Kata, Kuden, and Hiden

There are two kanji characters for the concept of kata in the battle art, one is interpreted as form [型] and the other structure [形], i.e. what is in the form. Both of these contain a sign for “imitating reality” [幵], i.e. kata has always had the purpose of “reality based” training. 
There is another third character, [方], which is pronounced as kata and means direction or direction, and which can sometimes be used as a related word.

The very earliest martial arts, known as the kaden (family traditions; 家伝), those that were created before the Edo period (1603 – 1868) originally had no kata. These first appeared later in the 17th century.

In the oldest makimono (scrolls; 巻物) known, for kenjutsu, jujutsu, yari etc, the word kata was not used at all. The words used were “uchi tachi” and “shi dachi“. In one of our original documents, Kyussho ratsugi, which is part of the Amatsu Tatara collection of chronicles and described only the very principles and concepts, i.e. what to do. The answer to the question how the principles were put into practice was transferred as the kuden (oral transmission; 九伝) , verbally from teacher to student. It’s a bit like reading Sun Tzu or Sanryaku, the ideas are presented, but not how they can be used in individual situations. We have several hundred kata in our schools, but they are completely useless if you have not learned the kuden that belong to them.

The form of kata used in karate, for example, and similar modern martial arts came much later, only during the end of the 19th century. Then the purpose was to teach large numbers of students new techniques. The schools that changed their pedagogy from transferring quality to managing quantity were already named “shin ryu” (new schools; 真流), a term that is a bit funny because many of these schools are today called “ko ryu” (old schools; 古流).

When kata was created for describing principles and concepts, then the need to name them and the principle it contained also arose. Many names, concepts and ideas come from Buddhism, theater, archery, Noh, ikebana, sado, poetry, etc. In Gyokko-ryu, for example, it is said that the innermost secrets are embedded in the kata name.

Kata can be interpreted as a sequence or modulation of previous masters’ movements. If the student knows how to read the description and has the tools in the form of the kuden to decode the information, there is much to deepen in. The problem with kata is that they can easily become rigid and “die” unless the kuden is properly decoded by the student. Some parts can be lost over the years, such as distance, kukan, juppo sessho, rhythm, breathing or to change the weapon technique or tactics.

By definition, it is not possible to describe a master’s movements, either in writing, image or verbally. There are many aspects that the learner must learn “heart to heart” – this is called hiden (secret transmission; 秘伝). 
It’s like a teenager trying to understand their parents. You probably won’t do this until you have become a parent yourself.
A master’s movements can be likened to a stream running down a mountain side. A kata trying to describe this becomes inevitably rigid and clumsy. A kata can never describe anything spontaneous and natural, but it can describe its various aspects of it, which then the student must juggle in his own body and mind. Many old kata have names that are very poetic, which include concepts such as clouds, fog, running water etc, in order to describe another dimension.

Another problem we have today with kata comes from modern martial arts. When moving from educating a handful of students to mass training of hundreds of students, one had to create standardized techniques that were taught in a ritualized form. And from here, the wrong belief also stems that even in koryu kata is about learning techniques on a ritualized set.

One simple example is our “tsuki kata” (thrust form; 突型). If you consider this as a technology to be used in emergency situations, you are wrong. But if you understand the kuden that is attached to it, namely that it is important to repel the opponent so that he does not, despite being hit and seriously injured, continue his movement path and even manage to meet me with his weapon.
Compare with sword; if the enemy cuts with a sword against the us and hit with “hiki kiri” – pulling cut, then we, after the hit may still complete our chop and thereby seriously hurt us. On the other hand, if you have understood the danger in this and use “oshi kiri” – pushing cut, then the opponent is discarded. In martial arts contexts, it does not matter if you meet with “hiki or oshi“, because it is the one who meets first who gets the score.

One can divide all kata a little loose into two categories; Tanren gata and Shinken gata. 
The tanren gata (鍛錬型) is exercises for “forging and polishing” motor skills and physics in order to use the bio-mechanics of the tradition. Ukemi kata is a typical Tanren. 
Shinken gata (真剣型) is for real combat and represents tactics that of course also include abilities that have been practiced with Tanren gata. 
Kihon Happo is a genric piece made by one of the old masters. For beginners it is a Tanren gata and for the advanced students it is a Shinken gata thanks to the kuden, but for those who have gained insight via hiden, the content is raised another level to also include “kaname” (the deepest principles; 要).

