Totoku Hyoushi No Kamae

There is always the concept of the visible and invisible in class, the perception of what one would see if they were just watching class off to the side, vs. training or being part of a training group.

In this way, we can openly talk about the training, and sharing ideas to help those searching for the martial arts, yet at the same time preserve many of the “secrets” of the martial arts.

Not that there are any secrets in the martial arts, secrets imply learning something and having complete enlightenment. In this way martial arts is the easiest skill and disciple to learn in the world- just show up and train, and over time everything will be understood.

In watching a class one would see various martial arts skills in practice- ukemi, striking methods, grappling methods, footwork drills, training tools, etc. BUT there is much that happens both before and after these budo taijuts movements.

As an example of this let’s explore the totoku hyoushi no kamae.

This is a traditional sword posture where the blade is turned flat facing the target, as a shield, and with your body as flat as possible. From a historical perspective it was used against shuriken- hand held darts and throwing plates- bo and hira shuriken.

The sword is used to deflect the incoming object with the flat of the sword, sending it off and away from you. One is both hiding and protecting with the sword, using it to defeat another training tool of distance, where the sword does not have a similar distance.

Outside of kenjutsu (Japanese sword), this also has movement, strategy (heiho), and philosophical applications to be found in all of our other budo taijutsu movement.

It is about using the sword, but it is also knowledge above and beyond the sword.

An encounter with another person does not begin the moment they move to punch or grab you. It begins way before that, and by being aware of distance and timing, one sets themselves up with superior distance and timing before an attack.

Through training, this setting of a superior position at all times just becomes conditioned and natural to the point where it is not consciously though of, it just happens.

So, if something does happen, one is automatically in a superior position and advantage before the “martial arts” has even happened.

We are crossing the street in the above picture, and in waiting for the light to turn, where are we standing? Many of us stand as close to the edge of the crosswalk as possible, waiting for the light to turn, or for a break in traffic so we can cross.

As the cars pass, what happens if one jumps the curb, or has to swerve to avoid another card? If that happens all you have is ukemi to protect you- rolling, leaping, or side evading depending on what is happening.

Can we see totoku hyoushi no kamae?

Can we use totoku hyoushi no kamae?

While waiting to cross, what about moving away from the curb and standing with the pole and barriers in-front of you? A car jumps the curve and it has to pass through that before hitting you.

Natural objects for totoku hyoushi no kamae are everywhere.

Imagine again in the picture above that we are walking on the right sidewalk and a group of people are walking behind us, perhaps closing and approaching us.

We have a gut feeling about danger- one that we should ALWAYS listen to immediately.

Can we see totoku hyoushi no kamae?

Can we use totoku hyoushi no kamae?

Right away, cross the street, using the street itself as  totoku hyoushi no kamae.

Crossing puts distance between you and the group so you can see their actions better, and it also forces them to reveal the intent they may have against you- do they also cross the street? Do they openly shift to follow you?

…in our weekly training classes we practice strikes, throws, and all that “martial arts” stuff, but it is also these hidden actions that are in play at all times, hidden movement, that helps prevent a situation, and in the worst case scenario, give you many advantages of distance and timing before something starts.

See you on the mat!


Martial Arts Training Outdoors Dojo

With regard to our classes, all of the training is conducted outdoors regardless of season and weather, with rare exception for extreme weather such as sub zero temperatures or hurricanes. How does this type of training compare to training held in a gym or studio?

Half the year it is nice.

The other half of the year it is hell.

But is it?

There are spiritual components to our martial arts training, ways of developing the mind and spirit, and this is done a bit different perhaps when compared to other martial arts.

These mental and spiritual concepts of budo taijutsu, of ninpo, can not academically be learned, they have to be experienced, and they are experienced through the physical movements of training.

In a way the movements can be thought of as moving meditation.  The meditation and reflection is not in a class room, or zen hall, but in the interaction of life and death concepts with your teacher, training partner, and martial friends in that moment- outside in the sun, rain, snow, and wind.

When this is combined with nature, the elements, the seasons, and how the outdoors changes training, each and every class is not only training in the martial art, but also in these spiritual concepts.

In that way training outdoors is the way.

Taking A Martial Arts Class

This blog serves as a portal for our martial arts group and as a way for interested members to find out more about the training, some of the concepts we practice, along with class lessons in order to give an idea of what we explore in the martial arts.

Being a web site, out there in the search engines means we get a good amount of visitors outside of the Westchester, New York area.  As friends in the martial arts and the martial arts community, we are happy to try and help with any questions.

For those thinking of starting the martial arts, no matter where you are our message would be: go for it.

Start with a single class, or a few classes to explore some of the training. Many think that joining a group, or dojo means enrolling for life.

Even in taking a few classes, or exploring a workshop in the martial arts can open up opportunities in terms of thinking, philosophy, and self-discovery even if one does not want to pursue the martial arts full time.

For those seeking training, we invite them to consider and explore training with us, or a local Bujinkan dojo group near them.

For those curious about the martial arts, we would say try out a class at a school near you.

Martial Arts Self-Defense Methods

There are many reasons to study the martial arts, and not all schools or training groups are the same in what they are teaching and transmitting.

The focus for some might be competition and fitness, for other self-defense, preserving a unique history and culture, etc.

If you are studying self-defense, is that what they are teaching?

Consider approaching self-defense from the perspective of not fighting. The longer one fights with a person, the greater the chance of getting hurt, incapacitated, or worse.

Things also tend to escalate very fast in these types of situations.

Self-defense should focus on escaping as quickly as possible and getting to a safe location.

We see examples of this in our own training in the hajutsu (escape methods) section of the chi ryaku no maki.

In these training lessons you are grabbed and held in place. Perhaps your arms are grabbed, your body, or you are put in a headlock.

The lesson is to escape the hold, free yourself so you can move again, disengage, and get away.

Not throw attacks, or look to engage and confront the person.

There are also elements in self-defense training that layer over and happen before these exercises.

Awareness of your surroundings.

Understanding distance and timing, so one knows when they are in danger of an attack.

Through movement, and an understanding on the area around you, making oneself a hard target to even attack in the first place.

All these are examples of training for “self-defense”.

Ichimonji No Kamae

Kamae are postures in the martial arts, ways of holding and moving the body as an entire unit, in order to control the distance and timing of your training partner.

One can not always match of exceed the strength, speed, size, and power of another person, but one can control the distance and timing regardless of personal attributes.

Kamae are the method and science of doing this.

Ichimonji no kamae is the first posture we practice out of nine, and it is one of the fundamental movements we see in the kihon happo of ichimonji no kata.

In our past class we focused on what the arms are “doing” in this posture.

With the lead arm out we are creating distance between ourselves and our training partner, while at the same time putting up an obstacle that they need to navigate through if they want to close in.

A punch, grab, or initiation of movement toward you has to first pass through the lead arm. There are important elements of goshinjutsu (self-defense) here.

With the rear arm held up complimenting the front lead arm we are further protecting any weak spots (kyusho) on ourselves, while being at the ready to counter with the appropriate movement.

One of the six drills that we further reviewed was shifting from shizen (natural posture) to ichimonji in a relaxed and fluid motion. Moving with nagare to control the distance and timing of an attack- also exploring it from an attack from all directions- behind being the most important.