Archive for April, 2009

神眼 Seeing

Last year, Isabel spent a lot of time in the dojo, training and shooting photographs for Hatsumi Sensei’s books. You have likely seen her work – two of her images appear in Japanese Sword Fighting: Secrets of the Samurai. She’s opened her own studio, IB Imagery, in Lancashire, England. The Bujinkan photo slideshow shows her skillful use of negative space in the way she manipulates her own photographs. Sometimes her images seem to be viewed through a foggy window you have just wiped your sleeve on, and other times the image is like paint platters on canvas. She skillfully uses these spaces to isolate the movement and expression on Hatsumi Sensei and his various ukes.

When you come to Soke’s or the Shihans’ trainings, you will see there are various people shooting video. That does not mean anybody permitted to do so. Sometimes the Shihan has assigned someone to shoot photos or videos. Other times, known photographers are allowed to shoot for the purpose of producing art for books or other publications.

If you want to take photos or video at a dojo, you should ask the students of that dojo who will be able to advise you. If you do not know who present is in fact a student of that teacher, you ought to think deeply about this. If you cannot see the people that are regularly instructed by the sensei, how do you know what is important to shoot with your camera? If you are very busy running for your camera, looking through the viewfinder, finding a safe place to set it down, are you present in the moment of the training?

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What an old lady knows about looking like and being:

My German-speaking great grandmother was not impressed by post-war fashion worn by the young ladies of a house she worked in. They were impeccably dressed but their rooms were filthy, which outraged my usually reserved Oma so much, she remarked, “Oben hoi, und unten foi.” The nuance of this expression is hard to translate, but it means that the outside looks hoi, classy, but the underside is foi, lacking redeeming qualities.

When you hold a rank in our art, in principle you  should have sufficient skill, and when you don’t, to admonish yourself for not hitting the mark. You need to know when you’re hoi or foi.  

I’m working on my kihon these days so as to be not foi. How about we start there?

And now, a haiku:

The waza slips out

Of my hands this time but I

Know spring comes again

On to some art:

Lyssa, budoka and artist, has now got her prints, often inspired by her trips here to Japan for martial training, at Okami Press on Etsy. You can see her remarkable rendition of Fudomyo, the immoveable wisdom king.

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A Love Letter from Hombu

The last three weeks, I’ve been insanely busy on holiday. I’m off to Hombu now…Too busy to blog about it. Meanwhile, here is a love letter from LA to Japan and back again.

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