Kacem Zoughari on Densho

Transcribed by Luke Crocker

There are a lot of things to say [about densho], some people might say that it’s not important. Some people have even said that densho (documents of transmission; 傳書) is written for kids. I have never heard Hatsumi sensei say this or any kind of soke.

Densho is written by… First in order to write down something, you need, in this case of classical ryuha, in the case of a warrior who has a ryuha, a founder of a ryuha, etcetera, etcetera… Being able to write down something that makes sense, that has a logic, that has an orientation, a direction, for the future or to explain, requires automatically a certain level of brain, culture, and study. You don’t write stupid things. So, densho is written by the intellect, by the heart of someone. So he talked to the intellect and the heart of someone. Which means that you have to level up your own heart, your own intellect in order to fit the needs of the technique. So to my point of view, and this is what I’ve learned and have heard many times from different master, especially Hatsumi sensei, Ishizuka sensei, you have to do as it is, as it is written. the problem is the meaning of what is written and how you see this, who told you that, who showed you that. Some say “Hatsumi sensei did it like that, some master did it like that, another master did it like that, I saw him this, doing this in 2000, in the 90s, like this.” Yeah where are you between those times? What did you do from what you received? From what did you show? Are you sure this is what you saw, or what you wanted to see?

There is a lot of things here. That’s why you first practice things as they were and the reason why they were. The it is written in a certain way, there is a logic, there is an orientation, and a direction. It needs to fit a certain reality. If you do things the way it’s written, but the way it’s written doesn’t fit reality, it’s impossible to apply. You have to question the text, and you also have to question your practice, and at the same time you have to question the one who wrote it and the one who presented it. Why like that? It’s not a matter of if the scroll is made up, the scroll IS made up, writing IS made up. You have to make it, you have to write it or it’s not true. It works: it’s true. That’s classical martial arts, that’s ninjutsu, that’s warriorship. It works, it’s effective, it’s true. So that’s very important.

In the scroll, you can read many times. If it doesn’t talk about violence, it doesn’t talk about strength, it doesn’t talk about being stiff. tadashiku (正しく), correctness, rightness, precision. They just name the word, name the kyusho (vital point; 急所), name the strike, it doesn’t show you how it is. that’s why you need someone to explain, so the scroll is important with the master; the message with the messenger. The densho, makimono, is a relationship with the master. And if for example you dont respect what is written or you do your own way, I question the relationship with the master. the master took the time to write it, thought to write it, pulled to write each word, why, the reason why. At that moment when he wrote it. Also don’t confuse notes and scrolls; it is different, it is of course based on the same ink and paper, but it is different. You take notes during a class, most of hte time you are the only one that can read your own notes. A scroll is written in a way that someone who have been witness of a certain transmission, received something, can read it and can make it. That’s a very important thing. And he has to be respected, because by respecting what is written you respect the one who wrote it, and all of the history, and all the culture behind that. That’s the reason why it is very important.

Now, if yo say the scroll is unimportant… Everyone does things the way they want, the true thing is what you can do and what you can handle in reality, and what you express, the way you are, what you reflect. If my movement reflect at the same time, the respect of the scroll, the form of the master, and the past, future, and the present…

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