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Anfang

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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Sat Dec 19, 2015 2:39 pm

"Precision beats power."
"Timing beats speed."

Power translates to speed for the most part in martial arts.

Conor won because he took a calculated risk. He seized the moment in a daring way.
Focus and well prepared for his opponent. He was willing to take the hit to the face to get in his knockout punch.
Who knows, without the provocations, it may would have ended differently.
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Sat Dec 19, 2015 6:29 pm

Aldo's grappling was superior, I heard. So the preliminary shit-talking was to get him angry enough to allow an opening for a KO.

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Lyssa
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Fri Jan 15, 2016 7:54 am

Meaning of stances shows its 'flow' here beautifully… discipline Released...


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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Sun May 29, 2016 2:45 pm

Who wouldn't want to take any way out of Afghanistan? ha




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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Sun May 29, 2016 2:54 pm

This character has bundled all sorts of religious cliches together, from Xt., Islam, Buddhism...

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"character-xray" is a nice touch…


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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Sun May 29, 2016 2:55 pm


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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Sun May 29, 2016 2:56 pm

Fighting Fatigue.


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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Sun May 29, 2016 4:05 pm

Lyssa wrote:
Who wouldn't want to take any way out of Afghanistan? ha




Are majority of Afghans really mongols? Maybe I confused them with Paki's
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:51 pm

Classic


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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Sat Jul 23, 2016 11:24 pm

Great content in here. I'm currently into Kyokushin Karate. I've been a practitioner off and on for about 8 years. It's a very outwardly hierarchical and there's a very strict adherence to it's customs. (Constant displays of respect to your superiors by acknowledging them with OSU and a bow.) I'm half-Japanese (Half-White American) so I have no real problems adjusting since it's very natural to me.

The training in Kyokushin Karate is regimented into a beginning warm-up of stretches and repetitions of striking the air to get the body prepared for padwork, condition training, forms and/or sparring.

The sparring/fighting/game in Kyokushin Karate is known as "Knockdown" - The rules do not allow grabbing, punching to the face, groin strokes or side kicks to the knee joint. The game is played at the highest levels without padding and with bareknuckles. It's most commonly in the format of a Tournament system. The object of the Game is to either knock your opponent out, win by points (scoring a knockdown), dominate your opponent with strikes or in the case of a spirited draw - tameshiwari (board breaking) and weight difference are used to decide who will proceed.

There's a certain quality of mental and physical toughness that's cultivated in Kyokushin. You can clearly see what I'm talking about if you ever meet a practitioner.

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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Tue Aug 09, 2016 8:34 pm

Lyssa wrote:
Ashida Kim wrote:
"Ninja are taught that if the enemy is angry (Fire) one can fan the flames of that anger and cause him to over-commit to his attack or even become so enraged that he is unable to attack, by using taunts that play on his fears. This is considered an application of the Wind Element (intellect) to Fire (anger). Conversely, one can extinguish the flames by using Water (emotion) by appealing to the enemy’s self-interest, or through expressions of sympathy and support with the counsel of patience. This gives the aggressor a way out with dignity- the path of least resistance. This system is known as the Five Feelings and Five Desires of HsiMenJitsu and is, like everything else, based on the Five Elements." [The Invisible Fist]

Ashida Kim wrote:
"Just as the atmosphere of the Earth is held around the planet by electromagnetic and gravitational forces, so too are the charged particles that are the products of respiration. There is an “aura” of gaseous particles around the body. This is analogus to the scent that surrounds humans and is perceptible primarily to dogs, with their more highly developed sense of smell. In some cases a malodorous smell can even be detected by the normal human nose as well.

If all this is true, then why not an electromagnetic field as well? Certainly the minuscule particles possess some charge. Simply by being composed of atoms made of electrons, protons, and neutrons. If we accept that nerve impulses, although produced by chemical interaction, are essentially electrical in nature, then it logically follows that they too must produce some inductive field that extends beyond the physical nerve itself. Every other electrical current produces such a field.

Without a doubt then, there IS an aura, and it is perceptible to some gifted or skilled people. It is alterable according to respiration and mood.

The purpose of the mental exercise that follows is to fill that aura with charged particles released through normal respiration but more highly charged by breathing so that the sphere of influence (aura) becomes opaque, like a clear glass filled with smoke. The effect is to render the user invisible to himself, which generates the body language and mental attitude to render himself invisible to others.

There is an inherent difficulty when employing this method. Namely, if one cannot see one’s hands or feet, there is a tendency to bump into things and knock them over. For this reason the Ninja train in blindfold techniques. Those that arise spontaneously are very similar to those used by the blind. It may seem paradoxical that moving as if you were blind would contribute to making you invisible to others. But, the psychological effect of diminishing your ego to the point where you can’t even see your own hand allows you to focus all your attention on those other people and remain out of their line of sight. Also, because of this intense concentration, you (like a blind man) would develop more highly sensitive applications of your other senses.

Form the Silent Way Mudra by placing your index finger to your lips with your little finger extended and the middle and ring fingers curled into the palm. Inhale and draw air into the Golden Stove. Circulate it eighty-one times using the Nine Breaths.

Imagine a vapor being expelled on each exhalation, descending to form the mist or fog that settles about the body and then begins to rise and evaporate, spreading itself upon the wind. Imagine the cloud becoming more dense as it fills the auric egg- the electromagnetic field of the body.
Imagine becoming part of the cloud as it surrounds the body completely, obscuring the form from view. Imagine the body becoming lighter and lighter until it is carried away with the dissipating mist. So that the form vanishes completely and cannot be seen.

The aborigines of Australia have a great lore regarding this dream-time when you are sitting as still as a lizard on a rock and become invisible to the universe that is well worth investigating. The essence, however, is to link memory to imagination. Then one can visualize or imagine the outcome of any scenario or the solution to any puzzle. It will be presented to you in terms and symbols completely understandable, some of which are archetypal and some of which are personal.

One can move about slowly when surrounded by the Mist or Cloud, and so perform acts of the Will invisibly. Chinese sages say that the secret of invisibility is sitting so still that you go unnoticed by the passage of nature. In meditation, the initial stages of practice, this movement is known as the internal work, the healing and detoxifying of the body by collecting, cultivating and circulating the life-force, Qi. In a physical sense, moving about means to “ride the wind”-that is to say, let yourself move so slowly and quietly and spontaneously in response to the actions or line of sight of others that you become “one with nature,” part of the background that is overlooked- invisible.
This enables the Ninja to not be seen and not attract attention until he is ready to “step out of the mist” and suddenly appear to the enemy. Silence is the key. When you can breathe so slowly and deeply that you cannot hear yourself, then you can move slowly and quietly enough to be invisible. You will also have developed the patience needed to do so.

Slowness is of major importance. Think of how movement inside a real cloud would disturb the gaseous mist and threaten to expose an arm or hand to view. Practice moving in water or imagine that you are doing so to elicit the necessary visual imagery.

Any attack made while invisible has a fifty percent better chance of success and does twice the damage since the opponent is unprepared and has no chance to defend himself or steel himself against the impact. Naturally, any such aggressive behavior negates the concentration required to remain invisible, thus breaking the “spell” and making the magician visible.
This is why invisible actions are always more subtle and employ very little force. In Tai Chi Chuan it is said that a “force of a thousand pounds can be deflected by four ounces.” And, in Pa Kua Chang it is taught that “to affect the lives of men, one must be outside the circle that presses them.” Both of these principles are part of the Invisible Fist philosophy. The greatest warrior prevails without throwing a single punch.
It is, of course, not necessary to merely sit and enjoy the sensation of relaxation and solitude. While in this state it is possible to effect the self healing of old wounds and injuries merely by thinking them well." [The Invisible Fist]

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I'm assuming you're not very familiar with Ashida kim but he's known as a big time fraud in Martial Arts circles.
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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:42 pm

bareknucklemonk wrote:
I'm assuming you're not very familiar with Ashida kim but he's known as a big time fraud in Martial Arts circles.

Thanks, yes.

And for every [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] that links his [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] to an even frauder mentor of the 'deadly' Dan-te, there is one [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] that supports, and so forth, for nearly every artist who promises 'power, mastery, and the secret arts'…
People selling controvertial books that raise controversy that sell books… - this is too well-known.

The way I work is to let things have its say for the moment and arrive at judgements thoroughly.
This is exactly why I dont comment sometimes… I'm interested in the aspects that appear to me, than whatever else someone may take or grasp from it.

Have you heard of the Death Touch?






The verdict is still out on that…, but watching videos like that help me see how Asclepius and Apollo come together, in what relation they stand…

Son and Father...

Medicine and Martial Arts..

Acupuncture and Punching…

pressure Points and Pressure points…


Besides a healthy skepticism, also to keep in mind, a level attained by a grand master, or someone like Bruce Lee or a new path-breaker or whoever, which may be a level that is inimitable... one's limitation ought not to make the other a fraud because one is unable achieve it. This holds true in any field.
Its when you attempt it, you come to understand why it could or couldn't be possible…
Its how an Art and the opening of a way that someone shows, becomes a Science...

