A Pattern 荒む Growing Wild: Bujinkan Strategies of control Part 5

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Nezu Bamboo. photo by Michael Glenn

Have you ever leaned against a tree and felt the wind blowing the whole trunk? It is an interesting feeling because the trunk feels so solid, yet it sways in the wind. Even a small breeze can shift the whole thing.

One Tuesday night in the Bujinkan Honbu Dojo I felt this from Hatsumi Sensei. It was so soft and subtle that it would be easy to miss. And at this point, Soke said,

“Don’t do too much. Whether it’s in contact or not, you’re moving away. But you’re not trying to do it. 力を感じさせない chikara o kanji sasenai.”

Chikara o kanji sasenai. This means you don’t let the opponent feel your power.  You don’t let him feel any technique from you. Or any force, or power. You may use force and power, but you want to use it in a way that he cannot feel it! Then when it affects him, he has no idea where it comes from or how to counter it.

That afternoon I had spent some time in a bamboo grove near 関さんの森 Seki-san no mori. The breeze was quite strong. I stared in wonder at the movement of the very tall bamboo as they swayed and squeaked against each other in the sky above me. I placed my hand on one of the culms. I felt it move my palm softly.

In this way you do not telegraph or give away your intent. This is a fascinating way of using taijutsu. You are responsive to your opponent, but not fighting.

Hatsumi Sensei showed this again when his opponent grabbed his wrist. He told us,

 “He will have the tendency (勝ち gachi) to relax his grab so you wait for that. Then you move with 雅致 gachi (artistry or grace) to control with your feet. Study this connection.”

He then told us we should float the opponent in the kukan. What does that mean? Well, imagine a heavy object like a bundle of bamboo. It would be hard to push around with one finger. But if it were floating as a raft in the water, you could push and turn it through the water with very little force. Even if someone were sitting on it, you could still move it easily.

This is what happens to your opponent when you float him in the kukan. Hatsumi Sensei said that one of the themes for the Jugodans in this type of training was to be able to apply a technique without really doing it. He told us to not use any technique, yet have it happen anyway.

He described it as 荒むのパターン susamu no pataan. This is a pattern of wildness. There’s no pattern but it’s all connected.

This is challenging to get your mind around. If you think of a technique like omote gyaku, or ganseki nage, these are techniques that you normally have to do yourself. And we train hard to learn to apply them correctly. But for us Jugodans, we have to have these techniques happen without actually doing them ourselves.

One clue for how to do this was when Soke told us to break the balance in the space. You do this by becoming the kukan yourself. If you become the kukan, there is no pattern and you can be free. This is the kind of control he wants us to embody.

Michael GLENN
Source : https://bujinkansantamonica.blogspot.fr/2017/04/a-pattern-growing-wild-bujinkan.html

Des produits sans nom/Products without name

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3 avril 2017 par bujinkanquebec

