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Showing posts from February, 2013

Ishiki Kara 意識空: How to Disappear Completely

Rearview Graffiti, Ameya-Yokochō アメヤ横丁 photo by Michael Glenn You should know when you understand something and when you don't. Have enough room in yourself to acknowledge it. When you don't, you are trapped in yourself. And you will not learn. If we go beyond what Hatsumi Sensei calls 一般的 ippanteki, 初歩的 shohoteki - the general, rudimentary or surface level of what we think we know there are many treasures to be discovered. For instance, these very words I write have power in them. It is a transfer of meaning from my thoughts to yours. This power should not be ignored or taken lightly. Do you know how it works? Hatsumi Sensei refers to this as 口伝言魂 kuden kotodama. This is the spirit or power of language. But it is not simply about thought. This same phenomenon can be harnessed in self defense. This 目的論 mokutekiron or teleology of kuden can be for the sake of survival. An example is found in muto dori. You don't simply evade the strike. You disappear. But how does one do

Two of the Best Ways to Hold a Weapon

Japanese Plow (notice grip), 1914-18 photo by A.Davey There is always a lot of curiosity about how to properly hold a weapon. Different arts and schools have their secret or preferred methods. But there is a simple way to understand gripping a weapon. You may have seen the practice of linking fingers in shinto (こりてくみ koritekumi, みてわざ mitewaza), or in mikkyo (手印 shuin). Two common variations are 本手 honte for yielding or being gentle, and 逆手 gyakute for vigorous strength. 観音菩薩 Kannonbosatsu often assumes the honte finger position for mercy, while 勢至菩薩 Seishibosatsu applies the gyakute method for wisdom. So we may apply this to 手の内 tenouchi and holding a weapon: If you are gripping honte style, hold the weapon across your palm with the middle finger and thumb coming together. This method is preferred for freedom and flexibility. With gyakute, you may shift the weapon in your palm so the index finger and thumb come together. Gripping in this fashion shows strength and power. That&

闘多 Touta: Many Fights Lead to Peace

観音寺 Kannon-ji Cemetary, photo by Michael Glenn It makes me laugh when I hear that someone has "modernized" or "updated" our training methods for modern times. When I hear about the latest guru, self-proclaimed master, or "Shihan" that has reinvented what he never understood in the first place, I can only shake my head. Where do these people think our techniques and the foundation of our art came from? The trials of warfare and turbulent Japanese history have been like a bloody form of natural selection for the techniques that survived into our time. Those that didn't work died on the battlefield. Which of these modernized systems have been tested in life and death combat over hundreds of years? But beyond actual technique, there is a quality inherited by fighters that may also be in our DNA. Hatsumi Sensei describes it this way: "In the long history of natural selection (淘汰 touta), or many fights (闘多 touta), we have survived  because of our