An important part of the Japanese ancient martial arts culture is its language and writing, and Hatsumi Sensei has mentioned that it might be good to acquire a certain basic ability in reading Japanese.
He has even said that the secret techniques of Gyokko-ryu located in its designation of the techniques.
Japanese language is a part of the Ural-Altaic language family, which includes both Korean and Manchurian. These languages are aggluniterade, that is, the language of the individual words which changes shape to be used in various grammatical context.
Japanese written in kanji characters (Chinese), which is ideographic, that is sign symbolizing things or ideas rather than speech sounds. Chinese is not agglutinated and therefore needed the Japanese create two sets syllabic writing systems (signs that indicate a consonant and a vowel to write agglutinationerna): hiragana and katakana.
The consequence of this is then that many concepts in Japanese is written in two ways: one with Japanese origin and one in Chinese. And also, even though Chinese characters has a unique interpretation, its pronunciation have several meanings in Japanese. Knowledge about the etymology of our concepts, especially for Koto-ryu and Gyokko-ryu, is therefore particularly important.
All of this has major implications when reading the ancient martial art schools’ original documents. Terms and concepts can be derived from alternative readings and thus interpretations. A concept can have an impact in the on-yomi reading (Chinese reading; 音読) of a character, but can also have a completely different meaning in kun-yomi reading (Japanese reading; 訓読) when you add the character’s pronunciation markings (Furigana; 振り仮名). For example, the concept “Sarutobi” (Leaping like a Monkey; 猿飛) among our actions and it is commonly translated to “jumping monkey” or “flying monkey”, but in the old Japan they used Saru/Zaru (ざる) as a prefix of negation “do not”.
So Sarutobi can also be interpreted as “do not jump”, ie contrary to the general interpretation of the concept. Hatsumi Sensei has mentioned this several times and usually say that you can not rely on the old documents, or read them verbatim.
There are many other similar concepts in our densho, but they must be handled as “Kuden” (Oral Transmissions; 口伝) or the “hiden” (Secret Transmissions; 秘伝), and therefore can not be included here.
Often it is about the “common” interpretation being made available to the public, while one or more “esoteric” interpretations transfer knowledge to the initiated at depth.
A traditional knowledge in the art of Japanese fighting consists of two parts and called for Kuden (Oral Transmission; 口傳), and Taiden (Corporal Transmission; 體傳).
But when it comes to the transfer of “soto no mono” took the oral and physical transfers of new roads, as they included the use of the body according to Bufu Taijutsu (Intuitive Body Knowledge; 武風体術) in a more intuitive way, and it came to learning to master their survival instinct. These new learning paths then came to be called “soto no mono” (Things outside [of the curricula]; 外之物), but the term “hiden” used as a synonym in our schools.
For example, Koto-ryu Koppojutsu includes Hichojutsu (Science of the Leaping Bird; 飛鳥術) and Senbanjutsu (Iron Plate techniques; 旋盤術) which are also found in Iga-ryu ninjutsu as Hiden.