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.


Guilherme R. Fauque

Hello Sensei. Why do you don't place a video for the better comprehension of what are you talking about? Would be very useful :)

I love your texts, keep on! :)


This is excellent...I havent been with the Bujinkan for sometime, but would love to hear more about this!

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