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Combined Primers on Classical Japanese Martial Arts of the Jissen Kobudo Jinenkan

Jinenkan Ottawa Dojo 6/24/2011

A Primer on Koto Ryu Koppojutsu


Koto Ryu Koppojutsu, perhaps more than any other martial tradition within the Jinenkan, expresses power. Within our organization, it is the source of many foundational kamae and striking techniques which teach students to generate power with the whole body. The very name Koto Ryu, meaning "Knock Down Tiger school", embodies this idea. Koppojutsu is frequently written as "bone-breaking technique", further adding to this impression. However, I believe that this interpretation partly obscures this school. In fact, Koto Ryu contains subtleties which, when properly learned, reveal why this school is so fundamental. I am not aware of any dedicated text written by its headmasters which describes these. Therefore, based on my training with Manaka Sensei and my analysis of the characteristics, history, and scrolls of Koto Ryu, I composed this subjective primer hoping to help fill the gap. Any mistakes are solely my own. The word koppo is commonly expressed as "bone-breaking". However, the representative kanji mean "bone" and "method/ law/ rule", respectively (It's worth pointing out that at least one modern dictionary translates it as "(knowing) the knack/ the trick"). Therefore, another possible interpretation is "bone-method". I base this on the observation that the kata often demonstrate strikes to set up grappling or throwing techniques from which it is very hard to take proper ukemi: for example, in several Shoden-level kata (for example, Koyoku, O-Gyaku) the strikes have the effect of stretching the opponent out, and often bowing back the spinal column. These are positions where the opponent's skeletal structure is over-extended, their balance is compromised, and their ability to resist and protect themselves reduced. To accomplish these strikes, precise kyusho, or weak points, are targeted, sometimes with the thumbs or fingers; therefore, the strikes themselves do not damage the skeleton, but rather manipulate it into a position of weakness. Manaka Sensei said Koto Ryu is a type of dakentaijutsu, the category of martial arts in which striking techniques predominate, as opposed to the jutaijutsu category, which emphasizes grappling techniques. However, Koto Ryu certainly contains throws, joint locks and so forth. Sensei said the difference was that dakentaijutsu schools relied a little less on timing and technical set-up of their techniques; if your set-up was not quite correct, the application of more strength was often enough to allow you to finish the technique. Within the Jinenkan, the accepted history of Koto Ryu acknowledges Toda Sakyo Isshinsai as the founder: he received the traditions of both Gyokko-Ryu Shito-jutsu and Koto-Ryu Koppojutsu in the Tenmon period (1532-1550). Though the Shitojutsu apparently already existed, it is unclear to what level the Koppojutsu was organized, formalized, or even named. However it seems that Toda passed them to Momochi Sandayu as Gyokko-Ryu Kosshijutsu and Koto-Ryu Koppojutsu; this suggests that as he had received them as separate traditions, he saw value in keeping them distinct from each other, as opposed to amalgamating them. Through Momochi the traditions were maintained by the Iga Ryu; at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate (1870s) they reached Toda Shinryu-ken, and entered the Togakure Ryu.

