Hope everything is off to a good start for all as the world transitions into a period where we can have a fresh start with new endeavors, as well as prepare to tackle our normal actives revitalized after some rest during the holiday festivities. I, too, have been working on my schedule for 2022, which I will to share in this post.
This being my 6th year running Light in the Clouds blog, things will continue in the same fashion, along with some additions. Sticking with the intentions for running this blog, topics will contiue to focus on certain Japanese-centric historical themes, from famous individuals to familiar events. Of course, more effort will be put into not-so-well-known pieces of information. Will also try to finish up some on-going projects (yes, you haven’t been forgotten Takigawa Kazumasu), as well as catch up on some topics that were mentioned briefly and have articles in the works. Much of this has to be balanced with real life, however, especially with the new line of work in the tech field I have recently switched to.
Still playing catch-up on various translation works that have been started, but not quite ready for public release. Mostly due to balancing my time with a better schedule. Some of these works include a break down on select military manuals and mythical tales. As for the few projects that are slated to be released as books, they are in still in the works, although slightly side railed due to facing spme real life changes caused by the Pandemic. This setback also includes endorsements I was intending to get during a planned trip to Japan since 2020. With certain things currently out of reach, I may consider releasing one or two of the books in a different fashion. Time will tell.
With everyone being vaccinated, as well as receiving their booster shots, everyone who participates in kobudō training at Chikushin group made great progress in 2021. Our curriculum focused on an older form of taijutsu (hand-tp-hand), as well as kenjutsu that covers principles more related battlefield tactics from Sengoku period. To continue with this momentum, we will stick with the same curriculum, while reviewing past training materials during our open sessions or monthly Theme weeks. Some schedule changes are about to be implemented, however, to supplement martial arts & Japanese studies in a more accessible fashion. The new schedule will be up on the official Chikushin group website once that is updated in the next upcoming days.
These are the goals set to happen this new year. Hope to accomplish this, and more, in good health. Hope the same for everyone with their own plans for 2022!
Here’s a quick announcement that the Translations section has been updated. Here’s what’s been added:
Pages 3 & 4 of “Kōyō Gunkan no Naigunpō no Maki” have been added. As a description, this work is a translation of borrowed sections from the military-centric documentation called Kōyō Gunkan found in the Ueno Tamaki Kabunsho. Some points are also compared between the original documentation and the copied version.
2 new entries are added to “Many Ways of Utilizing the Zodiac Signs”. Following the topic of of the 12 Zodiac signs played a role in general Japanese society in the past, one of the entries show how they were used in compasses, while the other is a list of how they were used to represent each month.
You can access these through the Translation tab above.
As March comes to a close, I’ve managed to roll out a few new entries in the Translations sections. Here’s what you can find:
Page 2 of “Kōyō Gunkan no Naigunpō no Maki” is out. Page 3 should be out shortly, which will complete this topic.
New topic “Many Ways of Utilizing the Zodiac Signs” is up. This topic will cover the different ways in which the Zodiac signs have been used throughout the ages. The first entry covers the old clock system from Edo period called “wadokei”.
New topic “Lore of the Dashi (Mountain-Like Floats)”. This is a followup of two articles on the same topic, this one is a translation of a lore regarding the dashi found in the same book used as a resource for the other two articles.
Happy to have these released this March. Here’s looking to do the same and have some new translation works done by April.
Here’s a quick announcement on what’s new on my plate, in relations to the blog as well as other matters:
1) Translations section has been updated with both a new entry in the Buki Sode Kagami page, and a new project called “Kōyō Gunkan no naigunpō no maki”. The latter is about the famous documentation on military-related matters called Koyo Gunkan, and how it compares to another manual that contains entries from it called “Ueno Tamaki Kabunsho”. This one is an ongoing project, so look out for updates coming soon. A few other translation projects will also be following suit as I finish putting them together.
2) This year my agenda is to release more articles on historical figures, similar to my format a few years ago. Targeting less known/less spoken about individuals just for the sake of variety. The 1st article which will be out shortly this week will be on Takigawa Kazumasu, a military commander who had many years of success under warlords such as Oda Nobunaga.
Outside of this, some updates to the site made for the sake of better user interface. Specifically, the menu bar has been tweaked where subpages no longer show when the cursor highlights the Translations tab.
3) Chikushin Group continues to train and keep up our yearly theme. Due to regulations in NYC, we do not meet indoors. Instead, all classes are officially outdoor for the time being. Safety measures include the use of hand sanitizers and gloves. More about this can be found on the Chikushin Arts Facebook page.
4) Recently I made a collaboration with Kazuyo Matsuda to have two of my articles featured on her website “Fine Ladies Kendo Worldwide”. Kazuyo and a few others who specialize in kendo join together to create a website that highlights many talented women who make strives in the kendo community, as well as discuss topics related to their respective training. They also have a magazine for subscribers who want to gain access to premium content.
