Shiro Kuma's Blog

Arnaud Cousergue Bujinkan Dai Shihan

Inton Jutsu: Don’t Give What They Expect

Yesterday was my last class with Hatsumi sensei for this trip. 

After the class I had dinner with the CEO of Quest, and we spoke of sensei’s Budō. And that helped a lot because I must admit that I was a little lost after training. 

Hatsumi senseil didn’t reveal any nice philosophical concept to support my understanding (Sasae Nakusu?) 

On the contrary, he mainly taught at the technical level. Except that it was at his technical level, far beyond mine.

His movements are so subtle that it is impossible to get what he is doing. It resembled more to some magic trick, than to Budō moves.

I had the chance to attack sensei a few times. And whether it was with a sword or with a fist, I was unable to attack him properly, as if he was able to erase my intention and my ability to make a decision. That was weird. And I guess that Holger, Yabunaka, Paul, or Armando, who were his UK, would agree with me. 

There are two things that Sensei said during this class,  and that I do remember. Even though they seem paradoxical at first, they are in fact, the two sides of the same reality of Mutō Dori. The Omote and the Ura of Zero. 

He said:

1. “Get hit, in order not to be hit.” 

2. “Stab uke without intenting to stab him.”

“Get hit”. Too often, during training, we move too early, therefore we are not able to get the exact timing for our movements. This is the Omote.

Sōke explained that, to learn the perfect timing, we are in the dōjō, we have to accept moving too late and to get hit. Little by little, we develop the correct timing. This is learning by trial and error. 

“Don’t stab”. On a sword attack, don’t try to stab the attacker, let him come to you, and let him stab himself on your blade. This is the Ura.

Behave as if you’re not aware of him, emit no intent, and walk naturally and slowly past him. 

The Mutō Dori of 2016 is 隠遁術, Inton Jutsu, the art of concealing your escape, or your moves / your intent.

In his last dvd, Sensei writes “it’s Inton, where you don’t give the person the feeling they would normally expect. This is Ninpō.” 

As Uke, I was always stuck in the Kûkan and really couldn’t feel anything. 

He adds that “Ninpō Taijutsu is the highest level of Bujutsu. It means that you’re able to not show things.” Honestly, when I was attacking him, and even though I knew what he was going to do, I got defeated each time. He was Zero, showing nothing.   

Yesterday was my first class of Inton Jutsu, and I don’t know how to get it.

I guess I’ll have to come back next November. 


1. 隠遁/inton/retirement (from the world); seclusion

隠遁術/intonjutsu/Ninja art of escape

Sasae Nakusu: Get Rid Of The Support

Hatsumi sensei said that we have to 支え亡くす, Sasae nakusu, to “get rid of support”, and that reminded me of what the Buddha said. (1)

Sakyamuni Buddha said that religion is like a wall. We need it to support our growth, but when we know how to walk, we can leave the wall and walk in our own. The same process happens in Budō. 

As a beginner we need a wall, this is the fundamental techniques found in the Tenchijin.

As we grow as a Shidōshi, we need a new wall, this is found in the Ryûha. 

When we know how to do the waza, we need to free ourselves from them. This is what Sensei meant with Sasae nakusu. 

Because we built our taijutsu on these walls, we need to leave them behind and walk alone. 

Waza are supporting our understanding, but it is only intellectual. It is Omote.

We have to interiorize the student Kaname, this is the Ura level. There is no thinking anymore, no preconception. 


A real fight is not about doing one waza or another, a real right adapts seamlessly to what the attacker is doing. This adaptive process is not included in the waza, it is the consequence of it. And it has to be trained.  

Because everything have been integrated in the Sainō Konki, we are able to mix all our knowledge into one body flow. Sensei repeated  many times that waza cannot be used in a real fight. That if you do use waza, you get killed. 

This year, we are entering a new cycle of learning that is beyond the form. The “Zero state” can be achieved only if we learned the waza, and got rid of them. At this level, we do not need the support anymore. 

This is the metaphore of the soup.


Steps to make a good Budō soup

1. You need to get all the ingredients (these are your basics) 

2. You need to get a recipe (this is the Ryûha) 

3. Once cooked, you use the blender, mix everything together and serve it. 

The soup has the flavour of the many ingredients you put in it. You recognise the tastes, but you cannot see them. 