During the Edo period, there was also the Hyoen gata (表厭), techniques shown at public and public demonstrations, to attract students to school and to make money. Many koryu schools of today consist of many Hyoen forms, but it is not always the practitioners of these schools are aware of it because the kuden has been lost over the years. 
An image can be seductive. Below is Hatsumi sensei and kamae. Is it out of the Shinken gata or the Hyoen gata? Just Kuden can reveal the purpose of this and if you have faced Soke when he assumed this position, maybe you even have managed to capture the hiden.

this article originally appears on Pertti Ruha’s blog HERE.

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Terms in Koto-Ryu 虎倒流

It has been shown that the content of Koto ryu consists of three densho (booklets) and four Makimono (scrolls). The content that has been published to the public, shows that it contains knowledge about the great sword carried on ones back (nodachi; 野太刀), the spear (Yari; 槍),  halberds (naginata; 薙刀), weighted chain (kusarifundo; 鎖分銅), drawing the swords (Iai; 居合), the use of metal plates for missile and melee application (Teppan; 鉄盤) and eda Koppo (枝骨法) among many other things.

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The name of the Koto Ryu was not used until the mid-1500s, although the tradition’s roots hundreds of years further back in time. A common way to name the school at that time was taking its innermost essence (gokui; 極意) or the most advanced principles for the name. For example, Takenouchi Ryu, a well-known martial arts tradition in Japan and whose name translates to “the inside of bamboo”, takes its name from the fact that bamboo is easy just because it is hollow. Nen Ryu – the idea / Intention tradition – received its name because it is to check and see through the enemy’s intentions and avoid his attacks. Koto Ryu is usually translated as “tiger knockdown tradition” where the tiger was a code word for the insidious enemies, but because this school was part of ninja warriors’ tradition had also a hidden interpretation only explained to the initiates. By replacing the characters in the name of “Ko to Ryu (虎と竜)” you can translate it into “Tiger and Dragon” which has the same symbolic value as “yin and yang”, ie the softness related to the hard and vice versa.

koto 2

Koto Ryu is mainly known today for its koppojutsu (techniques based on the “bone / bone methods) but in its densho also mentioned kosshijutsu (science of he tips of the fingers) and dakentaijutsu (blows to the body’s weak points). Other old names used before koppojutsu was “goho” (強法) – hard methods, but also “Tode” (唐手) has occurred (signs for Tode could also be pronounced as karate and means “Tang Chinese hand” (Tang is a dynasty in China which lasted from 618-907)). The basic concept of this tradition was to use the skeleton to provide power for punches and kicks, and the knowledge of which parts of the enemy skeletons they would attack. Because some of the goals were hard to reach, this included a method of how to dynamically reshape the fist depending where you hit (referred to as “Shiten Hakkō no Issen” 四天八光の一閃).

Illustrations of kamae from Koto-ryu

The techniques and methods were not invented immediately. The first generation likely used a concept that had helped them to survive in battle, and the second generation took over this knowledge, developed it and handed it to the third generation and so on. The methods that did not work died out with its inventor. Hatsumi Sensei is currently the 18th generation of the head (Soke) Koto Ryu. The development of these old schools can not compare with modern methods that are often paper products of a single person, with simple techniques recorded in a graduation compendium. The old ways are not rigid and it is Hatsumi sensei’s responsibility to develop Koto Ryu for handing on to future generations.

The naming of the techniques and methods, that is what we call “kata” follows the same principles as the naming of a tradition. The entire Japanese society and its culture is steeped in kata, which translates to shape, model, or pattern. Shi-kata is an important concept in the Japanese language, it means “how to do things”, focusing on form and execution. They talk about yomi kata (reading), Tabe-kata (to eat), kaki-kata (to write), iki kata (thinking) and dozens of other kata that influence behavior in Japan. So kata is very common in Japan, and are therefore included as partner exercises in all the ancient Japanese martial arts (kobujutsu), unlike many modern species which perform a kata alone. Kata was used because it lacked any other way to describe the knowledge you wanted to transfer to the next generation. For it is not about rigid and mechanical movements. It’s about an inner understanding of the key movements arise, applied and connected with the next key motion. So Keri kata (kicking) Tsuki kata (thrusting/punching) and uke kata (to receive) is not simple techniques of kicking, punching or blocking. There is a depth in this that can not be explained in the text.

