The Legendary Katana

There is a legend about the formation of sword systems in Japan. According to the legend the origin of all swordsmanship in Japan came to be called Kashima no Tachi and was taught to seven Shinto priests. These seven developed each, in turn, their own school, and these came to be known under a common name for the Kanto Shichi-ryu 関東七流, “Kanto region’s seven schools.”

In the 1100’s eight Buddhist monks trained on Mount Kurama in one of these schools, under the Shugenja called Hogen Kiichi 法眼鬼一. Each of these eight monks created his own sword school and these came to be known collectively as the Kyo Hachi-ryu 京八流, “The capital’s eight schools.”

Sword techniques in Kukishin-ryu derived from this Hogen through one or all of the eight schools. These techniques are called Hiken No Ho 秘剣之法 meaning “secret principles of the sword.”

Within Kukishin-ryu used Handachi 半太刀, which is 3 inch longer than a standard katana. Additionally kodachi and Jutte, according to Takamatsu sensei writing are the highest level of Hiken no ho.

Humility Comes with Experience

The tale of the Bamboo Shoot

There once was a bamboo that sprouted and looked up to the sky. It was amazed by its size and distance. It proudly said I want to touch the sky. When the other trees overheard what he said they told him that this is an impossible goal since no other bamboo ever reached the sky. Determined to prove his fellow trees wrong it proclaimed, when I grow tall I will be the first to touch the sky. This happened year after year until the Bamboo shoot became a tall and mature as his predecessors. Realizing how arrogant his goal was, he started to bow. From this day forth The taller and stronger it grew the more it bent. The moral of the story is, listen to those who have gone before you. Also, remember once you gained/surpassed their wisdom to never forget to remain humble. No matter how good we become when compared to the sky we are just dust in the wind.

What’s in the notes?

There are several ways to transmit knowledge however the most effective is the combination of thought word and deed. In the world of Budo the three has to be used in harmony in order to get the most from your training. In this write up I would like to focus on the “word”. The concept of the word can be further divided into two parts. The first is to be able to articulate a principle, movement, feeling etc. the 2nd is being able to put it down on paper. Throughout the centuries masters regarded recording their experiences in writing so the next generation will have a reference point / a foundation from which to build on. With each generation adding their experiences, feelings essentially gives the next generation an opportunity to build on the previous without loosing the essence. 

Anyone can plot a trip on a map app from point A to point B. But only those who travelled from point A to point B and back can share their experiences so the next person can have a more enjoyable and productive trip. 

When you take notes you essentially repeat the cycle of thought, word and deed in a more intimate setting allowing you to recall important details and principles through the lesson a second time in your head. It is now almost like you have done the lesson twice in one night. For many people writing something down is also a great method of retaining information.  As we age our mental capacity diminishes. Much of the knowledge would eventually be retained in the body through your naruel  memory. However the body does not have the capacity to remember names, dates, historical accounts let alone every detail that was covered in class. For this reason maintaining notes is crucial part of training.  It will have everything you have trained and all the emotions you have experienced, since the beginning of your Budo journey. 

What to Include in Your notes? When writing your journal the key thing is to document the techniques you worked on in class. It is important to explain these techniques to yourself step by step, in wording which you best understand. Describe the emotional relationship associated with each technique both of the teacher and your own. All of this information will not only help you understand how to perform the technique properly but will also allow you to track and understand your progress over the years as you re-read your notes. Essentially anything that can help you grow, develop and eventually pass the knowledge onward. I would also suggest you correlate any life experiences as a direct result of training. These experiences will help you bridge the practice and application. As you mature over the years so will your note taking. Keep your notes organic and proactive update them.

When reviewing your notes It is important to review them frequently. Just like in school, the more you study, the more information you will retain. Budo has a huge psychological and emotional component and therefore it is important to work on your psyche in addition to your physical skills. While it is important to review your notes as much as possible, it is critical to review them while performing the techniques physically as well as mentally by using various visualization techniques. This is your time to study and add any additional steps, information, or insight about the technique. It is also important to look at how your emotions change as you continue to train. 

Take an active approach to your training and keep the passion flame going.

Ueno Takashi Sensei

It is without a doubt that Hatsumi Sensei was the sole inheritor of Takamatsu Sensei martial arts lineages. However Hatsumi Sensei met Takamatsu Sensei late in his career and Takamatsu Sensei has already given several mastery licenses to other senior students. One of these individuals was Mr. Ueno Takashi. Hatsumi Sensei was a student of Ueno Takashi Sensei and it was Ueno Takashi who introduced Hatsumi Sensei to Takamatsu Sensei. It is for this reason that there is a strong relationship between our lineage (Hatsumi Ha) and that of Ueno Takashi and therefore is worth mentioning.

