movement. Unfortunately with time passing, we seem to forget the value of training the basics in general and particularly the body postures. In each Bujinkan Ryûha there is a set of given kamae that is called kurai-dori. If we translate “kurai” and then “dori” the meaning is “about grabbing” and it looks that it is dealing only with the physical aspect of fight.  But a good dictionary tells you that “kuraidori” in one word means “positional notation”, like the digits after the comma. This induces precision and it translates by “precise notes for postures”. It is a lot different from kurai + dori !

Even though the Ten Chi Jin ryaku no maki has a basic set of 9 kamae, each particular ryû has differences which depend upon the time where the kamae were created, and the evolution of warfare they had to adapt to. How do you “Ukemi” (receive, dodge, absorb) a bullet?  So kamae is not only physical, the mind gives also value to the posture.  “kamae” means posture or attitude, so apart from the “physical attitude” we now have to consider the “mental attitude”. This is why when teaching the basics we speak of “tai gamae” and “kokoro gamae“. The tai gamae is the body posture where the kokoro gamae is the mental attitude.

If we broaden this understanding it can be also understood as our “attitude in life”. Having good kamae in the dôjô is nice nut it is even better to have a good kamae in life. This is our human attitude that makes us different. Having a good technical ability is not enough and from my perspective too many do not have a good attitude in life as human beings. If you thoroughly study your kamae on the mats they will change your attitude in life. When sensei says that our goal “in the Bujinkan is to create better human beings” he means that the study of the tai gamae will change your kokoro gamae, not only in the dôjô but also in life. Even though there is no spiritual teaching in the Bujinkan, no link to any religion or mystical system, Hatsumi sensei has created and transmitted a powerful tool to help us become true human beings (bujin).

As always there is always more in the ura of things than the omote let you think there were.

Photon & Stardust: the Spirit of Movement

the essence of movement

Once again I would like to review  a metaphore used by sensei not long ago. He spoke about “photon & stardust” to me, it is the best way to explain how things should happen in the dôjô.

From our perspective, a photon is invisible. Stardust in space is also invisiable to us. A photon is moving at the speed of light in space and stardust is moving also at a permanent speed. Now until they meet there is o way for you to see them. When they collide a spark of light is created. This spark is the movement/technique. Both the photon and the stardust become visible when the spark of light appears. Before the collision they “are non existent” (to our senses), after they are not existent any more. When you fight your opponent what happens is identical.

In  “l‘esprit du geste“* this is what I tried to explain. There is no thinking process, no intention, only a spark of light. In a fight, there is no technique there is only an opportunity of possibility. It is only a probability of occurrence. Adapt!

Chi does not think

Sui does not think

Ka does not think

does not think

does not think

So why do you think? the sixth element shiki (consciousness) appears, it is not the product of the analytical brain. It is given as everything in Nature, natural movement is only that.

*the book is now translated into English and  soon available.

Tachi Tips & tricks (6)

No harm

Yesterday during my seminar, one student was waving his sword held to his wrist by the rope at the tsuka kashira and the ring at the end broke releasing the sword.

Training weapons are NOT real ones and might break easily. Do not get over excited while training and keep high security levels. There was no harm but an accident could have happened.

We are now training with metallic blades instead of padded ones. Therefore our ways of training should adapt accordingly. Permanent adaptation is not to be applied only during the techniques but should include all the elements of the class in the dôjô. Adaptation is what tachi kumiuchi is teaching us. Stop thinking always in the same ways. Last month sensei said: “don’t hold to what you know or you won’t improve your skills”. The key point is to adapt.

A weapon designed for training purpose is still a weapon. Please be careful. You can influence the actions of a sentient being during the fight but there is no possibility to affect an in-animated object.

Be aware of this.