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Komagawa Tarōzaemon first learned Shinkage-ryū from Kamiizumi Ise no kami Nobutsuna. But even though he soon felt confident in his skills, Kamiizumi would refuse to give him the Shinkage-ryū menkyo, only saying that Komagawa had a “bad habit” in his movements. Komagawa felt wronged by his teacher’s constant rebuttals and decided to take the high road and impress Kamiizumi by getting a menkyo in many other kenjutsu ryū. Returning some years later with over a dozen menkyo, he tried to get Kamiizumi to give him his hard-earned Shinkage-ryū menkyo at last by showing him what he had learned. But Kamiizumi didn’t flinch a bit and stuck to his previous statement about Komagawa having something not quite right in his movements. Then something happened that made Komagawa change his outlook on his whole practice up to then. One evening, while Komagawa was deeply engaged in training, a pack of wolf sneaked up on him. He only had a wakizashi on himself at the time, but he still managed to drive off the pack by repeatedly using a single technique, technique which would later become the first tachi kata and the basis of Komagawa Kaishin-ryū’s whole curriculum. During the tense fight, Komagawa realized that he was left-handed and that this was what Kamiizumi referred to by saying he had a “bad habit”. Komagawa then rebased his whole attitude towards his teacher and changed his name to “Kaishin” or “renewed heart” to show that fact. After correcting his movements, he was finally given a Shinkage-ryū menkyo by Kamiizumi. Komagawa then taught under the banner of Shinkage-ryū. The name of the ryū was changed to its present name by one of Komagawa’s student, Sakurada Jirōzaemon Sadakuni (桜田次郎左衛門貞国). Sakurada also added the jutte kata to the curriculum.


In 1767 (Meiwa 4), a samurai by the name of Fujii Umon Sadayuki (藤井右門定之), real name Fujii Naoaki Yoshitarō (藤井直明吉太郎), was sentenced and executed for ‘lèse majesté’ towards the Tokugawa Shogunate along with his teacher, a renowned scholar of Confucianism and military strategy named Yamagata Daini. They were denounced by troublemakers on the public place thus forcing the shogunate into investigating the allegations, which were that they conspired to mount a revolt against the shogunate in an attempt to reestablish the Emperor as de facto ruler of Japan. Since the trials and subsequent verdicts were kept secret even though the accusations were first made publicly, both were in the meantime unjustly vilified by the public as traitors to the shōgun and disturbers of the peace. The vilification intensified after their executions, which were made in public, while the specific offenses under which they were condemned still remained secret. The reason to this secrecy may be that the shogunate wanted the rumours about their association with the restoration movement to continue, although the two men were ultimately not found guilty of advocating the restoration of power to the Emperor. It was true, however, that Yamagata criticized the Tokugawa regime in a published book, and so the shogunate felt they had to act rapidly. The students of Yamagata were thus almost immediately released, except for Umon who was directly implicated in the original allegations as he was the one who spurred the troublemakers. The student and the teacher were later executed, in all probability as a deterrent to the proponents of restoration, while the troublemakers were exiled.
At the time of this incident, Umon was the chief proponent of Komagawa Kaishin-ryū, going so far as to add a complete series of kodachi kata in the curriculum, a series that has been handed down to this day. As a consequence of the bad influence brought on the ryū’s name by Umon’s involvement in what was then seen by the public at large as an attempted revolt, many if not all fiefs closed down their Komagawa Kaishin-ryū school branches. Even in Toyama, the birthplace of the ryū, it has since then been publicly referred to by the name of its parent art, the Shinkage-ryū. The secrecy was so complete that even the grandfather of the current sōke, the 13th sōke Kuroda Yasuji, thought when he was young that he was practicing Shinkage-ryū. Only by comparing his techniques with practitioners of other ryū did the thought cross his mind that he did not actually practice Shinkage-ryū at all. He then asked his own father, the 11th sōke Kuroda Hiroshi Masakuni, who passed down this story about the concealment of the ryū’s real name and origins. Yasuji was thus the first to use the name “Komagawa Kaishin-ryū” outside of Toyama since the incident when he relocated to Tokyo at the start of the Taishō period.

Interview with Dr. Kacem  Zoughari

by Shidoshi-ho Zoran Mijic, San Dan

Bujinkan Sojobo Dojo Banja Luka

Would you be so kind to explain us the importance of form (Gata) in martial arts?

Form, shape, structure or Kata (Gata as well) is very important because they contain many details which are based on experience of different Soke and founders of the classical ryu or style whatever the style. During their life, a fight or a terrible situation, each one of them has found something  in certain techniques that he has received from his Master and that is accumulation of many small details, knowledge of the body, which creates the art and the way of moving. Those things represent a certain aspect of fighting, living, using tools and weapons, codes, etc., which we need in order to read and understand what, is behind, inside, after and before at the same time.  So the Gata or Kata, is really important, in can even said essential, because it’s the gate, the door that connect directly with the current master, soke of the style with the previous soke. Because of their importance, they have been change and adapt to their time, in this way we can find many different type of Kata, like Shinken or jissen gata, Hyô-en Gata, Tanren-gata, etc. according their importance and also according the capacity of the disciple, student, client, friend, etc, in other words, the capacity of audience, the transmission of those kata change. Japanese’s classical bujutsu’s history is full of many history, tales, chronicles that deals about the way of transmission of those kata.

Which process is necessary to pass in order to gain very efficient, flexible and ergonomic movement like ancient masters?

I think it is a question of time as well as quality of practice. To tell the truth, my knowledge in this case is very limited, because I don’t think I have the technical and full knowledge to talk about. It’s better to ask a master or a soke of various ryu. But what I can say is that many things come with time; don’t need to have a PHD to understand that.  Moreover, I think to underline  the definition as well as the conscious of the “Time” and “Quality” is relevant for each of us, because we all spend time and we all see quality on different way. We need time to reach the top and even to understand that it’s impossible to reach the top or the goal aimed. In everything in life, Time and Patience are the keys. In order to do things, (studies, researches, practice, painting, etc) in a certain way, we need Time, Quality. Time and Quality request a particular state of mind made of measured passion and deep patience. It is not easy, but when you love what you do and you have the patience you can go through. We just need to deeply consider and keep in mind that behind each technique of the various schools there is the life, sacrifice, tears, blood, love, etc, of many soke, master, men, and it’s enough to realize that Time as well as Quality practice is really important. This is what I strongly believe, and this mind leads my practice and the way I think about it.

In your work “The movement’s tradition in classical combat schools of Japan based on ancient scroll” you indicate the importance of movement that has helped the ancient masters to be effective in the fight… So, what is the main difference in movement through different periods of ancient Japan?

I don’t think there is too much different between ancient Masters.  What makes major difference is that every period brings his own change, and every Master, whatever the style,  who can adapt himself to the shift and go deeper, survive as well as being able to find someone who will have the capacity to receive and apply his way of moving, is a real Master who understand the needs of period where he lives.

So it is not question such “in this period you move like this, at this other period you move like that”, the studies and researches on various master’s biography and chronicle reveals the facts that a MASTER whatever the time, place or enemy he must adapt himself. Most of  the classical ryu’s essence of Japan, as well as the contains of their scrolls, is always about adapt yourself and fit to the moment, understand the moment, be ONE with moment, and if you are able to do that you can do and apply the technique, survive and pass down the knowledge. Now if the school  or the style, you practice is just created for a certain type of movement based on certain use of the body for a particular period or area, the possibility of survive and adaption, as well as freedom are deeply limited, in certain case it is completely lost.  I think it is really important to have in mind that the major classical ryu, that deals about Bugei jû-happan, Bujutsu, Heihô (or Hyôhô), Heijutsu, Gungaku, Gunpai, etc, is about combat on battle field, war, or based on battle field experience. The essence of their used of the body, weapon, psychology, etc , is  based on adaptation, flow, surprise, no form, intelligence,  how to do or apply the body more deeply, how to be more accurate according the moment where you live. If the Art (in mean here the used of the body in the classical ryu) is about living deeply the present moment, adaptation is a key of everything. If you practice limited, stiff, fixed form or kata, if you practice one side of the body, it is logical to say that those form or Kata cannot allow you to be free, to open, to accept, to absorb things, to fight according the moment and different enemy, as well as survive.  I think they are not good form and more deeply not good for the body and the mind as well.

Lots of people wonder why you have banned the sale of your videos… Does the reason for this lie in concept Taryu Jiai which strictly orders us not to fight against others Ryu, in order to keep our waza secret, and would you be so kind to explain us the concept?

It is really crazy how people can start to talk and claimed words or things about me without asked me or talk to me directly. But it is all right, it is not the first time and not the last one. Why I don’t sale video?! Well its really easy, it is Because first I’m not a salesman!  And I don’t used martial art for living, I hope its clear on that.

Second, the reason why I don’t want the people to tape the things, is mainly because I want them they practice and used their brain, their memory. All classical bujutsu and military arts is about using the metsuke (art of observe) from that the art of kengaku (studies by observing). Whatever the master or the soke in the japanese martial arts’s history, the highest level is about being able to copy in one look the form, the movement shown or performed. Like it is crucial to remember clearly the position of the enemy, people, tools, weapon in a place, remember the way used, the very deep details of the technique or the transmission and even a conversation between to people, with the master, the parents, girl friend, wife, etc. It is impossible to talk about transmission (shinden, taiden and kuden) without this crucial and essential aspect. So I think that if people really practice they just need to use their eyes and memories, this is a way I did and still do myself.