Source: https://iwato1810.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/termer-i-koto-ryu-%E8%99%8E%E5%80%92%E6%B5%81/

Translated by Luke Crocker

 

Kiichi Hogen

Translated from Pertti Ruha’s Blog HERE.

In the mythology of the schools of the Bujinkan, there exist a person called Kiichi Hogen [鬼一法眼] (also sometimes romanized as Kiitsu Hogan) as mentioned in Takagi Yoshin Ryu’s Ryuko no maki. He is a legendary figure, who we do not know much about. Hogan lived in the 1100s in the areas around Kyoto.

He is said to have been skilled in onmyojutsu  (陰陽道)  a form of Japanese Taoism — and was a famous strategist.

kiichi-hogen
Kiichi Hogen

Among the documents that are left behind after the “Kyoto’s eight schools,” Kyo Hachi Ryu, mentioned him as a prominent figure, whose teachings have been embraced among many of the martial arts schools that came from western Japan. Among other things, he must have left behind the piece of text included in Ryuko no maki;

“If the opponent comes, welcome it; if he goes so send him away. Add five to five and to receive ten; add two to eight, and to receive ten. How to create harmony.
Assess the situation, see through the intention; the large larger one ten square feet; the little penetrates the smallest things.

It can get hectic, but when you face whatever is in front of you, keep a cool head. “

According to a book from the early Edo period this was most like Chujo ryu. The tachi used was short and a characteristic technique was to squeeze close to the opponent.

The brief description of the sword he used is similar to our Togakure ryu sword and the  techniques of Kasumi, Fuma and Aranami with movements that oshi kiri and Raikou ken etc., are extremely similar.

A temporal link with the Togakure Ryu is also a legend that Hogan was Minamoto Yoshitsune’s sword teachers, the same Minamoto Daisuke Nishima fought before he was forced to flee into Iga mountains.

If this connection is true, then one can also speculate that Chujo ryu, a famous but now extinct school, could have links to Togakure ryu and Gyokko ryu.

Solo training for self-protection

Everyone has a more or less developed instinct to defend themselves, and these instinctive skills can be developed into functional skills with focused awareness and practical solo training (Hitori Geiko; 一人稽古).

Even with minimal instruction, it is easy to figure out which parts of the body can be used as weapons.

Combative striking includes the use of both hands and feet, and can be trained solo against a suitable tree.

Shinden Fudo-ryu Tanren Undo

Soft body weapons can generate lots of impact on hard surfaces without any major discomfort or risk of injury to your own body. Try the lower part of the palm, parts of your forearms, your heels, thighs, the edges of your hands and feet, etc.

Do not use the tips, elbow tip or knee bowls against hard surfaces. This should be obvious. To some extent you can feel what you can do with the forehead and the thighs.

Training Tips

  • Take it easy at the beginning, warm up your strokes and see what you can do. Do not hurt yourself!
  • Move around the tree while using different types and body weapons.
  • Target the tree with the whole body – high, low, at multiple locations simultaneously, etc.
  • Use minimal movements with maximum force.
  • Test how fast you can hit with maximum power (without damaging you) as you move around the tree.
  • Hold both hands in front of you.
  • Imagine how to avoid, absorb and neutralize an opponent’s attacks.

Keep in mind that goshinjutsu (self-protection skills; 護身術) must be functional – safe to use, effective and should be used with minimal energy consumption.

Imagine having to fight for your life (or someone else’s) against a violent attacker. Do not risk your life by doing any cheeky techniques and do not be cocky.

Kukishin Ryu Bojutsu – background

The origin of Kukishin Ryū Bōjutsu 九鬼流棒術, as we practice it, can be found among the martial arts practiced during the Tang Dynasty in China. Some of these skills and techniques came to Japan with Otomo Furumaro. Sometime during Choho period (999-1004) was reformed method of Nawa Shinzaburo Motonaga and he became Ryuso (founder) of Chōsui Ryū 澄水流. This ryu had been renamed, when the 3rd Soke Okuni Kihei Kitosumi inherited sovereignty, to Kishin Chōsui Ryū 馗神澄水流.

