Ignore The Opponent


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Hatsumi sensei was in a superb mood yesterday, and he gave us a high-level training. He often says that he is teaching for the Jûgodan, but yesterday night I think his teachings were advice that rank.

I opened the class with some taijutsu but rapidly he put the level so high that we were all lost in a minute. And that includes my partner Kenji and I. The more the class advanced, and the more I had the impression that my brain and body were stuck as I was trying to swim in water full of seaweed. Each movement being hindered by hundred invisible hands.

We did many applications with taijutsu and ninja biken, but I was so lost that I can only remember one kaname for this class: “ignore the opponent”.

It seems to be for me the next step of my Budō evolution.

As in every class, Sensei moves in a very simple but strange way. There is no thinking, no intention, no force, only natural body motions. Until yesterday, we kept watching uke. Not that time. Even that has been taken from us!

Ignoring uke is easy to understand, but prices to be quite difficult to achieve.

Sensei said that we have to move as if not at all concerned by the attacker. Not paying attention to uke, not trying to avoid the attack, you just move forward in the attack and deflect the weapon or the fist, only because you don’t focus on it. I’m sorry, I know that it is hard to get it with words, but this is the best I can do to explain what it feels during the class. I went to him a few times to “feel it”, but there was nothing to feel until he dug his nails into my face or my finger joints.

Sensei is teaching a higher level of Mutō dori this year. Each class he insisted on it. But sometimes words are not enough to grasp it. Our senses are limited and their inability to feel the invisible creates a permanent fog in which we get killed. When you are uke, there is nothing. When you watch him do the technique on somebody else, there is nothing to see.

It is like there are nothing and all of a sudden there is too much pain. His uke Nagase, Shiraishi, Paul, Yabunaka, were destroyed by his non-actions. It looked like there was no pattern, no form, no movement. It is not magic, Sensei did things, but as he was impersonating the mutō dori it was like some kami (divine power) was doing it instead of him.

Once again the “tsunagari” (connection) and awaseru (matching) where the key of this class.

Mutō dori is the next big thing to master, and I begin to consider it to be the ultimate level of taijutsu. Mutō dori when completed with “ignore the opponent” is so powerful that fighting is useless. In fact, there cannot be any fight. Uke attacks and die, and he doesn’t know why.

After the class, I went to his house, and he gave me a 桃 momo, an enormous peach (1) coming from Togakushi.

So, trying to find some logic there, I can say that he wants us to be 藻も, momo, “moving like some seaweed”. That means to have no intention, no strength, and only following naturally the water flow and the tide.

Seaweed ignores the water; it follows the flow.

______________________
1. Momo: 桃/momo/peach; prunus persica (tree)
2. Mo: 藻/mo/algae; waterweed; seaweed; duckweed
3. Mo: mo/also; too; words of similar weight|about (emphasizing an upper limit); as much as; even|more; further; other; again

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