Saturday, October 5, 2013

Toshimi ‘Hosaku’ Matsuda’s 松田敏美 Daito Ryu Legacy

                               
                                                                  
Sokaku Takeda
The great teacher of Daito Ryu AikiJujutsu 大東流合気柔術 , Sokaku Takeda 武田 惣角 , taught many students in his career.   Eighteen of his best students in his early career were presented with Kyoju Dairi (教授代理, "representative instructor") many of these instructors became very well known, and founded lineages and schools of Daito Ryu.  Toshimi美 Matsuda 松田 was one of these pupils of Takeda sensei.  Despite Toshimi Matsuda's influence, and esteemed position as a pioneer of Daito Ryu, very little has been written about this man and the influence his art and teaching practice has had.
                                                                         
  In 1910 Sokaku Takeda accompanied his friend who was the former Akita police chief who was transferred to Hokkaido.  Takeda made Hokkaido the center of his teaching career for the next 20 years.  Out of the Northern prefecture of Japan many of the great Daito Ryu teachers would meet and train with Sokaku Takeda and learn the art from him.


Toshimi ‘Hosaku’ Matsuda 松田敏美was born in 1895 or 1896.   One source claims he was born Hosaku, and Toshimi was his pen name he later adopted.  Toshimi Matsuda lived in Asahikawa City, Hokkaido.  By some reports he was a military officer.  Toshimi began training in June of 1928 at the age of 33.   An entry has his name in the Daito Ryu logs at this time.  He then later received the kyoju-dari certificate from Sokaku Takeda in August 1929.
Toshimi ‘Hosaku’ Matsuda  松田敏美
  (Either his starting date is incorrect, or he was an exceptional student because a kyoju-dari is quite an advanced grading at that point in history.  Only 18 people received this grading from Takeda.  While dojo heads were only authorized to teach in their own schools, a kyoju-dari was authorized to teach at other schools as well.)

At some point in his training he must have known or trained at the same time as famed Kodo Horikawa, founder of the Kodokai – also a resident of Hokkaido.   Seigo Okamoto of the Roppokai says his teacher, Horikawa Kodo, often spoke about Toshimi Matsuda.

After receiving his teaching license Matsuda taught the art in the Asahikawa City, Hokkaido by opening a dojo, the Shobukan 松武會.



                               
Group photo at Shobukan  松武會



Throughout his teaching career Matsuda sensei produced many students.  Some carried on his direct line of Daito Ryu.  The man that became his direct successor was Takeshi Maeda.  Other students of Toshimi Matsuda went on to form their own styles of jujutsu based on his teachings.  Several Korean names have been documented among his students, and some of these went on to contribute to the growth of Hapkido in Korea.  In the 1930's, up until around 1936, he was the Daito Ryu teacher of Okuyama Yoshiharu (Yoshiji) also known as Ryuho Okuyama, founder of Hakko-ryu Ju-jutsu.

The two men that are probably best known for carrying on the art and Daito Ryu legacy of Matsuda Sensei are Takeshi Maeda and Ryuho Okuyama.

At this time I cannot find information about the passing of Toshimi Matsuda.  What is clear about his life and art, is that he was tremendously influential and a great many artists and arts have descended from his practice.


                                     
  





Takeshi Maeda (前田 武)  Daito-Ryu Aiki-jujutsu 練心館 Renshinkan
Toshimi Matsuda (left) and Takeshi Maeda (right)

「集中力」ではなく、触れることで相手を無抵抗にさせることだと思います。接点から気を出して、丹田から足へと伝えることによって相手を動けない状態にしてしまう。あとは投げようが倒そうが、こちらの意のままです。師匠の松田敏美には「力を入れるな」と教わりました。師の手を握った時の感触を覚えておいて、あとは自分でいろいろ思考錯誤することで身に付くはずです。私の場合には30年ぐらい掛かりましたね。
“It is not “Shuchu-ryoku” (“focused power”), I believe that it is to make the opponent non-resistant upon touch. Extend Ki through the contact point, transmit from the Tanden to the feet and put the opponent in a condition in which they are unable to move. After that, they may be thrown or taken down at will. I was taught by my teacher Toshimi Matsuda “Don’t put in power!”. One must remember the feel of taking the teacher’s hand and then absorb it through their own process of trial and error. In my case it took about thirty years.”