On Mount Kurama was a Shingon priest named Yakushimaru Kurando Taka Masa, who had studied both Kishin Chosui ryu and Shinden Fujiwara Muso Ryū 神傳藤原無双流. In the summer of 1336 Yakushimaru participated the emperor Godaigos side at Ikoma mountain and when he was in the battle broke the blade of his Naginata, he had to fight on with just the shaft. It was a life-changing experience and he developed techniques with long pole – staff 棒 – and incorporated them in his Kishin Chosui ryu. Later he founded Chosui Kukishin ryu which was shortly thereafter renamed Kukishinden Tenshin Hyoho and which today is known as Kukamishin ryu.

In 1349 Izumo no Kanja Yoshiteru founded the Kukishin Ryu Happo Bike Jutsu after studying Chosui Kishin ryu. Bojutsu techniques were recorded in a book which was named Kangi no maki .

The 27th Soke of Kukishin ryu Happo Biken – Takamatsu Toshitsugu structured these kata to what we know today as bojutsu, and left the sucession to Hatsumi Masaaki, thus he is the 28th Soke of this tradition. Takamatsu Sensei took what we call Keiko Sabaki gata from Kukishin Ryu and Shoden-, Chuden- and Okuden gata from Kishin ryu. The last three can also be found among the documents that define Amatsu Tatara Kukishin ryu bojutsu, and the first are included in both Takagi Ryu bojutsu and Kukamishin ryu bojutsu.

Kukishin ryu bojutsu has several different types of forms. The two most common are maru-bo (round rod) and Hakkaku-stay (octagonal rod). These two could also have reinforcements of metal around the ends. The other two are Donryu bo 呑竜棒 (dragon staff) and nyoi-bo 如意棒 (wishful staff). The last two rods requires an extremely high taijutsu management.

Nowadays, one standardized length of the rod to 6 shaku (6 feet, i.e. 182 cm), but in the past would be a staff 1 foot (33 cm) longer than what one was, but could also be longer. The thickness of the rod usually 1 sun (3 cm), but it could also vary.

Nyuibo  如意棒

Hatsumi with nyoibo

Manufactured from wood and 2 m long, wrapped in leather and covered with metal studs. Used on battlefields to put down the warrior in armor and keep at a distance. A blow could crush a man. Could also be used as a shield against arrows, sword and other weapons. A long rope could be attached to the narrow end to provide assistance for techniques such as throws.

 

 

Bo no Kagi 棒の鉤

kama.bo

Rod with a hook at one end that could be used to hook the clothes or armor at a distance. The hook could also be used as a tip for strikes and swipe from the side.

Kuki Gyoja bo 九鬼行者棒 – nine demons pilgrims staff

Donryu bojutsu.1

This is a weapon that was also called Donryu bo 呑龍棒- dragon staff. Four metal tips are secured at one end and attachment is reinforced with metal strips in itself has studs. The inside is hollow and conceals a four foot long chain of weight and that can are whipped if necessary. The other end of the rod is reinforced with nine studded metal spikes and a metal tip.

Tetsubo 鉄棒 – iron staff

tetsubo

Same as Kanabo 金棒 – metal rod. Could weigh up to 5-6 kg.

Shakubo 錫棒  – walking stick

Hatsumi.shakujo

This rod had a big ring with nine small rings attached to it. The top of the ring had a point, like a nail. The rings and the tip of made of metal. The nail could be used to shock or impact against the enemy, like a short spear.

Source:

Ruha, Pertti. Kukishin Ryu Bojutsu – bakgrund.

Grip on the Tsuka

Translated from Pertti Ruha’s BLOG.

takamtsu-toshitsugu-seigan
Takamatsu Toshitsugu demonstrating Seigan no Kamae

Although there are many nuances in the way to grip a sword with both hands and as described in the various sword schools, so most practitioners recognize the description below as a general generic version, suitable for most beginners in the Bujinkan.

When training with the Japanese sword, one places his right hand on tsuka near the tsuba and the left hand grips the end of the tsuka, with the little finger placed on kashira. This is the basic way in which it holds a Japanese sword, regardless of whether a person is right- or left-handed.

