Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sanshin and the 3 centers

Interesting comment

I remember Manaka shihan talking about the san shin as "three centers- yours, the opponents, and where you need to take his center to defeat him" this was in regards to the gyokko ryu kihon

Yugen no Sekai

An interesting comment.

Ni Jigen no Sekai is interferring with uke before he takes his decision to attack. San Jigen no Sekai is interferring with uke after he takes action. Yugen no Sekai is of the mind and its before uke even consideres attacking you. Its like the world of the spirit. Sensei called it the dreaming world "Shiki". Can also be interpreted as transcending dimensions.

This compliments a comment on Kukan. Kukan can be thought of as three concepts. 1st concept is the beginners concept where spsace (kukan) is controlled by the world or Uke (attacker). He manipulates your space and you have very little control. 2nd concept is You manipulate the space around the world / uke so that you have some control of the space around you. Third concept is you fully control the space around you and the world and Uke moves around you.


Sanshin is possibly one of the first technique/exercises that a student of the Bujinkan will practise. It is one of simplicity but has incredible depth in meaning and physical practise.

Ok ... here is my interpretation at this point in time in my training.

Sanshin is the 3 hearts. The heart of a child allows us to learn without preconceived ideas, without bias, without too much conscious thought. To me Sanshin is about learning with the heart of the 3 year old child, not making any thought not making any judgement, just naturally doing it. I remember reading somewhere, (may have been Stephen Hayes books) where a child when learning to eat cannot control the fork when attempting to place food into their mouths, but as the child grows older the practice of natural movement allows us not to think of the motions involved in eating and without hesitation the act of eating becomes natural. The heart of Sanshin allows us to move with natural intent, dropping the need to think of technique in a specific manner to respond naturally to the environment and stimuli around us at any given moment. It allows us to be in the present and not the past or the future. In terms of the Sanshin exercises I think to me the most important aspect is the natural method in which one learns to move the body, naturally moving with whatever weapon or fist. I think just by performing the exercises over and over without thinking about the execution of the technique allows your body and mind absorb the feeling of the sanshin movement and applying this feeling in normal training exercises like Kihon Happo etc. It is very difficult to see an attack that comes as a result of natural body movement and the intent is hidden in the natural progression of body movement from one technique to the next. From the Uke's point of view, is it the body or a weapon that you must defend against, and where is it coming from? (In actual fact it is all of these as the body is the weapon). However an attack with a preconceived intent in a less natural motion can easily be avoided or predicted. Because the natural motion is tied into something that we do everyday like walking, reaching or throwing something, the methods don't need to be relearnt or re-applied with different intent. The feeling in Sanshin to me is something that we already do in our normal lives. If we manually go to turn on the television we naturally get up, walk and go to reach to turn the tv on. If someone turns it on with the remote half way through, we stop as there is no need to continue. To me this is also contains Sanshin feeling in that its a natural way to repsond. Its not something that can be easily explained suffice to say that the method or technique is less important than the feeling of what your intentions are. Hence Taijutsu is a feeling more so than technique. Hatsumi Sensei writes in one of his books that everyone has Taijutsu, a dancer, a sports person etc. To me their movements are technically the same, and the method is largely the same (they all walk one foot infront of the other etc). However the feeling behind each is what gives them their distinct differences. The way I look at it, Sanshin gives us the feeling of Budo Taijutsu, the essence of the way Bujinkan Taijutsu people move, think and react. Learning a set of techniques can be learnt by anyone with time, but to make the technique come alive requires feeling and intuition which Sanshin provides the key to. Therefore finding a good instructor to learn Sanshin in its basic form, is important as feeling is a lot harder to teach/interpret than technique. Hope I havnt been too vague and out there, but that is the way I look at Sanshin at this point in my training. RegardsBryan Lowe

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Losing the focus.

I read this recently on a web site dedicated to the martial art of iaido/iaijutsu. Now I realise that different martial arts have different focus and I am not going to add anything to that side of things. However upon reading the below section, it says that the reason that this particular group does not practice Tameshi giri ir test cutting, is because of a spiritual significance of the sword, and that the action of cutting with the blade desecrates the sword as a symbol.

If I may restrain myself and not meaning any disrespect to anyone, I cant help but think back to when the founding fathers of any martial art, especially those with long lineages and traditions, developed those techniques that would save them from the impending danger and possibly death in confrontation or battle field. Taking away the very element that is the purpose of that weapon is making it a sterile useless implement that serves no purpose in the long run at anyrate. People train in martial arts to get something out of it, and the particular things that martial arts are good at in teaching some of the spiritial aspects is polishing of the spirit through adversity and understanding of life and death in a split second. Remmoving the core aspect of the purpose of a weapon, in this case the application of cutting with the sword, we seriously lose the truth behind the lessons in which martial arts are trying to teach us. The danger comes when someone who teaches martial arts with missing concepts and core purposes onto those that do not understand this. A beginner then thinks that the techniqes that they learn can be used in a real confrontation, only to find out the hard way that something just wasnt quite there.

Modern martial arts are standing on the sharp side of the blade when it comes to training a person. On one hand we are compelled to be the best we can be and try to teach in the most realistic way we can, but on the other there is a lot of theory much of which is complete rubbish unless you put it into practise and test out the concepts so that they either work or dont. Many martial arts continue the old methods of training and that is to learn without questioning. In some schools especially the Koryu (old style) this can be ok because they lead onto other more advanced concepts. However in my experience there has been a lot of people teaching also skills that are impractical and dangerous to use in a real confrontation. Shinken training is an aspect that all martial arts training should have to cultivate a deeper understanding and polish the character and spirit. However it appears people have their own ideas on how they should polish their characters without the foreberance and wisdom of those who have gone before them.

The last paragraph talks about showing respect to the sword smiths and their art. If you cut with the blade then disrespect the sword smith. I cant disagree more to this. Read "The Way of the Warrior" and the section about Otake Sensei of the Tenshin Shoden katori Shinto Ryu, one of Japans ancient schools of swordsmanship and one of the most respected. He takes the authors to a swordsmith called Yoshihira Yoshindo. He says that he is saddened because of the fact that most of his swords go straight to the vault because of the value of them and they never get used. He makes shinken or live blades so there is no question in what he refers to as "being used" ie being used to cut with.

I dont know about you, but has the culture and respect been taken out of context in this case? I'll let you decide.

Tameshigiri is the action of using a sword to cut objects (tamesu in Japanese means "try out", while giri means "cut").Iaido is the only martial art where one practices with a sword in order to "polish" one¹s spirit/heart (kokoro). Tameshigiri is forbidden by the Zen Nihon Iaido Renmei, the only specialist iaido organization in Japan.There are several reasons for not doing tameshigiri.Firstly, one has to consider that the Japanese sword is not a tool, irrespective of whether the blade is live or not. In Japan, the Japanese sword has held a very important, and sometimes mystical, position in society. It is still one of the 3 treasures of the Imperial family, along with the mirror and orb. Thus, a sword is thought to have sacred properties.Taking this into consideration, the act of using a sword to cut something is akin to someone using a Catholic cross to bash a tree.

Furthermore, swordsmiths put their heart and soul into making Japanese swords great works of art. Therefore, using a sword to cut something is a most disrespectful act towards the swordsmith and the sword, which samurai thought of as their soul. (In fact, etiquette towards the sword requires one to treat it with the greatest respect at all times; for example, one shouldn¹t step over it, or touch the blade with one¹s hands.)---