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  • Writer's pictureDave Giddings

Eight notes of Budo...

Soke Hatsumi has often said that the Kihon Happo is the foundation of taijustsu, the fundamentals needed to be able to create infinite variations. Just like you learn musical scales to be able to perform musical scores, you need to learn Kihon Happo to be able to perform effective taijutsu.

It is recognised that kata are not actual fights, instead they are an aide memoir of movement and application that can be applied to spontaneous events. In each of the eight kata of the kihon happo we develop muscle memory on how to move our feet. We develop an understanding of where strikes work, what response they produce and the value of the correct distance to avoid, strike and escape.

The longer you train in ninjutsu the more you see this connection. Within other kata you see elements of Ichimonji no kata, elements of Gansaki nage, elements of Musha dori.

If Kihon Happo is the foundation of taijustu in the Bujinkan, the San Shin no kata give the structure for the weapons work. The movements in San Shin no kata can be seen in sword work, staff work, thrown weapons and others. Kiri age seen in Bo staff and sword is similar in feel to Chi no kata. Throwing a shuriken moves the same as Ka and Sui no kata, using a kusarifundo has the same feel as Ku no kata. If the Kihon Happo are the eight notes to produce taijutsu, then San Shin no kata are the chords that add weapons to the piece.

This all emphasises the need to relentlessly drill these kata with correct footwork, distancing and intent. To test our distance at each part of the movement. To develop a smooth flow to the techniques - to knock the corners off the movements so to speak. Then, to work on variations of each which still embody the same principles of the original kata without moving to far from the original form. It has to have those recognisable elements so we do not loose the original principles.

The music has the same form but in a different key.

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