A commonly-repeated story is that the Koto Ryu was brought from China via Korea by someone named Chan Busho; since Manaka Sensei has not mentioned this particular story I cannot comment on it. Another is that this school has a distinctive brand of swordsmanship which deliberately tries to look unskilled, and that it features a stance in which the sword is held overhead, parallel to the ground, in an attempt to reflect sunlight into the eyes of an opponent. Again, Manaka Sensei never indicated that there was any surviving tradition of swordsmanship in Koto Ryu. What does survive, however, are the several categories of techniques passed down through the densho (scrolls of teachings). By examining these, we can appreciate the strategies, tactics, and curriculum of the Koto Ryu. Before the techniques themselves are the kamae, or stances. In Koto Ryu, these are collectively called Kurai-dori, an expression meaning to take a (defensive) position. This implies that more is involved than your body posture alone. Manaka Sensei teaches that, as in choosing or building a fortification, you would have to consider your environment; this includes the terrain, the weather, and the adversaries disposition in your choice of where and how to stand. Therefore, stances are not automatically or blindly chosen; they are carefully selected to represent awareness of your surroundings, and what strategy you are adopting to accomplish a goal. Koto Ryu does not formally have a formal catalog of basic techniques, unlike the Gyokko Ryu. Any such material may well have been lost to the mists of time. Therefore, to provide the Jinenkan with a basic training protocol, Manaka Sensei examined the Gyokko Ryu. He analyzed the movement of Koto Ryu, and using the Moto Gata ("basic forms") and Torite Kihon Gata ("hand-catching basic forms") of Gyokko Ryu as a template, he established a similar set of techniques for Koto Ryu. These enable students to learn the basic movements, strikes, blocks and grappling techniques of the ryu-ha. The first scroll of techniques, the Shoden-Gata, comprises 18 kata. In each, the kata begins with the opponent (Uke) attacking by grabbing or striking empty-handed. The practitioner (Tori) begins either from one of the kamae in the Kurai-dori, or from Hira no Kamae, an open, natural stance. From this starting point, the Ukes attack is defended against, and he is then counter-attacked where an opening exists. Manaka Sensei teaches that the Shoden-Gata demonstrate many different kyusho, or weak points, and well as methods of attacking them. In addition, at this stage to it is important learn Koto Ryus characteristic straight-line movement. Through analyzing the kata, I observe that much of the footwork of this ryu-ha could be mapped onto the shape of a giant X placed on the ground. If you envision yourself at the center, and your opponent in the upper open portion of this X and attacking down into the center, the footwork is often in diagonal, straight-line movements along the arms of the X. Instead of stepping straight back against the Ukes attack, the footwork moves Tori away on an angle. Often, the results are that Tori will either angle forward, abruptly moving to Ukes unprotected side, or will first angle back, which leads Uke to follow; in this case, Tori often suddenly switches direction, moving to where Uke has overextended himself. This control of maai, or distance, demonstrates elementary tactical maneuvering. When I first learnt the Shoden-Gata, my sempai David Hewitt made the observation that this scroll was largely a self-defense course, and I agree with this summary.

The middle scroll of techniques, the Chuden-Gata, contains 12 forms. The express purpose of these kata are to help the student learn nimble body movements. They expand on what is taught in the previous scroll to include techniques based more on the practitioner's body turning, dropping, and especially leaping through the air. While in videos I have often seen the leaping initiated at very close range, at least sometimes this may have been done due to the limits of filming. Manaka Sensei emphasized that the goal was to leap into range very quickly from far away; he advocated training to leap at least the width of one tatami mat, and then to increase the distance until you could leap the length of one mat. This would not only apply forwards, but in every direction. Again, David Hewitt observed that once you had learned the first scroll for self-defense, the middle scroll was about conditioning. The Okuden-Gata scroll is made up of 12 forms. In many schools of classical Japanese martial arts, it would be the final level of teachings, reserved for students who were fully initiated into the traditions of the ryu-ha, including that of secrecy. In Koto Ryu, it is the penultimate scroll. Manaka Sensei wrote that these forms are for practicing taihenjutsu, or the technique of body movement. These kata continue to build on what has been learned previously, but with two important considerations: in some kata the opponent now wields a kodachi, or short sword; throughout the kata, explicitly or implicitly there is the threat of multiple potential attackers. In my opinion, the actual physical techniques in this scroll would not be out of place in the previous ones; however, the focus is learning to use taihenjutsu to assess and control the environment. Just as the Kurai-dori, at the beginning of Koto Ryu, teach the practitioner to consider how and where they should stand, the Okuden-Gata extends this to considering how and where to move. It includes context that was previously missing. The final scroll in Koto Ryu is the Hekito-Kata, which contains eight forms. The name can be translated as "barrier (against) a sword forms". All are practice for Muto-Dori (unarmed defense against a sword). Manaka Sensei has written that to accomplish these techniques, you must be capable of using your taihenjutsu (the body movements learned in the previous scrolls) to escape the opponent's weapon. In this scroll, the techniques against the sword include striking, disarming, leaping and falling. In my opinion, if you have mastered the taihenjutsu, it will act as a barrier through your control of distance and the environment. Koto Ryu contains not only techniques, but also a progressively challenging curriculum in tactical awareness. If students rigorously apply themselves to first learn the characteristic movements, then embrace the conditioning, and throughout develop their ability to assess situations tactically, they will make great progress. If they persist, these attributes will become deeply ingrained and automatic: like the tiger, they will not hesitate, but move powerfully and instinctively, carrying with them the "knack" for fighting.

