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Monthly Archives: October 2014

Hatsumi sensei calligraphy 2 copy

One day in 17th century Japan, Jirozaemon Ono, a master of the Itto-ryu style of swordsmanship, who had won the fame of the public as being unrivaled in the art of war, was not feeling at ease after hearing rumors that Munenori Yagyu was without equal in his abilities with the sword. So, he decided to pay Munenori a visit. He was shown into a drawing room, where he was kept waiting for some time. Jirozaemon elaborated on how he would see through Munenori’s ability, yet Munenori did not appear. He almost got tired of waiting when suddenly Munenori opened the sliding door, just behind Jirozaemon’s seat, and attacked him with a wooden sword. Jirozaemon blocked strike with the hilt of his sword and said, “It is rash of you to attack me suddenly. Fight fair!” Munenori replied instantly, tossing aside his wooden sword, “Your art is quite admirable. Splendid. You are a skilled swordsman, but it is a pity that you are short of master-hand in the spirit. You need more practice.” Jirozaemon, with his ego and pride hurt, became angry and asked him curtly why he thought so. Munenori answered, “You have come to beat me as you think of yourself as the best swordsman in the country. That’s the reason why I said you were poor at heart. If you had won in the fight, could you have been able to get out of this mansion alive? I am a feudal lord holding a fief yielding more than ten-thousand koku (one koku=5.119 bushels of rice). If I had been killed by you, my retainers would have killed you. Your fame would have been destroyed. That’s why I said you were short of master-hand in the spirit.” Jirozaemon left Munenori’s residence embarrassed. Munenori won the duel without fighting. The mystery of swordsmanship lies in his attitude.


“One day, many decades ago, I was at my teacher’s home, sitting in his room, when he said, ‘Please close your eyes and wait, and whatever happens, make sure not to open them.’ Then perceiving that my teacher went down the stairs I let my guard down a little to the sign that he had disappeared. After several hours, some sort of heavy, pressing force approached diagonally behind, and seeing an image of a body split in two, I went into sideways-rolling body movement. Then I had a feeling pressing right from the side of the head, and I executed a forward breakfall. As I slowly sat down into a natural ‘fudoza’ posture I heard my teachers voice, saying ‘Well done. You made it. You may open your eyes now.’ And when I opened my eyes, there stood Takamatsu-sensei, lowering an unsheathed sword in his right hand.
I, level headed and thinking this strange, had asked about this before, ‘kijutsu (energy techniques) through a sixth sense, or one may say ‘shinden no jutsu’. Such is the ‘gokui’: ‘If one thinks is it there, it is not. If one thinks it is not, it is.’ For the first time the profound words of this teaching sank into my body will all their weight. I was deeply impressed by the nature of the words’ spirit. Together with the joy of my eyes opening, I received from my teacher that sword. I was later told by my teacher that this was a ‘juji-kiri mumyo no itto’, and that no-one had gone this far. Those words, joyfully spoken, I remember as if they were said yesterday.” – DR. MASAAKI HATSUMI


A ninja uses ‘Getton no jutsu’ (月遁之術), Moon Element Techniques, by hidng in shadows created naturally by the moonlight, and ‘Katon no jutsu’ (火遁之術), Fire Evasion Methods, to distract and attract the enemy’s attention.