|My friends walk into the Shibamata Sun, photo by Michael Glenn|
Tuesday night I was in a class with Hatsumi Sensei at Ayase. I watched him throw somebody without touching them. Then he taught us an aspect of toate no jutsu, or striking from a distance.
These things are extraordinary to witness. But it is important to look past the miracles. Because it is the way he taught us these things that holds the key to understanding them.
Soke asked one student to explain what it felt like. The student said that he didn’t understand what was happening to his own body. Soke replied that if you could figure it out he would be troubled by that. And then Hatsumi Sensei addressed us all,
“We’re studying these things which can’t be understood. Although you don’t understand it, you might understand in your subconscious. 潜在意識 senzaiishiki, the subconscious, is the most natural part of your consciousness. Since it’s the most natural part it connects to juppo sessho.”
Our unconscious training is like an iceberg. The conscious part is the small bit you see above the surface. The 氷山の一角 hyouzannoikkaku, the tip of the iceberg. But what is hidden beneath?
Conscious learning cannot possibly hold all of the Bujinkan, all of the 9 schools, all of the kata, even more henka, all of the knowledge from previous Soke, hundreds or even thousands of years of human experience.
This is why Hatsumi Sensei told us, “I’m not doing technique, I’m changing it into the subconscious. I’m teaching in a way that will be absorbed by the subconscious.”
So how do you unlock the subconscious learning of the Bujinkan? One key was repeated again and again over my last two weeks here in Japan. Seno Sensei called it 分散 bunsan during one morning class when he showed my training partner Mats Hjelm and I how to receive a sword cut.
分散 Bunsan means to scatter or disperse.
In another class, during an attack, Hatsumi Sensei said to dissipate each other’s strength and power. And another time during a throw he said, get rid of your body. in the middle of it just throw yourself out. It is important to dissipate your body and create this space. This is a type of 体変術 taihenjutsu.
This kind of scattering or breaking up in all directions is like safety glass. Safety tempered glass has outer surface in compression and the inner surface under tension. When this balance is broken, it crumbles and shatters in a web of small pieces. This is much safer than the splintering shards of plate glass.
Doing this in combat makes your opponent crumble and his attacks become harmless. But more importantly, you do this to your own intention or consciousness. You scatter it and dissipate it. Then you will have access to the huge unconscious ability that you have inherited from Soke and the Bujinkan.