Ueno Takashi was born on February 21、1899 in Tokyo. At the age of eleven he started to study with his grandfather Ueno Nobuhisa who was served the lord of Odawara-han. He learned Shinto Tenshin Ryu which included: kenpō, toritejutsu、jōjutsu、tājutsu、naginatajutsu、juttejutsu、gunyōbō、and suntetsujutsu.

At the age of 13 he received 8th generation master for Shintō Tenshin Ryū。He also studied and received menkyo in Totsuka-ha Yōshin Ryū Jujutsu from his uncle. He received menkyo Kaiden in Tenshin Shinyō Ryu from Yamamoto Tomokichi-sensei. He got his shihan license in Ryūkyū Kenpō Karatejutsu from Izena Yoshitomo、Hunakoshi Gichin、Mabuni Kenwa、and Konishi Yasuhiro-sensei.

He also received Menkyo Kaiden in Asayama Ichiden Ryu, Yagyū Shingan Ryū. He studied with Takamatsu sensei. In 1954 he received full mastery in Takagi Yōshin Ryū Jūjutsu which includes Kukishin Ryū Bōjutsu and Shinden Fudō Ryū Taijutsu. He took on the warrior name Chosui. In December 1959 he further received full mastery in Gyokko Ryū Kosshijutsu and Kotō Ryū Koppōjutsu. In order to master Chinesekenpō he travelled to Beijing where he studied Shōrin Kenpō at the Shōrinkai. After the Second World War he established the Kenyūkai association along with Konishi Yasuhiro Otsuka Hironori, Fujita Seiko, and Mabuni Kenwa. He passed away at the age’of 78. He is remembered by his followers for his outstanding sense of integrity and giri-ninjō(duty and humanity) and for dedicating his life to the study of martial arts.

Kukishinden Ryu

Takamatsu Toshitsugu on Kukishinden Ryu

この連名簿は、澄水が作成したもの。それ故、右とは別個に、九鬼宗伝之巻(天津蹈鞴秘文武道遍の別称)を直授された高塚理考氏あたりには異論があるかも知れない。けれども、いちおう澄水執筆のままをここに再録し た。

 This register was drawn up by Chōsui (Chosui was one of Takamatsu Sensei warrior name). As a consequence, people such as Mr. Takatsuka Michitaka, who received the Kuki Sōden-no-maki (also known as Amatsu Tatara Hibun (Hibumi Budō-hen) might have a different opinion. However, for the most part it is written here again as Chōsui wrote


 Incidentally, according to a letter sent by Chōsui to his Excellency Kuki Takaharu, he stated that he advocated “Hontai Kukishin-ryū Chōsui-ha”, and was asking for Takaharu’s consent.

 これは、講道館柔道が全国的に普及し、九鬼本来の古道的体術では立ちうち出来かねることを認め、拳当・唐手術(今日の空手道)を加味した九鬼神流柔体術を『九体鬼神道流澄水派』として、世に広める意図によるもの であった。(昭和25・5・15は高松書簡)

 It was because of his intention to make it public due to Kōdōkan jūdō spreading nationwide, the recognition that Kuki’s primary old-way taijutsu could not compete, kobushi-ate, tōdejutsu/karatejutsu (today’s karatedō) added to Kukishin-ryū jūtaijutsu as (Kutai kiShintō-ryū Chōsui-ha) that he sought Takaharu’s consent.


 Jūjutsu techniques of Kukishin-ryū were the ones that featured ate-komi, or punching and kicking that originated in the time when warriors wore armor on the killing field, and when the name of the game was effectiveness. Like other schools of jūjutsu, however, it can be assumed that the jūjutsu techniques of this school had developed from the ones for a fight with armor on into the new style for a fight in an everyday life situation by the early Edo period.

2 –  九鬼神流では、通常、他流で當身と称しているのを、當込という。

 In Kukishin-ryū, the term ate-komi is used instead of atemi unlike other school of jūjutsu.

3 –  戦国時代以前の技法については、口伝の一部に剛法の伝が残り、往古の姿を髣髴させている。

 In terms of techniques of old days when warriors wore armor, Gōhō-no-den exists, reminding us of how they fought on the battleground.

