Los juegos y las artes marciales

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Los juegos y las artes marciales

por Kenji Tokitsu

Kenji TokitsuIntroducción

Los niños se divierten jugando a diferentes juegos de combate. La mayoría de los maestros japoneses de sable, de kendo o de kenjutsu, se iniciaron en su disciplina durante su primera juventud a partir del juego de sable que se llama en japonés “chambara”. De hecho, las artes marciales podían así constituir modelos de juego. Como ha dicho un eminente maestro del kendo moderno: «Lo que más me divierte es el combate de kendo.»

Así, entre el juego y el arte marcial, no es fácil trazar una línea de demarcación nítida. En todo caso, se encuentran modelos de juego en la primera práctica de cualquier deporte o arte marcial.  Luego, con el tiempo, los juegos se transforman en deportes de lucha, en artes marciales o en budo. ¿Pero cuáles son las diferencias entre los juegos o disciplinas deportivas de combate por una parte, y el budo por otra? ¿Cómo se forma esta evolución cualitativa?


Articles - Jisei budo

Ethics and combat sports

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Ethics and combat sports


Written by Kenji Tokitsu

The 11th International Symposium JORRESCAM was held on 16 March 2012 at the Université Toulouse 1 Capitol, under the general theme of “Ethics and combat sports”.
On this occasion, I gave a talk that might be of interest to my students.
I therefore am making its contents available to them as my chronicle for this month (April).

Ethics in sports or in martial arts?

I believe that we should approach the topic of ethics in combat sports and in martial arts from two different angles: ritual and awareness depending on a person’s level of practice.
Although there is a uniform ritual aspect to ethical conduct, people’s awareness of an ethic varies according to their degree of progress. A beginner will learn the ethic under the form of rituals or rules associated with a discipline. As he progresses, his awareness of the ethic will naturally go beyond the formal bounds of rituals and rules. In the case of an expert, this ethic should be indissociable from his way of living. It is only at this stage that we can speak of philosophy in martial arts.
In this regard, it seems to me that it would be misleading to speak of ethics in martial art as though it were essentially a uniform code of conduct, since ethics implies qualitative changes as the person progresses.
While the ethical framework remains the same, one’s awareness of that ethic will change according to the vision he has of his practice as his level of progress increases. We could compare this to the experience of mountain climbing.
Let me explain.
If you climb Mont Blanc, your vision will change as you go higher and higher. The view you had of the summit while you were still at the foot of the mountain no longer has anything to do with what you can see once you have arrived at the top. You are of course the same person, but what your vision encompasses is now totally different from what you could see when you were below.
If there is no ascension, there is no mountain climbing. Similarly, if there is no progress, there is no sense in speaking of the practice of a martial art that employs the suffix -do, or way. The concept of change in one’s practice is clearly expressed here. As you advance along the way, your vision changes. If it does not, it means that there has been no progress along the way, but only practice of a system.

Each discipline has its own particularity, even though many point in a similar direction. Strictly speaking, in ritual form each discipline has its own ethic, which applies to all practitioners. In effect, particularity exists in every discipline, including kendo, karate-do, iai-do, aiki-do, judo, sumo (do), etc. It constitutes both the way of preparing for bouts of combat, and the way of practicing techniques and respecting one’s opponent.
While the ritual bounds of an ethic are imposed almost uniformly on all who devote themselves to a discipline, ethics in martial arts has another aspect that must be constituted and consolidated as the person develops in the course of his technical progress. For technical progression means upward progress of the individual, if we are inspired and train at all according to the concept of do, or the way. Because the way is where we walk and move ahead, and that implies development, or evolution. On the way, the vision of a beginner should not be the same as that of an expert, even though the ethical framework remains the same for both.
I think that this evolutionary aspect of ethics is often overlooked when we think about ethics in martial arts.
I would like us to think about this using some examples drawn from the practice of combat sports and martial arts.
More precisely, I will base them on some of the original disciplines of Japanese martial arts. I will not give the names of persons, or the year of the events that have inspired these reflexions.


During the judo finals at the Olympic Games, a Japanese fighter injured his ankle. Despite this handicap and his resulting limp, he fought courageously  and ended up winning the match. It was a moving spectacle. Everyone congratulated him on his courage and his qualities as a fighter. His opponent vanished from the scene. Obviously, no-one congratulated him on his performance, for he had lost against an injured opponent. As soon as the Japanese winner took his place in the spotlight, his opponent slipped away into the shadows. We can easily understand the reason why.
However, if we examine this fight situation from a different angle, we see that the loser could have fought the winner by using leg sweeps, which are techniques that are allowed in rules-governed combat sports. But if he had used them, he would certainly have further devastated his opponent’s already injured leg. However, he would have been able to conduct the fight to his advantage and would probably have won. But he didn’t, and so he lost the match.
If the Japanese fighter had a handicap because of his injury, his opponent also was handicapped due to his voluntary acceptance of an important moral constraint, because out of fear of further damaging an already injured opponent, he preferred to not take advantage of a technique that would have allowed him to win. In a way, we could say that he agreed to accept this moral handicap. For a qualified fighter must spontaneously find his opponent’s weak spot. If he follows the logic of combat, he must be able to use that weakness to his own advantage, but to do so went against this fighter’s ethics. By disallowing himself this advantage, he voluntarily assumed a handicap that led to his defeat. Personally, I think that this is the fighter who deserved praise.
A question arises: what should be the place of ethics in the rules of sports?