You have to do the same with your training. 

If you don’t do that, your fighting skills are very limited. Natural movement is directly linked to the Sakki. Once you get rid of the waza support, you can develop your intuition, your awareness, and your spirit. Jûgodan should train this to continue their Budō progression. Sasae Nakusu is only that, and this is a lot. 

Receiving the Jûgodan is not the end, this is just the beginning. 


1.q 支え/sasae/support; stay; prop

亡くす/nakusu/to lose something|to get rid of|to lose someone (wife, child, etc.)

Junban: Is Nagato Sensei Cartesian?

In 1637, the  famous French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes, published his “Discourse on the Method”. The full name of the book is “Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences”. (1)

Nagato sensei in his Sunday class, sounded like Descartes, when he explained that 順番, Junban was important. (2) Junban is doing the necessary steps to do a technique in the proper order. Each movement calls for the next and the order of things is vital to the realisation of the effect. Too often we watch the technique, memorise it wrong, and force it, by using strength and unnecessary power. The Omote looks quite the same, the Ura is missing. 

This is because the techniques we watch are not the technique we do. Our senses perceive reality correctly, but our brain translates it wrong. The attempts we make are not good because even if we have the general idea, we don’t have a clear vision of the details. 

The one thing that is missing is the proper order of things, Junban. We might have memorised all the steps, but they are not executed in the correct sequence. 

If you want to build a house, you need foundations, then walls, then a roof,  in this order. You cannot paint the walls if they are not built yet. There’s an order. 


The same goes for a technique and this is the meaning of Junban. 

In his book, Descartes writes “divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it”. This is exactly what we don’t do during class. We see the technique as a whole and don’t pay attention to the details that are necessary for the technique to be alive. 

The lack of understanding of what is displayed in front of our eyes, pushes us to speed up the steps, in the hope that the outcome will be similar to what we saw. It is never the case. Speed and force are useless. 


Nagato sensei often says that “only stupid people train fast”. That we should “train slowly!” and he is right. By training slowly, we are able to see what we didn’t see when the movement was done. 

The trend for MMA, pushed many Bujinkan teachers to add a more “realistic” touch to their Bujinkan moves. This is an illusion. Going fast might work, but will not teach you the true essence of a waza. 

Junban is the key to good taijutsu. When you respect the proper steps of a technique,  slowly, you discover that you don’t need speed nor force to do it. Strangely, it will work with any opponent even if they are fast and brutal. Because the secret is not in learning a technique, but in absorbing and ingraining it, so that the acquired Kaname will be adjusted to the encounter. 

Remember what you hear in Japan: 

Chikara janai: If you use force, you got it wrong (3)

Yukkuri/Yururi: move slowly (4)(5)

Descartes also said “Nothing is more fairly distributed than common sense: no one thinks he needs more of it than he already has.” 

If you remember what Hatsumi Sensei said about the Kankaku of senses, I guess that Descartes is right. We have to connect to Daishizen in order to increase our common sense. (6) It’s a question of survival. Junban is the key to our understanding of natural Budō. 

Japan is always full of surprises. I never expected Nagato sensei to remind me of French philosophy.

So, do you think Nagato sensei is Cartesian? (7)



2 .  順番/junban/turn (in line); order of things; sequential order

3. Chikara janai: don’t use strength. 力/chikara/force; strength; might; vigour (vigor); energy|capability; ability; proficiency; capacity; faculty|efficacy; effect|effort; endeavours (endeavors); exertions|power; authority; influence; good offices; agency|support; help; aid; assistance|stress; emphasis|means; resources + じゃないis not,  negative.  

4. Yukkuri: be slow.

yukkuri/slowly; at ease; restful

5. Yururi: 緩り/yururi/unhurriedly; leisurely; slowly; relaxedly; taking one’s time

6. 大自然/daishizen/nature; Mother Nature

7. René Descartes is also the creator of modern geometry. This is thanks to his works, that we are able to use the GPS today, and find our way easily. 

Proper Bujinkan training is the GPS of your path to become one with nature and not to be lost in the process. 

Is The End Near? 

This article is for Bujinkan dōjō teacher. It is based on my experience. 

