|sky pots, at 赤門勝専寺浄土宗 photo by Michael Glenn|
There are mysterious and strange surprises when studying the Bujinkan and what it means to be ninja. But the deeper you go, the more you find it is all connected. The mysterious evolves from the not so mysterious. Like kihon.
Let’s consider the kihon of muto dori. On its surface, it seems simple. Evade when the sword cuts.
But this is reasoning from analogy. You know that when you don’t move you will get hit or cut, because that has happened in the past or in other situations. But what is so amazing about the teaching Hatsumi Sensei has shared with us, is that we don’t reason from analogy. We don’t do things because that is the way they’ve always been done before. That produces a dead and lifeless art.
Hatsumi Sensei has written kihon as 奇翻, which suggests an odd turn, or a tricky mind with wondrous power. So, maybe we should reason from first principles instead.
So again, with muto dori, what is the first principle? The sword cut? Or the person cutting?
Why are they cutting? It is their mind or spirit that has made this decision. Their will controls the blade. While our spirit is in danger from it. All are linked and connected.
This kind of thinking will get you in trouble in a fight. But in training, it shines light on strategies that we can actually work on. So when the time comes, we do not sever the connection as Soke often advises.
Let’s flip it. You hold the sword. How do you cut?
In our training we study how to cut with good taijutsu. Your taijutsu comes from your own mind, will, life force, or spirit… whatever you wish to call it.
Then we target our opponent and cut. You see how an inanimate object like a sword is connected through your will to cut the opponent and his will to survive? Everyone in the fight is connected this way.
Soke sometimes calls this 繋がり tsunagari, which is a connection, link, or relationship. He always tells us not to cut this connection. In fact, we train to use it for many amazing results in combat or in our lives.
Hatsumi Sensei has also shown us how to do muto dori this way. He calls this 影の無刀捕秘剣。I won’t say more about this here, but…
If you hold a sword in your hand with this feeling, that sword becomes something much more than an inanimate piece of metal. It becomes 宝剣 hōken. With this you can cut away the illusion of all obstacles.