Un Tsuki a la existencia

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“Según el famoso maestro de artes marciales Yagyū Munenori, expresa que: “ En un momento de existencia, se lanza un tsuki a la existencia; en un momento de no existencia, se lanza un tsuki a la no existencia. Igualmente, sin esperar la existencia, se lanza un ataque a la existencia. En ese sentido, se dice que la existencia es existencia, y la no existencia es también existencia”.


Yagyū Munenori ( 柳生宗矩 1571 – 1646) fue un maestro de espada , fundador del estilo  Yagyū Shinkage-Ryu , que había aprendido de su padre Yagyū “Sekishūsai” Muneyoshi . Este fue uno de los dos estilos de espada oficiales patrocinadas por el shogunato Tokugawa (el otro siendo Itto-Ryu ). Munenori comenzó su carrera en la administración Tokugawa como hatamoto , un administrador directo de la casa Tokugawa, y más tarde tuvo su ingreso de 10.000 koku , haciendo de él un menor Fudai daimyo (señor vasallo al servicio de la Tokugawa), con tierras alrededor de su aldea ancestral de Yagyū-zato. También recibió el título de Tajima no Kami (但馬守).

Source : https://tenryuden.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/un-tsuki-a-la-existencia/

勝負いなく Shōbu Inaku: Bujinkan Strategies of Control Part 2

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Hatsumi Sensei’s dynamic kamae. Photo by Michael Glenn

In the first article on Bujinkan Strategies of Control, I described one of the times I attacked Hatsumi Sensei. Anyone who has been Soke’s uke can tell you the same thing. What it looks like and what it feels like are very different!

One common thing we all feel from him is that he disappears. I know that sounds odd, but it’s like he’s there in front of you, then he’s not. In fact, last week he explained how this is one of his strategies for control. He told us to,

“Move naturally like this as they’re coming in. Move naturally without making a fight of it.”

That was the English translation but Soke used the the words 勝負いなく shōbu inaku meaning that there is no fight or the fight disappears. Shōbu implies a contest or a match where victory or defeat is decided. Since we don’t study sports martial arts, we are not attached to either of these outcomes.

いなくなる inakunaru means to disappear. Or, in a definition that will help us understand this strategy, it means “to stop being”. Any fight, match, or contest requires at least two combatants. What happens if one disappears?

This starts internally. You have to remove yourself from the idea of winning or losing. Or even that there is any fight to win or lose. When you step outside of that small world where the fight exists, you will find it very easy to control the situation.

Hatsumi Sensei watched all of us trying to do that. He likes to stand in the back of the dojo on the wood floor and observe us. Sometimes I will even see him stand right in the middle of the room watching. He saw that many of us were still trying to fight, so he said we should leave that attitude at home…

“In your own training it’s ok to punch and fight like this, but here we’re studying control.”

He told us we are not learning to exchange blows. That is what happens in sports martial arts, people exchange blows until victory or defeat is decided. Sometimes by judges! But there are no judges in real combat.

Instead Hatsumi Sensei told us to play in the space. It’s not fighting. This is how we learn how to control in the space.

When you understand this at a deep level, two critical changes happen in your training:

First, by not showing that you’re fighting, you disappear from the fight. This is not just a psychological trick. You can learn to physically disappear from the fight.

I felt this when I tried to grab Hatsumi Sensei’s arm. He was teaching tehodoki. When I went to grab he just disappeared. He reappeared after I flew through the air and landed on my back.

And second, you make the fight itself disappear. This causes the opponent to lose strength and ability to fight. Hatsumi Sensei showed me this aspect another time when I stabbed at him. The way he smiled at me, and his kiai in that moment, caused my attack to just deflate because he was not fighting me.

Hatsumi Sensei said again and again that コントロール kontorooru is this year’s theme. Not fighting… just controlling. It’s not a waza or technique that can be taught.

In fact there is only one clear way to learn it. That is through direct experience with Hatsumi Sensei or with a teacher who has had that experience. Then you can learn what Soke means when he tells us that he is not fighting. He says he is just following the path of kami (神の道 kami no michi). We would be smart to follow his lead.

Michael GLENN
Source : https://bujinkansantamonica.blogspot.fr/2016/12/shobu-inaku-bujinkan-strategies-of.html

The Sanryaku and Gyokko Ryu

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Sensei actually talked about this three weeks ago but it has taken me a bit to get it sorted out.

“There are many famous books about Heiho, military strategy, and one of them is the Sanryaku三略.  The Sanryaku is, as the Kanji in the name state, three stratagem.  The Jo, Chu and Ge, or upper, middle and lower.  While some Densho have a Shoden, Chuden and Okuden with the Shoden being the easiest and the Okuden/Okugi being the hardest the Sanryaku is divided into three sections not based on level.  The Jo no Maki, or upper book should not be considered to be any “easier” or “harder” than the middle or lower books.”

More on this book in English here.

