The Kaname of 神眼 Shingan

真是厲害的鏡頭 photo By *嘟嘟嘟*
Hatsumi Sensei has suggested that another reading of 神眼 shingan is kaname. As we study this years feeling it might become important to see with the divine eyes of shingan. To truly comprehend this principle requires we understand how to connect to the divine.

In my recent video about 不動座 fudouza, I suggested some symbolism that connected the heavens, down through the conduit of our physical bodies, and into the earth. The way Hatsumi Sensei describes this connection, it's not him doing the techniques, but they are being created through this connection. No matter your beliefs or religion, it is crucial to understand the foundations of Japanese symbolism to get the feelings behind our art.

Hatsumi Sensei says that one way to learn this is through Sanshin no kata that is connected to the heavens. It is connected through heaven, earth, and man (tenchijin). He further describes this as  天動説 tendousetsu, 地動説 chidousetsu, and 人動説 jindousetsu.

天動説 tendousetsu is a word that describes Ptolemaic theory in Japanese. This is what we also call geocentric. An old theory where the earth is the center of the universe. Everything is connected to this axis and everything revolves around it. In my video I described this as the axis mundi.

地動説 chidousetsu is the Copernican theory which is heliocentric. Here the sun is the center of everything where we and the universe are connected to revolve around that axis. This idea of revolving or pivoting is crucial for our understanding of kaname.

人動説 jindousetsu is a theory of dynamic human change and movement. In the esoteric varieties of this theory, the stars are directly connected to the human spirit and move as we move. They shine brighter or may even blink out in connection to our lives. This theory seems to stem from the Chinese Xuanye shuo 宣夜說 Firmament hypothesis. Here the tian (天 ten or even kukan) is an infinite space. Celestial bodies are light matter floating on it and move by Qi.

Modern science has made these theories obsolete. But the cosmology and symbolism may still have resonance for us. Jindousetsu becomes connected to ideas of relativity in science and futurism in art. As we move through the kukan, our frame of reference constantly shifts and the world is in dynamic change from our perspective.

Soke says this is connected to the body language of fighting. Being able to read your opponent's ability, temperament, defenses and attacks tells you which frame of reference he is operating from. So if you adopt a larger frame of reference (possibly even one that is connected to the heavens), you can easily manage his attacks. In effect he becomes unable to harm you because you are operating above and outside of his ability.

This is like taking the high ground in military strategy. A drone operator has no need for body armour because his enemy's bullets can never hit him. The drone pilot is operating from a different frame of reference.

If we connect to this type of dynamic change in our training, the waza become alive. Sensei says that because this is a living thing it changes. It's varying within its existence. In this way it is connected to everything else.

Don't be static, have 人動説 jindousetsu!

VIDEO: 不動座 Fudouza



Here is a quick video for all my readers about 不動座 fudouza.

If you can't see it above here is a link to the video:  不動座 fudouza

This is not a description about technical details of sitting in this kamae, but rather more about the feeling and symbolism associated with the "immovable seat."

 I describe fudouza's connection to the symbolism of axis mundi, which is the central point around which the world revolves. I then tell a story about the Buddha and his battle with mara while seated under the bodhi tree. What happened when he got up after reaching enlightenment?

I detail a bit about 坐り型 suwari gata in the Bujinkan, and how Hatsumi Sensei sometimes approaches this with the feeling of Daruma.

Oh, I forgot, I also caught my first clumsy writing of the kanji for 不動座 fudouza on camera!

And lastly I suggest a tricky way to leave Fudouza. Be careful if you try it!

The Rise of 生物奇怪 Seibutsu Kikai

When Stunts Go Wrong, photo by Loco Steve
In our modern world, combat has evolved to an industrial and mechanical affair. Machines (機械  kikai) do the killing at a distance. For martial artists this can feel overwhelming or outside the scope of our training at a very human scale. But the Bujinkan also evolves with the times. Even though we study ancient weapons and arts, we must also keep our training alive to address modern concerns.

I was reading this humorous article about not being afraid of the robot apocalypse or of being destroyed by terminator robots: What if there was a robot apocalypse?

In this article the author explains how difficult it is for robots or computers to adapt. How easily they can be defeated by simple, and often natural methods or elements. For example, a fire hose turned on most robots will quickly end their rampage. Or a simple fishing net thrown over a robot would easily entangle its mechanics. Anything messy, really. Tar, mud, water, rubble, contaminated fuel… robots and computers are easily overwhelmed by the natural world.

The main reason drones have been so effective in combat is because they have human pilots, and they fly high above, and away from obstacles.

Reading about this reminded me of something Hatsumi Sensei has encouraged in our training. How may we address these types of warfare in the Bujinkan? I will not post any direct methods here, but Hatsumi Sensei has suggested a strategy for the future.

He suggests we should adopt a philosophy of seibutsu kikai (生物奇怪論に立って). A "living mysterious being theory." This is similar to hijoushiki 非常識. An irrational absurdity. It is like something supernatural, but as an extension and connected to the natural.

Seibutsu kikai is also cryptozoology. In Japan there are tales of Hibagon, Tsuchinoko, Kusshii, Isshii, Kappa, various Yokai, Mikoshi-nyūdō, Nue, Kasha,  Noderabō, Yamao, Buruburu, Nekomata, Shuten Dōji, Yūrei, Shiryō, Yanari, and Tengu, These mythical creatures and spirits exist in our dreams and nightmares throughout human history. They all have special traits, powers, or abilities. But they are difficult to find or hunt down. Do they exist? Did ninja? How would you go about finding one?

You cannot. And therein lies an important strategy. As Soke suggests in a play on words, this is 機会 kikai, or a time of opportunity. Drones, robots, and computers rely heavily on sensors and digital information, but how does one digitize a ghost? How can a robot fight a mystery?

Keeping this mysterious connection alive in our training is essential for those who have progressed beyond Godan, but also essential for the survival of our art as machines move beyond service to being replacements for us in life and combat. A machine could pass the Godan test with the proper sensors, but it could never properly give the Godan test. It will never have that connection. And there it will always be weak.

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