Pulling Earth, Pushing Heaven Part 3

The Tai Chi Notebook

Here’s part 3 of my 8-week course on mindful movements with Tai Chi. Last week we looked at the lower body, this week it’s the turn of the upper body and I throw in a bit of zen wisdom at the end for good measure. Enjoy!

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Lightsaber Combat and the Value of Myth in the Martial Arts

Kung Fu Tea

Chad Eisner (left) sparring with one of his students.

Solo, the latest addition to the Star Wars franchise, opens around the country tonight.  As such, it is only fitting that I share with readers of Kung Fu Tea my latest article, co-authored with Chad Eisner.  This piece was just published on the Kung Fu Tai Chi magazine webpage.  I was quite happy with the way the essay and accompanying photographs turned out, and I believe that this meditation has something to offer traditional martial artists and Star Wars fans alike.  Chad and I would like to thank Gene Ching, the Publisher of Kung Fu Tai Chi, for his support and willingness to expand the scope of our exploration of the martial arts.

On a more personal note I also owe Gene thanks as this essay accomplishes a longstanding goal.  I vividly remember rushing to the local convience stores as…

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Gikan Ryu

by Fane Hervey – Ninjutsu London

The Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu is the most unknown of the arts within the Bujinkan and is often translated as ‘The School of Truth, Loyalty & Justice‘. Possibly the main reason for this is that the secret techniques were only handed down from one Soke to the next Soke, (this would often be from father to son). Gikan Ryu was founded during the Eiroku Era (1558 – 1570) by Uryu Hogan Gikanbo. He was the lord of present day Osaka (back then known as Kawachi no Kuni). His castle was known as Uryujo. He was considered a good leader and real warrior. He is seen as being an honorable martial artist who strove to keep Japan at peace. Gikanbo specialisied in Koppo Jutsu (bone breaking), Hicho Jutsu (jumping), and Senban Nage Jutsu (blade throwing). The styles of this era were normally known as: Kosshi Jutsu, Koppo Jutsu, or Daken Taijutsu.

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Gikanbo was heavily influenced by the Chinese style of Cho Gyokko’s line (Gyokko Ryu Koppojutsu) and the Ikai line. From the teachings of Gikanbo comes the saying: ‘Bufu Ni Sente Nashi (From this side will not come the first strike). This is from where he developed Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu.

Gikan Ryu koppojutsu contains secret kicks, punches and throws and rumour has it that Gikanbo developed a special punch that could snap a sword in two! Grades were awarded through the traditional Japanese menkyo system using scrolls for: Shoden Gata, Chuden Gata, Okuden Gata, Kaiden Gata, and others.

The 10th Soke of Gikan Ryu had the same name as its founder, Uryu Gikanbo. On August 17th, 1863 Gikanbo fought for the Emperor during the famous battle of Tenchu Gumi no Ran. He is said to have fought valiantly, since even after being wounded by a rifle shot, he continued to attack with his one good arm until he was overcome by numerous sword cuts from the enemy. However, he was not killed and sensibly managed to retreat, despite being injured to the point of exhaustion. He retired from the battle to behind a nearby temple. There he was discovered by an Iga warrior, called Ishitani Matsutaro, who himself was on his way to join the battle. Gikanbo convinced Ishitani that the battle would be lost and that he should not waste his life. Ishitani tended to Gikanbo’s wounds and took him to Iga to recover. Ishitani Matsutaro, already the Soke of Takagi Yoshin Ryu and Kukishin Ryu, was then repaid for his kindness by being taught the Gikan Ryu, becoming the 11th generation Soke.

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In the Meiji Era, when Ishitani was 61 he was given employment by the father of Takamatsu Sensei at his match factory. It was from here that Ishitani met and started teaching the young Takamatsu Sensei. Takamatsu Sensei later would receive from Ishitani the Grandmasterships of Takagi Yoshin Ryu, Kukishin Ryu, Gikan Ryu, and many others.
Takamatsu Sensei awarded the Gikan ryu to Akimoto Fumio who was his senior student. This was based through his family’s connection to the Gikan Ryu along with the Shoken Ryu of Daken Taijutsu. Unfortunately, his scrolls and densho were destroyed during the 2nd World War. Sadly, Akimoto passed away in 1962.