Unsui Sensei then drew a parallel to the three scrolls of Gyokko Ryu:

“The Joryaku of Gyokko Ryu is taijutsu where both are unarmed.  The Churyaku deals with doing Mutodori against a short sword/knife while the Geryaku no maki has Muto dori against an opponent armed with a Katana.  Each scroll is important in its own right and, just like the Sanryaku, should not be thought in terms of levels.  It is important to keep this difference in mind when training Gyokko Ryu.”

The images are from a Japanese edition published in the nineteenth year of the Tensho 天正 Emperor 1591.  The are the first pages of the Jo, Chu and Ge Ryaku chapters in all their scribbly Kanbun glory.  Remember the Kana on the right side of each column are the verb endings and whatnot while the marks that look like the numbers one and two on the left side show how to reorder the sentences into Japanese grammar.  The red lines usually link words while the dots indicate other…stuff, like breaks in passages and emphasis.

Do you doubt?

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25 Monday Jun 2007

A very important point was made by Noguchi Shihan a few weeks ago. This comment has rang through my mind, and I’m compelled to write about it now.


Noguchi Shihan told us that “if you doubt your technique or ability, then you should just leave”.  At first glance, this may seem like a harsh comment, but it maybe one that will save your life.


Confidence is a very important aspect if not the most important aspect of martial arts and combat.  In budo, we have the specific term “Shin Gi Tai” that refers to the 3 aspects of mind, body and spirit or a more direct translation of Mind, technique and body.  All 3 must be in alignment for mastery of a martial art. Without the confidence of mind then the other two will not follow.  How can you expect to be skilled if you don’t have the confidence?


Soke often makes reference to “Luck” and how it works with us and against us in life.  Therefore, we must have the confidence that we will conjure only the “good” type of luck and not doubt the outcome.


As I stated before in an earlier post, technique is basic and should not be forgotten, but currently there is little value attached to technique. It is expected that one has trained long enough to understand this, or at least be training with someone who does.


If you are in a real conflict, you have to be 100% sure that you will succeed or you are handicapping yourself in a potential life or death situation.


I’m 100% confident that this is why Noguchi Shihan said, “if you doubt yourself or your technique then you should just leave”.  

In shinkengata, there is no room for doubt.  You must win, it is that simple.


Source : https://henka.wordpress.com/2007/06/25/do-you-doubt/

Bujinkan Strategies of Control

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雪吊り yuki zuri at 六義園 Rikugi-en. photo by Michael Glenn

The train rattled by the Bujinkan Honbu dojo. I looked down at the knife in my hand. I looked up at Hatsumi Sensei who called me to stab at him. I plunged the knife toward him. He made a kiai that came out like the creaking, groaning sound of an old iron gate.

It was not a human sound. And he was in my face, laughing. I fell to the floor. He asked me to speak and share what I just felt with all of the students in the dojo. All I could say was that his smile made me drop.

It has been difficult to write about my training with Soke during this trip. Not because I don’t have anything to share. But because writing or talking about it is a distraction from the experience itself.

I didn’t want my own thoughts or preconceptions to intrude on the direct transmission of the teaching that Soke is giving us. So I waited. Just absorbing as much as I can. And now I feel I can begin to share.

In every single class, Hatsumi Sensei tells us not to fight, but to control. In fact, he says that this is the theme that he is teaching from. He uses the 外来語 gairaigo (borrowed from English) pronunciation of the word control. In the Japanese pronunciation this becomes コントロール kontorooru.

He tells us that what he is showing us cannot be taught. He says,

“I’m not teaching how to fight. I’m showing control. If you try to fight then it’s a very low level of budo. Please learn to control.”

Why can’t this be taught? Because it’s control, not waza. Waza (techniques) can be taught. But this is not waza. It’s control.

Soke says he’s not teaching technique anymore. He told us to have this control of あも一寸の玉 虫 amo issun no tama mushi.  In a real confrontation, this “amo” is very important.

Hatsumi Sensei’s classes are all about control. But first you have to control yourself, only then can you control the opponent. He demonstrated this over and over by controlling his opponents without even touching them. It happened to me every time I faced him. He explained it like this:

“You have to be able to not do a technique yet have it happen anyway. This is the theme for the 15 dans this year.”

One of the ways he does this is kukan no コントロール kontorooru… to control the kukan or use the kukan to control. But here is a warning: Any method you use to try to do that will probably not work! That is the mystery of this strategy.

Since I cannot possibly share everything I am experiencing here in Japan in just one article, I will write a series of articles. Maybe I will call them Bujinkan strategies of control. If you want to receive all of them, make sure to subscribe here.

When I attacked Hatsumi Sensei with the knife, he asked me to share the feeling I got from him. In that moment it was overwhelming, so I couldn’t say much except that his smile made me drop to the mat. But now that I’ve had some days to consider what happened, my feeling is that he used one of the strategies I will write about next. 次次次… The next one is the best one!

