Author Archives: peterjohnstill

…yanagi no shizuku ume no chiri!!!…

Ah, Spring rain! …
water dripping down the willow branches
white plum blossom trampled in the dirt.

- – - Shoha


Using a rounded piece of wood, know the moon on the water!
- – - the dream of Muso Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi

Do not think about hitting your opponent,
Move without thinking, like moonlight into a leaky cabin.
- – - Yamaoka Tesshu

A man knows for sure:
However hard he hits the flow of a river,
The simple fact of a trace in the water:
-   doesn’t happen.
- – -  Hoshina Chikanori

Musashi on martial practice as a ‘Way’…

The Scroll of Emptiness

…otherwise known as The Book of the Void, The Scroll of the Void, The Book of Emptiness – from the GoRin no Shothe Book of Five Rings

This being the Scroll of Emptiness, I must now set down plainly in writing [the manner in which] Ni-To-Ichi-Ryu Martial Practice is a ‘Way’: -

The heart of what is called ‘emptiness’ has [traditionally] been seen as the place where there is nothing, [and as] a thing that is not known [in the way that other things are known]. [Well,] of course emptiness is where there is nothing! [But] to know the place of “there is” while also knowing the place of “there is nothing”, that indeed is emptiness.

In the world at large, there is a mistaken view that sees the state of mind where you do not discriminate as emptiness. This is not true emptiness, it is the common, confused heart [that we all share]…

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Dwelling in Aiki,
set to work
the myriad powers: -
create peaceful harmony:
a world where everything is beautiful

Being firmly grounded
in the world of creation,
alive at its center:
the kamae of ai
is irimi: the Way of the Mountain Echo.

Forging in yourself whole heaps of courage,
And finding
the Floating Bridge,
Thanks to  true emptiness,
opened up by [gratitude for] the gifts of the Gods.

To left and to right
cutting and sweeping blows
go straight towards
the human heart…

- – - O’Sensei

…the sword of sho-chiku-bai (2) …

O’Sensei called “the sword of sho-chiku-bai”  sword movements that are performed as a misogi.  This is directly related to a certain Omoto-Kyo teaching, and they should allow whoever performs them to become awakened. But that is a task and a concern for the individual.

- – - Kato Hiroshi Shihan

- – – French language interview on the Budo no Nayami website

…ki-work and misogi…

Ki techniques of the body
calm the spirit -
Misogi techniques
give us guidance : -
the heavenly – and earthly – kami…

- – - O’Sensei

On martial learning and acting (2) – Suzuki, Kigaku, Budo, Shugyou

…a conversation between Kimbal Anderson Sensei and Dwayne Blackaller of Boise Contemporary Theater about the classical Japanese budo practices preserved in Suzuki acting training – and about the intersecting philosophies of the traditional Japanese martial arts and contemporary theater practice .  A student of a student of a student of Tesshu talking to a student of a student of Marcel Marceau.  The conversation is  here.

…from the Sand and Pebbles Collection…

the fresh
sprouting reeds
in the burned over field
are  a “mandala”!!!
- so the people say – - -

- – - Muju

…ume no hana!!!…


…ki-gata: movement and shape of ki-flow…

O’Sensei said that the two most important things for practising aiki are: “ki kata” and “tanren-ho“.  We think we know what tanren-ho is:  at its simplest it’s the repeated  striking at a bundle of wood with a bokken,  just as in those iconic pictures of O’Sensei and Saito Shihan in the fields at Iwama.   But “ki kata“?   Does that mean “kokyu-waza” (“aiki-waza” ) ?  Or is it possible that O’Sensei is thinking of kata not as physical forms…  but as ki-flow?  The shape and movement of ki-flow?  That, in fact, O’Sensei saw kata primarily as ki-flow – and maybe  he wasn’t watching physical form at all?

One thinks of Zeami’s remark that the highest form of singing in Noh theatre is the “singing of no singing” – where the performer is so focused on what they are doing to the audience – on the emotion that they are creating – that they are not consciously aware of  the sound of their own voice.

The more one translates O’Sensei’s words and thought, the more it becomes obvious that,  for him,  what happens in the mind is primary..

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