|Hatsumi Sensei gets into Michael Glenn’s head. photo by
Last week in class with Hatsumi Sensei, he remarked that this year’s theme is really hard. What he meant was not that it was particularly hard for him, but that it seemed hard for all of us to understand it. During all my classes with him this year, he has provided glimpses, feelings, and filled me with images of what he is leading us to in training. I think this type of imagery is the point in itself and a strategy for fighting.
For many years, Soke has been advising us to move beyond common sense and technique. To do things that can’t be understood. Because this type of fighting cannot be countered. It is a very Ninja strategy.
So I was watching him get his ukes to jump this way and that around the hombu tatami. They were filled with pain, but also great mental confusion. In most cases they appeared to be fighting themselves. How do you get opponents to fight themselves? To do the work for you so you can just play?
Soke gave us a tip that night that he described as 反応 映像 hannou eizou. You use the image of your opponent’s reaction or response. Use the image that this creates in their mind. So they are fighting a mirage. Their own imagination.
No enemy is more frightening than the one hidden in the dark corners of the mind. This is why Ninjas were so scary. Their invisibility and mystery left only people’s imagination to fill in the blanks.
Soke told us that to be able to do this in training you must simulate reality so that you’ll be able to face it. Free up your imagination this way. He said that it is crucial that you get to a place where you are not trying to fight. You are not trying to do harm. You just keep going.
Have this relaxed state of mind to keep going in the midst of danger. Not denying reality. But staying calm enough to see images or having this kind of imagination that will carry you beyond danger.
The moment that you decide to fight back, that is where you will fail. Hatsumi Sensei said that if your mind is working too hard, it’s just like you are whiting out everything. This kind of blindness to reality will make you the one fighting imaginary enemies. And they are really hard to kill.