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Hatsumi Sensei's 道祖神 Dōsojin NSFW Except in Japan

Last month in Japan, I gained a deeper understanding of genitalia. It started with the male form. But luckily Hatsumi Sensei paired it with the female for me.

Before I describe what Soke shared, let me explain my first phallic encounter.  A local guy from a certain neighborhood told me about 鬚神社 hige jinja (beard shrine). I was intrigued because I thought I had seen all the shrines in this neighborhood.

He took me to 聖天島 shōtenjima where (土俗の神様 dozoku no kamisama) a local folk kami is enshrined on the island. The island was surrounded by brown, dried out lotus plants in their ugly fall phase.

I followed him to the edge of a moat. There, across the water, was what appeared to be old ruins. We walked across a small footbridge. He pointed at one statue that looked like a giant penis.

But why was it called hige? He told me I had to look at the back of it. I shimmied on the tips of my toes along the edge of the moat to get a look. The ura side of the statue was a depiction of 役行者 En no Gyōja…

潜在意識 Senzaiishiki: Enter Into Subconscious Bujinkan Training

Tuesday night I was in a class with Hatsumi Sensei at Ayase. I watched him throw somebody without touching them. Then he taught us an aspect of toate no jutsu, or striking from a distance.

These things are extraordinary to witness. But it is important to look past the miracles. Because it is the way he taught us these things that holds the key to understanding them.

Soke asked one student to explain what it felt like. The student said that he didn't understand what was happening to his own body. Soke replied that if you could figure it out he would be troubled by that. And then Hatsumi Sensei addressed us all,
"We're studying these things which can't be understood. Although you don't understand it, you might understand in your subconscious. 潜在意識 senzaiishiki, the subconscious, is the most natural part  of your consciousness. Since it's the most natural part it connects to juppo sessho." Our unconscious training is like an iceberg. The conscious part is t…

How to Throw Air With 体変術 Taihenjutsu

I was training with 手塚 Tezuka-san in Hatsumi Sensei's class at the Bujinkan Hombu dojo, when Soke did something funny to him. He threw Tezuka without touching him. Tezuka came back to me and asked, how did he do it? I said I saw it, but I can't explain what I saw. Tezuka said it felt like magic.

The throw happened in the air. In the space of a breath. Soke refers to 空気浮き kuuki uki when you float your opponent in the air. But then he said to throw him like 空気の投  kuukinotou, throwing air.

The day before I was on a quest for an effigy of 役行者 En no Gyōja that I had heard about. He is considered the  father of Shugendō. Shugendō followers are on a "path of training to achieve spiritual powers." This involves transforming their bodies through harsh physical endurance.

The 役行者 En no Gyōja I was seeking is one that is not well known and hidden from public view. I literally had to use 体変術 taihenjutsu to get there. As soon as I did, I was mysteriously greeted by a guide t…

Sunday Afternoon at the Bujinkan Takamatsu Memorial

The fall weather has been beautiful and the training very rich. More about that soon, but this afternoon Hatsumi Sensei invited as many as we could caravan over to his country house.

After an pleasant drive, we arrived to be greeted by Soke.

We also were welcomed by his horses.

Soke really enjoys describing all the statues and monuments to us.

Then Hatsumi Sensei made sure that everyone found a place for their stones.

I brought a stone from Santa Monica during my trip in September and Soke had placed it just to the left of Takamatsu's bust.

The horses meanwhile found where I left my backpack and were about to tear it open... Hatsumi Sensei thought this was very funny.

Hatsumi Sensei couldn't get his horses to stay still. It was funny watching him chase them.

Hanging out with Sensei is always relaxed and full of humor.

The Call of Bujinkan Training Takes Many Forms

I return to Japan again in two weeks. (if you can't see the video above, it is here: http://youtu.be/BGPhYFcs_cU )

A little more than one month ago I had an interesting experience there. I was walking around minami-shin ozakimachi neighborhood.

Just wandering...

Then I heard a sound. It was a clear soft chime in the warm breeze. I followed the sound down an alley.

There it was. The chime came from two 江戸風鈴 Edo fuurin. Edo fuurin are are glass wind chimes from edo, or old Tokyo.