A Primer on Jinen Ryu Bikenjutsu


At its inception, the Jinenkan possessed the teachings of two separate traditional swordsmanship lineages: the Kukishin Ryu and the Togakure Ryu. However, only the kata had been passed down from antiquity- any fundamentals and a method of teaching real cutting were lacking. Manaka Sensei realized new students would have to undergo the laborious trial-and-error process he himself had endured to learn how to cut properly for combat. With this in mind, and an eye to emphasizing the natural principles (the movements of air and water, the suddenness of storms and lightning) at the heart of his teachings, he created Jinen Ryu Bikenjutsu. By carefully practicing Biken (as it is also called), students gain awareness of the cultural significance and practical reality of swordsmanship. This primer will aid students outline the structure and important points of the ryu. Despite almost disappearing from the public eye, swords and swordsmanship still exert a powerful cultural fascination. Their impact on language and society are very deep- we can describe intellectual debate as being like a fencing match, or say that a person has a rapier wit; and while the firearm is definitely a symbol of power, it is a symbol used by both the police officer and the thug, whereas the sword is still the mark of a gentleman. Furthermore, the sword attracts that part of us which values dedication and long practice, and which views training as honing the wielders body and character. In practical martial arts training, the sword is far from obsolete. Within the past few years, there have been notable cases of assaults with machetes, or even with live-blade swords. It is surprising how readily and inexpensively one can purchase either of the above. A cutting blade isnt even necessary- any kind of stabbing point is lethal enough. Furthermore, many other common weapons- baseball bats, pipes, sticks, axes, long knives- share similar characteristics with swords. Considering this, martial arts students deeply require opportunities to familiarize and acclimatize themselves to these ancient but ever-present weapons. Jinen Ryu Biken itself reflects some very traditional aspects of Japanese martial arts. It contains an ordered series of kata, divided into scrolls; each scroll devotes itself to a certain theme. Students learn the techniques and scrolls in order. Each kata is a short two-person (or more) sequence designed to teach a specific kind of movement or concept. It is critical to know the meaning of the name and the important points, or the lesson of the kata is lost. Jinen Ryu means House of Nature- the goal is to learn swordsmanship of a splendid and nimble nature, which is in accord with natural movement. Manaka Sensei patterned the systems structure after Miyamoto Musashis famous Go Rin no Sho- the Book of Five Rings. There are five scrolls: Chi no Maki (Earth Scroll), Sui no Maki (Water Scroll), Hi no Maki (Fire Scroll), Fu no Maki (Wind Scroll), and Ku no Maki (Void, or Emptiness, Scroll). Despite the impressive names, the scrolls are direct and pragmatic, rather than esoteric in nature. Musashi himself never wrote about actual techniques, only generalities the warrior had to understand- anything more specifically described could be stolen and used against him. By contrast, Manaka Sensei needed to create a practical course in sword technique for his students, and a way to guide and order their training.

The first scroll is the Chi no Maki, or Earth Scroll. As befits the name, it presents the material that is the foundation of all other technique. The first part of this scroll is kamae, or stances. As with the scrolls, there are five kamae for Jinen Ryu, which cover the major avenues of attack. Each kamae has a specific meaning and feeling- if one has perfect physical form but does not concentrate on having this feeling, the kamae is incorrect. The other part of the Chi no Maki is called Kihon Toho- literally Basic Sword Way. This is a sequence of the seven fundamental cuts. Though there are other attacks with the sword, they are almost all variations of these seven. If students practice Kihon Toho, using the whole body instead of only the arms to generate power, they will develop the ability to cut straight through, instead of merely making surface or jagged cuts. The next scroll is the Sui no Maki, or Water Scroll. The central teaching is called Ryufu no Tachi, which means to be yielding and unresisting, like the water willow tree which bends in the wind, instead of bluntly resisting. These techniques are called uke tachi, or the receiving sword- they are techniques for receiving and countering attacks: specifically, the attacks from the Hi no Maki. These should not be thought of as defense per se; they are not merely passively escaping the attack, but for actively seeking openings and pressing home a counterattack. Footwork is extremely important. The following scroll is the Hi no Maki, or Fire Scroll. It contains techniques of attack, called uchi tachi, or the striking sword. These techniques demonstrate attacking from the kamae of Jinen Ryu. Again, the central principle is Raiko no Tachi- to develop attacks that are fast like a lightning bolt, attacking both an enemys body and balance. Fire comes after water in traditional Japanese symbology, and the order of scrolls respects this. However, these techniques must really be taught before or alongside those of the Sui no Maki. The fourth scroll is the Fu no Maki, the Wind Scroll. The main teaching of this longest scroll is Hayate no Tachi, which means to be flexible and changeable. Having mastered the single attacks and counters from earlier, here the student learns to handle more complex situations, and opponents armed with swords or other weapons. Footwork and timing are more important than ever before. The attacks are also less predictable, so the student must learn to watch carefully and then move all at once, without holding back. The last scroll is the Ku no Maki, or Void Scroll. The main point of this scroll is called Mugen no Tachi, which means entering a state of mu, or emptiness. The kata here are for dealing with situations where you confront multiple opponents. These are considered the most dangerous circumstances. The descriptions of these kata are brief- they do not teach precise movements, but rather a single idea for prevailing in each situation. The student should already have mastered the basic skills and movement, and be able to enter a state of mu and apply their technique in a fluid and natural way, seeing the weak points in the enemy group and exploiting them without thought. Jinen Ryu Biken is not especially long, but it is compact and thorough. Mastering these skills will take years. However, the rewards of constant practice in practical swordsmanship are immensely and immediately satisfying.

