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 intently I observe, I cannot repeat what Hatsumi Sensei has just shown us. I guess that's to be expected. Soke often states that he wants us to just get the feeling of his movement.

This is the idea of Kankaku
感覚【かんかく】
(n,vs) sense; sensation; feeling; intuition. Soke has many ways of expressing this. One time I heard him say that we might just notice the scent of it. It was a way of suggesting that the feeling was subtle and ephemeral and could pass by on a breeze. In my case, maybe I was passing a strong odor.

Another time, Hatsumi Sensei suggested that there was a strange wind blowing through the world. He said we should try to incorporate the mood of that wind into our movement. I don't know whether I can be that connected in training to invite the whole world into my movement, but I can at least open up to the feeling in the dojo. That is a start.


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