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sanshin is NOT elemental feeling!
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I don't see any evidence that there is a paradigm attached to the san shin no kata with relation to their names.

There is no elemental significance to the 5 kata. They, in fact, would be just the same if they were called 1,2,3,4,5.

We could attach all kinds of meaning to their names (and some have) but that just leads us away from the point of sanshin.

I too have heard it described as 'just another way of counting'. It's a culturally unique and poetic way, but when we see lists numbered as a, b, c, etc., we don't begin to look for connections to that letter.

Posted on: 2003/11/20 9:59
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Non-Sequitor ...
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Tenchijin -- please re-read my postings. I never mentioned 'feelings' in my postings (other than to say I would not be addressing the Hayes' paradigm). What I said was that there is "value added" to using Elements instead of just numbers.

Examples of "value added" that do not come from feeling:

- One could look at the San Shin no Kata as being a sequence from a more "coarse energy" to a more "refined energy" (That really isn't a good explanation, but I can't think of better words at the moment). The Godai serve as a better reminder of that progression -- Earth being more "coarse", Void being the most subtle.

- One could also regard them as a sequence of Coarse Tactics thru Refined Tactics (and I use the term loosely): Earth - "Hit him when he's not looking", Water - "Hit him where he's not looking", Fire - "Hit him where he thinks he's looking", Air - "Hit him where he's sure he's looking", Void - "Make him look somewhere else and then hit him". These examples are crude at best, but my point is there is a certain value to the Paradigm that numbers do not convey.

- One could practice in front of a Japanese lantern (another representation of the Elements), realizing that the Lantern represents a progression from Earth (the ground it's sitting on), through the five elements, to Heaven (the sky it's pointing at). Thus it becomes a symbolic reminder of the Bujinkan principle of Ten Chi Jin.

- ect.

(Disclaimer: Anyone who considers me an authority on training needs to have their head examined ... )

Posted on: 2003/11/21 6:49
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Re: Non-Sequitor ...
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You're just pulling connections out of thin air... that have no basis in fact.

The movements in chi no kata aren't any more or less coarse than those in ku no kata.

My point is, that we could create connections between the names and the techniques, but they are spurious. It limits our thinking and prevents us from seeing them for what they are.

In Hatsumisenseis first US videos, the sanshin no kata are named thusly:
sanshin tsuki
sanshin omote shutouchi
sanshin ura shutouchi
sanshin... crap, I forgot
sanshin hoko no keri
No mention of the five elements at ALL.

Posted on: 2003/11/21 9:23
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Question
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I was just curious if anyone has heard Soke say that there is definitely no connection between the elemental forms and the sanshin...?

I'm just curious since #1. I'm a relatively new Bujinkan practitioner so I like to gather as much info "from the source" as i can #2. I've also heard that there's a myriad of interpretations when it comes to the techniques and their names, forms etc.

Curiously interested,

Thanks...!
Jed Konopka

Posted on: 2003/11/21 12:06
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Hehehe...
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Hmmm... First of all, I meant no malice when mentioning Steve Hayes use if the Godai in his Toshindo' program. The original question was is there a connection in Sanshin to the SKH Godai. Mr Hayes states somewhere on his own website that it is of his own invention and as I originally started in the SOI, I see it's value, but it is not taught that way in Japan.

The usage of the element guides are taught in Gyokko Ryu' 's concept of Fu-Sui, but these are only two of the five elements. This perhaps was Mr. hayes inspiration to explore the other elements but as I said, no one in Japan teaches using this system.

Of course, I do not have a Menkyo' Kaiden license in the Gyokko Ryu' or any other for that matter, so I cannot say definitely that this is not a part of the system, but I do know that no one teaches the Sanshin No Kata using this system in Japan.

I don't see a problem with the use of the Paridigm to the Sanshin No Kata except when you associate one element to one strike. The use of the five elements would better be applied to all of the five instead of one element to one strike. But as I said, this is not the way it is taught by Hatsumi Sensei or the Japanese Shihan in Japan.

Ahhh and Eric, the missing title was Sanshin Shi-To'-Uchi for Hi no Kata in that video.

Posted on: 2003/11/22 3:07
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Re: Hehehe...
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Hello folks,

Here are some more thoughts on an already very talked about topic. The opinions are mine alone and are intended to add to the discussion and no more.

Based on my experience, the sanshin are taught in Japan (sometimes and with some Shihan) with an 'elemental' connection. I have also heard Oguri sensei refer to the sanshin as the gogyo (the significance of this term is discussed in one of the previous posts in this thread). But a more meaningful (than my post) source for the average post-reader might be the book entitled "TogaKure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu" by Hatsumi Sensei. Pages 70 - 74 show a version of the sanshin using the chi, sui, ka, fu, ku designations.