A Primer on the Tanto and Jinen Ryu Tantojutsu


Classical Japanese martial arts are famous for the variety of, and high level of skill refinement in, traditional weapons of the culture. The knife or dagger known as the tanto, however, occupies an unusual niche in the arsenal. Though it is well known in martial arts, very little of its accompanying fighting techniques, referred to as tantojutsu, have either survived or been propagated. The founder of the Jinenkan, Manaka Sensei, learnt the combative use of the tanto from Hatsumi Sensei and through his own experience, but not a curriculum of kata (forms) he could use to teach. Therefore, through experimenting and research he created such a curriculum for his own ryu-ha, and founded Jinen Ryu Tantojutsu. This article will attempt to explain the characteristics of this weapon, and how it is practiced in our organization. Bladed weapons are among the most famous Japanese martial weapons, including the yari (the spear which is symbolically linked to the creation of the island nation), the naginata (a halberd often ascribed to female warriors), and of course the katana, wakizashi and tachi- swords which are boundlessly depicted as the symbols of the bushi or warrior class. Knives do not seem as frequently depicted, but were certainly present in wide variety. Known by many names (from the yoroidoshi armor-piercing dagger to the small kaiken commonly associated with women) and bearing many designs, they are collectively referred to as tanto. They ranged from being very plain and utilitarian, to commanding as much attention and care in manufacture as the swords they accompanied. The characters comprising the name are, respectively, the kanji for short and sword, affirming their close relation to swords. The typical tanto blade design resembles the larger swords: it is single-edged, with the blade curving up towards the point. Double-edged tanto are not unknown: often they were re-mounted spear blades, just as sometimes single-edged tanto were created from broken swords. A tanto may vary greatly in length: one range given is 15-30 cm (6-12 inches), which approaches and blurs the line between tanto and kodachi (short sword). Some bear a tsuba (guard) similar to a sword, and possibly as ornate; others have no guard, and the hilt simply meets the mouth of the scabbard when sheathed (as seen in the aikuchi). During the Warring States period prior to the 17th century, the tanto was often the backup weapon to the longer sword the tachi on the battlefield. In an agrarian and medieval culture such as feudal period Japan, they were probably more than a fighting weapon or symbol of authority: a knife would have been a tool for everyday chores. It could be carried everywhere, even indoors where a sword would be inappropriate or even cumbersome. Many smaller tanto were carried by women, tucked into the obi (sash) where it would be out of the way but readily drawn when needed. Even beyond the warrior class, the laboring classes would have needed them for mundane tasks; despite the prohibitions on weapons, it would have been impossible to remove the need for cutting implements, and therefore knives themselves. For the laborer, a common method of carry would have been inside the jacket, in front the abdomen, where it would have been ready but concealed. Some tanto were concealed by design inside sheaths resembling everyday items such as fans or walking sticks.