Here’s my second example.
I began kendo at the age of 10 in Japan but stopped at the end of a year. About twenty years ago, I took it up again in France. My teacher was French. At the time, I lived in Paris and my teacher would come to my personal dojo to train with me. After each session, we would talk a lot about kendo, and each time those moments were privileged kendo lessons for me.
Here is what touched me most in my lessons with him.
One day we were drinking tea after a training session, and he said:
“In Coubertin I saw the most magnificent fight of my whole life. This Japanese fighter adopts the sword-high stance (jodan) and begins to push his opponent back with his ki. He slowly advances and his opponent keeps backing up until he’s obliged to step off the mat, receiving a “Chui” warning. The match begins again and the same thing happens three times. As a result, the opponent is disqualified and loses the match. In this way, the Japanese fighter won without delivering a single blow. That was the most magnificent fight I’ve ever seen.”

I was very happy to hear my teacher’s story, especially since it was told by a Frenchman.
The next example will help us to understand this further.

At that time, I continued to practice kendo along with my training in karate. I read many books and articles on kendo, including the following story.


This is my third example.
Two 7th dan kendoka, A and B, are having a match. Kendoka A repels his opponent B with his kizémé (ki offensive). With his energy or will, A forces B back until he’s up against the wall of the dojo and can go no further. In the previous example, fighter B was forced out of bounds. In the present case, fighter B couldn’t back up any further. He was immobilised for an instant, during which fighter A dealt him a magnificent to the head (men) and won the match.
A perfect victory.

After the match, the Master of the two kendoka said to fighter A:
“The moment that you backed your opponent up against the wall, you had already won the match. Yet despite this clear win, you nevertheless dealt him a blow. That strike was useless and amounts to an act of cruelty. That is not what we’re trying to do in kendo…”.

What lessons can we draw from these three examples?

As far as ethics in practice is concerned, the examples that we’ve just seen show that we cannot talk about ethics without taking into account the relative awareness of a person depending on his level. Ethics in martial arts is not comparable to the traffic code, which everyone must obey in the same manner. Ethics in martial arts has to do with a person’s level of progress in the discipline. In a way, one’s awareness of ethics is on a par with his level of practice.
There is no sense in expecting a beginner to understand, and then to act in the same way as prescribed in the third example.

This is something that is difficult to systematise in the form of rules. Which poses a certain difficulty for practice in the West, where people seem to want to systematise everything according to a set of rules.

For example, in the first case, the fighter who suffered defeat could have been the winner, if he had fought as hard as he could within the established rules, and without concerning himself over the state of his opponent’s leg. He lost because he was sufficiently advanced to realise the seriousness of his opponent’s injury, and his conscience kept him from using techniques that would have enabled him to win, but which went against his ethics.

In the second case, the winner didn’t need to strike a blow to win, because his opponent had been pushed out of bounds. Those who were sufficiently advanced in the discipline were able to appreciate the quality of this combat and could say, “That was a magnificent fight!”
But I wonder how the spectators would have reacted if this type of fight had taken place in a venue where people go mainly to see a spectacle!!! Most probably, there would have been lots of booing because no strikes had been made.

The third example further explains this type of situation and the quality of combat thanks to the words of the Master, who explains why one should not strike. When he said “That strike was useless and amounts to an act of cruelty”, his words expressed not only the quality of combat to be sought, but also the ethics underlying kendo. But this ethic is far from being obvious to a beginner, who must persevere and learn to strike with all his energy.
I think that these three examples can help us to reflect on what is meant by “ethics” in Japanese martial art. Ethics in martial art, but also in combat sports, cannot be compared to the traffic code, because a combat discipline does not involve only cultural roots; one’s awareness of ethics has to evolve with the person’s technical level, as these last examples drawn from kendo show.


I’ll finish with some thoughts on the cultural aspects of ethics.
For while ethics should be found in the quality of practice in combat sports and martial arts, it is also expressed in their code of gestures, as for example in their opening bows or salutes.
On this point, there is a major misunderstanding concerning the martial arts from Japan.
Normally, in serious clubs, before a training session, when the most senior practitioner gives the command “seiza”, students line up facing their teacher and facing the wall where there is often a photo of the founder of the karate, judo, or aiki-do school. On hearing the command, “Shomen ni rei”, everyone bows to him.
Then, the teacher faces the students and, when the command “Sensei ni rei” is given, teacher and students bow to each other.
Then sometimes, on the command, “ Otagai ni rei”, all the students bow to each other.
This ritual is considered “traditional”, and therefore serious practitioners apply it as the basis of their ethic in martial arts. In a way, they live the traditional authenticity of Japanese martial art.
However, a large part of this ritual that they consider “traditional” is not traditional at all. Japanese martial arts continued to be transmitted within the strict social context of the samurai until the 19th century. Therefore, if we wish to speak about the traditional aspect of their ethics, we cannot avoid referring to the culture and tradition of the samurai.
However, the samurai never made this type of bow.
Quite simply, this form of bow or salute comes from the Western military system and not from Japanese tradition.

