How to Instantly Flip Out With 豹変 Hyōhen 

photo by genvessel
One of the gokui or essences of budo is change. But changing what? Where does the change come from?  Here I try to catch the feeling or kankaku in the air of a class with Sensei. He often reminds us we should pick up the scent of the gokui on the breeze blowing through the room.

That day Hatsumi Sensei was teaching us about kyuho no kamae. Or so I thought. As the class progressed, the naturalness of Soke's taijutsu allowed for unending variation. He had his uke basically throwing himself. It was the kind of thing if you saw a photo or video you might think it was BS. But in that room... the effect was palpable. Everyone watching knew that if they were his uke he would capture their spirit and work their body over in the same way. In fact, it felt as if we were ALL exposed.

The "winds" in the room had changed. Part of the lesson that day was perceiving this change and where it had come from. The atmosphere of the class went from casual and jovial, to very scary. It was a vulnerable feeling to be sure. But then, just as quickly, and without any announcements, we were back to relaxed, light or fun training.

Hatsumi Sensei said that this was something that could only be understood between you and your opponent. By adapting freely to the attack, and flowing in the space , kukan no nagare, you embody what Sensei explained to us was kyuhen no kamae.
Kyūhen 急変 may remind us of 豹変 Hyōhen from the densho of Shinden Fudo Ryu in the secret writings of Tatara Kishin: "Sudden change will always prevail." 豹変して必ず勝つ 
Sensei says that such teachings are passed from teacher to student through ishin denshin (divine transmission). Anyone who has been in a class like that with Sensei will definitely have stories about the feeling in the room.


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