Discussion in 'Ninjutsu Resources' started by Keikai, Apr 27, 2005.
Are we not straying from the Kukan discussion here?
What are your views on kukan Dan?
possibly, but a question in an earlier post asked if the awareness dale's post hints at was down to just training generally or specific exercises which could accelerate its development.
Personally, I feel that intuition plays an important role in the development of ones awareness of space and the relationships which exist between each of us, hence my previous post.
To tackle a subject as abstract as kukan head on can lead to circular paragraphs as we try to put our fingers on clear definitions which everyone can relate to their own experience, hence using related issues and experiences as 'sign-posts' which can be used to point to the ellusive concept we are trying to discuss.
I'll try to give you a concise picture of my (limited) understanding...
Our perception of ourselves as individual and distinct entities is an illusion. A useful illusion, granted, but an illusion none-the-less. In reality, we are intimately connected to everything around us, from the innanimate objects we manipulate, to the sentient beings we interact with.
Life is a process which is based upon a tension and conflict of energies. This conflict occurs accross all levels of our experience. From the obvious conflicts we define from a human perspective, such as war, fights, arguments etc, to the battles between forces at the sub-atomic scale up to the cosmological scale. The universe is in a constant state of flux, with one force pushing in one direction, other forces checking and pulling in another.
What all these conflicting forces require is resolution, a return to a state of harmony and balance. (Of course, from one perspective, this flux is in harmony already, but that is another story )
Bringing this down to the level of the ninjutsu practioner, engaged in a physical conflict with an agressor, will allow us to consider kukan, or the space or 'arena' through which this conflict is manifesting.
If we forget kukan and just focus upon the physical task of landing punches and overcoming our opponent, we narrow our consciousness to the pure mechanics of the fight and close our perceptions down to the most primative.
However, if we have spent time developing an awareness of how the actions of our agressor are linked to and limited by the kukan which exists as the interplay of our energies, their energies and the energies of the environment we find ourself in, we put ourselves at a tremendous advantage. Why? How?
Well, the kukan which we find ourselves in is a unique creation which owes its existance to our own awareness of its presence. It will have its rules and limits. There are things which are avilable options within this unique creation, and things which are not. If we are sufficiently aware (or 'tuned in, man') we become capable of taking control of the way we (and our opponent) move through this space. Thus we can 'guide' them to attempt actions which cannot succeed in the given environment, allowing us to create the opportunity we require to eliminate the disharmony and restore the natural balance to the situation, (preferably in a way that serves our needs as opposed to theirs).
Dale's earlier point about the role of time in this process is important. The kukan is an entity in its own right. It will evolve through the conflict and its form will change. If we are not aware of these changes we are not working to our full potential and we could well make innappropriate decisions.
In short, we must be at the 'zero' state throughout the event, ready to utilise whatever advantage manifests itself. If we take any form of preconception into the arena, we must consider how the kukan will respond to that preconception. We are thus creating work for ourselves.
If we enter the arena with nothing in our mind but our desire to survive we are better placed to fully utilise the unique attributes of the current kukan. Hence we train to learn principles of motion, the psychology of conflict and the mechanics of action. We do not fill ourselves with techniques and counters as these are only applicable to the kukan through which we created them. Ie, if we practice things in the dojo and fall into the trap of believing that the training environment is transferable to the outside world we are deceiving ourselves. If, instead, we view the dojo time as a space (kukan) through which we can learn and experiment with the fundamental principles, if we utilise this time to internalise these principles, we are honing our intuition.
Thus when we encounter the kukan of an aggressive situation, our conscious mind can safely fall into its 'zero' state and our intuition acts as the medium for communication between the arena we are in and the subsequent actions we perform.
Phew! That was a task and a half...
anyone with more experience and a clearer view care to take over...please
Damn, that was good!!!
you mean you understood it?
cool, i thought i'd be out-there on my own when i read it back to myself
er Xenmaster have you got Snake round at your place?......cuz I thik's he's nicked your Keyboard
No Dan, that was great, good to hear your thoughts, do you live with snake?
OK I'm posting on this not because I've got anything to say, it's all way over my head, but becuase I feel it's an interesting discussion and it tends to get missed now cuz it's not on the front page!!!!
