Bujinkan Rakunin Dojo (武神館 楽忍 道場), Harstad (Norway)

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Kihon Happo

by Don Houle

According to Soke Hatsumi, the basis of all our taijutsu in the Bujinkan Dojo is the kihon happo. What are these techniques and how can they help us to create a firm foundation for our taijutsu?

Most of us know the kihon happo as a collection of eight techniques. Dr. Hatsumi has stated however, that these eight techniques are really just the beginning. From each of these eight spring eight more, and then eight more from each of these and so on into infinity. Herein lies the limitlessness of Bujinkan taijutsu. Hatsumi sensei has often said that by turning the number ?“ on its side, we get the symbol for infinity - this is a good way to think of the kihon. As we master each technique, we should be able to move from the fundamentals to henka (variations) at will. Of course, this ability comes only with years of training in the basic forms.

The kihon happo are taught a little differently by each teacher. Many of Dr. Hatsumi’s shihan will show different versions of the same techniques. Sometimes the techniques included in one teacher’s kihon happo are not the same as in another teacher’s kihon happo. For example, sometimes hon gyaku is added to the eight techniques to make a total of nine. Sometimes these changes cause a bit of confusion. The techniques that I describe below are the way Manaka shihan and my teacher teach the kihon happo.

Kihon Happo literally translates to “eight basic ways”. The first three techniques, known as the Koshi Sanpo Waza (finger striking three ways) are thought to be from the Gyokko ryu and are: ichimonji no kata, jumonji no kata and hicho no kata. These three also happen to be three of the basic kamae (stances) which we use. These kata are basically made up of defensive movements in response to an opponent’ attack and then an offensive counter.

The next five techniques are known as the Torite Goho (arm attacking five ways) and originated from the Kukishinden ryu or Takagi Yoshin ryu. As the name for this group of techniques implies, these movements usually attack an opponent’ arms and involve taking the attacker to the ground in ways that do not allow him to land safely. The five techniques are: Omotegyaku dori, Uragyaku dori, Gansekinage (Muso dori), Onikudaki and Musha dori. Gansekinage is often replaced with Muso dori as the two techniques are rather similar. An interesting point here is that Manaka sensei has stated that onikudaki does not appear anywhere in the Gyokko ryu, so that technique must have come from another school.

How can we use the kihon happo to create good taijutsu? Well, the most obvious answer is practice...a lot of practice. Manaka shihan says that he starts every training with go gyo no kata and kihon happo. Anyone who has ever done the kihon happo as warm-up drills with Manaka knows that he has obviously practiced them a lot (especially that hicho no kata...how does he do that?). Major Manaka often relates the stories of times when he was away from Hatsumi sensei due to his military commitments. He says that the kihon happo were all he would practice for months at a time. No variations, just the basic forms. That should be a lesson to us all.

Many martial artists who have seen the kihon happo practiced have been known to say that the techniques would be useless in a real fight. When I hear this, I like to smile and say “, they are useless in a real fight!“ Eventually, I get around to explaining that these eight techniques were never meant to be used exactly as shown in shinken gata (real combat) form.

Bud Malmstrom stresses that the movements don’t work unless something is added to or taken away from them. We need to set them up in order for the techniques to work for us. The basic forms are used to learn the movements and ideas behind the techniques. In a real fight, the techniques are never going to work just like they do in practice. That is why Hatsumi sensei stresses that each basic technique should lead to a minimum of eight more techniques, preventing the student from relying on the basic forms in a self defense situation.

This article reprinted from the www.Kihon.com, without permission.





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