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Showing posts from August, 2010

Bojutsu Gokui: How to Get Hit Over the Head by the Void.

We were in the middle of a bojutsu class and I had an epiphany.  I was trying to explain how to hold the staff.  "You must hold it lightly.  Yet firmly connected to your kamae and spirit."  My words failed me.

Yet, I was feeling something with the rokushakubo I wanted to communicate.  I tried demonstrating various aspects of the movement and grip on the bo.  And none of these things held the idea I felt. Luckily, I remembered a quote from Hatsumi Sensei and I dropped it on the students:

In a verse of the gokui: "striking the void, if there is a response in your hands, that is the gokui."  You must have the enlightenment of the Buddha of the void (koku-bosatsu), whose heart was as infinite as the void itself.  Thrusting the bo into the mist is in truth thrusting one's heart and mind, and this is one method of koku - void training.
Yes!  I was feeling it.  You have to hold the bo very lightly to feel the response from the void.  The response I felt was l…

Hiding Behind Totoku Hiyoshi No Kamae

Seeing Totoku Hiyoshi No Kamae for the first time can be misleading.  Usually a student's first exposure to this kamae is seeing someone hold a sword out in front of themselves while someone else throws shuriken at them.  Then the instructor hands the sword to you and says, "Next." This aspect of Totoku is often perceived as one of those quirky things in our training that we may try out, but never take seriously.  After all, who has had to dodge shuriken for real?  I'm not counting the dishes your girlfriend threw at you during a recent argument.  Maybe you try this out, maybe block a few rubber shuriken and then forget it.Totoku forms part of some very rich strategy in our art.  And the more you look for it, the more you will encounter.  I personally have heard Hatsumi Sensei reference it many times, and it wasn't anything to do with shuriken blocking.  It is a running theme in our taijutsu that has to be experienced from a qualified teacher.
Maybe a starting plac…

Kankaku 感覚: Can You Smell It?

One night in my hotel room in Kashiwa, I had a personal breakthrough. It was after one of Soke's Friday night classes at the Hombu dojo in Noda. I was in the habit of taking detailed notes after training. Tonight these notes were different.





Normally, when I put pen to paper, the details of the class line up across the pages of my notebook faster than my hand can scribble. All sorts of details: names of techniques and henka, where Soke had his left hand, what weapons he used, things he said, etc. Tonight I stared at the blank page in a daze and wrote:

"Where to begin?

Holding without holding.
Striking without striking.
Technique without technique.

Accident turns to fortune.

Slipping - blending.
Letting opponent defeat themselves."

That was it? Vague ideas to be sure. These notes would probably be useless to anyone but me. But when I read them, they do trigger feelings from that night.

Sometimes in training I am left scratching my head. No matter how hard I try, or how inte…