So this should bring it back to the front
:bang: :bang: :woo:
Somehow lost this thread!! ***bangs head hard against jelly ***
Kukan= timing, distance and space, as norm says if you've got all three you've got Kukan.
your use of distance, timing and space and the uke's use of timing, distance and space.
looking at it in a 'visual' form imagine the 'shape' of the 'space' between tori and uke.
another way imagine you are applying omote gyaku, imagine the uke's thumb has a sparkler attached( and its lit) imagine the shape left by the movement. think of jumonji from kihon happo and the circular balls before threading the 'needle'. The shape left by your body avoiding the attack from start to finish.don't ask me if it makes sense, i just try and see if it works.
But Ben's your man with the ball, a bit vague i know but i'm still learning and my minds fragile at the best of times!
ttt means "to the top" it is a way to get a lost thread back into action...
take care, steve
I thought kukan = timing, distance and balance??
ahhhh I was wondering what the heck you were on about
Yep, timing, distance and balance= Kukan, but this is just a simplified version, read the posts from Dale, etc, you`ll get a better understanding
I think this thread, along with this one:
and this one:
has been about as informative regarding kukan as it's possible to be through the written word alone; but it's been brought to my attention that there is still a huge fundamental misconception in some readers' minds. Therefore, obviously, something is still missing.
Some people have made comments along the line of this stuff all being well and good, but you can't just keep moving around and expect the opponent to fall over -- sooner or later you pretty much have to grab, hit, lock, throw, or carve the guy like a Christmas goose. And how can you expect to do this if the guy is really fast, attacking in an "unorthodox" way, etc.?
That reveals the deficiency in what I and Ben Cole have put across. I'm pretty sure that neither of us has ever suggested that when working with kukan you don't have to do any of those things; but somehow some people have gotten that impression. So let me revisit this for a bit.
Proper use of kukan is what allows you to safely and freely smash, bash, lock up, throw, carve like a goose, etc., etc., your opponent without him being able to stop you if (a) you feel like doing so or if (b) he continues trying to fight when he's not in a good position to do so.
Go back and take a look at the military analogy I used on the first page of this thread. When you control the key terrain, it doesn't mean the enemy can't continue trying to fight you: It means that if he does try, you'll kill him. The wise foe will retreat or surrender:
I'll try to give a very simple example of how working with kukan might be done in a taijutsu context using, say, the ichimonji no kamae form from the Kihon Happo. This is one way to do it. . .not the only one. . .and not the only one I use, either.
Before I describe it though, I'll start with something that occurred in one of my classes once. We happened to be working on a version of this particular kihon at the time, and we had a new guy in the class. Not exactly untrained -- he'd been studying at a SKH Quest Center in southern California and had just relocated north -- but new to our dojo. Big, strong, fast guy, who I think had done both judo and some sort of karate.
Anyhow, after we'd been working on this for a bit, he called me over and said, "I don't think this would work in a real fight. You're teaching us to move back and hit the punching arm -- but I don't punch like that, I punch like this (sharp, snapping-retraction lead hand jab). It wouldn't work against someone who punches like this."
"Well," I told him, "Let's see about that: Hit me, give it your best shot."
And there he was, weight forward and teetering on the balls of his feet, kamae broken, punching arm unretracted and hanging there in the air as I smashed it with a particularly wicked uke nagashi.
I couldn't resist saying, "I thought you didn't punch like that?"
I pointed out to him that beginners always think this part of the kihon is about learning to respond to someone's punching attack by getting out of the way and slamming his arm; but I don't see it that way. This kihon is the first step in learning how to make the opponent strike at you in a way that you can exploit by how you use timing, your rate of movement, direction, and physical structure to "shape the space" as things unfold. It might look to an outsider that you're responding to what the opponent does; but in reality you're controlling (or at any rate very strongly influencing) how it all goes down. He is the one who is responding to you, but neither he nor those who may be watching are aware of it. (Go back and look at Juan's "goofy attacks" on that 30-second video clip again.)
Okay, going back to one particular way of doing the form. I'm not going to try to explain exactly how you "suck the guy in" and make him attack when and how you want him to: You wouldn't be able to do it just from reading this anyway, you have to actually experiment on human bodies like any proper mad scientist. So we'll take it from that point and stipulate that we've already done this part, and we've just walloped the bejayzus out of his arm.