I never tape the class of Hatsumi Sensei (before 1999 Hatsumi sensei allowed people to tape class, there are a lot of video about that time, even tape from the 80), even at Ishizuka sensei’s dojo!  The reason  why I Never ever tape the class, is mainly Because you might lost everything, scroll, dvd, image, notes, etc. the real scroll is the body and the heart. If you lost everything, how are you going to do? If you attach yourself to DVD image, notes, etc, rather than attach yourself to the art, the practice itself, the result is really different. But I am not completely against the use of DVD, tape, notes, images, etc, it’s the way of using it and how to do it.

So, about the Taryu shiai, I understand that some people need this. It’s good for test the technique, to test oneself self confidence, courage as well as for studies different things. Also it keeps the feet on earth, I mean in the reality of combat and fighting.  Because too many people (whatever the rank) in the Bujinkan as well as other school and organization, forget about reality and forget to respect the other styles. In this case, I think that the idea of Taryu shiai is interesting even if it is not a real combat, no one ll die, I mean nowadays.

Since the beginning I gave my class, and I have many witnesses, even if my techniques et knowledge are very limited, each time I met people from different martial art,  I always try on them. I like it, and I think its really important. Everything is done with a great respect to their art, professor, etc. no wounded, no bad feeling (I hope). I like to studies and try on different type of sport, strong men, different art, whatever the school, the country, etc, I don’t have limit for that. I think that knowledge and wisdom doesn’t have any limit. This the way I see the art of ninjutsu and the nine school of Hatsumi sensei.

About the word Taryu, it was mainly used during Sengoku Jidai period and even before. It was forbidden to accept a combat or to challenge someone or his school, because if you lost the name of your school will not be respected and you could be killed. One more important aspect is the fact that when you fight and you lost, the survivor or winners have seen some of techniques of the school, so he can create counter technique. So this is the main reason why the Taryû shiai was “officially” forbidden by most of the classical school. But it became more popular in Edo, in certain case, sometimes a master of a school could paid a certain sum of money in order to avoid the shame and the fight as well. There are many story and chronicle that deals about that. Other deals about the death of people and the end of the school as well.

In my case, I don’t care if someone want to try, to challenge me, he is more than welcome,  I’ am very open – I’m always open! No bad feeling at all. If someone want to challenge me, no problem. Unfortunately not too much people come, people love to talk behind, or in internet, but no one step out and say it “I challenge you”! I strongly believe that martial art, whatever the styles, country, is about action, not words. Who ll be the last standing man. This is what I believe and what also leads my practice and the way I have learn.

We know that you have made research of many bujutsu and among them also teachings of Tetsuzan Kuroda Sensei, would you be able to explain his saying that “Soft Kata will produce fast and disappearing movement” (柔らガい型ガら生まわる速い消え動き)? How it can be used through our practice in Ninpotaijutsu?

Well, first of all, I’m not student of Mr. Tetsuzan Kuroda sensei, I have a great respect about him, his family’s art and his 5 ryû-ha, but I’m not his student. When someone become student of Kuroda Sensei he must fellow important rules like not allowed to teach in public and using his name or ryu-ha for making money. In my researches as well as for my own interest, I have met different master and Kuroda sensei is one of them. All the techniques, way of practice as well as the wisdom I follow and received, come from the 9 schools of Hatsumi sensei and my humble movement are completely different than Kuroda Sensei. I am not in the same scale, level; he is soke of 5 schools, and me I am just a beginner.  I can show you the way they do kata and few things in his school, but it ll be a very bad imitation.  Of course, in all the bujutsu classical’s school of japan, there are some common points that deal about the use of the body. Some of those common point or principles have been presented in the highest level by Kuroda sensei in his class, book, DVD and seminar. In the Shinbunkan (Kuroda sensei’s dojo) students follow certain order and methodology of practice, certain rules of fighting, rules of using the sword, rules of using the body, other weapon, etc. So in those kata, form and codes, if someone who have the good capacity fellow and practice it correctly, he can find pretty much same principle that most of the classical ryu of Japan have. Some of those schools have lost it, some doesn’t use it, or use it in a different way, stiffer, more hard, more fixed, more Ki (energy), more commercial, etc.

Like you said soft kata will produce fast and disappearing movement – well first in ninpo-taijutsu (normally I should explain the meaning of this word and his history, but it’s not the question here) the use of the body as well as the weapon is based on the practice of both side (right and left) and Kuroda Sensei practice for example in case of sword only one side (Kenjutsu and iaijutsu, but it is not because I did not see him do it, that Kuroda sensei is not able to do it). All the densho of the nine schools mention that each technique should be done, practice, apply learn and master in both side. Being able to do same things from right hand and left hand, help to cultivate a high balance and a very deep understanding of the technique as well as the bio-mechanic itself . When someone can use left side or left hand and left foot the same way from the right side, people will think this man is left handed. Also in a battle field, during war or a combat, there is strong chance to be wounded in the side of the body mainly used, for example the right hand, or legs. At this moment you ll stop the combat and said “no attack me from the right hand please! We don’t have time to used the left one!!!!” Or more easy, if you are wounded in the right side, you ll not used the left and just let you die? All the major wars chronicle of Japan show how most of the warriors could use the both side for fighting. If you use only one side well the chance to survive are divide, if you use both you are more complete. I think it is very important.

One very important aspect deeply connected by this capacity of using the both side, is the necessity to to have a correct form. Correct form means correct body structure, and correct bone structure in same time, the back should not bend, the head should keep in the right position, the knees and feet should be in a right line and direction, realign the body structure according the enemy position as well as  the weapons used, etc…

All this alignment and structure has to follow the rules of moving with and by the weapons. In this case, the more you go slowly the more you see the inner details. The more you see the inner details, the more you are effective and accurate.  So it’s not question of being fast or strong, or even explosive. What I’m looking for it’s to be deeply precise. For me, speed or moving fast is not the main factor, because when speed as well as moving fast request the use of different tensions plus a strong muscle activity. In most of those case, the result is pain in the shoulder, knees, arms, too much tension, you are tired and it’s the right direction to hurt the body. Now if you add to that different muscle exercises which are not for the support the practice of the art, its easy to create a unbalance and accumulate a lot of wounded and tension. Of course, all those tension and wounded will have a strong impact or influence the spirit.

Also over speed, or moving fast do not allow to be very precise and accurate. Among the people who practice martial arts, whatever the organization, I also include the Bujinkan, It’s easy to see how there are a big confusion between speed and rush, like between effectiveness and brutality or violence. I think that the use of the body is beyond that. The example of Takamatsu sensei and Hatsumi sensei are eloquent in this case. They are the highest model for me.

There is old saying in a scroll; I remember it very well because when I read that I was pretty much touched in my heart. It was said that: “Slow is smooth – smooth is invisible”. So you have to move in a certain way, use the full body in a deep way, that allow you to move slowly and so precise in one flow and in a very smooth way. Here because you move in one flow, with coordination and synchronization, the beginning of the movement is not seen, and only the end of the movement is seen, I mean the result of the technique. The enemy doesn’t realize how you did, even if he watches it, from that you can conclude that the movement or the technique becomes invisible. Not showing how the body starts, how the move or the technique start, is the starting point of this kind of using the body. The enemy cannot see what type of muscle, tendon, bones are in action here. It is the same in the use of the weapon too. When you practice the form, if the form is correct, the way you shift weight of your body from one leg to another and the way you walk doesn’t follow the sport way of doing. Because what you looking in the sport is immediately effectiveness, immediate explosiveness of power. In classical martial arts is opposite. Of course you are looking for what is effective directly, but effective in long term. What you can do it now, tomorrow should be done better. And in ten years even more better!

In sports you are very good when you are young, you get skill pretty much fast  because the style are create according a certain kind of physical education and easy way of using the body. In the sports system, when you became old you just experimented. Which means you just gives advice and cannot apply effectively as much as you can, because here again, the use of the body is base on the strength of the muscle, the stamina, in other words, on youth. In classical martial arts it’s the opposite! Because in martial arts you are suppose to always proof yourself. And this proof is “ can you do it right now”, and “can you put him down now”?!! this question or proof doesn’t look the age or the sex, the body, the strength of the one you must put down. Of course there are many ways! Best way is one that allows you to do this, of course effectively but in the way that you don’t hurt your partner. It is not really easy to let him feel that what you do is really dangerous. In because in many case most of the student play the game, or let the instructor doing, with no resistance.

Sometimes the student is even convince that the really try hard, that is cannot accept the truth. Normally the instructor or the master should understand directly that the student did let him doing or did not attack correctly. Why that? Well there are many reasons, the relation they have between them, the rank, loyalty, friendship, envy, love, business, loneliness etc… It is not easy to accept our own mistake and realize after years, and a certain high rank that we practiced doesn’t work. The best test is to try the same technique on different style, different strong men. Correct form, correct movement, effectiveness as well as preciseness as well as many other things start by being honest in the way we learn and practice. This is the heart of the sincerity.

So, yes I did study many martial arts because this is also part of the Ninjutsu, and I just follow the rules of Ninjutsu. In Ninjutsu you have to be aware of other martial arts, so I study other martial arts. Not only because its rule of Ninjutsu, but because I like to know and curiosity. It’s not curiosity in order to let other people that I know a lot, I like them so I study them .