If students line up on hearing the command “seiza”, which is a Japanese word, it is because this act is a transposition from how soldiers line up on hearing the command “Fall in”. The samurai didn’t line up in this fashion either before or after their martial art workout. They did line up to face their feudal lord, but not to train.
Saluting the photo of the founding master is a transposition from the military, when soldiers salute the national flag. The samurai never made this type of salute. Together they bowed before their lord, but their salute to their martial arts master was more individual in nature.
The collective action model forms part of military efficiency, but the Japanese samurai didn’t learn it until very late. We can say that they learned it to put an end to their existence as samurai, as this model became effective in the period when the samurai class was replaced by modern armed forces based on the European model. The models that you think of as “traditional” were introduced to Japan from Europe in the 1860s to 1870s through the military system.
In the 1850s, several hundred sword schools (kenjutsu) were counted in Japan, and each of these schools had certain particularities in their ritual of practice. So it would be false to consider that the way of bowing that we saw earlier was the only one of its kind.

A question to conclude:
Why should we refer to tradition when we practice so-called traditional martial arts, when their content and way of practice have evolved so considerably? Why not reflect on ethics from the standpoint of the quality and the form of our contemporary practice, which have changed so much both in technique and in the objectives pursued within the framework of sports?

To be continued...

Articles - Essays by Kenji Tokitsu

Taikiken : Sawai sensei

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Taiki-ken : Sawai sensei

Sawai sensei : «¡Claro que hay que golpear a fondo!»

Nacido en 1903 en Tokio, comienza muy joven a estudiar las artes marciales. A la edad de 22 años, era ya 5º dan de judo y 4º dan en kendo y en iaido. En 1931, mientras vivía en China, fue a ver a un maestro chino, Okasai [Wang Hsiang Ch'i], combatió contra él, perdió y se hizo su discípulo. Al regresar a Japón ocho años más tarde, el Maestro Okasai le dio permiso para convertir el nombre de la escuela en Taiki-ken.

Hoy, a los 81 años, Sawai Sensei, respetado por sus pares, sigue enseñando su arte a sus alumnos y a un puñado de discípulos. Lejos de las luces de la gloria, el viejo maestro se niega a hacer concesiones. En su escuela los ataques se lanzan a fondo. En toda la vida no ha aceptado ningún contacto con la prensa. Este verano un periodista francés tuvo la amarga experiencia de verse firmemente despedido de su presencia.

Kenji Tokitsu, que nuestros lectores conocen bien ya que escribe cada mes en Bushido, consiguió reunirse con Sawai Sensei con el que habló durante cinco horas. En esta entrevista nos habla de Kenichi Sawai Sensei.


Entrevista de André Louka

Bushido. ¿Cómo consiguió reunirse con Sawai Sensei?

Kenji Tokitsu. Fue a través de un amigo que practica las artes marciales en la misma escuela que yo cuando voy al Japón. Sawai Sensei pensaba concederme una entrevista de sólo una hora, pero de hecho, llevado por la pasión de hablarme de su arte, se quedó hablando durante cinco horas.


B. Creo que no quiere mucho a los periodistas.

K.T. No, no mucho. A propósito, me contó la visita que le hizo este verano un periodista francés enviado por una revista especializada para pedirle una entrevista y unas fotos. No sé lo que pasó pero le respondió palabra por palabra que no practicaba un arte para complacer a los periodistas y todavía menos para responder al interés de uno de ellos, y por tanto que no veía por qué debía concederle una entrevista.

Hay que precisar que siente cierta reticencia frente a los occidentales porque una vez, en el pasado, recibió en clase a algunos de ellos y se dejó fotografiar, pero que le había chocado profundamente leer en las revistas que dichos occidentales eran sus discípulos. Su actitud se comprende si sabes que entre sus alumnos sólo hay dos o tres que pueden ostentar este título.



Las ilusiones perdidas

B. ¿Habló de su vida?

K.T. Sí pero sobre todo de su práctica y de su aprendizaje en China. Cuando se marchó a ese país, debía ser ya 5º dan de judo, 4º dan de kendo y de Iaido. Era todavía joven ya que tenía apenas 28 años. Pero debió trabajar mucho para haber alcanzado el nivel que tenía. Se había impuesto un entrenamiento extremadamente duro porque se había fijado como objetivo el sobrepasar ciertos límites. Para ello había hecho una especie de voto o promesa. Ya no tomaba baños calientes; se lavaba con un poco de agua fría. Este entrenamiento tuvo consecuencias para su salud ya que se quedó completamente calvo.

En China conoció a un maestro chino, Okosai.

B. Es sin duda la pronunciación de Wang Hsiang Ch'i. Por otra parte habla de eso en su libro. Él lo describe como un «hombre de tamaño pequeño con andares de pato». ¿Cómo conoció a este maestro chino?

K.T. Antes había conocido de un practicante de artes marciales chinas con quien trabajaba. Un día, Sawai Sensei le alabó su técnica, a lo que aquel respondió «y todavía no he utilizado las técnicas de golpe al contentarme en luchar contra usted. Mi maestro es todavía mejor que yo». Entonces Sawai Sensei quiso que le presentaran a este hombre.


