How Hatsumi Sensei Adapted the Ura Waza of Sanshin no Kata to a Confined Space

Not so clumsy Butterfly at Nihon Minka-en. Photo by Michael Glenn
When anyone tries the ura waza for our Bujinkan Sanshin no kata for the first time they “blunder and fumble like a moth,” in the same way I quote clumsily from Faulkner. I show it to them, then they try it… then crash and burn. You can almost see the synapses misfiring across the hemispheres of their brain.

Not many Bujinkan teachers train the ura waza of 三心の型 sanshin no kata. And our bodies get used to the kata we always do. In my own classes, I use many approaches to sanshin to keep us adaptive. Each time we do it, it should be new again.

I will be teaching this as part of my Rojodojo Expert Rally if you want join us in Phoenix or Chicago. If you can’t make those cities, you can invite me to visit your dojo. As Hatsumi Sensei says, these things are 参考書 sankousho (a reference) for training.

I felt new again when Hatsumi Sensei showed a very practical use for the ura waza of sanshin no kata during one of my visits this year to Japan. He was showing how to use kakushi buki and he said,
“It's like the sanshin no kata. You go with the body like this.  When you don't have space (kurai dori for a 狭い semai, narrow confined, small space) you do it like this. Study that when you can't move.” 
We all tried it, but I think you can’t master it immediately. Especially when your brain and body are used to the kata you normally do. When I teach this ura waza, I literally start with putting one foot in front of the other. If you can get that small detail, you are on your way.

We should not try to be experts all at once. Rather, we should strive for the process of continual small improvements in training. It is the aggregation of these marginal gains that leads to mastery. I hope to see you at one of my Rojodojo Expert Rally’s! You can also join my email list for future updates.

Is this the most adaptive word in the Bujinkan?

In a recent class we studied Bujinkan uke kihon gata. I demonstrated how to physically do a jodan uke. But here is what I wrote in the training notes that I send out to my subscribers:
 "performing jodan uke begins with an attitude. Remember, uke comes from 受けるukeru which means to receive. There are three important moments when I  have to remind students of this: during ukemi; when performing uke nagashi; and even when being an uke."
But the fourth moment for this attitude is the MOST critical for your Bujinkan training. It is so important that I made a video about this word that you can watch below:

the most adaptive word in the Bujinkan?
Is this the most adaptive (and important) word for your Bujinkan training?
Posted by Rojodojo on Wednesday, September 9, 2015
you can also watch this on
receptive. that’s the sense
of an approach

no, more of an attitude for training.

some students arrive clear and receptive
others show up closed off
should they even be called students?

those who insist they are open
are the most dangerous to themselves
Their attitude fills them like the zen master’s
teacup. Can I serve them any more tea?

When I am a training partner. I receive.
In this moment I am filled with knowledge.
Do I even care that my role is to lose?

I receive an attack. this is the flip side of my counter.
Not a block.
after, I reverse the flow.
just enough
to match for that which I was given

I float here. In the space.
My ukemi protects me not because I am good
But simply receptive.
comfortable in my own space
that belongs to everyone else too.

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