Beaucoup de gens qui ont pratiqué d’autres arts martiaux et qui viennent s’entraîner à notre dojo sont surpris de constater qu’un grand nombre de techniques que j’enseigne n’a pas de nom. Au début, plusieurs de ces personnes ont l’impression que nous sommes une école désorganisée, qui semble manquer de rigueur. Bien sûr, nous avons un grand nombre de techniques codifiés. Toutes celles qui nous viennent des 9 ryus portent un nom. Mais lorsque l’on regarde Hatsumi sensei enseigner, on réalise qu’il va bien au-delà de ces techniques qui sont codifiés. À mon point de vue, le fait que nous ne nous sentions pas obligés de donner un nom à chaque technique n’est pas une faiblesse, mais au contraire, c’est une force qui nous permet une grande liberté de création. Demander à la plupart des shihans occidentaux du Bujinkan de vous enseigner une technique de défense contre une attaque qu’ils n’ont jamais vue, la majeure partie d’entre eux pourront vous surprendre de l’efficacité de la technique qu’ils vont créer pour vous. Codifier chaque technique, donner un nom pour chaque mouvement devient une entrave à la création et à notre faculté d’adaptation. Ce n’est pas pour rien qu’à de nombreuses reprises, Hatsumi sensei nous a dit de ne pas demeurer prisonniers de la technique. Lorsque je donne des séminaires de défense contre couteau, la plupart des techniques n’ont pas de nom. Mais elles fonctionnent et ont fait leurs preuves en situation réelle. En donnant un nom à chaque mouvement, on se sent obligé de demeurer dans les limites du système. Plutôt que d’improviser de nouveaux concepts, les pratiquants d’arts martiaux retravailleront continuellement les mêmes enchaînements en essayant d’améliorer la vitesse, la précision et tous les paramètres que l’on pourrait programmer chez un robot. En travaillant comme nous le faisons, il peut arriver que nous fassions des erreurs lors de l’exécution d’une technique de défense. Mais si cette erreur arrive, la créativité que nous avons appris à développer nous permet de nous adapter et transforme cette erreur en quelque chose de positif. Les nouveaux étudiants qui passent outre ce premier préjugé constatent rapidement la force et la richesse de notre art martial. Malheureusement, ce n’est pas tout le monde qui peut se sentir bien dans un tel système. Beaucoup de gens ont besoin d’un encadrement sévère, de balises qui dictent les limites de leurs fonctionnements. En nous enseignant comme il le fait, Hatsumi sensei nous amène à nous dépasser, à participer à l’enrichissement de notre art. Notre art martial est vivant et il évolue. Par le fait même, il nous permet une amélioration de notre conscience martiale comme peu d’arts martiaux peuvent le permettre.


Many people who have practiced other martial arts and come to train at our dojo are surprised to find that many of the techniques I teach have no name. At first, many of these people have the feeling that we are disorganized school, which seems to lack the rigor. Of course, we have a large number of codified techniques. All those who come to us from 9 Ryus have a name. But when looking at Hatsumi sensei teach, we realize that it goes far beyond those techniques that are codified.

From my point of view, the fact that we do not feel obliged to give a name to each technique is not a weakness, but on the contrary, it is a force that allows us a great freedom of creation. Ask most Western Shihans of the Bujinkan to teach you a technique of defense against an attack they have never seen, most of them will surprise you with the effectiveness of the technique they will create for you. Coding each technique, giving a name for each movement becomes a hindrance to creation and our ability to adapt. It is not for nothing that on many occasions, Hatsumi sensei told us not to remain prisoners of the technique.

When I give seminars of defense against knife, most techniques have no name. But they work and have proved their worth in real life situations. By giving a name to each movement, one feels obliged to remain within the limits of the system. Rather than improvise new concepts, martial arts practitioners will continuously re-engineer the same patterns, trying to improve the speed, accuracy and all the parameters that can be programed in a robot.By working as we do, it may happen that we make mistakes when performing a defense technique. But if this error happens, the creativity that we have learned to develop allows us to adapt and turn this error into something positive.

New students who ignore this first prejudice quickly discover the strength and richness of our martial art. Unfortunately, it’s not everyone who can feel good in such a system. Many people need a strict framework, tags that dictate the limits of their functioning. By teaching us as he does, Hatsumi sensei leads us to surpass ourselves, to participate in the enrichment of our art. Our martial art is alive and evolves. By the same token, it allows us an improvement in our martial awareness as few martial arts can allow.


Bernard Grégoire

Yushuu shihan Bujinkan Quebec

Source : https://bujinkanquebec.wordpress.com/2017/04/03/des-produits-sans-nom/  / https://bujinkanquebec.wordpress.com/2017/04/03/products-without-name/

