When I was uchi deshi [live-in student] to O Sensei, everyone was required to wear a hakama for practice, beginning with the first time they stepped on the mat. There were no restrictions on the type of hakama you could wear then, so the dojo was a very colorful place. One saw hakama of all sorts, all colors and all qualities, from kendo [the Way of the Sword] hakama, to the striped hakama used in Japanese dance, to the costly silk hakama called sendai-hira. I imagine that some beginning student caught the devil for borrowing his grandfather’s expensive hakama, meant to be worn only for special occasions and ceremonies, and wearing out its knees in suwariwaza [techniques done from kneeling] practice. I vividly remember the day that I forgot my hakama. I was preparing to step on the mat for practice, wearing only my dogi, when O Sensei stopped me. “Where is your hakama?” he demanded sternly. “What makes you think you can receive your teacher’s instruction wearing nothing but your underwear? Have you no sense of propriety? You are obviously lacking the attitude and the etiquette necessary in one who pursues budo training. Go sit on the side and watch class!” This was only the first of many scoldings I was to receive from O Sensei. However, my ignorance on this occasion prompted O Sensei to lecture his uchi deshi after class on the meaning of the hakama. He told us that the hakama was traditional garb for kobudo [traditional martial ways] students and asked if any of us knew the reason for the seven pleats in the hakama. “They symbolize the seven virtues of budo,” O Sensei said. “These are jin (benevolence), gi (honor or justice), rei (courtesy and etiquette), chi (wisdom, intelligence), shin (sincerity), chu (loyalty), and koh (piety). We find these qualities in the distinguished samurai [warriors] of the past. The hakama prompts us to reflect on the nature of true bushido [the Warrior’s Code]. Wearing it symbolizes traditions that have been passed down to us from generation to generation. Aikido is born of the bushido spirit of Japan, and in our practice we must strive to polish the seven traditional virtues.” Currently, most Aikido dojo do not follow O Sensei’s strict policy about wearing the hakama. Its meaning has degenerated for a symbol of traditional virtue to that of a status symbol for yudansha [black belt holders]. I have traveled to many dojo in many nations. In many of the places where only the yudansha wear hakamas, the yudansha have lost their humility. They think of the hakama as a prize for display, as the visible symbol of their superiority. This type of attitude makes the ceremony of bowing to O Sensei, with which we begin and end each class, a mockery of his memory and his art. Worse still, in some dojo, women of kyu [undergraduate] rank (and only the women) are required to
wear hakama, supposedly to preserve their modesty. to me this is insulting and discriminatory to women aikidoka [aikido practitioners]. It is also insulting to male aikidoka, for it assumes a low-mindedness on their part that has no place on the Aikido mat. To see the hakama put to such petty use saddens me. It may seem a trivial issue to some people, but I remember very well the great importance that O Sensei placed on wearing hakama. I cannot dismiss the significance of this garment, and no one, I think, can dispute the great value of the virtues it symbolizes. In my dojo and its associated schools I encourage all students to wear hakama regardless of their rank or grade. (I do not require it before they have achieved their first grading, since beginners in the United States do not generally have Japanese grandfathers whose hakama they can borrow.) I feel that wearing the hakama and knowing its meaning, helps students to be aware of the spirit of O Sensei and keep alive his vision. If we can allow the importance of the hakama to fade, perhaps we will begin to allow things fundamental to the spirit of Aikido to slip into oblivion as well. If, on the other hand, we are faithful to O Sensei’s wishes regarding our practice dress, our spirits may be more faithful to the dream to which he dedicated his life.
The following is part of an interview conducted by Sean Askew with Hatsumi Sensei for the BKR's upcoming book. Sensei asked Sean Askew to get this message out to as many people as possible. He translated this very literally to keep the manner in which Sensei speaks as best way he could.
Life and death are connected. Like In-Yo ( Yin & Yang ). This is my teaching theme for the year. Like a magnet and metal, life and death are attracted to each other, always getting closer. If you are born and given a life, death is inevitable. When death comes do not be surprised or shaken. Get on the rhythm of life. Get in balance with it.
