A Talk On Takamatsu Sensei (Part 2) by Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi

translated by Benjamin Cole


Q: You mentioned earlier that there are ways of healing in times of war when there is no medicine? Could you go into more detail on this?

A: Yes. There is acupressure, and acupuncture. (This met with nods of acknowledgment from many.) And other things, such as kikou (controlling the bodyís energy). We all know there are instances of people healing without any explanation. (Pointing to an audience member, he continued.) I went with that man to America. What was it? The Atlanta Tai Kai? It was his first time abroad. He worked very hard. Well, anyway, during that visit, he met Stephen (Hayes) and Rumiko. That was the time wasnít it? Yeah. Well, at one point Rumiko (I believe) cut her finger. But (someone did something and) the bleeding stopped. (I am sorry that I canít recall who did what to whom, but the result was the same -- the bleeding stopped without conventional medical care.) There is another story of a woman who had not walked in something like 10 years. Someone visited her and by the end of the day she was able to stand and walk. Things such as this happen all around us, and that is a fact. Does that answer your question?

Q: In films, we see ninja using shuriken. Where did they get them?

A: They made them themselves.

Q: You mean like blacksmiths?

A: Yes. Every ninja was adept at many "trade" skills. People normally think of metal throwing stars, but just about anything can be used as shuriken. Like these. (Draws out his business card.) It seems flimsy, but it flies. Go on try it. (Throws a few at the audience.) And the corners can take out an eye. I was once arguing with my wife and got upset. I picked up a card and threw it at her. She ran around the corner to escape, but it had followed her. It hit her in the eye. And my wife has bad eyes. I felt bad and decided that I would never take out my anger on her physically again... Anything with four corners will fly. Attach some needles to the corners of your business card and dip the tips in poison. It becomes a very effective weapon.

Q: What was the cause of the Ninja Boom in the U.S. and Europe a few years a go?

A: Someone must have lit a fire. When I went to America, there were a lot of people making comments about Ninja this and Ninja that. I told them that I came to apologize to them. I said that "Ninjutsu" of the Ninja Boom had become a nuisance, and that I wanted to show them what true Ninjutsu was. After that, within about a year, the depiction of "bad" Ninja disappeared and the "good" Ninja prevailed, even to today. Theyíve even got turtle ninja. (He smiles) You know them, right? Turtle ninja... I have also changed the name of what I teach from Bujinkan Ninpo Taijutsu to Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, to emphasize that Ninjutsu is just part of the whole.

Q: I have a question about Ryu-ha. When you teach, do you focus on particular Ryu-ha?

A: Many people are overly preoccupied with the differences in the Ryu-ha. But if you look at things, you will notice that they are all the same. Ryu-ha are there merely to accentuate different ways of applying the same techniques. The way in which Ryu-ha approach techniques are different, but not their fundamentals. People can use the different Ryu-ha to express their personalities in their Taijutsu, but we donít focus on just one Ryu-ha or the other; we just let the options be known. That allows for more freedom (moving between Ryu-ha without getting pinned down.) The way we teach is like a compass, once the point is in place, the possibilities (within and among the Ryu-ha) draw a circle around it.

Q: In movies, there have been depictions of people able to leap up a story of a building. There are also documented cases of people in China who traverse walls of great height. Is there anything similar in Ninjutsu?

A: Yes. I can still scale walls myself. And that man sitting over there is very adept at scaling. It is usually done when no one is looking.

Q: Also in films were such things as Kunoichi, or female ninja. Do such women exist now?

A: Oh, yes. There is a very strong practitioner in Russia who is a woman. She would always walk by this group training in another martial art. I wonít mention the art, because that would be bad. But anyway, they kept taunting her every day she walked by, making fun of her because she was a woman practicing martial arts. Well, one day she just lashed out and set a few of them straight, physically speaking, that is. From that day on, they stayed on the other side of the street and didnít say a word. (He laughs)

Q: So youíre saying itís physical strength?

A: No, not necessarily physical strength. In many ways, itís mental strength. And besides woman have something extremely beautiful (He smiles again). And men are extremely weak to such beautiful things.

Q: I am sure there are many things you learned from Takamatsu-sensei, but what was the one thing you remember the most? The one thing you think is most important?

A: That men live to die. Ever since I was young, I had always feared death. But I never actually thought Takamatsu-sensei would die. Maybe it was because of the way he lived.

(At several times throughout the talk, he mentioned that not letting oneís feet get cold was important to health. Even in the conclusion, when he read from a Japan Sports article which was written about Takamatsu-sensei, the point of covering the feet at night and making sure to keep oneís feet warm came up. )

[(Hatsumi-sensei also chose to address the significance of virility several times throughout his talk. At the embarrassment of the older women in the audience, Hatsumi-sensei detailed the significance of potency in Takamatsu-senseiís teachings. (In fact, I think he actually enjoyed making the women blush.) He mentioned that Takamatsu-senseiís motto was to "Stand tall" (in more ways than one) and that in his elderly years, sometimes people would greet him in such a way that he could play with his language and state that he could still "Stand tall." Personally, I will do my best to master this aspect of the Bujinkanís teachings.]

(Interestingly, Hatsumi-sensei never once said, "He was a great man," in respect to his mentor. Throughout the entire presentation, I kept expecting him to say it -- to run into doldrums of speech and say something similarly generic, especially in his conclusion. People always do that. There is a tendency in giving speeches to use sound bytes or quickly formed, banal sentences. Such sentences, however, unfortunately distract from oneís message. Hatsumi-sensei never strayed, and never made any part of Takamatsu-senseiís life generic. For this, I am thankful.)

For his conclusion, Hatsumi-sensei chose to read from a Sports Japan news article which featured Takamatsu-sensei. His final comment, directed at the man who had asked earlier about the most significant thing Takamatsu-sensei had taught him, was the most poignant. "That was a very good question you asked earlier. Takamatsu-sensei taught me that men cry. And that men die."