My Experience of Toate Fudo Kanashibari no Jutsu

by Someya Kenichi

(This article originally appeared in the Bujinkan Sanmyaku Densho in 1996)

How many years ago was it? It happened on an evening as hot as this year's summer. Shiraishi-san and I were called to the dojo by Soke. We had some time in hand, so Soke decided to grant us some training and for a few minutes we practiced responding with Sabaki (body movement) and shuto strikes to an enemy who hurls himself at you, thrusting with a tanto (knife) held at his right hip. I was called up to do the next technique, and Soke told me "Stab at me with all your might from the Kamae you were just in." For an instant I thought "Perhaps I'll be made to fly through the air with the momentum of my thrust", and internally I pictured how I would take the following ukemi. I was around thirty then, my body moved quite adequately and I was full of energy, so I thought there should be no problem with an ukemi or two. I held the tanto firmly at my right hip, lowered my hips well and took up position on the left, with my body half on; then stabbed with full power. The second my left foot moved an inch...did Soke's body sink a few centimeters? A Kiai like a fierce fire emanated from a Kamae like Fudo Myoo and echoed throughout the Dojo, and it was as though an enormous mountain echoed in resonance; at the same time, I felt a shock at the Toki spot on my right foot just as though something sharp and heavy like a bo shuriken (metal spike) had been stuck through it, and my body refused to move, as if bound with iron

(Kanashibari: Japanese people mention feeling this sensation in relation to dreams - it is known as a method used by Shugenja (wandering nomads) to immobilize other people, animals, etc) .

Then I felt the blood draining from my head. "Are you OK? That was Toate no Jutsu. I just applied it to your foot, but if I had done it to your eyes you'd probably be blind", Soke told me. This was not what I had expected at all. I had experienced such a shock that for a while I was unable to speak. I had experienced sorcery (genjutsu), but not of the kind in novels or films. One cannot help wanting to ask questions about such wonderful techniques -- embarrassing, as I had nowhere near reached even that level yet. If Soke shows us some mysterious techniques when training, internally I ask "Eh? How did he do that one?" And if we cannot do it, Soke takes our hands -- and feet -- and guides us. Is this not a small "Yamabiko" of its own (yamabiko = personal instruction or training given from teacher to student)? If you become confused or run into a wall, your body stops moving too. It is equally impossible to puta question into words. As Soke always says, the only thing you can do is keep on training for all you are worth. And thanks to the link of the teacher-student relationship, the training becomes an "echo" and provides the answer. 

Last year I had to enter hospital repeatedly due to an injury and was not able to train as much as I wanted. After leaving hospital I had to rest for a while, but still did my best to watch the training at least and keep the rhythm. From October I think I will practice on my own in the hospital bed by recalling past training sessions.


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