At this point, there are two different stories that are being told by the Genbukan and the Bujinkan.
Shoto Tanamura, the soke of the Genbukan, who was at one point a student of Hatsumi Sensei, claims to have inherited the Sokeship from Sato Kinbei who supposedly in January of 1963, was awarded the sokeship for Gikan Ryu Koppo Jutsu. As the story accounts, from this time on, any information concerning Gikan Ryu was held exclusively by Sato Kinbei Sensei in the various forms of knowledge, scrolls and texts. Kimbei Sensei for reason unknown chose to keep secret the heritage given to him by Takamatsu Sensei. Sato Kimbei is regarded by Genbukan Schools the 14th Soke of the Gikan Ryu. It was however proven in a Japanese court that Shoto Tanamura is the Soke of Gikan Ryu, and he has provided the scrolls to prove it.

Massaki Hatsumi’s story is less complicated – After Akimoto’s death the the Sokeship came back to Takamatsu who gave it to Hatsumi along other eight Ryus that all together were used to create the Bujinkan Budo Ninpo Taijutsu School. However, when asked he has not provided any scrolls to prove that this is the case. It may well be that there is more than one sokeship for the Gikan Ryu that has been given, none-the-less, it is almost completely unaccessible to the general public or even senior practitioners of the Bujinkan. The only real way to study the Gikan Ryu is through the Genbukan, where the scroll has been given to the public.

However, on 28th February 2015, I had the great fortune to attend a seminar on Shidenfudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu lead by Dr. Kacem Zoughari. Kacem had just recently been allowed access to a few scrolls and densho from Soke Masaaki Hatsumi’s personal library, and one of the scrolls that he brought to show us in the UK was a never before seen scroll of sword on sword techniques within the Gikan Ryu. What was particularly unique about this scroll was that as well as the kanji detailing the technique, the illustrations of various kamae were quite beautiful and very colourful. Most scrolls have no illustrations or few, and those that do are not often coloured. This was a very nice exception to that rule. It also proved that Soke Hatsumi does have quite a few scrolls that until now he has not shared with people, or at least only a trusted few. This scroll also detailed that one of the defining characteristics of the school is for the feet to be pointing in completely opposite directions, like a ballet stance, which alone makes any technique very difficult.

Ultimately though, the strong influence of the Gyokko Ryu upon the Gikan Ryu, means one can assume that the differences between the two are not very big. Therefore studying the Gyokko Ryu is probably as close as we will get within the bujinkan to understanding the essense of the Gikan Ryu.

To visit Fane Hervey’s site or read more of his writing’s on Ninjutsu visit – www.ninjutsulondon.com

 

Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (11): Mok Kwai Lan – The Mistress of Hung Gar. — Kung Fu Tea

***In honor of the recent celebration of Mother’s Day. Enjoy!*** Introduction This post is the third entry in our series examining the lives of female Chinese martial artists. While it is the case that the vast majority of hand combat practitioners in the 19th and 20th centuries were male, a certain number of […]

via Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (11): Mok Kwai Lan – The Mistress of Hung Gar. — Kung Fu Tea

A Simple Way To Battle Your Thoughts — Martial Way Legacy

http://www.martialway.net This weekend was definitely tough. Just after our Free Saturday Kickboxing MMA Class we received the call, my Uncle Bobby had passed away. He was at home surrounded by his wife, family and animals which is the way he would have wanted it. Getting the news was difficult, especially just before we were […]

via A Simple Way To Battle Your Thoughts — Martial Way Legacy

Wing Chun Online

An Online Wing Chun Training Program that is not just about watching videos, it provides you with the tools to train with other practitioners in your area. ANYTIME, ANYWHERE For anyone interested in Practical Wing Chun and are unable to physically train regularly on location, this program allows it’s members to train with Practical Wing…

via Practical Wing Chun Australia – Online Training Group — Wing Chun United

How to practice Liu Zi Jue – The six healing sounds

Practice Tips

Liu Zi Jue is a set of Qigong exercises for health and fitness. During the exercise breath work, pronunciation and movement are combined. The following provides beginners and advanced practitioners with tips for perfecting the exercise.

Adjusting the mouth forms and feeling the air flow

Mouth forms should be done correctly with particular attention given to pronunciation and air flow. Beginners should find the right mouth form and then exhale with gently making the sound.

