Explosive Ku Power! An Essence of Budo.

Budo isn't talking. Budo isn't thinking. Nor is it writing or reading. Budo isn't sport. It isn't self defense. Definitiely isn't fighting.


I could go on like this endlessly saying what budo isn't. But let's try to get at what it is. One impression I have from Hatsumi Sensei is that the essence of budo lies in the creativity that arises from ku.

Soke shows us this in his art and his budo. He says,

"There are so many blessings that come out of that emptiness... It reminds me of the painter Okamoto Taro, who says that his creations appear like explosions out of nowhere."

In budo, the second you make a technique, or talk about it, or drill it, you cut yourself off from the source. Things become fixed and frozen. And thereby defeatable or dead.

So how can budo be taught? What are classes for? Soke's method is unique. He says,

"What I want you to do is just take it as it is. Don't think too much. If you get involved in thinking about it, the whole thing gets lost or loses its purity. Don't think during practice- DO! The more you think, the further from the truth of budo you get: budo is not an academic subject!"

The essence of budo is really very simple because Satori is only a step away.

An explosion from ku could come from any direction. Even from within.


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Kuden is Much More Than Just Talk

You know you are doing something right when the activity engages you fully in mind, body, and spirit. And when you forget to look at a clock. The time passes swiftly and you lose track of the world.


That's how Bujinkan training is for me. And evidently was for Hatsumi Sensei when he was with Takamatsu. Soke said:

"A talk with Takamatsu Sensei could go on for a thousand years without being exhausted of interest. I used to be like an eager child, sitting in his home fascinated as I listened to him talk. He spoke with everything- body, mind, heart, and spirit- and his words touched each of these in me, like sparks of light and understanding. The talking role falls to me now, as I pass on what I can to my students- my martial arts friends."

I feel lucky to have found this art and to have met and trained with Hatsumi Sensei. I hope everyone can find a passion that creates these sparks of life.


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Roppo: six ways to infinity.

You may remember "Roppo kuji no biken" as the theme from 2004. But this idea of "roppo" cannot be left in 2004 and does not only apply to the sword. In fact, Hatsumi Sensei made reference to this recently.


In a Friday night class at Hombu, Soke said that roppo was a way of evading and taking space. He said it was six ways of backing up. He said it was like roppo training in Kabuki theater.

In Kabuki "roppo was used originally as a form of entrance but became more used for exits along the hanamichi. It is derived possibly from the swaggering walk (tanzen roppo) of the Edo period dandies as they strutted between the teahouses of the pleasure quarters. Its literal meaning is "six directions" and the term may have been derived from the purification ceremony of low ranking priests where they referred to heaven, earth, east, west, north and south. There are several forms of this exaggerated style of exit. The tobi roppo (flying roppo) involves the actor gesticulating with his hand whilst bounding along the hanamichi in a skipping motion. The kitsune roppo involves the actor leaving the stage with curled "paws" in the manner of a fox."

Roppo is also described in this Aikido Journal interview with Seigo Okamoto Shihan:
"Roppo can be understood in a variety of ways, such as the roppo of roppogumi [six groups of chivalrous young men who used to wander the city streets in the Edo period]. Or it can be equated with the roppo from the kabuki term roppo o fumu of Benkei [a priest of the early Kamakura period and a famous retainer of Yoshitsune Minamoto. Roppo o fumu means to make one’s exit with bold gestures along the runway].

However, I usually compare roppo to gaming dice to describe techniques which can deal with any situation from any direction, top or bottom, front or back, right or left, like the faces of dice. But these techniques do not have square angles like dice but are round, forming six (roku) infinite circles."

Sometimes it takes an idea like roppo to get your taijutsu to flower.



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