I stood in the alley admiring their sound. They chimed from a back window of a restaurant kitchen.

A woman came out to see what I wanted. I told her I was listening to the furin. She went back inside.

I didn't want to bother her so I walked back down the alley.

I heard a yell. A man had come out. He took the bell down from the window and chased after me.

Then he gave me the furin! I said thank you and tried to give him some money but he refused.

The sound of the bell had struck on my heart and I follow…

自然力 Shizenryoku in San Francisco

I was preparing for my seminar in San Francisco this weekend, and I wondered, what is the best way to share the feeling I have gotten from Hatsumi Sensei this year?

I have told my own students that I don't know how to teach this year's theme. But that is no longer true. After my trips to Japan this year and a lot of study in my home dojo and elsewhere, I have had some breakthroughs and insights.



My friend Damion was very gracious to help organize a day of training in San Francisco.  To help people who were there to connect in a deeper way to their experiences, here are notes about what I shared on Saturday. But these notes can also be useful to any of you studying the 2014 Bujinkan theme.

We can start with the basic concept, "don't use your own power or technique." But if not, what do you use?

It is best to approach this question from various paths. For each person and moment there is an effective path. When I help students explore more than one path we may fi…

虚実 Kyojitsu: A Path to Natural Power

Hatsumi Sensei swung the bo across the line of the swordsman's cut. In the dojo we hear a sawing or zipping sound. The bo is hollow!

A weight from the 忍び杖 shinobi-zue swings through the air, barely missing the overhead lights. It continues wrapping around Soke's attacker until he and the sword are wrapped up. But Soke doesn't appear to move at all!

He finally drops the bo, and his attacker collapses in a tangled heap. What just happened? How can any of us in the dojo use that same feeling?

Soke called this 自然力 shizenryoku, natural power or the power of nature.

One of the secrets to this type of natural power is understanding power itself. Power that is not from your own effort or what you put out. It is how you are felt, or the effect you have. The perceptions of the opponent are what matter.

This is the heart of 虚実 kyojitsu.

I go to Japan to study the yearly themes and more. But I never know what I will learn when I arrive. During my trip last month, I learned about some of …

The 間 Aida of Skipping a Stone Across Water

My punch at Soke left me hanging over the depths. Beneath me was the profound moment of life or death falling into darkness below. I felt I could sink with it.

Above was Hatsumi Sensei, who had just bounced me off the surface of this pond like skipping a stone across the water. I looked at him, he laughed. He wasn't going to let me sink. Not today.

Not today because he is sharing the idea of skipping a stone across the water with the whole class. Last week he used this image again and again in his classes. And right now I was the stone.

When I heard him talk about this in previous classes, I nodded my head. The concept made sense to me. It reminded me of another image he had used last year of 乗換 norikae. Changing trains, going from one track (or technique, kyusho, etc…) to another.

But now when I experienced what it felt like to be the skipped stone, I realized there was so much more. There is the stone, the person throwing, and the surface across which you fly. But there is also the…

Hatsumi Sensei Shares Some Ninjutsu 文化 Bunka with Class

Last week Hatsumi Sensei set a tone for class that was subtle but very important. It started in a way that I have experienced before with Soke, with a show and tell before class. He brought out a sack full of books to show us.

Soke said these books were tales of ninjutsu 名人 meijin. They were mostly children's books and many were illustrated budo legends. But something was different about these from ordinary comics or manga.

Before I explain the difference, let me describe an experience from my own life that has the same echoes. It is an experience that is natural as you age, but the pace of change in our current era make it extreme. In my lifetime, a major change is the internet and smart phones.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about this in relation to the experience of learning, training and daily life itself. Many people younger than me did not experience life before cellphones and the internet. They may not know that it had a different quality.

You had to learn differen…

Senou Sensei Taught a Wonderful Class Today

I arrived early to the dojo because I'm like that, and I helped Senou Sensei cut some fresh 榊 sakaki for the shelf behind us.

When he unlocked the dojo, he walked in and was a bit emotional. He took some time examining everything because things were different. He told me it had been nearly two years since he had taught here.

