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Showing posts from April, 2010

Winning by Mistake

I was training with my teacher Peter Crocoll this weekend and I made a critical error that led to an injury to my eye. Peter was teaching sojutsu, and the worst possible thing happened. I blocked a seven foot spear with my eye. This injury could be devastating. Yet I am fine. It could have been embarrassing, yet was not. Instead, my taijutsu protected me and I came out with some wonderful knowledge. I won. Soke says to always be winning. He references Daruma who fell down seven times but got up eight. In other words, don't fall down- fall up. I was supposed to use my hips to redirect the spear with my weapon. Instead I used my hands alone and the thrusting Yari was directed right at my eye. What saved me was my experience with taijutsu. I FELT what was happening and was able to ride the strike so that it glanced off my eyelid. The injury I received was a swollen bruise. Oddly the yari didn't even make contact with bone or my eyeball. How does a seven foot spe

Kamae Gokui: My Tiger Kamae is Strong.

1985. I'm having lunch with my friends from high school. We chose this spot on campus because no one bothered us there. We could be the goofy teens that we were without trouble. Except today. I was about to experience maybe the most important lesson about kamae that Soke has offered us. I had been obsessed with ninjutsu and devoured every book, magazine, or VHS tape I could find. I was still a few years away from any real training. It just wasn't available then. There was no such thing as the internet in '85, and very few legit teachers of Hatsumi Sensei's art anywhere. We were sitting on a bench, eating our lunch, and around the corner comes some guy I had never seen around campus. He asks for a cigarette. None of us smoke. He demands money from me. I tell him to leave us alone. He states that he will take it from me. I stand up. "You can try," I tell him. Then I take a deep pose in what I now know as doko no kamae (sometimes called the angry

A Fistful of Nothing, or the Void of Koku.

Some of the best lessons of the Bujinkan lie in between techniques. Before the attack or after the battle. Or simply in the air between combatants. In this space, this void, there exists everything and nothing. Both peace and conflict can arise. And anything in between. 虚空 Koku If you don't find this idea in your training then you miss out on a great power in our art and in life. Hatsumi Sensei gives us a roadmap to understand this in the following quote: It is taught that the foundation of Budo is to first understand taijutsu, through which you can fight even if you have no weapons. This means to persevere in the martial ways (bufu ikkan), and to train consistently and with utmost effort. Then you will grasp the secrets of muto dori (no-sword technique). Succeeding in this, the mysteries of the secret sword (hiken) will be revealed, and no matter what weapon you hold, your heart and your taijutsu will dance skillfully in the void (koku). While these ideas may see