Muto Dori With Marishiten

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Michael Glenn

at 摩利支天 徳大寺 Marishiten tokudaiji

The other night in Hatsumi Sensei’s class I ran to grab a bokken from the weapon rack. When I returned, my training partner was waiting for my attack so he could try the muto Dori technique that Soke had just demonstrated.
When I cut down I had a great surprise. Hatsumi Sensei appeared from behind my training partner. He pushed my training partner aside so that I was cutting at Soke instead!
I thought that I hit something but Soke was beside me laughing. Somehow I missed. He said that I should learn this feeling.
This year one of the main themes of the training in Japan is Muto Dori. Anyone who has cut at Soke will tell you that he disappears or even splits in two.
That was what I experienced this time. It was like there were two of him. I hit one but that was an illusion.
I’ve often struggled to understand the reality behind this. Even though I can sometimes do this with my own students, the act remains elusive from any explanation.
But today I was lucky. Hatsumi Sensei gave us a big clue later on in the class. He showed a knife evasion and he said to move like the heat wave from  摩利支天 Marishiten. He said this as an aside to his uke and then he moved on.
Marishiten is a goddess I have some familiarity with. One of the very first shrines I visited in Japan was  摩利支天徳大寺 Marishiten tokudaiji in Tokyo. This place is a bit hidden in the middle of a very urban market.
Marishiten is very important for warriors and for ninja. She protects because she uses illusion to help us disappear from our enemies. In Mikkyō (esoteric Buddhism), there are mantra and mudra which are said to make a warrior invisible.
Marishiten appears like a ray of light or mirage. Her image is like a shimmering heat that bends light. Under her protection, anyone who attacks us would be blinded by illusion.
The illusion comes in rays of shimmering light. When you look, it is like staring into the sun, and Marishiten charges from within this brilliance.
When Soke said this a subtle light went off in my brain. This ineffable feeling he wanted me to understand was now more than just an odd experience I feel when I attack him.  You have to see more than the illusion.
Maybe my training is to grasp the nature of the mirage and illusion that arises from Marishiten. This is one aspect of Hatsumi Sensei’s lesson to me. But an odd side effect of this knowledge it is that I can now learn to counter this.
The mirage of Marishiten is a type of blindness. Once you can see and pierce through this veil, what lies beyond it grows clearer. I do not know what surprises Soke has waiting for me when I see past this layer, but I suspect it will open like the lotus blossom.
Marishiten is often depicted standing on a lotus. But her more angry form is shown standing on the back of a wild boar. Hopefully I will see flowers instead of beasts!
Michael GLENN

Repousser l’espace/Pushing the space

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Lors de mon dernier voyage au Japon en février, Hatsumi sensei a parlé d’un principe un peu obscur: pousser l’espace ou le vide sur l’adversaire au moment où il nous attaque. Comment peut-on interpréter cela?

Au milieu des années 80, j’ai reçu mon diplôme en hypnothérapie. S’il y a une chose que les hypnothérapeutes connaissent bien, c’est sûrement les craintes inconscientes. Celles qui viennent nous hanter à partir de notre côté obscur du cerveau. Quel rapport y a-t-il entre cela et le concept que nous a enseigné Hatsumi sensei? La compréhension des mécanismes du subconscient.

Lors de séminaire que je donne ou même à l’occasion avec de nouveaux étudiants, je fais un petit jeu qui démontre bien ces deux facettes de notre personnalité. À moins d’une distance de bras, j’explique à l’étudiant que je vais le frapper d’une tape sur le dessus du front et qu’il devra bloquer mon bras sans reculer. La personne se place les bras en garde tout en me laissant un espace pour l’atteindre. Dans tous les cas, il parvient à bloquer mon bras. Puis, je le regarde droit dans les yeux et lui dit qu’à partir de maintenant, il va devenir plus lent, que son bras ne pourra pas arrêter mon attaque. Dans presque 100% des cas, au grand étonnement de l’étudiant, je parviens à le frapper.

Comment cela est-il possible? Une simple technique d’hypnose qui permet de jeter un doute dans son subconscient. Même si son intellect est persuadé que je ne pourrai pas l’atteindre, si je réussis à semer un doute dans son subconscient, son corps va s’adapter à cette programmation négative. Mais, pour parvenir à ce résultat, moi-même, je ne dois avoir aucun doute sur ce que je vais faire. En regardant l’étudiant, je dois projeter une confiance en moi qui soit absolue. Je ne dois laisser planer aucun doute sur ma réussite. Mon visage, mes épaules sont décontractées. Mon sourire jette les premiers doutes dans son esprit. Le doute crée l’échec.