This is the theme of the year.
That is why I tell my students it does not matter how skilled one becomes in martial arts or even Ninjutsu for that matter, If one can not attain this balance or rhythm. This is the basis for the Kihon Happo! Not the forms. If you keep practicing the form it does not produce any real results. Always doing the forms is a childish way to practice. There are even times when the form can be what gets you killed. Often I hear my students argue over topics like „the correctness of this form“ or „this posture should be this way“ and such. True battle or real fights are never correct. In form or spirit. It is not about that.
If you think the opponent is strong you will naturally go and get something such as a rifle and „boom“!!! Right? Very simple isn't it?
This type of common sense or „obvious ways“ are important. This is why I teach my students;
Jibun de narai, jibun de ikiro!
Freely, common sensically,
Learn on your own, live on your own!
Even though I have many students, I do not need them. But they still come to see me right? Because I teach them how to teach themselves. This is why they come to me. But this is very different from just making up Ryu-Ha and such. This is the real path I teach. All around me I have many strong friends from many countries. Most of them are people who had to survive wars in their own homelands. They are all the real thing. Real warriors. We understand each other on a certain level. My training with Takamatsu Sensei has made me aware of these types of people. It is like we are our own species. Even you Sean, you had to fight for your own survival on several occasions, right? Even stabbed from behind. You had courage and a keen mind to help you survive. But your poor opponent! Ha ha ha!!!!
Bad guys are always planning something devious. They are „big-idea“ people. Always coming up with some kind of con. But it is important to develop the mind to withstand these types of people, learn to perceive them. My way is to never think about anything at all. You know me, I am usually not really thinking about any one thing in particular. It is just a matter of „keep going“. This is the best way to guide your students. This is the way it is when you train with me.
When my senior Japanese students make mistakes and go astray I get on them and scold them. It is the same with all my students all over the world. I have no borders. I do not hold anything back from the non-Japanese. I do everything on a man to man basis. This is the way it has always been.
If I do not teach this way my students may be killed when the time comes. It would be very sad for me. This is why I do not teach in a strange and unnatural manner. I teach people to teach themselves. Freely.
Masaaki Hatsumi – Bujinkan Dojo Soke
From Kamaemail – May – June 2001 issue 7 volume 2
Posted on December 28, 2011 on http://shinseidojo.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/an-excerpt-from-kukishinden-zensho/
To use the literary and Martial arts for the nation means to prepare for societies turbulence. It is very common to have at least one social disturbance in every “reign.” You should never abolish learning the bugei (warrior arts), even in a short period. There are so many kinds of martial arts and among them only jujutsu is needed and this is also true in times of peace. At this time it may be used for self protection. At the same time, a person that studies jūjutsu, also learns how to endure. The warrior understands the importance of separating anger from everything. Those who study jujutsu have good common sense and great character. If you ruin yourself over trivial things you may lose yourself, if you lose yourself your may eventually lose your home. This is a never ending cycle and you may not ever be able to recover from it. As with children and parents, the people to the nation, and to the country, sometimes you must sacrifice yourself for these things, in other words place them above yourself. To give an example to Ōtomo family was prepared to die in the mountains or the sea (in the earlier poem to die for the emperor).
Complete mastery of Budō in ancient times allowed warriors to make flying birds drop by using Kiai (spirit shout) training in martial virtues. Training with the essence of breaking evil and allowing just to prevail. If I paraphrase this you could say, the way to attain the summit is to follow the laws of nature. Therefore, there is no space between the heaven and earth, yourself and the opponent, and there is no space between anything in nature, all is connected and all is chaotic. In heaven it is natural to have In and Yō (positive and negative), and on earth the virtue of hard and soft. There are two main things that should be studied in Bunbu (literary and martial arts). These are the Golden rules (Iron rules in Japanese) of nature. The true warrior learns by himself. In the middle of heaven and earth one learns the mental status of preparing to die.