B. Cuenta en su libro que el maestro Okosai –vamos a adoptar la pronunciación japonesa– era un hombre que tenía la costumbre de ignorar a los que venían a verle para aprender con él. No les decía nada. A ellos no les quedaba más remedio que observarlo para tratar de imitar sus técnicas.

K.T. En efecto, cuando Sawai Sensei conoció al maestro Okosai, éste se negó a tomarlo como alumno. Pero acabó por aceptarlo porque, según Sawai Sensei, tenía mucho interés en saber más sobre las artes marciales japonesas y creía que aceptándole a él, podría enterarse un poco. Al llegar a China, Sawai Sensei tenía una gran confianza en su técnica de combate. Por fin llegó el día en que pudo medirse con Okosai. Me contó que cada vez que intentaba lanzar un ataque, era como aspirado por el maestro chino, quien en cambio le daba un pequeño golpe. Se dio cuenta de modo innegable de la superioridad de Okosai.


B. En su libro cuenta que trató de utilizar sus conocimientos de judo sin gran éxito. Escribe lo siguiente:

«Yo era 5º dan de judo y tenía una gran confianza en el valor de mis técnicas de combate. Cuando tuve mi primera ocasión de medirme en combate contra Wang, le tomé el brazo derecho... En seguida me sentí proyectado por el aire. Me decidí entonces a agarrarlo. Le cogí el brazo izquierdo y el revés derecho de su traje con el fin de intentar meter los ataques que conocía, pensando que aunque el primero fracasara, le llevaría al suelo para estrangularle. Pero cada vez que me echaba sobre él, Wang tomaba el control absoluto de mi brazo y yo salía disparado. Cada vez que trataba de dominarlo, me proyectaba hacia atrás y me daba un pequeño golpe en el pecho justo encima del corazón. Sentía un dolor extraño y terrorífico... ».


¿Sabe Ud. qué disciplina practicaba el maestro Okosai?

K.T. El Tai sei ken, pronunciado a la japonesa. O sea, es el Hsing I.


B. ¿Sabe si todavía queda vivo algún discípulo del maestro?

K.T. Sawai Sensei habló de un hombre que debe tener unos diez años menos que él, pero que comenzó antes que él a practicar con el maestro Okosai. Él lo considera como su superior. Va a invitarlo a venir a Japón el año próximo para dirigir unos cursos.


B. ¿Cuánto tiempo permaneció en China?

K.T. Creo que trabajó allí durante siete años. Pero es sólo una vez de vuelta en Japón que afirma haber captado el chi. ¡En el transcurso de un combate precisamente!


Un maestro poco conocido

B. ¿Cómo se explica que sólo unos grandes expertos, digamos los que cuentan con cierta experiencia en las artes marciales, conozcan a Sawai Sensei, mientras que los demás no parecen conocer su nombre?

K.T. El hecho de que Sawai Sensei no sea muy conocido en Japón, excepto entre un círculo de grandes expertos, se explica fácilmente. Primero, al contrario de lo que se tiende a pensar fuera de Japón, sólo un porcentaje muy pequeño de japoneses practica el kárate. El universo de las artes marciales es un universo pequeño y cerrado.

Desde el exterior no se sabe lo que pasa allá. Incluso los que están dentro de ese universo, para que conozcan a Sawai Sensei, tienen que haber sobrepasado un determinado estadio de trabajo para poder apreciar el trayecto de este maestro. En efecto, supone que se haya reflexionado sobre el kárate, es decir que se haya practicado un cierto tiempo, para poder cuestionar ciertas cosas y de ahí interesarse por un camino crítico con respecto a su propio arte, el kárate en este caso. Es por eso que poca gente le conoce. Que él sea apreciado por los grandes expertos se explica sin duda por su crítica de las artes marciales contemporáneas, en particular en su aspecto de combate libre, tal y como lo conocemos.


B. ¿En qué consiste su crítica?

K.T. Considera en efecto que la costumbre que consiste en controlar los ataques crea una situación artificial y, desde luego, falsa del combate. Supongamos, dice él, que yo bloqueo un ataque “jodan”. Esta parada se ha hecho en realidad contra un ataque que de todos modos está controlado.

Yo tengo la impresión de haber tenido éxito con mi técnica aunque el ataque, en muchos casos, ya se estaba controlado o parado. Es decir, uno corre el riesgo de caer en la autosatisfacción por una cosa completamente ilusoria. Esta crítica de Sawai Sensei marcó su época; tuvo gran influencia en la corriente del Maestro Oyama. Sabemos que en Kyukushinkai, todos los ataques se lanzan a fondo salvo el golpe de puño a la cara, que está prohibido. Además, Sawai Sensei critica esta última regla también. Para él, no tenía que haber ninguna prohibición.

B. ¿En la escuela de Sawai Sensei se golpea con intención de hacer daño?

K.T. Le hice esta pregunta, y me respondió: « ¡Claro que sí! El no golpear no tiene ningún sentido en el marco de un arte marcial. Está rayando en hacer un trabajo inútil. Los golpes deben ser lanzados a fondo, sin ser controlados!».


