There has been a few discussions lately in the dojo about our martial art . We are not here training to fight or to learn techniques . We are here to live better and be better aware .
Being tired before class from work or other outside influences is a part of everyday class . Being sick with nasal congestion or basic flu symptoms can change the way you train or the way you understand the information you are receiving .
There isn’t anything written that states that bad things happen with an alert . Opposite of that bad things happen when you least expect it . So your conscience level has to be vigil . Perseverance is key , the world is a tough place and very busy all the time . The dojo should be your sanctuary . Your life doesn’t stop when you get to the dojo but you need to be able to separate from it when at the dojo.
Your state of mind needs to be tested when tired or sick so you are better aware . Testing for rank in the dojo should be done without telling the student . The student needs to be prepared and aware at all times this is not just a preparation for the 5th dan godan test it is a preparation for life .
You will not always be at your best . Your training needs to be deep , subconsciously alert . This is what we are imbedding into our being and it goes way further than the dojo and our martial art .
So this short article goes out to those training and those interested in training.
What we teach is real life martial arts , nothing watered down for a sport . Since the 16th century of Japan they went from a warring state time period to peace . In that time frame martial (military) arts were no longer needed as much and were favored moreover by the new sport martial arts .
Sport martial arts made it easier to test yourself and your martial knowledge without the ideals of possibly being harmed in a way that could affect you for life or even possible death . In this most martial arts lost there true lineage . Losing how to live . Some of the practices were set aside due to the ideals of sport . Losing there higher aspect of there martial art in days prior would have left them and there families in danger and possibly leaving themselves in a position to be killed .
What was left behind you might ask .? Martial arts prior to the 16th century Edo period had a culmination of energy gathering . Ways to increase stance and strength ,energy for health in the body and ki energy that could be used in there art to heal . Which also has the opposite effect , if you can heal you can as well harm . Those were the days that martial skill was all about those who made it home from warfare could attest the skill .
Do not get me wrong we all need to stay fit and heathy . But martial arts is martial not a sport or a game . Healthy is eating correct understanding your body walking and bicycling . Sport martial arts are a sport if you need to test your skill do so . But keep in mind the impending rules that you will need to implement from being disqualified .
As soke and many of our fathers might have stated do not play with your food .
If you are true to your martial knowledge you should be reading or learning the history of your art you are in .
Keep in mind that the 16th century Edo periiod of Japan is filled with other things than just the change and loss of most true martial arts to sport . It was the period of art and craftsmanship ,each student should be involved with there own inner teachings . Artistic nature is a key to ourselves and some of the deeper parts of our lineage or martial art . Study diligently to have a better understanding of yourself , your art and others .
The bujinkan is a true martial art . In all my years there is no end and with 9 martial schools and endless proper henka you will see how martial this art is . True to it’s original .
While most martial arts spend there time working on the best way to get a technique and especially the new sensation of grappling . They miss out on the passing of time . In the passing of time are are many things .
Action and events are going on around you as well as with an attack . To hone in on that perfect technique and wait you are missing so much more . Waiting is not a bad thing but waiting on one or two occurrences to line up can be a mistake in martial arts . Martial arts is not a sport hence the word martial .
Definition of martial
1: of, relating to, or suited for war or a warrior
Seize the moment or create the moment to move the attackers balance whether it is through a strike unbalancing his mind or catching his movement and at the point that balance is not there physically or mentally .
The only way to do this is to be relaxed and not be too greedy or eager in your actions with the attacker . Allow his movement to set his own trap and as he attacks work around the attack like the planets move around the sun . There is no one technique there is a blend of timing distance movement and flow . All techniques are the same when the end is not what is what you are looking for .
Weekly training and training with an honest partner (uke) is the key to understanding and advancement . You can do the kihon well , very well but what happens if the ukes first punch than fades and becomes a grab and push . Static training is a good exercise and a good way to look at movement from a microscope .
Not only looking at your attackers movement but your own . Looking at the openings the uke has left open or where he could potentially attack from next . As the tori or defender you can take time to look at the effect of timing and your distance to the attacker . Your footwork and balance as to how strong they are . Where your next opening is to potentially escape the attack or what surrounds you (possible weapons) . These things need to be instinctive and reactive . That is why you train the kihon and train slow to better understand everything.
Than you test your skills by having your uke attack honestly to the best they believe . You cannot reproduce a real fight there is too many elements involved . But an honest uke will help that ,making you think on your feet react swift and know your distance .
The Japanese kanji at the top refers to : 手答え (effect, response, resistance, reaction)
Change seems simple its a part of life since our conception . Than why do we dislike it so much ? Life has been a change from the womb through our graduation of life . Schools , jobs, friends . Without change we wouldn’t be who we are . Soke Hatsumi took 9 martial ryuha and put them together in one school the Bujinkan . That was a big change in martial arts .
A fire consumes and yet gives birth to new growth . The earth has it’s cycles of change from the birth of Spring to the abundance of Summer through Fall as it all retires for Winter .
Soke Hatsumi has mentioned more than once to stop collecting . Yet most of us still are searching for the one new cosmic technique . Once you have learned your sanshin and kihon start your new journey into the next cosmos of nothingness . What you are doing doesn’t have to have an ending that in life is death . Be alive in motion and and allow your brain to be alive and active . If you are having troubles and in life or business your brain has to be in overflow of change to keep up with what you need to do to survive or accomplish .
The same is true to survive in martial arts and not just to learn to defend but to keep going at times when it seems your done . The only key is to know what you know and not strand yourself with thought .
