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:: Announcements :: English translation of the late Hamaji Kouichi sensei's Jo no Hinkaku (Dignity of the Jo) transcript is now available for FREE download. Visit http://www.jojutsu.com/article3.php for more information and the download link.


 


Nishioka Tsuneo Sensei (西岡常夫先生) - Jōdō Jikai.

 

Chapter - About the waza of Jō : The things you should note while practicing Jōdō



Let’s re-visit the words that Shimizu sensei told us a long time ago. The words were “You should not learn Otofuji sensei’s jō”. Not only were these words so easily misunderstood, but also I have come to realise acutely just how often people end up not fully understanding the real meaning of these words.

Shimizu sensei had come to understand that his way of using jō and sword was different from that of Otofuji sensei. I suspect that the reason behind Shimizu sensei’s words was his fear and concerns on the possibility that some unexperienced students who learn the two different ways, become confused, and start doubting that one of the ways must be wrong. I also suspect that he had concerns on the very common mistakes that are made by students, who do not follow one teacher. This is a serious and unavoidable problem when a multiple number of transmitters (denshō-sha) or master teachers (shihan) exist.

I presume that the Sōke system, which attempts to limit number of their kata transmitters to one, and also the Isshi Sōden system, came about to prevent the serious problem mentioned above. However, this problem is something that we, the students, continue to encounter, and is not something that we can rely upon one particular system to resolve. The only way is to wait for our students’ intentions (kokorogake) and mindset/mental attitude (kokorogamae) to mature.

Students’ self-expressions and self-revelations that result from their enthusiasm towards their training become more apparent as their skills improve. Particularly those who establish their own dōjō at a young age, have their own students, and have become a ‘Sensei’, fall into this difficult issue without knowing that is happening to them. Especially the systems that allow anyone who are above dan level to become ‘teachers’ is a harmful influence on the budō world.

Those who do not understand the meaning of ‘shi (mentor)’ and who only have an understanding towards ‘sensei (teacher)’ tend to compare their skills with their teacher’s, and moreover, go to the extent of competing with their teacher. This way of teaching is not teaching the essence of budō and is merely a bad influence that relies on power.

As a result, the more people’s skills improve, the more apparent their self-overestimation and haughtiness become, and the less humble they become. Those are the type of Budōka that I dislike the most.

I feel that this phenomenon is the biggest trap that people fall into when they fail to make an effort in improving the spirit side whilst their technical skills improve.

Shimizu sensei always said to me that “You must practice with me”, and took the role of motodachi and became a practice board. He never relaxed his seriousness even with beginners, needless to say he was far from being haughty and overbearing. From this seriousness while practicing, I feel that I have learned the most crucial thing that the katabudō teaches. This is such a hard thing to accomplish and is rarely seen not only in the context of jōdō but also in other circumstances. I have only seen this in Shimizu sensei and also in Otofuji sensei. They are totally opposite from those who are in the senior or motodachi position, and treat their opponents without respect, or those who show off their skills to their juniors.

There are also many people, who are in the role of shidachi, misunderstand the act by their seniors or motodachi, and try to show off and prove the level of their skills by treating their motodachi as their own practice board. Such behaviour is out of their boundary. This is not merely a problem in the method of practice, but it is a single biggest obstacle that a human being can face. Not limited to Jōdō, the difference in people’s mindset/mental attitude and intentions when they practice with their seniors, and when they are in the senior position and practice with their junior students, is such an important concept and needs to be understood by all students.

However, I am not yet confident enough to fully explain this to others. It is not a matter of whether one can make people understand this concept, but it is a hard question that each one of us must ask and find an answer ourselves. The quality of senior students also matters in this concept. In terms of Katageiko, this is an issue when teaching mindset/mental attitude and intentions of senior and junior students. It is the single most important idea of kokoro which Katageiko can teach, however, I believe that it can not be taught in places where practice involves any concept of power, even a slightest amount of it.

The difference between those who have the mindset/mental attitude and intentions but have not yet achieved the greatness, and those who have no intentions whatsoever, becomes apparent in day-to-day practice and movements. It is a scary thought that people who have an ability to observe can immediately spot this difference.

I deeply regret, for the sake of succeeding students, the fact that it took me so many years to truly understand the difference of roles and positions between uchidachi and shidachi. I feel that this concept also leads to the mindset/mental attitude and intentions of motodachi and the one whom engages them in the context of Kendō.

There still remains some wonderfulness within the Jō. It is not just about skills or techniques (waza). However if it is taught in a wrong way, or is misunderstood or misinterpreted, it will be such a nuisance to students. Even worse some people have the wrong idea of ‘Shintōmusōryu Jōdō’, and still call it that, teaching nothing of the true Jōdō. This type of practice can be seen here and there amongst the students who have some experience. When this happens, the true path is not followed and in fact it creates a path that is totally opposite to what it is meant to be.

In the true path, the better one’s skills become, the more humble the person becomes, whereas in the wrong path, the better one’s skills become, the more haughty and arrogant the person becomes. This wrong path is nothing but a harmful influence on Bujutsu. When this happens, one must question himself as to what he did wrong in his teaching.