Speaking of which, science is exploring explanations as to how such magnificent structures could have come been possible by the ancients…

How do we take it?

Its led to creationism and intelligent design and what not…

It inspires us to think, not necessarily believe.

To just Think.

Engaging with the Im/possible, is how new frontiers open, news laws come to light.
Active engagement is not belief.
That thinking is automatically believing is an ancient conflation.


Back to the point, Ashida Kim or not, Ninja techniques may actually be a product of I.E./Siberian Shamanism,, but more on that later.

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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bareknucklemonk



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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Fri Aug 12, 2016 11:37 pm

Lyssa wrote:
bareknucklemonk wrote:


The verdict is still out on that…, but watching videos like that help me see how Asclepius and Apollo come together, in what relation they stand…

Son and Father...

Medicine and Martial Arts..

Acupuncture and Punching…

pressure Points and Pressure points…


Besides a healthy skepticism, also to keep in mind, a level attained by a grand master, or someone like Bruce Lee or a new path-breaker or whoever, which may be a level that is inimitable... one's limitation ought not to make the other a fraud because one is unable achieve it. This holds true in any field.
Its when you attempt it, you come to understand why it could or couldn't be possible…
Its how an Art and the opening of a way that someone shows, becomes a Science...

Speaking of which, science is exploring explanations as to how such magnificent structures could have come been possible by the ancients…

How do we take it?

Its led to creationism and intelligent design and what not…

It inspires us to think, not necessarily believe.

To just Think.

Engaging with the Im/possible, is how new frontiers open, news laws come to light.
Active engagement is not belief.
That thinking is automatically believing is an ancient conflation.


Back to the point, Ashida Kim or not, Ninja techniques may actually be a product of I.E./Siberian Shamanism,, but more on that later.

Understood.

Maybe you'd be interested in some of this. The first one is about the [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], the second one is about the [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] and the third is Samurai movement theory.





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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Sat Aug 13, 2016 1:32 pm

bareknucklemonk wrote:

Maybe you'd be interested in some of this. The first one is about the [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], the second one is about the [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] and the third is Samurai movement theory.




domo; that third video was really good.

I was going to post on the Shugendo myself, and on [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] in particular.

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Before reading on the [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] behind Shugendo, its better to first read Witzel's [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

(The "land of the rising sun" by which Japan is known, is literally a spiritual metaphor from above.)

There is also a more interesting book by [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.], but I haven't gotten to that yet.

Now at 3.30 in the third video you posted, we see the "Invisibility" of the Ninja technique. Stealth operation is simply falling off the direct line of vision. The "arc" swept from front to side, seems to be rooted in the philosophical Enso - which is the uroboric dragon. As the "cutter" moves to the side of the opponent, he essentially dissolves or cancels out the other, "becoming him",, while the other apprehends the nature of total emptiness, and That was the fight won…

The first suggested book above compares such "flights of invisibility" to the shamanic practices of the Central Asian [Turkish-Siberian] belt making its way from Indo-China into Japan, and therefore sharing parallels with Odin! and even the Anglo-Celtic stag-cults.

This makes me think, the NS-Japanese alliance was more than one of a merely conscious political pact, but unconscious currents like memetic cousins that developed differently drawing each other again…

EuroAsia is a strange borderline - a uroboros in itself,, turning upon its own…

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Sun Aug 14, 2016 2:08 am

Roald Knutsen wrote:
"Marius de Visser considered that the tengu was a creature older than Buddhism. A century ago he wrote:

In my opinion there existed, long before Buddhism came to Japan, an original Japanese demon of the mountains and woods, having the shape of a bird.

He continues that later this ‘demon’ was identified by Buddhist priests with the Garuda, the Indian supernatural bird. He may have reached this opinion based on the earliest entry in the ancient Japanese chronicles to mention the ‘Celestial Dog’, interpreted by W. G. Aston as meaning the tengu. This is in the Nihon Shoki (Ch.XXIII) for the year 637 CE, during the reign of the Emperor Jomei. The entry reads:

9th year, Spring, 2nd month, 23rd day. A great star floated from East to West, and there was a noise like that of thunder. The people of that day said that it was the sound of the falling star. Others said that it was earth-thunder. Hereupon the Buddhist Priest Bin said: ‘It is not the falling star, but the Celestial Dog, the sound of whose barking is like thunder.’

Aston notes:

The Classic of the Mountains and Seas (a very ancient Chinese book) says: ‘At the Heaven-gate-mountain there is a red dog, called the Celestial Dog. Its lustre flies through Heaven, and as it floats along becomes a star of several tens of rods (sic) (10 feet) in length. It is as swift as the wind. Its voice is like thunder, and its radiance like lightning.’ The Celestial Dog is a group of seven stars near the zodiacal constellation (Cancer). Giles says that it is in Argo. The interlinear Kana has Ama no Kitsune, or the Celestial Fox.

The Celestial Dog, or Tengu, of modern Japanese superstition is a winged creature in human form with an exceedingly long nose, which haunts mountain-tops and other secluded places. It is a favourite subject with artists.

This Japanese reference, heavily embroidered with Chinese superstition, sets the tone for most of the Buddhist ‘demonization’ of the tengu that was to emerge four centuries later.  

A few researchers have noted the very clear differences between the mythic tengu of religious superstition and the spiritually ‘tangible’ tengu of the warrior culture.

The mountainous Altai region, in the main, lying between the junction of the Russian and Trans-Baikal steppe, provided the shamanic background beliefs that were directly linked to martial skills transmitted down into Korea with the earliest tribal migrations and illustrated by shamanic totems that were based on bird and deer cults. Related to these totems, the later Puyo ̄-Kayan warriors brought these beliefs and practices with them when they first began to establish themselves in Japan in the later-Kofun period of the late sixteenth century. By degrees, the whole shamanic background became ‘Japanicized’.  Added to this we have the impact and assimilation of the earlier Yayoi and Yamatai beliefs and, without doubt, some of the indigenous animistic practices of the mountainous interior.

It is part of my thesis that a small subject clan of shaman-warriors, not by any means an enslaved group, were brought east and south with the migrating Puyo ̄ and later employed in Japan. Such a specialized, dis- persed, and numerically small group gradually became redundant in the eyes of increasingly powerful chieftains who must, in the course of time, have sought to gather to themselves these ‘divine’ skills and rely on their own military judgement. A candidate for these shamanic-martial ‘advis- ers’ might be found in the rather nebulous and probably dispersed group named as the Yama-be, one of whose functions seemed to require them to act in the mountains, hence their name, possibly to give advance information to their Puyo ̄-Yamato masters about unrest amongst the indigenous ‘Yemishi’ tribal groups with whom they undoubtedly came into contact. These same Yama-be do not appear to have been sub- merged into the free or enslaved population levels or into the emerging warrior be, or ‘guilds’, which might argue for them coming into Japan with the first tentative landings in Japan from Paekche in the early fourth century, simply to disappear from the later chronicles around the fifth or early-sixth century. The question is: ‘Were these our proto-yamabushi and tengu?’ Both of these groups retain their clear shamanic and warrior reputations, reappearing in almost inseparable roles during the Heian period, the tenth to twelfth centuries.

From the late-Heian period onwards, there appears a clear division between the tengu vilified and ‘demonized’ by the Buddhist establishment, and the warrior-tengu who were reputed to possess great skills in the Arts of War. These warrior-tengu were soon described as the otsuki or ‘messengers’ of the female war-deity who, from the middle of the Muromachi period in the mid-fifteenth century, provided dynamic instruction emanating, it was believed, from Marishi-ten herself, in the most secret aspects of the bugei. At this stage these tengu were inextricably linked with the warrior cult of Marishi-ten and to certain aspects of Shugendo ̄, remaining so in progressively lessening degree right to the end of the Tokugawa era, and vestigially in some ko-bujutsu to the present day.

We can see many tengu drawings or images that directly pertain to the arts of warfare, the bugei to use the proper Japanese term.

The important point is that these are not tengu drawn as part of some quaint folklore but presented in the bugei with the most serious intent. They were drawn either by master-swordsmen themselves, or under their close scrutiny, as aide-memoires for the most deserving students of those same masters – to be jealously guarded and handed on to their posterity. These tengu were thus a visual reminder so that the iconography later informed the hard- headed master and his successors of teachings that were firmly believed to have been revealed directly by the female war deity, Marishi-ten.