Looking for a needle in a haystack

I was recently part of a discussion that made me reflect. For those of us who have been training in Budo for Avery long time things are often very clear and what we consider as the “obvious” may not be so with the greater population. Unfortunately I would even say that those in them mentioned category represent a very nominal % of the overall world population. There are times when it’s necessary to state the obvious. This is one of them….

With the advancement of technology the world is becoming more connected. Information flows faster and there is a lot to digest. As a result culturally many expect things “instantly”. This leads to a belief that everything can be achieved fast. Although speed has a benefits in the world of Budo when it comes to learning; old values such as patience, dedication and a life pursuit of a purpose become blur. As a result there may be sincere and open minded individuals that get misinformed. It is for those 1% that I still entertain answering requests in the hope that some make try to taste our wonderful Budo and perhaps stay long enough to appreciate the many values it offers.

Souji (掃除)

Attention to cleanliness or cleaning is called Souji (掃除) in Japanese. Maintaining constant attention to your, training space, clothing and equipment will bring harmony and balance.

Why Souji Matters?

In Japanese culture cleaning is not some mundane task that must be undertaken for health reasons alone. It is often considered a way of “cleansing the mind and spirit”. In other words, ‘by cleansing my home – I cleanse myself’. 

Back in the Edo period when most Japanese houses had hearths and fire stoves, the house would rather get dirty by the end of the year. Edo Castle started to be cleaned in December, and people started to believe that the December cleaning was not merely a matter of cleaning the house, but also as a purification ritual in preparation for greeting the New Year God, Toshigami-sama.

The Dojo is a place to cultivate the three essentials, body, mind and spirit. Therefore The act of Souji embodies the physics, mental & spiritual actions of cleansing.

Everyone should feel welcome to participate in Osouji whether they have never trained before, are active members of the dojo.

In our Dojo,there are 2 types of Souji. Daily cleaning or Niten Souji (日天掃除) and Yewr end cleaning or Osouji (大掃除).

The most important part of o-souji, known as susuharai (煤払い, dust cleaning), is the act of cleaning your home and workplace from dust and dirt. While doing susuharai, we also give thanks for the blessings of the previous year and we clean to purify the spaces for the year to come.

Deshi Iri

Teachers are indispensablel notjust for warriors.  If you find a magnificent mentor and train diligently, you will be able tobecome a marvelous warrior, but if you follow a martial merchant, it is highly questionable whether you will be enlightened as to the true martial arts.  In the old days there were two forms of Deshi-iri: those who entered into the martial arts in search of a good teacher (the “questing “type), and those who were discovered by a teacher as they trained in the mountains, unaware (  the “sudden” type).  In each case, the teacher would judge whether or not this person was fit to be a martial artist.  Those applying for Deshi-iri in the old days would first be given duties such as chopping wood or cleaning.  They would chop wood and clean earnestly from dawn to dusk, for several years.  The teacher would be examining the pupil’s potential as martial artist material throughout this period, by discerning whether he had a straightforward nature and sufficient guts to be able to persevere with the martial arts.  Then, picking his moment, he would initiate the next stage: “Come to the Dójó, I’Il give you some training”.  As the fierce training continued remorselessly day after day, the pupil would learn to appreciate his teacher, learn the depth of his affection, and mature into a true student.  Nowadays, the people who come and ask to be my student are quite varied. Some are of a frail type, weak in both body and mind and desiring to become strong; some are of an intellectual type, desired to make their spirit strong; some are of  a combative type who simply wantto be strong in the martial arts- ー but they are all part of the “mood “set, in that they all have an intense longing for Budó.  I tell such people quite unreservedly:

“If you want to forge your spirit, train in religion or the like-in martial arts you learn the top techniques of murderers. You want to strengthen your body? Go for walks, do body building and eat plenty of vegetables.  you hope to achieve by being strong in the martial arts? You can’t win any trophies, and you won’t make a fortune either! “As I say this, Iwatch the aspirant’s reaction.  The reason is that few people, once allowed to enter the gate, will actually be able to persevere with the training.  There are all too few people stupid enough to keep going to the end, following their intentions through and not caring what is said about them or to them.  Takamatsu Sensei accepted one idiot one me-as his student by reciting the following poem: “in Ten’ei Gannen [1110], the martial winds blew, There was an adept of Koppó-jutsu, Intrepid and gallant, felled wild beasts with one blow  , Yet normally as peaceful as a flower or bamboo, Fearless in confrontation with a myriad of foes, Is there none to follow where this warrior did go? The waiting is over, at last he has come, From the land of the gods comes the chosen one”

This is not pride, nor am I boasting.  People who cannot become fools will fail at whatever they do (cf. Edward Phelps: “The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything, tis precisely the stylists, who pursue nothing other than “looking good”, who leave everything only half .

