|Parking Lot Ku, near 観音寺 Kannon-ji, Ayase. photo by Michael Glenn|
What do you make with empty space? What is the point of 空間 kukan? Many years ago I was training with Hatsumi Sensei and he told us, “Your own intention becomes “ku”. Your body becomes “ku.” And together in that space you can live.”
Wow. That is a powerful answer to conflict.
Then last month I was training with Hatsumi Sensei and he told us, “You’ve got to play in the space here. Be able to move freely, make your own kukan. Move with the opponent in the moment in a friendly fashion.”
I’ve been giving a lot of thought and study to understand this year’s theme. This theme resonates very deeply for me personally. One of the reasons I think it does is because I have been on a path leading to this for many years.
I said in my last post about this year’s theme of 神韻武導 Shin Gin Bu Dou , that Soke feels that we in the Bujinkan have finally matured enough for him to share the gokui that Takamatsu Sensei gave him so many years ago,
People say that it is with their own strength that they perform techniques, without knowing that their body is led by the gods. ~Takamatsu Toshitsugu
I got my first rank in the Bujinkan in 1988. But I started studying some years before that. The mystery is, what got me started? An even bigger mystery is what keeps me going after all these years?
This year feels like an answer to that mystery to me. To try to understand the answer, I have been digging through my old training notes. Following the threads where they lead.
And they appear to come together this year in empty space. Kukan.
So the other night in my own class, I was attacking my opponents with kukan. No one can counter or defeat empty space. But why is this even possible?
I explained to my students that we were doing what Soke describes as 空間移動 kuukanidou, which is shifting the space itself, or repositioning the kuukan. Then you strike the kukan. Ring it like a bell.
More than twenty years ago Hatsumi Sensei said in one class, “You should strike the kukan. You should not be aiming at a specific target, you should be aiming at the space itself.”
Then it resonates. Your strike echoes around the space and is magnified the way sound waves can amplify one another. Then you are not using your own power.
Sound waves can cancel each other out as well. This is how you evade or defend with empty space. I’ve witnessed this personally. I’ve done it.
You render an enemy harmless. He falls, gentle like a cherry blossom. This is how you can create a safe place in the midst of violence. A space where you can live.
What might happen if you did this outside of the dojo? What if you make your own kukan for your life?