Although it may seem that a left-handed person should keep the sword in the opposite way, with the left hand in front and the right-hand end of the bracket, but this is inappropriate for several important reasons.
A great advantage is achieved by holding the sword with the right hand forward. When holding the sword in front of you with the point towards the opponent’s eyes in Seigan no kamae, the area around your heart protected by the sword, and are less available to your opponent. If you would keep your sword in the opposite way, the area around your heart more exposed and as an easier target.

In terms of distance to the opponent, this can be determined by both parties by keeping their swords in Seigan and moving to positions where the swords overlap by about 10 cm from the tip. This puts each individual within about one step from being able to reach his opponent’s body.
In this position is the basic position of the tip of the sword on the left side of the opponent’s blade, ie, the heart-side of the opponent’s body. This puts the tip of the sword on the line for the shortest distance to your opponent’s heart.

In addition to being within the shortest reach of delivering a fatal blow to your opponent, you are also in a good position for protection. If your opponent would suddenly lunge with force against your heart, your best defense would be a simple twist of the torso and hips. By bringing your right shoulder forward, left shoulder backward avoid the attack. In this way, your sword deflect the opponent’s incoming fade away to the left side, while your own sword would stay on the line against your opponent’s heart.
You can imagine that it would be very difficult to do this if you held the sword with his left hand forward.

With both sides in this strategic position, it may seem that a stalemate could last forever. But even with an almost imperceptible change in breathing or perception of a faltering gaze, the one side sees an opening and suddenly attacks it, by starting from Seigan — and the battle begins. Or, as in our case, we begin our training.

Incase of Emergency (ICE)

In case of Emergence (ICE)

I have over nearly two decades developed a model for self-protection, life protection and prevention I now term the ICE. Here is the latest definition of the model.

INTRODUCTION

ICE [In Case of Emergency] is a program for the protection of life — self defense — Prevention, which can be adapted for different purposes in order to develop an individual’s inherent ability to protect themselves and their loved ones. It consists of three dimensions:

  1. The uncertainty-reducing life protection dimension where you intuitively and instinctively observe and act on pre-incident signals (PINS).
  2. The practical self defense dimension when you improvise the fight or flight response as the situation requires.
  3. The prevention methods needed to practically avoid danger in wait, but also the strategies and tactics to prevent threats, violence and crises.

Background

The ability to protect oneself is natural and instinctive. Our ancestors could fight to protect their tribe, their family or themselves. We persist in the Paleolithic body, but in a modern world with a completely different action landscape. We must learn to let these innate instincts, refine them and trust them.

ICE is an open system of self-protection through the use of appropriate means. These funds are aimed at all the things that are hard to describe in words, everything is intuitive, instinctive and that we must be able to improvise in an acute emergency.
The secret to survival lies not in superior techniques stored in muscle memory. This applies vice versa to enable the bio-based intuitive movements that have kept man alive since the Stone Age.
During an aggressive assault situation the cognitive brain can not process a regular “learned technique” that requires fine motor complexity or download from the cortex. Instead, the reptile brain takes over and produces an escape or fight response for self-protection.

What distinguishes the ICE from other systems is the intuitive behavior — our effort to learn to “overcome the instinct for survival“ and our focus on observing and early action on PINS deviations in the normal picture.

We use problem-based learning (PBL) as a teaching model that reduces the external instructor’s impact on the learning process, because each individual learns to rely on their own innate instincts.
This learning method gives each individual greater ownership and commitment to their own solutions, increased self-esteem and confidence in their ability to develop and grow.

Model

Translated by Luke Crocker
Translated by Luke Crocker

ICE model consists of four basic programs horizontal and five vertical stripes that run across all programs and can be varied depending on needs and environment.

PINS — pre-incident signals

are observable and measurable indicators of behavior alerts of danger in wait. PINS are deviations from the norm and for the moment typical normal image that may indicate that you observe (people, events, vehicles and objects) can hurt you or others in your surroundings.These anomalies are anomalies that stand out from the surrounding area’s normal. This is a program for preventive fix everything that could indicate the emergence of threats and violence.

PROTECTION

is information security and digital self-protection for individuals. Constantly, we read the newspapers’ headlines on news of stolen passwords, manipulated ATMs and identity theft. Warning letters from our banks for malicious computer virus designed to silently steal our savings, part of everyday life along with information about the hijacked Facebook and Twitter accounts. This is a program with practical tips to reduce anxiety and take better control of our information environment.