Do you know that your Dōjō might be dying without you being aware of it? 

I began teaching in 1987, and I was not good at it. I learned how to do it correctly,  the hard way. And I’m still learning to teach better thirty years later. 

I made all mistakes possible and did my best to correct them. After doing it for many years, and after visiting many different dōjō, I found a pattern that I’d like to share with you in this post.

There are three level types of dōjō,  I called them Level #1, Level #2, and Level #3 dōjō. This is a type of Sanshin. 

Level #1 dōjō: this is a dream dōjō. At level #1, the group is committed,  and everyone wants to learn. This is often, a new group headed by a young Shidōshi. The students are mainly beginners, but some higher ranks coming from other dōjō, join in, and give the young group some kind of maturity. The teacher is often seen as charismatic, at least by the practitioners of his dōjō. Egos are low, sharing is high. The group is more important than the individual. 

Level #2 dōjō: this is logical evolution of the level #1. The magic of the first years is now gone, the training has turned into  a routine. The teacher is now surrounded by a few Shidōshi. They are the “instructors”. They went at least once to Japan. They share the teaching, and think their students are as motivated as they were, when they began. 

Egos are average, sharing is average. The group is split in high and low ranks. Strong “clanification”. Clans are more important than the group, or the individual. Unity is Omote.  

Level #3 dōjō: the dōjō is now sick  and dying. The high ranks got higher. The “ancient students” left. A new breed has come. The high ranks are turning “grandmasters”, and treat the beginners, as if they had been already training for a few years. Classes are mainly about the “flow”, waza are not taught, or taught badly, by the young unqualified black belts.  New students are clueless, because they were never taught the basics.  The instructors are so much in the illusion of their rank that they don’t train, they only teach their misconceptions to the newcomers. 

Egos are high, sharing is low. The individual  is more important than the group.  The end is near. 

So, figure  out if you are #1, #2, or #3, and react if necessary. 

If you correct your path  now, it’s never too late. 

If you want  to stay at level  #1,  then watch your step!  

Beyond Sakki Test

The last two classes with Hatsumi sensei were intense. Not physically, but mentally. 

As he was late, I was tasked by Senō sensei to begin the class. When Sensei arrived he spoke again of the importance of Sakki, continuing the speech he gave after the Sakki tests of Friday.

This year is about Mutō Dori (1) and “zero”, but it is difficult to express it with words. The “natural” state is beyond the bio-mechanical movements. And Sensei gave us a few keys to get to it. 

In his previous class Sensei said that we (Jûgodan), had to understand that Kankaku is more than only feeling, another Kankaku that comes from our six senses. As there’re two types of Kankaku, Omote and ura (physical and sensual), he said it is important to study 感覚勉強, Kankaku no benkyō (2). 

He said that at some point of our Budō progression, we have to let go of technique. To let go of Waza, means that you must learn them first. 

When you do not try anymore to apply a technique, movement and distance bring them to life. Like in the Ishitobashi of last year (3), the spaces created between two points of contact, allow you to manifest natural movement. 

Because you react mindlessly to the attacks of your opponent you become able to use 利, Aida dama ri (4), to “take advantage of the sphere of possibilities existing between movements.”

But it is also 利, Aida dama ri (5), where your spirit (dama/tamashii) in communion with 大自然, Daishizen (6), Mother nature, perceives everything in a natural way, and acts accordingly without you having the time to think. 

More than ever, in these days of high international tension and terrorism, we have to develop combat awareness. The Sakki test is preparing us exactly to do that. Developing Sakki is the training the Jûgodan have to do now. We have entered the period of 戦前, Senzen, the period before war. 

The Bujinkan system is regrouping actual fighting systems that have proved their efficiency on the battlefield for many centuries. It is not a sport, and it would be good that Bujinkan teachers let go a little, of the “flowery movements”, as criticized by Yamaoka Tesshû at the beginning of Meiji,  and prepare their students to survive an actual encounter. 

As Shidōshi, after the Sakki test, you have to train actively the two Kankaku (Omote and ura / physical and sensual), t in order to get the Shizen gyō un ryû sui, “the natural and ever-appropriate movement” that comes with long training. 