Toshimi Matsuda, through his work, often had the opportunity to travel to the capital from Asahikawa. It seems that he took advantage of these opportunities to place in a newspaper an advertisement announcing lessons for DaitoRyu AikiJujutsu. By reading this, Maeda became interested and visited Matsuda sensei who was staying in a hostel in Asakusa. 


Asakusa 1920s/30s
                           

After observing Matsuda perform techniques Maeda became interested and asked to become a student. Maeda had then no experience in koryu, his only experience was having practiced the Kodokan Judo.  Thereafter, when he went to Tokyo, Matsuda sensei led the training of Daito Ryu in
the same hostel.  Maeda was a pharmacist.  He had the opportunity to travel to a meeting of the Federation of pharmacies in Sapporo, and when the event was over, he extended his trip to Asahikawa to receive teaching from Matsuda sensei at the Shobukan dojo.  At the rate of one week per month, Maeda sensei could learn Daito Ryu with Matsuda sensei whenever it went to Tokyo for business. In addition, Maeda sensei made a stay for one week dojo at the Shobukan in Asahikawa.  Thus, by repeating these periods a week of practice, he learned the art. Until the late '20s, for members of Daito Ryu, there was no daily training at the dojo, all training was in seminars or private lessons.










Takeshi Maeda
The forms of Daito Ryu that Maeda sensei taught Matsuda sensei were close 
to the old forms taught by Takeda sensei students to various locations. What in the education received Maeda sensei method, we learn the Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu through five groups of techniques, from tower to tower Ikkajo (first group) to Gokajo (fifth group). These steps were already important in learning and training at the time of Takeda Sokaku and Toshimi Matsuda. In the aftermath of the war, Maeda sensei who had returned to his hometown of Omama in Gunma Prefecture, took the estate of a pharmacy and opened a dojo Renshinkan to teach Daito Ryu. He also toured teachingin the prefectures of Nagano, Gunma and Tochigi. It even came to pick a vehicle of Self-Defense Forces to ask him to make a demonstration of Daito Ryu in a military barracks in the Gunma prefecture in 1963.  Of budoka from various schools also rendered him even though he did not put forward on the stage of the martial arts world tours. Notably, Kenji Tomiki sensei, student Morihei Ueshiba and in relation to the Kodokan, asked to see the real Daito Ryu.




                                                      

                    Ryuho Okuyama  (奥山龍峰八光流柔術 Hakko-Ryu Jujutsu

                                                 

Okuyama was an instructor of Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu which he studied from two people: Kyoju Dairi Matsuda (Toshimi) Hosaku and later Takeda Sokaku himself. In 1938 Okuyama finished his studies with Takeda and published a martial art text called Daito-ryu Goshinjutsu (The Daito System of Self-Protection), later founded the Dai-Nippon Shidokai (Greater Japan Way of the Samurai Association) and began teaching what he called Daito Hiden Shido (Secret Daito-Ryu Way of the Samurai). Okuyama's first Dojo was located in Asahikawa and was called Nippon Shidokai Ryubukan. In 1939 he moved to Kanda and opened another dojo called Dai Nihon Shidokai. This marked the beginning of the split from Daito-ryu, as by this time Takeda was very old and his son Tokimune was still very young. Seeing no place for advancement in the Daito-ryu school, and being a skilled medical and martial person,[1] Okuyama began to form his own system based on Daito-ryu Jujutsu and Daito-ryu Aiki no jutsu as well as his experience in other forms of bujutsu.


