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Historie hnutí v japonských bojových umění od Dr. Kacem Zoughariho

Historie hnutí v japonských bojových umění od Dr. Kacem Zoughariho

Posted on January 31, 2011 on

The history of movement in the japanese martial arts: Structure, Way of Thought, and Transmission – Dr. Kacem Zoughari, INALCO Paris


“No one hitherto has gained such an accurate knowledge of the bodily mechanism, that he can explain all it’s functions; nor need I call attention to the fact that many actions are observed in the lower animals, which far transcend human sagacity, and that somnambulists do many things in their sleep, which they would not venture to do when awake: these instances are enough to show, that the body can by the sole laws of its nature do many things which the mind wonders at.”… (1)

According to the most recent report presented at the gathering of the Nihon Budô Gakkai (2), we see that after a century of modernization, the Japanese combative sports, collectively known as the martial arts, are now at an impasse. This sentiment is shared by large number of researchers and high ranking practitioners. This impasse extends itself right down to the way of moving in every day life, as the modern martial arts claim to be the end result that is founded on the way of movement of the greatest martial arts masters of Japan such as: Yagyû Sekishûsai (1529-1606), Yagyû Munenori (1571-1646), Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1646), Itô Ittôsai (1550-1618), Tamaoka Tesshû (1836-1888), etc.

Japanese culture is strongly influenced by the undeniable presence of body, and in the artistic domain the body very often plays a principal role. The way of seating one’s self, clothing one’s self, all the way to the use of the paintbrush or any other object, is governed by a culture of movement to which there is no equivalent in the west. In fact, for the warriors mentioned above, the art of moving or grasping a weapon was inseparable from the art of calligraphy, Shodô, Nô, Sadô, and of course from all movements found in everyday life. As well, Shodô is all at once inseparable in the way of thinking, posture, breathing, mastery of gesture and rhythm. The momentum which carries the movement of the brush is charged with significance; to read is to make the written word take flight and to capture that which lies beyond. The same applies to Nô, in the way that both arts, the martial arts and Nô, rely on extremely precise physical movements.

Konparu Zempô (1454-1520), a Nô interpreter during the last period of the Muromachi era, wrote in his work Zenpô zatsudan, the following considerations:“Bujutsu (combat techniques, martial arts) and Kemari (a ball game) are analogous to Nô. However, there is something that I do not like about Kemari, whereas everything is relevant in Bujutsu.” (3) With regards to Nô, Yagyû Munenori wrote in a letter to one of his close disciples, Kimura Sukekuro (1580-1656), the following remarks: “Each step (transfer of body weight) and word spoken hides a profound truth. It is this truth that is the foundation of the Nô of the Konparu School. It is interesting to note that this principle is the profound science that governs the movement in bujutsu.” (4)

In the way of moving in these various disciplines, refined in some to arts of gesture, we find a common ground: The act of eliminating all extraneous movements which reinforces concentration and allows each movement to become profound. The way of moving in the martial arts is intimately related to, among other things, the manner in which the sword is held and worn, its weight and shape, the style of clothing, the way of walking, etc… However, if we compare the movements of modern kendo to certain schools of classical kenjutsu such as the Shinkage-ryû, the Nen-ryû, or even modern jûdô or aikidô to classical jûjutsu of schools such as the Takeuchi-ryû (founded in 1532), the Shoshô-ryû (founded in 1520), Hokki-ryû (founded in 1596) (5), we see that there is a gap separating the modern disciplines from the traditional disciplines.

We can ask ourselves where the relationship lies between the different artistic domains where the body remains the main pillar. This same and intimate relationship connects the martial arts masters of old with the practice of nô, shodô, kemari or sadô. Yet for a novice or a simple practitioner, and occasionally an expert, the modern practices are the most profound and effective expression of the way of moving from the grand masters of long ago. In looking at the following documents, we quickly come to terms with the magnitude of the gap separating them: Combat between two graded kendôka during a competition in Tôkyô (March 2003, photo, Budô, No.437), note the position of the feet, on two parallel lines, the heel of the rear foot is elevated, as well as the position of the arms. Photo showing the successor (left) of the Ittô-ryû, founded at the very beginning of the Edo period, and would later influence modern kendô. The grip on the sword and the position of the arms is different from those of the two seen in the previous photo. The position of the feet and of the rear heel (person on the right) is almost identical to the previous photo. We note as well, a difference in the protective gear. Seen here is the very first protection used for protecting the wrists, invented and used in this style of kenjutsu. (Photo taken at the end of the Taishô period, private collection of Sasamori Junzô, (1886-1976)).

