A Pointed Attack

shrine to 蔵王権現 Zaō gongen. photo by Michael Glenn
At a Friday night class in the Bujinkan Honbu Dojo, Hatsumi Sensei's opponents cut in at him with a sword, and he literally pointed their cuts away! It looked bizarre. But there is a foundation for why and how this works.

Earlier that afternoon in Japan I visited a mountain shrine to the Shugendō deity 蔵王権現 Zaō gongen. The Meiji government had abolished such shrines, but this one was still hidden in the shade of the forest. Probably too small to bother with.

Through the broken sunlight, I spotted the stone monument. A bleached white object caught my eye at the base of the mossy grey stone. Someone still active in the shamanistic practice of Shugendō had laid a lone antler and a skull on the rock.

Zaō gongen is often portrayed forming the 刀剣印 tōken-in sword mudra by his hip. This mudra is a wrathful hand gesture for conquering evil. I did not expect that later that evening I would see an active variant of this mudra used in combat.

When the attacker came in, Hatsumi Sensei would point and his attention would be caught. Then Soke would redirect it. This is a method for shaping the kukan. You must understand that kukan is not just the physical space between the fighters. It also holds the much larger space that exists in the fighter's mind. If you control that, you control the fight.

In Japan, there is a similar practice for controlling one’s own mind and manifesting this in the physical world. It is called 指差喚呼 shisa kanko (pointing and calling)  and is a safety measure. You will see it at train stations with the white gloves. It provides the engineer with an extra indication as to whether a switch has been turned on or off, or whether the train station platform is clear before and after departure.

When Soke pointed he caused the opponent to change his focus or move his intention in a certain direction. The ability to do this comes from a strong kamae and the ability to manage the space and the psychology of the opponent. In fact, in one instance, Hatsumi Sensei waved the finger through the air like he was erasing smoke (it looked like 千早振る chihayafuru). When Soke brandished the finger this way, the opponent stuttered his attack and his ability to stand just collapsed.

Hatsumi Sensei told us that to do this, "You can't focus on any one point. It's like cutting through the kukan. This is what defines 気 ki."

I certainly felt a kind of atmosphere and mood when I saw the antler that afternoon before class. And later that evening, I felt different when Hatsumi Sensei changed the spirit to one of laughter. I can't wait to go back to Japan next week!

Bujinkan Strategies of Control Part 7: 中心 chuushin

Hatsumi Sensei and Michael Glenn
I got off the plane and went straight to the dojo. This is extreme. And maybe a little foolish.

I got up at 5am in California, went to the airport to fly across the Pacific Ocean for around 12 hours. When I land in Japan, I get on one train for an hour, then another for half an hour, and the last one to the dojo for another half hour.

When I arrived for Hatsumi Sensei’s class, he decided to throw me around the dojo. Then I got back on a train to go check in at my hotel. When I finally lay in bed, it is 22 or 23 hours since I left home. But I lay awake trying to understand what just happened in training.

Even if I only had this one class, the whole trip was worth it. Hatsumi Sensei was teaching us about control. But it is not accomplished by purely physical means. In fact he said, “Don’t grab, it’s neither grabbing nor not grabbing.”

What is in between grabbing and not grabbing when you are trying to control someone? This in between space is what he was trying to show us. And here is a huge revelation for your training if you are ready for it. Soke said,
“Don’t do more than necessary by grabbing. But trying NOT to grab is also doing too much. you have to be in the middle. that middle space is where you can disappear.” 
What does this type of control look like? Well, I just felt it and witnessed it in the Bujinkan Honbu dojo. The opponent ends up fighting himself. Soke was doing this against knife attacks. And every time the attack came in, Soke pivoted around it and was able to redirect the knife so the attacker stabbed or cut himself.

This can happen when you are neither taking nor not taking. But what you do “take” are things you can’t see. Those in between things, those invisible things are really controlling the opponent. とってでとってない totte de tottenai.

Soke threw his opponents very painfully. But they couldn’t take ukemi because he controlled them. He laughed and said 親切 shinsetsu. which is the word for kindness, but the kanji means killing the parents. Like you’re killing them with kindness. He said that throwing them is a type of kindness.

He also used the word たすけて tasukete which suggests that he is helping them find the destruction they seek. You are helping them and using kindness to throw them, but then you have to be able to immediately kill them. Kill them with kindness.

I watched as he demonstrated a type of 手の内 tenouchi which is the way of using the palm or the fingers. He would catch the opponent’s finger right in the center or palm of his hand and move it around like a joystick.