El bautismo

B. Pero entonces en sus clases debe haber muchos heridos, ¿no?

K.T. Él dice que a veces hay narices rotas o fisuras de costillas. Pero él piensa que no importa. Mi amigo Takaouchi me ha dicho que sus clases eran bastante sangrientas.


B. ¿Qué tal lo llevan los recién llegados a su escuela?

K.T. Sawai Sensei tiene un método muy simple para seleccionarlos. El nuevo debe dar pruebas de sus capacidades como combatiente. Le hace combatir con sus alumnos hasta que esté magullado de golpes. Es un combate sin límites y los golpes deben llover incluso cuando el otro está en el suelo. Combate sin límites. Sawai Sensei sabe muy bien que si el nuevo gana uno o dos asaltos, seguro que llegará uno que perderá. Es raro que un chico nuevo se quede.


B. ¿Qué opina usted de ello?

K.T. No estoy completamente de acuerdo con Sawai Sensei cuando dice que recibir golpes no es importante. Eso marca a la fuerza. Comprendo el principio de su enfoque, cuando afirma que el trabajo con control ha creado una situación artificial.

Hay que observar que los nuevos que vienen a su clase no saben que los golpes que reciben son lanzados a fondo mientras que los que dan son controlados. Para cuando se den cuenta, ¡menudos golpes que han recibido!

B. Es interesante observar que en la cuestión de control, Sawai Sensei adopta la postura opuesta a los que, en Occidente, critican el control. En Occidente se afirma que el que controla sus ataques, crea tal costumbre que ya no es capaz de atacar de verdad llegado el momento. Creo a propósito de eso que los Occidentales confunden «controlar la fuerza hasta retenerla» con «controlar la distancia de ataque». En cuanto a esto Sawai Sensei se pone del lado del que recibe el ataque.

K.T. Efectivamente. Lo que usted dice sobre el control es verdad. Comparto su opinión. Se confunde el control de la distancia con el bloqueo del cuerpo. El control es más flexible. En cuanto a la posición de Sawai Sensei, pienso que se sitúa en un plano dialéctico. Para desarrollar la parada hay que desarrollar necesariamente el ataque. Al hacerlo, se mejora la percepción del combate.


Respetado por sus pares

B. En su opinión ¿por qué los expertos consideran a Sawai Sensei como un luchador famoso?

K.T. Cuando volvió de China, hizo numerosos combates con karatekas. Hay que saber que el nivel del combate libre de los karatekas después de la guerra no era muy alto. La guerra les había inculcado un espíritu formidable pero en el plano técnico no tenían mucho nivel. No hay que olvidar que el asalto libre no fue desarrollado hasta los años 50. Entonces es normal que Sawai Sensei, que volvía de China con un refinado repertorio técnico, llamara la atención. Pero creo que si Sawai Sensei es respetado por sus pares es porque, en la sociedad de confort en la que vivimos, lo que no puede dejar de influir en el modo de entrenarse y por tanto de combatir, es notable que un maestro continúe marcando su práctica y su enseñanza de un espíritu marcial evidente.

Su crítica de las artes marciales actuales es tanto más preocupante para aquellos que se ejercen en una práctica “blanda”.

Articles - Jisei budo

El segundo capital corporal

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There are no translations available.

El segundo capital corporal

por Kenji Tokitsu


Cada ser humano vive con la energía vital que adquirió al nacer. En el curso de su vida, la va utilizando poco a poco como una vela encendida que se consume lenta pero inexorablemente.  Cuando está totalmente agotada, la vela se extingue.  Ello corresponde al primer capital vital o corporal.
Los deportistas de alto nivel son generalmente ricos en lo que respecta a este capital primario. Pero este capital se agota con el tiempo, y con la edad.
En los deportes que requieren esfuerzos “explosivos” como el boxeo, el rugby, los cien metros…, los atletas alcanzan muy pronto su apogeo. Luego entran en el periodo de descenso. La caída se manifiesta progresivamente o de un modo radical. Es la edad crítica de la práctica.
En el karate dónde la eficacia no reposa únicamente sobre la fuerza física, sino también en las sutilezas técnicas, la disminución de este capital sucede alrededor de los cuarenta años. Algunos emprenden entonces su retirada. Y otros consiguen, si no están demasiado “cascados” , retardar la retirada gracias a las sutilidades técnicas adquiridas en el curso de su carrera.

Oscar Gutierren en la práctica de ritsuzenLos profesores de karate o aquellos de disciplinas afines, conocen muy bien este fenómeno, ya que abundan los ejemplos al respecto.
Frente a esta situación al parecer “inevitable”, el método de las artes marciales tradicionales ha propuesto, desde hace más de dos mil años según los documentos escritos, otra posibilidad al incorporar en su práctica específica los métodos energéticos. Ello permite, según mi expresión personal, la posibilidad de formar el segundo capital corporal.


El método clásico del arte marcial como el Zhànzhuang (Ritsu Zen) constituye un ejemplo concreto; su aspecto esencial se encuentra también en otros métodos. No se trata en ningún caso de un bricolaje, sino de un método elaborado que ha sido aplicado, examinado y corregido en el curso de la historia.
Debemos remarcar que el arte marcial clásico se fundamenta sobre la base del segundo capital corporal. Nuestros predecesores comprendieron que el arte marcial únicamente será eficaz si partimos de esta base.
Es un punto a recordar, ya que existe una confusión entre los bricolages que encontramos en las artes marciales modernas y los métodos que tienen raíces en la historia.

