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Koppō & Kaname: The How and the What of Bujinkan Martial Arts

Time has flown by since my last blog entry, and I’d like to thank the readers who took the time to share their comments here on the blog and share links to it on Facebook. Your feedback indicated that there’s still an interest in the personal histories of people who’ve devoted significant chunks of their lives to train at the fountainhead of Bujinkan martial arts in Japan, and at the same time several readers mentioned resonances with their own martial quests, creating new links and points of comparison. In the time since, life has continued to be challenging and exciting. Taxes, Training and Translation work have occupied much of my time, and I also made the decision to close down my guest apartment in Noda as of the end of April. (There were a number of reasons for the closure, but rest assured, the original guest apartment in Abiko is still available.)

Right after making the apartment move, I left Japan for six weeks to visit family and instruct at a number of Bujinkan seminars in Canada (“Sakura No Kaze” in Vancouver, and then at Bujinkan Manitoba in Winnipeg) and the U.S. (Bujinkan Sanami Dojo, Austin, June 9/10, and in Denver the following weekend). During the Q&A session at the end of the seminar in Winnipeg this past weekend, there was a question about the differences between the concepts of Koppō (骨法) and Kaname (要, also pronounced Yō). Afterwards, the seminar host, Adam McColl, asked if I’d write a blog post about it, and so here we are. 🙂

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Thoughts on Kaname

I was asked today to write something about Kaname in advance of a seminar I’ll be giving at Bujinkan Manitoba on May 26/27. The following are some thoughts I put down based on my experience of feeling and hearing what Sensei has been teaching on this subject this year.

Kaname (要) is a word that means “essence,” or “essential point.” It refers to that which is necessary for a thing to be what it is. For example, each technique from our Nine Schools has something about it that makes it unique. For Ganseki Nage to be Ganseki Nage, and not Omote Gyaku, there are things about it that make it distinct. Those things are the “Kaname” of Ganseki Nage, the things that make it what it is, distinct from other techniques, the things that comprise its essential character.
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