ESCAPE

is something you can do as a reaction to PINS, but also something that must be planned in advance as a preventive measure for emergency preparedness. The program consists of nine proven methods primarily for use in urban environments, to escape an attacker. It also covers techniques to escape from the more urgent situations.

STRUGGLE

together with the run, one of our natural and instinctive responses in danger. The program of struggle include defensive techniques for the situations that arise suddenly and unexpectedly. It also contains aggressive methods when reading of ambient PINS and find that you can not escape and the need to defuse the situation by going on the attack.

In addition to the four programs contain ICE model five stripes that run across all applications on a little different way.

MENTAL TRAINING

In order to be able to decide their own approach to the use of violence, it is useful to live into the role of opponent, and then ask the question “how do I react when I am subjected to threats and violence?” Through such exercises will be easier to put into how the opponent reacts in extreme situations. This realization creates increased conflict management capability. This streak includes among others such as breathing techniques, “fear management” etc.

NATURAL MOVEMENT

The human locomotion, just as our nutritional and physical needs, is part of our species-specific biology; the result of evolution. If we want to learn self defense, which is biologically relevant and authentic, we must take a look at how we are touched and moved in the old days, long before modern society affected our movement patterns. This is a primary qualification principle of our model; it is not evolutionary natural nor is it effective self-protection.

EQUIPMENT

In this streak equipment is defined as all the tools, objects and supplies you need to have with them daily to handle situations ranging from the most mundane to the catastrophic. The concept of equipment also includes the concept of being prepared through the choice of the equipment they have with them. The choice is individual and based on needs and environment.There is no standard kit.

TACTICS

If you behave tactically right can usually avoid being attacked. If a confrontation do occur can often be solved with a low level of violence. This is about to take the right distance when standing and walking, setting his vehicle and when you are in the buildings.

PROTECTIVE LIFE

is a strategy and lifestyle of preparedness and based on personal risk and vulnerability. We live in an increasingly vulnerable society and in a time of threats and risks that are transnational. Serious pandemics, terrorist threats, natural disasters and collapsing social system are events that we have to prepare ourselves. Overall torque for this streak is vigilance, intelligence gathering and personal preparedness.

Translated from Pertti Ruha’s blog HERE

Iga-ryu Denki

From: Essence of Ninjutsu, Dr Masaaki Hatsumi (1988)

Iga-ryu ninjutsu is a tradition. Along with Koga-ryu, Iga ryu is the most famous. It origonating in the Iga region, The area around today’s Iga-Ueno, Mie Prefecture.

According to legend, ninjutsu was founded in Japan by a former Chinese general in exile called Ikai 異勻, the name means “different stranger from abroad” and was very probably not his real name. There are also many links to Shingon Buddhism and Shugendō, but as these are esoteric sects, there is little recorded about this.

During the Muromachi period (1336 to 1573) the people of Iga region were independent of central control, and they established a form of republic called Iga Sokoku Ikki.
Men from Iga (Iga mono; 伊賀物) were mentioned in historical chronicles of 1487 when Shogun Ashikaga Yoshihisa attacked Rokkaku Takayori. Iga mono opposed Rokkaku’s side. Since then Iga mono been synonymous with ninja.

 

  • Ikai
  1. Gamon Doji (1065-1068),aka Fujiwara Tikata > influenced Gyokko ryu
  2. Garyu Doji (1074-1076), founded Hakuun-ryu > influenced Kukishinden-ryu, Shinden Fudo ryu, Gyokko ryu
  3. Unryu Doji (1074-1076)
  4. Iga Heinabe Yasukio (1096), aka Hachiryu Nyudo > influenced Gyokko-ryu
  5. Tozawa Hakuunsai (1159), founded Gyokko Ryu > influenced Kurama-ryu
  6. Ise Saburo Yoshimoro (1159) > influenced Kijin Chosui-ryu
  7. Togakure Daisuke (1207-1210), founded Togakure ryu < influneced Hakuun-ryu
  8. Kumogakure Gen an (1249-1255)
  9. Tozawa Nyodo Gen eisai (1334-1335)  > influenced Gyokko-ryu
  10. Hachimon Hyouun (1379-1380)
  11. Kuryuzu Hakuun (1394-1427)
  12. Tozawa Ryutaro (1487-1488)
  13. Momochi Sandayu I (1532-1554) > influenced Koto-ryu, Gyokko-ryu
  14. Iga Heinai Saemon no jo Ienaga (1532-1554), aka Kumogakure Hoshi – founded  Kumogakure-ryu, techer for the Hattori famly]
  15. Kami Hattori Heitaro Koreyu (1532-1554)
  16. Naka Hattori Heijiro Yasuyori (1532-1554)
  17. Shimo Hattori Heijuro Yasunori (1532-1554)
  18. Momochi Sandayu II (1573-1591)  > influneced Koto-ryu

Translate by Luke Crocker from HERE.