El método para adquirir el segundo capital corporal ha sido transmitido siempre en marcos cerrados y secretos- como por ejemplo el método del Zhánzhuang (Ritsu Zen) y no es el único.  En los años veinte Wang Xiangzhai mostró abiertamente este método fundando el Yi chuan (boxeo de la intención). Hasta entonces este método había sido transmitido en grupos muy restringidos, incluso secretamente.

En efecto, el arte marcial digno de este nombre, es demasiado importante como para que un hombre, cualesquiera que sean sus cualidades, pueda comprenderlo y dominarlo en su totalidad antes de llegar a los cuarenta años. Es la edad que para muchos adeptos corresponde al comienzo de un segundo periodo de ascensión.Sin embargo, para la mayor parte de las prácticas deportivas, la cuarentena corresponde desgraciadamente al período en el que el primer capital corporal ha disminuido ya considerablemente o bien se ha agotado. A ello hay que añadir además la existencia casi general de traumatismos diversos: dolores de espalda, problemas articulares…

Esta es la razón por la cual se nos presenta la necesidad de constituir el segundo capital corporal a fin de explorar la vía del arte marcial más allá del periodo de la edad sensible. No se trata de compensar el descenso de la fuerza física mediante las sutilezas técnicas, si no de explorar, encontrar y volverse capaz de utilizar el segundo capital corporal con el cual podréis construir técnicas superiores.
Para ello, una práctica simple no es suficiente. Porque tarde o temprano alcanzaréis la edad dónde ya no tendréis los medios para realizar esfuerzos físicos desmesurados. Si algunos karatekas serios mayores de cincuenta años tienen problemas físicos, no es por que hayan carecido de coraje o voluntad. Al contrario, han sido tan voluntariosos y encorajinados que han llegado a crear toda una serie de secuelas. Lo único que les faltaba era simplemente el método.

El método es como un mapa que puede conducirnos al emplazamiento de un tesoro. Sin el mapa nos sería imposible alcanzar ese tesoro. Pero, incluso si lo encontramos, si no tenemos la voluntad y el valor de cargarlo sobre nuestros hombros para llevárnoslo a casa, no nos será de ninguna utilidad.
Esta parábola ilustra la necesidad de practicar con método, con el método.

Wang XiangzhaiHe aquí las palabras de Wang Xhiangzhai: “Has practicado un arte marcial durante varios decenios. Si descubres el método del Zhanzhuang (Ritsu Zen), podrás tirar sin ningún remordimiento todo lo que has aprendido por el desagüe, como si fueran un viejo par de botas usadas”.
Según el método del yi chuan, las técnicas formadas a través del primer capital corporal son insignificantes o ridículas. Es preciso que las técnicas se construyan a partir del Zhengti (integración global del cuerpo), el cual corresponde al segundo capital corporal. Puesto que el primer capital corporal únicamente puede producir una fuerza parcial que es considerada como “fuerza turbia”.
Según este método, las técnicas sólo son eficaces si son producidas a partir del Zhengti (cuerpo integrado) correspondiente al segundo capital corporal. La fuerza explosiva (Fali) sólo puede ser realizada a través del mismo.
Es por ello que en la enseñanza clásica se dice: “No te muevas hasta que no hayas conseguido integrar la totalidad del cuerpo”. Aquí: “No te muevas”, significa “ejercítate en el Zhanzhuang (Ritsu Zen) con el cual formarás el cuerpo “marcial” : el Zhengti (cuerpo integrado) que es el segundo capital corporal.

Paralelamente a la búsqueda de eficacia en el arte marcial mediante el Zhengti (cuerpo integrado), se ha demostrado que el ejercicio del Zhanzhuang (Ritsu Zen) es altamente positivo para la salud y el fortalecimiento del cuerpo. Este ejercicio se asocia a diferentes ejercicios energéticos y de salud.

La cita de Wang Xiangzhai indica la  importancia del método en el arte marcial y, al mismo tiempo, la dificultad para comprender su importancia. Practicar simplemente no significará gran cosa si no se hace con el método justo. Y éste no es fácil de adquirir, ya que es sólo una guía que os conduce hasta un tesoro que está oculto. Felices aquellos que han tenido la suerte de poder conocerlo.  

Articles - Jisei budo

Building a martial arts method XI

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Building a martial arts method XI

Written by Kenji Tokitsu


Communicating without showing

In the major cities of Japan in the Edo period (1603-1867), there were numerous kenjutsu (sword art) dojos. By the end of that period, the country had registered over seven hundred kenjutsu schools. A school could also have branches, so the total number of dojos was quite large.
When a dojo was located next to a road or street, its windows were placed high in the wall so that passers-by could not see what was going on inside. That way, people could train without being watched.

Back then, seeing a class was the same as attending the class. One had to have permission to watch, but this only happened once a person had been taken on by the school.
In the history of the martial arts, we can find many similar examples: in jûjutsu, in tai chi-chuan and other currents of Chinese boxing, in the karate of Okinawa, to name a few.
Things were very different from the customs of our day, when we so often hear people say, “I don’t want to attend the class, I just want to watch.” Because watching seems to be of no importance and ought, according to many, to be free of charge.
People should know, however, that as soon as they ask to watch a class, it’s the equivalent of asking to attend it as a student. That said, however, it’s also true that there are training sessions and classes without importance where there’s nothing to hide...