He told us 力を感じさせない chikara o kanji sasenai… don’t let the opponent feel your power. You control through connection, but when you connect these ideas, they become zero.

Remember, it’s not your hand that is connecting to the opponent… and it’s not the place on the opponent where you put your hand…. it’s the connection. It’s the zero in the middle. In between your hand and the opponent is where the connection exists.

When you block or place a hand on the opponent, it’s neither the hand or the opponent that matters. It’s the connection or the place in between. That moment of zero.

Soke says we are studying mutō dori. And when we do mutō dori we are not really taking their weapon. He said we are taking 中心 chuushin, or their central point. This is their essence or core spirit.  Another way to write the kanji for 衷心 chuushin can mean their innermost feelings or inner spirit. Hatsumi sensei called this type of control “zero-style.”

Soke reminded us that he cannot teach this. We have to discover it for ourselves. We have to try to get this feeling from him in person.

I had travelled 5497 miles or 8,846 km for tonight’s class. I closed my eyes and dropped my head into the 蕎麦殻枕 sobagara pillow. I was exhausted, but for a lifelong budo addict like me, every mile was worth it!

Bujinkan Strategies of Control Part 6: 神経 Shinkei

Ricky, Kiwa, and Michael on our way to the Bujinkan Honbu
I got up really early on Sunday to meet a new Japanese friend in the train station. He had been training in a Bujinkan dojo in Tokyo until his teacher died. I was sad to hear about the death of his teacher who had been Soke’s uke for many years. And I was very surprised to learn that my new friend had never been to the Bujinkan Honbu dojo to train with Hatsumi Sensei.

I decided to risk breaking some kind of Japanese formality or etiquette that I was unaware of and invite my friend to train with us today. I hoped that Soke would be happy to meet him. We never know what these connections might bring.

In Hatsumi Sensei’s class everything he taught was about using small points of connection for control. He demonstrated this with with his fingertips. In one moment he slapped the opponent in the eye with his index finger. Then he showed us how to line up the body and the shoulder behind one finger as if it was a sword.

Then you pivot around that point. When you pivot around this small point, you control the opponent’s kamae, his balance, or the point of pain.

Soke said,
“With the fingertips being able to 変えるkaeru. You've got to be able to do this just with your fingers. it's not a technique. you don't really feel like moving much, right?"
Soke said he was controlling through connection. Connect to the opponent’s movement, but also what he is thinking and feeling. Once you make that connection you can control him. Control his body, thoughts, and his feelings through this connection.

But he emphasized,
“You’re not controlling one specific point, you’re controlling everything. I said by the fingers, but it’s not really the fingers. It’s about control. It looks like it’s happening at the fingers but it’s actually happening with the whole body.”
Soke used the word 神経 shinkei. This is a sensitivity through the nerves.
“Study this way of controlling through connection. Connect with what he's thinking or he's feeling. It's not technique. you have to be connected with him like this. You can't teach this. If you try to avoid, you're going to break that connection.”
This is not something you do with your own human intention. Shinkei is instinctual like an autonomic response that your body has if you are sensitive enough.

You use the small parts of your body. To demonstrate Soke began to wiggle his ears and we all laughed. Then he said to take the small things and connect to the big things in the kukan and then use that connection.

This is the correct 空間利用 kukan riyō or use of space. When you connect with a finger, it is a small thing or point. But it connects to a big thing which is the conflict or your opponent’s aggression. You use that small connection (NOT the finger… the connection itself) to control.

Hatsumi Sensei said we create a vacuum and have this “mood.” Soke used a play on words between English ムード muudo and Japanese 無道 mudou or even 武道 budou. You are being led by the martial arts into zero. Going between mood and the way of emptiness or formlessness. We are led by the martial arts into zero and become zero through the martial arts.

During the break, Hatsumi Sensei painted a dragon for my new Japanese friend. Many of our other Japanese Shihan and buyu were very friendly and welcoming to him. Maybe in time he will find his new teacher in the Bujinkan.

UP NEXT: Bujinkan Strategies of Control Part 7: 中心 chuushin

Ninja True: Bujinkan Iceland

I visit Iceland to share some Bujinkan lessons from training in Japan with Hatsumi Sensei. As you will see, I have made my own Icelandic saga and many new friends:
https://youtu.be/Dmynj-nntCM

Also, if you want to always be the first to hear about my current Bujinkan training, please subscribe here

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

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.

UP NEXT: Bujinkan Strategies of Control Part 6: 神経 Shinkei


Muto Dori With Marishiten

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!