Kyusho and Kinketsu – Critical Vulnerabilities

According to one theory, all martial arts are divided into three development areas:

  • movement
  • Weapons
  • Targets

Our movements are defined as taijutsu and its movement quality is described in Sanshin no kata. We call our weapons for “ken” (fist, or what is in the fist; 拳) can simply translate to “effectors” to be used in various forms of combat situations. There can be different types of weapons and tools in the physical situation, but even such abstract misinformation, psychology, etc. on the logical information – and behaviorism.
The Target that we attack with our “ken” is commonly known as “kyusho” (急所).

Kyusho-animated-kinketsu
Koto-ryu Kinketsu

Kyusho is the general term for martial targets and critical vulnerabilities found on the enemy. The term, however, could vary depending on region and tradition, and was called for example “kinketsu” (禁穴) – dangerous hole – in Koto-ryu and “shiketsu” (死穴) – deadly hole – in Takagi Yoshin-ryu, while in Kukishin-ryu more generally called “atekomi kokoroe” (当込心得) – knowledge of the targets in the body (atekomi is synonymous with atemi 当身 = blows to the body).
Checkpoints to grab the sword and knife called “kirisho” (also read as Sessho; 切所) – cut points. These were taught in the inner secrets (hiden; 秘伝) in each school and the number of points could vary from a few, to hundreds, even if in reality the during the ongoing struggle there’s not so many to choose from.

Ichimu-ryu Densho (private collection)

When it comes to punches and kicks against these points, you have to understand that there are individual differences in the effect on the opponent. One must also be aware that some of these points can also be used to mitigate the effects of enemy impact on your body and to speed up recovery after an injury, it is then called kappo (活法).

The manipulation of these points could be done with a strike (atekomi/atemi) with hand edge (Shuto 手刀), fist (kobushi 拳), fingers (Shito 指先), open hand (hirate 平手) toes (ashisaki 足先), ankle (ashikubi 足首) etc. The effect that was desired was to put the enemy in temporary shortness of breath, confuse him or to temporarily paralyze the body’s movement.

kinketsu-koto-ryu
Koto-ryu Shoden Chugokui – Kinketsu chart (From Takamatsu Toshitsugu video)

Within our Koto-ryu koppojutsu it is described in the book Shoden Chugokui (初伝中極意) where Koppo kinketsu is named, diagrams and effects are described. It contains:

  • Manipulation of kappo points,
  • Manipulation of points that destroys,
  • Knowledge of the things that kills instantly,
  • Strikes cause damage long after the hit,
  • Points that temporarily prevents life “ki”
  • items that prevents full mobility for three to seven days,
  • Points that paralyzes the movement immediately
  • Points that stops the movement temporarily
  • Painful points, and so on.

This method is called gomon no kei 五問之形 – the doctrine of the five approaches – in this little book, it is shown that each item can be manipulated in five different ways for different purposes. It says that when you have trained in the ability to atekomi the points, you will start to develop the mental capacity (Seishin ryoku 聖心力) to Tōate ( “strike at a distance”; 遠当) .

Jikishinkage-ryu Kirisho illustration (private collection)

Kyusho is thus not only to physically manipulate the points that give pain. People are designed so that they may be unable to move if they manipulated the points that feels comfortable. Therefore, says the book, “that it is important to study humans and animals [eg. moving things, and would now also be able to include vehicles, etc.], in order to understand their function and their weaknesses.” This achieves the mysterious abilities described in ancient legends.

Today, everything around us in society amounts to kyusho points: vehicles, buildings, information systems, logistics systems, power grids, etc., and knowledge of these are also included in our goshinjutsu exercise for us to prepare ourselves to protect from them.

Translated by Luke Crocker from HERE.

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