The mastery of the military arts in the late-Muromachi period in Japan was little concerned with folklore, however it was coloured by Buddhist doctrine or by the diverse beliefs of the majority of the popu- lation. The bugeisha were hardened fighting men, pure and simple, who had been brought up from at least their early ‘teens with the ever-present threat or direct experience of deadly combat. Between 1480 and the end of the following century, Japan was riven by violent internecine conflicts, both large and small; conflicts that resulted in the destruction of the old moral principles of duty and obligation towards the clan head that had been the strength of the great warrior families. With the decay that accelerated after the GreatO ̄nin War (1467-77), the warrior values weakened to the extent that the provincial lords, with minimal check from the Ashikaga Bakufu, vied with each other for power and terri- tory, their vassals often seeking the main chance to usurp their masters. This period, known as the Sengoku-jidai, following the ancient Chinese precedent, was further defined as the time when ‘the weak pulled down the strong’ – gekokuj ̄o.

The bugeisha were ‘strategists’, men who best served their masters by becoming experts in understanding and applying the principles contained in the Sonshi, as the Japanese knew Sun Tzu. This deep understanding was notoriously difficult to acquire; a master of the bugei might devote his entire life to such study and still not fully achieve this goal, and that lack of depth might on the battlefield very probably lead directly to the downfall of his lord’s family and to his own death. Truly, these were matters of life and death, but they were not only that; the understanding had to remain locked away in the successful strategist’s mind. His solu- tions were in every sense, military secrets, at all costs not to be divulged to anyone – even his lord – other than to proven, deserving students.

As if to emphasize the secret nature of the illustrated interpretation of the bugei, the drawings of the tengu nearly always place the creature in the ‘senior’ or ‘teaching’ role. No explanations are given, as pointed out above, the only captions are ambiguous titles to each ‘form’ that give nothing away to the uninitiated. The figures themselves may represent any point at the beginning, the middle, or the end, but we, on the ‘out- side’, have no real inkling of the meaning. All we know, because this much has been revealed, is that the tengu are the ‘messengers’ sent by the female war deity, Marishi-ten, to reveal and impart these secrets to the ‘headmaster’, usually the founder though not always, of the ryu ̄ tradition.

There were chiefly only two paths open towards achieving their goal. The first was to study the esoteric practices of the Shingon or Tendai Buddhism; the second was to undertake a period of great privations in the manner of, or with, the Shugendo ̄ yamabushi. The former, whilst containing many aspects of severe ascesis, required before becoming, at the very least, lay-monks, a luxury that was open only to those of substantial rank. The second ‘way’ must have been more attractive. Rigorous hard- ships were commonplace to these men, the difficulty was having, perforce, to travel beyond the borders of their lord’s domain without any protection as masterless men, r ̄onin, in order to train very hard and, often, to test their skills against redoubtable opponents they might encounter. They would sustain this wandering life style until they were certain that they had glimpsed the underlying truths, a process that might mean years devoted to hardship following the yamabushi ‘paths’.

Very few devotees of the modern ‘martial ways’ have more than a cursory knowledge of the deeply hidden layers and would dismiss as fantasy any assertion that the foundation roots of a large number of their practices are to be found in ancient shamanism. None- theless these roots are what we are seeking here and precisely the ‘path’ that leads to the inner mastery of the bugei, the goal of the medieval strategists.

‘The shaman establishes contact with the supernatural world.’ In this statement by Hultkrantz we understand that shamanism has everything to do with the spirit world and that this ethereal world can be reached through the medium of the shaman who is a professional and inspired intermediary. As to the nature and purposes of shamanism most authorities are agreed that it has four important aspects:

There is the ideological premise that the spirit world exists and therefore can be contacted.

That the shaman is an actor who, on behalf of his clients, can effect this contact.

That this contact will manifest itself through the shaman’s guiding spirits.

That during this ‘contact’ the shaman undergoes extreme ecstatic experiences.

We are concerned with tracing the ‘belief system’ that in Japan ultimately expressed itself in the phenomenal influence of those beliefs on the understanding and interpretation of the Arts of War during the late-Muromachi period, the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

It is predominantly from the eastern part of the Eurasian steppe, the region that in ancient times was known as Scythia, that we find all the four constituents that were carried east and down through the length of the Korean peninsular to finally be grafted onto the already present animistic beliefs on the Japanese archipelago.

Some of these elements can be found in such Shugendo ̄ rituals as pole climbing and mounting ladders composed of up-turned swordblades barefoot; both harking back directly to ascending the cosmological World ‘Pillar’ or the seven-branched World ‘Tree’, concepts recurring in many shamanic cultures. We have the ancient shaman’s bird costume that in Japan gradually metamorphosed into a variety of bird related symbols; the central importance of the drum in ‘inviting’ the deities to preside over important functions, both religious and secular; and in Shinto, the presence of the horse. There are several others that could be added to this list.

The shaman was not necessarily a cultic leader but acted as the medium, or as Hultkrantz observes, the ‘actor’ able to ‘open the door’ for the chieftain or ruler wishing to communicate with the deities. In order to accomplish this ‘opening’ the shaman usually entered a trance state often induced by severe ascesis that enabled him to ascend to the spirit world. Only the shaman was born with or developed the ability to do this so that he could serve his master on the ecstatic level. Either through his inherited gift or through undergoing a voluntary regimen of extreme ascesis can the shaman accomplish this ‘crossing’. Carmen Blacker suggests that the gift is bestowed usually by a single spiritual being who afterwards becomes the shaman’s guardian or guide. The therianthropic tengu of the bugei is not the powerful deity, Marishi-ten herself, but reduced to being a ‘messenger’ despatched by her to her followers. The tengu is a ‘guide’ nonetheless.

Some of these Altaic shamanic skills, later tempered by contact with the Taoist, Yin-Yang, and Buddhist ascetics who resided in the remoter mountain fastnesses, eventually manifested themselves in the communities of mountain dwellers some of whom became the proto-yamabushi and, by the late eleventh century, the formalized sect known as Shugendo ̄.

It is these aspects that convinced many warriors that the pathway to understanding and being able to express, in practical terms, the Arts of War, lay in following the methods and customs of the yamabushi. Through years of ascesis many of these bugeisha attained deep intuitive insight into the underlying meanings to the principles attributed to two Chinese martial philosophers in particular, Sun Tzu and his relative, even grandson, Sun Pin, ca. 380-316 BCE.

The shaman’s ability to ‘fly’ is symbolized in many cultures by wearing a feathered cap and a tasselled or feathered coat. These items have been extremely important symbols since prehistoric times up to the recent past. Ancient Japan is no exception, witnessed by the two incised pottery sherds in the Kashihara Museum collection, Nara prefecture, and the reconstruction of a female shaman displayed in the Hyo ̄go Prefectural Museum

The raven, the crow, and the hawk are found throughout the whole northern hemisphere land mass and are his- torically linked to the acquisition of knowledge. For example, there are the two ravens belonging to Odin, the all-powerful Norse shaman-king, named Huginn and Muninn, who daily flew out at dawn and returned to report all they had learnt across the world. Mircea Eliade quotes from the Rg-Veda the passage that: ‘Among all things that fly the mind is the swiftest’, and from the Pañcavimsá Brahman ̧ a: ‘Those who know have wings.’31 The crow and the hawk in the form of the warrior-tengu fulfil exactly the same role.

In many accounts of magicians, shaman, and even early Christian saints, we find references to claims of flight. The eponymous founder of Shugendo ̄, En-no-Gyo ̄ja (En-the-Ascetic), was reputed to possess the ability to fly and it was commonly believed throughout the medieval period that all yamabushi possessed this attribute. Eliade discusses the Chinese Taoist belief in the shamanic origin of magical flight, ‘Flying up to Heaven’ where the Taoist magician is described as a ‘feathered scholar’ or ‘feathered guest’.32 One of the trance-inducing methods in many cultures was the dance, and the ecstasy so produced and accom- panied with prolonged rhythmic drumming became a classic path to ‘journeying in spirit’, thus making the dance the shaman’s ‘flight’ and the drum his ‘horse’.

It is notable that a bird features on a number of haniwa figures and that these particular haniwa are identified by most experts as representing shaman.
The cultic figure of the three-legged ‘sun-crow’, the yatagarasu, was a guide sent by a deity just as much as the warrior-tengu was a ‘guide’ or ‘messenger’. While it is more than likely that the yatagarasu and the hawk developed out of the griffin totem from Central Asia, they were predatory birds well-known to the Puyo ̄-Kayan invaders and their griffin attributes were lost in the process of assimilation in Japan.

One of the most significant advantages that the Puyo ̄ possessed over the tribes they encountered as they migrated east across the Sungari River was their superior weaponry. There can be little doubt that working with iron ores was a strong shamanic tradition amongst the Altaic and Tungusic peoples. The smith’s mastery of fire and his perceived magical ability to transmute the base iron-sand into strong keen-edged blades, far better in quality that the mostly bronze weapons the Puyo ̄ faced, made them important and, above all, probably free men. A Yakut proverb quoted by Eliade says: ‘Smiths and shamans are from the same nest’.

