Sunday, July 5, 2009

Jinichi Kawakami Seminar 1st day - PART TWO

This is an article on the Seminar that took place in New Jersey last week with Jinichi Kawakami. This article was taken from the koga ryu blog site I copied and pasted in below. It is two parts with the second part being an interview with Meik Skoss. I personally found it to be an intelligent well put together article with out all the B.S. name calling and personal commercial agendas. THIS IS NOT MY ARTICLE SO PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME QUESTIONS ABOUT IT.

In an email interview with Mr. Meik Skoss I asked him about his impression of the Jinichi Kawakami seminar. Mr. Skoss participated in the academic panel discussion with Kawakami Sensei on friday, June 26th.

Q. Mr. Skoss, thank you so much for your reply. I understand that you attended the Kawakami seminar and sat in with a panel of experts. It was reported to me that you did think Kawakami was legitimate. I know that ninjutsu isnt considered a koryu and that even some of the biggest ninjutsu organizations have not proven a true lineage. How did Kawakami come off to the panel? Did you indeed find him credible as earlier reports have stated? I understand that
you were not there for the entire event but I would still like to get your comments on the presentation of Koka or Koga ninjutsu.

A. Mssrs. Kawakami and Kiyomoto did impress me and, I believe, Drs. Sather and Farivar, as being very knowledgeable about the history and techniques of Koka-ryu ninjutsu. Unlike a lot of previous encounters with so-called "experts" on ninjutsu, there was no bombast or romantic mythologizing. They were very plain spoken, matter of fact about what their art is and how it was transmitted to the present day.

Q. According to some you were blown away with the Kawakami presentation and found him to be the "real deal" so to speak. If he indeed did impress, then what did he do or say that would attribute to this?

A. It is more accurate to say that I think what Mssrs. Kamakami and Kiyomoto said made sense, given what I know of how many of the traditional Japanese arts -- by which I mean not just martial arts, but performing arts and crafts as well -- have developed and been transmitted to modern times. The words I used was, "it all parses," meaning that what he said is consistent with other things I have heard, read, and seen. What he said makes sense, as opposed, for
example, the stuff that Stephen Hayes, Hatsumi Masaaki and others of that ilk have written.

Most of the people on the panel have no particular background in martial arts, ninjutsu or otherwise. Kawakami and Kiyomoto wanted the setting to be more of an academic one, not a form of entertaining "show and tell" dog-and-pony show, that is what we were intended to provide. The format of prepared questions was not really one that would be found in a Western academic setting, but was decided upon to make Kawakami and Kiyomoto more comfortable, as Japanese generally do not like to participate in the free-ranging discussions that are common in the U.S.

Q. One of the many questions that was put before Kawakami Sensei was if the art was a complete transmission or if they had reconstructed it based on actual historical densho. Kawakami explained it was a transmission. Another question asked was whether ninjutsu was a koryu or not. Kawakami Sensei gave a unique answer, by saying that he did not think so because he believes ninjutsu to be entirely different from koryu bujutsu.

A. Yes, this was an interesting point raised by Mr. Kawakami. I found it a telling one with regard to my being convinced of his legitimacy. As I mentioned before, many other writers have either spurious or unsubstantiated backgrounds, which is why, up until now, I have dismissed their claims to being genuine exponents of traditional arts.

I spoke with a teacher of mine about this. He also studies Katori Shinto-ryu heiho, which has a ninjutsu component in
its curriculum. He told me that what I told him of Kawakami's presentation is very similar to what he has learned in his own training and studies. That is a rather significant datum, I think, because Shinto-ryu is one of the oldest koryu bujutsu, one of the best preserved, and his teacher knows more about Japanese martial culture than most other martial arts exponents or academic specialists.

In conclusion, I think it's best to say that I believe Mssrs. Kawakami and Kiyomoto have a legitimate tradition. Whether or not it is being transmitted in the traditional manner at this time is not something I'm prepared to comment upon without observing the training and discussing it with them at length.

