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

 

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Munen Muso 無念夢想

Often ‘Shugyôsha’ (修行者), or those engaged in an intensive physical or mental practice, often refer to the phrase ‘munen musô’ (無念無想). The idea of ‘munen musô’ is to make oneself free of worldly thoughts and desires. However, the term ‘munen musô’ is not what describes a correct state of mental unity. The reason is that within ‘munen musô’ is a concept known as ‘Boga no Kyo’, or a state of forgetting the self.

In other words, ‘munen musô’ is exactly the meaning of the four ‘kanji’ that make up the phrase. They are: 無 No – 念 Desire – 無- No – 想 Thought. Further, unification of the mind by eliminating the myriad and unending onslaught of ideas and thoughts as taught in various doctrines of religion and cultural programming is nothing like the unity of mind and spirit found in a true ‘Heihôsha’ (兵法者), or one engaged in the intensive practice of the subtle methods of combat and military strategy. True unity of mind and spirit is the state of utter selflessness and intensive singular focus.

 

Sourced from HERE

Hitoe 一重

身ヲ一重ニ可成事

Mi o Hitoe ni kanari koto

The body must be maintained in profile.

Differences between the times of armor and the battlefield and today’s combative sports are numerous and diverse, from placement of the feet and hands, to the usage of kamae and tachi, types of weapons, qualities of movement, so on and so fourth. One of the first details that we are going to look at here is the notion of placing the body in proportion to the enemy on the battlefield.

More specifically, this is the idea of standing profile to the person in front of you; but why would we want to do this? does it not limit our options and maneuverability in combat? Well, this may seem unusual, unorthodox, or counter-intuitive, I can assure you that it is both a classical form of movement, and an incredibly effective method for managing one’s own body, though that will take a few steps to get there.

The History

The quote at the beginning of this writing is from Yagyu Munenori’s Heiho Kadensho (柳生 宗矩, 兵法家伝書, 1632), where it is written five bodily principles regarding the nature of one’s sword posture[1], and it’s relevance to the enemy. This quote regarding standing profile (hitoe; 一重) is the first of the five details, and as we like to say in ninjutsu, “the first transmission is the deepest transmission“,[2] and as such, this should be deeply considered.

This teaching however, stretches back to at least the Nen-ryu (念流) founded in 1368, where even in the current iterations of the Maniwa Nen-ryu we can see this a little, (as well as that of Hicho no kamae), as Nen-ryu was the origin of the principle of Tōtoku Hyōshi (刀匿礮姿), a principle derived from defending against projectiles, but had been adapted to the sword, spear, and much later, unarmed kamae.

Similarly, paintings and illustrations all through Japan’s history exemplify body positions like this, and it wasn’t that it was some artistic leniency that inflicted the art style; as we see variances between different social classes within the same artist or writers examples. Within one artists career we might find illustrations representing the forms of Nanba Aruki [3], Hitoe, and leg and foot positioning (ichimonji; 一文字) to allow for freedom of movement (jiyū jizai; 自由自在) in response to the needs of the battlefield. Indeed, it is even uncommon to see warriors depicted as not working within this form of movement.

However, as the warrior class moved away from armored battlefield combat, some of the perks of this positioning (which will be elaborated on in the next section) dissolved, and the combatants began to square their shoulders towards the opponent. This further suffered when foreign influence came into the picture and exposed the warrior class to what we today refer to as gendai taisō (現代体操), or modern exercise.

Practicality

Though in order to not incessantly ramble on indefinitely on the subject, this will not be an exhaustive list, but at least three points will be explained here: Kamae, Sōgō, and Kage.

Kamae 構え

Kamae in this case refers to the position you take proportionate to the enemy, that is to say, they can only see the side of the body that you show them, at least half of your body is out of view. While in armor, this means that half of your openings are protected, all that remains is the face, the armpit, and the foot. Hicho helps to protect the foot, by pointing the foot at the enemy the armor’s shin guards protect the rest of the leg, the hand in front protects both the face and the armpit with what ever weapon you have through postures like seigan[4] and the principle of Tōtoku Hyōshi.

Sōgō 総合

Daijodan with a staff
A large staff being wielded just like a sword in the Daijodan position.

Most classical schools of Japanese traditions in the martial arts are comprised of numerous weapons and techniques, connected by common denominators. This structure is called Sōgō Bujutsu (composite martial science; 総合武術). This is how to connect one’s basic fighting posture between the sword, spear and unarmed; seigan no kamae is shared between each of the weapons with little modification, whether in armor or otherwise.

As such the techniques involved were developed to be adaptable to any weapon, the principles of each becoming the common denominators between each. This all comes from the postures itself, beginning from the feet, and their position, to that of the hips, and then the shoulders. The transition between each weapon is natural without much thought for extra thought and no need to adapt the movements. As such the idea of Sōgō Bujutsu illustrates the principle that from only one technique, only one form, multiple applications can be produced. The technique is an expression of the kamae, and both are in turn a reflection of the practitioners depth of practice, understanding, and spirit; a measure of how open and accepting to life’s adversities he can be.