Michael GLENN
Source : https://bujinkansantamonica.blogspot.fr/2016/12/bujinkan-strategies-of-control.html

Kaitatsu Gairyoku: Indirect Transmission

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img_20161127_130403Hatsumi sensei said in class that “you cannot be good doing Bujinkan, if you’re good, you are not doing Bujinkan”. It reminded me of Salvador Dali’s quote: “Don’t be afraid of perfection, you’ll never reach it”. This quote could summarise what we are training these days. Don’t try to be perfect.

The essence of controlling the space is not to do a perfect movement. We move in a way that is a simple answer to Uke’s intentions; that is all. It doesn’t have to be pretty; it has to be “good enough”. Too many practitioners try perfection, by doing so, they meet defeat as they cannot adjust their moves to the ever-changing situation.

The idea is to derive power from indirect and forceless movements. What you do, the way you react makes it impossible for Uke to guess what is coming next, and therefore it keeps you alive. Sensei called this concept “Kaitatsu Gairyoku”, indirect strength or indirect transmission. (1) (2) (3)

Indirect strength is using no force at all. And when you use no power, Chikara or Ryoku (4), Uke cannot use it against you as leverage.

“A perfect technique gets you killed”, added Sensei, “because when you try to do a technique you are trapped mentally”. You can be lucky once, maybe twice, but in a real fight, it is about staying alive. The Tao Te King means that when it says “don’t do anything, and nothing will be left undone”. (6) The water flowing downstream doesn’t think the many rocks it encounters, nor does the water try to avoid them. The water is not trying to do anything; it flows naturally and reaches the sea. It is as simple as that.

And as Kary Mullis Nobel Prize 1993, said about DNA duplication, “it is very complicated to make (things) simple.” (7)

When you watch Hatsumi sensei doing Kaitatsu Gairyoku, it seems very simple, but it is extremely complicated to do.

If you don’t come to Japan regularly, you will never get the actual depth of the Bujinkan martial arts.

You can fly to Tokyo with a “direct” or an “indirect” flight to receive your transmission…


1. 回り/kai/mawari/circumference; perimeter; edge|surroundings; locality; neighborhood|rotation; circulation +

経つ/tatsu/to pass; to lapse

2. 回経/kaitatsu/indirect

3. 外力/gairyoku/external force/transmission

4. 力/chikara/force; strength; might; vigour (vigor);

energy|capability; ability; proficiency; capacity; faculty|efficacy; effect|effort; endeavours (endeavors); exertions|power; authority; influence; good offices; agency|support; help; aid; assistance|stress; emphasis|means; resources.

5. 力じゃない /chikara janai/there is no strength

6. Taoteking or Tao Te Ching: modern translation by François Jullien §37, 48 in “le traité de l’efficacité”, (French edition).

7. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kary_Mullis


Source : https://kumafr.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/kaitatsu-gairyoku-indirect-transmission/

Bujinkan Chemical Reaction

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saitama 2After a recent class with Hatsumi sensei, we were on the train to Kashiwa with Adonis and Harry Mitrou, the twin brothers from Greece. We were speaking of the training we just had, trying to understand the profound insights that Sensei shared with us.
Sensei said that “controlling the space” was the same with or without weapons, and that whatever the beginning, the end was remaining the same. At some point, Adonis said, “well it is like the Hess’s Law in chemistry”. There was a long silence.
Here is the law: “The law states that the total enthalpy change during the complete course of a chemical reaction is the same whether the reaction is made in one step or several steps. (…) In other words, if a chemical change takes place by several different routes, the overall enthalpy change is the same, regardless of the path by which the chemical change occurs (provided the initial and final condition are the same). (1)(2).
I asked him to be more precise, and he added that if we apply this law to the Bujinkan, we can find that in any technique, like in Hess’s Law, the beginning of the movement is related to the end of it, independently of how many steps we take to do it. Because we control the space, whatever happens in this space leads to the same outcome”.
Sensei said that when we control the space, all of the Uke’s actions are immediately felt once they are expressed. Then it is easy to defeat the attacker as long as we are “zero”, and keep the feeling of Mutō Dori. I know it sounds strange, but it makes sense when you watch Sensei’s movements. I have been Sensei’s Uke a few times in the last classes, and the feeling is that there are no feelings. When you attack him, you face nothingness. There is nothing to hold on. Like a chemical reaction in a glass container, your attacks can unfold there, but they stay in the middle of the controlled space. The theme of Saino Konki comes to mind (3), Utsuwa (Ki) being the controlled space.
Each time I grabbed or attacked Sensei, I felt like being lost, limited in my options, and powerless. The only force that I could feel was the one I used in my attacks. It was like Sensei was not there. It was a weird sensation.
The same goes for Taijutsu or weapons, and Sensei repeated that at this level, there are no techniques, there is only a flow of possibilities entrapped in the controlled space. This is why it didn’t matter if the attack is Taijutsu or weapons.
It is hard to do it, even though when Hatsumi Sensei does it, it seems obvious. Controlling the space appears to be a superior technical layer of ability allowing you to survive any encounter.
It is impressive.
2. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enthalpy
3. 才能 魂 器 “saino konki” or “saino tamashii utsuwa”