MUTÔ-DORI – 無刀捕 – PART 1.

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Furi kazasu tachi no shita koso jigoku nare
Ichi to ashi susume saki wa gokuraku

Hell under the upraised sword
one step forward is paradise.

One of the last stages of transmission of the masters of the classical Japanese martial arts is reflected in the transmission of the level of “Mutô-dori” (无 刀 捕), literally the translation of the kanjis lead us to the interpretation of “catch or capture a sword with the empty hands “.

“Mutô dori” means to protect against one or several opponents armed with any came of weapon, in any space or land, to empty-handed or with small concealed weapons ( as for example “Kodachi” – 小 太 刀, “tessen” – 鉄 扇, “Jutte” – 十 手, “tanto” – 短刀, “Shuriken” – 手里 剣, “Sageo.” – 下 绪, etc).

Inside of the Japanese classical martial arts can be found the concepts of hiding the weapons in examples as the terms like “Kakushi-buki” – 秘 武器, which could be interpreted by concealed weapons, or “Ongyô no jutsu” – 隠 形 之 术 , that we could interpret it as fighting techniques of hiding or dissimulation.

First of all “Mutô dori” is a survival technique in situations of extreme danger, and in his instruction there is included a complete and deep knowledge of the control of the body through the Form (技) transmitted in the “kobujutsu” (古 武术) . It is a condition of instruction where a holistic vision of the combat is included against an armed opponent, where the precise and exact synchronization and the control of the distances are vital in an only one movement, a movement that can’t not be understood for the armed oponent-s.

However the depth of “Mutô dori” and his interpretation is much more complex even than the definition that I gave in the first paragraphs. “The true value of practice resides within the practice” , and is very complex trying to capture in words the transmission of the essence of an art in continuous movement and adaptation to the present time. Note 1.

The art of the ” Mutô dori ” resides in a space that the own masters define as the practice of the invisible and the incomprehensible in the martial arts, is very tangled can be able to express through of words something that resides in techniques transmitted in the mystery of an art that is hidden in the space between the life and the death.

Is important to understand that when a disciple receives this type of instruction and transmission, already it is assumed that is in a level and condition of practice where he forms a part ” of the elite inside the elite “. This type of transmission is for a practitioner or disciple who has an experience confirmed, united to a physical and psychic aptitudes that they join with the current and the transmission of his master and his current “ryû” (流).

This transmission “of the elite within the elite” of “Mutô dori” was expressed during the Edo period (1603-1867) with the term “soto no mono” (外 之 物) that can be interpreted for “object found outside the field of vision”, or with the term that I have used in the preceding paragraphs as “Kakushi-buki” ( 秘 武器 ) .

This instruction was manifested in a space of confidence between the master and the disciple, in a space that went far beyond that the dôjô, or the practice space of the warriors, far beyond of the practice of the “Bujutsu” and his weapons more traditionals.The space occupied by this transmission comes alive in every moment of the life of the relationship created between master and pupil, and required something deeper than a complete mastery of martial science and weapons , demand a state of absolute harmony that transcends the natural talent of the warrior to keep his calm in the middle of a dangerous situation,requires a flexible mastery of the movement of the body in the art; in the art of the breathing, in the art of recognition of the emotions and feelings,in the art of endurance and the patience, the art of endure the hearht to survive and cultivate the flexibility in any way against anything, ESPECIALLY AGAINST ONESELF – YOURSELF.

This transfer of martial information between master and pupil is known under the terms of “gokui” (极 意) that can be interpreted as the “last state” or “essential principle” or with the term “ura waza” (里 技), which can be interpreted as “reverse technique”.

Note 1 – Kako genzai Mirai no jutsu (过去现在未来之术) – “Kako” means the past. “Genzai” means present and “mirai” means future. The meaning of all together express that the art created by the founder and refined for the next generation, contains all the information to adapt and confront to any situation or time, contains all the necessary to live, practice and transmit to the next generation the source “ryû” (流).


David Esteban Guzmán.

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