                                                            from Wikipedia




Okuyama, Maeda and Minami Haizan - teacher of shiatsu to Okuyama


Maeda sensei had good relationship with Okuyama sensei.   Maeda was at Okuyama's side when he founded the Hakko Ryu.   I ha e even seen some reports that in the early days of Hakko Ryu, Maeda sensei would travel and teach at Hakko Ryu trainings.   Maeda ended up becoming the direct successor to the Toshimi Matsuda Daito Ryu lineage, while his friend Okuyama went on to focus on his own organization and art.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September video

Just some clips from the past summer and the spring retreat with Nick Ushin Lowry.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

一期一会 Tea, Brush and Budo



Ii Naosuke (1815 -1860)





Ii Naosuk井伊 直弼 was daimyo of Hikone and also Tairō (chief elder) of Tokugawa  Shogunate. He was an accomplished practitioner of the Sekishūryū school of 茶道 tea ceremony.  In his writings he coined the famous phrase   Ichi-go ichi-e ("one chance, one encounter")  Ichi-go ichi-e is linked with Zen and concepts of temporary and transitory and the importance of being in the “here and now”. The term is often brushed onto scrolls which are hung in the tea room. In the context of tea ceremony, ichi-go ichi-e reminds participants that each tea ceremony is unique.  It is a reminder that one should honor the moment as an once in a lifetime gathering.  The message is to cherish the importance of every meeting for it will never happen again. 


In 書道 shodo, the way of the brush,  Ichi-go ichi-e is exemplified.  The moment the brush touches paper can only happen once.  It is a pure moment of practice.  Yuehping Yen writes “Chinese calligraphy is a live hi fidelity record of physical forces involved in brush play. The motor act leaves an imprint on the produced form.”  He goes to write, “Graphic energy or visual dynamics in Chinese calligraphy can be fully understood in the use of force in wielding the brush. Once a stroke is written it is forbidden to retouch it with the brush.  Once ink leaves a mark on the paper its destiny is finalized.  In other words, after an ink stroke is written it cannot be scraped off, erased written over or modified in any way.  Therefore a written work can be seen as a trace of a succession of brushstrokes of no return.” ArtVirtue writes “Amending or retouching (  ) is considered a "failure" and "dishonest" in calligraphy. It’s forbidden for all students and calligraphers at all levels. In China and many other Asian countries, calligraphers, scholars, officers, emperors or presidents may lose trust to people if they are found to retouch their strokes in brush writing.”  There is a strict rule that writing should come directly from the mind and skill of an artist.  A retouched brush stroke can easily be seen by experienced artists. But even more than that, retouching discourages the development of skill.  The aspiring artist robs themselves of genuineness of form because they have chosen an easier way. 






The term  is also much repeated in 武道 budo (martial way).  Budoka need the reminder not to cheat the moment in their martial brushstrokes.  Where can we find "failure" and "dishonesty" in the budo practice?  My first thought is in not owning mistakes “retouching”.  The first touch of a budoka is as pure a moment as when the brush touches paper.  We ‘retouch’ when we refuse find the mechanics that make it really work.  Instead some budoka choose to program unrealistic partners – expecting them to fall rather than find legitimate technique.  The aspiring artist robs themselves of genuineness of form because they have chosen an easier way. 


  is used to remind those who become careless and break the flow of techniques to stop techniques midway to "try again," rather than moving on despite the mistake.  This is another form of retouching.   As budoka we own the mistake and deal with the problems that arise from it.Even though techniques may be attempted many times in the dojo, each should be seen as a singular and decisive event.  In a life-or-death encounter there are no "do overs."  There is only the one chance to deal with the problem.

Photo by Chris Barense





 Maybe most importantly, like in the context of tea ceremony,  ichi-go ichi-e reminds participants that each day in the dojo is unique. It is a reminder that one should honor the moment, the dojo, the people, and the art as an once in a lifetime gathering. That is, we should cherish the importance of every meeting for it will never happen again. For indeed the dojo is like a phantasm.  Look around the hall and see all the faces of teachers and students.  It only exists at ‘this moment’.  Before long people drift off, or die off and the fabric of the practice changes yet again.  We lose buildings and people and our practice forever morphs into something different. 



