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OK, so what exactly are "principles"?
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One thing I've heard a LOT of during my years in the Bujinkan is that "it's not about the technique, it's about the 'principles.'"

Or another one: "Forget the kata and take the principles."

I am starting to wonder what exactly these "principles" really are. Here are some things that may be interesting to discuss:

1) How many "principles" are there in the Bujinkan?

2) Are there less principles than there are kata? Does each kata teach one principle or many? Or do several kata share the same principle?

3) How do you learn the principle(s) behind the kata? Do you need to have them explained or do they just get absorbed by practicing the kata?

4) If the principles are absorbed by practicing the kata, then how many times do you need to practice them before you "get" the principle.

5) Can anyone actually name and describe a couple of the "principles"?

Please, nothing smarta$$ like "the pointy end goes in the other guy" or anything which is so vague and obvious as to be useless.

6) What is/are the principle(s) behind the kata Koku? And how do they differ from the principles behind Renyo?

7) How do you know that you have "got" the principles and are not just fooling yourself that you have it, while in reality just having your own idea of what the "principle" is?

Adrian Hendry

Posted on: 2007/8/30 18:50
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Re: OK, so what exactly are "principles"?
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Do you get the principles that distinguish the car on the left from the right ??
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Principle - A beginning, foundation, source, or essence from which things proceed; principles are thus the fundamental essences out of which and from which all things are created and exist.

Try to capture the principles yourself, practising the form.

This is your own journey,challenge and responsibility in this art.

Posted on: 2007/8/30 19:40
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Re: OK, so what exactly are "principles"?
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Too many difficult questions to answer so I´ll pick out a few.

Quote:
6) What is/are the principle(s) behind the kata Koku? And how do they differ from the principles behind Renyo?


Well, by looking at the two kata you will notice that, at first, they seem quite similar. However, if this was so, then of course there would not be 2 kata but 1. In this case focus on the difference to understand the underlying principles. Since we are practicing a japanese martial art you will not get any more hints. Just practise the kata until they are second nature and you will understand the principle/s.

7) How do you know that you have "got" the principles and are not just fooling yourself that you have it, while in reality just having your own idea of what the "principle" is?

The answer is simple; you dont! or maybe I should put it like this, if you have been taught the kata correctly you should find the answers yourself.

I guess it´s not the answer you were looking for but thats the way it is. Find a good teacher is the best advice I can give.

Best Regards / Skuggvarg

Posted on: 2007/8/30 21:09
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Re: OK, so what exactly are "principles"?
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I will try to answer with my opinion …

Quote:

adie wrote:
1) How many "principles" are there in the Bujinkan?


Not as many as you might first think.

Quote:

adie wrote:
2) Are there less principles than there are kata? Does each kata teach one principle or many? Or do several kata share the same principle?


Yes. Many. Yes

Quote:

adie wrote:
3) How do you learn the principle(s) behind the kata? Do you need to have them explained or do they just get absorbed by practicing the kata?


A good teacher. Both.

Quote:

adie wrote:
4) If the principles are absorbed by practicing the kata, then how many times do you need to practice them before you "get" the principle.


Many many times

Quote:

adie wrote:
5) Can anyone actually name and describe a couple of the "principles"?

Please, nothing smarta$$ like "the pointy end goes in the other guy" or anything which is so vague and obvious as to be useless.


Hatsumi-sensei talks about such things all the time. It would be better to refer back to the primary source through his books, DVDs and training I think.

Quote:

adie wrote:
6) What is/are the principle(s) behind the kata Koku? And how do they differ from the principles behind Renyo?


Hatsumi-sensei once said that Koku represented space and Koku flow. There is probably a lot more than this.

Quote:

adie wrote:
7) How do you know that you have "got" the principles and are not just fooling yourself that you have it, while in reality just having your own idea of what the "principle" is?


You can feel it starting to work for you.

Posted on: 2007/8/30 23:42
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Re: OK, so what exactly are "principles"?
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Quote:

adie wrote:
6) What is/are the principle(s) behind the kata Koku? And how do they differ from the principles behind Renyo?

Sometimes the name of the Kata gives help, and in these cases I think they do.

Though; empty space and imperial carriage...