Combining the mind with breathing and movements

Renmai
Renmai
Dumai meridian
Dumai meridian

During practice the mind should be relaxed and in tune with the movements and the accompanying prolonged breathing and pronunciation. Excessive effort in the mind and body should be avoided. Focus should be on the breath work in a way that it is combined with physical movements that assists and compliment and enhance the practice.

It helps to relax the body and calm the mind, and dredge such meridians as Renmai (or conception vessel extending along the anterior midline of the body) to improve the circulation of the blood and vital energy.

Breathing with slight control

Liu Zi Jue should be done naturally using regress breathing.

Regress breathing occurs when inhalation is done through the nose and the chest is expanded while pulling in the abdomen. On the out breath this should be reversed through the mouth, increasing upward and downward movements diaphragm. This process both massages the organs and improves the circulation of blood and vital energy. Excessive efforts should be avoided.

Coordinating breathing with slow, realised and gentle movements

During practice even, prolonged and relaxed breathing and pronunciation will achieve the best results.

Step by step for consistency

Find a quiet place to practice in peace, be consistent in your practice. An environment that relaxes and allows the mind to be at peace is essential as is confidence in the exercises health benefits.

This article is based on studies and guidance compiled by the Chinese Health Qigong Association. 

Kumogakure Ryu

by Fane Hervey – Ninjutsu London

Meaning “Hiding in the Clouds School“, Kumogakure Ryu was founded by Heinaizaemon Ienaga Iga (of the Iga clan) in the middle 16th century. Like Togakure Ryu, which was paired with Kumogakure Ryu by the Toda family in the 17th Century, it is a ninjutsu school of thinking. Both schools teach that violence can basically be avoided. You learn how to go with the flow so that you can achieve what is best for yourself. It is all about adapting oneself to one’s environment.

The Taijutsu (body movement) of Kumogakure Ryu is almost identical to Togakure Ryu. Soke Hatsumi has demonstrated the Kumogakure taijutsu in the past, which was reminiscent of walking in a woman’s kimono; the feet taking small steps, which allows the knees to remain very close together (bent inwards), protecting the groin. This is of course very similar, if not identical to Wing Chun Kung Fu.

One of the special weapons of the school is the kamayari (a cross-bar spear). This was originally a type of grappling device for climbing onto ships, but proved useful for combating sword bearers too. An infamous ninja called Sarutobi Sasuke who was known for his amazing ability to leap form one tree to the next, used the Kamayari in order to swing from branch to branch like a monkey.Despite the close feet, the Kumogakure is known for its great leaps during close combat. Takamatsu Sensei was reputed to be able to leap 8 feet from standstill. Another taijutsu proficiency was the use of double blocks and strikes, as well as strikes against the forearm, yet again, similar to Wing Chun Kung Fu.

In the same vain, the Ippon Sugi Noburi (a metal pipe with an extendable chain inside and 3 claws at the end) was used for both climbing trees and as a flexible weapon in the Kumogakure Ryu. As well as leaping through trees, the Ninja’s of the Kumogakure would wear demon’s masks to frighten their opposition, and they would use the horns on the masks much like an animal would; by headbutting their opponents. They would also use torches that burnt when wet and other survival tactics for extreme environments, making them appear super human or like demons to their rivals. These types of deception and mind games were common implements for the ninja.

To visit Fane Hervey’s site or read more of his writing’s on Ninjutsu visit – www.ninjutsulondon.com

Martial arts “purity” is a lie and so is “tradition”

A frequently remembered moment among my staff (which are also my students) was an episode at a martial arts business event where several instructors ask me how I generate so much content; this blog, my facebook posts, my youtube, my DVD’s, my books, my secret facebook group(s) (YES, several0, etc etc yadda yadda. To which […]

via NSFW Blogging: martial arts “purity” is a lie and so is “tradition” — Sifu David Ross

Chinese Martial Arts in the News: April 9th, 2018: Taijiquan, MMA and the Southern Chinese Martial Arts — Kung Fu Tea

Introduction Welcome to “Chinese Martial Arts in the News!” Lots has been happening in the Chinese martial arts community, so its time to see what people have been saying. For new readers, this is a semi-regular feature here at Kung Fu Tea in which we review media stories that mention or affect the traditional fighting arts. In […]

via Chinese Martial Arts in the News: April 9th, 2018: Taijiquan, MMA and the Southern Chinese Martial Arts — Kung Fu Tea