Kage 陰

Kage, or “In” (as in Inyo; 陰陽, the Japanese reading of Yin-yang), refers to what is visible, and invisible, or out of sight. The term kage no kamae comes from the technical writings of Shinkage-ryu, but is referred to several times in the mokuroku of Jiki Shinkage-ryu.

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Most of the kamae found in ninja-related ryuha are positions where the body is also seen in profile and the feet are on one line (called Ichimonji; 一文字). To have such a profiled posture carries with it the “spirit of being profile”, in that it is an attitude or intention in which only half is allowed to show, what the practitioner decide to offer. The intention of this profiled posture is one of a state of hiding. To reiterate, the practitioner of ninjutsu doesn’t appear directly, doesn’t show everything to his adversary, but instead creates doubt about his real capacity.

Conclusions

Though this seems exceptionally difficult as well as counter-intuitive, I hope some of the logic and examples provided above give the reader some grasp as to how the classical warrior’s science differed from today’s practice of things like kendo. From bio-mechanical principles established in the late 13th century and survived all the way through the feudal era, only to dissolve due to complacency… It is a shame indeed that even though publications such as the Life-Giving Sword are out there and thoroughly reviewed, principles, right at the beginning of the book, and written in very plain legible English are all but completely ignored or overlooked when they form some of the basis for such famous schools as the Yagyu Shinkage-ryu.

Sources

  • Yagyu, Jubei Mitsuyoshi. Tsuki no sho (1642). Annotated by Imamura Yoshio. Sanjo-shi: Nojima Shuppan, 1971.
  • Yagyu, Munenori. The Life-Giving Sword: Secret Teachings from the House of the Shogun (p. 109). Shambhala.

Notes

[1] “Whether striking or parrying, these must not be forgotten. When one is a beginner, they are intended to correct strain from incorrect body posture. It is the same as correcting unevenness in a bow. . . . If you know your body well, knowing strain is knowing yourself. If you think only of what’s in front of you, you will forget about straining your body . . . correcting strain is the first stage of understanding in knowing yourself.” —Himonshu

[2] 初伝わ奥伝なり。 There is a few reasons for this: 1) In order to preserve some of the most important teachings of the tradition, it is structured in such a way that if the pupil learns only the first few teachings or lessons and the master dies, some of the most important lessons are not lost. 2) There would have been more individuals that have practiced the first technique, then any other technique, thus it has been exposed to more minds, refined more intensively, and had more knowledge compacted into it than any other technique in the tradition.

[3] Nanba Aruki (ナンバ歩), a system of bio-mechanics seemingly unique to Japan for various reasons, that includes keeping the feet, hips, and shoulders inline while moving. Due to the very low strain nature of this movement, some have hypothesized that this is the human being’s natural way of walking and moving in daily life. I myself have spent the past 9 years working this into my daily behavior, and have noticed a reduction of strain-injury as well as more overall energy throughout the day. Studies have also shown that the nanba method of walking can reduce knee impact and strain, improve fluidity of movement, and reduced slip potential. Interestingly, within the Bujinkan, there is a series of exercises that educate the pupil on how to do exactly this called the Sanshin Gata (三心型).

[4] Seigan no kamae (正眼之構), a position where the sword, spear, or other weapon is pointing directly at the enemy’s eyes, serving as an obstacle that they have to circumvent in order to deliver and effective attack.

And the TL:DR version:

Togakure-ryu Happo Hiken 戸隠流八法秘剣

My teacher (Takamatsu toshitsugu) once described ninjutsu to me (Masaaki Hatsumi) as follows: “It is said that ninja knew all the martial ways. In each, they would undergo at least the minimum training essential to their life as a ninja. They would study the eight branches of the Ninja Hachimon (忍者八問): Ninja kiai (energy harmonization), Koppotaijutsu, Ninpo swordwork, spearwork, Shuriken, fire, traditional arts, and general knowledge.”

In other words, life of a Shinobi started with the Ninja hachimon. Over time, however, this changed so that greater weight was placed on Happo Hiken. the Shinobi Happo Hiken consists of the following:

  1. Taijutsu, Hichojutsu, nawa-nage (body skills and rope throwing)
  2. Karate Koppojutsu Taijutsu, Jutaijutsu (unarmed fighting)
  3. Sojutsu, naginatajutsu (spar and halberd arts)
  4. Bojutsu, Jojutsu, Hanbojutsu (staff and stick arts)
  5. Senban nage, Ken Nagejutsu, Shuriken (throwing blades)
  6. kajutsu, Suijutsu (use of fire and water)
  7. Chikujou Gunryaku Hyoho (military fortification, strategy and tactics.)
  8. Onshinjutsu (concealment)

The branches listed above were known as Happo (eight methods), and were supplemented by Hikenjutsu (secret sword arts; 秘剣), in other words, the shinobi sword, kodachi, jutte, and tessen, to complete the Ninja Happo Hiken.