I was very interesting on Kuroda Tetsuzan Sensei schools because one of his, actually two of his schools: Komagawa Kaishin Ryu Kenjutsu 駒川改心流剣術 and 民弥流居合術 Tamiya Ryu Iai they are deeply connected with Kamizumi Ise no Kami, the founder of Shinkager-ryû. In those two school, it is still  the same form and body structure. So I was pretty much fond of Kage Ryu, Shinkage Ryu, Taisha Ryu, and those schools …I’ve try to find form which you can find in Kage Mokuroku written by Kamizumi Ise no Kami 1566. So where we can find those, these days? Most of the people who practice this school now are Kôno Yoshinori Sensei and Kuroda Tetsuzan Sensei (there are other master too) who still keeps the same method and modality of using the body like they used to do period of Kamizumi Ise no kami sensei, that is why is he so effective and very good. But he is not only one in Japan who have thing like that. Now the good things would be, is to see those master doing their technique against others styles. And this is what I like.

Because doing kata and been well in his own school and with your own student it’s great but this is not martial art then. Bujutsu, techniques of war, which every country that you are; Africa, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Canada, whatever the art or the men you need to face, it’s not like; first you need to grab like this, attack like that, and do like this. Those are Dojo rules.

In bujutsu, real combat, there are no rules. But I understand the necessity of the rules in order to teach. So I think, once again in order to gain accuracy and speed in the practice everything depends on three points: first – the form, second – the way you shift from one point to another and how, third – the process which you follow through the years in your practice. When you have those three aspects, of course with the flexibility inside; its perfect. Everything is in the form, because the form shapes the body. When you follow this normally you should find. But I think I should add that the most important aspect stay the heart and the love of the practice. The question is “Why do we practice that? “What are we looking for?” whatever the art, the path is long, deep and not easy. Our ego is there, hiding, expecting, aiming something…. If someone look for the fame, the rank, the high position, the organization, the control, the power, etc, I don’t really think that those kind of goal or purpose can really be connect with the true art or find something pure and deep. Classical martial arts’ history of Japan is full of example to studies and meditates as well. It is very difficult to answer, because everyone has different mind and goal at the beginning of starting an art, and through the time, the initial mind as well as the sincerity from the beginning change. How and why they changed? The answer should be finding by everyone.

History show how it is very difficult to grow for someone who just look things from his own perspective and this is not practice of the classical martial arts. We must follow certain type Nagare, or certain type of  flow, we really need to understand relationship’s nature, the relationships with a master, and to polish that. In conclusion, this state of mind and body include in the art of disappear or not give any signal of the movement through the kata practice, even if its start from a technique, it is not just a technique. It’s really and deeply much more.

Does the “disappearing movement” refers to Musoku 無足?

Before to answer directly to this question, let me explain few things about words and their definition as well as the way I do my private or scholar researches. When I use Japanese words, also it can be English word,  French word, English word, Arabic word, I want to know the definition of this word, when it was use for the first time, the definition at that period, how and why it change, all the different meanings and influence. To realize this goal, I will check many dictionaries, many books, chronicles, and meet different professors and scholars in order to see what is the right and more close definition. When I’ve accumulated all those different explanations, definitions, ideas, etc, I start to study the source itself, I mean where all the information I received comes from. After I have trace the more correctly and deeply those source Its possible to express different idea and meaning for one word. It’s the same for analyzing a fighting technique, school’s history or legacy, etc. its is important to keep a certain honest mind set when you start something like that, because in most of the case, especially in the case of classical bujutsu or ninjutsu’s history and technique, what you have in mind my mislead the reality in order to feat what you looking for. Between the reality and what we wish, want, deep inside us, there is a big difference.

About the word Musoku most of the people when they take Japanese books translate as:  Mu –nothingness or without, and Soku – Legs. The literally translation ll be “NO LEGS”. Moreover, this translation doesn’t really help to understand the meaning, I mean, “no legs” in what, where, for what purpose, context, etc.?!!

Now when you use the following kanji:  Musoku no Ho, you can understand that the words Musoku refers to a certain type of using the legs call “no legs method”. For a regular, Japanese it means nothing as for foreigner. After you dig in Japanese history you start to find the word:  Musoku Nin. This words in mention in few chronicle which some of them stretch back to Muromachi period. According to those chronicle the Musoku Nin is “People who doesn’t have legs”. This can create confusion, like maybe those were people whose legs were cut off etc etc..

The chronicle explain that the Musoku Nin was a name for certain type of warrior who can work for big family, but they didn’t have right to have a name. So they were a warriors, bushi but not a high level one, their origin are not same as a warrior family. This is the first definition. After the name ll change and evaluate. It became the name given to a lot of people, who lived in Iga and Koga, two birth places of Ninjutsu and Ninja, because there was no warlord who ruled, but many samurai family who hold piece of land that not really belongs to them but they act as it belongs to them.

And finally same historians start to call Ninja at very beginning of 16 century the Musoku Nin “people whose legs you don’t see”.  In Japan, some researchers and historian starts to explain that those people have certain way to walk, to move their body and to fight that allowed them, to not let see and understand how they shift the weight of the body from one leg to another.

This way of using the body can be find already in the Shinto sanctuary using by priest as well as in Nô theaters. The founder of Nô,  Kanami and after his son,  Zenami were known to have developed a very sophisticated and deep way of walking. They were from Iga and Koga family with ninja family background, so they were already Musoku Nin and familiar with their way of walking and using the body.

Later on, at the beginning of the 16 century, the Musoku no Ho was the words that refers to a method of using the body find in various ryu-ha of in Jujutsu, Kenjutsu, Sojutsu. Mmost of classical schools have it, under different kanji. The main goal of this method of using the body is the capacity of to not let the enemy see the shift of the weight of the body during the application of the fighting technique. And this is very important! This is how it starts. So Musoku no Ho, you can find in different expressions, Kieru ugoki: “Movement that shot down himself”, Kage Fumi: “walking or stepping in the shadow”, Kage Ryu, Togakure Ryu, Gikkan ryu, Kumogakure ryu, Kotô ryu, etc.

Would you explain to us a method of transmitting knowledge within martial arts through three levels: Taiden, Kuden and Shinden Gokui?

It’s not easy because those aspects on itself are matter to do a PHD. I am right now writing a book on that subject for a French publisher. Well, let’s try to explain it in a very easy way. In all the art in Japan, but also in religion, esoteric, mystic, magic, etc., in order to transmit or pass down a certain kind of knowledge, first you need a master. By the word “master” I mean someone who has the capacity to do, apply, demonstrate a kind of knowledge, a science, in a very high and deep level, in the case of classical martial arts, this ll be the application of all the technique, use of the weapon from both sides. If you don’t have one master, well, there is no transmission.

Second, the master needs to find someone, the disciple, who is open to hear, open to receive, open to absorb, and open to accept, but in the same time master need to read in him the future. This means that from the knowledge given by the master, the disciple can dig it more and go deeper. This relationship has no end and creates a flow that connects the master and the disciple forever. When you see how Hatsumi sensei talks respectfully and gratefully about Takamatsu sensei, well you can see that this is really great, something that goes beyond what we can find in nowadays in the bujinkan between people.( Of course this relationship is not only between Takamatsu sensei and Hatsumi sensei, it exist in all the classical school of Japan. Nature of this relationship, connections, bond, depends on various factors.)

And this aspect of the transmission is call Taiden – body transmission. And body transmission is not  about how long you stay with your master, but the quality of time you spend with him and everything you felt from him and keep it alive deeply in your body.  This transmission stays in your body, during your life, daily life, solo practice, encounters, talks, etc. It is also like a constant “renaissance”, like a recall of everything you have seen and felt from him. In a way that the master lives through you, when people watch the disciple moving they see the master’s form, movement, attitude. This is what the Bufû is about too, being part of one flow of thinking, being, involve, a old and long family that allow you to change and adapt yourself at every moment.

This Taiden is made from the practice, by the practice and for the practice; it is something that you live and apply, like the flow of the blood in the body, you don’t see it, but you feel it, you need to live and help all the other organs to live and stay alive. Its hidden in the body, like the Taiden.  If this flow stops, the body stops, the heart stops, and it’s the death. So it is a knowledge a wisdom as well as an understanding for the master‘s art based on life practical experience. It goes without saying that the nature of the relation with the master, reflect trough the disciple movement, attitude, technique, etc.

The Shinden can be written with different, kanji. Transmission from the Kami is the more used one. The one I use here is mind (or heart, sentiment, idea, thought, intention) transmission. It’s all the things that you keep in your heart, like the image of the master, the souvenir of him, his actions, his talks. This is deeply connected with the Taiden, because one nourish the other, actually they are together impossible to separate. Here also, its how to keep the image of the master in the mind and the heart, it’s all the thing you felt from him without really understanding it, but you remember the movement, the way he did. It doesn’t means that you understand it or can do the same, but because you keep the clear image on your heart and mind, you can see it and try to feat it become like the image.