We have to learn to “Move like the wind in the Kûkan, because strong people get stuck in the waza, and are easily defeated” said Sensei at the end of the class. 

But then he added that “until Jûdan, training is basics and strength”, so teach your students properly, and train yourself to develop your Sakki. 

This is why he said, “the Sakki test is only the beginning”. 

So, don’t stop there! Continue your Benkyō until you reach the “zero state”. 


1. Mutō Dori: read my other posts in the blog.  Mutō Dori is mainly about having the courage to go face the attacker even at the risk of getting killed. 

2. Kankaku no benkyo:

感覚/kankaku/sense; sensation; feeling; intuition

勉強/benkyō/study|diligence|discount; reduction

3. Ishitobashi:

石飛ばし/ishitobashi/skipping stones (on a body of water); skimming stones. You can read more about it on several posts of this blog, written last year on this blog. 

4. Aida dama ri: 

間/aida/space (between); gap; interval; distance|time (between); pause; break|span (temporal or spatial); stretch; period (while)|relationship (between, among)|members (within, among)|due to; because of

玉/tama/ball; sphere; globe; orb|bead (of sweat, dew, etc.); drop; droplet|ball (in sports)|pile (of noodles, etc.)|bullet|bulb (i.e. a light bulb)|lens (of glasses, etc.)|bead (of an abacus)|ball (i.e. a testicle)|gem; jewel (esp. spherical; sometimes used figuratively); pearl|female entertainer (e.g. a geisha)|person (when commenting on their nature); character|item, funds or person used as part of a plot|egg|coin|precious; beautiful; excellent

利/ri/advantage; benefit; profit; interest

5. 魄/tama/tamashii/soul; spirit

6. Daishizen: 大自然/daishizen/nature; Mother Nature

7. Senzen: 戦前/senzen/pre-war days; before the war

You’re Ninja? Good! I’m Santa Claus. 

The development of the Bujinkan (around half a million practitioners worldwide), has brought many good students, but also bad ones in our training halls. These individuals, not knowing history, believe in the ninja “super powers” as depicted in low­level American movies, Mangas, or comics. This is because of them, that our art has been badly judged for many years since the eighties. Now that the ninja boom is over, some true practitioners are appearing. But the spread of ninja myths and legends on the Internet is beginning to recreate the once gone “ninja dream”. It’s like believing that Santa Claus lives at the north pole! When I began training, the ninja boom was just beginning. I remember reading the few books available at the time. It seemed magic. I don’t recall believing in these fantastic stories I was reading, but it definitely kept me training.

Today the ninja boom is gone and the huge development of the Bujinkan worldwide has replaced the dream of the past by something less “sexy”, but definitely more interesting. The bujinkan as taught by our Sōke, Hatsumi Masaaki, is a deep, physical and philosophical system that abandoned the ninja dream, and let it vanish in the shadows. But is this ninja dream really gone?

Everyday on Facebook, I see more people spreading the same fantasies that were common in the eighties. The Internet is not helping the dreamers to step down. In fact, I sometimes have the feeling that the world is going back in time. This enthusiasm for ninja magic around our art, is hardly based on historical facts. The people of Iga and Koga (southern part of Iga) (1) were regular human beings. They were not calling themselves ninja! They were living in a remote mountainous area, outside of Japan’s main stream. They had developed a kind of “Republic”, with their own economic, religious, and political system inherited from the T’ang dynasty in China. Their language had not been influenced by neighboring communities. When Oda  Nobunaga and his army, “offered” the Iga community to join his unification process, they refused categorically, fought the invaders, and kicked them out. Because Iga is a plateau surrounded by high mountains, it was pretty much isolated from the rest of Japan. The people didn’t need a real army, as technically they had no enemies. In Iga there were no samurai, only jizamurai (2). The jizamurai would go to fight only when necessity would arise. The trained armies of Nobunaga came back a few years later. This time, they were too strong for Iga. The Iga warriors adapted their fighting skills and developed guerilla warfare. The war lasted about 10 years and is remembered, by historians, as the “Iga no Ran”, the war of Iga (3). Close to be defeated, the families of Iga flew out of the region and spread  all over the country, bringing with them their warfare knowledge.

Instead of becoming a “ninja”, please try to become a true human being. As Sensei said “ninpō is not made in Japan, it is made in human”. 





