|flower across from the pillar of Kyōbashi. Photo by Michael Glenn|
Next week I will travel again to Japan for Bujinkan training. My 3rd time this year. That may seem excessive, but the experiences I enjoy each trip help me discover the “secrets” of our art. For example, here is a lesson from Hatsumi Sensei that taught me how to be a lucky ninja.
One Friday night Hatsumi Sensei was showing us ninjutsu. Sometimes people who don’t understand our art ask, “when is Hatsumi Sensei going to teach ninjutsu?” Well he teaches these secrets all the time. But the secrets are hidden in plain sight… If you understand what you witness.
He began by striking with a koppo ken. But the koppo ken doesn’t arrive directly. It is hidden within the pattern created in the kukan. Soke said,
“Don’t strike in one pattern. Expand into a ninpo type feeling.”
Then he called me out to demonstrate. I punched. He started to perform what I thought would be a ganseki nage. But that evaporated. And as the form disappeared I was thrown by something else.
Then Hatsumi Sensei said that we cannot hold onto form. Don’t let what you are holding become an obstacle. He continued to say that もっけさせる mokke saseru is a きまり句 kimari-ku of ninpo taijutsu.
Well, this saying of ninpo is quite deep. It has layers of meaning. Mokke is something unexpected, like a mysterious apparition. But, to keep it simple, we can just consider that doing the unexpected in a fight can lead to victory.
But “mokke” can also refer to getting lucky, like a sudden windfall. Except here you create your own luck. In another class I had with Hatsumi Sensei many years ago, he said,
“you have to be the type of person that lucky things happen to”
So how did Soke create his own luck when he threw me? He made the form of ganseki, then let it go. In that gap, that space that opens up when the form is abandoned, freedom occurs. And the opportunity to “get lucky” appears.
Many martial artists struggle with this. People who are attracted to martial arts tend to want to control a fight, control danger, control themselves. But, if you are holding onto form or seeking to control a situation, there may be no room for luck.
You should make room for own luck. Just add your email to get the details about my latest Japan training.