But the essentials of martial arts cannot be conveyed solely by visible messages; there are also numerous subtleties of technique and energy that require a special kind of communication – messages that are non-verbal and very hard to see.

The techniques of martial arts involve special knowledge that has been tested and improved by experience, before being developed and handed down through time. If a technique is efficient, or much more effective than what can be accomplished by the simple, ordinary or habitual activation of the human body, this means that it necessarily involves a particular kind of know-how. That is, it involves more than a set of actions applied and executed based on ordinary logic. There must necessarily be a subtle, elaborate kind of knowledge involved.

In the words of a jûjutsu master whom I quoted earlier:
“If you really want to progress, you must think and reflect constantly. But you must realize that it is not at all certain that you will grasp the essential subtleties of the art, even if you are highly intelligent.

If you are only of medium intelligence, you haven’t a chance. This is not a thing for people who can’t help confusing effectiveness with brutality…”

If a technique were formed only by physical gestures, you would only need to copy these gestures well in order to learn them. But a technique must also involve a way of sensing the body and its surrounding space (including that of the adversary), of developing particular sensations, of activating internal parts of the body that we are not accustomed to moving, and also of seeing and sensing our opponent… We cannot understand all these subtleties simply by observing the external aspect of body movements.

For the truth is that an action worthy of being called a technique is made up of numerous subtleties that are the source of its effectiveness. Even though you begin by copying the actions that you see, you must also learn, once you’ve advanced to a certain point in your practice, to complete them by integrating the set of sensibilities that give life to the technique. A technique is not a simple set of gestures or actions.

Accordingly, in a valid technique, there is a visible part formed by gestures, but also a non-visible part composed of the subtleties of that technique. When a technique is being transmitted, the non-visible part needs extra explanation, which is usually given orally. After a certain level, such explanations become essential for learning a live technique. For the attainment of effectiveness depends on how well one has understood all the physical and energy-related subtleties involved.

The outstanding example is found in the notion of the aïki principle, on which aïki-do and certain currents of jûjutsu are based.
An aïki-do demonstration is spectacular and even aesthetic. How is it possible to throw an opponent so easily and elegantly? In most cases, such exercises are performed with the complicity of the two opponents. The one who attacks lets himself be thrown as agreed in advance, since it is an exercise that must be performed in this way. If a high-level opponent really did attack with determination, few aïkidokas would be able to cope as effectively as they do in an aïki-do demonstration.

But I do mean “few”, and not “all”.
Because it seems that there are a few rare masters that are able to do so. The aïki technique consists mainly of annulling the force of one’s opponent. If you could annul the force of your opponent’s attack, just like you can eliminate pencil marks with an eraser, you could effectively dominate your opponent, just as we see done in demonstrations. If you don’t have this capacity, your partner needs to be your accomplice, which is what happens in most cases.
So a question arises. Is it truly possible to annul the force of one’s opponent by scarcely touching him? If the answer is “no”, most aïki demonstrations must be the effect of complicity between opponents. If the answer is “yes”, without a doubt this technique would be up there at the supreme level of martial arts. And in this case, we could not disregard this phenomenon if what we are looking for is a better method of martial arts. So we must ask how it can be possible. With what physical and mental logic can we obtain this capacity? A new horizon is offered to us.
Personally, having seen a fragment of the phenomena of aïki, I continue to ask myself such questions during my research. For the moment, I still haven’t managed to find a satisfactory response.

In written documents, the essential part of a technique is not very apparent. Writing is important, but not very effective for explaining an action. If you have any doubts about this, try explaining a simple technical action over the phone to someone who’s never seen it. Or try, for example, to convey the first movements of tai chi chuan only with words and without making any movements. If you say, “Raise your hands”, the other person might well ask, “What do you mean? How should I raise them? How should I place my right hand with respect to my left hand? At what angle? How fast should I raise them? etc.” You would end up thinking, “Words are not made to convey movements”.


In Zen teachings there exists the term “furyû-monji”, which means, “Not expressed in words”, meaning, “Essential communication is not established by the system of words”. This recalls the phrase “ishin-denshin”, which means “mind-to-mind communication”. Sometimes sayings are misunderstood, like the following interpretation: “words are not important for communication”. This would seem to jive with a certain way of thinking, but the true meaning is different, I feel.
Contrary to such interpretations, the above terms stress the fact that words are so important that they must not be abused. Their correct employment is particularly necessary in the domain of the arts… If thousands of words are often insufficient to make oneself understood, occasionally it might be enough to emit a single sound, a single word, or even a single look, if each were used at the right moment.
The right situation is essential for communication. Even if you yell very loud, someone who is far away will fail to hear you, even if you do so in his ear, whereas someone who is near by can hear you even if you only whisper. The way aural comprehension depends on distance from the source of speech is similar to how technical comprehension depends on a person’s level of practice. The message can only be understood by those who have come within the right distance. The right moment for communication depends on the balance between distance and vocal strength.