Showa 18 (January 5, 1943)
“Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”. This is not from me but from George Bernard Shaw.
In Japanese “change” can be written in many ways. One of them, known to all of us is 変化 (henka).
But the compound word “henka” is much more than the word “change”. Both kanji (hen and ka) have the meaning of “change”, but 変 (hen) is the “beginning of the change” where 化 (ka), is the “end of change”. This gives a much deeper understanding of it, some kind of Inyo cycle (yin-yang).
In fact we often use it wrongly. A henka is not something you make up, this is not a variation, this is something that is either:
1) natural, when your adjusts the mechanical waza to the situation at hand,
2) listed, when it is part of an official set of possible adaptations in a given ryûha (this is the case for example in the kukishin sword techniques).
A few years ago, Sensei asked us to understand that, and to avoid calling “henka” any variation we would do. A henka is a henka; a variation is a variation. But to make it a little more confusing, some variations might be called henka.
Shaw states that change is the key to progress. This is why we travel and train in Japan. When you come to Japan you have to be ready to change everything you think you know in order to progress. In a way the Japan trip is defining, building your future; so it would be a loss of time and effort to go there and to only reproduce the things of your past.
Build the future from 中今 (nakaima) the present*, not from the past.
Your progression lies on your ability to change your Kokoro Gamae in order to modify, and to the better, your Tai Gamae.**
Change your attitude and remember that “… those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything.” **
* nakaima literally means “the middle, the center of now”.
** Kamae (Gamae) has the meaning of posture, or attitude (as in 身構え – migamae).
Posted on December 7, 2014 on https://kumafr.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/change-your-attitude/
Cousergue, Bujinkan Dojo Shihan
http://www.budomart.com, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Basics are the foundation of your taijutsu and without them you will never develop what sensei calls the “natural movement”.
One of my friend and student, recently attended a few seminars in another country. He was amazed by two things. First the majority of the teachers were developing beautiful movements with no power and no strength. Then the students were copying these nice movements.
But then he discovered that even though he was not a student of these teachers, his strong basics allowed him to adjust and to understand what was being demonstrated. The other participants on the contrary, and even if they could mimic what was shown, we’re totally unable to get these movements through their own taijutsu.
This cosmic trend in the Bujinkan has been on for some years now, and we begin to see how bad it impacts the student’s abilities to survive in a fight. The majority of Bujinkan practitioners will be really surprised the day they have to defend themselves with these nice but weak cosmic movements they have been taught at the dôjô and during seminars.
As sensei put it last August, you have to train your strength when you’re young to be able to use the “no strength” at a later and higher stage of your budô development.
Please put some real training back in your budô studies, improve your basics, and create strong foundations before you begin to move at the cosmic level.
Real fight is fierce, it’s not nice. Panic and fear will slow down your brain and your reactions, and when panic comes, only your ingrained basics will give you a chance to survive.
Strong basics are the only thing remaining when the rest is gone. A nice waza studied in the dôjô with a complacent partner will get you killed in a real encounter. “don’t try to apply a waza in a fight, you would lose” said sensei a few times in the last twenty years.
Teachers this is your responsibility. Please teach mainly basics (together with advanced movements) and stop focusing exclusively on the cosmic moves as it will kill your students. Remember that basic moves will eventually turn into cosmic moves, it’s a natural process. Don’t force nature.
If you don’t teach correctly, your students are like lambs entering the butcher shop, and a nice “baa baa” will not stop the butcher from killing them.
Posted on November 16, 2014 on https://kumafr.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/basic-vs-cosmic/
Arnaud Cousergue, Bujinkan Dojo Shihan
http://www.budomart.com, e-mail: email@example.com
If you say “All I care about is the training” then, what does that mean?
Does it mean just turning up, getting changed, practicing on the mat, changing, and then walking out?