Despite their non-exclusive past, they are perhaps the most successful survivor of Japanese weapons. Various characteristics of tanto have been studied and reproduced by modern knifemakers and blademaking companies seeking utilitarian tools. The classical blade design is excellent for stabbing and penetrating; a modern twist is to make the blade more linear and geometric, resembling a chisel rather than sweeping up towards the point. The spine is often thickened for reinforcement. In addition, the hilt, scabbard and blade itself are frequently made of the most modern materials, and the overall design emphasizes these functional innovations, rather than tradition. By contrast, the traditional fighting styles associated with this weapon dont appear to have fared as well; they are only infrequently encountered. The one book I encountered dedicated to the subject, Russell Maynards Tanto: Japanese Knives and Knife Fighting, was published in 1986 and not followed by others: though it has considerable historical information, it does not mention by name the ryu-ha it depicts. There is historical evidence that it was a weapon of last resort, or when the wielder did not care for their own life: Manaka Sensei has commented that as recently as in the lead-up to the Second World War, it was not unknown for a young officer, wielding a dagger, to sacrifice his life by assassinating politicians believed to be disloyal. Also, there is the fact that both men and women of the warrior class would use the tanto to commit seppuku (formal suicide) in order not to suffer disgrace or be captured by an enemy. In both these historical examples, the resolve of the wielder is what is expressed, not technique. When Manaka Sensei created the Jinen Ryu, he faced the challenge of understanding the principles of the weapon, but needing a syllabus of formal kata to teach from. Realizing that moving the whole body, and not focusing solely on the knife, was the key, he drew on Koto Ryu Koppojutsu and Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu (in which he has menkyo-kaiden license) for the body movement. Striking with the knife involves essentially the same movements as unarmed strikes. Manaka Sensei placed the highest importance on muto (no sword); since using a short knife to intercept an opponents weapon is almost impossible, moving the body as if unarmed is a better approach. The result is Jinen Ryu Tantojutsu. The Tantojutsu is organized into Kamae, Kihon Gata, and Sabaki Gata. The Kamae, or stances, include not only the physical postures, but also ways of gripping the knife, as well as the attitude or psychological component. There are seven Kamae. The Kihon Gata are the basic forms, and include methods of thrusting and cutting, as well as moving. It is important not to become fixated on the knife, and only rely on putting power into the knife-bearing arm; rather, the Kihon Gata trains you to respond to various attacks from each Kamae. There are five scenarios for each Kamae in the Kihon Gata. It is here the essence of Tantojutsu reveals itself: instead of the training partner wielding a similar knife, he wields a sword. Small movements or resisting by using your own knife will not suffice. You must move decisively, and rely on your body movements for power. This approach helps connect the knife to the students footwork, incorporating the two from the outset of training. In addition, the knife is not your only option: you still have one free hand with which to trap, seize or control the opponent. By arming the partner with a sword, this training method also underscores a critical point: this is not dueling, where the opponents are roughly equal. You are immediately outmatched, and must rely on developing solid technique.

The final level of training is the Sabaki Gata. These are the forms for performing skillfully. Having practiced many kinds of body movements in the previous level, these more advanced forms focus on application. There are three kata for every Kamae, for a total of 21 kata. An important point is that each set of kata emphasizes different kinds of grips; this changes the striking and controlling options available. The training partner may be armed with a sword or a knife. This drastically changes the range, and also the options open for both partners. Also, there are more advanced options for both striking the opponent with your other limbs, and for controlling the opponent by locking, throwing, or otherwise suppressing them. This bears careful study, as it includes the possibility of subduing an adversary without actually killing them. In certain kata, the knife is used at the end of the technique to finish the opponent; this can be omitted if it is unnecessary. Finally, this presents the possibility of using tantojutsu when you are not actually armed with a knife: a variety of short, similar items could be substituted. I believe this final point is worth concluding on: the functional value of tantojutsu. Despite the attention paid to swords and other weapons, it is the tanto and its design characteristics that have propagated in the modern period. Knives have been, and remain, extremely useful, adaptable and common. However, this is not an endorsement of carrying a knife for self-defense. As Manaka Sensei has demonstrated, moving your body as if you are not armed is the core of these teachings. Therefore, the knife can be replaced. In addition, Jinen Ryu Tantojutsu does not present the knife as a weapon of assassination; instead, the opponent is depicted as aware, menacing, and better armed. The tanto is not a replacement for your technique; it is an extension of the body protecting itself in a moment of dire need.