You don't "just" hit the arm, to cause pain. You strike in a way and direction that is going to further unbalance him structurally and further "shape the space" in a way that will allow you to move in for the shuto strike. (And here's a hint: the "Yellow Brick Road" you need to follow to get in there for the strike is not straight in along the same line -- but opposite direction -- as your initial tai-sabaki.)
Remember that arm you just used to hit his with? You also want to use that as a "terrain feature/obstacle" as you move in, using it to "preempt/occupy" the space through which he would need to move in order to get you. Done correctly that preemption also gives him the feeling that you have already moved into that space and helps keep him from regaining his balance; and as he tries to reorient his body to be able to address what you're doing he will himself present the opening for your shuto.
It's important to be aware that other things can also happen within this space. He could just bail out -- dive away, roll, and escape. Which is fine, as a fight necessarily involves two people. Or if he's quick enough, he might try to grab that arm you're using as a "space-holder" in order to regain his balance and/or attempt some sort of counter. . .which is also fine, because he is off-balance and not in a good position, and you can see/feel what's going on in plenty of time and can move more efficiently than he can, making it easy to "reshape the space" so you can do something else. In the first case he is choosing to retreat or surrender, and he lives. In the second, he's continuing to try to fight, but he's already "behind the power curve", so things will only get worse for him. He's decided to die, so you oblige him.
Proper use of kukan is what allows Sensei to do such amazing techniques and henka -- because by focusing on the space, he doesn't have to be tied to any technique. This is part of what he means when he says -- and Kurohana, this is a direct quote from Hatsumi so please leave it here! -- that "You have to be able to do things half-assed".
If you're in "good" space, you can mess up a technique and still be fine because you are, in that moment, safe -- you can easily do something different instead. . .or you can appear to be starting some technique or otherwise let the opponent begin to react to your movement, and thereby allow him to create the technique that destroys him.
I hope this is somewhat useful. . .
This is something Sensei said last September when i was at the Honbu, being a bit senile i didn`t remember it but one of my students did!;
"A point I've always remembered about Kukan is that Tori and Uke are two
sides of one coin, not two coins clashing together.
Therefore Kukan = (Tori + Uke) + (Shin Gi Tai) + (mai-i, kuzushi, timing etc
etc) interacting within the empty and occupied space. That's how you can be
the Dragon and the Tiger at the same time but not necessarily at the same
instant. This is Juppou Sesshou!
Combine that with:
Mi wo Shinobu - Conceal the body
Shin (kokoro) wo Shinobu - Conceal the Mind
Shiki wo Shinobu - Conceal the conciousness"
The hard part is that people can talk about it all they like but it is
unltimately worthless until they can employ that philosophy using
Taijutsu.......which is exactly what Hatsumi Sensei tells us all the time.
So where do we end up? Back at the beginning. Time for more Sanshin and
Hope that helps
Very constructive thread! Also very good expanations by Dale and others.
I want to put some similar thing from Muay Thai - which is in my opinion essentially the same as Kukan. So, thier footwork by definition must do several functions:
- to put you in a position in which you can deploy one or more of the Muay Thai (my comment: whatevery MA) weapons
- to avoid your opponent's attack
- to give you an advantage over your opponent
- to put your opponent in a position in which they cannot attack you"
They don't mention terms like space, distance, timing, but essentialy they talk about the same thing. Being aware of the whole concept of the situation is also important, but I think it's also in these principles.
Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Kukan is about far more than footwork and "advantageous positioning", it's about shape evolving through time.
I won't say your reference is "incorrect", but without further information it's on the same level as saying "koppojutsu is the art of attacking the bones".
Yeah, agree. I said it's similar. Its definitely above footwork. I can say I've been involved in "kukan-based" training since 2000 (Koto ryu theme), where "capturing the space" was the key to each technique (although I didn't hear the term "kukan", so I'm now linking things), and Koppo was reffered as a higher meaning of this ryu, utilizing strategy of "breaking the backbone of the attack". Also Kosshi of Gyokko Ryu says that you must control opponent (his space) in that way like a fly in a spiders web. Each additional attack fly (uke) does, fly is more wrapped up in a web. Poor fly.
But, what are the means (ways) of managing (manipulating) kukan?
I figured out (this is MHO) that besides footwork, you must utilize Sabaaki gata (manipulating the oponent to capture the balance) on a "nine gates", right?
Am I missing some ingredients?
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