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Monthly Archives: September 2014


First, the word ‘henka’ is constituted of two kanji. The first one ‘hen’ (変) can be read ‘kawaru’ or ‘kaeru’ and means ‘change’, ‘turn’, ‘ alter’, ‘vary’, ‘strange’, ‘peculiar’, ‘odd’, ‘unusual’, or ‘eccentric’, and it is used for many situations and actions, not only in the koryû’s world. The second kanji, ‘ka’ (化) can be read ‘bakasu’, ‘bakesu’, or ‘kawaru’ and means ‘bewitch’, or ‘enchant’. When you add the two kanji’s meanings together, of course in a general point of view, it means ‘variation’ or ‘transformation’, but it’s much deeper than that, as is always the case with koryû’s science and knowledge. It’s also important to underline the fact that the meaning of the ‘henka’ should be transposed to its historical context and not use the first definition found in the regular dictionary. The studies and research performed on various records, such as ‘densho’, ‘denki’, ‘shuki’, ‘shiki, about koryû and their founders show that it’s always during a moment, a crucial instance in combat, where the question is about living or dying. Something happened and the founder or master, who was in a very bad position, performed an unexpected technique which surprised his enemy. It’s not about a special form, though. It’s about how to adapt and transform a technique, that is not working on an enemy, into something more accurate and deep that arises suddenly from nowhere. Sometimes the master can remember what he did and try to work on it. The main problem is when the disciple, who learns the ‘henka’, creates a form from that or a ‘kata’, and thinks, ‘This is the real form!’ – DR. KACEM ZOUGHARI


“When going out in disguise, a long ‘hoari’ (a Japanese half-coat) will be alright to wear. Writing one’s brow, clothing capping one’s teeth with iron, painting one’s face, disheveling one’s hair or biting hairs will be effective in disguising oneself. There are three ways of coloring one’s face. The first way is to add a little vermilion powder to black ink. The second is to add yellow, vermilion, and Chinese yellow to the toilet powder. And, the third is to add red and indigo to white. Try one of these and when it does not fit you according to the features of your face you had better not do it. A false mustache or deformation is easily discovered when it doesn’t suit you. In order to make yourself look ill, give yourself a moxa treatment during the night, refrain from eating, let your hair and beard grow long, without cutting the nails on the fingers and toes, without taking a bath, and remain thinly dressed, with a dressing wrapped around your head and so on. You need to exert your ingenuity in making it look believable. Methods of disguise are extremely important in ninjutsu. For example, Yasubei Horibe, one of the Forty-Seven Loyal Retainers who avenged their master’s death in 1702, broke his front teeth, burnt his face, and poisoned himself with mercury to disguise himself when he traveled to Edo, since he was famous and known to people.” – SEIRYUKEN NATORI


Most people associate the mirror that accompanies a ‘kamidana’ shine in the dojo as just an obscure Shinto-related object, whose true meaning was perhaps lost generations ago. Yet, others have heard of its association to the legend of Amateru and his sacred mirror, the ‘Yata no Kagami, said to be kept at the Ise Shrine in Ise City, Honshu, Japan. Still, the deeper truth, according to such ancient records as the Hotsuma Tsutae, is that the ‘kagami’ is actually a figurative device for examining the ‘light’ (goodness) and ‘dark’ (corruption) inside oneself, In other words, it physically embodies a philosophy of self-examination. ‘Kagami’ translates as ‘see light and dark’ (ka = light, ga = its counterpart, darkness. and mi = see). In studying martial arts, this ‘examining’ becomes a vital aspect of one’s daily practice; searching and adjusting one’s soul, behavior, and actions to stay on a proper path of just, righteous, and harmonious living in society.