Form Follows the function 2.0

175264_3746377668568_626626325_oI wrote and posted on this wall this text approximately two years ago, I started writing to create a window of communication with more practitioners of the art, myself and the own art .This text published was the first “long text” that was published in a blog of bujikan, and I feel satisfaction to see that the window of communication began to give their seeds!

A few days ago I read “a paragraph” of the same text that I wrote, written here:

When you repeat over and over again a movement, you send a message to your core essence. You change the original programming of your being, your roots, your spirit, your beliefs, and what you think you are here and now. Your catalyst for evolving becomes the art, an art handed down from generation to generation, from master to master.”

I decided to rewrite it without losing the essence of the original text, but adapted to the look and experience of my actual search of vital responses through of the practice of the art, I hope and wish that you could be useful to your practice and path.


In the traditional martial arts schools (Gakkô; 学校) there is a concept: “mi no kane” (身之矩) which could be interpreted as “the square body”. This invites us to delve into a movement where our body always uses the limbs in right angles of protection.

To this we can add another term that we can find in the currents of traditional martial arts: “hitoemi” (一重身)”; We could interpret this as a bodily attitude where we adopt a position of lateral body, protecting our heart and vital parts of our body.
The ideogram “身” refers to the from of the whole body, and if you look, it is used in both Japanese terms that I described in the first paragraphs.

We could expand on many concepts and technical terms of different schools of the traditional martial currents, but to summarize, all the practitioners we have listened to the masters and instructors say: “keep lateral!, keep your body in the line! Straight back! Put your head straight! Hide your shoulders! Do not use the hip, move your body like a block! etc, etc, etc… I don´t know about you, but I have my masters voice branded with fire into my subconscious and heart.
When I practice alone (never alone), he accompanies me; I can hear his voice inside me telling me:

takamatsu togakure 001
Takamatsu demonstrating a form of Tehodoki.

Your Head! More laterally! Straight back! Focus your mind on every millimeter of the movement! Again! One more time! Repeat it!

I am grateful for each “correction”; it keeps me alive and awake in my practice and path. They are a gift that the master gave me, his time, attention and energy. Is this not a great example of patience and duty with the art and his master? Of his sincere transmission? With what quantity of money it is possible to buy it? How can you calculate the value of this?
Return to the ideograms and interpretation of the first three concepts that I used at the beginning of the writing (“mi no kane” (身之矩)”, “hitoemi (一重身)” and the ideogram that refers to the whole body “身”) we can see that this information invites us to move the body as a block, in the way that our vital parts (physical vital parts, psychic and emotional) are hidden. Thus the opponent can only see the half of our body, in every movement there is always a coordinated movement like a block: an attack and a defense in unison, which is known in the classical currents of martial arts as “Jiyūjizai” (unrestriction; complete mastery; in complete control; 自由自在).

Why is so important to be very careful in the accuracy of the movement of our body when practicing the “Kata” (形) Forms of the source “ryu” (流)?

The movements of the forms (kata; 形) has been passed down from generation to generation, from master to disciple, is a direct transfer to your subconscious mind and your heart. Yes! You read correctly, to your subconscious mind and your heart.

Did you know that your conscious mind intervenes only in about 10% of the decisions that you make every day? the 90% remaining of your choices are conditioned by what your subconscious and your heart received and absorbed between the 0 and 6 years of age (approximately); we copied like a sponge of our fathers, to the culture and norms of the society that around us, and we keep repeating over and over the same patterns of behavior that we learned in our childhood. We believe that we control our choices and decisions; however, all depends of the automatism that was created in our subconscious and heart, of our preconceived paradigms, our beliefs and conditioned responses. Our physical movement is a reflection of what we hold in our hearts and minds.

At this point, I invite you to reflect, why you think that the master is so direct with the corrections about your body movement?

