-by Akira Hino, Hino Budo Institute
-translated by Garth Lynch
Translation copyright 2001 by Garth Lynch



MEETING AGAIN WITH HATSUMI SOKE

Last year, upon being allowed to view Hatsumi-Soke's training, I came to firmly believe that parts of the essential qualities of the traditional Japanese martial arts which I had personally studied were not mistaken.
Moreover, with the numerous 'techniques' of Hatsumi-Soke, who is admired by fighters around the world, unfolding before my eyes, I was able to perceive anew the subtlety and difficulty of the traditional Japanese martial arts, and came away after all this time with the feeling of how difficult it is to universalize and systematize the 'techniques' of these arts. Most of the members of Hatsumi-Soke's dojo are from foreign countries.
yet they are endeavoring to catch the subtle movements of Hatsumi-Soke and the martial arts way of thinking which are a part of Japanese culture difficult even for Japanese--I was completely overwhelmed by their enthusiasm.
While listening to Hatsumi-Soke talk, I secretly wondered if he wouldn't perform some of his techniques on an outsider like me.
No matter from how nearby I saw the training, I couldn't actually feel and understand how he internalized such #1 important intrinsic human structural points as, when facing Soke "how did he appear," "when in contact with him, what was the 'kinesthetic feeling', how did my senses work or how were they made to work," "how did it affect my inner feelings," etc.
Unless one understands these important points, then no matter how much physical training one does, one will become an imitator [looking like the real thing but actually totally different], and after all will never depart from the stage of 'human wave warfare' which is a mere extension of children's quarreling.
That being the case, one will lose to someone who has surpassed physique and muscular strength, and fail to grow past the scheme of 'growing weak (declining) as one ages.
' One will turn the state of mastery that one should be aiming for into and impracticable, armchair theory.
In other words, if this is the case, then by experiencing Hatsumi-Soke's training, and working hard to get the actual feeling, one will be able to compose training with that [mastery] as a final objective.

TO GET THE ACTUAL FEELING FROM HATSUMI SOKE

For a long time, I watched for an opportunity, but excessive anxiety is bad for you, so I dared to give Hatsumi-Soke a telephone call.
Upon doing so, contrary to my expectation, he very simply agreed to give me the honor of meeting with him.
The reason I emphasize, "very simply" is that in Hatsumi-Soke's eyes I am not just a person researching martial arts, but actually come searching for the secrets of the techniques for which he had given his passion and received and inherited from Takamatsu-sensei.
In other words, to put it in old-fashioned terms, I am something of a spy come to steal his techniques.
The fact that despite all of that, he beckoned me inside [his circle] without any hesitation, illuminates the greatness of Hatsumi-Soke's generosity and his magnanimity.
At first, he showed me the video of the seminar he had given in Africa with men of combat from around the world.
Seeing how the ways of using the knife and pistol from these various countries so different from country to country; to say more, seeing the ethnic differences in the methods for killing, I was instantly petrified by the reality of the world in which Hatsumi-Soke was involved, and at the reality of the martial arts themselves.
While it's unkind to the men of combat whom the Grandmaster was training with, I couldn't help but laugh at Hatsumi-Soke's techniques with which he neatly dispensed with them as if they were puppets, whether with knife or pistol.
Also, I would even smile at the fighters on the video whose bodies were folded, who themselves didn't understand how they had been folded.
To be rude to Hatsumi-Soke, one wonders if he hasn't overstated his age when he says that he is 70 years old.
Of course because about half of those years have been spent going to foreign countries and spreading the gospel of the splendor of traditional Japanese martial arts, it is not ordinary youthfulness, but rather his life is offered as proof of truly "growing strong with age."

THE TEACHING OF "TO STAY IN ONE PLACE IS DEATH; TO NOT STAY IS LIFE"

While Hatsumi, in the video, was lecturing that "the thumb is very important," I asked, "what does that mean?" Soke said, "stick out your hand," and the instant he took my hand, a sharp pain ran through my right thumb and without thinking, I yelled out.
At that, Hatsumi laughed, "Mr. Hino, pain is proof that you're alive . . . in martial arts, if you show a weakness your opponent will attack you by taking advantage of that.
" In the same vein, to cause pain is merely for show (a claptrap) and not the essential quality of the martial arts--because the main point is to somehow kill the opponent.
Then, seemingly amused, he took another part of my arm, saying, "If it's just pain we're talking about, there are places that hurt everywhere," and applied power to the spot.
It was a more terrible sharp pain that before, and it pierced throughout my body.
"Hatsumi-sensei, excuse my abrupt question, but when you became a student of your teacher Takamatsu-sensei, didn't you say 'ouch, that hurts' when you received Takamatsu-sensei's 'baptism'?" "Of course I screamed out, and Takamatsu-sensei scolded me, 'Mr. Hatsumi, when something hurts it's proof that you're alive. And never stop moving when you feel pain.
' He really was a kind instructor."
"I don't think the reader will understand the profundity of the words which Takamatsu-sensei told to Hatsumi-sensei, "Never stop moving when you feel pain.
" Hidden inside these words lies the wisdom which Takamatsu-sensei found his way to by going through real combat.
This is a concept of the techniques which the remaining masters throughout the history of the martial arts found their way to, that is the lesson of, "to worry about trifles is fatal.
" In martial arts terms, we say, "to stay in one place is death; to not stay is life," but in the part where Takamatsu-sensei put in his own words ("never stop moving when you feel pain" = "when immersed in pain, if there is any 'worrying about trifles' then immediately deal with something else; if when you yell out in pain there is any 'worrying about trifles' then do something) it is not an unrealistic armchair theory, but accumulated by combat.
In other words, while this goes without saying, it shows that he is undoubtedly a true martial artist. And they are words that make apparent the whole extent of Hatsumi-Soke's (who inherited those words) state of living (without worrying about trifles).

