Thursday, September 22, 2016

Seeing but not perceiving

This is a story from Michael Glen of Santa Monica Bujinkan. It was in an email he shared. Here is his blog page to read more from him if you would like:

The reason I'm sharing his story is because often times we watch Soke and cannot perceive everything he does. Just because we cannot see something, does not mean it isn't real. This happens often with Soke, his movements are so subtle it is almost impossible to always see and understand what he is doing. 

"In one class I was training with my friend Yabunaka San. Hatsumi Sensei put a sword in his belt and asked Yabu to try to grab it. Then Hatsumi Sensei drew and turned the blade just enough so that Yabunaka's arm slid across the edge.

If that wasn't bad enough, suddenly Yabunaka yelped and few through the air. It was confusing as an observer. Hatsumi Sensei said "If you don't remember this kind of movement here then these weapons won't come alive."

When Yabunaka returned to train with me, he was rubbing his arm to make the pain stop. He wanted to show me what Soke had done to him. Lucky me... It turns out that after Soke forced Yabu to cut himself on the blade, Soke quickly resheathed his weapon. This had the lovely effect of pinching Yabu's forearm skin between the saya and the blade.

No wonder he yelped! This is why understanding Soke's budo is difficult because you may not see it. You must experience it directly or train with someone who has."
--Michael Glenn
From his Rojodojo email newsletter sent 9/22/2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Kukan is a Japanese term for the empty space, but there is so much more to this concept than just empty space alone. This is the space you move within, the space where you create techniques in response to the way the fight shapes, the puzzle you fit within as Nagato Sensei describes. This is also the space through which you project your intentions. We are always playing with the Kukan in class, even if one is not always aware of this. How the Kukan is shaped during a conflict is vital to understanding how to move and what to do. It is also what allows you to perform the techniques we train in the dojo.

Michael Glenn writes about this in his blog, for further reading I'll post the link to his blog because it is really a good post. Here is a quote from Soke he shares: "You've got to play in the space here. Be able to move freely, make your own kukan. Move with the opponent in the moment in a friendly fashion."

How does one make their own Kukan? You have your own space, it is not simply the Uke that creates the space. Think on the SanShin. Think of each of the waza in this kata. The Uke attacks, we move in the space, that is first and foremost, and there is some form of defense. But this shouldn't be though of as a block or deflection, it creates Kukan as well. So does your attack, but your attack will change based on the Kukan from your defense and from the Uke's response also (because an attacker won't stop after their first strike). So, you strike through the Kukan, strike the Kukan itself. Understanding this will make you far more efficient and effective.