The essence or vital point. During a class, Hatsumi sensei encouraged us to learn the kaname (of distance, structure, etc). He explained, for instance, that the kaname of a sensu (扇子 - Japanese foldable hand fan) was the pin or rivet that held the wood pieces together. Remove the pin and the sensu falls apart. Find the kaname of your attackers movement, control or disrupt it and you have taken away his ability to threaten you.
Ken Tai Ichi Jo (拳体一情)
The whole body in motion is used to generate power. Most people try use tension and the strength of their muscles which actually robs them of generating full power.
Ikken Hasso (一拳八相)
One fist, eight aspects. While I was visiting Japan to train, Hatsumi-sensei introduced the class to this Shinden Fudo Ryu (神傳不動流) concept. He showed how one fist became many fists and how one strike flowed into many. His relaxed movements flowed without strength... and almost without thought. Uke threw a punch and Hastumi-sensei flowed and adapted with strikes of his own.
Shin Gi Tai (心技体)
Mind, skill and body. The Japanese kanji for shin presents the meaning of mind at its most basic level. To view the character with deeper insight we come to the meanings of heart and moral integrity. And from this we come to the understanding of doing a task for the love of it and not for gain. It is here that we must gather our emotions and focus them on the task at hand.
Secondly, the character for gi, also called waza, presents us with the translation of technique or technical skills. Herein we can see the necessity for learning and developing skills that will benefit ourselves and thus benefit our society. Training, though arduous at times, is for the improvement of the form and progression of ability.
The final character is tai, which translates as body and confers the notion that our physical forms must be cultivated to the pinnacle of human ability. This tells us that man is limited only by his own personal limitations and that these self-imposed limits need not exist.
Shin-Gi-Tai is the joining of mind, skill, and body to produce a complete person. These three human qualities parallel the essence of the heavens (represented by a person's mind), earth (an individual's skills) and man (the body). Eric Clapton playing solo "unplugged" has Shin-Gi-Tai. He sits and puts all of himself into each note, striking not only the guitar's strings but the "cords" in the audience's heart and bringing tears to their eyes.
An important point is that a martial artist, as well as any other individual that seeks this level of ability, must understand that this path is fraught with certain pitfalls. Not the least of these is that to actually be conscious, to take deliberate action in any of shin, gi, or tai is to unbalance the unification and lose this ability.
Hatsumi Sensei has said that this unification of Shin-Gi-Tai is the ultimate quest for the martial artist. This is the purpose of his or her training. And though we may not be able to have this intensity in every moment of our lives, it is the journey, the training on the way, which we endeavor to constantly perfect.
Author: Joe Maurantonio
Joe has been training in the martial arts for over 40 years. He wrote his first martial arts article for a local college newspaper in 1984 and was
first published internationally in Ninja Magazine (1986) the same year he met Masaaki Hatsumi-sensei. Here are some highlights of his work:
- Ninja Magazine: Strategy of the Stick, Writer (1986)
- Sanmyaku, Assistant Editor (1993-1999)
- Heart, Faith & Steel, Publisher (1995-1998)
- Ninjutsu: The Martial Path, Author (1996)
- Ninpo: Wisdom for Life, Publisher/Editor (1998)
- KIHON Newsletter, Writer (1999-2005)
- Miscellaneous online articles (2006-current)
- Shinto Muso Ryu Jojutsu Zukai, Publisher/Editor (2017)
- The Ninja Way, Editor (2020)
- It Takes a Ninja, Editor (2021)
- Bujinkan Inspired, Contributor/Editor (2001)