The same thing happens with calligraphy or Chinese ink painting. The blank spaces on the paper are just as important as the black strokes formed by the ink. The action of drawing lines has the same importance as that of leaving blank spaces. The right moment of communication is similar to this type of balance.
Words are so important that they must be pronounced with care. If they are said at the right moment, the essential message is understood even without forming a sentence. So it is necessary to form this space-time of communication. In my case, this is how I understand the meaning of furyû-monji.
In the tradition of Japanese martial arts, oral teaching was so selective that it was forbidden to jot down notes. Everything had to be kept in one’s head. A mediocre student might take lots of notes in order to look serious, whereas a brilliant one will resort to them very little, since he can keep the essentials in his mind… Words are important, so important that the meaning of a single word spoken by the master can change the entire content of what we are learning – as long as we are at the right distance to hear and understand him.
That is, the appreciation and degree of comprehension of art may vary depending on the angle of vision of what one sees and, especially, on one’s level of practice. Compare the points of view below:

A reporter said:
“Most of the martial arts spectators who come to the Bercy facility are connoisseurs. They know how to distinguish good technique from bad. You just have to hear how hard they clap.”

A sword master said:
“The eye of an amateur can’t perceive the technique of this art. If fans applaud when they see your technique, it must be because they don’t understand it, or because your technique is so mediocre that even they can see it.”

A physical education researcher said:
“By gathering the results of all the examinations and analyses that we have undertaken, we will be able to establish a methodology that is applicable to athletes of different levels….”
A jûjutsu master said:
“Even if you could set out all the scientific discoveries and theories in the world on the surface of a low plain, you could never obtain a single view of the space encompassed from the summit of a high mountain.”

Let us continue with our reflexions on the formation of what is called the secret, which has many different facets. Here is a succinct analysis.

Attitude towards practice

Kié and shugŷo

When confronted with some special knowledge, such as a secret, people’s attitudes differ. The Japanese concepts kié and shugŷo (terms of Buddhist origin) will help us to understand people’s attitudes to knowledge that is sometimes hidden.
Kié means: to have faith in Buddha and to follow faithfully the Buddhist doctrine. By extension, the word kié denotes a certain attitude, that of being dependant or becoming dependant on a teaching or dogma. When this word is used as a verb, it means either becoming attached to this belief, or becoming dependant on it.
Shugŷo means: to practice for oneself the way of Buddha. This concept has become impregnated in the practice of Japanese martial arts to denote the act of persevering to further one’s technique and mind.
Based on these notions, the expression kié-ha denotes the tendency of a group of people to depend on the teachings or dogma established by a guru or a master who directs them. The suffix “-ha” means current or tendency. For kié-ha of whatever Buddhist current or school, Buddha is like the God on whom they all depend. By extension of this meaning, these kié-ha consider their Master or their Guru as a sacred being whose level they can never attain. The Master or the Guru is the only holder of the truth. The rules that He has laid down are the manifestation of his expression of truth. These people are, therefore, faithful to these rules.

Shugyo-ha denotes instead the tendency of those who seek to form themselves through their own practice. A shugyo-ha in Buddhism tries to follow the paths of Buddha on his own, even if he progresses only a little. I acknowledge that I was inspired by this concept when I defined the attitude and position of my practice in martial arts as being that of Jisei-do: the way of forming oneself through one’s personal practice.

To explain what I mean, let us refer again to the story I presented earlier (see Essay no. 11 of this series):

The kié-ha

The story might continue as follows:
You own the object and cherish it as a treasure. You still don’t know its composition, but it doesn’t matter, because the object comes from the Master, who guarantees its great value.  So it is a treasure for you as well.
You’d say: “Since the Master guarantees the great value of this object, it has to be authentic.”
Similarly, kié-ha people will obey the rules in their practice, since they refer to the ones laid down by the Master. Such rules are essential to them, because they could never achieve the final aim of their practice on their own. But they are related to that end because they observe the rules connecting them to it, as the Master has guaranteed. They participate in and of the truth by proxy.

Kié-ha people consider from the outset that understanding the composition of the cherished object is not within their grasp. But they do not need to understand it; indeed they’re not even equipped to understand it. It suffices that the master, having understood it himself, assures them of its value. His words are what guarantee the value of their practice. So it is enough if they simply follow his teaching.
Accordingly, kié-ha people see the truth through the Master. That is, they need a reference to guide their behaviour.  You train in the discipline of the school of the Master as if you were reciting a sutra. You don’t need to know the meaning of the words or of their sound, since the act of reciting is sacred in itself, and therefore effective, since it is the Master who says so.

Hence, by observing the rules, kié-ha can walk the true path connecting them to the truth.  Even if they know in advance that they will never reach their goal, their conscience is protected, because they are linked to the truth.  They say to themselves, “I am on the true way, for I form part of the current running directly back to the teachings of the Master, who grasped the truth.”
If you are a kié-ha, you will believe that there are secrets in the discipline that you practice, but that you do not need to understand them. The Master alone knows the secrets. Since you practice the method of the Master, you are practicing a true discipline. This is how a Master is made sacred.
Similar attitudes can be seen in different activities, especially in the world of the martial arts.

To be continued...

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