|観音寺 Kannon-ji Cemetary, photo by Michael Glenn|
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 killer instinct."A killer instinct supersedes technique. It can make even bad technique brutally effective. But modern warfare has proven that this too, must evolve.
The modern expression of killer instinct is death for all. Including the killer. Whether this be from weapons of mass destruction, pathetic suicide bombers and idiots with guns, or apocalyptic shock and awe.
What should a killer instinct evolve into? Hatsumi Sensei has suggested a path forward. He tells us that the process of honing the killer instinct leads to an expanding of perceptions and clarity of mind.
Eventually one reaches what Soke calls 超感覚の世界 choukankaku no sekai, or the world of super consciousness. This is like a sort of ESP or greater awareness that moves us beyond concepts of life and death struggle. How does this apply to your training?
You must train tirelessly and simply. Throw away that which you don't need. You will then find a quintessential goal of training which Hatsumi Sensei says is to:
"purify your heart, and gain the calmness of a fresh spirit- then you will know peace of mind."When you reach that place in class, or in your life, what is on the other side? Well, 超感覚 choukankaku can be read as transcending emotions to wake up. If you have woken up then you will naturally "strive to change the world from one of war and massacre into a true and great world of peace."
I respectfully thank our teacher, Hatsumi Sensei for this inspiration.