Illustration coming from; Kenjutsu hiden Hitori Shugyô, written in 1789. Here we see the same position, seigan no kamae, however we see that the feet are on a different angle (90°). The heels are approaching the same line and the grip of the sword as well as the position of the arms is very different. The kamae is called seigan no kamae, as the tip of the blade is pointing to the eyes of the adversary. However, the body is of a slight profile and retreating, which shows that it is of a type of seigan no kamae that is very different from those presented as of yet. In fact here, the position of the legs is known as hanmi or ichimonji no kamae. Above, the illustration from the Shinkage-ryû heihô mokuroku of Kamiizumi ise no kami (1503-1578?), 1570. The positions are wider and the feet are on the same line even if that is not obvious on the picture. This type of position shows that the body is on a profile and that the body weight is either on one leg or the other. This position is known under several appellations: hanmi, ichimonji goshi, ichi no kamae , ichimonji no kamae, shumoku no ashi no kamae, and hira ichimonji no kamae.

In addition to being one of the basic postures of all of the classical bujutsu schools of Japan, we also find it in armored combat, yoroikumiuchi. Above we see the Shintô-ryû Kukejô Matacho or madaitô of the Shintô-ryû founded by Tsukahara Bokuden (1489-1571). The broad positions which are clearly profiled, the feet on the same line, as is the sword with its long curved blade of the same type as the daito or tachi used during the Muromachi (1333- 1467) and Mamoyama periods, show again the difference between the positions of modern kendô.

In light of the fact that there are different representations for the same combat attitude with a sword, we see that the positions are completely different. Similarly, the manipulation as well as the grip of the shinai (bamboo sword) is vastly different from that of the sword or even wooden sword. We have applied the same method between jûdô and jujutsu and all of the various martial arts currently known in Japan and the results are the same.

First of all, the study of these documents of transmission of technical knowledge written at the very beginning of the Edo period show that the study of a martial art or the use of a weapon, has as a starting point, a similar position whose name varies depending on the school and time period. This basic position, hanmi or ichimonji goshi, is found in many of the best jûjutsu schools such as the Takeuchi-ryû, Hokki-ryû, Shoshô-ryû, Shishin Takuma-ryû (6), Takagi Yôshin-ryû, Asayama Ichiden-ryû, etc. It should be noted that these schools were, for the most part, born before the Edo period or at the very beginning and their differences with modern jûdô, as much in their way of moving as in their use of the body, are flagrant.

The practical and theoretical study of the classical martial arts and the comparison with Nô and traditional Japanese dances show that the corporeal arts, whose history we can retrace and explore, revealed principles of motion or gesture very different to those we take for granted today. The technical differences such as the amplitude of the movements and the quality of those, as well as the way of holding the weapon, brings us to the following hypothesis: An insidious rupture has occurred at the level of the transmission of combat techniques and that, all the while believing to follow the classical form i.e.; the positions, movements, and ways of holding the weapon; the way in which today’s practitioners perform them follows a different principle.

Moreover, if we look at the gestures conveyed in today’s budô, a large number of questions surface. For example: did Yagyû, Ittôsai, or Musashi use protective armour while training? How did they train and with what type of clothing? What was their starting position? How did they hold the sword, spear, halberd, dagger, or shuriken? Were there different ways to grasp them? Are the uses of techniques and ways of moving that we find today in the martial sports created during the Meiji period different? The majority of the combat techniques from the classical schools were created for use in any type of situation. It would seem that the way of walking, the starting position, and the way of manipulating the weapon were the principle elements to which a large variety of techniques would become grafted. Avoid all superfluous movement and focus only on rational movements that allow complete mobility and freedom without any hindrances; the famous jiyu jizai (7), the fundamental principle. This same principle can be found in every densho and makimono from the bujutsu; in all disciplines without exclusion. What is this jiyu jizai and how can we materialize it in the medium of forms (kata) conceived for the physical education8 of children?

