Using 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 taijutsu 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 , 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 see 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 see 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? 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!

Bujinkan Class Training Notes: Koshi Kudaki

Starting first with the understanding of nage waza- throwing forms, and an important point.

The power of tossing your training partner by having your hips lower when compared to their hips.

The opposite of not wanting to be thrown by sinking and lowering your own hips in relation to your training partner.

We spent some time examining the timing and effect behind the strike to the kidneys that prevent the throw. The idea of a boshiken to stop and keep uke in place, so we can appropriately counter, usually with zu dori.

But what about using the strike, or a following kick to send uke away?

Perhaps if it was once against many, stopping the throw, and using the strike to send uke in a tactical direction? 

Daily Bujinkan Practice

In this post I would like to share with you, the reader, what a suggested daily practice routine in the martial arts looks like- the blueprint that we use at the dojo.

The first is to begin with the fundamentals in the martial arts, and ever martial art has them- in the Japanese martial arts this is known as the kihon- the fundamentals.

In the Bujinkan we have a collection of fundamentals found in ukemi, the san shin no kata, and the kihon happo. 

Every day, every student is to practice, refine, and polish these movements. They are not only the building blocks of the art, they gradually adapt the body on how to move in the Bujinkan- allowing one to later pick up on the transmission and feeling of the art.

Building on this foundation, the next training point to review was again exploring the lessons and movement from our last class- the idea of building on that momentum in class, what was shown as a group so we can all progress together.

After exploring that is personal training- what has your teacher shown or told you to be working on to help correct any movements, what are the personal exercises given to you that are going to help take you to that next level?

Final action point?

Finish out self-training with some free form training focusing on the flow (nagare).

Just moving around, no concern with right or wrong, just mushin movement- maybe some bojutsu? 

Maybe practicing some striking drills? 

Sabaki gata? 

Naturally this is just the budo side of training, attention needs to also be devoted to physical body development- stretching, cardio, strength and endurance training, etc.

Bujinkan Class Training Notes: Kappi & Shizen

In the martial arts we have five *laws* that influence our taijutsu- balance, distance, timing, rhythm, and future movement- we can see these elements in every waza that we practice, perhaps viewing waza as a method of discovering them and using them.

We explored the use of kappi to understand and play around with timing. Kappi is found in the chi ryaku no maki section of training and has one walking towards a training opponent and following up with a shuto. One walks naturally and in balance towards the training partner, but how does the waza change if one slows down on approach, or switches the timing from slow-to-fast? What about passing by and turning around for the shuto? How can our approach stop the natural movement of our training partner, making the shuto much more effective?

For our practice with the jin ryaku no maki section we explored shizen- the concept found in many martial arts of pushing and pulling and using that natural movement- if our training partner is so insistent on pulling us, why resist? Energy already put out with a pushing action, continue and build on it. Redirecting the push and pull naturally using swinging body strikes, or natural dropping motions like ryu sui. 

Dojo News

We are currently holding regular training sessions. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic still in effect we have altered our class structure- all training is held at maximum social distancing and any waza practiced does not involve touching or moving into the space of another training partner, so safe distance can be maintained at all times. Training under this format will continue until the pandemic has passed and contact is safe again. Ninpo Ikkan!

Located in Westchester, New York we are a martial arts training group dedicated to studying the Bujinkan dojo methods of Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi. As friends we come together to practice the martial arts. Questions, comments, feedback, and training inquiries may be directed to the group by email here.