A Primer on Kukishin Ryu Bojutsu


Bojutsu is the Japanese name for what may be the oldest martial skill in the world: the art of wielding a stick or pole. The word actually includes all manners of sticks, but in this case is the more common name for Rokushakubojutsu, the art of the six foot staff. An ability to demonstrate Bojutsu techniques is central to gaining rank in the Jinenkan, so it is important that any serious student of the Jinenkan develop a thorough understanding of this art. Throughout Japanese history, the Bo has been different from other weapons, in that it was available to all social classes, and not only restricted to the warrior clans: priests, wanderers, ronin, common people indeed, anyone who could pick up a stick had access to this weapon. The Bo itself is six shaku (a shaku is roughly one imperial foot in length) in length; by contrast, the Jo, or cane, was four to five shaku and the Hanbo was three shaku. In Japan these poles were traditionally made of Akagashi (Japanese evergreen red oak), but in the West other hardwoods such as oak or maple, or even exotic hardwoods such as purple heartwood, are excellent substitutes. One important note is that our Bo does not taper near the ends (forming a toothpick shape); because we often wield the Bo from the ends, we need a Bo that fills the hand and wont slip out. The Bojutsu of the Jinenkan comes from the Kukishin Ryu (Nine Demon Gods School), an ancient school descending from Chinese martial arts, and developed on the Japanese battlefields of the 16th century. Within this school, there is much similarity to the techniques of Sojutsu, the art of the spear: the differences are that the Bo is held with both hands palm-down, whereas the spear is held with the leading hand palm-up. This means the spears focus is using the bladed tip, whereas both ends of the staff must be used equally, frequently changing between the two. Anciently, it was the Kukishin Ryu was so powerful that, carrying a bo or bisento (a heavy battlefield halberd) and using these techniques, one could attack into the midst of hundreds of opponents all alone just as though simple walking along level ground, just like a demon god (Kishin).* In the Kukishin Ryu Rokushakubojutsu, there are a set of basic techniques called the Kihon Gata, followed by four scrolls of kata: the Shoden Gata, Chuden Gata, Sabaki Gata, and Okuden Gata. The Shoden (first level), Chuden (middle level), and Okuden (secret level) scrolls each contain nine kata, split into groups of three, for a total of 27 kata. These expound on the fundamental ideas contained in Kukishin Ryu, which also covered in the other weapons of the school. However, the 26 forms of the Sabaki Gata (forms of skilfulness) deserve special mention, as Manaka Sensei has focused special attention on them in the past. This scroll includes every kind of movement with the Bo contained in the Kukishin Ryu; if only the Sabaki Gata is learned thoroughly, then all the other techniques of the school will be available to you. Manaka Sensei has said that the Sabaki Gata, is faithful in including the type of movement explained in the Rokushaku Bojutsu Kihon Gata*, and if you master these fundamentals, even without knowing any techniques you will be plenty capable of fighting*. I believe that is why Manaka Sensei included the techniques of the Kihon and Sabaki Gata on all the Jinenkan rank tests.

Bojutsu is very dynamic: the kata involve numerous attacks from changing angles, with strike following after strike. Manaka Sensei has always taught that on completing a kata, it is very important to jump back. This is because, as he has repeatedly taught, the Bo is a very weak weapon: this means that unlike a sword, spear or knife you cannot simply place a stick against an opponent and injure or deter them: you need to maintain the proper ma-ai, or distance, for powerful striking. This is part of the reason that, in the kata, the partner /opponent is armed with a bokuto, (wooden sword): to observe the correct distance. Bojutsu practice can therefore be done in an aerobic manner or as conditioning. Ive found that, while practicing alone, one tends to move forwards and backwards. Therefore, practice with a partner is helpful to learn to do the kata while moving side-to-side and in other directions. One form of bunkai (analysis) is to break the kata apart, having the partner armed with the bokuto countering each of the Bo strikes and cutting the wielder where he is open, and then finding how to move to counter with the next Bo strike. Of course, such training should be done slowly and safely. While practicing either alone or with a partner, it is important to keep the specific important points of each kata in mind, and to make your movements reflect them. Also, training should be done for power as well, such as striking with the Bo against a tree or post. If you do this, I recommend massaging your hands immediately afterwards to work out any stiffness from the repeated impacts. When taken together, there are 53 kata in the Rokuboshakujutsu alone: there are further sets of kata for Jojutsu and Hanbojutsu. This means the Bojutsu of the Jinenkan is very rich and complete. However, one should not measure ones knowledge or ability at Bojutsu by the number of kata in a notebook; after all, the kata are simply ways of expressing an idea or strategy, mostly through the same basic techniques. Even ten or twenty minutes of daily practice in the basics will yield improvement and longterm growth in the martial arts. *- quoted from Manaka Senseis monthly articles on the Kukishin Ryu densho.

