Kyusho of Zero in Three Easy Steps

Three Lamps, 日本民家園 Nihon Minka-en. photo by Michael Glenn
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 space. But first you have to find it. And Hatsumi Sensei says we should make it ourselves. Make our own kukan where we can be safe, where we can survive and live. So, how do you start?

Step 1: 阿吽の呼吸 aunnokokyuu


One way to begin is with 阿吽の呼吸 aunnokokyuu. Hatsumi Sensei used this term which means harmonizing.  Like yin/yang or in/yo. Connect the Mind, body and spirit, with that of your opponent.

If you do that, the fight will never happen in the first place. But if it does, anger and aggression tend to dissipate when there is this kind of harmony. And even still, if the attacks come, you are so connected that it would be like you punching yourself. How hard is it to avoid that?

Go ahead, try it. Punch yourself. I'll wait right here while you do. 

If you are not masochistic, then you either won't do it at all, or it is very easy to avoid. This is what it feels like when you are harmonized with your opponent. But the theme this year is larger than this.

Step 2: 空間を陽空 kuukanwoyokuu


After using 阿吽の呼吸 aunnokokyuu, you enter your own space. Either by finding it or creating it. Soke said it is like an air pocket.

Hatsumi Sensei said 空間を陽空 kuukanwoyokuu. This is Yang empty space. A positive,  safe space. Like seeing daylight when emerging from a prison. Or the clouds parting after a storm.

This is where things get mysterious. Shin Gin.  Budo guided by divine resonance.

Step 3: 神韻武導 Shin Gin Budo


Once in that space, you can harmonize and connect with the heavens. Through this connection you are a lot more powerful than your own strength, ability, technique, or wit could ever be when fighting by yourself. You gain a natural 抑止力 yokushiryoku, the ability to deter attacks.

And as for offense,  Hatsumi says you can strike opponents with your spirit. You strike the space itself. 空間の九勝 Kukan no Kyūshō. Soke said,
"Lift the opponent up into the kukan and then blast them away with your spirit. It's the kyusho of air. It's the kyusho of zero."
3 easy steps, right?

What a crazy, wonderful, and powerful art we study! I would never believe any of this if I hadn't witnessed it in person, felt it directly, or done it myself. I hope you can find this in your training this year.

空間移動 Kuukanidou: Moving Empty Space

Parking Lot Ku, near 観音寺 Kannon-ji, Ayase. photo by Michael Glenn
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,
なす技を己がカと人は言う。神の導く身と知らずして (高松寿嗣)
People say that it is with their own strength that they perform techniques, without knowing that their body is led by the gods. ~Takamatsu Toshitsugu
I got my first rank in the Bujinkan in 1988. But I started studying some years before that. The mystery is, what got me started? An even bigger mystery is what keeps me going after all these years?

This year feels like an answer to that mystery to me. To try to understand the answer, I have been digging through my old training notes. Following the threads where they lead.
And they appear to come together this year in empty space. Kukan.

So the other night in my own class, I was attacking my opponents with kukan. No one can counter or defeat empty space. But why is this even possible?

I explained to my students that we were doing what Soke describes as 空間移動 kuukanidou, which is shifting the space itself, or repositioning the kuukan. Then you strike the kukan. Ring it like a bell.

More than twenty years ago Hatsumi Sensei said in one class, "You should strike the kukan. You should not be aiming at a specific target, you should be aiming at the space itself."

Then it resonates. Your strike echoes around the space and is magnified the way sound waves can amplify one another. Then you are not using your own power.

Sound waves can cancel each other out as well. This is how you evade or defend with empty space. I've witnessed this personally. I've done it.

You render an enemy harmless. He falls, gentle like a cherry blossom. This is how you can create a safe place in the midst of violence. A space where you can live.

What might happen if you did this outside of the dojo? What if you make your own kukan for your life?

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