Category Archives: Sensei Talks

無の力学、 Mu no Riki Gaku

Previously, we discussed, Datsu Ryoku or the the release of tension.  Recently, Hatsumi Sensei has been using the phrase Mu no Riki Gaku, or the Science (study of) the Power (dynamics) of Nothingness. 無の力学。Zen Monks often draw an enso (round circle in ink) to represent nothingness.  This is an enso with some bamboo inside with the inscription, `pure wind`. I drew it based on an old painting by a well know zen monk.


It reminds me of a story about a useless tree.

Lao Tzu was traveling with his disciples and they came to a forest where hundreds of woodcutters were cutting the trees. The whole forest had been cut except for one big tree with thousands of branches. It was so big that 10,000 persons could sit in its shade.

Lao Tzu asked his disciples to go and inquire why this tree had not been cut. They went and asked the woodcutters and they said, “This tree is absolutely useless. You cannot make anything out of it because every branch has so many knots in it – nothing is straight. You cannot use it as fuel because the smoke is dangerous to the eyes. This tree is absolutely useless, that’s why we haven’t cut it.”

The disciples came back and told Lao Tzu. He laughed said, “Be like this tree. If you are useful you will be cut and you will become furniture in somebody’s house. If you are beautiful you will be sold in the market, you will become a commodity. Be like this tree, absolutely useless, and then you will grow big and vast and thousands of people will find shade under you.”

When you are strong or beautiful, or technically proficient, you can be used. You can be a commodity. The opponent can use you too.  If you embody nothingness, nobody can use you. You are free.

We often forget that in nothingness or no use, there is great power. Often when I am uke for Hatsumi Sensei, his complete lack of interest in the opponent is very surprising.  It disarms you. Often he does not even look at you.  I find that whatever I try to do to him,  there is no resistance. He does not resist the opponent.  It is like when you think a door is locked and  you push on it with great strength but it was actually open and you fly thru to the other side. Or we have all had the experience of walking along the street and accidentally step off the curb into nothingness.  It is an amazing shock as you try to regain your balance.  Only a drop of a few centimeters and it feels as if you almost dropped of the earth!

In  taijutsu as well, harnessing the concepts of Mu-Nothingness and Datsu Ryoku will allow you greater control over yourself, your opponent, and any situation you encounter.



A short interview with Hatsumi Sensei

On Friday, April 10 2015, a German television crew came to film a segment on Hatsumi Sensei. After training, they did a short interview with Hatsumi Sensei for which I translated. It is always fun to watch interviewers get flustered and a bit bothered by Sensei`s unconventional and seeming simple responses. it was a short interview with brief responses but I found such depth in them and enjoyed them so much, that I thought I would take the liberty of sharing them with all of you here.
Because I know must of you don’t have access to German television!

I am paraphrasing the conversation, but keeping it as close as possible to the actual responses. It is difficult because when you translate something on the spot, often you forget much afterward. That being said, I think I captured the essence of the responses for you here. I hope you enjoy this short interview as much as I did. All the best, Paul.

Interviewer: What did you feel when Takamatsu Sensie made you Soke of the nine schools?

Hatsumi Sensei: When Takamatsu Sensei handed over the linages to me and said “Now I leave everything up to you”, I really had no idea. I didn`t know anything.

Interviewer: Did something come to fruition because of your training with Takamatsu Sensei?
Hatsumi Sensei: No nothing. Nothing came to fruition. in fact I went backward, I returned to zero. you see if something comes to fruition, it then has to rot. And if something has to rot, it would be better to make (German) beer out of it! (Laugh)

Interviewer: Do people come for the techniques of Budo or the spirituality?
Hatsumi Sensei: It can`t be technique because I don’t do technique. It is something beyond technique, transcending technique.

Interviewer: “so it is spiritual side that they come for?”
Hatsumi Sensei: I would not say that, I don’t think about it, when you stop thinking about it, when your thoughts fall away. maybe something like this.

Interview: How do you see the future of the Bujinkan?
Hatsumi Sensei; I don’t think about it. You know every day is different. Everyday things are always changing. just like for you too, every day is changing, right? it is like this.

Interviewe: Did you receive any results of your training?
Hatsumi Sensei: The result is that good people from all over the world come together. People who single mindedly mastered this one thing, they have all come together here.

Translating at the Honbu Dojo. A big thank you to Michael Waschak for his fantastic photography.

Translating at the Honbu Dojo. A big thank you to Michael Waschak for his fantastic photography.