A Primer on Hanbojutsu
The hanbo is a fundamental weapon and training tool of the Jinenkan. It is a simple, straight, three-foot long hardwood stick, but it's method of use varies greatly from those of other staff weapons. Learning to use it in stickfighting requires using the whole body in a relaxed and coordinated manner. Though the weapon is very plain, the art of hanbojutsu contains many remarkable lessons. Hanbo means simply "half-staff (stick)". An alternate name is San-Jyaku-Bo, meaning a stick three shaku long, where one shaku equals roughly one foot. This alternate name originates from when a Rokushaku (six foot) Bo is cut in half by a sword.

The hanbojutsu, or half-staff technique, of the Jinenkan originates in the Kukishin Ryu. This ancient martial school also teaches Rokushaku Bojutsu and Jojutsu; however, hanbojutsu is very different from these other stickfighting arts. The opponent is generally assumed to be wielding a sword; therefore, the longer sticks must be used in an aggressive manner, keeping the swordsman at long range and preventing him from closing. By contrast, the hanbo is too short to keep a swordsman back. Learning these methods requires entering in close to an armed opponent. Therefore, the hanbo is used to get inside the sword to close range, and then strike, pin the attacker's arms, or otherwise subdue him. The kata ("forms") are reactive- allowing the opponent to move first, and then moving to exploit an opening. None of the kamae ("stances") resemble pure fighting stances, and do not look threatening. The varied methods of using the hanbo include "scissoring, thrusting, striking, placing and scraping, and placing and pushing." The Kukishin Ryu does not contain as many hanbo forms Rokushaku Bojutsu, but learning the timing and way to enter properly can be quite difficult. Unlike Bojutsu, Jojutsu, Filipino Martial Arts, or other such styles, the hanbo is not wielded in an aggressive way. Often, the exponent holds it like a cane, or in another unobtrusive way. Therefore, developing acute timing and footwork are essential. Strikes with the hanbo are often delivered in a reverse manner, with the stick projecting from the little-finger side of the hand, not up from the thumb. Power is not generated by the arm and shoulder muscles, but by moving the whole body as one unit. This allows the hanbo to strike suddenly from surprising positions and with little telegraphing. It requires whole-body coordination involving the legs, hips, arms, and wrists. The exponent learns to grip the hanbo with either or both hands, and must master grasping it firmly and lightly, sliding it between the hands, releasing it with either hand, and changing grip. Kukishin Ryu Hanbojutsu (or Sanjyaku-bojutsu) uses a familiar system of organizating techniques. Students first learn the Kihon Happo, or set of "Eight Basic Techniques". This teaches students methods of swinging the hanbo, striking with it, and catching and locking an attacker. The Kihon Happo is the only place where the attacker is unarmed. The following level, the Shoden no Kata or "forms of the first teachings", specifies the attacker is armed with a Shoto ("short sword"): there are nine techniques. In the remaining levels, the Chuden no Kata ("middle teachings") and Okuden no Kata ("secret teachings"),

the opponent is armed with a Daito, or "long sword". There are, respectively, four and three kata in each level. In many ways, the hanbo is the counterpart of the bo; whereas the bo requires dynamic movement and aggressive application, the hanbo seems "quieter" and more unassuming. Both weapons require movement involving the whole body, with the hanbo emphasizing waiting for the right moment, and then moving decisively. This quality and kind of movement are essential to making progress in martial arts. Because wielding it requires whole body coordination, it instantly reveals bad habits to an examiner's eye. Practicing rigorously with the hanbo improves overall movement, and the ability to generate power seemingly without warning. Command of timing and distance also improve with steady practice. Mastering this weapon is difficult, but also essential to understanding the fundamental principles of our martial arts. The quotation above and the source material for this essay were drawn from Manaka Sensei's article "Kukishin-Ryu Hanbojutsu (Sanjaku Bojutsu)", owned under copyright (2000) by the Jissen Kobudo Jinenkan. In addition, slight variations in the anglicized spelling of Japanese names were used, to reflect that different spellings may be used. This article is a revised version of one published on the Jinenkan Ottawa Dojo Web site in 2003-2004.