Michael Glenn Strikes Emptiness Last night in my class one student said, “This is pretty basic.” I did a double take and said, “Really? You think so?” I told him that the kata was more advanced than it appeared. We were studying 一文字 Ichimonji. This is a 無刀捕 mutōdori kata from 高木揚心流 Takagi Yoshin Ryū. And it does look simple. But mutōdori has so many levels. One morning when Hatsumi Sensei taught this kata he said, You make him cut the air. This is mutōdori, like he’s practicing by himself and striking emptiness. The question I posed to my students last night was, “How?” How do you get your opponent, ostensibly a competent swordsman, to just cut the air and miss you completely? As an answer, I gave them three insights into advanced mutōdori that I received from Soke. If you are interested, I share these kind of tips for anyone who joins my mailing list, which you can do here: eepurl.com/d0w_r First, give the enemy what he wants. He is seeking violence and destruction. Let him have it.
聖観世音菩薩立像 on top of 万人塚 Banninzuka. photo Michael Glenn In December, during a Friday night class at the Bujinkan Honbu Dojo, Hatsumi Sensei repeated a word four times in the first four minutes of class. In fact, he said it both as a statement and a question as if we just didn’t get it. ゆっくりかな。 Yukkuri, kana? First, he had Nagase Sensei stab at him and he said, We’re not studying the form, we’re studying muto dori. ゆっくり。 (Yukkuri) ゆっくり Yukkuri got translated as, “Go slowly or take your time.” But those words in English don’t capture the full idea. A moment later Soke repeated, The feeling is very important. ゆっくり。(Yukkuri). You can create this lock here on the elbow. Take the knife. It has to be connected like this. This kind of feeling is important. ゆっくりと。(Yukkuri to) My training partner stabbed at me and I tried to use the feeling that Soke had just shared. But I saw Soke glance at me and he interrupted the entire class again to demonstrate, This feeling. ゆっくりかな。 This was