The articles that are featured on Kazuyo’s website are the ones about Chiba Sana due to her history in gekiken. Along with this, she not only translated these articles into Japanese, but was gracious enough to provide some updates to the original articles with some research she did on her end, which have been implemented on my blog. A special thank you goes out to Paul Budden, who spent time corresponding with me to make this collaboration happen.
Please check out Kazuyo’s new site below. For those who want to support them, you can also subscribe for a monthly membership access more exclusive content.
As I close the year with this last post, I look back at what has transpired around the world. What sticks out the most is how a pandemic has changed the lifestyle for everyone. Countless lives have been lost, travel and social activites have nearly ceased, jobs have downsized or ceased, and the economy for many countries have been affected greatly. We’ve all been affected personally in one way or another. The negatives of 2020 will linger greatly in many people’s minds possibly for some time.
Yet, this doesn’t mean that there haven’t been any positive moments in 2020. In times of of turmoil we’ve seen people work together to help one another. Many who work in the hospitals around the world worked tirelessly to save the lives of those inflicted by the pandemic. We’ve seen innovation used to keep society from screeching to a halt through making work spaces safe or to interact remotely from one’s homes. Families could spend more time safely to strengthen their bonds and continue to move forward, and so on. These may pale in comparison to the negatives, but in reality we must look for the silver lining in the clouds in order to strengthen our spirit and find the will to move forward.
There is a popular Japanese proverb that goes “nanakorobi yaoki” (七転び八起き). It means even if you fall down seven times, you get back up eight times. Countless people around the world have gone through some tough moments personally due to the pandemic. Yet, we all need to keep going forward into the new year with a positive attitude. This resolve will make us stronger, and hopefully overcome a history we hope to never revisit. We all can return back to a state of normalcy, and from there continue to aim further for great success in the years to come.
Here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year, and a fruitful 2021!
Just a quick announcement, there are new updates being added to the Translations page. For starters, both “Kai Kokushi” and “Bukijutsus Zusetsu” have new entries added today. There will be another update in a few days as well. On top of this, a new translation entry will be added soon, possibly at the ending of this week. Just like blog entries, there will not be a shortage of translation works present on this site.
Speaking of which, one of the nice things about doing translation work is some of the new & interesting topics that pop up from them. For example, I’ve spent some time on & off working on the entry under “Kai Kokushi”, which covers several military commanders who held the prestigious title of “Hayato”. Since it covers inheritance, family genealogy through arranged marraige, and the like, I needed to do a lot of research on different individuals and family lines. This also encouraged me to read certain older novels in Japanese, as these were referenced as well. While this entry mainly focuses on the Hara family of Kai Province, the Sanada family are also mentioned abit…including the famous Sanada Yukimura.
Considering the popularity of the Sanada clan, one would think that it’d be easy to get information as needed. However, this is not the case when a great deal of their fame, especially due in part of Sanada Yukimura, is through fictional novels and artworks. Lotsa fact-checking is required in cases like this to understand what’s real and what’s fiction. So, thanks to the translation work on the Hara family and the Hayato title, I will be releasing a post on Sanada Yukimura this week.
Over the weekend, I made some decisions with the blog which will hopefully bring more quality to the contents being provided here. For a few years Light in the Clouds was run under a free account, meaning internal and external upgrades were vastly limited. As the topics I research and write about continue to expand in the form of articles, stories, and translations, I felt it was time to invest in them financially. As of yesterday, Light in the Clouds has been has been upgraded to a more premium account.
What does this mean? For starters, the “wordpress” in the address has been removed, and my site can stand on its own. This will help for establishing my contents as a brand, which will prove vital with current and future projects. Also, I have the options of adding plugins and other customization to this site. This is something I wanted to do for the longest. Although it will be a learning process as I experiment with various add-ons and such, in the long run they should help to further how content is delivered, appearance of the site, and the like.
Another important part is available space. Originally I had to be mindful of what was stored on my site. While images do not take up much space, sound clips and videos do. Now, through this upgrade, I will have much more space to work with, and should be able to post articles with videos. On top of this, all works found in the Translations section have been reconstructed and are now stored on this site. For the longest I had been using a 2nd site for storage purposes, but can finally cut this process out. This will make performing maintenance much easier.
Just wanted to share the good news. The new address is <https://lightinthecloudsblog.com/>. The old address still works, but for how long I do not long. Stay tuned and be on the look out for the new changes this site update will bring.
