Tsuki no Sho 月之抄

 

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Author: Yagyū Jūbei Mitsuyoshi 柳生 十兵衛三 厳
Title: Tsuki no Shô
Year: 1642

Author Yagyû Mitsuyoshi (柳生 三 厳) in the original language Title: “月 之 抄” (Other spellings mentioned in the original language: 月 之 抄 / 月 の 抄 / 月 ノ 抄 / 月 之 書 / 月 の 書 / 月 ノ書 / 月 之 諸 / 月 の 諸 / 月 ノ 諸 / 月 見 之 抄 / 月 見 の 抄 / 月 見 ノ 抄 / 月 見 之 書 / 月 見 の 書 / 月 見 ノ 書 / 月 見 之 諸 / 月Titre の 諸 / 月 見 ノ 諸).

Japanese title: “Tsuki no Shô” (or sometimes “Tsukimi no Shô”) Title in French: “Written in the moonlight” Title in English: “Annotation (s) ) in the moonlight

The “tsuki no sho” is a strategic and philosophical treatise mainly about kenjutsu (saber warfare technique), written by one of the most famous fencers in Japanese history:

Yagyû Jûbei Mitsuyoshi (1607 – 1650). You will find here the complete transcript in modern Japanese. This transcription in modern Japanese comes from the book of Yoshio Imamura, published in April 1995: “Shiryô Yagyû Shinkage-Ryû (Vol.2)” (史料 柳生 新 陰 流 (下 巻)), of which she occupies about the first 70 pages (Pages 9 to 80).

Link download: Mitsuyoshi-Yagyū-Jūbei-Tsuki-no-Shô

 

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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.

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

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.

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.

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