We must pay attention to the fact that haughtiness and arrogance can, without doubt, come across in people’s various behaviours and also in the words that people use. We have known that “correcting kokoro" (heart/mind/spirit and also a way of thinking) is the idea, which we must remember at all time. At some point in time, when people forget about this idea, the haughtiness and arrogance become apparent as a result, and this scares me.

The seishin of Jō does not expect nor allow people to have that type of mind and behaviour. While the mindset/mental attitude and intentions when following a mentor (shi) is such an important idea and is definitely required in today’s society, the task of keeping this idea alive and providing opportunities for people to be exposed to the idea is not as easy to do as it was in the old days.

I feel that it is my duty to re-visit the roles of uchidachi, shidachi and motodachi, and pass my thoughts on that to others.

Original copyright ©1989 Niskioka Tsuneo. English Translation ©2006 Ishida Hiroaki & Kobudokai Australia. No unauthorised reproduction and translation.

 

Further selected excerpts from: Jōdō Self Reflection (Jōdō Jikai)

Chapter - About the waza of Jō : Seishin and Technique

 

In Japan, we have the words ‘Katsujin-ken’ and ‘Satsujin-ken’. I believe that those words describe different results from the two different scenarios – when the techniques that centre around seishin are pursued and when only techniques are pursued without seishin. In my opinion, it emphasises the idea that, now that you decide to learn sword, you must become a ‘Katsujin-ken’ and not a ‘Satsujin-ken’.

Especially when it comes to budō, seishin must be the main thing rather than techniques. It is different from when only bujutsu is described. For budō, it means that we must not let natural development take its course and to prevent that we must continue to improve level of the seishin in which we exist, and never allow the level of the seishin to go below the level of our techniques even an inch.

In other words, we must break away from the world of winning and losing no matter what. It teaches us to show the belief with our own bodies even if we lose, are broken and die. Pursuing techniques should follow such seishin. I believe until one understands this logic himself, it will not be possible for him to explain it to others.

Even in the time when we had ‘jutsu’ and nothing was called ‘dō’, I firmly believe that our ancestors in Japan knew and understood this idea.

Until recently I had thought that seishin and techniques had some sort of relationship with each other, however, I have now come to understand that there is no relationship whatsoever between them and that they exist in different dimensions. In other words, I had thought that as techniques improve, seishin improves and vice versa, but now understand that there is no such relation between them and they must be looked at separately.

It means that the better the techniques become, even more effort is needed in order to improve seishin, however this is not an easy task and on many occasions the level of seishin stops improving and stays below the level of techniques. When it comes to science technology, they can co-exist and accumulate. However, when it comes to human beings, only those exceptional individuals who have polished their techniques and seishin to such a level, and the fact that an individual’s existence definitely needs to be succeeded, have the potential but seishin and techniques still can’t co-exist and accumulate.

Then one may ask what is seishin. It is “a way of thinking” and “intention". What is the Japanese seishin? It means “a way of thinking and intention as Japanese”, and it is something that can be trained and nurtured with an effort.

What I mean by intention is to try to utilise the techniques that you have acquired, and not to destroy or kill by using the techniques. Therefore we must try, not just to win, but to keep in mind the succession of seishin that can be utilised. In order to do that, we must make an effort to transmit this succession of seishin, from a parent to a child, and from a mentor (Shishō) to a student (Deshi).

Original copyright ©1989 Niskioka Tsuneo. English Translation ©2006 Ishida Hiroaki & Kobudokai Australia. No unauthorised reproduction and translation.

 

Chapter - About the transmission of Jō : Learning the objects without shapes (mukei)

 

In order to learn a thing which has no shape, people have no choice but to learn it through something with an actual shape. By doing that, we will understand that what we pursue, in the end, is the Seishin which does not have any shape. …

… That Seishin is what I really want to transmit by teaching the Kata. However, one must be fully aware that there is absolutely no other way but to learn and acquire this by oneself. Comprehension is the only way, and nothing else. One must also then realise that there is an infinite deepness in comprehension and will finally understand, after reaching comprehension, the importance of the cultivation of kokoro.

Loyalty and thought both appear in the form (kata) of sincerity (magokoro), but if you try to adhere to the actual form itself, you will then fail to grasp the essence of it. One must know that what he or she should ultimately achieve out of all the kata that are learnt is only one thing. How one understands that one thing is up to his or her intentions and it can not be taught. No matter how hard I try to teach this, I feel that I simply can’t. Once this is understood, one will know that the kata can change in thousand different ways and can continue to change infinitely.

When it comes to the concept of rei, the same thing can be said. If you learn the form (kata) of rei but don’t understand the seishin of it, then you fail to understand the true meaning of rei. That is because the true rei has no shape.

When one starts off doing physical katageiko, at some point in time he or she realises that what is pursued is seishin and that it is the Japanese Seishin. Then one becomes capable of looking at the katageiko from that new perspective, and eventually starts understanding how one can interpret the kata and can make the kata his or her own.