Then he taught a great class. He told everyone there that all of the good thoughts from people in the Bujinkan had helped him to regain his health.

師恩 Shion: a Teacher's Grace and Kindness Inspires Our Bujinkan Training

I want to give you a clue for how to study in the Bujinkan. This clue I will share below comes directly from Hatsumi Sensei. But first, let me tell you why your teacher may not even know this.

Some teachers follow the teachings of Hatsumi Sensei, but many do not. Many have their own ideas about how the Bujinkan should be taught or transmitted. This is a mistake that many who claim to follow Soke will make without even knowing it.

They develop their own curriculum and make their students learn and study in ways that have never been part of the Bujinkan. This includes many lost people who think they can recreate the early training of the old days. If you weren't there, then you don't know. But I guess you can make stuff up.

Bujinkan arts are taught very differently from other martial arts and that is quite intentional. It is a natural strategy that Hatsumi Sensei has chosen. And if you don't understand it, there is a reason for that as well.

Hatsumi Sensei is an artist. Ho…

A New Bujinkan 初段 Shodan in my Dojo

I went to Arizona last weekend for training. This was more than just a normal training trip. One of my long-time students, Richard, was going for his initiation to shodan.

In many dojos, a Bujinkan 初段 shodan  is not really treated as such a big deal. In most of the Bujinkan it requires at least a few years of study and a proficiency with the basics. But in my dojo and my teacher's dojo, we see it as an important event in a student's journey. So we approach this threshold with certain key ideas.
To begin with, skill and technical ability are important. Richard had to demonstrate this, but by the time I put any student up for shodan, I already know very well what he is capable of. So we only look at technique to make sure the student knows for himself what he is AND is not capable of.

The next part has to do with the personal journey. How or why did you start? Why do you keep going? For most of us, these reasons change as we grow in the art. Richard's path to his shodan was…

Quick! Change Your Bujinkan Training with 早替わりHayagawari

One of our Bujinkan gokui comes from the secret writings of Shinden Fudo ryu and it says, 
豹変して必ず勝つ hyohen-shite kanarazu katsu. "Sudden change will always prevail." This kind of change suggests sutemi or discarding the self.

Hatsumi Sensei tells us that this kind of change can come from the unconscious. He uses the expression 早替わり hayagawari to describe this quick change.  And it can lead to a complete transformation in combat, your Bujinkan training, or even your own life.

What is 早替わりhayagawari? Like many of the references Soke gives to us, it originates from Kabuki theater. It is a quick change technique for actors on stage. The tricks they used allowed them to quickly change from one occupation to another, male to female, young to old, good to evil, etc.

Sometimes actors would even play more than one character in a play. Then they would need tricks called 外連 keren to make a quick change on stage, or hayagawari. They might have one costume hidden under the layers of anoth…

Today's Gift from me: Hojojutsu Quick Snare Bujinkan Video

(if you can't see the image click here)

Hidden Weapons of the Unconscious

One of the secrets to understanding this year's theme of 神韻武導 Shingin Budo  is the ability to find the hints and openings hidden everywhere. These are like the lingering sound of a bell that hangs in the air after it has been rung. If you did not hear the original strike of the bell, would you know what you were hearing or where it originated from?

This sound is like the hidden training that takes place in the Bujinkan. Training that takes place in the unconscious. If you are only learning with your body and mind, you are missing out on the important unconscious training that is very real in correct Bujinkan training.

You may know that your unconscious affects ordinary life. It also is at work in combat or in the dojo. But do you know what it is doing?

Hatsumi Sensei has written 無意識 muishiki (the unconscious), as 武意識 buishiki which is warrior consciousness or military awareness. With this kind of unconscious ability, you will always be able to tap into hidden fighting strategy. O…

What Happened at the Michael Glenn Bujinkan Seminar in Florida?

I just returned from teaching a seminar in West Palm Beach, Florida. My friend Paul Fisher and his students were friendly and gracious hosts. And maybe I learned more from them than they did from me!

It all started when one of Paul's students reached out to me after subscribing to my training notes. He emailed me privately to ask a technical question about training and during our correspondence, he asked if I ever came to Florida. I said no, but I would if there was interest.