I do not however claim any secret knowledge of the deeper significance of such nomenclature. I would suggest that there is one though. There are so many examples of word play and multiple meanings in all that Hatsumi Sensei teaches that I would be surprised if such were not the case for the sanshin. In other words, I don't think that the sanshin were randomly chosen nor randomly named. But if we are to uncover the secrets, we must study diligently and cultivate a sincere relationship with those who have the knowledge and experience to guide us, as such things may unlikely be revealed in books or on video or even at the 'come one come all trainings' in Japan.

To be taken with a grain of salt ...

Posted on: 2004/1/2 8:03
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San Shin
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Hello,

I train regularly with Sean Askew, and remembered that at one time he had posted some information about these ideas from his experiences living in Japan. I found the original post, along with some input from Mr. Shawn Gray (the administrator of kutaki). I believe these posts were from an earlier version of kutaki, but I can't remember. Enjoy - Jeff O.

WARNING: Long Post

Distance, Timing & Balance: Shoshin San Shin No Kata - By. Sean T. Askew

Recently I asked Hatsumi Sensei to talk a little about the inner meanings of the San Shin kata. I wanted to know how important is the "Five Elements Mandala Kata" and is it a necessary part of Taijutsu?

Usually Sensei does not give a straight answer, but for some reason this time he gave it to me on a silver platter. "Oh that's Mikkyo, religion!"

OK, and how does this relate to Taijutsu? "It doesn't! The movements are the core of all Taijutsu but the names and their inner meanings are the form that was put on these physical mysteries and movements by the leaders of the Gyokko Ryu at a period of time when Mikkyo was in it's golden age. Many of the Soke were Buddhist warrior-monks and their influence is readily seen in the names of many particular concepts in the Ryuha. The movements however are much older than Buddhism!" This was his simple but still somewhat elusive explanation.

I wanted to know more so I started digging around. The importance of the Kata is made obvious when you look at the TenChiJin No Maki Hatsumi Sensei made for instructors, also commonly known as the "Shidoshi Scrolls. They are found in the very beginning of the text, even before the "Kihon Happo". This is the same order they are found in the Gyokko Ryu densho as well. Most dojo here in Japan still employ the kata to instruct beginners. The first stage of the kata is called Shoshin San Shin Kata (beginning three minds form). The san shin or "three minds" are what is to be kept in mind as a goal when training in the kata. These three minds are distance, timing and balance. Every time the student performs the movements he or she should be constantly correcting their distance with the target, timing the body to move in unison and in one fluid motion, and their balance during/after execution. I have also heard Sensei say that the three minds are also using the knees, hips and spine to adjust distance, timing and balance, but I believe this would be the second step. Notice three times three makes nine, neat huh!

Later the student would progress to Gogyo level of the kata. This is where the religious influence is readily noticeable. The movements were given properties from the Five Elements Mandala. One the idea of earth, another water, fire, wind and finally the pure void or emptiness that all of the other elements make their appearance in. To these motions and mind-sets breathing exercises were added, again making three new minds: form, feeling and breathing. This as most people know can produce altered states of consciousness.

The third and final stage of the kata is known as Goshin No Kata (form of the enlightened heart). To this I can not elaborate since at times I even wonder where my heart is. But I think it is to mean it is a life long pursuit of simple things that produces enlightenment.

In conclusion it can be said that as with any martial art or any art for that matter, basics are always very important. The physical movements in the kata are the most essential skills a martial artist must develop, but as for the other aspects of the kata?cwell, that is religion and importance is always a matter of perception.

I hope everyone enjoys this essay. If there are any other theories anyone has heard on the San Shin No Kata please write to me and let me know. - Sean Askew

(Here is Shidoshi Shawn Gray's Response...)

Funny, I came across something similar on the GoGyo-no-kata the other day - at work of all places! Never thought I would find out stuff like this at Canon, but...

The other day I finished a web-based kanji lookup system which I have been working on. It uses a kanji dictionary of 6,000 characters. Since Japanese only learn about 3,000 kanji in school (the Chinese use about 6,000, there are about 10,000 in existence), the Japanese people at work can also use it to look up kanji that they don't understand. (I'll have this up on my server at graycastle.com in the very near future.)

