Prepared to Die: 決死の覚悟 Kesshi No Kakugo


How much do you sacrifice for training? Does it seem like a lot? We might consider this in light of what Hatsumi Soke and his teacher Takamatsu O-Sensei have offered us.


Hatsumi Sensei said,

... when I had an opportunity to meet with Takamatsu Sensei a year before he passed away, I was told by him, "You are now all right as a budoka. I have taught you everything. I have been able to repay the kindness of Toda Sensei, Ishitani Sensei, Mizuta Sensei."

Takamatsu had such gratitude to his own teachers, that he devoted himself to Hatsumi Sensei and to the tradition that they shared with him. Those who have been dedicated teachers understand the responsibility and sacrifice this was. Add to this the burden of the very survival of nine ryuha and all the history and wisdom they contain, and it cannot be considered lightly.

Our Soke obviously does not take it lightly. He states,

"... I have decided to bare and show budo to the world, as well as demonstrate my personal techniques. In becoming bare is hidden 決死の覚悟 kesshi no kakugo, the resolve to face death."

Shall we give less of ourselves or our training?



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Shizen No Kamae: The Moment Before Change

Hidden within Shizen no kamae is the key to understanding all kamae. This simple looking stance, two feet on the ground, hands and arms relaxed, spine upright... It is how we've readied ourselves all our lives for all variety of activity.


But outward forms can be misleading. Hatsumi Sensei has reminded us many times that the form of the kamae is not the kamae. Rather it is the spirit and feeling held there. The lifetime of experience with our bodies held naturally. But there is something within Shizen no kamae that goes beyond our experience. It starts with another idea Soke has given us about kamae. He simply calls it, "the moment before change."

In the moment of change we can connect to more than ourselves through 先達 sendatsu (guidance) or 閃達 sendatsu (flash of inspiration). This guidance or inspiration comes from a connection to nature; our own nature and the opponent's, as well as the nature that surrounds us. Soke tells us that Shizen no kamae is the embodiment of nature.

It is the like deer that bounds away without having seen you. Or the leaf that turns toward sunlight. Hatsumi Sensei says that "Nature's creations continue to live bound by the ties of nature." And the intuition (kandankei 寒断計) they receive from nature should be treated with more significance. This intuition or guidance speaks to us without words or thought. Can you feel this in Shizen?


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Don't Be Defeated by Victory

Victory and defeat are the same. They arise from the same source. To experience one is to understand more deeply the other. Hatsumi Sensei tells us that this aspect of fighting is expressed in old documents as "Koteki Ryoda Juppo Sessho no Jutsu," and in nature as the tiger fighting the dragon.





People seasoned by competition know this. They move beyond focusing on victory or worrying over loss to just doing their best. The process becomes important. Being present in the moment for optimal performance.

Veteran soldiers know this also. Ask them about winning or losing and they will have no words for you. Victory or defeat in war is terrible. Soke says, "Those who yearn too much for victory suffer forever from their victory."

Hatsumi Sensei often suggests to us that in training there should be no distinction between attacker or defender. When we realize this and move beyond ideas of winning or losing, then real victory can occur. Or, in the dojo, real training might begin.

Knowing this gokui of victory, one may form an interesting strategy. For as Lao Tzu stated, "Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself." Hatsumi Sensei encourages us by saying that, "True warriors, however, will cultivate readiness without fear," and that, "This is because they are standing on the lifeline of enlightenment; they are detached from victory or defeat, and have the insight and knowledge to separate themselves.

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Through the Kagami 鏡

Mirrors can represent truth back to us. Do you see yourself reflected in your training? What is reflected?


The mirror or kagami 鏡 plays a crucial role in Japanese culture. It is one of three Imperial relics handed down from the gods along with the sword and jewel. It was hung from a tree to lure the sun godess Amaterasu out from hiding in a cave. Her brother Susano-o had filled the world with darkness and storms, but when she peeked out and saw her own reflection of light, she felt safe.

Soke has mentioned the idea that training is a process that polishes our hearts till they reflect one another purely. As you would polish a bronze mirror.

The Kamidana we pay our respects to in the dojo has a mirror in the shrine to attract the Kami residing in its reflection. Mirrors are significant in Shinto as the reflective surfaces are thought capable of revealing without prejudice the true aspect of any person or object placed before them.

The word kagami also has a different kanji which means: to take warning or learn a lesson from. If we take the 'ga' (self, ego) out of the word kagami we end up having the word "kami" which is spirit.

And what reflection does Soke see? He says that: "Soke signifies nothingness, zero, emptiness, void. Something that exists, and yet does not. The Soke is just an ordinary person, and yet, somehow, he is someone who is living his life according to some invisible divine command. You see, I do not live by my conscious mind, not at all, so that whatever I have thought up till now can just suddenly change in my mind, though it is not a consciously engineered change."



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