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Showing posts from April, 2016

Axis of the Zero

Jizo from inside 伝法院庭園 Denbōin teien. Photo by Michael Glenn Two weeks ago, Hatsumi Sensei spun around in one of his classes to show us the back of his sweatshirt. We could see an 円相 enso silk screened there along with the English word, “zero.” He showed us this to put emphasis on a comment he had just made, “We need to learn to move like this. we need to make everything… our entirety into zero.” You may have heard Hatsumi Sensei speak about zero. He has used this term for many years to describe his martial art. But in recent classes, it has been a focal point to our training. In fact, when I was in Japan last December, Hatsumi Sensei acknowledged arriving at this zero state. But it was not something he could teach. He said it had taken him 42 years to internalize everything Takamatsu Sensei had taught him. He added that in that 42 years he had given everything and taught everything, so now we are back at zero. He looked out at us during that special Wednesday class and said,

誠 Makoto: In Defense of Sincerity

Michael Glenn reflection selfie in Harajuku I just watched Hatsumi Sensei make an attacker kill himself. This has been happening in every class for the past week. Sometimes it is with a sword, sometimes a knife. But the opponent always ends up cutting or stabbing himself. I'm in the middle of my Bujinkan training trip here in Japan. And I haven't had much time to write. But also some things in Soke's budo are difficult to express. Like how does he get the attacker to do this? Hatsumi Sensei told us, "It's important to do this kind of action through the kukan. Use the kukan, become the kukan. You need to receive the opponent's power and be grateful for his power." This sounds like a joke but Hatsumi Sensei sincerely meant it. In fact, sincerity became something of a theme my first night here. Hatsumi Sensei painted 誠 makoto for me on a scroll. Of course this has more than one meaning. One is sincerity, another is truth or reality. Hatsumi Sensei was