Finally the kuden comes. Kuden is everything the master said, in private or in public, to you directly or to someone else who told you after. Even if they are completely different, Kuden and Kotodama have something similar in essence, both are used to wake up something in the disciple’s heart, to lead and show him the right way, the right form, to reconnect with the master’s image, the souvenir, the etc. The Kuden goes of course with Taiden and the Shinden. In this way you can said that it is a full transmission, but not finished. It’s never finished, because as long as the disciple lives, the masters and his transmission lives toward the disciple.

Something very important to understand about the kuden is that in most of the case, the disciple never really understands directly what the master said or performed. It’s similar to what we all experimented in our life with our father. We all have heard at least one time in our life, our father said something like “you ll understand when you ll have my age” or “you ll grow up and realize it”, etc..  Those phrases come when the answer to a certain kind of situation cannot be understood through a certain process and experience of life that could not really be explain by words in order to be fully understood.

To those phrases, most of the time we answer “yes, yes” or “it’s different now”, “ that was your time, not mine”, etc…and when the times comes, we reach a certain age, most of the time, the same age as our father, we felt in the heart when the same situation happen “yes, he was right”…Its similar process with the master’s transmission, words, movement, etc.

So the kuden deals with words, but they are more a practical experience explains by words. Without having pass through the same experience or passed by a certain process of practice, receiving, endure, get betrayed, stabbed, disappointed, happiness, angry etc., it is really hard to understand and realize deeply the meaning of the Kuden and all his inner meanings.

Through his life, the disciple fellow a similar process of practice and experience as his Master. The difference and the changes are the time, the period, may be the city, the place, or the country and the religion if there is one. The age also are different, the way of looking life, the education as well is also different. But deep inside the process is similar. When the disciple goes through the same situation facts of life as his master, he starts to realize what he said and understand the meaning behind the words. Moreover, it’s impossible to understand or realized it without experienced it through the body and the heart. The reason why the disciple cannot really understood the master’s Kuden directly, it’s mainly because the Kuden are not just words. This is the reason why most of the densho use the famous phrase:”Martial arts cannot be thought by words”.

The deep understanding of the Kuden requests the Taiden and the Shinden. Without those three, it’s impossible to realize and to use the word art, flow. I found very funny and also pretty much arrogant people in the Bujinkan, shihan and different instructor, when tell me things like: “Hatsumi sensei told me this”, “He said to me that”, etc., like they could really understand what he said, the reason and purpose he said it. If consider the difficulty of the language, the knowledge, history and all the things someone need to know just to try to translate one phrase said by Hatsumi sensei, I honestly think that it ll be more humble to not present our self like the one who really understand. Because in ninjutsu like classical martial arts, understand means being able to apply and demonstrate against anyone.

Anyway, one of the greatest things that the Bujinkan offers is not the freedom?  Yes the freedom to say everything, to do everything or to believe everything you want. Good or bad, false or true. Everyone in the Bujinkan, especially high ranker (whatever the rank) wants to believe that Hatsumi sensei say or said to them is the truth and the reality, everyone wants to believe that he have a real and deep, as well as true relationship with Hatsumi sensei. This is very human and normal. But there is what we believe and the reality. I think that it is really important to not forget what the nature of this relation is. To not forget on what is relationship is base on, and of course what is the real purpose. If it’s not a extension of the same relationship that Hatsumi sensei had with Takamatsu sensei, I think that it’s not part of the flow of the Bufu from the 9 school.

Back to the subject of Kuden, the master doesn’t really need to think about what to say, to show, to transmit or to explain. All his actions and words come at the right time, when the time request. They are part have to think of flow very deep. For the disciple, the only thing is about to be part of this flow, to forget himself in order to be part of this flow and become the medium, the widow and the mirror of his master’s science. In classical martial art as well as ninjutsu there are many words that express different type of transmission, like jikiden, nai-den, gai-den,jitsu-den, isshin den shin, isshi sodden, kaiden, shitsu den. There are many “Den”. The nature of those “Den” or Transmission depends deeply about the relationship with the master as well as the nature of the master and disciple’s heart and intention. But all the “Den” or transmission request the to have the Taiden, the Shinden and the Kuden.

So all in all it is super position off the three aspects of the practice that allows the disciple to understand (if he have the capacity) one day the Master and in same time to walk in his footstep. When he can do that he is part of a legacy, part of  the Transmission of something that goes together and beyond us. At this moment you can call this an ART. You can call this ART when there are many man together who have sacrifice many things and gave the best they have in order to create one day what we practice nowadays.

Which is the best method of self-practice? Could you tell us how and what do you practice?

I don’t think that my practice is interesting, really not! Its better to studies how and what Hatsumi sensei and Takamatsu did for reach where they are now. I think that this is really better. First of all, Self practice in two words SELF and PRACTICE, so you practice alone. Problem is if I tell you how I do, how Kacem Zoughari does, which means; my blood, my flesh, my small muscles, my small brain, etc. its pretty much personal, not really interesting at all. It’s crucial to not forget that everyone have different way of looking at the Art, everyone have different feelings, thought, purpose of practice, etc. So I don’t think it will help if I explain how I practice.

Anyway I can tell that for me “practice” does mean “training”, or going to the dojo or the class o2 or 3 days per weeks. Practice is in everything and it’s everything. Breathing is practice, standing is practice, talking with people is practice, sleeping is in certain way practice, eat is practice. In order that everything someone does become Practice and one day Art, it is crucial to separate few things. For example, there is what we call regular practice, how do you repeat thing, how many times, frequency, quality, what you looking for in the practice and what you aim in practice-the goal. When this regular practice start to be a little bit more deeper, she needs to be integrated in life, in daily life movement, the way you are, you talk, behave,  in every daily life aspects in your job, in your relationships with your family, with yourself, so it is an attitude, daily life attitude than becomes a Art of living.

After that there is no difference between regular practice and life. At this moment what you do become way of living and when it becomes way of living you start to reach what is meant by ART. And finally, there is also some times when you are tired, when you get ill, when your body gets hurt, at this moment you have to see how you can keep on practice and how you can change, because everything is about change and this will influence on how you practice but not the essence. Essence is the continuity, because practicing one or two month, six month one year or 20 years and then stop is nothing. It have to become one kind of discipline, like drinking water, if you don’t drink, you feel ill and die. This is how I think practice is supposed to be. It is not like you just do 100 the same technique, if you can do 10 correct and good with full application of yourself it is enough. Quality is always better then quantity.  I think is quality, now people can say it yes its quality but we all can have different opinion about what is quality.

Last thing I would like to say, and this especially for all the one who are talking and pretend they practice or knows to move, to apply, who things they are great, the practice, the real practice is something you can see, it’s not something you wear or hold, like tools, keiko-gi or rank, it’s something you can demonstrate and apply on anyone. If someone can only apply or demonstrate the technique on his “good-best- slave friend or student”, it ll be more honest to not call this practice. A lot of people in the Bujinkan and other organization will not agree about what I said, but I don’t care. I know what I am talking about. Like I said before, if anyone has something to say or argue with me or wants to see me about that, no problem I am open. Direct confrontation or talks are always better than talks behind the net, practice and application of martial arts, is not a forum of talk. Action is always the best way to resolve everything.

Which is the proper attitude required for a student of martial arts?

Being able to find the right and correct questions, politeness, patience and lot of courage. It is very difficult to be born with everything and be rich, beautiful, clever, nice, cool, etc. in same time. But I think for a student it is necessary to be polite. It is always very nice to talk with someone who is polite, who got good manners, who is clean, his Keiko-Gi is always clean, he take the time to do things, he doesn’t try to show how great he is, how deep he knows things, he doesn’t try to hurt the one whit who he practice, he always let the people start, this is already mark or sign of someone who will grow very deeply in all aspects of the Art and his life.

Being patience and aware is also crucial; Art of ninjutsu is about remind patience, endure and persevere. Too many people in the Bujinkan forget that. When you are very polite (not in the fake way, not in a ceremonial way or etiquette) you learn the patience. Because politeness is actually showing how you really are inside. Same as the kata and the kamae, it express and show what we really are. Sometimes I wonder what someone as skills as Hatsumi sensei see in our form? But this is another subject.

If someone wants to get inside the form and transmission of one art, he needs a good combination, and one of best combinations is politeness and patience. Moreover, its important to be aware of the politeness from a heart with fake politeness, ceremonial politeness. Being Patience is very important, because someone young wants to go fast, and it is impossible. Everyone can learn a lot but will need time to adapt, adjust according to many situation and people. The patience is crucial in everything, life, art, relationship. In the practice of Ninjutsu it is the master key. Patience is requested to understand how to study and to know how to avoid certain problem and how to absorb the knowledge. Finally, I ll add the courage, because the path is not easy. Yes is not easy. But this is what is good. If it was easy no one would do it.

Mr. Kacem thank you very much for your time and effort.

The pleasure is mine.

Jujutsu is a generic term used since the beginning of the  Edo (1603-1867) period that incorrectly describes a set of open-hand techniques, lightly armed or using different  weapons.  Although this word is recent, it refers more to a  way of moving the body than a specific combat technique.    Jûjutsu is inherent to all martial arts who require a supple body allowing to free oneself from an enemy, armed or not,  to subdue an enemy’s body (articulations, tendons,  muscles, etc.) and of course to be one with the weapon used. Thus, what will be called jûjutsu and will borrow  several names during Japanese martial art history is more of an attitude, a way of being, a way of moving that adapts  to all situations and weapons rather than a type of  technique used to get rid of an enemy with «suppleness ».

