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Showing posts from October, 2011

出花 Debana: Seizing the Flower of Intention

Timing is basic to combat strategy. Whether it is unarmed, iaijutsu, or even gunfighting. This variable and how you manage it contains hidden lessons.

Consider this example from a gunfight in William S. Burroughs' "The Place of Dead Roads,"
Suddenly Kim flicks his hand up without drawing and points at Mike with his index finger.
     "BANG! YOU'RE DEAD."
     He throws this last word like a stone. He knows that Mike will see a gun in the empty hand and this will crowd his draw….
     (With a phantom gun in an empty hand he has bluffed Mike into violating a basic rule of gunfighting. TYT. Take Your Time. Every gunfighter has his time. The time it takes him to draw aim fire and hit. If he tries to beat his time the result is almost invariably a miss….
     "Snatch and grab," Kim chants.
     Yes, Mike was drawing too fast, much too fast.
     Kim's hand snaps down flexible and sinuous as a whip and up with his gun extended in both hands at eye level.

Why Do You Take Ukemi?

Bujinkan ukemi doesn't look impressive. It's not supposed to. It has other goals.

In my Tuesday night class we were studying koshi kudaki. There are many levels to studying such a simple looking technique. First you need to understand the attack which is normally a type of hip throw like o goshi or harai goshi. As we were studying the attack, one of the students who also studies Judo was taking proper Judo ukemi. I suggested to him that this was creating a bad habit. His ukemi looked great, so what was bad about it?

It is important when studying any martial art to understand the goal of the study. In many modern arts, the goal is sport. In sport, there are judges to determine points or winners. But the judging gets more insidious. Your teacher naturally judges your form or technique. Your fellow students judge as they watch you. You even judge yourself. All this judging creates an impulse toward pretty form. Clean moves. Flashy kicks or throws. Satisfying slaps on the mat duri…

Jōtai 状態: The Art of the Situational

Hatsumi Sensei often speaks in English. Of course his accent is Japanese so you may not notice or understand. One English phrase he says often is "case by case." When he says this the translator will often repeat it just because it is hard for ears not accustomed to the Japanese accent to catch the meaning.

What might he mean when he says "case by case?" In English, when someone says to consider something on a case by case basis, it means to judge each situation independently and as unique, even though it may appear similar.

Hatsumi Sensei also uses the word 状態  jōtai which is the current status;  condition;  situation;  circumstances;  or state. This suggests the ever changing state cause by the bufu blowing through the kukan and our connection to this.

When we study fighting in class, our actions often become fixed. The opponent repeats the same attack as we attempt the same technique over and over to study it. This is not real. And students often get confused when…

死門 Shimon: Gates of Death

Hatsumi Sensei tells us that we should awaken to the fact that we are only living in the space between life and death.

I've had a lot of death in my life recently. Every year that goes by, it seems that I know more and more people who are no longer around. That is natural as I grow older I guess. But in noticing this I also determine that death is always there, I just am not aware of it.  This awareness is an important quality in Budo.

People can misunderstand the famous quote from Hagakure, "The way of Bushi is the way of death." I think Soke is leading us to different understanding of that phrase. He says,
"All worldly things are impermanent; life and death are but one. Bushido is what runs through the Wabi and Sabi (transient beauty) of nature. Yet I feel compelled to say that enduring to the end no matter what happens, persevering with life despite being prepared for death at any time, is actually the secret of Bushido." This "secret" has opened up…