EXPERIENCING HATSUMI'S MARTIAL ARTS FOR THE FIRST TIME

After we ate lunch I was introduced to the dojo.
Well, among these details, I suppose the reader must imagine, "what type are Hatsumi-Soke's techniques?" Perhaps you would think that, since they are of the quality to lead the world's men of combat around by the nose, then they must involve pain like karate or jujutsu, and control the opponent by capturing them in locks and so on.
Taken in by the chilling atmosphere of the dojo, I momentarily hesitated to set foot inside.
"Mr. Hino, please come in," the Grandmaster said, guiding me in. "Thank you," I said, bowing and entering the dojo.
"Mr. Hino, what would you like to do? Sword? Staff? What ever you like, any questions you have I will answer with my body, so please speak up."
"Well then how about sword to start with?"
"Yes, yes," the Grandmaster casually took two bokuto (wooden swords) and gave one to me.
"Come at me however you like, from wher ever you like."
"Yes, sir," I replied, and as soon as I adopted a posture pointed straight at his eyes (seigan), I attempted the quickest attack possible, a thrust to the neck.
In an instant, I unwittingly stopped my movement, as the Grandmaster's bokuto had been placed on the spine of my bokuto.
"What are you going to do?" Laughing, he had placed his body directly to the side of my posture.
He was in a place that put him, fro my perspective, endlessly far away, and from his perspective I was as close as could be.
I couldn't move at all--in an instant he had taken me by surprise.
Without a moment's delay, he had placed his bokuto at the nape of my neck and stepped on my foot.
I don't know which on I reacted to, but I reacted to one, and saying "ah!" my senses momentarily came to a halt.
In that moment, my only way out was to lose my balance backwards, with my immobilized foot as a fulcrum.
The Grandmaster, not allowing me to escape my unbalanced position, skillfully used his knee to place his body weight on me from above, and continuing, while I was writhing to escape from the pressure, he put his weight on my other foot.
This is the state of 'being folded.'
This is the process of being folded.
The sense of touch of the master who is active in traveling around the world--that sense of touch turned out to be "by soft contact without pain, taking the senses by surprise.
" He kindly trained with me in one more technique using bokuto, and about three empty-handed techniques.

THE REALIZATION OF THE PLANS FOR NEXT TIME

"How was it--was it a feeling [sense of touch] that you've come across before, Mr. Hino?"
"No, I haven't come across it before--most people more or less twist and take you down or lock you up with physical strength--this is really the first time I've felt a sense of touch like yours.
" After a while, the Grandmaster kindly said to me, "this is a Japanese martial art.
I think you understand, don't you?" "Yes," I replied, and then inside my head the previous events were going around like a video replay, and it didn't occur to me to speak any more words.
While I was soaking in that feeling, Hatsumi-Soke asked me, "By the way Mr. Hino, where did you learn those movements?" "They were all self-taught."
"That's marvelous, I myself follow in Takamatsu-sensei's shadow, but until now I've never played around with someone who receives my techniques the way you do.
It's like you were my shadow.
That's not flattery--this really was fun for me as well."
"Thank you very much.
" At the Grandmaster's words, along with firming my belief that at least the direction my research has taken is not mistaken, I was moved with the humanity of the Grandmaster, devoid of petty worries or calculations of advantages and disadvantages.
"Mr. Hino, to receive techniques (uke wo toru) is a very difficult thing--even Takamatsu-sensei often told me, 'Mr. Hatsumi, to receive techniques is to take a person in, to take in their whole being--in other words, if a person's capacity for generosity and courage are not great, they will not be able to do it.
' An uke who selfishly tries to escape is not an uke.
I can't explain it in words, but I think you understand, Mr. Hino."
"Yes, I understand . . . I know it's abrupt, but I have a request for you. Would you allow me to make public to the world the essential parts of your 'technique' which I have just had a taste of--in other words the 'secret teachings' (hiden) in the true meaning of the word?" "Ah, that's fine--if it's you who's doing it, I think there won't be any mistakes.
Please, go ahead." "Thank you very much.
I will get to work on it right away.
" Among such details, my plans for the next time were realized.
Really Hatsumi-Soke's 'technique' or 'art' (waza) admired by modern men of combat from around the world, is traditional Japanese martial art which can be boasted to the world, passed down unbroken from the warring states period, from the heir Takamatsu to Hatsumi-Soke.
However, no matter how many things I introduce as 'Hatsumi Bujutsu' (Hatsumi's martial arts), such as the actual use of the sword or staff, or footwork, those will only be parts of the martial arts, just developments and not the essential qualities.
In other words, no matter how many developments, like leaves and branches (techniques which are visible motions), that you arrange--because these unimportant details change infinitely based on circumstances--you will not arrive at the essence of Hatsumi Bujutsu.
Consequently, you cannot find, from within Hatsumi Bujutsu, "what is traditional Japanese martial art," nor can you carry on the tradition.
Thus each person cannot make those 'developments' his own. The most fundamental things, which we will here refer to as 'hiden' (secret teachings), are not the developments of Hatsumi Bujutsu, but the "reciprocal relationship between, the way of thinking and words which serve as a guide for feeling; and the concrete movements," of Hatsumi-Soke, who himself creates the aforementioned developments.
Because of that it is even more true that one can grow as a human being, like Hatsumi-Soke grows ever day, by learning those things and synchronizing them with ones everyday way of life.
In other words, they are life's 'secret teachings.
' One of those things is traditional culture, the traditional Japanese culture of martial arts which is admired by the world in the present through Hatsumi-Soke.