Thank you to Patricio “El Pato” for  his collaboration. No animals were injured during the photo shooting. 

Teach Them Correctly, Please

Only 8 students in class at Noguchi sensei’s class but still, he was brilliant! The small number of participants didn’t stop his endless energy. We covered the first level of Gyokko Ryû (again). In my sixty trips here in Japan, I must have seen these techniques at least thirty times. And this is always a pleasure, as his interpretation of these known waza is always different. In fact, what Noguchi sensei does with the techniques is so far from the basic form, that it could be another fighting system. Because there were so few students, I trained with a young Shōdan. He was totally lost because he’s didn’t know the basic waza from the Gyokko Ryû. Even though I think that anyone should come here to train with Sōke and the Shihan, if you don’t know your basic forms, maybe it would be better to not come to Japan!

I wrote recently an article about the responsibility of being a black belt. As a teacher you have a bigger responsibility. 

Maybe because of the stress added to his lack of knowledge, my partner was only using upper body strength, and was unable to move his legs. I don’t blame him, I blame his teacher. How can you create black belts with an apparent lack of basics?

I was losing my time and began to be irritated (this is an understatement). I asked him why his level was so bad? He answered: “we do only basics”.

If it were true, he would have been good enough to train with, but that wasn’t the case. He didn’t know the Bujinkan basics at all. I don’t blame him, but his teacher. know that his teacher is Jûgodan, but I don’t know who he trained with, but he has to reconsider his teaching abilities. 

He let him go to Japan without the fundamental keys to survive here. If this young black belt had trained with another young black belt, I guess things would have been OK. But with me, he had a hard time, and the more the class was going, the more he was lost. 

I don’t mind teaching beginners, this is my main activity in my dōjō, but when I come here, I come exclusively to train, not to teach. As I had to teach him, I missed a fantastic class by Noguchi sensei because his teacher didn’t do his job correctly. 

I hope that one day I can meet his teacher, and tell him that what he does has to change. I’m aware that he might not even be responsible himself, maybe he too, had a bad teacher. 

Here are a few rules for teachers:

1.  Teaching is transmitting:

To teach, you must be focused on the quality of the transmission.

2. Having a high rank doesn’t make you a good teacher:

Having a black belt rank doesn’t mean you are qualified to teach. Teaching is an ability you learn  or develop. There’s no improvisation in teaching. 

3. Know your limits:

It is important to be aware of your teaching skills, if you don’t have any, the best is to stop teaching. 

4. Not every black belt is able to teach. 

As a teacher you are responsible for what you give. The world is not nice. Teach the right thing.  Because the lives of your students might depend one day  on the quality of your teaching and of your transmission. 


Hatsumi Sensei repeated in his last class, that he is only teaching the Jûgodan. He added that teachers have to teach the basics to their students. Without good basics, there cannot be any good transmission. 

I have sometimes the feeling that Bujinkan teachers are actors. They are keen in showing the “cosmic flow” (that they often don’t have) than to teach the foundation of taijutsu. 

Renember that what you see here in Japan, is not what you have to teach. What you see here, is your next personal goal, your potential future. 

So, please, teach your students correctly!  

As a teacher your responsibility is to teach the bio-mechanics of Budō, not the “cosmic flow”, it is useless, and only a show of ego. Your only job is to teach the roots of correct taijutsu. 

Hagaijime Etc…  

I entered the dōjō and only 16 participants were there it was a luxury. I’m so used to see the honbu packed that such a small number is like having a private lesson. For some reason (maybe the summer heat) only a small group decided to attend Noguchi sensei’s class. 

As always with him the 90-minute was intense. We covered the first level of the Shinden Fudô Ryû,  and I was lost after ten minutes. Noguchi sensei is so creative in his interpretation of the techniques,  that it’s often impossible to reproduce without thinking. It is like going back to beginner’s level. And once again I learned a lot. 

What I like with Noguchi sensei is that each one of his classes is a Sanshin: you deepen things that you know, you review concepts that he taught in the past you discover new things. 

I can resume the sanshin of the class with three words: Ô Gyaku, Yorimodori,  Hagaijime. 