I want to extend my appreciation to Mr. Skoss for his cander, expertise and for taking the time to respond to my questions.


This article was taken from the koga ryu blog site with the author's permission

With the Panel discussion now over everyone attending was excited about the following morning and looking forward to what was to come. The ninjutsu training that Kawakami Sensei was going to cover over the next two days was going to entail demonstrations of breathing methods, conditioning, walking, running, jumping methods, as well as bujutsu.

Saturday morning started out with an introduction to some body conditioning aimed at strengthening the body to get the body used to being hit. Then they showed how much damage one could take to the throat by taking a wooden stick and thrusting the solid piece of wood very hard into the neck of the other. Kawakami Sensei and Kiyomoto Sensei did not go lightly and used a great amount of force. After this particular demonstration they asked if anyone in the audience would like to try it. No one took them up on their invitation.

Also covered were unarmed bujutsu techniques called yawara. Kawakami Sensei and Kiyomoto demonstrated movement moving forward into the attack while blocking, striking and grappling. Technically yawara is Jujutsu and can be explained as unarmed combat techniques which are among the first to be studied and usually the last to be fully understood and appreciated. All the basic components of a martial art are included in the practice of Yawara, such as balance, momentum and leverage, combined with the variants of timing and strength. Every Yawara technique contains elements that can be developed into very devastating techniques of self-defense.

To the beginner, Yawara teaches the relation between physical movement and mental intention. An action is no longer an isolated process, it involves the whole body. It is a process that has the potential to create both emotional and physical unity with an opponent, a prerequisite for the most efficient conflict management.

Koka Seminar Cont.

Sunday began with a demonstration of different weapon techniques.This short demonstration included sword techniques, and defenses using ring weapons called Kanawa. Kanawa were an early version of a pot holder the edges were sharpened for use as an household impromptu weapon.

Afterward, the attendees were invited to participate in different techniques. Methods of body movement, control, crawling, and walking were taught, with an emphasis of the stealth applications of the techniques. Kiyomoto Sensei was extremely flexible, and demonstrated each of the movements in a silent, cat-like manner.The techniques were taught as being historically accurate, as Ninja practitioners actually performed in the period.

There was a short discussion on the kuji-in, and their ritual applications. Each mudra was taught, with its corresponding mandra, and the significance of these ideas. Besides the historical significance, the philosophy and influence of the kuji-in was discussed.

Kuji-in, meaning “Nine symbolic cuts”, from the outside seems to consist in drawing nine lines in the form of a grid, then drawing a symbol on the grid. In fact, it is the setting in place of nine energy structures, that once activated, can empower a concept represented by the drawn symbol over the grid. It was also explained that not just ninja practiced kuji but most samurai as well.

The kuji were explained to be a way of "self-protection" related to religious acts. All were shown the basic Kuji although it was explained there were an infinite number of kuji that were not shown obviously.

Other topics covered were shuriken, with different methods of throwing, as well as classical weaponry. These weapons consisted of infiltrative devices, farming tools, chain weapons, as well as explosives, based on the technology of the period.

In addition, there were discussions about period assassination techniques with poison, disguises, and methods of communication using the technology of the period. Kawakami Sensei had a wealth of information at his command, regarding a plethora of topics – each relating to the art of Ninjutsu of antiquity.

Pictures were shown of the Ninja Museum in Mie Prefecture, which is the only government sponsored Ninja organization in Japan. This Museum, and its curator, Kawakami Sensei, have been declared by the Japanese Government as the Guardians of the Ninja traditions.

Kawakami Sensei and Kiyomoto Sensei appeared to be people of rare integrity, humility, and very willing to share information. They were very enthusiastic about the material presented, and dedicated to maintaining the authenticity of the historical and cultural traditions.

I would like to thank Renshi Steve Mauner of the Nakano Dojo for his help and contributions with this article.

This article was taken from the koga ryu blog site with the author's permission

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