It is an interesting fact that throughout the medieval period in Japanese history, from the early eighth century to the close of the Edo period, eleven-hundred years, the swordsmith has always been accorded a status in society approximating the warrior though not actually being one. His art was also closely connected to Shinto, evidenced by the wearing of formal court costume at certain stages of blade forging. Many warriors, some of high rank, and even the Emperor Go-Toba, ruled 1275-87, were redoubtable smiths.

The Trans-Baikal proverb quoted above continues that ‘the smith was the shaman’s brother’. He had no fear of spirits and the shaman, being the smith’s junior, could not cause his death because the smith’s soul was protected by fire. The smiths who came to Japan with the Puyo ̄-Kayan chieftains set up their forges in or by certain sacred sites, if Michael Gorman’s interesting observation, if correct, that the ‘entrance’ torii at the most ancient shrines was used not just for demarcation between the sacred and the secular but as a special ‘gantry’ where the ‘sacred’ horses were shod.35 Here, we have an example of the close connection between the horse, pre-eminently a funereal animal, and the shaman’s drum. Both ‘horse’ and drum are the ‘horses’ that carry the shaman on his journeys to the spirit world, that is when he ‘passes through death’. Whilst ironsmiths and shamans possess ‘mastery over fire’ where they are one and the same person they are doubly empowered. This belief spread from Inner Asia both to the east and the west, being documented amongst the ancient Germanic tribes as well as in Japan. The use of fire here, as in the Sait ̄o-goma, is to purify, especially at initiatory rituals, in healing, and to please the deities.

Returning to the many references of bugeisha of high standing study- ing and becoming notable swordsmiths and metal workers, one of the most famous was possibly Miyamoto Musashi, d. 1645. The connection between the yamabushi’s powers of healing and fire is well-attested. The metalsmith was often an armourer and his shamanic power permit- ted one such smith to engrave with great skill a whole series of sacred bura around a helmet found in the Gion kofun in Chiba prefecture. This direct smith-shaman connection is proven by the possible presence of the figure of a man mounted on his horse, an important personal tyn-bura that not only suggests that the helmet was worn by a warrior-shaman but that he may also have been the actual smith. The tyn-bura had the greatest significance to all true shaman and represented his life-force. This helmet, I believe, provides the clearest direct link with the Central Asian Buryat shamanism.

Finally, whilst on the subject of the sword and the drum, Charles Haguenaur is quoted by Eliade observing that neither were instruments belonging to female magic. The fact that they were employed by the miko in Japan indicates that they were already part of the paraphernalia of sorcerers and shaman. Eliade notes that ‘the attraction exercised by the magical powers of the opposite sex is well-known’. In passing, it is worth noting, too, that the Japanese descriptive nouns for swords – tachi and katana – derive from the Altaic." [The Shamanic and Esoteric Origins of the Japanese Martial Arts]


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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Sun Aug 14, 2016 2:09 am

Knutsen wrote:
Psychotropic Fumes

"Aromatic fumes of many kinds have been used to induce a trance-like state in a similar way as the consumption of alcohol. The inhalation of mild hallucinogenic drugs burnt on the embers of a fire, coupled with rhythmic chanting, dance and incessant drumbeat, must have been known since as long ago as the Palaeolithic period. Herodatus and Strabo note that the use of wild hemp to induce shamanic trance was familiar to the Thracians and the Scythians. Such shaman were known as ‘those who walk in smoke’. Describing the funeral customs of the Scyth- ians, Herodatus speaks of hemp being thrown on heated stones ‘and all inhaled the smoke’. Mircea Eliade sums up with: ‘one fact, at least, is certain; shamanism and ecstatic intoxication produced by hemp smoke were known to the Scythians . . . the use of hemp for ecstatic purposes is also attested among the Iranians, and it is the Iranian word for hemp that is employed to designate intoxication in Central and North Asia’. The Iranian word for hemp is bangha and is now widely current amongst Arabic-speaking peoples. The word also came to describe the pre-eminently shamanic mushroom, Agaricus muscarius, in a number of Ugrian languages of Central Asia.40 However, narcotic intoxication is thought to be different from true trance and was considered a debasement of it. Eliade describes this as the ‘easy way’ whereas the ecstatic inducement of trance through severe ascesis was the ‘difficult way’.

The Turkik nomads like the Baraba, the Yakut and the Buryat peoples, periodically moved their animals in a cycle of migration that allowed the natural pastures time to recover. This timeless cycle across wide areas of the great western and eastern steppe has been in motion for thousands of years and has inevitably brought successive tribes and peoples into contact. The three great highways of the fabled Silk Road would have ensured that the psychotropic plants became familiar to the shaman as well as to the warrior seeking martial ecstasy prior to battle.

When we examine the severe practices of the yamabushi prior to their emasculation resulting from the Meiji religious reforms before1873, we find the second of the ‘penances’ undergone was named the ‘Penance of Hell’. This entailed those undertaking the mountain ‘entry’ to be secluded in a windowless hall where they would be required to con- tinually recite dha ̄ rani exhortations to Fudo ̄ -myo ̄ -o ̄ , parts of the Hannya Sutra, the Heart Sutra, and probably other dha ̄ rani directed to the presid- ing kami. One of the objects of such seclusion was to learn and master the techniques of breathing, the a-un-no-kokyu ̄, that later became an important practice within the bugei. This rhythmic breathing utilizing controlled abdominal inhalation through the nostrils and exhalation through the mouth was also employed in Buddhist contemplative j ̄o-in postures of ‘concentration’ and ‘emptying the mind’, deriving from ancient Brahmanic teaching and eventually reaching Japan with the Chinese Taoist ‘magicians’ in the late-Yamato period.

Whatever the origins of smoke inhalation and its objectives, the cus- tom continues not only in some sections of religious practice, but also in the traditional bugei. Whether employed by the quasi-shamanic healer in the sankaku-shink ̄o or within the surviving and secretive ‘inner core’ of yamabushi, or by groups of usually elderly masters of the bugei; the process is essentially the same.

In the present day, those undergoing this ritual seclusion enter a win- dowless hall, one that is a little larger than the average room but not as cavernous as a prayer hall in a temple. Inside, they will seat themselves on thick mats, just as the Muromachi warrior habitually did as it remains a position of ‘readiness’. To the accompaniment of the chanted dha ̄ rani and sutra, two hibachi, braziers, are carried to their designated places in response to orders given by the sempai, or senior. In medieval times such a person overseeing the various ‘penances’ would have been termed a ‘d ̄oshi’, a ‘guide’, and was often a forceful character, even a martinet.

On the order: ‘Kamidoko-e-yakumi’ attendants – nowadays – carry in the first hibachi filled with glowing embers and place it on the senior, or upper, side of the hall. The second hibachi is summoned with ‘Shimo- doko-e-yakumi’ and placed on the lower side. The orders mean ‘spices to the front’ and ‘spices to the rear’ respectively. The braziers, are respec- tively kamidoko-e-hibachi and shimodoko-e-hibachi. Onto the embers are thrown a mixture of spices, nowadays made up of flaked red pepper, rice bran and the dried leaf of a plant described by Carmen Blacker as ‘rather smelly’. This plant is named in Japanese the dokudami (or Latin Houttuynia cordata), and is native to Japan, Korea, southern China and South-east Asia. It has a fishy smell but the Japanese make a type of tea from it called dokudami-cha. In olden times the mixture that was cast onto the embers may well have contained wild hemp, both dried flowers and leaves, known in Central Asia as ‘Parthian Incense’. The wild hemp was probably introduced into Japan as long ago as the Jomon period (‘Jomon’ referring to this aboriginal people’s ‘corded’ pottery, i.e. bound with twisted hemp cord).

When this mixture smoulders it gives off a pungent thick smoke that at once attacks the throat resulting in violent coughing and often nausea. A single small smouldering twist of the red pepper, alone, will clear any room of people, a prank once well-known to irreverent students. In describing her own experiences in Japan, Carmen Blacker reports that after about four minutes the door would be opened and fresh air allowed to clear some of the fumes. The process would be repeated again and again within the komori-d ̄o, the ‘place of seclusion’, periodically through- out the day. Some participants elected to remain in the hall but others forced to quit.

My informant, then in his mid-eighties, annually undertook a form of prolonged seclusion at a mountain temple near the Tosho ̄-gu ̄ where lies the tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu at Nikko ̄ in Tochigi prefecture. This seclusion, or ‘entry’, followed closely the first six stages of the Shugendo ̄ penances. Perhaps not as severe as those undertaken in the medieval ‘Entries’ but hard enough for any group of men, each more than four-score years of age. Their objective was to seek yet deeper understanding of the gokui, through various processes of ecstatic experience. To some extent the privations and inner purpose of this form of ascesis is contained in the very name given to this fume chamber, komori-d ̄o. While this can be translated as ‘a place of seclusion’ it also draws on ‘komori’, a place for infants, even of re-birth. When the ascetic emerged after undergoing this penance he often yelled out an explosive ‘Wa!’, thought to be the first cry uttered by a newborn child. This cry is termed ‘ubugoe’.

