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.


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Tenchi Ryusui 天地流水


“Water falls from the sky in the form of rain and flows downhill. Once in the sea, it arises again in the form of vapor, via evaporation, when warm winds descend. As it rises, it forms clouds that are then driven by the wind back over land where the process starts all over again. This cycle involves fû (wind), sui (water), and the natural forces and energies of magnetism and heat. One’s life is no different. What we think of as change, or even death, is simply transformation. The Divine cycle is infinite.” – Masaaki Hatsumi, Gyokko-ryu kuden

Roppo 六法

The term Roppo is complex and there are several different ways to interpret it according to the context. It occurs within Kukishin-ryu jojutsu, juttejutsu and dakentaijutsu, among other things. In Japanese, you can write it in two ways: 六方 or 六法. The first character stands for the number six, while the other can be interpreted as a trend or method, but have many more interpretations.

Kabuki stage with hanamichi left
Kabuki stage with hanamichi on the left.

According to Hatsumi Sensei, Roppo is a way to prevent and to take Kukan (empty space; 空間), six methods to support, like roppo training in the Kabuki theater.
In Kabuki roppo originally used as a term for how to make an entrance on stage, but also came later including how to make the exit at Hanamichi-time.
The term is likely from the strutting gait (tanzen roppo; 丹前六法) as the Edo period snobs had when they strutted between the different tea houses in the pleasure quarters.

There are several different ways to make an entrance and exit. With “tobi roppo” (six methods of leaping; 飛六法) the actor gesticulates with his hands while he bounces along Hanamichi.Kitsune roppo” (moving like a fox in six directions; 狐六法) is when the actor leaves the stage sideways with a slightly hunched body, or “roppo o fumu” (六法ヲ踏) when he vigorously stamped with the feet.
One way to interpret Roppo could be the different ways we move to take possession of the Kukan.

Six degrees of freedom
Six degrees of freedom.

The term can also be derived from the purification ceremony for future priests in mikkyo Buddhism when invoking heaven, earth, east, west, north and south.

The interpretation can be paired with the directions we can move, in our six degrees of freedom. This interpretation may mean that we always should relate to the ambient forces in such a way that we can stop or even to retreat movement and thus constantly in mastery of Kukan.

Gogyo – fire hitting metal hitting wood, hitting the ground, hitting the water, and finally strikes fire

A third way to look at Roppo is like the ‘six laws of nature “and with them is meant the five phases – Gogyo (five phases; 五行) – and awareness of them – Shiki (consciousness; 識). It’s about positioning oneself in the Kukan in such a way that I can always beat the opponent.What game with rock-paper-scissors. This is too complex to describe here, and must be seen as something that can only be transferred during our lessons, called “Kuden”.

San-hoben 三方便

Three types of suitable devices (San Hoben; 三方便)

Hoben [方便] {JPN}, (upaya in sanskrit) which translates to “appropriate means”, “expedient means” or even “pedagogy“, according to Buddhism, is a  Bodhisattva‘s ability to ascertain exactly what is required to bring a mentee from his worldly slumber.
There is the Example of the Lotus Sutra, where a man who discovered that his house was on fire, tried to get their children out of it. However, they refused because they were preoccupied with playing. Then the man told the children that on the outside there was a lot of fun toys outside and managed in this way to get them out and save them. That is the man felt that a white lie was an appropriate means to save the children.

Accordingly, “hoben” is also in contravention of art. Hatsumi Sensei used to say that the densho lies, that is to say,  what the former champions have written is not always true. You can let the beginners practice and focus on one thing and let them think that it is important, while they unknowingly practicing also something else that is important later in the workout. Usually, all the techniques are an “overt (Omote; 表)” layer that all have access to, but it can also be one or more “covert (ura; 裏) layers.” The purpose of Hoben is thus to “awaken” the pupil, not always to teach a technical detail.

Rinmetsudojihonzon, reputed to be the Gohonzon (object of devotion, also known as a ‘script mandala’) that was with Nichiren at his bedside when he died. The central characters are the title of the Lotus sutra.

According to Tendai Buddhism (Something that Takamatsu sensei and Daisuke Nishima of Togakure-ryu were very privy to) Shakyamuni’s teachings are classified in three categories. Tendai interpret the title of the second chapter of the Lotus Sutra as “appropriate means” and categorizes them into three types:

  1. The first category is known as “adaptations of the Law expedient means” (hoyu-hoben; 法友方便), the teachings that were preached in accordance with the people’s capacities.
  2. The second is called “expedient means that can lead one in” (notsu-hoben; 野津方便), indicating the teachings the Buddha preached as a gateway to the true teaching.
    These first two expedient means correspond to the pre-Lotus Sutra teachings and constitute provisional teachings. They are what the Buddha refers to in the “Expedient Means” chapter where he says, “Honestly discarding expedient means, I will preach only the unsurpassed way.”
  3. The third category, or “secret and wonderful expedient means”(himyo-hoben; 秘妙方便), is the teaching that contains the truth. This expedient means indicates that the Buddha concealed, or kept secret (hi; 秘), the truth for the first forty-two years of his preaching life, expounding it only in the Lotus Sutra. When viewed from the standpoint of the Lotus Sutra, however, all the provisional teachings are included in the sutra as partial explanations of the truth. This inclusion is termed “wonderful” (myo; 妙). Unlike the first two expedient means, the third category is not only a means that leads people to the truth, but also the truth itself.

Nichiren (1222-1282) explains “secret and wonderful expedient means” with the parable of the jewel (gyo; 玉) in the robe from the “Five Hundred Disciples” (eighth) chapter of the Lotus Sutra, in which a poor man has a precious jewel sewn inside his robe but is unaware of it. Because he is unaware, the jewel is “secret,” but because he owns it, it is “wonderful.”

The jewel sewn in the robe indicates that Buddhahood is inherent in all people (wonderful), and the poor man’s ignorance of it, that ordinary people are unaware of their own Buddha nature (secret).

“Hi” and “myo” are terms that are also used in the classical Japanese martial arts, especially in Gyokko-ryu. Note also that “gyo” also means “jewel”.


There are two kinds of failure. The first comes from never trying out your ideas because you are afraid, or because you are waiting for the perfect time. This kind of failure you can never learn from, and such timidity will destroy you.

The second kind comes from a bold and venturesome spirit. If you fail in this way, the hit that you take to your reputation is greatly outweighed by what you learn. Repeated failure will toughen your spirit and show you with absolute clarity how things must be done.

In the classical martial arts, there is a very old saying (circa 1200s):

Bufu Ikkan 武風一貫

“Bufu” 武風 means “martial wind”, The wind of circumstance, feeling out the moment, using ones true intuition. Not going with the flow, but playing your part in the flow, very consciously, and with determination to “do what’s right, not just whats right for you.”

The second word, “Ikkan” 一貫 means to persevere, to push through hardship, to apply your force of will to your circumstance, your fate, and your destiny. Life would not last long if we are simply subject to fate and destiny. The vary fact that we don’t all just give up and end ourselves means that we don’t really believe that were indignantly subject to fate.

It is through these ideas that we can turn situations of certain failure and death into pristine success and life.

When faced with a dire situation, simply smile. The human being has the ability to smile in the face of uncertainty and certain failure. Not only will this help to make you feel better, but it releases calming chemicals into the body and allows for better concentration and kinetic mobility. Effectively giving you the tools to succeed in the face of defeat.

Bufu Ikkan

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