故人を偲ぶ Avoid beeing seen

One part of self-defence is not to make yourself a target for attacks. This can be as simple as not stand out in a crowd by looking or behaving in a such way that you get more attention than the others around you. By blending into the crowd you will less likely be a chosen target. In this way you will hide yourself and become invisible to persons that is looking for victims.

By concealing your feelings you do not give away the opportunity for someone to manipulate you and use your weaknesses. You hide your feelings.

If you don’t show what you know or don’t know you will always have the upper hand and the possibility to use the element of surprise. In a fight for example you do not take a kamae that reveal what style you are trained in. You hide what you know.

In Bujinkan we have this saying…

身を忍び Mi wo shinobi
心を忍び Kokoro wo shinobi
死を忍ぶ Shiki wo shinobu

Hide yourself, hide your heart, hide your knowledge.

闇夜の烏 A crow in pitch black night

In budo and also in ordinary life, what is seen is not necessarily the truth or what it really is. In Japanese they have the expression 闇夜の烏 YAMIYO NO KARASU when they say something is indistinct, it literally means a crow in a pitch-black night. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.

Sometimes things can be right in front of your eyes but you don’t see it. They also say that you can see ghosts or spirits by not looking directly at it, you can see it in the corner of your eyes. Next time you look at the godan test done in Japan, look where Soke is often looking.

Have you also wondered why some people have high ranks in Bujinkan, why we have generally much higher ranks than other martial arts. There is no need to be judgemental or distrust or disagree with Hatsumi Soke. Have faith in what he do, he have a lot more experience and can see more clearly than us. When I write see, you should read it as feel. He once said that we should look with our hands and smell with our toes.  So listen to what I say with your tongue ;-).

In Bujinkan there is a poem that reads…

A (black) crow is stitched on black cloth.
A (white) crane is painted on white paper.

Unfortunately I don’t know which kanji is used with this poem, if anyone know, please post a comment or contact me.

空間感覚 Sense of space

As you know this years theme is the Togakure school. And what we is studying is the 面 OMOTE, outside or the visible and the 空間 KUUKAN. Next year we will be studying the 裏 URA, the inside, what is not visible or the secret. Soke said that next year we will go beyond kuukan.

First I’d like to remind you of my previous posts about not going ahead too soon, and instead follow the natural way and do things with good timing. So what he meant by going beyond kuukan we can leave for next year… no need to worry about that now.

空間 KUUKAN means space, room or air space. The first kanji KARA means emptyness, vacuum or blank, also SORA means sky or the heavens. The second kanji MA means space, room, time or pause. It can also mean many other things, for example KEN which is a measurement used between pillars, the same length as a tatami mat, 1,818 meters. In Koto-ryu for example you should be able to jump 2 ken sideways.

Other Japanese budo arts use and emphasize the same kanji for 間合い MAAI (interval), but in Bujinkan we instead speak of kuukan which has a deeper meaning. It is not just the distance, it is more how you use the distance that is important. For example if you have a pistol on your right side of the hip, you should keep this side away from the opponent so that he cannot take your weapon, and also so that you have room to draw your weapon off need be.

So this year we are developing our 空間感覚 Kuukankankaku, our sense of using the space between ourselves and the opponent as well as everything else around us, including possible weapons, doors, trees, stones, cars, other people etc.

In art they also speak of kuukan. For example using a big white paper and not too much black ink. Instead of looking at the black ink you look at the big white spaces. Or a zen garden one stone in the middle of a big field, it is the same thing, kept very simple. Maybe the same thing can be said about budo, keeping the techniques simple and leave plenty of room that can be used if needed, instead of complicated techniques that leaves out the freedom to henka, change. The key is to keep it simple, I think.

青銅 Bronze is better than gold

In sports the gold medal is the highest level but in Bujinkan we think that the bronze medal is the highest level.

青銅 The first kanji is AO and means blue or green (when some one says ao it can mean both blue and green!). The second kanji DOU means copper.

銅 DOU can lead electricity and is more useful than gold. In taijutsu we take the natural 道 DOU (way or path). The way is not decided until the opponent has taken his position, like electricity doesn’t jump from one place to another before it can. Taijutsu is the same, we can not do the technique before the opponent has given us the opportunity where it comes natural. This is the 道 we should take.

Then Soke said look how I take this punch with my 胴 DOU (body, trunk, waist) and laughed.

This is the play of words and kanji Soke often does. I think he does this to break patterns and make us think in different ways we usually thinks. Building new synapses in the brain. Shortly after this he spoke about hijoushiki (see my other post about that).

非常識 Lack of common sense

Some people do the most unexpected things. They do what you think is impossible or what you think is stupid. Someone who is unexperienced in budo have their own theories of what works and not. They are not molded into a system that taught them how to do things, so they do what they think will work. Or it could be a martial artist from another style using techniques you never seen before.

Soke said the other day that we should develop this 非常識 HIJOUSHIKI, which means lack of common sense. We should learn to see these unexpected things coming and respond naturally and not be surprised. He did not say anything (as far as i understood) about “banpen fuugyou” ten thousand changes without beeing surpriced. But this came to my mind immediately, it is the same thing.