                The preciousness of THIS moment of training can never be overstated.
  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Zen Aesthetic Principles in Budo

                       

                 Zen Aesthetic Principles in Budo



In the training halls that come from the Japanese martial lineage we find what was once simple and crude acts of violence elevated to a a high art form that transcends the physical techniques and moves us towards a far deeper practice. These arts that have sprung from Japan emerge from a rich and formal artistic tradition. The formality of Bushido culture, the Zen artistic aesthetic and the rich religious and social philosophies of the East all shape the character of the fine arts that comprise 武道 budo - the martial way. Fredric Lieberman wrote, "To Occidentals, the physical world was an objective reality--to be analyzed, used, mastered. To Orientals, on the contrary, it was a realm of beauty to be admired, but also of mystery and illusion to be pictured by poets, explained by myth-makers and mollified by priestly incantations. This contrast between East and West had incalculable influence on their respective arts, as well as on their philosophies and religions."



武道 Budo was birthed from the Japanese artistic tradition and is directly shaped, like so many of the Japanese arts, by 禅 Zen aesthetic principles. Aesthetics can be seen as an attempt to define principles concerning what is ‘beauty’. I distinctly remember during my time in Japan a calligrapher telling me that in the art of the brush, one must often be taught "what beauty is." I feel strongly that the process of the study of aiki, we are not only learning a martial skill, we are being shown, "what beauty is." We are being educated in a physical embodiment of a philosophy. Everything from the formal training dojos, to the uniform, rankings, calligraphy on the walls, and yes, the character of the techniques themselves are in some large way shaped by the Zen artistic tradition.



Sokyu, in my opinion, writes the most succinct description about the Zen process and how it emerges in the practice of budo.
“Japanese Buddhism teaches the attainment of detachment by the removal of self-consciousness through spiritual concentration. A technique for this is the repetition of a kata (form)…. In essence…practicing an action a certain way, time after time, so that in the end we come into contact with our true nature.”




Despite Sokyu's wonderful insight, I still want to go deeper down the rabbit hole and take a look at the work of Hisamtsu Shinichi , who more clearly defines the characteristics of the Zen aesthetic. Hisamtsu Shinichi (久松 真一 June 5, 1889 – February 27, 1980) was a philosopher, Zen Buddhist scholar, and Japanese 茶道 tea ceremony master. He attempted to break down the aesthetic principles of Zen. These principles can be seen in all of the major classical 道 - do, spirituality through art form. Shinichi Hisamtsu wrote, “The seven characteristics (of Zen aesthetics) are not limited to art in the narrow sense, but rather they include the whole of human existence.”

Hisamtsu Shinichi




Zen Aesthetic Principles

不均齊 Fukinsei - creating asymmetry "dynamic relationships"
簡素 Kanso - simplicity
考古 Koko - austere yet bare essentials, basic, weathered
自然 Shizen - naturalness, absence of pretense
幽玄 Yugen - subtly profound grace, not obvious
脱俗 Datsuzoku - unbounded by convention, free
静寂 Seijaku - quiet, calm









                        不均齊     Fukinsei
                      不(un-; non-) 均 (average; level) 齊 (alike; equal) - creating asymmetry



Kodo Horikawa
Fukinsei is asymmetry, odd numbers, irregularity, unevenness, imbalance is used as a denial of perfection as perfection and symmetry does not occur in nature.

In bonsai the principle controlling the balance of a composition is always asymmetrical. Its division of space, in either the second or third dimensions of spatial organization uses an irregular division.


In budo there are a myriad of asymmetry we create. The inequality of our compositions comes in how we shape the spatial organization of our partners. In the dynamic relationship of the budoka we attempt to create unequal power dynamics between partners typically by creating misalignment in the posture of our partner. Typically budoka call this principle 崩し kuzushi - 'to crumble, to level'. Spatial position is everything. Kuzushi is almost a magic word to many budoka, and is seen as a core and vital principle. The principle can be seen in unbalance, mis-alignment, distraction, misdirection, and crumbling of the human postural structure.