Move laterally! The Head straight and in line with the shoulders! The hip is not rotated in this way! Listen more carefully!
The movement that has been taught from generation to generation is a direct code to your subconscious mind and your heart; this movement has been created to bypass all your preset filters and to get directly to the center of your subconscious and therefore to your heart.

Hatsumi Uke Tome 001
Masaaki Hatsumi demonstrates Uke-Tome from Kukishinden-ryu.

Your body is invited to move according to a culture of martial movement, an artistic movement, so the master repeated again and again the phrase “copy is an art.”

The non adepts to the art believe that a koryû is based in positions of the past old fashioned, positions that would not work in a real case, that the classic combat weapons in the art like for example the spear (Sojutsu; 槍術) have no sense today, the practice of an art based on combat armor (Yoroi-kumiuchi; 鎧組打) has no value in the present moment, etc.

However the Form and Function of the art are not rigid concepts, but as his ideogram conveys “ryu” (流) are a source and a current that flow and adapts to the era, to the stage, people, weapons, the styles, to the moment, and ultimately to the present moment, the here and now. Nothing in the Form and Function of the Art is fixed or restricted, so it is vital to have “faith” in the original transmission of the master, and not invent or create your own form from the original Form.

The Art is supported by a science of transmission of exact movement, in a deep understanding of the human beings and the implication that has the movement on the psyche (human soul) of the practitioner. We talked about techniques that were created based on the blood of many warriors, warriors who bequeathed his life to an art to allow a transmission to the future generations, so it is important to respect the Form to follow the Function, and not create the personal form to follow our egos.

When you repeat over and over again a movement, you send a message to your core essence. You change the original programming of your being, your roots, your essence, your spirit, your beliefs, and what you think you are here and now, and you change for an art, an art handed down from generation to generation, from master to master.

Now you understand why quality is better than quantity?

Your subconscious mind and heart are your inner master, are the mirror that reflects the wisdom of the master. They are your most persevering part of your core essence (nin; 忍). They act with absolute fidelity. Your subconscious and therefore the heart knows no rest, they working continuously driving your perceptions and interpretations; during the night work through your dreams, during the day work using the filters of the eyes of your heart and your subconscious perceptions. The conscious mind is only active effectively in a state of lucidity and absolute awakening, and this requires many lighting in your mind, much presence. As we can see, the subconscious is much more persistent, and works tirelessly and relentlessly.

All that we live with the master is recorded in our subconscious and in our hearts through of the transmission of the heart or spirit (Shinden; 心伝), through the transmission of the body movement (taiden; 体伝) and through the oral communication (Kuden; 口伝).

However, is important to remember that what gives life and function to all this transmission, borne through the form or “kata” (形), the Form contains a vital information that your body receives and that crosses all your conscious filters; planting a seed of natural form and invisibly in your subconscious mind and in your heart, a seed that will germinate through the cultivation of conscious and persevering practice of the Form, The Form Follows the Function.

For this is so important to find a master that is capable of demonstrating and exhibiting a pure, clean and direct movement, a movement that comes from the original source (ryu; 流).

What you copy, what the master transmits for you, has to be copied as a mirror, without adding anything from your conscious mind or your ego, without inventing anything: being completely sincere and honest with the movement that the master has shown you through the original Form; If not, we lose vital information for ourselves, and ultimately we will not connect with the source (ryu; 流), nor with the heart of the transmission of the master.

And why this perfection so scientific in the movement of the body? Why copy?

“As it is inside it is outside”, and “as it is outside is inside”; If you move in a certain Form or kata (形), your mind will be conditioned to interact in a certain way and your heart will also begin to beat in another way: AN ART, and in this case a MARTIAL ART, this will be a rebirth (Fukkatsu; 复活) in your life through the experience of practicing an ART.

What do you think happened to Hatsumi Sôke in his practice with Takamatsu sôke? We have all seen their movement and flexibility in the videos with the Takamatsu sôke, how can be that he will change his movement and his flexibility of so radical form in so little time?

