On Sunday I did a technique at the opening of the class that sensei used to teach us the shizen karada – the natural body movement.
Karada – body ( 自然 体) is a often used by sensei during his classes as everything we do is based on a body or “non body” movement.
On a ryôte dori ( 両手取 り) slide your arms inside Uke’s arms and take his balance. When sensei did it to me I felt nothing he just vanished (melted?) in my grab in such a natural way that I had the feeling that my grip was returned against me.
There was so much softness in his counter action that there was no way for me to counter it or to think on how to react to it.
This feeling is quite strange and happens every time you have the chance to be his Uke. There is power within softness.
To achieve that Hatsumi sensei was simply joining his shoulders between my arms as if he had no bone structure, no rib cage in the middle! By moving the shoulders in a wave action back and forth he slide himself in between my grip and took my balance. The naturalness of his body movement was amazing as nothing could be done to avoid it. Using the karada (体) without chikara – force, strength (力), he then used the gan shi nankotsu (眼指軟骨) to inflict excruciating pain to my eyes and mouth, forcing me to bend backward and therefore to lose my balance.
I can understand it what he did to me but I wasn’t able to reproduce it. As always it is one thing to understand and another one to be able to do it.
When sensei was in between my arms I felt I was facing a wall advancing towards me and I couldn’t avoid it as I was stupidly still grabbing his lapels. Funnily I know I could have let it go but I didn’t. He was controlling my body and my brain together. The only thing I could do was watching my demise. Using the whole body is not moving the body it is being one with your body and Uke’s body at the same time so no free space is available for you to escape.
If I try to describe the feeling a little more it is like there is no strength at all opposing yours and then nothing to fight against. The simple shoulder wave movement together with a body that has been polished for tens of years is what is doing it. Once again, your rank doesn’t prevent you from training and you have to train for a very long time in order to get this ease in action that comes from pure consciousness.
Later during the class sensei used the image of the circle and of pi. Actually when continuing the movement your footwork should be in accordance together with uke’s movement of attack so that you pivot in a circle inside Uke’s attack at a 180° angle to go with him where his body is leading him. By doing so, Uke is not aware of where you are and loses his balance because nothing is opposing him. This pi application has been developed in many other martial arts like Aikidô for example but here in our case there is no grabbing of Uke. Sensei merely used the space created by this dynamic and natural body positioning to stick to Uke so close that he is invisible to Uke’s awareness. Sensei’s body moves like in cloud. It is at the same time a mienai waza, a kûkan and a nagare with nothing to stop Uke’s body but diabling him to perceive you. As they say in the Takagi Yôshin Ryû and the Kukishin Ryû: “ahead lies paradise”. As nothing prevents Uke’s movements Uke falls by only fighting his own strength.
To summarize the whole training that day sensei used a nice image. He said: “don’t be strong, don’t be weak, be zero and through this zero you can see the solution”. Saying that he put his hands in a circle and looked through them as if using a telescope.
Once again everything is linked. telescopes are used to see through sideral space and the stronger they are, the further back in time they can see. You should become a powerful telescope and see through time and space in order to be aware of what is coming next even before Uke knows about it.
Then gan shi nankotsu of this year (眼指軟骨) turns into gan shi nankotsu (眼 其 軟 骨) where shi (其) is oneself; nan (軟) is soft; kotsu (骨) is knack, skill, secret. The “eye, finger, cartilage” is now through our telescope a means to see through yourself, the secret of softness that will defeat the opponent.