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  • Alessandro Vadalà

An evening lesson with Hatsumi...

Pier is a “zenshin face” and a promising Shodan (1° Dan). Here you can see him in our Dojo (picture by Martina).

This year he traveled with me to Japan and this summer he came back for a touristic journey with his wife. He was obviously “pushed” by me to go to Honbu Dojo to take a lesson with Hatsumi Sensei. Following you’ll find some notes of his of that lesson.

For me it is absolutely normal to invite people to take advantage of these occasions, as for example the chance to visit other instructors around the world. Being independent and free in the cultivation of their own Budo is fundamental. Those who dresses as the “special ones” and those who aren’t open to diversity and to confrontation are just hiding their own weakness and inability to listen, deep down, to Hatsumi Sensei’s teacning, that made sure Budo became something extremely cosmopolitan and to share. So my advice to all the practiotioners… train, travel, visit different instructors and learn their colours. They’ll enrichen you, your classmates and your instructor. Freedom and respect.

Thank you Pier for your words, they are filled of “gokui” (essence) and insights…

I’m continuing the topic started the first lesson of the year to share my recent experience. I’ve been in Japan for 15 days, a touristic journey during which I managed to find an evening to attend to a Soke’s class.

During the journey from Ginza (luxurious district in Tokyo, NdR) to the Dojo I was very nervous, I mean, I was going by myself and I didn’t know who I was going to find. By the time I arrived on the tatami and found a spot to do some stretching a really nice man arrived and asked me “Are you alone?”. Interior peace, from that moment on I felt at home.

That evening Soke began with showing us a derivation of Gyaku Tsuki. Easy? Would be extremely arrogant to think that is easy. The beginning is a way to develop the meaning of Muto Dori. Exactly, what does Muto Dori even mean? The first definition that comes to mind is the scholastic one, “unarmed defense against an enemy armed with a sword”. Looking at Hatsumi though, I noticed that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’d prefer to think of Muto Dori as the most effective way to balance situations of disadvantage. If I were in the condition of having a sword and being attacked at my back by an unarmed enemy, I would still be in the situation to follow Muto Dori principles.

Looking deeper, what I managed to extrapolate from Soke’s class was that Muto Dori represents the most omni comprehensive form of Budo Taijutsu: it is infact based on total control over the adversary using:

- Space

- Mouvement

- Balance

By doing this, explains Hatsumi, we move towards a very direct form of communication with the adversary. To use this to our advantage (since we are starting from a condition of disadvantage), we need to NOT communicate… That’s where things get difficult. Technique is effective when it doesn’t communicate, it disorients, and it creates an empty space in which the adversary is invited to go naturally. It is a form of control done without intention.

At this point Hatsumi adds another fundamental piece of the puzzle. He does some Muto Dori, he let us try (and despair) for a while and then reproaches everyone: we are not supposed to imitate him, it doesn’t make any sense (and we will never make it). What we need to understand is that Muto Dori needs to become our natural way of being, we need to set aside intentions and conflicts and as a direct consequence we will be free to move it without intentions; this is a way of life.

To summarize:

1. Naturalness

2. No thought, just action

3. No intention (manifest)

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