The Different Ways of Walking

After a thorough study of many of the documents of transmission of combat techniques written just prior to, during and after the Edo period, we note, unequivocally, the many differences between the classical martial arts and the “modern martial arts”. One of the first issues is the attitude of the body while walking. In effect, all of the teachings and manuscripts of the masters aim to realize any type of technique while in mid stride and, according to them; therein lies the ultimate secret.

Today, it is difficult not to notice that the majority of martial arts practitioners, from all disciplines; jûdô, karate, aikidô, jôôd, kendô, iai-dô, etc., walk like athletes. This is to say that their legs are straight, they keep a straight or nearly straight torso, and they balance with the arms diagonally applying torsion to the vertebral column. In short, they walk in the habitual manner. Nevertheless, when these same practitioners find themselves in the process of training in their respective disciplines they use a gait founded on the model of the classical schools.

All of the disciplines created during the Meiji period (jûdô, karate, aikidô, jôdô, kendô, iai-dô, etc.), have a common point: They use a gait where the body is used differently than in the classical schools. This shows that all of the disciplines mentioned above diverged in a period when Japan was absorbing all of the sciences and techniques of the west and when the “western walk” would have been in style. However, during the Edo period it appeared that the Japanese of the time had a way of walking and moreover, mannerisms that corresponded to their social class. We know the words Bushi-aruki, Hyakusho-aruki, Chonin-aruki, Shokunin-aruki, and Hinin-aruki, though the meanings behind these words are all but forgotten today. Thanks to a few good old movies from the first half of the century, we are able to pull a repertoire of physical attitudes allowing us to shed some light on the dynamic of movement of which we only find images frozen in the iconography.

The Japanese prior to the Meiji era walked without torsion to the body. Even after the war, we could still find traces of this gait in farmers and in certain merchant families of ancient descent (9). The warriors walked by lowering their center of gravity without fully straightening the legs, the right hand followed the right leg, and the left hand stayed in close proximity to the sword so as to be able to draw the sword or any other weapon or object at any time. This way of walking is called namba aruki (10). It employs no torsion to the body and does not cause the kimono to shift. This walk was found within the continuity of the apprenticeship of technical movements for every warrior, and analysis of combat techniques found within certain documents allows us to reconstruct this type of movement with great precision.

By carefully analyzing different basic techniques we notice, starting from the second half of the Edo period, a profound mutation in the practice of the martial arts. During the Edo period instruction to the masses, the creation of new schools, the diffusion of techniques, the creation of new methods of training and protection, and technical specialization led to unprecedented changes in the practice of the martial arts and thus in the manner of moving as well. To understand this phenomenon it helps to have a precise representation of the history of the martial arts. Several different currents will influence the way of thinking and the way of moving in the schools of the Edo period. Upon studying the history of the different schools that were born during the Edo period, it becomes obvious that their founders developed themselves in one of three currents.

The Three Currents

The creation of these three currents dates back, without a doubt, to the Muromachi period (1333-1467). We call them the three currents at the origin of the use of the sword, kenjutsu no sandai genryu. The names of these three schools are as follows: the Tenshin shôden katori shintô-ryû, founded by Iizasa Chôisai Ienao (1387-1488), the Kage-ryû, founded by Aisu Ikôsai (1452-1538), the Nen-ryû, founded by Sôma Shirô Yoshimoto (1350- ?), better known under the name Nenami Jion. In spite of the fact that these three currents are known for their use of the sword, the teachings of the school rests on a broad range of weapons and combat techniques whose primary matrix remains the rational use of the body as a whole.

The generic term used to designate the teaching of these currents is bugei juhappan, the eighteen warrior disciplines. As well, the founders of these three currents were all masters in the use of many weapons and could pass from one to another without constraint in their movement. Therefore, if the practice of the martial arts was passed on via a multidisciplinary apprenticeship, this would mean that there was also a method of moving, a way of transferring body weight common to all the different weapons. The documents of the three currents presented above reveal a common position, a common defense and a kind of displacement that most often constitutes the secret teaching of the school. Moreover, the study of different documents spread out over the history of the martial arts since the 17th century reveals the presence of this same posture or attitude, under different names, and of the same type of unique displacement that was applied to all kinds of weaponry. It is even more interesting to see that we find this same type of fundamental movement in the majority of Japanese practices of movement.