À plusieurs reprises en tentant de frapper Hatsumi sensei, j’ai eu cette sensation de perte de contrôle. Quelque chose en moi m’empêchait d’attaquer efficacement. Soke venait simplement de manipuler mon subconscient. Lorsqu’il a parlé de repousser l’espace, le contexte était d’expliquer le feeling mutodori. En fonçant sur moi comme il l’a fait, il n’exprimait aucune crainte, que de la certitude. Mon esprit conscient voulait avancer, mais mon subconscient a eu un doute et a préféré battre en retraite devant tant de certitude. Impossible de résister à autant de confiance en soi.

Bien sûr, le concept mutodori est bien plus que ça, mais je trouve intéressant de voir comment l’hypnose peut s’intégrer aux arts martiaux de combat. Dans mon travail en sécurité il m’est arrivé de me retrouver dans des situations de combat dans une ration de quatre à cinq individus contre un. Seule mon attitude de confiance absolue que je projetais, croyez-moi je ne me sentais pas confortable dans cette position, me permettait de déstabiliser les fauteurs de trouble et d’éviter la confrontation.

Repousser l’espace n’est pas simplement le fait d’avancer sur l’adversaire, c’est l’état d’esprit qui l’accompagne et cela, ce n’est pas évident à faire.

Bernard Grégoire

Yushuu shihan

Bujinkan Québec

Dans le livre Maître et disciple, la naissance d’un guerrier, il y a plusieurs de ces concepts psychologiques qui y sont traités. Lors du dernier voyage, Hatsumi sensei a dit que frapper était le niveau inférieur du budo. Maître et disciple nous fait réaliser que le travail du corps n’est que le début du chemin.



On my last trip to Japan in February, Hatsumi sensei spoke of a somewhat obscure principle: pushing space or emptiness on the opponent as he attacks us. How can we interpret that?

In the mid-1980s, I graduated in hypnotherapy. If there is one thing that hypnotherapists know well, it is surely the unconscious fears. Those that come to haunt us from our dark side of the brain. What is the relationship between this and the concept taught us by Hatsumi sensei? Understanding the mechanisms of the subconscious.

When I give seminars and even on occasion with new students, I make a small game that demonstrates these two facets of our personality. At a distance from my arm, I explain to the student that I am going to hit him with a slap on the top of the forehead and that he will have to block my arm without retreating. The person puts his arms on guard while leaving me a space to reach it. In any case, he manages to block my arm. Then I look him straight in the eye and tell him that from now on he will become slower, that his arm will not be able to stop my attack. In almost 100% of the cases, to the astonishment of the student, I manage to hit him.

How is that possible? A simple hypnosis technique to cast doubt in his subconscious. Even if his intellect is convinced that I cannot reach him, if I succeed in sowing doubt in his subconscious, his body will adapt to this negative programming. But, in order to achieve this result, I myself must have no doubt as to what I am going to do. Looking at the student, I must project an absolute confidence in myself. I must leave no doubt about my success. My face, my shoulders are relaxed. My smile throws the first doubts in his mind. Doubt creates failure.

Several times trying to hit Hatsumi sensei, I had this feeling of loss of control. Something in me prevented me from attacking in an effective way. Soke had just manipulated my subconscious. When he spoke to push space, the context was to explain the mutodori feeling. By running on me as he did, he expressed no fear, only certitude. My conscious mind wanted to move forward, but my subconscious had a doubt and preferred to retreat before so much certainty. It is impossible to resist so much self-confidence.

Of course, the mutodori concept is much more than that, but I find it interesting to see how hypnosis can fit into martial arts fighting. In my work in security I have found myself in situations of combat in a ration of four to five individuals against one. Only my attitude of absolute confidence that I projected, believe me I did not feel comfortable in this position, allowed me to destabilize the troublemakers and avoid confrontation.

Pushing the space is not simply about advancing on the opponent; it is the state of mind that accompanies it, and that is not easy to do.

Bernard Grégoire

Yushuu shihan

Bujinkan Québec

In the book Master and Disciple, the birth of a warrior, there are many of these psychological concepts that are dealt with in it. On the last trip, Hatsumi sensei said that hitting was the lowest level of the budo. Master and disciple make us realize that the work of the body is only the beginning of the path.