I clean, vacuum, mop, sweep, dust, tidy peoples mess after they leave ( ranging from forgotten clothing and drink bottles etc ) and then put out the rubbish. Even with a dozen children in a class, I tidy the dojo for the next user, even if that user happens to be me.
It’s important to address the housekeeping of a dojo as your training. If you don’t, then in my eyes, you do not respect it and the kami or teacher that you bow to.
My students whether senior or junior, from teenagers to adults, sweep before and after every class.
This teaches responsibility. If you don’t do it, who will? Leaving the dojo clean and as you found it is showing respect, a sense of pride and, ownership for the dojo.
If you are a martial artist, especially a teacher, please consider and act upon this if you are not. The way you treat the dojo will rub off on your students and their overall attitude to Budo and practice.
Some people don’t want to tell their students to do things, well, lead by example then. If you are complaining of students showing no commitment or responsibility, it might be a direct reflection on your dojo behavior?
Being a martial artist is not just training on the mat, it is about learning the art of living. Life/Budo has much to work on, and the dojo is a place to reflect and act upon these aspects.
Treat the dojo as a special place, a sacred area for you, a sanctuary if you like. In doing so, you may start to actually feel better about yourself and find a path worth following!
Duncan Stewart – firstname.lastname@example.org
(5th March 2015)
After of practicing for a certain amount of time the way of the art, one perceives that not is possible to make daily progress.
After of practicing for a certain amount of time the way of the art, one perceives that not is possible to make weekly progress
After of practicing for a certain amount of time the way of the art, one perceives that not is possible to make monthly progress.
After of practicing for a certain amount of time the way of the art, one perceives that not is possible to make annual progress.
After of practicing for a certain amount of time the way of the art, one perceives that not is possible to make progress in a decade.
After of practicing for a certain amount of time the way of the art, one perceives that not is possible to make progress in a lifetime.
All progress comes little by little, slowly, gently.
The progress in an art is like a fog that around you, you can’t see that fog, but you can feel that surrounds you, in the fog one does not know that it is wetted but to average that is penetrating in the depth of the fog, is wetted little by little, slowly, and softly.
When the mind, heart and body abandon all idea, feeling or effort for progress, and simply focus on the practice of day and night (Nichiya – 日夜), almost imperceptibly the fog will wet us, little by little, slowly and gently.
The changes will not be able to be perceived, the fog of the art is invisible for the eyes of the mind (“mienai” – “見え ない” – invisible) and incomprehensible for the intellect (“wakaranai” – “分から ない ” – incomprehensible), the opportunity is born in the courage of entering in a fog of uncertainty and the doubt, there is nothing to obtain of the practice beyond of the same practice of the moment, here and now.
You have to go into the unknown, and soaking in the fog, is in the darkest moments when we should concentrate on perceiving an opening in the distance and the space in the practice of the art (Koku – 虚空).
Is in the darkest moments of the life, is in the deepest challenges of our lives when we must focus on perceived a light of end. Keep the faith and the happiness in moments of enjoyment and prosperity is simple, keep the faith and courage to venture into the fog of the unknown in times of uncertainty and doubts is the true meaning of perseverance (忍 – nin) (perseverance = faith + patience).
After of practicing for a certain amount of time the way of the art, one perceives that only has to continue moving forward, staying on the way.
Sometimes to move forward you have to go back and rest, gather forces, gather energy and weigh your strategy, you know however that fog of the art not waiting for you, must move forward step by step, the art is always in motion, so you have to continue moving.
After of practicing for a certain amount of time the way of the art, one perceives that just has to continue to practice “for the practice” one has to continue living “for the life”.
The most valuable of the life can not be measured nor eyes nor mind.
After of practicing for a certain amount of time the way of the art, one perceives that through of the way of the fog of uncertainty and the doubt, and focus in the practice of NO PROGRESS , little by little , slowly and gently, will polish the eyes of the heart (忍).
The most valuable of the life only can be measured with the eyes of the heart and the soul.