                              簡素 Kanso
                                簡 (brevity; simplicity) 素 (plain, white silk) - simplicity; plain


Bruce Lee reminds us, "to me, the extraordinary aspect of martial arts lies in its simplicity. The easy way is also the right way, and martial arts is nothing at all special; the closer to the true way of martial arts, the less wastage of expression there is."

Mifune Kyuzo

When I first encountered the Japanese martial arts I had been a student of Chinese external systems. We learned form after form. We learned to move like animals and to wildly swing scores of different weapons around the room. I was struck as to how simple Japanese arts seemed in comparison. There were few forms and relatively few techniques. The forms were more about how to walk and move properly, rather than how to move like a dragon or crane. The dazzling results the teachers I trained under had came from mastery of basic exercises that are grounded in solid bio-mechanical principles. I am still working on the simple exercises that I learned in my first months as an aikidoka.



Saying something is simple can be a misnomer. In my estimation the arts of the Zen aesthetic are infinitely complicated in their simplicity. Take chess for an example. I learned the game in 15 minutes. On the surface level it is a simple game really. However many people have gone mad trying to master it. The near infinite variables that springs from it's simplicity take a life time and great discipline to understand. Budo is very much the same way. A great juggling teacher once told me "Great artistry comes with simple technique, Complex technique leads to poor artistry."

While living in Japan I attended a 書道 shodo, calligraphy display. Hundreds of artists contributed to the exhibition. Amid all the complex lines and forms, one artist had a piece with a single stroke. It was the character for '1'. At the moment it's simplicity was sublime and it's form exquisite. That is when I thought of the phrase "infinitely complicated in it's simplicity." Like many truths, kanso's nature is a joyous paradox.








                             考古 Koko
                  考 (consider; think over) 古(old) - austere yet bare essentials; basic; weathered




雪の朝独リ干鮭を噛み得タリ
The morning of snow-
all alone, I chew                 yuki / no / ashita / kitori
dried salmon meat              karazake / wo / kami / etari

-Basho Maysuo 松尾 芭蕉


                                                     This haiku is said to be an excellent example of wabi-sabi in poetry.


Although koko is an aspect of of the concept of wabi-sabi, I think exploring wabi-sabi helps us to understand koko. Wikipedia describes 侘寂 wabi-sabi. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, roughness, irregularity, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.


In looking at the concept of koko in budo I start with the literal translation. "consider the old." Much of classical budo is looking towards the past for inspiration for the future. The technical understanding, philosophical inspiration and even costume we wear comes from a by gone age. But to be sure we are not simply reenactors or martial historians. We study the wisdom of the past because we are custodians of a way. We study so we might live in the now more fully. In my shodo practice I once copied a poem for a month that read "Study the old to know the new". Indeed.

Ueshiba Morihei



In further reflection on what koko could mean in budo, my mind turns to the men we call sensei. Sometimes austere, they gain their powers through mastery of bare essentials; weathered by life and training - who could not marvel at these men? Even better than their mastery of skill, is their willingness to share it with those that are worthy to receive the spirit and skills they have cultivated. They are temporarily a link to the past and all the teachers they have gotten to share space with.









                            自然 Shizen
自 (oneself) 然 (nature; in that way) - naturally; spontaneously, naturalness, absence of pretense

Tomiki Kenji
"The deep secret of ancient jujutsu is embodied in the saying, "True natural posture is the manifestation of mushin. Control strength through gentleness. These are the principles of jujutsu." Master Jigoro Kano (1860-1938), the founder of Kodokan Judo, well explained the subtleties behind this principle when he formulated his Principles of Judo--judo meaning gentleness--so that the original jujutsu principle would be understandable to the people of the current day. The principle of natural body (shizentai no ri), which concerns posture. This is a natural, unrestricted posture from which it is possible to attack and defend, adapting to any kind of assault."

- Tomiki Kenji







                              幽玄 Yugen 
                      幽 (profound) 玄(mysterious) - subtly profound grace, not obvious


Yugen is an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words.