Source : https://bujinkanquebec.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/pushing-the-space/


Mitori Keiko

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28 02 2017

Mitori Keiko (o Mitori Geiko), se traduce como entrenamiento de observación o aprender mirando.

Hay ocasiones en las que no puedes entrenar físicamente porque estás lesionado, te encuentras mal ese día, o por otras circunstancias de la vida que van a hacer que durante un tiempo determinado no puedas entrenar físicamente, pero eso no es motivo para dejar de aprender.


Es el momento de Mitori Keiko. Ve al dojo igualmente, pide permiso a tu maestro y siéntate a mirar la clase. Eso es Mitori Keiko, seguir aprendiendo a través de la observación.  Mirando a los compañeros y al maestro en el propio dojo.
Observar la clase desde fuera es también un excelente método de aprendizaje, ya que te permite ver las técnicas y movimientos desde otra perspectiva mental. Observar atentamente a tu profesor dando la clase, sin ninguna de las distracciones que se encuentran al ser un participante de la misma, es una visión única de incalculable valor. La capacidad de ver desde el exterior, de tomar notas y de reflexionar sobre lo que se está presentando en la clase, es una ayuda inestimable para nuestra progresión marcial.


Puedes hacer preguntas, puedes ver cómo trabajan tus compañeros y observar sus errores y aciertos, identificarte con ellos y tomar notas de los puntos en los que debes mejorar. Al igual que viendo un vídeo, no se puede avanzar en la habilidad sin la práctica física del arte, simplemente observando; pero Mitori Keiko es una herramienta útil para continuar con nuestra práctica más allá de lo físico. De hecho siempre empezamos nuestro entrenamiento a través de la observación. Observamos lo que nos muestra el maestro y luego intentamos reproducirlo físicamente.


En cambio en Mitori Keiko sólo observamos y asimilamos a través de la mera observación reflexiva. Además, y muy importante, el hecho de continuar acudiendo al dojo aunque no podamos entrenar físicamente, también demuestra nuestro compromiso y refuerza la relación alumno-maestro y alumno-resto de alumnos/compañeros. Seguir acudiendo al dojo hará que no se enfríe nuestra relación con el mismo y con nuestro arte. Demuestra que el alumno intenta aprender siempre tanto como le sea posible, que está ahí, presente, y le brinda también la posibilidad de poder seguir sintiéndose parte del dojo, ayudando en las tareas del mismo, colaborando en las propuestas, participando en las charlas post entrenos, etc.

Gambatte Kudasae!

Dani Esteban -Kôryu-

Source : https://bushidojo.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/mitori-keiko/



Evade Without Evading: Bujinkan Strategies of Control Part 4

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五條天神社で、お焚き上げ otakiage preparations at Gojoten jinja. photo Michael Glenn

Last time I attacked Hatsumi Sensei, he disappeared. It left me very confused. But Hatsumi Sensei described it this way,

“This is a way to control. You’ve got to be a shadow. He won’t believe that I’m avoiding.“

The next day I ran some errands in Tokyo. The local shrines were already beginning their new year’s preparations. I stopped and stared at a pile of wood that was made ready for the お焚き上げ otakiage bonfire. Fire can purify and burn away problems from the previous year.

I kept thinking about what happened in yesterday’s class with Soke. How did he disappear? That was what I was stuck on.

I thought, next time I get that chance, I am going to really try to hit him and see what happens. If anything goes wrong, the year is almost over and I can throw myself into the fire.

In Hatsumi Sensei’s next class, he asked me to punch at him. I decided this time I would go for it! I really tried and he disappeared. Then I was kind of hanging there in space. I felt a finger (I think it was his thumb) very light on the back of my hand. And somehow this threw me. He said,

“This muto dori feeling is very important. One finger. Just kind of pass by. This way of moving through the kukan is important.”

What Hatsumi Sensei was teaching was how to control. I discovered much later that this type of control arises neither by evading or NOT evading. It is hidden in between.

Hatsumi Sensei told us over and over, “Yokeru yokenai!” This is getting out of the way without getting out of the way. Not evading while evading.