When you’ve been training for a few decades  you naively think that you know your basics. No you don’t! Until yesterday I thought that in Gekkan the Ô Gyaku was a shoulder technique where you lift the extended arm by locking the shoulder nearly vertically to push uke face down. If this is the basic form, I didn’t know that you could also do Ô Gyaku when the extended arm was positioned horizontally behind uke’s back. I should have known that as the shoulder lock is the same. Only the angle differs. When you use it then uke’s balance is taken sideways, and prevent him from landing softly. Try it in your next training. 


With Setsu Yaku, we reviewed the concept of Yorimodori. I already wrote  a few trips ago  about it (check the blog). If you didn’t read it, it’s a “down – up – push –  pull” movement a shape of a horizontal “8” (¤¤) that you apply to the attacking arm. Uke is put off balance and his body wraps around yours and fall. It is highly technical and beautiful to watch. It is even better when you finally succeed. The timing has to be perfect to make it work. It was nice for me to review it. 


Noguchi sensei introduced a new concept (at least I didn’t know it). He called it Hagaijime (1).

On one of the technique of the Shinden, Noguchi sensei was holding the uke by locking the shoulder and elbow joints. Uke was bent forward with his arms extended and locked (body in a “T” shape). The upper arm locked by the neck, and the lower arm sorted by Tori’s leg with an armbar done with the body  We did it in front and then in the back this time keeping the arms extended behind in a short of Ryō Ude Jime. In the front (T), or in the back (ude jime) Uke was unable to take Ukemi, and each time would land on the floor, face first. Obviously we didn’t do it to the end. 

Everything came up without effort the body movement wrapping  uke through the body flow. 

It was indeed an interesting class and reviewing the first level of Shinden one again, was refreshing. I have done all of these techniques many times since my first trip here in 1990. And I’m grateful to the Japanese Shihan to have so much creativity,  as it gives us new insights on his to understand the waza

Yesterday Nagato sensei spoke of Kimatenai (2),  “nothing is decided”, this also works with specific waza. Once you know the steps (omote), the next level is to get the ura, break the form and make the Kaname alive in a different way in order to survive. Because in a real fight “nothing is decided”.  


1.  羽交い絞め/hagaijime/pinioning; binding arms behind the back

2. 決まる/kimaru/to be decided; to be settled|to look good in (clothes) + ない / nai/not|emphatic suffix

Kihon Is The True Alpha And Omega

The word Kihon (1) is a major companion of your daily practice. It is a word that is used in every class. Each  time you do the Kihon Happō, you use it. 

It is often translated as “basics”, but there is more to get it out it.


Japanese sounds can be an interesting way to dig deeper in your understanding of the martial arts. 

If you replace  the Kanji “Ki” 基 (foundation) by “Ki”  気 (essence) your 基本 becomes 本, or the “true essence” of movement. What is often seen as basics,  turns out to be something much bigger. The Omote is replaced by the Ura. Because through your basics are hidden the means to reach the true essence of natural body movement. 

But there is even more to get it out it.

I’ve just recorded the Sainō Tamashii Utsuwa (3), theme of 2009 with the Indian team (4). Sainō Tamashii Utsuwa was the seventh year of Juppō Sesshō. It is also called Sainō Konki. 

“Tamashii Utsuwa” is also “Konki”. And this “Ki” means “vessel”,  “container”. This is within this container that you can  express natural movements. (5) 

This three-step progression can be seen as a Juppō Sesshō no Sanshin,  where: 

Kihon / 基本: defines simple body mechanics. 

Kihon / 本: gets you into the true essence of the movement. 

Kihon / 器本: allows you to unify your body and your soul, within the basics. 

At this level, you don’t think anymore. Movements unfold in a natural manner. You are one with the universe. You are one and zero at the same time.

The circle is finally closed, you are the Alpha and the Omega. 


1. 基本/kihon/foundation; basis; standard

2. 気/ki/spirit; mind; heart|nature; disposition|motivation; intention|mood; feelings|atmosphere; essence

3. 才能/sainou/talent; ability;魂/tamashii/soul; spirit; 器/utsuwa/bowl; vessel; container|ability; capacity; calibre; caliber

4. Soon available in dvds and downloads at; and in streaming at 

5. 器/ki/device; instrument|vessel; container

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