The Art of Concealing the Transfer of Body Weight

The vast majority of documents that we have analyzed give mention to the same kind of movement: to move without making noise, without intention, without physical hindrance, entering into the shadow of the adversary, not having any tangible form, etc. The principle of this movement is common to all of the classical schools but the term used is different from one school to the other. We find the terms suri ashi, shinobi iri, musoku no ho, kage ashi, etc. According to our analysis this type of movement was discovered and deepened in the very first classical Japanese martial arts schools by the following precepts: 1) The effort to overcome an impasse encountered in the search of a dynamic based on spontaneous movement. 2) The search for techniques that do away with preparatory movements that warn the adversary of impending attack. 3) The search for an ever increasing freedom in the use of the body as a whole in the execution of techniques.

The transfer of body weight to take a step in daily movements occurs automatically: The center of gravity is directed forward, at the same time we are propelled by our right leg as it remains behind us. In this type of movement we create an impulse with the legs against the ground to move forward. To simply outline: the force creating the horizontal displacement is the resultant of two vectors; the strike from the leg against the ground and the weight of the body. The dynamic is such that, to produce a movement we must exert a force that goes against that of gravitation.

This model, as obvious as it is, forms in Japan and elsewhere, the basis for modern physical skills and acts as an explicative model for the traditional skills accounting for differences in performance and intensity. This type of displacement is present in all of the sporting activities such as kendo, judo, karate, aikido, jodo, etc. However, the principle employed in the classical schools, which is generally unknown, is very different. This principle allows us to improve the speed of movement all the while concealing the transfer of body weight and increasing the power of execution of the technique. To the observer, the application of this principle is masked either by its slowness or blazing speed and the difference is difficult to tell, but once understood, is simple to express. At the instant of movement, instead of creating a force against the ground, we release, we take away any muscular tension from the legs to allow our body weight to come into play and in doing so we transform the force into a horizontal displacement under the control of body weight. It involves rediscovering a sensation of gravity as an already existing force that can be used, and no longer employing the usual habit of fighting against it.

We can therefore come to “erase” the supports of the movements thanks to the technique consisting of controlling the transfer of body weight as well as lightly moving certain parts of the body such as the chest, the shoulders, the knees, etc. It therefore consists of a type of movement where there is no useless torsion to the body and where we seek for each movement the path of least resistance, with a preference for small arcs or, as is most often the case, straight lines. This principle applies to the use of any weapon and allows one not to be tense, and to have a grip that is as supple as that which holds a paint brush. It consists of accompanying the weight of the weapon and to move in concert with its characteristics (for example the curvature, the edge, its elasticity, etc.).

The employment of this kind of movement demands, from the beginning, an intimate knowledge of one’s body, as it involves using the whole body as a single unit with all its physical potential, and not just the hips as is the case in the majority of sporting practices. Whether it is with a stick, spear, sword or knife, or even empty handed, the principle of movement that allows one to erase the transfer of body weight is associated with rotational body movements whose main axis is the body’s center line, seichusen, and the strike or technique is characterized by incredible speed and force. Without being physically grueling, the whole drops and the change of axis unites the different parts of the body as one single movement.

This method of movement allows one to obtain physical speed with little muscular effort. Moreover, even an elderly person can demonstrate very fast, powerful, and effective movement. This would explain one of the major reasons for the retention of efficacy in the practice and realization of combat techniques at an advanced age, which is certainly the case in the vast majority of Chinese and Japanese classical martial arts. A large number of elements have yet to be explored, which leads us to believe that the application for this type of movement is much greater. We find it deeply rooted in the way of sitting down, standing up, walking, and in all kinds of movements that have as their founding principle; the movement of the body in all its dimensions. We can even say that it consists of an essential principle that governs what we shall call for lack of a better term, the “culture of the ground” of which the Japanese society is the most striking example in Asia.