In later periods, the term Togakure-ryu Juhakkei was also used. the eighteen forms of the Shinobi were defined as [above… ]. These were obliterated (破) by, or rather concealed within, the Bugei Juhappan (武芸十八般), thereby escaping through transformation into thirty-six forms: discretion became the better part of valor. In a sense, the evolved into the thirty-six Togakure strategies , the Kuji (九字) of the Santo Tonko (鼠逃遁甲) techniques, and even the Juji (十字) principle of bonding with the divine.

In fact, Ninja did not simply learn all forms of martial arts through their training: they continued studying until they reached a level far beyond mere technical prowess. [1]

Togakure ryu Happo Hiken
Buhi Kanjin Kaname no maki (武秘神眼要巻) – Togakure-ryu Happo Hiken 戸隠流八法秘剣

Notes

[1] Masaaki Hatsumi. Way of the Ninja. (2004). p. 21-22.

Ninja Juhakkei 忍者十八形

Ninja Jūhakkei (the eighteen disciplines; 忍者十八形) were first identified in the scrolls of Togakure-ryū 戸隠流, or “School of the Hidden Door”, founded during the Oho period (1161–62) by one Daisuke Nishina (Togakure), who learned a life view and techniques (ninjutsu) from Kagakure Doshi[1]. Togakure ryu Ninjutsu Hidensho[2] is a manuscript in Hatsumi’s possession that is said to document Togakure-ryū. It is the purported origin of the “18 skills of Ninjutsu.”

Ninja jūhakkei was often studied along with Bugei jūhappan (the 18 samurai fighting art skills). Though some techniques were used in the same way by both samurai and ninja, others were used differently by the two groups. The 18 disciplines are:

  1. Seishinteki kyōyō (spiritual refinement)
  2. Koppojutsu Tajutsu (unarmed combat)
  3. Kenpo (Swordsmanship)
  4. Bōjutsu (longstaff)
  5. Shuriken (throwing blades)
  6. Kusarigama (chain and sickle
  7. Yari (spear)
  8. Naginata (halbred)
  9. Bajutsu (horsemanship)
  10. Suiren (water training)
  11. Kayakujutsu (pyrotechnics)
  12. Hōryaku (tactics)
  13. Chōhō (espionage)
  14. Shinobi-iri (Infiltration)
  15. Inton (Concealment)
  16. Hensōjutsu (disguise)
  17. Tenmon (meteorology)
  18. Chi-mon (geography)

Notes:

[1] Hatsumi, Massaki. (1988). Essence of Ninjutsu. McGraw-Hill. pg. 173

[2] Here, “hidensho” simply refers to the secret manuscripts of Togakure-ninjutsu. In this particular case, it is referring to Buhi Kanjin Kanami no Maki (武秘神眼要巻). This particular scroll serves as a sort of mokuroku for the Togakure-ryu, and has been made publicly available in Masaaki Hatsumi’s publication “The Complete Ninja: The Secret World Revealed” (2013, p. 98-99).

buhi-kanjin-kaname-no-maki
Buhi Kanjin Kaname no Maki 武秘神眼要巻

 

Totoku Hyoshi 刀匿礮姿

Tōtoku Hyōshi 姿

In the photo the Sōke of Bujinkan dōjō performs 刀匿礮姿 – Tōtoku Hyōshi, that is to use the sword as a shield against attack of outside or inside, this can be understood inside the Kobujutsu (古武術) as Naka-zumi (中墨) , Shinmyō-ken (神妙剣) or Seichū-sen (正中线). Basically it is the concept of maintaining a center-line with your being, with your body and with the tools that life has to offer, inside of sanshin (三心) this sanshin is an attitude of the being in spite of the external or INTERNAL circumstances (omote and ura / 表裏).

For this there is necessary the transmission and the practice of a corporal attitude of the being inside the one, the unity (一), From the unity to the multiplicity

Shūmoku (撞木), Hitoe (偏身), Ichimonjigoshi (一文字腰), Hanmi (半身) and Ichimonji (一文字) are some of the terms used in the kobujutsu for this corporal attitude inside the science of the art of the war (the art of the peace).

There are multiple guards, but only one guard will give us the victory over ourselves and our reflections projected on the outside.
masaaki-hatsumi-totoku-hyoshi
What time is it? Now.
Where are you? Here.
Who are you? This moment.
Everything is in one, in the unity (一).

From the humility of one advancing to zero.

 

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

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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