Sanshin: Body & Mind Are Unity

Saino Tamashii Utsuwa
In the year 2009 the theme was  才能 魂 器 “saino konki” or “saino tamashii utsuwa”. It just occurred to me today that this sanshin is in fact the essence of the tenchijin. The true Sanshin!
These three words can have the following meanings: ability, soul, container. If we understand easily the meanings of ability and soul, the container, until today, was limited for me to the space in which the encounter is taking place. 
But what if in fact if this utsuwa is also defining the body. I think that both (space and body) are correct, but here I want to dwell a little more on this new understanding of the body being the container.
When we study the martial arts, we often come down to the sentence “body and mind are one”. If we assume that this “body/mind” which is not duality but unity, is in fact the expression of a superior inyo (yinyang); then this inyo can be the “ten” and the “chi”. And therefore it is quite logical to see 才能 saino (ability) as “jin”, making the saino konki the Sanshin of tenchijin. Strangely (or not) this is the theme sensei had chosen when he asked the high ranks to teach again the tenchijin to the new generations of bujinkan students.
In the “demon’s sermon on the martial arts”, Issai Chozanshi writes: “there is no form to principle, and principle’s function manifests itself according  to the vessel. If there is no vessel, you will not see the principle.”  Sensei has been teaching natural movement for years now and many of us are still caught into a dualistic view of the techniques. But since the beginning, Sensei is speaking of “principles” and he uses the “techniques” only to make it easy for us to grasp the true essence of martial arts.
Chozanshi adds later  that “when the mind and the form become two, you will be unable to act with freedom”. And this is exactly what happened to us many times. 
The Bujinkan is a superior martial art as it forces us to unite both our spirit and body in order to be able to express life in any occasion. Now, and this is what I understood this morning, when the “vessel” (body) is fully united with the 魂 “tamashii” (soul); when there is no thinking to analyse; when the natural mix of body and mind is achieved, then true 才能 saino (ability) can be expressed with no obstruction.
Don’t think! repeats sensei occasionally. Our permanent thinking process is killing us. And we think mainly because we didn’t forge the best vessel (body/mind) possible. We think because our bodies are unable to react as a result of a lack of work and training. 
The Bujinkan has everything, all the tools we need to excel.  But in order to be able of doing the “no form” we first have to master the waza form correctly. Each waza exists for a reason, and it is by repeating it over and over, and for many years, that at some point it gets into yourself. You don’t think the form anymore because your body/mind reacts by itself.  
But these waza are useless if you do not have strong basics. And these basics were also given to us by sensei with the tenchijin. 
Once the tenchijin has been mastered; once the waza have been absorbed by the body/mind unit, nothing can obstruct its free expression. 
The utsuwa (container) intimately fusioned with the tamashii (soul) is the reason to our saino (ability). 
Train hard in your basics, train hard in your forms and one day all the principles will be yours. There is no shortcut to 俊shû (excellence), it only demands time and effort. Body and mind being united, 流れ  nagare (flow) is created, there is no thinking only 気付き kizuki (awareness). Body and mind united are 1. Sanshin is 1.
There is no thinking anymore because there is no reason to think as we only flow naturally with the situation.

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.