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Showing posts from January, 2011

Don't be Dekunobō  木偶の坊, Have Shinbo 辛抱 Instead.

photo by roy costello One night I was training in Hombu dojo with Hatsumi Sensei. It wasn't very crowded and he had us working with the bo which is definitely rare in the Hombu nowadays. He did a technique that left a very odd impression on his uke and those of us watching. It was as if he released the bo in the kukan, and the bo acted as his agent, throwing the attacker and tying him up. Wow. That was odd. Soke seemed to notice the confused looks around the room, because he explained to us that this was Shinbo. The translator looked confused as well, so Soke pointed up above the kamidana to the picture of Takamatsu Sensei holding the bo. Sensei explained that was why he wrote Shinbo beneath that picture. So what did Soke mean by Shinbo?  I am probably more lost than the translator, but Soke has referenced that idea before. There is a related concept called 花情竹性 "Kajo Chikusei where we strive to be as gentle as a flower, and as straight, or straightforward, as bamboo.

狸寝入り Tanuki Neiri no Jutsu: Sleeping Tanuki Technique

photo by rumpleteaser Sometimes the simplest strategies or tactics are the most effective. One day my teacher, Peter asked me to be a spy, and I used a strategy that any child understands.  Hatsumi Sensei calls this tactic "tanuki nemuri." And it was very effective. I got the all the information from the target and then some! He literally volunteered information that would expose him. A tanuki is a masked animal like a raccoon, yet big and stocky like a badger, and is known to fake being dead when surprised... because of this, the idiom "tanuki neiri" [literally "fall into a tanuki's sleep"] means to feign sleep. The mission I was tasked with was reconnaissance and information gathering.  OK, it wasn't secret agent stuff, but I approached it with professionalism and as part of my overall training. Basically it involved one of my teacher's ex-students.  He had only trained with Peter briefly, and never made it beyond 7th kyu or so. Well, s

Hatsumi Soke Says to Live Like Momotarō 桃太郎

photo by barto Modern life is difficult.  Some people may even feel they are enduring in a kind of hell.  If you are going to live in hell, you'd better learn how to survive.  Hatsumi Sensei gives us a clue for how to negotiate these difficult times and circumstances.  He says we should be like Momotarō 桃太郎 who is a popular hero from Japanese folklore: The Tale of Momotaro Once upon a time an old couple lived in the hill country of Okayama in Japan. The old man went everyday into the mountains to cut wood, while his wife went to the river to wash their laundry. One day the old woman was washing clothes by the riverside when a great, golden peach came floating down the river! It looked so delicious that she decided to roll it home to surprise her husband. When the old man came home, the old woman cut the peach open. To their great surprise, a small boy leaped from inside the peach! Instantly, they loved the little boy because they had never had any children of their own. Th

Kage No Keiko: Don't Ask a Shadow for Answers

Photo by OiMax There is an old tale about a teacher whose students asked him, "Where does your teaching come from?  What is its source?  Who is your teacher?" The teacher replies, You are not ready for my answer.  If I say that my teaching is from inspiration, you will consider me crazy.  If I say it is my own teaching and skill, some will worship me and never learn.  If I name my teacher, many will turn to him to ask the same dumb questions while ignoring real study. In the Bujinkan, Hatsumi Sensei has told us that training is a process of developing the eyes to be able to see true budo. Hatsumi Sensei talks about different types of keiko or training, even in dreams.  He says that when he is training intensely, he will have weird dreams.  He tells this story about his teacher Toshitsugu Takamatsu, He would draw from 5:00 a.m. to noon every day.  One day, he painted a picture of a dragon for his friend.  A few nights later, my teacher dreamed about a dragon that had n