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経津 Futsu: Reflections on a Theme for 2012

Katori-jingu, Katori-shi, Chiba-ken, Japan photo by TANAKA Juuyoh
Training sometimes seems mysterious. Even more so when Hatsumi Sensei gives us Japanese philosophical ideas to consider.  Sometimes these mysteries come in the form of a stated yearly theme.

The idea or feeling behind the yearly theme continuously changes as our lives and training evolve through the year. So whatever we think the theme is, it's important not to get attached to any set concept and to allow the natural evolution of training to occur.

These yearly themes and ideas Soke gives us are like gifts that resonate throughout the year as reflected in our training, in our taijutsu, and our lives.

As we enter 2012 what sort of starting point might we have for the yearly theme?

UPDATE: 2012 theme seven months later: Shot to the Heart of Kaname 要

I was at a class earlier this month where Hatsumi Sensei gave us some hints. We spent a considerable portion of this class exploring concepts with a sword sometimes against long weapons like a bo or yari.

At the end of class, after bowing out, Sensei wanted to share some ideas with us, so we sat on the dojo floor as he began sharing with us some ideas about a theme for 2012. Connected to the sword training we did that night, he made reference to 沸 Futsu which he used as an onomatopoeia (giongo 擬音語) for different sound effects.  He started out describing its relationship to the sound a katana makes when cutting. But then Hatsumi Sensei was using a lot of wordplay that night.

He continued to explore these meanings by using the ぶすぶす Futsu sound of simmering or boiling. He compared this to 煮沸消毒 shafutsu shoudoku which is sterilization by boiling. He told us this was like a burning away of bad parts of the self.

When I began to look into Futsu with more depth I found a wealth of meaning. One idea in particular seems well suited to the possibility of sword for the coming year.

Please remember that none of us knows where the training or Hatsumi Sensei will take us in the coming year so these connections and ideas are my own.

In his talk, Hatsumi Sensei made reference to the Katori Jingu (photo above), where Futsu Nushi no Mikoto 経津主之命 Guardian deity of martial valour is celebrated.

Even more intriguing is Futsu no mitama 布都御魂 the Divine sword of Japanese mythology, possessed by gods Takemikazuchi no mikoto and Futsunushi no mikoto,
The personification of a divine sword. At the time of Emperor Jinmu’s 神武天皇 (Jinmu-tennō) campaign to the east, Amaterasu 天照 ordered Takemikazuchi to assist the beleaguered Jinmu, whereupon Takemikazuchi miraculously sent his divine sword Futsu no mitama to appear in the warehouse of Takakuraji in Kumano熊野 . Takakuraji found the sword and presented it to Jinmu, whereupon Jinmu was enabled to complete his campaign. In Sendai kuji hongi, Futsu no mitama is called “Futsunushi no kami’s sword of spirit,” presented by Jinmu to Umashimaji as a prize for killing Nagasunehiko and submitting to the imperial forces. It is believed to represent a divine sword worshiped by the martial clan Mononobe, who were instrumental in the early pacification of Japan, and is enshrined as the central deity (saijin) of Isonokami Jingū and other shrines.
--Kadoya Atsushi, Waseda University, Tokyo
Another connection for Futsu is the mirror as in the 真経津の鏡  Mafutsu no Kagami (alternate name for Yata no Kagami, the mirror of the Imperial regalia). When you look for your reflection hidden there it is like a search for the Buddha hidden from view or 秘仏 Hifutsu.

I hope my exploration of Futsu gives you some hints to reflect on for 2012. Happy New Year!

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