Sensei Hatsumi Masaaki spoke

Master: "The life and the obscure martial arts of Sensei Takamatsu Toshitsugu"

It felt like Spring was close at hand on the warm Tuesday in February when the Astock Budo Seminar was held at the Shibuya Forum 8. In the last segment of this martial arts seminar, Sensei Hatsumi Masaaki told about the eventful life of his teacher, Sensei Takamatsu Toshitsugu. In Manshu (Manchuria, China), Takamatsu Sensei enjoyed a reputation as a man of great bravery. While he is a remarkable master of martial arts, he is hardly known in Japan. From Takamatsu Sensei, the nine old-style schools of Japanese martial arts were handed down to Sensei Hatsumi Masaaki, who founded the Bujinkan Dojo based on Takamatsu Sensei's martial arts, art, ideas and personality.

Also, Hatsumi Sensei talked about his teacher, Takamatsu Sensei, which has been a rare opportunity. Furthermore, even though they cannot be loaned out, Takamatsu Sensei's training films were shown to the public. Being able to see Takamatsu Sensei's mastery of techniques has become a rare personal experience. Moreover, it was a pleasure to see Hatsumi Sensei in his younger days.

Here is Hatsumi Sensei's story:
"In the 25th year after Takamatsu Sensei's death, I am glad that we had a chance like this. I was groping in my pursuit of martial arts when I happened to meet Takamatsu Sensei. I was 27 years old. That part of my life, before meeting Takamatsu Sensei, is dead. Since then, I have felt as if I have carried on the spirit of Takamatsu Sensei. Takamatsu Sensei not only talked about form and technique, he drove them into my mind as a way of life. Until then, I only did foolish things and I think that because of him, I became an honest man. Ever since that chance meeting, every week for 15 years, I continued to travel from my home in Noda to his place in Kashihara, traveling at night to attend training, then returning home again at night. (The distance was more than 250 miles one way). Takamatsu Sensei was born in Kobe and studied, among other places, at St. George's English School, and a Chinese composition school. His father was a congressman in the prefectural assembly. As a young man he spent 10 years crossing China, doing diverse activities. He had many dangerous encounters, and it sometimes seemed that he would not survive. His martial skills were honed by experiences like these. He was always able to survive because his teachings focused on actual combat - 'Do it this way, and you won't live,' 'Do it that way, and you won't kill.' I think that because instruction used to be only one-on-one, it was possible for me to learn a lot in just 15 years."

"Sensei also painted often, as did I. Once, while I was pursuing my studies in mass communications and my health broke down, he painted a picture and gave it to me. It was a very stylish picture. During my recovery, the sensation I got from the picture was 'get well and enjoy life.' "

"Takamatsu Sensei's method of teaching was very unique. One time, he said we were going to practice shirahadori (stopping a sword with your hands), and he dragged me to the park at the Kashihara Shrine, then told me to catch the katana. But because my hands were numb from the cold, I couldn't grasp anything. This was not what he had planned. He taught with that kind of flexibility. He said that in martial arts, the situation is always changing. After training was finished, we returned to Takamatsu Sensei's house where I was staying. At such times, he would say 'You look cold Hatsumi, why don't you get under the kotatsu,' and he told his wife to bring me some hot sake. I think Sensei was grateful to get to bed. Then, the next day he said 'Last night, while you were sleeping soundly, I passed through your room 3 or 4 times on my way to the bathroom.' Lessons such as these were not taught."

When Hatsumi Sensei speaks about his teacher, his face is filled with a look of awe and respect. It took an extraordinary student to make such frequent trips for 15 years, from Noda in Chiba Prefecture all the way to Kashihara in Nara Prefecture, just as it took an extraordinary teacher to keep him coming.

The translation was done by Ken Harding's Japanese tutor.