The shout of ‘Wa! Wa!’, according to one of the senior gu ̄ ji, or priests, at the great Kashima-jingu, was supposedly uttered by those recalcitrant ‘barbarian’ chieftains who refused to submit to the victorious Puyo ̄- Kayan general, Takemika-dzouchi, after their defeat by him near this ancient sacred site. They were brought before him and their heads struck off. The heads were buried in a great tumulus a short distance to the east. This semi-mythical general, together with his brother general, has been revered by many as the patron of warriors, in fact in all forms of the traditional bugei to the present day.

Takemika-dzouchi and his brother general are also closely connected as patron kami of the Imperial family and enshrined, too, in the great Kasuga-taisha in Nara. The former deity’s emblem (or ‘guide’) is the antlered deer,

The ancient shamanic connections with this ‘smoke penance’ can be summarized as follows:

The rite is extremely ancient and shamanic in nature.

It appears as a rite in the earliest recorded yamabushi mountain ‘entries’.

It is connected to concepts of purification and rebirth in all the esoteric sects and echoes practices thought to have been performed in this connection in the Udo ̄-jingu in south-eastern Kyushu.

While not precisely a method used for inducing true trance it is nevertheless found in Altaic and Scythian shamanic practice.

It is connected with acquiring the techniques of deep abdominal breathing considered important in the bugei in order to calm the mind during combat, amongst other benefits. This was known as developing ‘fud ̄oshin’, a steadfast mind." [The Shamanic and Esoteric Origins of the Japanese Martial Arts]

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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Sun Aug 14, 2016 2:09 am

Knutsen wrote:
Drumming

"Essentially, the drum was important to the Altaic shaman as his ‘horse’.

In this ‘spirit’ context, the use of the drum had been present in Japan as far back, at least, in the earliest myths concerning the sun deity, Amaterasu, and her ‘ritual enticement’ from the cave, recounted in the Nihongi. In Buddhist ritual the drum is frequently employed to accompany the chanting of prayers and the holy sutra; in esoteric Buddhism there is a similar use but also with ‘journeying in spirit’. Shugendo ̄, perhaps drawing on the wider beliefs of the sankaku-shink ̄o, makes use of drumming to engage and attract the presence of the deity whose aid is being sought and for inducing spirit contact.

In folk festivals of every type the drum has an important religious function, sometimes seeming to dominate and submerge everything else. The same ancient connection seems to be present where the taiko is employed in the traditional bugei d ̄oj ̄o (still found sometimes in Kendo and other traditional systems such as Naginata-do ̄ and Bo ̄-jutsu) to ‘invite’ the presence of a deity who will, it is believed, then preside within the drum until finally ‘invited’ to withdraw. The taiko was always used for signalling on the field of battle but, again, the underlying calling for support from a deity was there. Probably developing from the earliest military use of the drum it was employed in more peaceful situations and did not possess the same spiritual connotations; for example, in the Edo period and probably for centuries before, the drum beat summoned the samurai to their daily duties. The drumming employed in Shinto has similarities to that of the bugei in calling the attention of the deities but the rhythms are far more varied and complex.48 Vestiges of the shamanic drumming remain embedded in the formal Court musical accompaniment of Bugaku and Gagaku performance seen at major shrines like Kasuga, Itsukushima, Izumo-o ̄-yashira and so on.

Mircea Eliade notes on the use of the Yakut and Buryat drum that the drumming at the beginning and end of the séance, intended to summon the spirits and ‘shut them up’ in the shaman’s drum, constitutes the preliminaries for the ecstatic journey. There are direct connections in Central Asian shamanic use of the drum with the World Tree. In relation to the totem ‘bura’ of the Kashima ̄o-kami, Takamika-dzouchi-no-kami, the antlered stag is thought by several authorities to be of Mongolian-Siberian origin. In some of these still extant tribes the shaman’s drum is called the ‘black stag’.

While the drum amongst the Altaic nomads is the vehicle by which the shaman ascends to the spirit world, in Japan, at least during historical times, the drum seems more to have been used to summon the deities. This is quite apparent in Shinto, the sankaku-shink ̄o matsuri, and the yamabushi rituals. In the latter, the drum beat certainly initially summons the deity, but it is open to debate whether the incessant drumbeat rhythms, given at varying volume and tempo, also carry the spirit of the ‘shaman’ drummer to accompany the deity. I suspect that the deity is drawn to the ceremony by the drumbeat but do not rule out the instrument being intended, in some cases, to assist in inducing ‘trance’ travel.

Trance was a central part of the shaman’s ability. It remained so when we examine the roots in Japan but also absorbed other influences in its process towards becoming ‘Japanese’. Much later the warrior, intent on mastering the arts of war, realized that to acquire this secret knowledge, he needed to undergo the methods, now largely forgotten, of the Altaic shaman. Intuitive knowledge was the product of hard-won skill in practice with weapons, but it was the trance-induced vision that triggered the final inspiration. Trance was a necessary, nay, vital, part of obtaining what appeared to be divine power.

This aspiration did not only apply to the medieval warrior, it was an aim for the Taoist and Yin-yang magicians and, a little later, central to the attainment of Buddhahood in the emerging esoteric Buddhist sects.
the ‘spiritual power’ thought to be possessed by the metal-smiths whose divinely gifted skills were so important for the success and protection of the fighting man, particularly their powerful chieftains, but it was through direct appeal to the deities and in particular those beings associated with war, that effective divine patronage and protection was to be achieved.

It was the shamanic trance that provided the ‘key’ that unlocked the portal leading to divine understanding.

The two pre-eminent adjuncts to the ancient shaman’s special abilities were the drum and the mirror.
The mirror is said to assist the shaman to ‘see the world’ and to concentrate. It is the ‘soul-shade’ that contains the spirit.

The deer cult reached Japan very early and seems to have been closely connected to the deer totems that probably accompanied, or even identified, the ‘general(s)’ who established their final bridgehead settlement at Kashima in Hitachi-no-kuni, modern Ibaragi-ken.
The antler totem first appears on the helmets, or kabut ̄o, of Puyo ̄- Kayan armour very early in the eighth century, but developed long before from the elaborate headdress or crown worn probably by chieftains of some of the nomadic tribes and later found in a number of Korean and Japanese burials. On these spectacular ‘crowns’ the deer antlers are stylized to take the form of the ‘Tree of Life’ with its seven branches and includes two side ‘antler’ plates, each with five tines.

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Kidder also illustrates a Scythian gold crown made possibly for the Roman trade in the first century BCE where two antlered stags confront a leafy Tree of Life.

The concept of the Tree of Life may have originated in Central Asia and, like the griffin-raven symbols, soon extended far in both directions and was absorbed into many cultures. It occurs again in Scandinavian mythology as the World Tree and in Christianity in the Tree of Jesse. Amongst the Altaic tribal shaman, ‘climbing the tree’ signified the ascent to heaven and was, according to Kidder, closely linked to horse sacrifice, since it was in heaven where the shaman offered the soul of the sacrificed steed to the resident spirits.80 One of the oldest beliefs, widespread amongst the Mongol and Turkik tribal groups, and particularly amongst the Hsi- ung-nu nomads, was known as Tengrism. In the ancient languages of the Saka, the Buryat and the Tuva, ‘Tenger’ had the meaning of ‘sky’. Across the whole steppe from the Danube to the Sea of Japan, ancient beliefs in the sky deity incorporated many familiar elements found in the present discussion: shamanism, totemism, animism and ancestor worship – all clearly present in ancient Japan from the Yayoi onwards.

The deity, Tengri, is known by a number of alternative renderings, such as Tengeri, Tangara (Great Lord), Tängere, Tingir, Tangri, Tangra, and Tanri. As a belief system, Tengriism is based on the belief in an enormous World Pillar or Tree that connects the Three Worlds – the Underworld, the Middle World and the Upper World. Thus, in the Mongolian languages, ‘Tenger’, the ’Sky’, has the wider meaning of harmony between the three worlds, particularly between the earth (middle) and the sky (upper or spirit world). Again, these beliefs spread in the mytholo- gies, travelling west through the Scythian steppe and probably onwards through Hungary to the Scandinavian north and were at length absorbed into Christianity and other major belief systems, lasting recognizably intact in some regions to the present day. Dare one suggest, from the phonetic point of view at least, the possibility that the Japanese tengu, as a concept, sprang originally from the southern Siberian beliefs that the World Tree was the home of bird spirits?

Amongst the Yakut and other tribal groups in this remote region, ‘Tengri’ or its various tribal renderings, contains a suggestion of ‘lofty’, or ‘luminous ones’, ‘white light’, ‘shining’, but also ‘Lord’, ‘Chief’, ‘Master’, and often ‘Father’. The eagle was the symbol of this deity. In passing, can we detect here a connection with the Puyo ̄ -Yamato martial deity, Futsunushi-no-kami, the ‘brother’ deity of Takemika-dzouchi- no-kami, where ‘Fu’ contains the meaning of a ‘sparkling point of light’ and ‘the coming dawn’? This concept, in itself, provides us with a direct link to the female war-deity, Ma ̄r ̄ıc ̄ı, or Marishi-ten (Marishi-sonten) in Japanese, the deity of the approaching dawn.

