Kihon: The Heart of an Infinite Circle

Enso by Isan Shinko (1740-1815)
I'm sure you've all studied kihon happo. But it's one thing to study those eight basic fundamentals and a entirely different thing to study the kihon OF the happo. Hatsumi Sensei says this idea can be expressed very simply with a common Zen symbol of Enso which I will share below, but what will it mean to us?

Sensei has said that the word happo suggests infinity. He said that placing the number eight on its side gives us that symbol ∞. Soke goes on to explain that a technique does not have a beginning or end but just flows one into the other like the symbol.

A simple way to consider this is with tai sabaki. In angling we often start with cardinal points for evasion or striking (please excuse my clumsy finger diagrams):

Then we split those four directions to make 8:
 Then split again:

You can see how it begins to get infinite... especially if you add the up and down directions so any angle in space is possible leading to a sphere:

Or the Japanese Zen symbol of Enso:

Hatsumi Sensei says that kihon is like thrusting your sword into a point about which there is an Enso or limitless circle (happo) and existing in the space is the kukan.
If you want a clue to the study of that infinite space, you may read the calligraphy of the first Enso I posted at the top of this post by Isan Shinko. In the center is the character for heart, which you may recognize as part of our 忍 "nin" symbol. And the calligraphy says,
"Keep yourself firmly centered inside here and nothing will be able to shatter you. "
If you subscribe to my training notes (if you aren't a subscriber yet, you miss a LOT of free Bujinkan notes), you can get even more of these ideas that Hatsumi Sensei shares during my classes with him.


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