1. Baruch van Spinoza,The Ethics, Part III, Proposition II; Proof, Translation by R.H.M. Elwes, 1883.

2. The Nihon budô gakkai is an organization created in 1972 bringing together scholars and researchers with different studies on the disciplines of budô. These studies range from history, to the way of thought, philosophy, sociology, ethnology, medicine, biomechanics, psychology, ESP, etc…The nihon budô gakkai organizes two major symposia per year in a Japanese university where a large number of practitioners, researchers and scholars are invited. It circulates a wealth of knowledge in the form of a research paper which is greatly appreciated in the university world and by certain practitioners. Report dated 08/09/2005.

3. Konparu Zenpo, his son Yoshikatsu , as well actors of the following generation, Yasuteru and Ujikatsu were all versed to a very high level in the martial arts. The e-maki Shinkage-ryû Heihô Mokuroku no Koto, written in 1601 by Yagyû Muneyoshi Sekishûsai (1529-1606) which was given to Konparu, testifies to his high level of skill. This document, along with many others, are preserved at Hozanji, in Nara.

4. Yagyû Munenori, 5th son of Sekishûsai, instructor of combat techniques to the first three Shôgun of the Tokugawa family, enjoyed a prestigious position. Author of the Heihô kadensho (written in 1632), he was versed in the practice of Nô which he did in conjunction with the practice of bujutsu.

5. The Takeuchi, Shoshô, and Hokki schools are known for being the oldest in Japan. The roots and creation of the Takeuchi-ryû can be demonstrated historically and philologically, it would seem that the Shoshô-ryû is an appellation that dates back to the beginning of the Edo period, the document of transmission for this school reveals two appellations with the same technical content: Koden-ryû and Kanze-ryû . It is very interesting to note that this school possesses a curriculum of techniques and a way of moving that is completely different from those found in schools that date from the end of the Edo period and of the jûdô of Kano. 18 Bulletin No. 69 | June 2005

6. The oldest document (1595) still in existence today, conserved in the library of the city of Toyama, is the Mokuroku, an index of techniques where the name of each technique is entered. The document attributes the founding of the school to the monk Saichô (767-822). Historical source unknown therefore subject to caution. It would seem that none of the techniques, in spite of being transmitted at the heart of several temples, were never recorded as the first historical document is dated to 1595. The point of interest of this school is that is was transmitted conjointly with the practice of several weapons, including ken-jutsu and that one of its characteristics is to not use muscular force to effect combat techniques.

7. The best known documents of transmission are, among others, the heihô kadensho written by Yagyû Munenori (1571-1646), the fudochi shinmyô roku written by Takuan (1573-1645), Ittôsai Sensei Kenpô Sho by Kotoda Yahei Toshisada (1620-1700), the Tengu Geijutsu Ron and the Neko no Myô-jutsu by Issai Chozanshi (1659-1741)…

8. In Nihonshi kohyakka Budô futaki Kenichi, Irie Kôhei and Katô Hiroshi Ed. Tokyôdô 1994 p.192, and in Budô wo shiru, Tanaka Mamoru, Tôdô Yoshiaki, Higashi Kenichi and Murata Naoki, Ed. Fumaidô, 2000, kata to bunka, p.106. 22

9. In Training Journal, May 2001, N°259, debate on the theme: “nanba and the use of the body”, between the martial arts researcher, Konô Yoshinori and the Doctor Watarai Kôji of Tokyo University, p.12. 10 This way of walking is used in no and in the puppet theatres. The kanji that designates nanba or nanban is difficult to interpret. The most reliable reference is found in the work of the ethnologist Shioda Tetsuo entitled Hakimono kenkyû. The author describes several types of walks used by farmers to move around in the rice fields. Nanba is written in katakana.

Special Thanks

I would like to express our sincere gratitude to Mr.Watanabe Takashi, President & managing director, Mr.Akira Shiono, Deputy managing director, and Ms. Shizuko Kikuta, Office coordinator, for their great help and very warmfull advices.