Suffice it to say here that in the bugei there is a centuries old entrenched custom amongst warriors where martial practice commences well before the first light reaches the eastern horizon and continues until full daybreak. This is termed asageiko, (lit. ‘morning practice’). The formal rei, or ‘respect bow’ towards the kamiza, or ‘god-shelf’, at such early training should always be performed before the first hint of light in the eastern sky." [The Shamanic and Esoteric Origins of the Japanese Martial Arts]

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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Sun Aug 14, 2016 2:11 am

Roald Knutsen wrote:
"According to the Buryats, the world has a multitude of spirits (ten ̧gi), both evil and good. These spirits number altogether ninety-nine including fifty-five good spirits in the west and forty-four evil ones in the east. The term ‘ten ̧geriner’, also amongst the Buryats, refers to the higher spirits, those who ‘’live in heaven’.

Whilst these Barabic tribes of the steppe had been converted to Islam since the eighth century, their shamanic practices continued unabated and were undoubtedly deeply entrenched pre-Islamic sur- vivals. The figure riding the horse, always at the topmost part of the drumhead, was of the greatest significance to the shaman and termed by these tribes the tyn-bura. This represented the ‘shaman’s soul’, his ‘life-soul’, and as such, its significance was never revealed to anybody. The other bura represent various spirits or deities, each associated with the clan, that were visited by the shaman. In time, these individual spirits may have merged and become less significant.
To flay a horse in the reverse manner, from the head towards the hooves, was to insult the deity of the tribe and rendered any counter-sacrifice impure, hence the obvious terrible ritual slight directed against the sha- man-queen and her people. The slaying of this horse in such a manner was probably intended to ‘kill’ the tyn-bura of the queen and so ‘slay’ her ‘spirit’.

There is an interesting link between the evident ritual ‘sorcery’ involved in Susa-no-wo’s horse sacrifice, as recorded in the Kojiki, and the fact that amongst the Baraba Turks and other southern Altai tribes, the sacrificial horse was slaughtered in such a cruel manner that its blood was not spilt. The animal had its backbone forcibly broken; it was then flayed and the hide hung on a pole. This rite was called the ‘tigir ta ̄ji’, the ‘sacrifice to heaven’ and usually offered to the sky deity, Tengere Kaira Kan, ‘Merciful Emperor Heaven’. The flaying was done starting at the feet and proceed- ing to the head. The hooves, tail, and head were left in place. This method sometimes varied and the hooves, tail, and head were cut off.

Vilmos Diószegi, the Hungarian ethnologist, to quote from his summing up of the results of his com- parative analysis examining the significance of these bura on the Baraba Turkish drums, writes:

". . . we can assume that the Baraba Turkish shaman also went all over the upper and the lower world during shamanizing. In the course of his wanderings he passed through the junction of the roads of spirits and got into the upper sphere by climbing up the sky-high tree. The shaman rode his zoomorphic life soul in the empire of the spirits, where also spirits had saddle animals, and his scout was a bird. In the lower sphere, too, the shaman was assisted by spirits: his body was protected by a mythical aquatic animal, and the vessel filled with the libation intended for the underworld spirits was carried by a frog."

Those able to thus communicate fall into two main groups in Japan. The first is the shrine maiden known as the miko, who, in her trance state, often aided by dance, was used by the spirits to make their communications known. She was a vessel, a primary transmitter. The second is the ascetic who is primarily a healer of the sick and capable of banishing malevolent spirits. Such a person acquires his or her power through undergoing a severe and prolonged regime of privations and ascetic practices. Carmen Blacker points out that the miko invites the spiritual beings from their world to ours; whereas the ascetic travels from our world to theirs. It is the latter’s soul that bridges the gap through employing symbolism.

In order to do this, the shaman is aided by helping spirits; hawks, crows and by tengu. These spirits are given to him as ‘guardians’ or ‘messengers’ at the time of his initiation. The tengu, for example, as a ‘messenger’ from the initiate’s spiritual ‘master’, dons a feathered cloak, understood to be wings; wears a small distinctive cap such as the tokin of the yamabushi; and also often carries a feathered fan which confers invisibility. Later in the medieval bugei ‘invisibility’ induces ‘indecision’ amongst enemies as one of the ‘Four Poisons’.

Eliade points to this creation of internal ‘fire’ as a particular characteristic of shamanism, and Carmen Blacker writes that the self-generated heat signifies that the mystic has passed beyond the ordinary human condition and now participates in the spirit world.

In Japan, one particular ascetic practice is the repeated immersion of the shaman-mystic’s body by slowly descending into a tank of icy cold water. The special tank, often found within or close to many shrines, is called a mizugori, and is usually furnished with some steps to enable the ascetic to descend slowly. Even in the depths of winter, onlookers often observe that the shaman is positively glowing with warmth, despite the fact that each immersion may be repeated up to thirty or more times whilst intoning small sections of the Heart Sutra. Whilst this particular form of ascetic practice is undoubtedly extremely ancient in origin, it also demonstrates the conflation of esoteric Buddhist beliefs with both Shinto and the mountain beliefs manifested in Shugendo ̄. We must also bear in mind the many waterfalls were considered sacred to a number of kami, the most spectacular being the Nachi-taki in Wakayama prefecture; all used down the ages by ascetics and pilgrims, alike.

The concept of the internalized ability of the ascetic to generate very noticeable body heat, as it is found in Japan, is linked to the symbolic cosmic flames surrounding such formidable bodhisattvas as Fudo ̄-myo ̄-o ̄ and others, including the strange fierce manifestations of Zao ̄-gongen. However, we also find the same phenomenon in the warrior tradi- tions far to the west in ancient Ireland. The hero, Cú Chulainn, is described in the Ulster Cycle in a manner that directly points to the results of shamanic initiation. In his battle frenzy, apart from several other terrifying aspects, his body became so heated that three vats of water poured over him boiled before he was sufficiently cooled. In this state of furious possession, he was dangerously uncontrollable, his body and face fearfully contorted. We can see close similarities to Cú Chulainn’s description in the fierce deities and the Ni-o ‘guardians’ that appear in countless entrance gateways to temples throughout Japan, China and Korea.

From the late-Yayoi to the final establishment of the Yamato hegemony we encounter the shamanic phenomenon of shape-shifting.

An unusual example of this is to be found at certain shrines where the visitor comes across an open-air Sumo ̄ d ̄oj ̄o which is used in ceremonies known as hi-no-sum ̄o when there is a symbolic planting of rice in a field set aside for this sacred rite adjacent to or within the shrine. Whilst this is usually performed in the fourth month, it can be as late as the fifth day of the fifth month, the time of the Boy’s Festival. At the Tsu-no-mine jinja, in Tokushima-ken, at the rite of ‘offering’, the sumo ̄ matches are held on the sixteenth of April whilst at the O ̄ mishima O ̄ yamazumi-taisha, Ehime-ken, the ceremony is on the fifth of May. However, these ‘matches’ are very different from what one might expect. In front of a large crowd of onlookers and the officiating Shinto priests, a single sum ̄otori, not necessarily a professional but more likely a farmer from the local community, faces the invisible yama-no-kami, who has been invited down to the shrine, in a series of three matches. The wrestler, often a man of mature years, formally struggles with his ‘deity’ opponent, his efforts both strenuous and in earnest, winning the first bout, drawing the second, but always defeated in the third. The matches are judged by an umpire, shinpan-kan, dressed appropriately in kimono, hakama, stiffened kamishimo, and a formal eboshi, just as they are in Sumo ̄ in the present day. Donn Draeger, a noted researcher of the bugei, observed: ‘Grap- pling methods used for combat are as old as man on the Asian continent; and this is no less true in Japan. Japanese mythology recounts grappling combats between deities to determine divine authority for leadership of the land.’ He continues that it wasn’t until the ninth century (CE) (that) ‘primitive grappling methods came under the purview of the warrior class’.

Draeger’s observation that grappling with the spirits was not purely Japanese illustrates the point made by a number of historians and ethnologists that there were several different influences in the ancient development of Japan; some coming north from Polynesia through the Ryu ̄ kyu ̄ islands, others from India by way of China, and others, as we have seen, from Central Asia.

