詒変の棒 Ihen No Bo: My Bo Stands Against the Wind

Raising a Pole, Japan 1914-18. photo By A.Davey
During the 2012 Daikomyosai, Hatsumi Sensei showed us some very mysterious forms of bojutsu. He was showing things most of us had never seen before. After watching one that was very surprising to the whole crowd,  Nagato Sensei turned to some of us and said, "Sensei has been reviewing his training notes from Takamatsu Sensei and he is remembering new things that he studied."

This statement can be interpreted in different ways. But my own feeling about what I witnessed Soke do with the bojutsu he learned from Takamatsu Sensei, is that it is connected to 詒変の棒 Ihen no bo. So I resolved to study this when I returned home.

How to study ihen no bo? If you have a basic grasp of bojutsu, then adding ihen requires tossing aside what you think you know. This is a scary starting place, because you must abandon what you thought were kihon. Why does ihen require this?

詒変の棒 ihen no bo can be defined as the deceptive or changing bo. Hatsumi Sensei says the "詒 i" in ihen can be read as 詒 azamuku or 欺く, which is deception. But you cannot deceive with just your own intention.

The deception comes from 虚実 kyojitsu, truth and falsehood, two sides of the same reality in the opponent's mind. In one of my recent classes, when we made a Bujinkan ► video of me demonstrating this, I explained this type of striking. It is an echo of the opponent's mind. If he believes you are striking him, you do not. The strike becomes false. If he doesn't believe you will strike, then it becomes real or true, and you strike.

With ihen the "hen" is the same as 変化 henka. It is the bo constantly transforming every moment in the kukan. This is reflecting life. Every moment is unique and the life of the bo changes with it.

Right now, one of my rokushakubo is leaning against a window shade to keep the wind from blowing through. It is not being used to beat up a swordsman. This is a natural henka for the bo.

Introducing Rojodojo and 五法 Goho Video Preview

I'd like to begin this post by thanking all of you for your presence and support over the past few years. This blog started because I have a deep abiding passion for the Bujinkan, which has been an integral part of my life's journey for well over half my life, and will remain so for the duration. And every one of you has been a part of that.

I care so much about the Bujinkan because it's a dynamic, living art. One which spoke to me as a skinny, awkward boy, and one which has evolved with me and for me as I've transformed physically and spiritually to embrace all aspects of this wonderfully rich lifestyle. It has given me grace as well as strength, balance and wisdom.

I don't practice Bujinkan; I'm immersed in it fully. It's not a study, it is, simply put, a transformational relationship...one of the most enriching and enduring relationships I have.

I teach Bujinkan as an extension of this relationship. I blog for the same reason. And I am so honored and proud to announce the launch of my new website which takes this union to the next level. It is intended to realize the vision I have for my Bujinkan life, and hopefully for yours, too.

At Rojodojo.com, I will continue to blog, publish my heartfelt training notes after every class, and explore the culture of our art through as many mediums as possible. I'll bring my love for the arts, film making, philosophy, and travel to the table. And I will produce training videos from my unique perspective. I will also travel, providing seminars and documenting these experiences for you to share.

This is my way of expanding and enriching what I give back to the community I'm so proud to be a part of. As with my classes, I pledge to keep the membership fees reasonable and affordable. They exist to enable me to continue to provide you with the best possible content.

I invite you to join me. I'd love to see you at one of my Bujinkan Santa Monica classes or in a seminar at a dojo near you. And I'd love to share it all with you through an exclusive membership to Rojodojo.com, where you can embark on every step of this dynamic journey.

Please accept this invitation. Come take a look. Together, let's continue the journey!


Rare Look at the Vital Connections of 殺気 Sakki

Mirror entrance of Kannon-ji (観音寺), Tokyo, Taito, Yanaka photo by MIchael Glenn
Understanding connection is a survival tactic of the Bujinkan. Even a mystery like Sakki Nage 殺気投 appears from 繋がり tsunagari or vital connections learned in our basics. But to actually do this we must also throw it away. So for students hoping to learn the mysteries of our art, many find contradictions in this concept of connection. These contradictions lead to deadly mistakes. In one class I heard Hatsumi Sensei say,
"Everything is let go, but at the same time is connected. You have to be able to do this. Otherwise you won't become capable budoka."
How do you let go yet stay connected? One answer to this leads to martial abilities that appear supernatural and many people don't accept. Yet I know they exist through my own experience with them.

The thing to remember is that an ability like sakki nage grows from basic kamae and taijutsu in a natural way. To explain, let's consider a mistake many students make when doing a standard nage:

You forget to expand your attention as you do a technique or a throw. You lock your mind and spirit up with the throw. This exposes suki and you aren't even aware of it. Deadly.

So one fix is to go ahead, throw away the self. This is an aspect of sakki nage. This is the flip side of the godan test. Sakki in the Godan test is about sensing the killing intention written by Hatsumi Sensei as 察気.

Once you learn to throw away the self and the ego (which allows you to pass the godan test), then you may develop the ability to emit or mask sakki 殺気, the killing intent. In that order. People often find it easier to emit this intent than to mask it.

But what is even more fascinating is what comes next. Being able to project it! With this ability you can give the Godan test effectively. But also project this ki as an attack!

There we have Sakki Nage. There are 2 ways to consider this:

One is Throwing an opponent with your ki. I've witnessed it. I've done it. People who don't believe it probably haven't learned the steps before: sensing sakki; emitting sakki; masking sakki.

Second is throwing it away! Discarding sakki is and tossing it aside is an amazing defense. Which leads us back to the basic mistake of exposing suki.

What does this have to do with a connection to your surroundings and suki? Well all of these mysterious skills come from basic understanding of kamae and knowing that good kamae only exists through connection. When you are able to connect at the level of sakki nage, your suki will have disappeared.

Let me ask you this: where do you think they go?

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