What is called sôgô bujutsu (総合武術), or composite  combat techniques uses the art of jûjutsu as a central axis  for the utilization of different weapons.  The origin of open- handed fighting techniques in Japan finds its origins very  far in Japan’s history. One of the first reference on the type  of body techniques or fighting system including unarmed  combat is found in two important Japanese historical  works: the Kojiki (古事記Chronicles of Ancient Facts  written in 712) and the Nihon Shoki (日本書記Historical  Chronicles of Japan, 720) which in the case of the Kijiki  recounts the mythological creation of Japan as well as the  establishment of the imperial family and in the case of the  Nihon Shoki recounts the other history of Japan. Other  references can be found in various japanese chronicles or  in paintings and drawings illustrating the sumai no  sechi (相撲節), a ritual of the Nara and Hein Imperial  Court were wrestlers would challenge the others abilities.

According to several densho of several jûjutsu schools,  among others the pioneers such as Shoshô ryû (諸賞流)  and Takeuchi ryû (竹内流), these open handed fighting  systems in combination with the use of various weapons  first began during the Muromachi period. Nonetheless, we must emphasize the fact, the body movement in the art  of kenjutsu, sôjutsu, etc., in the writings about renowned masters such as Kamiiizumi from shinkage-ryû, and Tsukahara Bokuden from shintô-ryû, had developed a profound and subtle art of displacement and of handling any and all weapons as it can be observed in the last technique of the Mutô-dori (無刀捕り).

On of the most astonishing example, that is found in the Shuki (手記) and containing all the stories related to the Kamiizumi.  Kamiizumi was disguised as a monk in order to save a child held hostage by a maniac armed with a short sword.   This document reveals how, by getting the maniac’s trust, the person is able to disarm him within a split second.

How could this person renowned all over Japan as a sword master have disarmed the maniac? The art of holding and using a sword requires suppleness, strength, softness, flexibility of the arms, forearms, wrists, fingers, etc hence, of the entire body in the same way as holding a brush for calligraphy.  Thus, it is not excluded to affirm that Kamiizumi was a master of his own body and new how to disarm any kind of enemy because he mastered the art of moving with suppleness and to glide like water in his displacements.  This ability is a sine qua non condition to moving in the art of kenjutsu and other weapons.

The different terminology:

The word jûjutsu means the use of suppleness and not the « supple technique », therefore in order to use suppleness one must have a supple and flexible body and to know how to use such supple body because the utilization of the body is the key to all forms of jujutsu. Here are the various appellations according to the different school that use jûjutsu.

In the Sekiguchi-ryû (関口流), Araki-ryû (荒木流), Seigô-ryû (制剛流) schools, the jûjutsu techniques are named as follows : Hade(羽手), Hakuda(白打), jûjutsu(柔術), Kenpô(拳法), Torite(捕手).

For Takeuchi-ryû and Yagyu Shigan-ryû (柳生心眼流) : Koppô(骨法), Gôhô (強法), Kogusoku(小具足), yawara-jutsu(和術), Koshi no mawari(腰之廻), Yoroi kumiuchi(鎧組打).

For Tenshin Shôden Katori shintô-ryû (天真正伝香取神道流), Tatsumi-ryû (立身流) and Shoshô-ryû (諸賞流) : Kumiuchi(組打), Shubaku(手縛), Tôde(唐手), Torite(捕手ou取手, les deux graphies existent), wa-jutsu(和術), yawara-jutsu(和術), Kowami(剛身).

These various appellations were used throughout the different historical periods, geographical regions and successors. Each one of these appellations refers to slightly different technical characteristics were the entire body or a part of the body is used.

Blows, percussions, dodge, absorption, use of the center…

Among all these different schools of jujutsu, we find three currents that use different body movement techniques. The first uses jointly the techniques of blows and percussions with those of articular, blood controls and of tendons, using a very broad palette of kyûsho, sensitive and vital points of the body.

The second current uses little blows and percussions but they remain present.

Finally the last current does not use or almost blows and percussions. However, it is necessary to add that one of ultimate state of this practice is to be able to not use said blows and percussions, also called atemi. In effect, the purpose is to acquire the most judicious use of the body in its entirety (central control of the line, seichûsen, a subtle displacement, absorption and joint dodge in the different angles of exit and in the timing of dodge.

All this allows not using atemi. The schools, which use the terms of hakuda, shubaku, kenpô, often use atemi.  This reveals that these techniques of battle were subjected to an influence of different open-hand fighting techniques from China. Without limiting itself to Chinese influence, these techniques of percussions were used when warriors wore armor, because it was essential to be able to apply torsions, projections and different controls. It shows that it was not about a form of violent percussions as there is always had, but rather an art of striking which allows not to hurt itself against the armor and to touch the sensitive parts of the body.

Besides, we cannot classify all schools of jûjutsu in systems where there is 50 % of techniques of projections, torsions, immobilizations and controls, and 50 % of blows and percussions. What the great majority of densho, makimono, shuki, etc, reveal is that all types of jûjutsu is fundamentally an art the central axis of which domiciles in the use of the body in its entirety through subtle displacements which can be connected to the use of different weapon. The use of blows and percussions is individually developed within every schools, some people make a balanced use, others less balanced, or even occasional or at all.

It does not mean that blows and percussions are not efficient, but it reveals that the use of the suppleness of the body, the positioning of the body, displacements and dodge, was pushed to the highest level of application. The other reason for which atemi (blows and percussions) is of sometimes not so important is that most of the schools, which were born during the Edo period, for a great majority, favored the control of the attacker rather than his destruction.

In effect, during this period rather than to kill the enemy, it was necessary to control it in order to stop him from using his weapon or to draw it. We find this principle of control in the  katas Kime no kata, nikikata and kiri oroshi of the school tenshin shinyô ryû of which we can also find some traces in modern jûdô..

However, when there are blows with the feet such as mawashigeri, yoko geri  or even oi tsuki, gyuka tsuki, uraken, jôdan uke, etc, such as they can be observed in different karate schools, or when we see circular movements inspired from boxing and other styles, we can be completely certain that is not traditional Japanese jûjutsu. Karate was introduced in Japan in the twenties by Gishin Funakoshi (1868-1957), and therefore several years after the birth of the most jujutsu schools or schools that use jûjutsu.

Jûjutsu: a multidisciplinary art.

For a lot of martial art practitioners in the world, jûjutsu, as well as similar arts, is only a short distance fighting system, used to free oneself from an enemy or to control an opponent opened-handed; sort of wrestling without weapons.  Or else, it is about open-handed ” flexible techniques “.   As we’ve demonstrated throughout our explanation, jûjutsu is the fundamental of a set of fighting techniques using different weapon. It includes various techniques of blow and percussions, blockages, parades, dodges, torsions, locks, strangulations and immobilizations, as well as a break falling, and even techniques to neutralize an attack before it is completed, etc

However, the most important remains the profound understanding, which allows erasing the transfer of the weight of the body by the control of body-weight shift. This method known under the name of musoku no hô (無足之法), suri ashi (摺足), yoko aruki (横歩), ninsoku (忍足), etc, is at the basis for the use of all weapons and obviously one of the secrets of Mutô dori or shinken shirahadome (真剣白刃留).

According to another point of view, based on the nomenclature of the classical Japanese Ryuha techniques, jujutsu is composed of techniques using short weapons, referred to as minor weapons, such as the jutte, the tantô, kakushi buki (hidden weapon), the kusari fundô (ballasted chain), the tetsuken (steel fist), the bankoku choki (glove in the form of ax), etc, against adversaries armed or not.

The term Jûjutsu is also used to refer to tactics or an inherent movement in the use of major weapon such as ken or tachi (swords of different length), the yari, the naginata, the bô and the jô. These fighting techniques were preponderant in the different ryûhas which were developed in order to be used in the battlefield. Here again we distinguish the kaichû bujutsu or yoroi kumiuchi (battle in armor with or without weapon) of the Kamakura, Muromachi and sengoku periods, and the suhada bujutsu (fighting techniques developed to be used with normal daily clothing) developed during the Edo period.

The Edo period, with the institution of peace, the freedom of movement allowed by the clothes, the ban on duels and to fight to deaths, brought a new dimension to jûjutsu and numerous schools such as Tenshin shinyô-ryû, Kitô-ryû, Yôshin-ryû, etc, abounded and developed a form of jûjutsu more appropriate to the epoch of time and to the morals of the Edo period.

On the other hand, several manuscripts offer two different perspectives.  The first argues that jûjutsu is primarily a fighting technique created in countryside by low ranked warriors. High ranked warriors would not dare to use their hands to fight. The second theorie explains that jûjutsu was transmitted as a secret technique among high ranked warriors as a survival skill or to control and disarm an adversary within a castle or else not to dirty the blade of their sword.

The jûjutsu of the Edo period.

Jûjutsu is a set of fighting techniques extensible, including the use of different weapons in order to face different battle situations. This fighting method has been secretly transmitted to a single person within a warrior elite. Before the Edo period (1603-1867), the jujutsu schools were not very numerous, and the practitioners occupied either an instructor position in a fief, or remained free from any responsibility.  The spread of jûjutsu was very restricted, unknown of the general public.

However, during the Edo period, with the new relatively peaceful society, the creation of new schools, the spread of knowledge, the teaching to different social classes not belonging to the warrior class, will give a new form in the jûjutsu.