Some of these apparently non-Altaic manifestations were the strange Hayato ̄ tribal ‘guardians’ who, amongst other ritual ‘duties’, protected the Yamato high chieftains and later the Imperial rulers in their pal- aces. These Hayato ̄ donned a kind of white or red ‘dog’ mask when they accompanied their masters and made continuous barking sounds as the cortège proceeded. Such processions were only ‘spiritually’ pro- tected, it seems, by these ‘dog-men’ when the ruler left the palace by the northern gate. The Hayato ̄ were apparently an indigenous tribe living in the south-east part of Kyushu in Hyu ̄ga and Osumi-provinces as they used to be, present-day Miyazaki-ken. Their bura or totem was certainly a dog. They also performed funerary song and dance at the site of the deceased ruler’s kofun for a period before and after the burial. There are many references to their actions, and sometimes their rebellions, in the first chronicles. It is clear from a number of these notices that the rulers regarded the Hayato ̄ as beings living partly in the physical and partly in the spiritual world.

The native population subscribed to the sankaku-shink ̄o and held in common a deep reverence bordering on fear of the vast and virtually impenetrable forested heights. Any traveller, even today, following the tracks or highways through regions like the Yoshino- Kumano massif, cannot help but understand just how formidable and forbidding these un-eroded once volcanic mountains can be as they rear at acute angles towards their serrated ridges. To add to the awe in which these wastes were held, there was an all-pervading ancient belief that when a person died, his or her soul took up its abode in the mountains. It logically follows that the spirits of the most famous deceased powerful chieftains of all the disparate race groups, remembered in the tribal or group legends and myths, became uji-gami (or ubusuna-gami) and continued exerting their interest in the fortunes of their descendants from their spiritual abode.

By the end of the Yamato period the enriched folklore focussing on these forbidding places and fuelled by terrible accounts of the dangerous and malevolent Emishi tribes, gave an image that they were peopled by uncontrollable ‘demon-deities’ who were able to control the forces of nature, particularly storm and fire, who sent down destructive deluges or caused blight on the vital rice crops, starvation and ruinous flooding through the overflowing of the raging mountain rivers and streams.
These ‘deities’ were everywhere and could not be seen or propitiated except by those initiated into the occult arts.

In an attempt to find protection from the raiding of the Emishi doubt- less some settlements sought to placate them with gifts. Everywhere, the lowland groups used prayers, exhortations, gifts and purification ceremonial inviting the participation of the mountain deities or their more tangible counterparts, the chieftains, all in an attempt to secure prosperity. It is significant that the earliest holy places were at the foot of the mountains where the tilled land met the abrupt heights. It was only over the course of three or four hundred years that the warriors protecting the interests of their chieftains gradually drove the Emishi back deeper into the interior and finally cleared, or ‘pacified’, whole areas.

These gy ̄oja, or ascetics, some migrating to Japan from China and Korea, spent their days chanting over and over again the power- ful Kujaku My ̄o- ̄o-ju, or Peacock Sutra, or the Hokeky ̄o, or Lotus Sutra, for example; others the strange dha ̄rani, (brief magical phrases) of the Heart Sutra:

Gyate-gyate-haragyate-harasogyate-bochi-sowaka-Hannya-Shingyo ̄ .

Carmen Blacker observes that in Japanese these words are meaningless but going back to the original Sanskrit their sense is : ‘Gone, gone, gone beyond, altogether beyond, what an awakening, hail.’ Others simply practised prolonged austerities whilst chanting exhortations to the Taoist deities as they stood under the icy waters of a cascade (takigy ̄o).

Then, with the introduction of esoteric Buddhism, there is a strong trend towards a cult centred on Fudo ̄-myo ̄-o ̄, with dha ̄rani incantations calling for the deity’s protection such as:

No ̄ ma-ku-san-man-da-ba-sa-ra-da-sen-da-ma-ka-ro ̄ -sha-da-so ̄ -ya-ta-ya- un-ta-ra-kan-am.

Lastly, we have the exhortation that accompanies the Shingon and Shugendo ̄ Juji-no-h ̄o, the most powerful dha ̄rani that is part of the ‘Nine Syllable’ spell so trusted by warriors right through the medieval period and still found deeply embedded in the kuden to the present day. This incantation or spell is often associated with the Kong ̄o-kai, the Diamond World mandala, the northern end of the complex mountain circuit starting at Yoshino-yama and O ̄ mine-san and leading south into Kumano; its aim is to give protection from all enemies and to ward off malevolent spirits, The chant often accompanies a series of nine hand mudra ̄, or seals, to reinforce the abjuration to Marishi-ten:

rin-pyo ̄ -to ̄ -sha-kai-jin-retsu-zai-zen

This dha ̄rani with its associated mudra ̄, or without either addition, is to be found in a most interesting tradition of Iai-jutsu where the nine lines of the configuration are actually made as sword cuts. This is the Shiten - ryu ̄ Kio ̄ me - no - wazaIai , from the Nagasaki region in far western Kyushu. The Kong ̄o-kai mandala is ‘masculine’ whilst the Taiz ̄o-kai, the Womb Word mandala, is ‘feminine’ and is centred on the esoteric pathways through the southern part of the Kumano massif culminating in the Kumano-sanzan, the important shrines of the Hongu-taisha, Nachi-taisha and the Hatakeyama-taisha.

Whilst some of these practices were similar to the mantic rites of initiation performed by the Altaic shaman, by the eighth century there was a distinct shift in Japan towards rituals that were more religiously formalized in character.

There are a number of leads that reinforce the thesis that a great deal of the kuden, the inner or secret oral teachings in the martial ko-ryu ̄, were derived from very ancient shamanic practices preserved and transmitted for many generations by the warrior groups. Backing this preservation of shamanic warrior skills is the reality of the armed struggles against the aboriginal Kumasu or Emishi that were briefly documented throughout the first chronicles as well as references to ‘pacification’ in the provincial histories known as the Fudoki.

The thorn in the side of all the Puyo ̄- Kayan and now Yamato chieftains was the ever-present threat posed by raids launched from the mountain regions that comprised over seventy per cent of the island archipelago. While some of the Emishi chieftains had made peace with their new masters, many others had not and many attempts were made either to ‘pacify’ these ‘demon-kami’, as they were termed, or to destroy them.

Martial strength was, therefore, a necessity.

There are a number of leads that reinforce the thesis that a great deal of the kuden, the inner or secret oral teachings in the martial ko-ryu ̄, were derived from very ancient shamanic practices preserved and transmitted for many generations by the warrior groups. Backing this preservation of shamanic warrior skills is the reality of the armed struggles against the aboriginal Kumasu or Emishi that were briefly documented throughout the first chronicles as well as references to ‘pacification’ in the provincial histories known as the Fudoki.

The thorn in the side of all the Puyo ̄- Kayan and now Yamato chieftains was the ever-present threat posed by raids launched from the mountain regions that comprised over seventy per cent of the island archipelago. While some of the Emishi chieftains had made peace with their new masters, many others had not and many attempts were made either to ‘pacify’ these ‘demon-kami’, as they were termed, or to destroy them.

Martial strength was, therefore, a necessity and it is recognized that amongst the groups crossing to Japan with the usurpers were a number of warrior clans, such as the Monono-be (soldiers and armour-makers), the Kume-be (soldiers) and, importantly, the Yuge-be (bowyers), and the Kaji-be (metal-smiths). It is suggested here that another specialist but small group also came with or preceded the main body of the invaders. These were the Yama-be, never prominent, composed of shaman-warriors drawn from somewhere in the Trans-Baikal steppe in the region of the northern Gobi. It was in the interests of the initially numerically weak Puyo ̄ -Kayan chieftains to deal with the aboriginal incursions and this may have been one of the tasks performed by this group, spread out across the whole sphere coming under the control of the invaders, and giving them the appellation ‘Mountain Corporation’. In the light of the martial skills soon to appear with the appearance of the proto-yamabushi ‘protectors’ as early as the seventh century, this hypothesis might well be close to the truth.

Two other specialist groups seem to have also accompanied the usurpers and performed important functions in the new ‘state’. These were the Imi-be (or Im-be) and the Ura-be. The former were originally ‘Abstainers’ who took on themselves the afflictions of the people but later became ‘priests’ in Shinto; the Ura-be were ‘Diviners’ who performed magical rites interpreting the cracks in burnt tortoise shells in order to foretell the future. Both of these groups, in their later roles, had connections with what had been shamanic functions and with the esoteric, if nebulous, Yama-be. In support of this supposition, we find that one of the duties of the clan-heads of certain warrior groups, during and after the Muromachi period, was to perform rituals, often containing ritual sword-dances, at some shrines that were connected with driving away malicious kami and purification. These functions probably date back a very long time, even to the Yamato period.