Face forward walk forward and keep changing this is our art this is life . Our sanshin and kihon is our legs arms brain and thoughts . Zero is that we have done our training repetitively so we can walk talk and live .
変わる change, vary, be different, be transformed, veer, be revised
Keep practicing and listening . Your awareness to detail is key to the development of your taijutsu 体術 . When you walk it isn’t just your feet leading you it is all of you from your legs to your hips , eyesight and senses as well as your conscious choice .
To do something and not connect is to drive to the store stop before you get there and be satisfied . You will surely die from this . Life is forward you must keep that going . There is no race but without following forward you are just there .
Your taijutsu 体術 does not end at the waza . If the attack changes you change , take a new lane and go forward . Follow the body and be in-tune and connected at a higher level . 合わす (match, adjust, adapt, unite, combine, connect) .
Technique and waza can only get you so far . Same as the car your driving to the store . You have to be alive and attentive to follow . Your life is yours and you choose to stop or go ,right or left . Your movement doesn’t stop at the change of your ukes attack keep connected keep moving keep following .
Shiki wo shinobu 四季を忍 Through a patient and dedicated commitment to the art, vision and realization are focused internally and externally at the same time for spiritual forbearance.
Many of us train in a form of martial art . Whether is a sport martial art or a budo or combat martial art we a with a good heart trying to get to one goal .Mental state of awareness .
You train often as a diligent student learning your kata ,forms,strikes and joint locks . Through time you are memorizing theses tools and combinations to go with different situations . This is forming your relaxed state of mind called Mushin (無心).
mushin no shin (無心の心), a Zen expression meaning the mind without mind and is also referred to as the state of “no-mindness”. That is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything.Mushin is achieved when a person’s mind is free from everyday thoughts ,anger, fear, or ego during combat or everyday life
You are training to react without thought move naturally and intuitively . You are learning to move free and flow uninterrupted .
All of this is related to your state of Zanshin ( 残心) . This state of awareness and forth right fortitude can be carried far beyond your training at the dojo . Aware of not just the Uke/attacker or there movement . Its awareness of everything surrounding , this is where your martial arts teachers are hopefully teaching you not to use your eyes .
Look away no fixed gaze know your distance to a target without looking train blind folded .
This awareness or state of mind is used in business and how to be aware of your partner,client or colleague . So that you are better able to help follow or control a destination . Train your awareness in the dojo and use that same skill in your life or job.
Training is watching and understanding at what ever level you are at to watch Soke teach a movement,kata,henka or concept it is your level to see.
At a lower level you should be able to notice Soke doing a piece of sanshin maybe see the kihon technique that arose. But don’t try to look so hard that you miss everything. Soke is not moving at speeds so fast you cant see him. Watch again, take note of his calm demeanor his timing and distance. If an attack can be seen and you take the time to relax and move to a better distance you will notice it much easier to move next or react.
At a higher level you should be able to see the connections and the
distance that is controlling the uke . The distance will create the attackers next movement and the distance will set you to an area to better control
the next move.
The next step is to feel, to feel the space,feel the strike .At that point your level of understanding will be at its best. There are so many variables that you cannot see them all feeling it will help all the other senses .
Your training and learning from what you see and what you feel as uke is feeding life into you. Your movement can now grow and you can
This point keeps re accuring in discussion . The Bujinkan is a strong martial art made strong by those that are moving forward and understand the obvious that we are not alone ..not the only martial arts out there .
The best instructors know more than just the Bujinkan and at the same time have there feet grounded well in the roots of the Bujinkan. They are willing to allow other arts in not to change our art but for the true ideals of flow . The water cannot stop . But at the same time we in this art need to look without blinders on .
Soke Hatsumi uses his sword left handed.. This is wrong by all means of the way of the sword in the eyes of the Japanese sword. Soke Hatsumi knows this and teaches this,he also ranks people by there knowledge of military movement. So why are those teaching this Bujinkan art afraid of any change. Simply said its in the instructor.
If you lift wrong you ‘ll hurt your back by breaking muscle structure . So we want to follow close to the principles of structure and movement. The same goes for instructing, follow the principles that make the movement work the way it does. Don’t preach why you wear certain clothes . A punch is a punch a sword cut is a cut ,there are better ways to fight using less force and relaxing and better ways to cut with a sword but remember that depends on the sword edge weight and who yields it .
Movement is key with structure but an instructor that has taught his knowledge to over-sized and stronger attackers and have taught much smaller to handle these over sized aggressors. This makes your teaching true ..there is change there needs to be . Teach right by principle and live . Teach by the book and you’ll only be that good
Martial arts can be tough to follow there is alot to do just to attain or or understand the the information in front of you.
The three things you need it to listen, listen to what the instruction is to the important pieces. The principles of what is being provided for you to help understand the movement being taught. Learn to understand and read between the lines (comprehend) not making your own story up with a few of the words the instructor is saying.
The next thing in your understanding is to watch, look if you can at different angles to see the movement. Watch the feet, the body and see how the uke responds to what is happening. Watch close and try to follow the movement instead of creating whats easier for you.
The last and most important is to learn. This means you need to open the mind up and see what you watched and re follow what you heard. Even at a lower level if you see a strong common principle you should follow it Don’t change what was done by the instructor . But see beyond what your eyes show you by adding the other information and processing it and move slow to follow the movement . Budo is a constant study as we try to decipher movements and verbal instruction to better our budo skills. Then work on them over and over .With the right attitude of learning there will always be a piece that you can shine and make new .