Ninja True: The Takagi House

高木 Takagi. photo by Michael Glenn
Based on a lucky tip from one of my favorite blogs, Japan This!, I explore deep into Tokyo’s history from when the Samurai held the high ground of the yamanote in old Edo. What I found was surprise for me and for any Bujinkan student.




https://youtu.be/Dy0Y2MGVbCs

I got off the at the right train stop and started walking through the neighborhood. But my map and these shadowed early morning streets didn’t make me very confident I was on the right path. I was about to enter a konbini to ask for directions, when a police officer on a bicycle rode up.

He parked outside the 7-11 and went inside. I followed. My Japanese is not awesome, but I have had good luck with getting directions from Japanese police in the past. So while he was browsing the potato chips, I approached him like the dumb tourist I was.

He seemed a bit bothered, but gave me the “chotto matte,” so he could finish his shopping. He seemed to be buying drinks and snacks for a few people. I went outside next to his bike.

He put everything in the handlebar basket and motioned for me to follow him. We walked a couple of blocks to the kouban. There were about 5-6 police bustling around the street corner. My cop took me up to a map on the wall.

Suddenly, we had an audience. ALL of the officers were very curious to see what we were looking for. As he tried to find something on the map, each one interrupted with their own attempt to help. It was a combination of testing their English on me (which was not good) and trying to explain to him where he should look on the map.

As I stood in the huddle of six cops, I was embarrassed and amused by all the trouble my inquiry had created. A crowd was gathering on the street corner, and most of the locals were staring at me. Then the boss arrived.

An officer that was much older came out of the kouban and all of the others stopped talking. He calmly looked at the address I held in my hand. He punched a finger like a dart into the map and handed the address back to me. He told me that I could not go inside the place. I said I knew that, and I just wanted to take a photo of the outside.

Then a funny thing happened. He started scolding the original officer for not knowing what this place was. I mean, it has been there for more than 400 years and all. Like I said, my Japanese is not great, but I could hear the dressing down in any language.

I thanked them, and started walking. But the senior officer would not allow me to go. He continued scolding as the original cop was unloading the groceries from his bike basket. He pointed down the street and was giving him directions. And orders to escort me, apparently.

Now I walked beside the officer. And he walked his bike. I apologized to him. He waved it off.

That was a long 15 minute walk. There was the language barrier. But maybe just a bit of touch of annoyed policeman. It has a different flavor than annoyed police in America.

He dropped me off at the historic site with one more admonition that I could not go inside. Then he got on his bicycle and pedaled away to leave me alone in the quiet neighborhood.  I spent a little time observing the old architecture of this Samurai house.

On the main gate was the name plate of Takagi.  This had really driven my visit. You may know that one of the main schools of our Bujinkan study is 高木揚心流 Takagi Yoshin Ryū. And the fact that this was an old Samurai house made me dream of a connection.


The Takagi family has been living in this residence for more than 400 years! I know that Takagi is a common name in Japan. But I can dream. Anyhow I took some pics and walked around the old gate.

Then came a surprise! And old man called to me from the other side of the gate. He peered through the slot and motioned me to a smaller, side gate. He unlatched it and slid it open and beckoned me inside!

This old man, maybe a member of the Takagi family, made it clear I could give myself a tour of the property. He told me to let myself out when I was done. Then he went back inside the house.

I am always blown away by the generosity of the Japanese people. So I spent about 30 minutes quietly taking pictures and admiring the architecture. It seemed like there were a number of families living on the property, so I didn’t want to overstay my welcome or intrude too much.

I tried to imagine what old Edo must’ve felt like inside and outside these walls hundreds of years ago. I let myself back out the side gate. And wandered back into the streets of modern Tokyo.

I must thank the police. It occurred to me later that the older policeman who seemed very familiar with this property might have even called ahead to let the family know I was coming over. That may be why I was allowed to enter. I also must thank Japan This! for finding this, and for all of the other wonderful reports on the blog.

Evade Without Evading: Bujinkan Strategies of Control Part 4

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.

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

Bujinkan Year of the Rooster

Fighting Cock 闘鶏 toukei by Hatsumi Sensei
Today marks the year of the rooster by the lunar calendar. This is significant for me because I was born under this sign. During one of my visits to Japan, Hatsumi Sensei painted the fighting rooster for me as you see above.

I was attacked by mosquitoes earlier that day. It was my own fault because I had gone into a deep meditation in the woods next to a statue of 不動明王 Fudō Myō-ō. I didn’t notice the mosquitoes. But it was very hot and I was sweaty after my long climb, so they definitely noticed me! The next day, I discovered at least 30 very itchy bites.