Anyway, I was showing it to one of the managers to see what he thought, and he pumped in the number of strokes and the radical of the kanji that he was looking for. What came up was the 10th sign of the Japanese zodiac. In the explanation for that kanji, I saw the characters for Go-Gyou ('five lines'). That perked my interest because I wondered what the GoGyo had to do with the Japanese zodiac. My manager knows I do budo, and I mentioned that we have something called the 'GoGyou no kata' in the Bujinkan. This seemed to make sense to him, although he couldn't totally understand it. I asked him about the definition we were looking at and what the GoGyou had to do with the Japanese Zodiac. What he said was that there are 10 zodiac signs. Animals, etc. For each sign, there are 5 (or 10) 'rules.' He sketched it out on paper, showing 1-10 down the page, and then from the top one, drew a line out, then from that line, a list of lines, 1-5 down. This line of 5 rules (laws or principles also, I suppose) is the GoGyo. (I do not know if there is a separate GoGyo for each of the 10 zodiac signs.)

He said that there were these 5 rules, but he didn't know what they were. I said, "I bet I know - Chi, Sui, Ka, Fu, Ku!" and he's like "Yeah! Something like that!" So I asked him what the rules were for. He said that they were to do with God and Nature (or the gods of Nature). I mentioned that it sounded like that came from the Shinto religion, and he said agreed. He went on to explain that one would go through the rules and "clear" each stage before moving on to the next. For example, when one got to the Ka level, he would 'meet' a fire. I'm like What do you mean, 'meet' a fire? He explained that you would have some kind of interaction with fire where you would make a request of it and it would answer you.

This procedure would be followed for each element as part of your quest.

Thinking of Shinto, a naturalist religion, it holds that all things in nature are gods or hold divine qualities (the line between the two is quite blurry in Japanese). So for example, a tree would be a god or hold a divine quality, as would a stone, a waterfall, a mountain, etc. Thinking further, the 5 elements of the GoGyo may have been the 5 most basic or primal elements in Shinto - we had the same type of thing with basic elements centuries ago in Europe, I forget what they were, but I think I learned them in school. I mentioned these things to him, and he seemed to think I was on the right track with it. So I decided to ask Shiraishi Sensei about it at the next class. My manager wasn't surprised to hear that these kind of things are present in budo even though the average Japanese knows very little if anything at all about them.

After the next class in Kashiwa, I asked Shiraishi Sensei about this astrological connection with the GoGyo and what, if any, relationship it had to our Bujinkan training. Like Soke said to Sean, Shiraishi Sensei also said "There is no relation - other than it being borrowed from Shinto religion and put to use as a training/teaching method." He went on to explain that the ninja were not really practicioners of this religious thought, but only took from it what benifitted their training and applied it to the training as such. Not as having deep religious or philosophical meaning in and of itself, but only insofar as the model helps your training.

In the same way, in Shiraishi Dojo, when we do ukemi, students line up single file and go one after the other instead of having everyone go at once. He reminds us to watch other people's movements as they do their ukemi and find and take the good points to apply to our own practice. And of course he says he does the same thing with Soke. Find even just one good point or principle that you can apply to your training. Every day, one good point, one good point. After years of training, all those little good points really add up. You have a very solid basis on which to do your SanShin-no-kata, your Kihon Happo, or whatever other instance of taijutsu you happen to be doing at any given time.

So look around you today - at work, home, school, dojo, wherever. Find one good point that you can apply to your training, and then just keep going. Yes, we can find good models for taijutsu in Mikkyo astrology, which most of us don't understand. We can also find good models for taijutsu everywhere around us in our everyday lives, in situations with which we are much more familiar. - by Shawn Gray

Gambatte,


Posted on: 2004/1/3 0:07
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Take Care & Train Safe,

Jeff Ochester
Dayton Bujinkan Dojo
www.daytonbujinkan.com
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Re: San Shin
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Mr. Jeff,

Thank you for digging up and sharing those two interesting and insightful commentaries. Forums such a this are at their best with that kind of exchange.

Sincerely

P.S- And many thanks to the original authors as well.

Posted on: 2004/1/3 0:32
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Re: San Shin
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Quote:

Jeff wrote:
Distance, Timing & Balance: Shoshin San Shin No Kata - By. Sean T. Askew


(Here is Shidoshi Shawn Gray's Response...)



Thank you very much! These are the kinds of posts I read Kutaki for!

Posted on: 2004/1/6 1:43
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Re: San Shin
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I have also heard Soke talk about the elements in Sanshin kata as being related to the centre of motion for each form with Ku representing no specific centre of motion.
I took this to mean that Chi no kata could be seen as being centred low down in the groin, Sui from the hips, Ka from the chest and Fu from the spine with Ku having no specific centre.

Although I’ve only heard it mentioned once I thought it was an interesting idea.


Posted on: 2004/1/6 10:44
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