Bibliography 1. Reference documents

Shinkage Ryu Heiho Mokuroku Koto, Index of Techniques and Strategy of the Shinkage school, Yagyu Muneyoshi Sekishusai, 1601, the original is conserved at Hozanji in Nara. Heiho Kaden-Sho, Treatise on the Family Transmission of Strategy, Yagyu Munenori, Tokyo, 1636, the original belongs to the private collection of Yagyu Nobuharu. We do however find a very nice copy conserved at the Tenri University library. Ittosai Sensei Kenpo Sho, Treatise on the Laws Governing the Sword Handling of Master Ittosai, Kotoda Yahei Toshisada, 1653. This text is presented in a collection of ancient works qui that takes a part of the densho presented in the Budo hokan, Precious Texts of Budo, compiled and assembled by the Dai nippon butokukai before the second world war, published for the first time in 1970 by Kodansha. The version that we have used for our research is found in the Bujutsu sosho, Collection of texts on the martial arts, Jinbutsu oraisha, 1968, Tokyo. Tengu Geijutsu Ron, Theory of a Tengu on the arts, Issai Chozanshi (1659-1741) in 1729, Tokyo, private collection. Neko no Myo-jutsu, The Mysterious art of the Master Cat, Issai Chozanshi (1659- 1741) in 1729, Tokyo, private collection.

2. Works of oral transmission or kuden-sho

Motsuji mishudan kuden sho, Kami Izumi Nobutsuna, 1565. Shinkage ryu kiriai kuden sho no koto,Yagyu Sekishusai Muneyoshi, 1603. 26 Bulletin No. 69 | June 2005

¨ Dr. Kacem Zoughari

Dr. Kacem Zoughari
Dr. Kacem Zoughari is a well known Japanese History and Martial Arts researcher and practitioner. Born in Paris, France he began studying Martial Arts as a teenager and quickly began visiting Japan to further his studies. He has practiced Budo for over 20 years and is a personal student of Hatsumi Masaaki Soke and Ishizuka Tetsuji Sensei.

After several years of training in Paris, Dr. Zoughari made his first trip to Japan where he trained with Ishizuka Sensei. From that point on he began spending a few months of every year living and training in Japan. Over the ensuing years Kacem became a personal translator for Hatsumi Soke, acted as a translator for the Quest Video Company, and became a member of the Nihon Budo Gakkai (Japanese Martial Arts research organization).

Between 2001 and 2003 his role as the Lavoisier grant recipient allowed him to study full time in Japan and his research brought him into contact with many of the most well known martial artists in Japan including:
• Kuroda Tetsuzan
• Kono Yoshinori
• Sakai Eiji
• Hirakami Nobuyuki
• Yagyu Nobuharu

Dr. Kacem Zoughari attained his Ph.D. in Japanese History and Culture at INALCO in Paris, France. INALCO is the National Institute of Oriental Language and Civilization. His thesis was titled: Bujinkan: Its Form, History, and Essence. His principle areas of study include:
• Japanese History
• Martial Arts History
• Ninjutsu History
• Weapons and techniques of the Edo era police
• Evolution of Martial Art form and movement

Kamu, Kamu, Kamu…

Kamu, Kamu, Kamu…

The last class with Sensei completed the philosophical aspects he began to develop on Sunday.
I opened the class with some taijutsu that he put to another level, insisting on the Mutō dori aspect of everything we do this year. Even though the theme is “Gokōgoshin” (1), the essence of what we do has an intimate relation to the essence of Mutō dori. (2)

Sensei said: “When you think there is something, there is nothing; when you think there is nothing, there is something.” Then added, “this is Kanjin Kaname aka Shinshin Shingan.” (3)(4)

I learned two things during this class:
1) this concept of Kanjin kaname belongs to the Takagi Yōshin Ryū and the Kotō Ryū,
2) The Shinshin Shingan, “eyes and mind of the gods”, belongs to the Togakure Ryū.

Sensei played a lot with those concepts moving from taijutsu to Yari and ninja biken as always. He was manipulating his uke like they were nothing, only with one finger. But he repeated that the finger was simply the extension of body movement. I asked him to do it on me, and it was like hitting a wall. Sensei is relaxed and doesn’t seem to move at all, but you cannot get to him. On the contrary, you fly away without reason. Nothing magic here, it is pure taijutsu.

Often when you watch him doing a technique, you think that his uke is faking it. But when you are experiencing it you understand that nothing is faked. You can collect all the Waza you want, if you do not feel it with him, you cannot know. Sensei’s budō is only about feeling.

To get this feeling you have to train correctly, which means that you have to listen and obey. This is what being a disciple is all about. I wish there would be more disciples in the dōjō.

