For close to 10 years I have been working on a book that I promised Hatsumi Sensei I would write. It is based on my 28 years experience in the Bujinkan Dojo, Kosen Judo, other Kukishin, Takagi Yoshin, and Shinden Fudo Ryu schools. It is also the first time I will publish my training/competition experiences with world champion Enson Inoue.
I plan to finish this book by the end of Summer 2012. I am still working on the technique section and taking lots of photos. It feels really great to be so close to finishing this project. I believe it will be the most comprehensive book out on Taijutsu so far. It is easily over 100 pages without photos already.
Below is a small excerpt from the book. Jeff Ochester of the Dayton Bujinkan Dojo was kind enough to sit with me for a few hours while we chatted about the Martial Arts. Please enjoy and keep an eye out for the book this summer!
The Study of the Momochi-den
JO – “You went to Japan for training, but while you were there you went to Sophia University. What was your education in beside Budo while you were there?”
SA – “My schooling was in Japanese History and Language as the major – it’s called Hikaku Bunka-Nihongo Gaka, which translates into English as “comparative culture”, but basically all of your credits are focused on Japanese history, and how that relates to world history, and then, of course, the Japanese language. I also minored in Japanese religions.”
JO – “In the United States, college usually is a four-year degree, is that the same in Japan?”
SA – “Yes, my major was a four-year degree. It’s a BA.”
JO – “Where did the Momochi-den history come into your studies? You’ve done two Momochi-Den Taijutsu seminars for our dojo, and quite a few at other dojos – what made you study this?”
SA – “I started that concept in 1995, the year that I was graduating from Sophia University. I was writing a lot of papers on Japanese history and was doing a lot of my thesis papers on how martial arts evolved in Japan. Not only because of war and armor, although these were a major influence, as time went on religious concepts changed. And because of this, there was a religious influence [in martial arts] as well. Most of the wars were heavily influenced by different strains of Buddhism.
In the late 1500’s Oda Nobunaga went into the Iga area, and basically, razed it – burnt it to the ground and killed everybody. Those who survived fled. The Momochi-den, being one of them, were the Soke of this bugei.
The Koto Ryu, the Gyokko Ryu, the Togakure Ryu, the Kumogakure Ryu, the Gikan Ryu. we say these names now, but in those days there was no such thing. Everything was basically called Gyokko Ryu Karate Koppojutsu, or Gyokko Hicho Karate Koppojutsu. There were all kinds of names for it – Shitojutsu is another – Koshijutsu too. Today we usually understand that “There is the Gyokko Ryu, there is the Kihon Happo, the Shoden, the Chuden, the Okuden, the Sho Ryaku, Chu Ryaku, Ge Ryaku, etc. but these are not very old. Sensei has said that the Kata is probably no more than 100 years old. The themes though… are very old – the theme “Koku” (translated as “empty space”, or “unlimited sky”) for instance, it is a very old concept in our tradition, but the movement that we associate with it today, according to Hatsumi Sensei, was probably put together by Takamatsu Sensei or Toda Sensei (Takamatsu’s grandfather). As a matter of fact, Hatsumi Sensei has said that the Kihon Happo of the Bujinkan was put together by Toda Sensei.
In ancient times, because this was a word of mouth tradition, it wasn’t like “okay, here is a form”, it was more like your father would say, “punch at me” and you learned from that. You fought, and you would learn positions, timing, and movement, without making a big deal out of it and labeling it with names. There was no real idea of “kata” in the kuden (verbal or oral traditions) arts. In koryu arts, there was always this formality, but that really comes from the influence of Zen in those arts. Traditionally, in Ninpo, there are no forms.”
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