During this period, although the practice of the jûjutsu was very widely spread, it had not the same prestige as had sword fighting skills or the spear. For several warriors jûjutsu was generally considered an occupation of low ranked warriors, often of « rural warriors », and members of the police to which it was useful in the exercise of their function.

For high ranked warriors, a fight rested by definition rested upon the use of weapons, the most noble of all being the sword. Most of the warrior society considered open hand fighting as a vulgar form of battle and warriors of the fief of Asano in Mihara in the province of Bingo often said this:

« Only by seeing jujutsu our eyes are spoiled ».

Nevertheless, jûjutsu was not considered as such by the entire warrior class.Many high level masters had great respect for this art.  In effect, certain classical schools which continued during the Edo period, such as Takeuchi-ryû (竹内流), Hokki-ryû (伯耆流), Shoshô-ryû (諸賞流) were very respected by the warrior elite. Kitô-ryû (起倒流) was a school founded at the beginning of the 17th century by Ibaragi Toshifusa.

This last, taught the shôgun Iemitsu Tokugawa (1604-1651) as master of weapon all at once with the very famous Yagyû Munenori du Yagyû Shinkage-ryû (柳生新影流) of whom the masters were going to be in the service of shôgun till the end of the bakufu. Both men, Yagyû Munenori and Ibaragi Toshifusa, had as mentor the monk Zen Takuan, and this last played a preponderant role undoubtedly in the choice of the name of the school Kitô, literally ki (起), « to get up, to produce », and tô (倒), « to fall, to overturn ».

The Edo period is going to be the instant at which classical jûjutsu will slowly loose its place in favor of various fighting forms where survival, adaptation to all situations and the use of various weapon are rare. The multiplication of schools, dôjô, places of practices, the education of the masses to the detriment of secret transmission, is going to amputate the jûjutsu of its technical essence based on non-technical limitation and the use of weapon.

But the transmission of classical jûjutsu always existed in parallel with, certainly, a very reduced number of disciples since the purpose searched by the masters of these schools, was not quantity but quality.

2) The Meiji period: the forgotten classical jûjutsu.

With the abrogation of social classes and therefore the disappearance of the warrior class and the ban on the carrying of a sword, as dictated by the haitô-rei (廃刀令), issued in 1876, the practice of the fighting arts, jûjutsu included, which had served the government in order to strengthen the independent feeling of warrior class to maintain the feudal society, seemed to have lost it reason to exist. Thus most the authors assumed as a fact that most fighting arts, including jûjutsu, were forgotten during Meiji period (1868-1912). It is necessary to specify that although most schools or styles were forgotten by the public their transmission was perpetuated in parallel during the social, political and technical transformations which occurred during the Meiji period.

Even if certain schools of jûjutsu were still active during this period, neither the intellectuals nor the bourgeoisie paid it any interest. After the intense request for fighting techniques during the disturbances of the end of the Edo period, the Meiji period was for many teachers very tragic. Fukuda Hachinosuke, master of shinyô-ryû Tenshi (天神真楊流), and Iikubo Tsunetoshi, master of Kitô-ryû (起倒流), had taught both at the Kôbusho (講武所), training centre in fighting arts created by the bakufu of Tokugawa in 1855 in response to the threat created by the arrival of foreign ships near the Japanese coasts.

During this epoch, when Kanô Jigorô became their disciple; they were renowned masters but were not able to live entirely from their practice of jûjutsu. Fukuda had a dôjô of eight tatamis, filled with different objects, used also as a waiting room of the room where he practiced as bonesetter, as did several jujutsu experts of the time. In turn, Iikubo Tsunetoshi worked as a post office employee. These men did not have the will or the ability to adapt to the new epoch. Therefore, various masters of classical schools died without leaving a successor.  For example, Kitô-ryû and Tenshin shinyô-ryû do not have official representative anymore today.

In spite of the complete contempt shown by a great majority of the Japanese society during the Meiji periof, certain martial arts masters were able to have very interesting positions. For example, in 1928, in an article of Tôkyô nichinichi shinbun (東京日日新聞社会部編), Kanô will only mention the name of Yamaoka Tesshû (1836-1888) as a personality having had serious interest in martial arts during the same period as him. Reference is here prestigious, Yamaoka Tesshû, politician, fine calligrapher and a man versed in weaponry, having been initiated since his early youth into the art of kenjutsu and miscellaneous classical bujutsu, had founded his own school, Ittô Shôden mutô-ryû (一刀正伝無刀流), which is very influenced by the practice of Zen. He worked for the Meiji government and was initially in charge of the promotion of Shizuoka, where he, among other thinfs, worked on the development of tea production. Yamaoka Tesshû was finally named chamberlain of the emperor.

It is in this social context, where all knowledge and the warrior culture was disregarded to the advantage of any western techniques and industrial innovations, that Kanô Jigorô (1860-1938) developed a new model of action referring to notion of dô (道) and elaborated from the warrior culture. This new model of action correctly combined knowledge of Western Philosophy with the model of action of the warriors. It was the birth of Jûdô « 柔道: the way of suppleness ».

3) Kanô Jigorô, ingenuous modernizer

Born in 1860, Kanô Jigorô was not simply the brilliant founder of the jûdô, he held concurrently different positions of high responsibilities in prestigious schools and universities. An outline of his career shows a brilliant success as teacher and a burning desire to make the world acknowledge Japan.

First of all professor of politics and economy at Gakushûin (学修院), very famous establishment, recruiting his pupils in the upper class, assistant manager of the same school 4 years later, manager of the high school of the ancient regime of Kumamoto (the actual national university of Kumamoto), 33-year-old manager of the high school of Tôkyô (actual faculty of the liberal arts of Tôkyô) and three months later of the college of higher education of Tôkyô (actual university of Tsukuba), several times counselor to the Ministry of Education, he was the first Asian to become member of the Olympic Committee in 1909, and the leader of the first Japanese deputation at the Olympic Games of Stockholm in 1912.

The athletes whom accompanied him did not practice jûdô, but they were specialists at running. Making numerous trips abroad at the request of the ministry of education in order to investigate the different education systems, to spread judo throughout the world, and to remain in touch with the Olympic movement, he died at sea in 1938, at the age of 78. A life spent at studying and promoting jûdô across the world.

All authors agree that Kanô Jigorô’s first motivation to practice of Jûjutsu was originally very simple origin and entirely personal: jûjutsu had the reputation to allow to overcome an adversary stronger than one, and Kanô, of small size and of weak constitution surely suffered from an inferiority complex.

It will have been necessary to wait for a long time and its only after numerous researches that Kanô had the opportunity to meet a jujutsu master, the later had become very rare. He met Fukuda Hachinosuke in 1877, sôke of Tenshin shinyô-ryû, date when he entered university. Fukuda Hachinosuke had followed the education of the same school conducted by Iso Masatomo when he died in 1879. The later died two years later and Kanô turned to another school, Kitô-ryû, of which the master was Iikubo Tsunetoshi.

So, having only studied the jûjutsu of two traditional schools of the Edo period, Tenshin shinyô-ryû (天神真楊流) and Kitô-ryû (起倒流), as well as various western body conditioning methods, Kanô concluded that jujutsu was the most efficient and most balanced of all.

Concentrating in most cases on the instructive aspect and gymnastics of jûjutsu, he withdrew the parties which he considered dangerous and founded in 1882 his private school, the Kôdôkan (講道館: residence where the way is taught) where he developed jûdô, a discipline based on physical practice and morals for the modern world. Jûdô rapidly became very popular.

The characteristic of Kanô in the landscape of the end of the 19th century or the beginning of the 20th century is that he did not satisfy his interest for education by dedicating himself to an activity that is mainly intellectual but rather through a physical commitment, by training, and by a physical discipline. It is through physical training, the practice of the jûdô, that he aimed at promoting a spiritual training.

However, throughout his life, Kanô always tried to promote the Kôdôkan jûdô as a physical method of training derived from the “modernization” of the jûjutsu, in order to avoid that anybody makes the mistake of considering jûdô as a fighting or warrior art destined for use in wars like classical bujutsu. After Kanô’s death, the military slowly took over judo and incorporated it in military training which lead to interpretation that it was a true bujutsu, which  it is not.

On the other hand, the publication of Sugata Sanshirô (known in France through Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of “the legend of the great judo”) by Tomita Tsuneo in 1942 and the tremendous popularity, which followed, is certainly at the origin of the confusion which led a great part of today’s practitioners to consider the jûdô to be fighting art.

According to Kano, « judo is not a simple martial art, it is a great way (do) principle of which applies to everything. ». The way aims at « the optimal use of vital energy to achieve perfection and therefore success, for oneself as well as for others. ». The perfection that is contemplated arises through studies in which « one dedicates himself completely (…) by trusting in his own force, », leading to a “great future success” which will allow to become « a pillar of the State (…) capable of helping the country to evolve. ». Kano’s thoughts closely link the individual to the group, which in this case is the developing Japanese State. The concept of “way” (michi or do), which is fundamental for Kano, has its roots in taoïsme and Buddhism, and means the research of harmony between men and the universe. This idea that the human being can improve living in harmony with the universe through the practice of certain techniques is implicit in the martial arts of the end of the Edo period, but Kano is the first to formulate it in terms, which respect the modern Japanese society’ requirements. The sought-after harmony now conforms to the collective good, which is to say that of the new State.