What of the relationship between teacher and student? Both must have a feeling of respect for each other. I initially found it irritating, and rather incomprehensible, when my teacher Takamatsu Sensei addressed me as “Hatsumi Sensei”.  Nowatlast1 have become aware of this mutual respect, and again bow my head for the lesson.On the other hand, the teacher is the teacher.and the student is but a student.One should not neglect one’s attitude nor manners.Takamatsu Sensei taught me how  To make life worthwhile. From him I learned life itself. There is a saying in Japan, which I feel contains a great deal of truth: “The parent / child relationship is one lifetime; the husband / wife relationship is two; but the relationship between  teacher and student is three”.

A Moment in Time

Interview with Shihan Eduard Divantman 

I. Sensei Divantman, thank you for taking time of your busy schedule to allowFor this interview. My first question is what drew you into Budo initially.

E. You are most welcome… I always find time for individuals who take genuine interest in what I do. In regards to your question I started training at a very young age. Initially it was for the purpose of self defence, but looking back I think it was much deeper then that.

I. Can you elaborate on that?

E. As a child I never liked fighting and was always trying to avoid conflict as much  as I could. When someone insulted me I just persevered and moved on. So in essence I was naturally  practicing Ninpo before I even knew what it was. So there was an innate relationship that gravitated me towards the art. 

What was your initial training like?

initially I trained in modern Budo (Karate and Judo). They all served a purpose and taught me many important skills. After all both originated from old systems. However because of the socioeconomic and political influences at the start of the century they were forced to change so I felt that something was missing. When I first tried Ninpo I knew that I finally found what I was looking for. 

What was your transition like?

There was an excitement that is very deep and profound…. The minute I stepped on the mat I was hooked and never looked back. I trained 6 days a week up to 4 hours daily. I trained diligently and never missed a class. These habits remain with me today. 

What ranks and titles do you hold?

This is a common question Im asked a lot. I’ve achieved the highest Dan grade in the Bujinkan system (my source for Ninpo and Jujutsu training) directly from Masaaki Hatsumi, Grand Master of 9 systems that form the Bujinkan. I also hold 6th Dan Shihan Dai in Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu from Kancho Michio Takase the sole inheritor of Maeda and Matsuda line. I have also received grades in modern Budo and Chogoku Kenpo. Having said that  I refer to mastery as a “journey” not an end goal. The certificate, even the highest, is a recognition of your potential and dedication. A kind of an encouragement to keep going and grow into the responsibility your masters have bestowed on you. So aside of being motivated to train harder and hoping one day to live up to the responsibility bestowed on me the grades and titles serve as a reminder that practice never ends. Not everyone sees it that way of course but if you we’re properly educated you are never satisfied so to speak.

I. That is very deep, I often hear people who reach black belt quit having reached their goal. What are your thoughts on that.?

E. First of all we have a saying when you quit you severe the link so it is if you never trained at all. This is very sad. 

I. How so?

E.  People spend a lot of time, money and effort to reach a black belt only to quit. A black belt means you have achieved a certain proficiency in the basics and are ready to embark on more advanced training. So in essence it’s like getting a promotion at work after working so hard for several years to only turn around and resign. Does that makes sense?

I. No it doesn’t, hence why I raise my eyebrows when I hear these statements. 

E. Yes that is very odd, there are all kinds of people with funny ideas about grades… in most cases it’s a sign of their maturity or lack off. What we teach at my Dojo is different…. it’s not something that can be grasped in words.. It has to be experienced through sweat and tears. For example the common phrase for practicing Budo in Japanese is keiko (稽古). However Keiko does not translates as practice instead it translates, to consider the old in order to acquire knowledge. In this lies a fundamental difference that can not be ignored.

I. Very interesting, are you referring to the practice being something deeper the the mere physical aspect?

E. Yes, you can even take this a step further…. for example I spoke about Keiko which is a common term and denotes one level of practice. However in Ninpo we often user the term Renshu (練習) instead of Keiko. Renshu means to polish, specifically to polish ones character through rigour training. Imagine a diamond as an analogy, when it’s first mined it looks very similar to a regular stone. It is then taken to a polisher who  polishes the diamond until it shines and becomes the final product. Because of its uniqueness It then becomes precious and highly sought after. Just ask my wife LOL. The same holds true for human beings. By practicing correctly you work towards shining like a diamond. So as you improve physically you naturally improve mentally and spiritually. This is Ninpo. This is the difference between Budo and pure violence.  

I. Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful answer. Can you talk about form?

E. Firstly form is very important, it can be viewed as incapsulated lessons of past masters. First you need to have a qualified teacher teach it to you. Then, you need to have the capacity and emotional intelligence to absorb what you’ve been taught . And, eventually to have the ability to master it, understand how to apply it and transmit it onward.Secondly, you need to be able to adapt the form to the circumstances, times, culture you live in. Otherwise it becomes only a historical practice something that is not alive. True form is alive and is constantly adaptive. This is something that needs to be discovered through practice.

I. Can you talk about your Dojo name and what it means?

E. My school name is Heiho Canada which focus is on improving human lives through the practice and experience of Japanese and Chinese martial arts and culture. Heiho in general referred to as military strategy however it can also be referred to as life strategy. The  Martial arts section of our system is formally called Shinbukan Dojo(神武館道場). The name represent the cumulative martial arts knowledge that I acquired in coherent systemic way for growth and development. 

I.very interesting, it appears to be very unique and different then the average martial school. I find it to be profound in some way. Can you please elaborate more. 

E. Absolutely, Shinbu (Japanese: 神武) is a Japanese phrase, meaning “warrior might”. The term consists of the characters shin/kami (神), meaning “something divine”, and bu (武), denoting warrior. The idea of shinbu embraces physical, spiritual and ethical issues and denotes the condition when all basic principles of martial art are applied simultaneously and in balance. It is my unique way to share the knowLedge to the next generation.

I. You’ve mentioned earlier that you’ve learned several styles. Is your school kinda like an MMA school.

E. No, at our Dojo we don’t mix knowledge. In other words I teach each system independently to preserve its authenticity. We have a curriculum for Ninpo and Jujutsu as well Aikijujutsu and Chugoku Kenpo. Students can choose to study one or multiple systems. 

I. Finally what are your thoughts about the situation around the world today and what advice do you have for people.

E. I think there is a lot of uncertainty which leads to fear. When people are in a state of confusion and fear it’s difficult to make good choices. Life is like a wave, you have highes and Lowes, nothing lasts forever. Also the greater the obstacle the greater opportunity for growth. If you understand that then you will know that the current situation will pass and as a result we will have an opportunity to adapt, overcome and grow stronger. So please persevere and have faith. Respect one another and don’t be quick to make choices. I wish that more people can study Budo so they can have the courage and wisdom to understand these points.

I. Thank you for taking the time and patience.

E. You are most welcome.

The Jewel Tiger

“By polished Taijutsu gives rise to Satchijutsu (the art of reading intentions and knowing what will happen). By knowing the reason of nature, the ninja grasped the changes of heaven and variations of earth. By making use of the changes in nature and existing conditions, they skillfully employed Ninjutsu in the manner appropriate to the circumstances. Tenmon 天 門 (Heavenly Gate, Meteorology, Study Of Nature) is just that. Changes of weather, climate and natural features and the like that are supported by various conditions of the land were made use of by nimbly incorporating them into Ninjutsu. For instance, there is in Chimon 地 門 (Earthy Gate, Geography, Geomancy / Fusui) the secret teaching called “Hidori Daihi” 日 取 大 秘 (Great Secret Of Scheduling). Using circles of red, white and black, the fortunate and ill-fated conditions, days, directions and the like for carrying out Shinobi strategies were determined. It is an expedient means for emboldening the subtly preserving heart, for strengthening the subtly preserving power. It is making use of the probabilities of the laws of nature based on the practical wisdom of assiduously attentive insight.”

The Message from big old tree

“Well, Great Tree, for martial arts, we have a teaching of the spirit of three hearts – San Shin No Kata. This teaching is based on the saying that the spirit of a three year old is with a man until he is a hundred years old. We recognize the importance of early childhood and treasure these important years, when one is unaware of ego, independence and consciousness.” “This San shin No Kata (form of three hearts) is described in a section of secret teachings of the Gyokko Ryu, which teaches beginners that we have to train ourselveswith the spirit of a three year old, not forgetting the spirit even though they think they accomplish these techniques.”

窪地へと落ちる 習いの水なれど やがては登り始めなりけり 寿宗

Kubochi eto ochiru. Naraino mizunaredo. Yagatewa nobori hajimenarikeri

“Water falls down to a hollow but then there is rising again.” – Hisamune