Now we can understand better why the martial arts studied and practiced in depth used for the self-protection and the development physical, mental and emotional (spiritual), the movement that we make interacting with our body, our mind and our heart (spirit).

Now I propose to review the Form of your “Ichimonji” (一文字); but to review in a dignified and sincere way: remember that you’ve received is a gift to the essence of your being. Make it in a way that the time stop around you; in a way that you feel a unity of body, mind and heart.

If the kamae “ichi” (一) is in two (二) lines; if the head is not aligned with the back; if the position of the knees is not correct; If to move use sharp turns of the hip … something is not right: the image that you want to copy does not reproduce the Form and the original current of the masters, the form does not than Follow the Function. I invite you to search an image that is connected with the original source, and that is adapted to your present moment of quest, practice and evolution.

And now comes a student and asks – I’m watching myself 15 years ago, how do you know if this will serve me on a real case?

Your subconscious mind and your heart will know in the exact and accurate Form, if the movement that you have practiced is the movement that comes from the original source (ryu; 流); it will not matter that you are sick or injured: all the masters studied how to survive in the most extreme cases and transmit a “ICHIMONJI SHIN NO KAMAE” (一文字心の構) to survive and leave a legacy to the future generations.

And the student asks again:?

All the answers to the practice reside in the own practice, a persistent practice; in your body (身) is the information that you need, find and discover a sincere master Who shows you a mirror, and in his reflection could see your inner master.

Finally I want to remember the words of Hatsumi Sôke expressed in the book “Ninja secrets from the grandmaster”, these words can serve of great help in the understanding of what I’m trying to share with you:

“I was 27 years old when I met with Takamatsu sensei. When I think about it now, the phrase “bushido wa shinukoto to mitsuketari” (bushido is the way of death) comes to mind. It was as though I died when I was 27 years old. From childhood, for some reason, I had always felt a premonition that I would die at the age of 27, when I met Takamatsu sensei the previous Masaaki Hatsumi died at the moment, from that time on, there was no more Masaaki Hatsumi, instead of me having my own life, I was given 900 years old of our ancestors”

Maasaki Hatsumi Sôke from the first moment that he met with his master Takamatsu Sôke decided to merge with the movement and with the flow (ryû; 流) of his master, join together his subconscious mind, his heart and his soul in the communication and the transmission with the source of the art. He decided to leave voluntarily his form of movement, to join to the Form that follows the function, the Form of the nine ryû-ha that converge in the tradition of which is the current Sôke.

At this point take life a term of transmission within of the “Koryû”, the term is “yuiju-ichinin” (唯授一人) transmission for one person, understanding here the person as a “Tatsujin” (达人) or complete human being who deserves the ultimate act of transmission of his tradition and artistic current through that of a sincere transmission (Jikiden; 直伝), becoming in this way in a “densho-sha” (伝書者).

A “densho-sha” is a master of the art, and through his body and movement converge all the “densho” (伝書) of their tradition, the movement of his body is the movement of the whole current of his art. The body of the master and his presence becomes the transmission, where he is the tradition is present, his physical presence is the “dôjô”, and if without his physical presence, the transmission of the master remain present in the heart of the disciple through of the transmitted Form.

Therefore Form follows the function, through this form (形) the master communicates with his disciple even beyond of the life.

Note of the author: Everything written is written from the humility of a personal way, with a spirit of communication and expression with me. I consider myself as a HUMBLE practitioner, student and instructor of the art. I am conscious of my basic and immature movement, knowledge and vital experience. I am in the encounter of my answers to my own way across of the practice of a martial way. If what you read is useful to inspire or to extend your paradigms of practice or of life, I will feel very grateful, thank very much for your attention and company to read me.

To the mountain it is possible to rise from infinite ways, and from all of them it is possible to see the MOON.
Very truly a humble practitioner of the Form (形)

By David Esteban Guzmán, edited and reposted with permission by Luke Crocker


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