David Esteban Guzman
This article was published on Facebook
The Japanese developed their fighting systems out of necessity. They were not the more gifted, nor the best. But they did it for a longer time than us.
When you try to understand the development of Japanese Budō it is important to keep in mind the time-line of Japanese history.
In the West we do not really understand the reality of Japanese warfare and we take for granted that the 江戸時代, Edojidai (1603-1868) is the “golden age” for martial arts. This is a common misconception.
The 鎌倉時代 Kamakurajidai (1185-1333) didn’t survive the Mongol invasion of China (1279)*. Japan since the T’ang Dynasty (618-906)** has been in close contact with the Chinese Empire. Through its “embassies”*** Japan had been copying everything from China since the 7th century (coins, writing, silk, arts, science etc), in fact the Japanese society was a copy of the Chinese structure (political and economical). So when the Mongols invaded the Empire in the 13th century, and tried to invade Japan twice in the process****, the Japanese economical and political system collapsed and gave birth to a new type of society.
The 鎌倉時代 Muromachijidai (1333-1573) that followed tried to keep things the way they were, but when the 応仁の乱 Ôninran began (Ônin war 1467-1477) it was viagra price reduction canada too late. It was the buy viagra online beginning of 下剋上 Gekokujō; a time when the lower daimyô tried to take power and replace the ancient rulers*****. It ensued a period of permanent wars 戦国時代, Sengokujidai (1467-1568), that ended up with the unification of the country and the Tokugawa shogunate in 1603.
Even though many of our fighting systems had been created before the 14th century, this is during these centuries of warfare (14th – 16th) that our ryûha were developed and refined. Not after.
In fact, I consider the Tokugawa period as the end of creativity in the martial arts. Because this is during this Edo period that the ryûha were systemized and lost the creativity that made them survive until then. As explained brilliantly in “the principle of Lucifer” by xxx, “every living cell, plant, animal, if not under the risk of being destroyed will not carry out the necessary actions in order to survive”. survival is what triggers creativity. Peacetime is not.
Hatsumi sensei often says that we are training Muromachi techniques. I never heard him say that we were training Edo techniques. So when unification was finalized by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the development of Budō techniques stopped. And what I love about the bujinkan is that we keep these old techniques alive as well as their creativity.
There is no other martial art as complete and true as the bujinkan because we train the ways of the past in order to apply them in the modern world instead of reproducing dead techniques carved in granite by four centuries of peace time.
* “The Mongol invasion of China spanned six decades in the 13th century and involved the defeat of the Jin dynasty, Western Xia, the Dali Kingdom and the Southern Song, which finally fell in 1279. The Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan started the conquest with small-scale raids into Western Xia in 1205 and 1207. By 1279, the Mongol leader Kublai Khan had established the Yuan dynasty in China and crushed the last Song resistance, which marked the onset of all of China under the Mongol Yuan rule. This was the first time in history that the whole of China was conquered and subsequently ruled by a foreign or non-native ruler, compared with the Manchus (who established the Qing dynasty) who did so a few centuries later”. From http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongol_invasion_of_China
** T’ang dynasty: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tang_dynasty
*** Embassies: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_missions_to_Imperial_China
**** The Mongol invasions of Japan (元寇 Genkō?) of 1274 and 1281 were major military efforts undertaken by Kublai Khan to conquer the Japanese islands after the submission of Goryeo (Korea) to vassaldom. Ultimately a failure, the invasion attempts are of macrohistorical importance because they set a limit on Mongol expansion and rank as nation-defining events in Japanese history. During both invasions, the Japanese defenders were aided by major storms which sunk a sizable portion of the Mongolian fleets. From http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongol_invasions_of_Japan
***** Gekokujō (下剋上) is a Japanese term for “overthrowing or surpassing one’s superiors”. It is variously translated as “the lower rules the higher” or “the low overcomes the high”.
Posted on August 19, 2014 on http://kumafr.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/2241/
Arnaud Cousergue, Bujinkan Dojo Shihan
http://www.budomart.com, e-mail: email@example.com