Yugen is at the core of the appreciation of beauty and art in Japan. It values the power to evoke, rather that the ability to state directly. The principle of Yugen shows that real beauty exists when, through its suggestiveness, only a few words, or few brush strokes, can suggest what has not been said or shown, and hence awaken many inner thoughts and feelings. source


"Yugen is to watch the sun sink behind a flower-clad hill, to wander on and on in a huge forest without thought of return, to stand upon the shore and gaze after a boat that disappears behind distant islands, to contemplate the flight of wild geese seen and lost among the clouds."

Like all of these principles, we can find it in many aspects of our budo training. For me yugen is the feeling I first have when I step into my dojo, a sense of grateful return to a place I love. It is the awe I continue to feel when return to a state of creating consistent aiki. I find yugen when explaining the mechanics for a technique and I realize what I just said is really a metaphor for life and love. I also find yugen at the hands of a master whose technique is so sublime I burst into laughter at the surprise of total loss of control. I especially see yugen when I watch an iai master, while I clumsily fumble with my own weapon.

                                                Iai master that evokes yugen in me.

Takeda Sokaku
Ellis Amdur wrote about the history of Daito Ryu, Aikido in his book Hidden in Plain Sight. Indeed, the seemingly miraculous power demonstrated by some artists lies in their subtly. It is hidden right before your eyes. There is internal work going on in the bio-mechanics of budo that is not obvious. The mechanics your eye sees often is not the sophisticated work that is going on within the internal structure of the artist performing it. One of my Daito Ryu teachers said, "if you can explain what just happened to you, then it is not aiki." The tactile invisibility of soft delivery of energy and direction while subtly balance breaking an opponent is one way yugen is expressed in budo.










                                  脱俗 Datsuzoku
         脱 (be left out;escape from) 俗 (customs; manners) - unbounded by convention, free




from Palazzo Barolo exhibition
The Japanese arts often have many rules governing them. In visual arts technique, form, composition, line and balance are all often formalized. At first glance it struck me as funny that datsuzoku would be a principle, because often the Japanese are totally bound by convention. That being said often arts coming from the Zen aesthetic find freedom in the confines of form. One must learn and master the rules before they can be broken.

The challenge while doing shodo is to transmit the spirit, the sense, and feelings on the sheet of paper, so that each drawn character is showing the expression of the artist. The artists uses yet transcends the convention.

Kano Jigoro

In budo we train in techniques, principle and form. Mastery does not come until skills become so internalized that they become automatic. Only then form turns into formlessness. The budoka moves freely like the calligrapher splashing ink across the page. The artists are so versed in technical principle the body effectively organizes behind the creative process. Challenges are solved in opponents and in self and body and mind move freely.







                             静寂 Seijaku

                        静(quiet) 寂 (death of a priest; loneliness;quietly) silence; stillness; quietness



"The spiritual aspect of ikebana is considered very important to its practitioners. Silence is a must during practices of ikebana. It is a time to appreciate things in nature that people often overlook because of their busy lives. One becomes more patient and tolerant of differences, not only in nature, but also in general. Ikebana can inspire one to identify with beauty in all art forms. This is also the time when one feels closeness to nature which provides relaxation for the mind, body, and soul." source



Kata in the highest expression that I have practiced it is a quiet dance. It is the act of finding stillness in motion and motion in stillness. The chatter of the regular mind falls away and there is simply the task at hand. There is only breathing, posture and freedom within form. A practitioner's thoughts of work, problems, relationships, stress...etc. all fall away as the mind focuses and quiets on the task at hand.


Although Zen has influenced many of the classical arts, there is really only one practice that is critical in the practice of Zen. The act of zazen, the practice of sitting. It is the act of quieting and weeding the garden of the mind.







Hozumi Roshi at Shofuku-ji



                  "Everyone is tempted by the eloquence of speech
                    but I am a slave to the Master of Silence."

                                 ~Maulana Jalaluddin Rum

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Matl Sensei ground work

I scored some old video from my judo teacher.  It was taken in 1973 in Czechoslovakia. I edited it down to just the ground work in this edition.