The Ura Side of Bujinkan Sakkijutsu

金龍の舞 kinryu no mai, 浅草寺 Sensō-ji, Tokyo. photo by Michael Glenn
This is one of those Bujinkan training trips where I will be sore for the entire trip. Besides the normal beatings at the hands of my training partners, Hatsumi Sensei, Senou Sensei, Noguchi Sensei, and Nagato Sensei have all seen to it that they personally roughed me up.

For members of Rojodojo, I made a video: Bujinkan Japan Training Report: Kinryu Edition  Because...

Yesterday, I went to see 金龍の舞 kinryu no mai. Dance of the golden dragon. This is a rare sight… the sensoji temple also has the name 金龍山 kinryuzan. According to legend. the fisherman who founded the place saw a golden dragon swoop down out of the sky and create a forest in one night.

Eight guys carry the dragon and the 9th guy carries a lotus flower. This is symbolic of the dragon's dual nature. Although the dragon is fierce while attacking, it also protects.

Hatsumi Sensei has been saying the same thing for many years. In fact, on Tuesday night, he showed us this dual nature against his attackers. During one throw, he said he was trying to protect, but those who do not accept it defeat themselves.

He also shared what he called the ura side of 殺気術 sakkijutsu. This exposes the dual nature of sakki and requires a feeling of sutemi. Hatsumi Sensei used a baseball analogy where instead of going for a home run, you bunt.

When you bunt in baseball, you receive a fast moving ball and deaden it with your bat to slow it down. Your opponents chase a slow rolling ball while the runners advance at fast speed. It's a way of controlling the tempo of an attack.

Hatsumi Sensei said 勝負 shoubu, victory or defeat, is already decided before the fight begins. Then everything moves in slow motion for the opponent. He cannot stop it from happening. All he can do is witness his own demise.

This may come as a shock or surprise. And that is what defeats the attacker rather than any physical technique. Soke said he is like the monkey who puts his hand in the jar to grab the food, but then can't pull his fist out.

This is why Soke told us to release, or set ourselves free from 技術 gijutsu or the technical qualities of fighting. Technical skills are like the monkey trap. Soke said,
People think that they perform techniques with their own power, but they don't know that it's the kami that drive their bodies.
If you move with your own intention, then you can't use the power of kami.

And this power, this ura side of sakki, allows you to dissipate any attack. Imagine the arrows turning to flowers before Siddhartha. What Soke did in one class this week was cause his attacker to defeat himself by trying to help the attacker or even protect him.

Hatsumi Sensei told us this was for the "jugodan" test. When I became a 15th dan, I began to feel Soke's warning that the jugodans are constantly taking the sakki test. Anytime, anywhere. It does not only exist in the dojo. This is why we need to discover the ura of sakkijutsu that Hatsumi Sensei was teaching at Ayase.

The Golden Dragon (kinryuu son 金龍尊) is often mentioned in the Suvarna- prabhasa-sutra "Golden Light Sutra". This is where the idea of the 四天王 shitenno comes from. Soke has referenced this with 4 Japanese shihan and also used it as a nickname for some European shihan.

These four kings are supposed to protect the head of the kingdom. But only if the ruler is just. This is why Soke tells us to only teach people with a good heart. If you do not have a good heart you will never be able to harness the power of the ura side of Bujinkan Sakkijutsu.

In Bujinkan Ninpo, We Live or Die with 空 Ku

Shide at 稲荷神社, 南柏 Minami Kashiwa. photo by Michael Glenn
In the following account, I describe a night when I killed somebody. The intention rose up my body, filled it, and took over. Then I struck him down. He never saw it coming.

Before you report me to the authorities, make sure you read all I have to say about that night.

Life and death can flip in an instant. They both exist in the same moment. What separates the two?

One moment you are full of life. You were born, grew up, and live with the choices you make every day. You have dreams and goals for your future. But all of your history and all of your future can be taken from you right now.

Life. Death. One and the same.

In our Bujinkan training, we have strategies to deal with this. I previously wrote about one of these that Hatsumi Sensei calls 過去現在未来之術 Kako Genzai Mirai no Jutsu. This is an art of existing in the moment between life and death.

Life or death only happens in the present moment which is ephemeral and very small. In fact, it is a moment of zero. It is like a 要 kaname of life and death.

That night I killed somebody symbolically. Hatsumi Sensei asked me to give the godan test. The guy never saw it coming, and I killed him with my sword cut. But it was also a moment in which I existed. That same moment of life or death. And I killed myself along with my victim.

Hatsumi Sensei commented, “In ninpo taijutsu you have to become 重いで空 omoide ku,  heavy with emptiness.” But he also changed the meaning by using 思いで空 omoide ku, which means thinking, imagining, or feeling emptiness. Empty your mind of life or death in this moment of zero.

If you want to know more, you can watch the latest video I made about 過去現在未来 Kako Genzai Mirai. In the video, I also show how to find the pivot point on your sword.

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