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Masaaki Hatsumi

34th Soke of the Togakure Ryu

 

Essence of Ninjutsu

I believe that Ninpo, the highest order of Ninjutsu, should be offered to the world as a guiding influence for all martial artist. The physical and spiritual survival methods eventually immortalized by Japan's ninja were in fact one of the sources of Japanese martial arts. Without complete and total training in all aspects of the combative arts, today's martial artist cannot hope to progress any further than mere proficiency in the limited set of muscular skills that make up his or her training system. Personal enlightenment can only come about through total immersion in the martial tradition as a way of living. By experiencing the confrontation of danger, the transcendence of fear of injury or death, and a working knowledge of individual personal powers and limitations, the practitioner of Ninjutsu can gain the strength and invincibility that permit enjoyment of the flowers moving in the wind, appreciation of the love of others, and contentment with the presence of peace in society.

The attainment of this enlightenment is characterized by the development of the jihi no kokoro, or "benevolent heart." Stronger than love itself, the benevolent heart is capable of encompassing all that constitutes universal justice and all that finds expression in the unfolding of the universal scheme. Born of the insight attained from repeated exposure to the very brink between life and death, the benevolent heart of Ninpo is the key to finding harmony and understanding in the realms of the spiritual and natural material worlds.

After so many generations of obscurity in the shadowy recesses of history, the life philosophy of the ninja is now once again emerging, because once again, it is the time in human destiny in which Ninpo is needed. May peace prevail so mankind may continue to grow and evolve into the next great plateau.

 

Gambatte (Keep Going!)

Forget your sadness, anger, grudges and hatred. Let them pass like smoke caught in a breeze.  You should not deviate from the path of righteousness; you should lead a life worthy of a man.  Don't be possessed by greed, luxury, or your ego.  You should accept sorrows, sadness and hatred as they are, and consider them a chance for trial given to you by the powers...a blessing given by nature.  Have both your mind and your time fully engaged in budo, and have your mind deeply set on bujutsu.

 

Kihon Happo

I have trained myself and instructed others in Kihon Happo (basic eight rules) and felt that those who have had previous training in Karate, Judo, Aikido, Kung Fu, and other fighting techniques tend to stay with those forms and have trouble learning Budo Taijutsu from a "blank slate."  The fighting forms stay with the student even though he starts the training of Budo Taijutsu.  When do the previous learned techniques disappear?  I think it is up to a person's individual talent.  The phenomenon is just like a dialect disappearing after one lives in a different part of the country.

No matter how hard one tries, he will never be a professional announcer if he speaks in dialect.  The same can be said for Budo.  I also studied various martial arts such as Judo, Karate, Aikido, old-style Budo, and Chinese Budo.  In other words. until I encountered Takamatsu Sensei, I was a Budoka (martial artist) with many dialects.   One day I began to wonder why and when did I lose those "dialects?"   I realized that it was after I lost all my muscle tone after five years of illness.  

Discovery of your own dialect is one way of improving Budo.  When one reaches a certain degree of skill, he comes up against the "wall," something he has trouble overcoming.  This is the so-called dialect of Taijutsu (body technique).

I want to write about how to train yourself when you reach a higher rank during Budo training.  I would like to use a Cat Competition as an example.  I have had lots of experience in the competition because my wife served as judge of the World Cat Club and I was also vice chairman of the club.

Suppose five top cats are chosen out of hundreds of cats.  All of them are wonderful and beautiful, but that alone cannot be judged.  With no other way to judge which cat is more beautiful then another, the judges start to look for faults.  The one with the most faults drops to fifth, the next, fourth, then third, and so on.   The one with the least faults becomes Grand Champion.

Bugei is the same way.  If one reaches to a higher rank, he need only eliminate his faults.  It may sound easy, but eliminating faults is very difficult to accomplish, because we tend to think we are faultless.  Faults can be translated into something different in Budo.   They can be suki (unguarded points), or carelessness, presumption, arrogance, etc. - they all become our fault.  No fault, zero condition is the best.  I am ZERO.  I joke that the Soke (GrandMaster) has no Dan.  Zero, no fault - that is the target of Bufu Ikkan (living through the martial winds).

- Adapted from Tetsuzan

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