THE COMMON POINT OF THE DEEP SECRETS OF THE HISTORICAL MASTERS AND HATSUMI-SOKE IS IN THE 'BRUSH PRESSURE'

In the following days, the editorial staff prepared cameras and visited the Grandmaster's home.
"Mr. Hino, have you seen the scroll(s) of Shosaku Chiba?" At that it had suddenly become a treasure viewing.
"No, I haven't." "I have various scrolls and old texts, you know," he said, and made his student bring out a rather large trunk.
"This is it." It was a scroll called "Hokushin Ittory," laid out with many pictures of forms, and signed by someone at the end, "Shusaku Chiba.
" My eyes became glued to the pictures in the scroll.
At the time it was written, they didn't have today's printing technology, but fortunately someone left their 'gokui' (deep thoughts or secrets) in the form of a scroll written by hand.
To put it another way, the pictures themselves are not the deep secrets, the master(y) is the "brush pressure (hitsuatsu, the precise and varying pressure applied to an ink brush by a writer or artist)," the lines which the pictures indicate.
As a whole, they look as if they had been drawn by a micro-point drafting pen; the lines pulled uniformly by a fine brush, the lines in which you can't see a break or change in consciousness, the softness of the hand which allows the expression of such a height of delicacy, elbow control, posture, uninterrupted concentration, one can see in the whole picture a state in which one must draw skillfully without a bored thought, an exquisite balance with the blank areas of the paper.
Admiring those pictures, when I turned my eyes to the Grandmaster it was suddenly time to drink tea.
In the way he held the teacup, I saw a softness in his hand, an allocation of energy using no brute force against the teacup, the beautiful hand of a master.
The reader may be wondering why I am making such a big deal out of something like drinking tea, but one thing is equivalent to all things (ichiji ga manji, one thing equals ten thousand things).
In other words, it is the fact that all factors are contained within just one action, the "observing eyes - one thing equals all things" (kansatsugan - ichiji ga manji) which can detect things and is the most important weapon.
Human beings, in front of others for instance, when choosing words and actions carefully can do so properly in their own way, but being careful does not work with unintentional actions and words.
That is to say, unconscious actions and words come out.
Consequently, the fact that a human being's real elements can be seen in his unconscious actions, in martial arts terms it is 'kyo' (emptiness), a part of 'suki,' (openings).
To catch those [openings] , is connected with seeing through the opponent. Seeing from that point of view, at that time, I saw that Hatsumi-Soke (who is the real thing) had no strain in the way he casually held his teacup, and his hands and fingertips have no injuries.
In other words, I started to see that he was using an extremely rational application of physical strength, and that he didn't train himself by violently using all of his physical might.
To put it concretely, say the teacup weighs 300 grams.
He was unconsciously controlling his hand, fingertips, elbow, and shoulder to a level of strength to match the weight.
This delicate fingertip control is also an essential quality of Hatsumi-Soke's concrete 'techniques.' Without that delicacy, he wouldn't have been able to 'fold' the men of combat and I myself wouldn't have had the same feeling of being 'folded.' Overall, I would declare that the concrete physical control of the
Grandmaster's 'technique' is, "thinking not of being unpleasant to the opponent; balanced with the opponent's power."
I challenged Hatsumi-Soke with that opinion.
The Grandmaster said to me, "That's marvelous.
Leave it to you, Mr. Hino--no one else would have noticed that," so I was able to confirm that my way of thinking had not been mistaken.
Here I have arranged an introduction to Hatsumi-Soke's 'technique,' but next time, since I have received his permission, I would like to draw out the 'hiden' (secret teachings) from my experiences as his training partner, and to make them public.

-by Akira Hino, Hino Budo Institute
-translated by Garth Lynch
Translation copyright 2001 by Garth Lynch

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