Well his teacher Paul Fisher is an open and adventurous sort of guy. And he quickly embraced the idea. Now it was up to me.

Since my recent trip to Japan, I have been actively studying the strategies I learned from Hatsumi Sensei regarding this year's theme of 神韻武導 Shin Gin Budo. Out of all the notes, and all of my recent training, three points stood out to me that I could share with my new friends in Florida.

I wrote about these 3 strategies back in May: Kyusho of Zero in Three Easy Steps  But writing abou…

構え Kamae of the Hunter

Recently I was studying the kata 水鳥 Mizu Tori. The name of this kata means waterbird. The 構え kamae even mimics the pose of one of these birds.

I am a birdwatcher and have observed many waterfowl over the years. When I see them freeze very still in the water and strike this pose, they soon dart out and catch a fish. It is a hunting kamae.

We don't usually consider kamae as hunting. Normally we think of their defensive properties. Or maybe we train some offense. But hunting? That really creates a different feeling. Because it suggests strategies of stalking, stealth, and deception.

If you're a skillful hunter (rather than just an accidental or lucky one) you know that you become one with your prey. You think as they do, mirror their movement. A natural form of 自然の構 shizen no kamae grows in you.

This is how we evade the sword of our attacker in Mizu Tori. Move in accordance with his cut. Make small movement like the focus of a bird's eye as he stalks the fish.

In Mizu tori, you …

The Art of Disarming With 十方軌喝 Juppo Kikatsu

Hatsumi Sensei gave directions of how to do a kata. I needed these instructions desperately. Because the opponent has his sword ready to cut me down, and I do not have a sword. How do I not get killed?

Soke's instructions are,
「門空一閃、十方軌喝で取りをとる」 "a flash of nothingness, the art of disarming with juppo kikatsu."  Yes. Right. That's what I was going to do anyway.

But, before my opponent kills me, can I ask a question? What does that mean? I'm not dead yet, so I will try to understand.

I was working on this in my class the other night. I surprised one of my students with the way I captured him. He said, "It didn't feel like you had anything until you had everything."

A flash of nothingness. You yourself become this emptiness. Zero.

This is what allows the room in the kukan and in yourself for this year's theme of Shin Gin to be real. This has a funny effect on your opponent. It may cause him to falter or freeze. Like a flash across his mind he is trapp…

Kyusho of Zero in Three Easy Steps

I have found three easy steps to make 神韻武導 Shin Gin Budo happen. Sounds great even if it might be a lie. But could it be easy? Let's see…

One thing I know for sure about this year's theme is that it's difficult to teach. I went to Japan last month to study with Hatsumi Sensei. And he gave me a lot to work on. So I have been working.

Like many things Soke shares with us, this theme is connected to many previous themes. It did not suddenly appear this year in our training. And I personally am grateful to have this as a focus because I have been working on this very idea for several years in my own training.

But I always tell my students, this is what I am doing and studying myself, but I don't know how to teach it. Sorry.

Yet, thanks to Hatsumi Sensei's focus this year, I have new insights that I can share. Maybe they will help anyone trying to get a grasp on Shin Gin.

As I mentioned in another post about the 2014 Bujinkan theme,  this idea is like entering a divine spa…

空間移動 Kuukanidou: Moving Empty Space

What do you make with empty space? What is the point of 空間 kukan? Many years ago I was training with Hatsumi Sensei and he told us, "Your own intention becomes "ku". Your body becomes "ku." And together in that space you can live."

Wow. That is a powerful answer to conflict.

Then last month I was training with Hatsumi Sensei and he told us, "You've got to play in the space here. Be able to move freely, make your own kukan. Move with the opponent in the moment in a friendly fashion."

I've been giving a lot of thought and study to understand this year's theme. This theme resonates very deeply for me personally. One of the reasons I think it does is because I have been on a path leading to this for many years.

I said in my last post about this year's theme of 神韻武導 Shin Gin Bu Dou , that Soke feels that we in the Bujinkan have finally matured enough for him to share the gokui that Takamatsu Sensei gave him so many years ago,
なす技を己がカ…