This is hard to understand. Obviously you don’t want to get hit by your opponent. If you can’t evade or stand still, then what?

Hatsumi Sensei gave us a clue when he said “人間の意識からない ningen no ishiki kara nai.” Don’t do it with your own human intention.

That is the problem with evading. The human intention or thought takes too long. Soke said, “I’m not avoiding. Not thinking.”

This creates a special kind of distance that is connected to nature. It is not something that you came up with yourself. If you’re trying to get out of the way, then you won’t be able to control anything because you are preoccupied.

You don’t want to get hit, or cut by the weapon. But if you try to evade, or try NOT to evade, you will fail. No matter how good you are. There is always someone better, faster, sneakier. So the answer lies in between evading and not evading.

What is in between? Connection and zero. This has long been how Soke describes his budo,

“You control him like this. This is the theme. Connect these ideas. It becomes zero. Connecting zero.”

You can find the middle way between evading and not evading by merging with this universal space (Hatsumi Sensei said shizento and uchuuto). Then he called it a 玉 gyoku or egg ( I don’t know what that means, but if you do, please contact me).

Your whole body becomes like the mist. I wouldn’t believe any of this, except I tried to hit Soke and that is what happened. I have been holding onto that feeling ever since.

In my own training I have discovered that in the moment you evade, you break the connection and become trapped in your efforts to evade. You escape this through play. Play sets you free. Hatsumi Sensei described it,

“This is the idea of freedom. This is the strength of freedom. The power of freedom. Because it’s very wide, it’s very vast (宇宙 uchuu). You want to go up into space.”

The flames from the bonfire rise above the shrine, sending sparks past the 鳥居 torii, and up among the stars. I would burn with them. There I learn the freedom of this distance.

Michael GLENN
Source : https://bujinkansantamonica.blogspot.fr/2017/02/evade-without-evading-bujinkan.html

Human Bonsai!

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bonsai1Over the last twenty three years here in Japan, I often have the pleasure and honor to translate for my teacher Masaaki Hatsumi Soke. Often a student has a question that he would like to ask. It is a always a delight to be able to help facilitate communication between teacher and student. So many questions and so many unexpected answers! One episode comes to mind.

A student asks, “Why are some people friendly to your face but then are hurtful and mean behind your back?”.

Sensei replies nonchalantly, “that is just how people are made.”. As I translate, I can see the look of confusion cross the students` faces. I too am at a bit of a loss. So the question is asked again and once again the answer is the same,”that is just how people are made.”.  Then Sensei looks up into space and asks me, “Paul, have you ever seen a bonsai?”. (small miniature Japanese art trees)I nod my head “yes”. In fact, I had just taken some friends to a bonsai garden the day before so I was a bit surprised by the sudden question about bonsai. He continues, “it is like a bonsai, people are made. You can make a person any way. But it is not natural. You would not go to a forest and find a bonsai. It is not a natural state. But you can twist a bonsai into any shape you want. People are the same.”

How true! Just the prior day I was remarking on the branches of the bonsai. Each branch wrapped with wire and forced to go this way or that way. Every branch! bonsai3Each branch wrapped in wire and forced to take a seemingly natural posture or kamae. And how unnatural it really is. We, too, as humans, each being wrapped in the culture, politics, education, religions and beliefs of those around us and society. Some people wrapped as capitalists, some marxists, some Christians, some Muslim. But all are being bound by the conditioning of the environment and society. Then what you think are your own thoughts can betray you.  In a tragic conclusion, we often we take a kamae or stance for or against another wrapped up in a different shape. Both unaware of the wires that trap them in this position.

Unwrapping these wires and constraints is an important step in the practice of Ninjustu. A true ninja will become free and his tree will grow strong and pure into a natural state in accordance with the natural state of his existence. A Ninja is able to explore his true essence in infinite space. That is why in the Go Jou or Five Precepts as taught by my teacher, a constant diligence and watchfulness to your true path is essential. First become aware of where you are now. What shape are you now? When your shape become visible, start unwrapping!


Source : https://kasumian.com/2017/02/08/human-bonsai/