During the same period that judo was created, another form derived from jûdô, Kôsen-jûdô, which is the abbreviation of Kôtô Senmon jûdô (高等専門柔道), created in Kyotô within Nihon butokukai (日本武徳会), institution founded in 1895, developed. Kôsen-jûdô is different from jûdô in a very important way: everything concentrates on Ne-Waza (寝技), ground-fighting submission techniques.  The challenge is not limited in time, there are no weight categories and the fights usually take place on the ground. The first competition of Kôsen-jûdô took place in 1926 in Kansai. Kôsen-jûdô, for its founders, was materialization of the concept so dear to Kanô, Seiryoku zenyô (精力善用).

For the Butokukai’s members of high rank, Kôsen-jûdô was pure and splendid judo, and to them the beauty and the rationality of its movements honored Kanô’s judô. There was no use of physical strength, they use suppleness only and a judicious system of lever, on which rests the functioning of the bones of the body to free or to apply the different techniques of strangulations, muscular and bony controls.

Ground techniques, as opposed to Kôdôkan jûdô, were pushed to their paroxysms and they were fully applied.  A great number of strangulations, dislocations of ankles, wrists, etc, which were not used in Kôdôkan-jûdô, were used and studied during Kôsen-jûdô classes and tournaments gave the opportunity to apply them to different types of opponents.

With the introduction of Okinawa tôte (沖縄唐手), which will become Karate-dô (空手道), by Funakoshi Gishin (1870-1957), the creation of Ueshiba-ryû (植芝流) which will become Aikidô (合気道), Kendô and all disciplines in dô disciplines which are going to follow, classical fighting art and jûjutsu are slowly going to become part of a clandestine world …

Kanô helped Funakoshi and Ueshiba to establish and promote their discipline. The first demonstration of Karate in Tôkyô was performed by Funakoshi and took place  at the  Kôdôkan following an invitation of Kanô. Funakoshi had a very deep respect for Kanô. The best black belts of Kanô were sent to study these new martial arts. Most of them, such as Tomiki, Sugino, Mochizoku, etc, even stopped the practice of Jûdô in order to dedicate themselves to their new discipline.

All the disciplines created during this period borrowed the Kôdôkan ranking system.  Kanô’s contribution during this period is invaluable and many people forgot it.

Kanô’s work as well as his vision of jûdô is still not well knows to the western world and even Japan were the knowledge about the man and his vision of jûdô during his personal evolution remains very fragmentary not to say non-existent. Apart from the erudition work about Kanô accomplishments undertaken by Yves Cadot and based on original texts written by Kanô himself, one find nothing very concrete about Kanô’s vision and his judo in the literature.

But what happened with classical jûjutsu, that which is transmitted to a single heir? What happened to this fighting art, which includes weapons, strikes and percussions?

Let us specify certain key points of importance. First of all, Kanô did not study jûjutsu for a long time, even if he was gifted with a not very common intelligence among the practionners of his period. He was well aware of the vast science which jujutsu offered and, but he had not been able to meet the first level of classical jûjutsu masters.

Although Kanô study a significant number of manuscripts, his practice of jûjutsu was restricted only to Kitô-ryû and Tenshin shinyô-ryû. These two schools were founded during the Edo period and therefore the move the body as well as the use of weapons had already been diluted or were not transmitted because of the incapacity to find a valid successor. Therefore we are not talking about jûjutsu that allows to deal with various situations, weapons, etc, as the one of the following classical schools: Takeuchi-ryû (竹内流), Hokki-ryû (伯耆流), Shoshô-ryû (諸賞流), Asayama Ichiden-ryû (浅山一伝流), Yagyû shingan-ryû (柳生心眼流), etc.

Also let us note that Kanô did not receive the complete transmission of the jujutsu schools he studied. His deep respect for classical styles made him send some of his own students to study other classical schools such as, among others, Tenshin shôden katori shintô-ryû (天神正伝香取神道流) which is one of the first branch of kenjutsu and jûjutsu of Japan.

Consequently, if a great visionary with extraordinary teaching skills  such as Kanô, creator of the incomparable jûdô, had little or incomplete practical knowledge classical jûjutsu, what about his pupils and other Japanese practitioners and non-practitioners of this period?

Most Kôdôkan judo practitioners, as today’s practitioners, knew almost nothing about classical jujutsu.  For the great majority of them, Kôdôkan jûdô was the most efficient jûjutsu, since most of them had seen true jûjutsu. The study of classical schools was not done in public. Obviously, there were exceptions, for example masters such as Toku Sanbô, Kyôzô Mifune, etc, had had the chance to meet classical jujutsu masters, which were really not ordinary.

Also let us underline the fact that the rapid development of Kôsen-jûdô, techniques of which were issued from the technical heritage of jûdô, led several Kôdôkan judo practitioners to reconsider the importance of the use ground fighting techniques. Let us specify that this type of techniques is interesting on a tatami or a similar surface, but in a real fight, in the street or on a battlefield, it is totally different: you do not go on the ground because there are several opponents,  and the ground is not of the tatami, etc.

So, if the knowledge of jûjutsu from a Japanese standpoint, as well as within Kôdôkan, was incomplete, what can we say about the other countries?

In the middle of the 19th century, numerous Japanese immigrated to Brazil. Since the immigration stream to the USA, Hawaii and New Zealand were now closed, Brazil appeared as the new El Dorado in order to escape lack of space and the militarism that was taking over the Japanese archipelago. Several families went to Brazil in to cultivate tobacco and rice.

4) The origin of the Brazilian jujutsu: Kôsen-Jûdô

Everybody is very familiar with Gracie from Gracie jiujutsu.  A lot of people believe that this family practices classical Japanese jûjutsu, but in fact, when one studies the history and and techniques of this worldwide know style, the truth reveals quite another reality. Gracie Jiujutsu is simply Brazilian jiujutsu for most Brazilians, but in this large and outstandingly beautiful country, cradle of renowned fighters, historical and technical knowledge of classical jûjutsu is vague and has a halo of several phantasmagoric histories.  The same goes for in the numerous Japanese community that has lived in Brazil for generations.

Through a profound analysis of the fighting techniques of Gracie jujutsu and their application during various battles, it is apparent that they are principally centered on ground fighting. The Ne- waza used are similar to those of Kôsen-Jûdô. In fact and first of all, Brazilian jiujitsu has no historical links to Japanese classical jûjutsu, which was created to survive on the battlefield and deal with attackers armed with different weapon.

The striking techniques of Gracie jujutsu are very limited and are developed according to the different submission techniques. Besides, when studying the or the several guards used by the members of the Rickson or Royce family, etc, we observe that there guards are always similar and very close to that used in boxing. The science ofstrikes and percussions is very poor, which is not the case in classical jûjutsu. The great Brazilian championships are proof of the foregoing, since all striking is prohibited.  In classical jûjutsu, there are no competitions.

The use of weapons or application of open hand techniques using a weapon is non-existent in Brazilian jujutsu. As we have demonstrated in previous articles, classical jûjutsu is always used jointly with weapons of different sizes and shapes.

The conclusion is clear: as all other disciplines blending different fighting styles, Brazilian jiujutsu, as jûdô or Kôsen jûdô or other jujutsu styles created by the different federations, is not a fighting techniques made to survive during a street fight nor on a battlefield.

However, the effectiveness of their submissions techniques remains incredibly efficient in a tournament where rules are always present. In classical jujutsu there are not rules. Then, why is it called Brazilian “jujutsu”?

It is necessary us to take back up to a certain Maeda Kôsei, more knew under the name of Konde Koma or count Koma. Neither Sekai ôgyô jûdô musha shûgyô (世界横行柔道武者修行) and nor Sekai ôgyô dai nor shin jûdô musha shûgyô (世界横行第二新柔道武者修行) are two spacious works which bring back in the detail, facts and gestures, various big faces which worked at the spread of the jûdô after its foundation by Kanô.

In order to understand the origin of this appellation, we must go back to a man called Maeda Kôsei, or more famous under the name Konde Koma or Comte Koma. The Sekai ôgyô jûdô musha shûgyô (世界横行柔道武者修行) and the Sekai ôgyô dai ni shin jûdô musha shûgyô (世界横行第二新柔道武者修行) are two large volumes that explain in detail the ways and gestures of the various important figures that contributed to the propagation of jûdô after is was founded by Kanô.

According to these two sources, Maeda was a high level practitioner of jûdô which also had a thorough knowledge of Kôsen-jûdô as most high level jûdôka of the Kôdôkan. Of course, his knowledge of classical jûjutsu was very poor, and for him, as for most people who  frequently trained at the Kôdôkan, jûdô was the best open hand fighting method. Maeda had been sent to the United States with a deputation in order to introduce jûdô, however his understanding of fighting arts exceeded greatly the techniques that respect the frame of rules which govern Kôdôkan-jûdô. During a demonstration where Maeda had to show the superiority of jûdô on a stronger adversary than him, he used submission techniques and strikes that are forbidden by the Kôdôkan rules.

During his life, Kanô had forbidden his students from participating in fights against other schools. Kôdôkan taught morality and high bodily keeping, it was always necessary to be polite, useful for society and to avoid any actions, which could negatively affect the reputation of the school, the master and one’s self. Once a person was accepted in the Kôdôkan, there was a moral contract of profound meaning, which was passed between the future student and the Kôdôkan. To act in contradiction to this contract was to go against every precept of Kanô and of Jûdô.