The female sun-deity, Ma ̄r ̄ıc ̄ı, developed in China as a branch of Buddhism, possibly deriving from ancient beliefs connected with the horrifying triad of deities, Ka ̄l ̄ı, Durga ̄ and Cand ̄ı in India. The original source may lie much further back into the Bronze Age or Iron Age, spreading, again, from Central Asia, as we can see a very similar Indo-European group of three fierce deities in ancient Ireland. Be that as it may, her cult spread through China then to Korea and may have been known in Japan by the end of the Kofun period, the early-sixth century. If this is the case, it was probably brought to the archipelago by the Buddhist-influenced Taoist mystics. Whatever the actual spread into Japan might have been, what this deity offered her followers was pro- tection from a variety of threats including the dangers attendant on travel, from bandits and from enemies in general, flood, fire, poisoning, malicious female spirits (da ̄kini), and supernatural demons and ghosts (ra ̄ksa). Undoubtedly, the dha ̄rani-sutra spells chanted or mut- tered by these hermit-magicians appealed to their attentive ‘protectors’, we can soon discern in the nascent Shugendo ̄ as it formed at the end of the Heian period that its two main important characteristics offered protection through appeals to Marishi-ten and the art of invisibility." [The Shamanic and soteric Orgins of the Japanese Martial Arts]

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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Sun Aug 14, 2016 2:12 am

Knutsen wrote:
"During my three visits to the Kumano Hongu-taisha in Wakayama prefecture, I noted with interest a connection drawn by the shrine authorities between the yatagarasu, as messengers and guides in the Kojiki and the Nihon-shoki, and the two ravens of the Norse all-powerful deity, Odin. The names of these two ravens translate as ‘Thought’ and ‘Remembrance’ (or ‘Memory’), respectively. These attributes exactly parallel two fundamentally important concepts within the bugei – ‘sure knowledge’ and ‘intuitive action’.

Snorri Sturluson, 1179–1241, in the Edda, describes the two ravens or crows of Odin thus:

Two ravens sit on his shoulders and speak into his ear all the news they see or hear. Their names are Huginn and Muninn. He sends them out at dawn to fly over all the world and they return at dinner-time. As a result he gets to find out about many events. From this he gets the name raven- god. And it says:
‘Huginn and Muninn fly each day over the mighty earth. I fear for Huginn lest he not come back, yet I am afraid more about Muninn.’

The great Icelandic historian gives further poetic references in the Edda, mostly kennings. In the Poetic Edda, Sturluson writes in The Lay of Grímnir’, v.20:

The whole earth over, every day hover Huginn and Muninn;
I dread lest Huginn droop in his flight, Yet I fear me still more for Muninn.

To Odin was attributed mastery of shape-shifting and great magical powers, frequently described as the product of extreme ascesis. While considered by many to be firmly in the realm of mythology, others believe that he was an archetypal shaman-chieftain, his memory liv- ing on in the Germanic and Scandinavian lands being with the pas- sage of time gradually reduced from legend to fantasy. Thor Heyerdahl advanced the view that the Æsir, the people who eventually populated Scandinavian Europe, had their homelands in Scythia and possibly moved west through the Mediterranean, especially Greece and Italy, to thrust up through central Europe during the Migration Period. The name Odin or Woden is cognate with the deity, Varuna, in India, indi- cating a common Indo-European source. Varuna became Uranus, the Graeco-Roman deity.

Besides his ravens, Odin had two guardian wolves, ‘Geki’ and ‘Freke’, who sat at his feet, exactly as Zenki and Goki are visualized crouching at the feet of En-no-Gyo ̄ja. Here is a subject for further study, of course, but it does suggest yet again that some sort of tribal memory deriving from the Russian steppe, or further east in the Altai, travelled with the nomadic Turkic tribes in their progress both to the east and the west.

In the light of the deeply embedded Shinto beliefs in these otsuki in relation to a number of kami, it seems likely that some of these ani- mal associations may correspond to the ancient bura that arrived in Japan in advance of or with the shaman-warriors accompanying the Puyo ̄-Kayan ‘usurpers’. Important examples are the antlered stag rid- den by Takemika-dzouchi-no-kami, and the inscribed helmet bowl from the Gion tomb, Chiba prefecture. The former can only have come from Central Asia whilst the designs engraved on the helmet bowl are unmistakably similar to the Baraba Turkik shamanic bura.

They were engraved on this helmet, probably belonging to a shaman-warrior of high rank, to give him divine protection in battle, just as later the seven stars of the Big Dipper, Ursus Major, and the images of the sun and the moon, and the nine ‘cuts’ of the juji-ho, were inscribed or inlaid into blades, armour, and the battle fan, gunbai-uchiwa, during the Muromachi in order to gain the infallible protection of Marishi-ten and obtain from her geomantic guidance in the conduct of war.

As otsuki, the tengu are different for a number of reasons. They are linked solely with the deity of the Dawn, Marishi-ten, whose cult originated in the remote past, possibly in India or Persia although this is by no means certain, arriving in Japan towards the end of the Yamato period at the earliest. The concept of the tengu seems to have developed alongside the protectors first of the Taoist and Yin-Yang recluses and then the early Buddhist esoterists who sought the dangerous mountain solitudes. By the time that these tengu were demonized by the Buddhist establish- ment in the latter half of the Heian period, for whatever reason, they were already completely identified with the proto-yamabushi and firmly established from the start when these yamabushi were finally organized into the three major Shugendo ̄ sects. From the commencement of the Kamakura period to the end of the fourteenth century there appear to have been two divisions within the tengu concept. The first of these were the tengu as masters of tactics and strategy, especially in interpreting and revealing the inner meanings of the Seven Military Classics of China, particularly the Sonshi. The second aspect or division focused on the more practical applications within military ‘science’, itself. It was the first aspect that developed during the Muromachi period into the clear transmissions of the gokui that were ascribed to Marishi-ten and gave rise to deeply original and inspired creativity of some bugeisha.

At the same time, within this period we find tengu filling an almost Buddhist function as bodhisattva in their depiction in the guise of Fudo ̄-myo ̄-o ̄ with overlap- ping images with a strong Shugendo ̄ flavour such as representing either Fudo ̄ or Marishi-ten variously standing on the back of a deer, a charging boar, or a fox, often backed by cosmic flames.

The developed otsuki concept may represent a gradual movement away from the original shamanic function of having the rare, some- times inherited, ability in a self-induced trance state to believe in actually leaving the corporeal body to visit and converse with the deities. This communing with the spirits or kami primarily took place in seclusion and in particular deep in the forests or the mountain fastnesses. The attrac- tion of these wild places to the Taoist and Buddhist mystics, and others, was irresistible and quickly, too, the proto-yamabushi, by association, assumed the same mantle, although the latter’s roots may have gone back far deeper into the mists of time. The ‘messengers’ remained constant and reflect very ancient beliefs, but as the warrior groups felt the impera- tive to probe deeper and deeper into the truths beneath the surface of the Arts of War, so ‘messengers’ such as hawks and crows became ever more attractive to the most brilliant of the bugeisha. It should come as no surprise that these masters often sought to tread the ‘yamabushi paths’ in the certain belief that through the self-imposed hardships encountered, and even welcomed, they would achieve true self-awareness and ‘open’ their minds to the transmissions of Marishi-ten.

This study has had the objective of presenting the tengu against their prehistoric and recorded background and suggesting the more realistic pathway through various stages until their appearance in the warrior rationale in the Muromachi. The early period proposes that the area of origination lay in Central Asia in the totems and shamanic beliefs of the nomadic Turkik tribes amongst the Hsiung-nu. These same beliefs accompanied the successive waves of aggressive settlers who seized lands in the Japanese archipelago between the fourth and the sixth century, soon becoming strong enough to establish their almost total hegemony.

With the increasing stability of the new Yamato state the specialist shaman-warriors, at best only diffused and in numerically small groups, were submerged by the developing Yamato warrior clans and vanished into the mountain fastnesses, their remnants soon reappearing in the guise of the rough Zenkis and Gokis to comprise the core of the growing shamanic yamabushi cult.

This proposed ‘pathway’, backed by the recurring symbolic iconographic images that closely pertain to shamanism, surely makes more sense than the alternative suggestion that the later tengu were somehow directly related to the Indian garuda or found some sort of origin in Chinese folklore allied to the ‘comets’ or ‘shooting stars’ as explained in the Buddhist symbolic rationalization. On the one hand we have an ‘origin’ based wholly on the fanciful interpretation of natu- ral phenomena backed by pure myth, that does, it is true, account for the tengu of folklore heavily slanted towards the Buddhist ideas; on the other hand, we have a more factual explanation that leads directly to a very different type of being, symbolically imagined or not. One immedi- ate problem in untangling these convoluted skeins which bedevils nearly all studies, is the thick layer of quasi-religious myth deliberately fostered in order to reduce some perceived threat, the nature of which was so well set out by Marius de Visser in his paper published in 1908. This religious bias against the early manifestations of the tengu successfully set them amongst the ‘folksy’ animals of folklore, driving the truth to be found in the hands of some secretive elements of the yamabushi. To a greater or lesser extent the same bias forced these proto-yamabushi to withdraw from active participation in society and become, for more than a thousand years virtually hidden and, when seen at all, continually misunderstood."

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[The Shamanic and Esoteric Origins of the Japanese Martial Arts]

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PostSubject: Re: Martial Arts Wed Nov 30, 2016 2:29 pm


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