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Showing posts from December, 2010

Ninpo and Mu: Waxing and Waning Like the Moon

Full Moon over Nagoya Castle; photo by ka_tate In a Ninja's view of the universe, Soke Hatsumi comments on how beautiful it is to see a crescent moon peering between the clouds...  And he suggests that the "secret is to let your own existence resonate with the universal consciousness" ... whether in the form of moonlight or other natural phenomena.  He has also told us that taijutsu henka are like the phases of the moon.  These phases occur naturally, in a natural connection to the movements of Earth and Sun.  Your taijutsu should reflect the world as natural as the moonlight. I write more about this type of reflection here: "Utsuru 映る: Is Your Mind Reflected in Your Taijutsu?" What is to be learned from cold moonlight?  In Japan, the moonlight has an empty longing to it that resonates deeply with the Japanese spirit.  Hatsumi Sensei has made reference to the author Yasunari Kawabata who, on winning the Nobel prize for literature in 1968, spoke movingly abo

Ninja Morality of Kogarashi Monjiro

This time of year is often spent helping, giving or thinking of others.  There are many people who misinterpret the life of a ninja as one of a solitary, dark and shadowy existence.  A lone wolf sneaking in and out of other's lives to accomplish some mission. Sensei suggests to us that this is not a healthy view.  He says that it is an ideal to have others depend on you.  People think they are too busy to help others, but if you decide to ignore everyone else, trusting only yourself, you will soon become one of the busiest of all men.  He continues, To give a helping hand to poor people and to want to save them is the humanity of Japanese, and of a warrior's heart. Hatsumi mentions the character Kogarashi Monjiro from the novel and 1970's TV series set in the Edo period, originally written by Saho Sasazawa. Acted by famous samurai actor Atsuo Nokamura.  Monjiro lived the wandering life of a gambler.  He had a nihilistic attitude and sought to eliminate and avoid in

Munenmusō  無念無想: Free From Worldly or Worthless Thoughts

photo by Frogman! There is a common saying that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  We see this all the time in training.  People begin to grow in their skill with taijutsu and two things often occur: They injure themselves or others. Or... they stop learning because they think they got it already. This blind spot is very dangerous, because by their nature the person that is full of "knowledge" is unaware that they are ignorant.  And sometimes they convince others that they know something or have "secrets". Hatsumi Sensei talks about this knowledge as if it is a burden.  A weight that should be shed.  Soke said that people want to possess the densho or secret scrolls.  But that when people learn the secrets they were searching for, they become too tense to move freely.  They are burdened with the knowledge and trying to use it correctly. I am sure it is a great mistake always to know enough to go in when it rains. One may keep snug and dry by such k

中途半端 Chuuto Hanpa: Betwixt the Half Assed

photo by roland Something many of us have heard Hatsumi Sensei say during his classes is the term "chuuto hanpa."  He has been using this phrase for many years to try to communicate an idea that is difficult to teach. 中途半端 chuuto hanpa / "unclear, betwixt and between, vague, half-hearted" chuu / to / han / pa The meaning of the first Kanji is "middle." The second Kanji means "way." The third and fourth Kanji mean, "half" and "end," respectively. Chuuto means "halfway" or "along the way." Hanpa means "to be on neither side and be vague." Chuuto hanpa indicates the state of things which are left unfinished or the state of someone or something that is vague and unclear. So what are some of the things this can teach us? One is to let go of technique.  We all learn technique.  Some of us become good at techniques.  But technique is a trap.  The minute you try to apply a technique, people

Crash, Bang, Daikomyosai!

photo by Joi Daikomyosai has started with a crunch.  Hatsumi Sensei started the morning wearing armor that he said was like that worn by Tokugawa.  This armor was meant to have no weak points or openings.  It was impenetrable and an impressive gold color for when the shogun would lead the way into battle. Duncan and Holger were also in armor.  Sensei used Duncan as his uke and proceeded to demolish him and his armor stitch by stitch.  As Duncan put it, "my armor is now rubbish."  And he later told me, Sensei used his armor against him as a weapon.  It appeared very disconcerting for Duncan.  Duncan is good with ukemi and there was really no useful ukemi for what he was enduring. Sensei really has been focusing on the 15th dans while I've been here.  He wanted them all to show something that they have been exploring in their training this year.  It was a great chance for us to see how the Bujinkan is being taught around the world.  Sensei called on teachers fro