Funnily, this “being a disciple” echoed what he taught on Sunday. Sensei facing the Shinden during the break spoke about Monju Bosatsu. (5)
As you know, there is a statue of the monk Ganjin in the Shinden, made out of ironwood. (6) Inside the statue, there is a hole where Sensei wants to put a statue of Monju Bosatsu. This Bodhisattva is supposed to be Sariputra, the best disciple of Buddha. (7)

Manjusri (skrt) is the Bodhisattva of calligraphy and represents the archetype of the sincere disciple. Maybe we should become sincere disciples.

The calligraphy introducing this post reads “Kamu, Kamu, Kamu, Shinyû, Shinmyō, Aun” This is what he said during class last Sunday. (8)
Not sure that I heard correctly, I asked him to repeat. He said that he would make a calligraphy for me. This is the calligraphy.

Sensei said that “divine power” guide our movements. We must not do anything during the fight, but let the “divine” inspire our actions. There is no good nor bad solution, only a natural movement popping up.

So if you want to get this “natural movement inspired by the gods” into your taijutsu, then behave like Monju Bosatsu, and become a sincere disciple of Hatsumi Sensei.

1. Gokōgoshin / 悟光護心 / read more here
2. Mutō dori / / read more here then here
3. Sensei in his teachings often speaks of Kanjin kaname. And he is using many different meanings depending on what he wants to convey to us.
Kanjin kaname / 肝心要 / main point
Kanjin kaname / 観 神 要 / to see the truth beyond illusion
4. Christian Petrocello wrote “Sôke tells that 心神 心眼, Shinshin
Shingan (mind and God’s eyes) is called Kanjin Kaname” in
On Shinshin Shingan, I wrote in an older post: “the “eyes and spirit of the gods” said sensei during training. But Shingan is also 真贋, (authenticity); and Shinshin being also 心身 (body and mind) we can understand that Tsurugi is the way to becoming fully authentic with our body and mind. Tsurugi is the tool to achieve that. By moving freely in our Taijutsu, we clean ourselves from intention. From an older post (read here)
5. Monju Bosatsu (jap) aka Manjusri (skrt):
Bosatsu = Boddhisattva
6. Ganjin:
7. Sensei wants to put a small statue of Monju Bosatsu into the hole of the statue of Ganjin. Monju is the representation of Sharishi (skrt) aka Sariputra (jap) who was the best disciple of Buddha. The Hannya Shingyō Sutra is a discussion between Sharishi and the Buddha.
8. The first three signs are bonji for “god” or “divine power” (Kamu is like kami). There is no Kanji.
神佑 / Shinyû is the heavenly protection; the divine help
神妙 Shinmyō is in a sense showing meekness in the help of heaven (comment thanks to Doug Wilson)
阿吽 / A Un is 1: (Usually written using kana alone) Om; Aun; syllable representing the primordial trinity of Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma; 2: inspiration and expiration; respiration; alpha and omega. Doug Wilson added: ” the a and un are also the balance and the duality of its there its not etc.”


Arnaud Cousergue, Shihan Bujinkan Hombu Dojo

Arnaud Cousergue, Bujinkan Dojo Shihan, e-mail:

Pár slov od Kuki Takaharu …

Pár slov od Kuki Takaharu …

Posted on December 28, 2011 on

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)


Kuki Takaharu

Kuki Takaharu

Změň svůj postoj

Změň svůj postoj

“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

Arnaud Cousergue, Shihan Bujinkan Hombu Dojo


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Cousergue, Bujinkan Dojo Shihan, e-mail:

Základ proti kosmickému

Základ proti kosmickému

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

Arnaud Cousergue, Shihan Bujinkan Hombu Dojo

Arnaud Cousergue, Bujinkan Dojo Shihan, e-mail:

V dōjō

V dōjō

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, Shihan Bujinkan Dojo

Duncan Stewart –

From facebook

(5th March 2015)

Krok ve stínu "Kagefumi 影踏み"

Krok ve stínu "Kagefumi 影踏み"

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

Časová osa

Časová osa

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

** T’ang dynasty:

*** Embassies:

**** 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

***** 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

Arnaud Cousergue, Shihan Bujinkan Hombu Dojo

Arnaud Cousergue, Bujinkan Dojo Shihan, e-mail: