Skip to main content

過去現在未来之術 Kako Genzai Mirai no Jutsu

Bujinkan Hombu 畳 Tatami photo by Michael Glenn
In one Friday night class at Hombu, Hatsumi Sensei suggested a mode of perception that is at the heart of our training. Sensei used the words 過去 kako, 現在 genzai, and 未来 mirai. This loosely refers to the past, present, and future.

That night on the tatami of the Honbu, Soke was giving us a deep lesson. He said that we should keep the past, present, and future connected. Allowing one to drive the next. This happens with or without our participation.

If you can get with the flow of this connection, then you may ride it to victory. But in order to flow and connect with it, you must be able to see it. What does it look like?

Maybe you've had the experience of looking at a newborn child. You see your parents and grandparents in his or her fresh face. You see yourself and your partner reflected there too. And you also see a newness that is in the process of becoming. A new person with a future life stretched out ahead. Of course you see how these are all connected. Maybe you think about how your parents must have studied your own baby face with the same wonder.

Some people would rather forget the past. They may propose a toast to say, 過去を忘れるために乾杯 Kako wo wasureru tameni kampai, Here's to forgetting the past! Or even something like, The past is vile, the present is barely tolerable, but there's hope for the future.

When Hatsumi Sensei teaches, each technique is like a newborn child. He teaches based on a kata or concept that has been passed down through the ages in a lineage he inherited. If you look carefully, you will see the imprints or DNA of this 過去 kako or past encoded in the movement. All of the Bujin, the past Soke, and the warriors who lived and died with our art are contained there. Hatsumi Sensei has told us this directly.

But you also may see Hatsumi Sensei's living expression of the art in the present. This 現在 genzai is vital. It is what allows the art to stay relevant. Truthfully, it is the only thing protecting you should you need to use the art in combat. Hatsumi Sensei has clearly stated that the way he teaches now is what matters. If you are not connected to this current training, you are studying a dead art.

If you are really connected and observe carefully, you may even bear witness to where the art is leading us. As you watch Hatsumi Sensei teach, there is a palpable experience that anything can happen. And it often does. As he follows the unbroken connection in each moment, you begin to glimpse the path ahead or the 未来 mirai in our training. The sense of wonder this gives me as a student is indescribable.

This explains why nothing Hatsumi Sensei teaches is ever the same way twice. You may have seen him do the same kata years ago and thought what he did was a definitive rendition of this kata. But then he will do it again, entirely different, and this version will feel like the definitive version. If you try to hold onto either technique, you will miss the point and be left behind.

That night in Hombu, some people debated what Soke meant by his statements. But I just took in the spectacle with enjoyment. Because Soke did not care.

He simply told us to take ample space. With the proper use of space the attacker is defeated. But you aren't using the space! You just allow for it, and many wonderful techniques are born.

So when you are in actual combat, if you can connect to the three aspects of 過去 kako, 現在 genzai and 未来 mirai, you may enter the world of 幽玄 yugen. Your opponent will be operating in the fog and you may float outside of his influence.


Popular posts from this blog

Noguchi Sensei Surprised Us With Gikan Ryu

Noguchi Sensei Shares 40+ year old Gikan Ryu notes. photo by Michael Glenn They love to crank up the heat in the Bujinkan Honbu. I find it too hot on most days. But today I had been doing photography out in the cold pouring rain, so I found myself ready to embrace the warmth of the dojo. Noguchi Sensei greeted me when he arrived. He normally shares a few jokes with me, but today he seemed very focused. Less than 20 students were waiting for him to bow in. He did so promptly as is his custom. Then he announced we were doing Gikan Ryu kata. I was surprised. In more than 30 years I have not been shown these from any teacher. In between kata, Noguchi Sensei showed me a tattered notebook with the kata handwritten in a numbered sequence. He told me these were his actual notes from more than 40 years ago when Hatsumi Sensei taught these only to him. if you are interested, I recorded a video of my experiences for 特訓 Tokkun members of Rojodojo: Bujinkan Kuden: Gikan Ryu wit

Ninjutsu - The Spider's Thread (蜘蛛の糸, Kumo no Ito)

photo by ajari This last year, some of us have heard Hatsumi Sensei make reference to a spider's web dangling down from heaven.  As usual with Soke, there are many layers to this idea.  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 details from my classes with Hatsumi Sensei. One idea that Sensei put out there for us was in his painting of Daruma with a spider descending a web and alighting on Daruma's eyebrow.  As Paul Masse explains: The Inscription reads, “ Ninjustu is on your eyebrow.... the spider`s thread, so close, the village of Togakure”.  Sometimes things are so close to us that we can not perceive them. Hatsumi Sensei has continued to reference this web from the heavens.  If Ninjutsu is on one's eyebrow, or there is a thread to heaven dangling down but we do not see it, how can we use that in Budo? Maybe it will help if we look at another story that Hatsumi

Training From Inside a Bujinkan Dojo Membership Program

What can you learn from the Rojodojo membership program? or, Why start an online membership? I have been training all of my life. Started in 1985. Around that same time, I also got into film and video production. So when I began teaching Bujinkan and started my own dojo, It seemed like a natural thing to make training videos. I assumed I would put them out as DVDs. I even made some with chapters, extras (remember those?) and gave them out. But, this was the era of Netflix and streaming video. Many people were abandoning DVDs and VHS was already a dinosaur. Then my next thought was how can I stream these training videos? I put a few on youtube, a few on amazon, and I quickly realized it was a full time job. Between the teaching of classes, the video production, post production, streaming setup… And the equipment wasn’t free either. I knew I had a few friends from my mailing list and from social media who might be interested. So I set up the streaming on my new website and I