In these two cases one might consider, as they begin more or less similarly, things progress the wrong way in the latter... Like Omotegyaku and Omotegyaku (aite no) tsuki in Kihon Happô...

Posted on: 2007/8/30 23:46
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Re: OK, so what exactly are "principles"?
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Quote:

adie wrote:

Please, nothing smarta$$ like "the pointy end goes in the other guy" or anything which is so vague and obvious as to be useless.


Very often in the Bujinkan, the apparently most simple concept is the hardest thing to do. Pointy end toward them, stay in shizen, affect their balance, avoid the attack.

The hardest thing is to be open to the possibility that what is not easy for us to do, what does not seem sexy or fun, is what we need to be working on the most.

Marty

Posted on: 2007/8/31 0:59
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Re: OK, so what exactly are "principles"?
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Mr. Hendry,
Respectfully, I think Mr. Mitchell's response to your question was well-thought and well-grounded in real training experience. I wouldn't presume to add anything but I have a minor thought or two on the subject.

I've had many conversations before and after training with people (some of whom refused to shut up during training too!) who were adamant that Bujinkan training was completely and utterly distinct from the training in any other Japanese budo in the following respects:

1) Repetitive skill (waza e.g. toho, etc.)) and kata pratice was a waste of time and ran directly counter to Hatsumi sensei's wishes because...

2)Bujinkan transmission is affected by slavishly imitating Hatsumi sensei's kamiwaza, often with then same sort of pauses for commentary (in this case, mostly ignorant and wrong). This largely passive training approach is widely accepted as short-cut for extracting the technical principles without living with the kata physically and eventually, intellectually.

It's beside the point that I completely disagree with the above. I am posting because your post can be interpreted as being based on the notion that critical thinking backed up by steady training can be avoided by the using some back door.

Posted on: 2007/8/31 3:41
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Re: OK, so what exactly are "principles"?
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If you go to Alex Meehan's website, you'll find Peter King's essay entitled "Fighting"

http://www.happobiken.com/seminar2.htm

That's about as clean a statement of principles as I've found. I was Peter's student from 94-98 in London so I know that everything written has been tested with reality.

Posted on: 2007/8/31 4:07
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Re: OK, so what exactly are "principles"?
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Quote:

adie wrote:
One thing I've heard a LOT of during my years in the Bujinkan is that "it's not about the technique, it's about the 'principles.'"

Adrian Hendry


The principles of the Bujinkan are the core of what makes the art work. They're so simple and SO basic that it's hard to believe. My suggestion to you is not to attempt to micro-manage your learning experience.

Physics requires long, complex equations to understand and requires a good deal of education. If you tried to write down exactly how much force each of the muscles contributes and all the vectors involved to actually work out the equation of a professional baseball pitcher throwing a ball, it would be a daunting task. So imagine that after that, you tried to compare his pitch with a similar, worse pitcher and describe why the worse pitch is worse in physics terms. Now imagine that you're trying to be a pitcher. None of this would help you.

After all that work you'd be no better off at doing it yourself. Instead, if you just watched and tried to do what the professional did then you'd learn a lot faster. And more importantly you'd be learning in the terms that you would use when pitching.

So you know what principles are, and you know that you can't learn them intellectually. To discuss them in words is meaningless, and has all the potential in the world to lead you down the wrong path. I can only name one principle of Bujinkan budo taijutsu that I know to be true, and it's about learning the art and not the art itself.

"There is no shortcut."

Posted on: 2007/8/31 6:36
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Re: OK, so what exactly are "principles"?
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Quote:

So you know what principles are, and you know that you can't learn them intellectually. To discuss them in words is meaningless,

I disagree.

As an example, take the principle that "the knee should bend in the same direction as the foot (of the same leg) is pointing." Or, stated differently and in terms of a common problem, "don't let your knees cave in". Of course it takes practice to actually do it and make the understanding physically or tactically meaningful, but the principle can be stated in meaningful words and understood intellectually as well.

I think we have to allow for different learning styles. Some people learn best by imitation without analysis. Some learn best by approaching things intellectually and analyzing at first. There are lots of other ways as well. All approaches have their strengths and weaknesses.

Just my opinion.

John

Posted on: 2007/8/31 13:09
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