This ban from fights already existed in the old bujutsu and classical jûjutsu schools because if a student lost a battle against a person of another school, the adversary would have been able to learn the fighting style and techniques used by the loser.  A famous example is when the renowned Saigô Shirô was expelled from the Kôdôkan after having taken part into a fight.

After this battle, Saigô Shirô, also known as Maeda, could not remain in the Kôdôkan, since he had been deprived of the financial allocation that the Kôdôkan provided.  To earn a living he began to participate in fights and met professional wrestlers, boxers and any type of combatants able of striking, grabbing and of controlling, of bringing to the ground, etc. He rapidly got involved in a form a free fights, which were very easy to organize and very popular in the United States. Although his journey will ultimately bring him to Brazil, he will have time to test his fighting techniques in the preceding years. He wrote the following regarding these battles or free fights:

« In a battle between two judo practitioners the first fundamental rule resides in the obligation to wear a keikô-gi (clothes made specifically for the practice of the jûdô). This fundamental rule of wearing a keikô-gi sets the exit of the battle easily. Let us add that in jûdô the techniques of striking with the feet or fists are not used. This shows that the practice of judo works only in a well regulated predetermined environment which restricts the individuals and do not allow them to be confronted with other styles. »

This revealing text shows the future orientation of Maeda and obviously his lack of knowledge of the classical jûjutsu. He understands that the Keiko-gi is an obstacle, because in a fight against a person who does not wear it, or his dressed in a T-shirt, or is bare torso, the different jûdô techniques are difficult to apply. From this analysis, we can see that his knowledge of atemi remains limited to strikes with the fist and foot, and that the use of fingers and weapons is foreign to him, although we must grant him the benefit of the doubt since he does not discuss them.

Maeda goes even farther:

« When I fight against a foreign wrestler, even if I grab him by the sleeve, there is certainly no reason to believe that he will loose the battle, but the battle is not either won beforehand. It is very difficult to achieve a projection with the type of clothes, which they carry, and on top of that, they get up again right away or roll to amortize their fall. I can neither use their sleeve to strangle them or to wrap the arm or the wrist of the adversary. It is really difficult to fight while respecting the rules of the jûdô. »

The experience acquired in his various battles against boxers, leads Maeda to consider the necessity for every jûdô practionner to learn the different strikes with the fist and foot and to learn to avoid them:

« Very early, I understood that it was necessary that I practice kicks and punches. After 3 – 4 years of practicing these strikes, the necessity to develop different types of gloves and instruments for practice became quite obvious. So, I have created a type of glove of a sufficiently thick to allow me to practice striking. However, with this type of glove it is difficult to grab the partner or to apply on him a wrist lock… I think that it is necessary for every judo practitioner to think profoundly on this subject. »

Maeda’s numerous battles are going to make him understand the importance of ground techniques. Everything fighter that he met had, wrestler and even boxers, a common weakness: ground control techniques. In this area of expertise, the techniques of Kôsen-jûdô are those who present most similarities with Gracie Jiujutsu. Maeda understood right away that battles would be won right away if he succeeded in putting to the ground and immobilizing his adversary on the ground.

It is important to note the battles in which Maeda participated did not put the life of the fighters at risk.  They were similar to fights that can be seen in Pride, Free Fight or UFC, with and audience of curious and gamblers. The one who wins the fight and stays on the fighting surface earns the money. There were rules, this unquestionable, although the later were reduced to strict minimum. In the end, there were rules, which is something that does not exist in the classical jûjutsu.

The remaining of his life is very simple: rich of his experience in battles he established himself in Brazil and shares his huge knowledge with the members of the Gracie family. However, neither the Gracie nor the average Japanese or Maeda himself can tell the difference between classical Jûjutsu  and judo or kôsen-jûdô. Besides, Maeda’s knowledge of Portuguese was very precarious, and the Gracie family’s Japanese must have been reduced to basic forms of politeness such as “Arigatô”, “Kon nichi hectare”, “Sayonara”. Therefore confusion and ignorance, already in existence in Japan cradle of the Kôdokan elite, if elite there was apart from Kanô himself, was passed on to the Gracie family and in all of Brazil.

We do not either want to reduce the relation with Maeda to a simple transmission of errors.  If Hélio Gracie succeeded in finding the concept of leverage in a ground fight based on the use of suppleness, it is because Maeda did a great job as a teacher. To do this, Maeda had attended the best school of the world, the Kôdôkan, and a master in this art, Kanô himself. So, in light of these facts, we can easily conclude that kosen-judo, based only on ground fighting, was the foundation of the technical arsenal that we find Gracie jujutsu.  This arsenal comes from the technical heritage of the judo, since it rests on the concepts introduced by Kanô in order to explain and show his jûdô.

5) Deserve and demerits today …

The first UFC, Pride, etc, are going to show the importance for a fighter to be versatile. Therefore, a great number of fighter are going to study not only Gracie jiujutsu, but also Sanbo, Shoot, and others are even going to rediscover the jûdô, etc. This will create a world trend, which in turn is going to trigger profound debates: which art or system is the strongest? Ground fighting?  Sticking arts? etc.

A large number of new disciplines are going to be born, pancrace, cross pancrace, contact, Pitt fighting, systema, MMA, free conflict, wrestling, kempo fighting, etc But the common point between all these new disciplines is the same.  The system is always about techniques to bring the opponent to the ground and apply a joint lock or control, which we can find judo or Kôsen-jûdô. Even though several organizations or federations pretend to defend and preserve genuine Japanese jujutsu under the cover […] it is not the case.  Here also we are dealing with a mixture of sticking techniques from karate and other techniques from jûdô, aikidô, etc,  Such systems are generally created by retired jûdôka whose knowledge of classical jûjutsu remains very fragmentary and based only on preconceived ides and not on a real practice or transmission of a classical school. Strickes such as mawashi geri, yoko geri, etc simply do not exists in classical jujutsu. Let us add that karate was imported to Japan in 1920, and that jûjutsu exists in the Japan since at least 1400. This historical difference does not need any further comments.

The practitioners of MMA and several other disciplines newly created because of a lack of knowledge are athletes whom we must respect. Why? Because their practice demands privation, a discipline of iron, an uncommon will and endurance, which do not always, pay. Most of them never become stars of free fights in Japan or in USA. Many of them have never had the chance to get proper education, yet the practice and discipline of their practice allows them to find self-esteem. The same respect should help them realize through an improved rationality that the career MMamp;A fights is short and that the wounds are often serious and dangerous and can compromise one’s future.  If the most practionners become teachers, without any skills or pedagogy, they cannot stand up any more to their young pupils who are  full of enthusiasm and in the physical force of age. The ideal of Glory is very often a dream, which becomes blurred after time as in any sports. The dream is not at the level of effort and the sacrifice provided.

The practice of MMamp;A also allows many realize the fact that several people who pretend to be masters of classical jûjutsu refuse to confront them using as an excuse tradition, philosophical differences, mastery etc.  MMamp;A practitioners must be versatile. Therefore, in a battle they must have an intuitive knowledge of striking distance, timing and of course, speed, breathing, suppleness and a technical and physical potential as well as tactics, etc. Like any fighter he prepared for the fight with his staff, which is often reduced to a single person. The fighter knows his body and therefore he knows how to engage into battle from different positions.

In classical Jûjutsu on the other hand, the great majority of pseudo-masters hide, since their techniques are supposedly lethal and based survival skills, therefore they do not give themselves the trouble of studying further their style or to test and take challenges against other styles.  Truly enough, classical jûjutsu has no rules, since it is about killing and survival skills but many hide behind this illusionary wall to conceal their ignorance and their fright of fights. As a consequence, they never fight and they have no experience of true fighter or people that are used to the ring.

In classical jujutsu the competition is internal, it is about a competition against one’s self and rare are those who win it. Because in this competition there is no teacher, no staff, no deadline, it is a battle that lasts without any knowledge of the final outcome. One of numerous purposes is to be able train for the longest possible period of time and be able to deal with any kind of assailant whatever one’s age since as time passes by the needs are greater and therefore the danger is proportionate.

Since its creation, classical jûjutsu was transmitted within an elite and to a single successor. To be able to receive the transmission of the knowledge of numerous generations, which sacrificed their life, who gave their blood in order to transmit the art through centuries, requires human qualities, physical and psychological that are beyond the ones found in the common practionners that we are.  It is therefore normal that the practitioner who can demonstrate the effectiveness of classical jûjutsu against any type of fighter whatever the style are quite rare.

The practice of both disciplines, Gracie or classical jujutsu, must allow one to remain open and to study the other arts without any veiled intentions. This is very difficult when one’s practice, whatever the style, the name or the rank is only based money, control, power, and the search for honor and recognition.  « Man can easily be corruptible, he can do it by himself » once said a holy man.

In general, the true one, whatever the style, respects all disciplines and their practitioners because he knows that stakes differ in every style and that they all require practice and patience. It is in fact the one that is most patient in a respectful way that is the flower among all practionners in any style.  He is the one who respects everybody and any practice without expecting anything in return, the one who studies with patience and perseverance without ever being caught in a trap of idealizing what he would like to be, because he knows deep inside that in reality: he is simply a man.