Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2014

自然力 Shizenryoku in San Francisco

San Francisco from Alamo Square, photo by Michael Glenn 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. Damion tabi shopping in Noda, photo by Michael Glenn 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 vari

虚実 Kyojitsu: A Path to Natural Power

Soke is a Trickster, photo by Michael Glenn 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. D

The 間 Aida of Skipping a Stone Across Water

Michael Glenn Shares a Stone from the Santa Monica Mountains with Hatsumi Sensei 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 th