This year I am 年男 toshiotoko, or “man of the year” since it is my sign. This can be unlucky, but I am protected. 不動明王 Fudō Myō-ō is the protector of people born in the year of the rooster.

The hour of the rooster is at sunset in the zodiac. And the direction of both the rooster and Fudō Myō-ō is west. In fact, there are still Shinto shrines where the monkey and the rooster guard the entrance gates.

I will lead the training in my dojo this year while heeding the expression, 鶏口牛後 keikougyuugo, “It is better to be the beak of a rooster than the rump of a bull.” For me, this means it is better to guide a small group of students who really care about training, instead of a crowd of people who train for the wrong reasons.

I wasn’t there, but reportedly Hatsumi Sensei first met Takamatsu in 酉年 toridoshi, the year of the rooster. I feel lucky to have this connection back to Takamatsu and the previous generations of our art through my studies with Hatsumi Sensei. The Bujinkan is a living art, and the spirits of the warriors of the past are kept alive in our current training.

I will spend some time this year focusing on the 妙音術 Myō-on jutsu that I have experienced from Soke. Since Fudō Myō-ō protects me this year, I will work to cut through my ignorance. Here is the Fudō mantra if you also want to say it while cutting through ignorance with your sword:
なーまくさーまんだーば さらなんかん
Naamakusaamandaaba saranankan
Don't ask me how to pronounce it, I think I need more training.

The 虚実 Kyojitsu of Control: Bujinkan Strategies of Control Part 3

渡月橋 togetsukyō at 六義園 rikugien. photo by Michael Glenn
Hatsumi Sensei puffed out his chest. His attacker went to grab with both hands, but then Soke collapsed the target. It was like he shrugged the attack away, tossing his opponent aside.

If you have been following my training notes, then you know that this kyojitsu of offering a target is one of the Bujinkan strategies of control that I have been writing about since my recent training with Hatsumi Sensei. He explained that he was teaching control to the Jugodans. He said he wasn’t teaching technique.

I managed to get a few pictures of the snow around the Bujinkan Hombu dojo that morning before class. A few days later it had all melted away. If you are not careful as a Bujinkan teacher, your own days as a student will melt away too.

Soke said that people in sports do technique, but we are trying to have a flow that can’t be copied. Flow is the most important thing in a fight.. This is why he teaches this way. He told us,
“You have to become the kind of person who cannot be copied.”
When Soke puffed out his chest this way, he was offering his opponent an illusion. The target was not real. He used the word 的 mato and told us to control by creating a target.

The way he moved his shoulders was very loose. And next, he made us all laugh by wiggling his ears. He did this to show how you control the opponent by having this very precise control over your own body first.

When he asked me to grab him, he did this with his shoulder and then I went flying through the air. He said,
“I’m lifting the shoulder with this kind of kyojitsu. You have to be able to move every part of your body.”
You offer the target as the 虚 kyo, or illusion. Then hit him with the 実 jistu or the truth. Another time Soke did this with a sword. He blocked the cut with his own sword. But he left his face right in front of his opponent’s blade. It did not look safe!

But this target was an illusion. As soon as the opponent tried to cut, Soke pivoted and hit him hard with the tsuba in the ribs. He looked around the dojo at our confused faces and said,
“Everyone tries to use the sword and that's why you're missing the kyojitsu. Kyo comes first and then jitsu.”
When you control your opponent with illusion, you don’t even have to fight at all. In fact, you never have to touch him. Hatsumi Sensei said we could feel it in the air. He used the phrase 空気で殺気 kuuki de sakki.

This can be thought of as sensing the intent of the enemy in the air. But it is also projecting your own threat into the air. It is like you strike with the air or the kukan itself! How does that work?

Many of us have felt this from Hatsumi Sensei. He did this to my friend Yabunaka-san. I watched when Yabu hesitated and then froze up. Next he stumbled right before Soke would have broke his arm. Hatsumi Sensei asked Yabunaka to describe this feeling. Yabunaka said that you feel like he is striking you even when he is not.

This is the opposite of presenting a target as an illusion. You strike with illusion! In fact, Hatsumi Sensei told us that this was 遠当之術 tōate no jutsu (or even 遠當之術). This is striking from a distance.

But Soke said he was not using tōate for striking, he was using it for control. For me, that moment was a big key to my whole trip and my efforts to understand Hatsumi Sensei’s current teachings.

I was lucky to be invited to uke for Soke in almost every class. And these experiences were like a gift. Every day that I train in Japan or in my own classes, I feel humbled by the generosity of my teachers and students. I hope you can have that in your training as well.
UP NEXT: Evade Without Evading: Bujinkan Strategies of Control Part 4

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