I have realised that the person who truly made me understand the Seishin of Bu was, after all, Shimizu-sensei, and I also realised that Otofuji-sensei understood that. Because of this, I became confident in saying that Shimizu-sensei’s Jō and that of Otofuji-sensei are not different at all. …

Original copyright ©1989 Niskioka Tsuneo. English Translation ©2006 Ishida Hiroaki & Kobudokai Australia. No unauthorised reproduction and translation.



Chapter - About the transmission of Jō : The things I have started to consider when issuing the shomokuroku

 

When it comes to Keiko, I believe that I have said nothing but “kokorogake" (intentions) ever since I was in my middle age until now. It has been the same thing for Waza. …

When a person dies, unfortunately many things tend to perish with that person. However, it is fortunate that Shintōmusōryū jō has clearly been transmitted from a real person to a real person until today, and even now continues to live and possesses something very special that impresses all of us.

This can never be transmitted if it is left unattended. People [Menkyo-sha] must have a very strong and specific intention and will to transmit it. … However, we should all know that it [a mokuroku] has the strong and passionate hopes of all the predecessors. … I have come to realise that issuing it has nothing to do with whether that person has achieved a certain level of qualification or not. Please do not misunderstand this important point.

It is an expression of the will of the predecessor to convey “their hopes for the future”, and it is still in the middle of the path and we all need to help each other and strengthen and deepen the notion along the way. As I noted previously, we are not issuing a type of qualification to the receiver, therefore, having it does not have any impact on anyone whatsoever. The receivers will not be distinguished from others because of it. It does not have any capacity to restrict the receivers either. This is how I have come to understand it.

I know well that when it comes to the mokuroku, there have always been some people who attempt to associate ability with it. However, I firmly believe that it [the mokuroku] is not originally a representation of ability. It is just easier for ordinary people to be convinced that it is a symbol of ability/power ().

Original copyright ©1989 Niskioka Tsuneo. English Translation ©2006 Ishida Hiroaki & Kobudokai Australia. No unauthorised reproduction and translation.


Chapter - About the transmission of Jō : What is Shintōmusōryū jō?

Pictured: Nishioka Sensei's Menkyo bequeathed to Ishida Hiroaki Sensei

 

I am not sure about the other Ryū, but when it comes to Shintōmusōryū jō, I have my own interpretation and the following idea of what it is – it is the Jō and Sword that are transmitted from a master teacher (Shihan) who is personally responsible for his student (Deshi), and it can’t exist without the Menkyo.

… It is my understanding that Shintōmusōryū jō has absolutely nothing to do with the level of dan or titles. Whether you are good at it or not so good at it does not matter. Even for those who have gomokuroku, it is my understanding that if they do not have a Menkyo as their opponent, then they are not allowed to do any Enbu in the name of Shintōmusōryū jō.

It is a little harsh to say it in this way, but I believe this is the way it is. In other words this is the view that the Shintōmusōryū jō can't exist without Menkyo.

This is the way it is for the things which are transmitted over time [from person to person]. That is why once it becomes extinct, there is no way to recover it. It does not matter how many people are training, as the number of people doing Keiko has nothing to do with the transmission [of the Ryū]. Therefore the duty of Menkyo comes down to one thing, that is no matter what happens Menkyo must transmit the Waza and Seishin that he learnt from his predecessor to the next generation [of Menkyo]. This idea has become my belief.

There are some Ryūha that use the system of Isshi Sōden, however, there are other systems that involve more than one Shihan. My opinion is that it all comes down to the idea of Menkyo transmitting and as long as that is done properly, it does not matter how it is done.

Therefore those who can't become Menkyo, can start their own Ryū and become the founder of his or her own Ryū. Though I do suggest to those to not use any existing name of a Ryū.

Looking at the current situation for Shintōmusōryū jō, apart from the successors of Otofuji-sensei, only the following schools exist: Shintōmusō Shimizuryū Kurodahajō, Shintōmusō Shimizuryū Yonenohajō, Shintōmusō Shimizuryū Hiroihajō, Shintōmusō Shimizuryū Kaminodahajō, Shintōmusō Shimizuryū Nishiokahajō and Shintōmusō Shimizuryū Hamajihajō.

Then in the future those will continue and the next generation [Menkyo-sha] will be called Shintōmusō Nishiokaryū ‘such and such’ jō. As far as I am concerned, those are the only ones that can be called Shintōmusōryū jō, and nothing else. This applies to the successors of Otofuji-sensei.

Original copyright ©1989 Niskioka Tsuneo. English Translation ©2006 Ishida Hiroaki & Kobudokai Australia. No unauthorised reproduction and translation.


 

Recommended further reading

Uchidachi & Shidachi by Nishioka Tsuneo - Click Here
Speaking on the Jo of Nishioka Tsuneo-shihan by Ishida Hiroaki - Click Here
In remembrance of Hamaji Kouichi-shihan by Ishida Hiroaki - Click Here

 




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