In a previous post from a few years back, I spoke about the importance of measurements for one’s weapons according to the martial system being studied. There, it was mentioned how necessary it is to wield weapons that have proper dimensions according to our body type when we are beginners. For this post, we will take this same subject and look at it from another perspective, where I discuss about the strong points of training with weapons of irregular dimensions in kobudō (古武道, Classical Japanese martial arts) as an advanced student.
PROCESS OF HANDLING WEAPONS OF UNCONVENTIONAL LENGTHS
When first starting out, a student is required to acquire training weapons that fit their body type in order to study the lessons correctly. After some time has passed where the student has become familiar with a particular weapon of a standard length, they should next come out of their comfort zone and handle one of a different length. Sometimes this can be impromptu during class, or other times the focus of the lesson can be placed on this point. There are many reasons behind this. For starters, to further understand the principles for said weapon, whether it be a sword or staff, one has to be exposed to conditions that teach us lessons that go beyond just the physical. Distance, timing, and positioning are just some of the principles that require being explored under not-so-usual conditions.
For starters, against an adversary with a sanjaku dachi (三尺太刀, a Japanese sword that measures about three feet), a rokushaku bō (六尺棒, six-foot stick) provides a great reach that allows the wielder to perform ashibarai (足払, leg sweep) from a safe distance. Yet, when given a sanjaku bō (三尺棒, three-foot stick), you won’t have the same advantage as before. Still, with further training and having a deep understanding of the principles of one’s art, you can still perform an ashibarai to defeat an opponent without getting cut down.
USING DIFFERENT WEAPONS TO LEARN SAME SKILLS
Sometimes the same set of kata for one particular weapon is used to teach how to use another weapon even if it’s a different size. This is another challenging point that can further support an martial system’s ideology across a different span of weapons. For example, some traditional schools in Japan have used the kata for the naginata as a means to learn how to wield the yari. Others have used the kata for the katana to understand how to utilize the kusarigama. each of these weapons have unique traits that provide interesting results, especially in the case of the kusarigama; a sickle with a flexible chain & weight takes a great amount of understanding and control if pitted in the same scenario where a katana would be used.
Next, there are those kata where one performs with a katana, but then later does it with a much longer sword like an ōdachi, or with a much smaller one like a kodachi. All three are categorized as swords, but with varying lengths. For an advanced student, one of the greatest challenges here is understanding the strengths & weaknesses of the weapon in hand, and how it affects not only the control (or lack of) they may gain, but also how their opponent will react based on how each weapon is manipulated.
IDEA OF ANYTHING AS A WEAPON
When an adequate amount of training has been put in, an advanced student should begin to develop the ability to use anything that comes into hand. Looking the development of different martial systems in Japan’s history from the 1500s onward, many incorporated the study of multiple weapons in the form of sōgō bujutsu (総合武術, martial system featuring numerous disciplines). This not only encouraged bushi (武士, warriors) to be familiar in many different skills, but to be resourceful enough to use anything that they could get their hands on, including their opponent’s own weapon. The same mentality remains in various martial arts schools even today.
Many countries have very strict laws against carrying weapons, even those for self defense purposes. While it may seem impractical to study classical systems that specialize in the use of the yari, kusarigama, and so forth, this isn’t truth. Much of what is learned can be applied to common tools and items we find around ourselves everyday. An umbrella substituted for a sanjaku bō, a shovel used in place of a yari, or even a belt wielded like a kusarifundō are but examples of adapting one’s training for self-defense in today’s contemporary world. With a thorough understanding of the principles necessary for this through consistent training, it is possible to naturally use any common item in your environment as a weapon without getting caught up in small details such as being the “correct” length with the iaitō used in training, and so on.
In conclusion, working with weapons of different dimensions during training has its merits for advanced students. This can range from handling same-type weapons of varying lengths to using a specific to learn another different weapon type. In the end, a student should be able to go past form & structure of a particular weapon and grasp a deep understanding of the principles behind what make it work. Achieving this, that student will be able to reach the outcome they so desire despite the length of said weapon being slightly off of what would normally fit their body type.
With 2019 coming to a close, I’ve been preparing my schedule for the new year. Prioritizing is important as my hobbies & interests have increased, and I’m hoping to execute much better in terms of content for next year. Below is a quick outline of my goals for 2020.
2019 was abit tough for putting out posts, for I was juggling between this and the book translations I am working on (more on that later). I do have a list of topics planned throughout the year, with room for new topics that may be time-sensitive, interesting, or need immediate intention as they may be hot in my mind. That being said, certain topics were missed or incomplete. For 2020, I plan to catch up on a few, such as finishing the discussion on the martial development in Japan.
An added section to my blog, updates have been regrettably slow due to working on the book translations. Much of what I have for this section are either done but need to be prepared for public presentation, or are partially done. Fortunately, I took some time out during the holidays to work on this area, and should be able to roll out new content here early January.
Running a martial arts group is now part of my normal routine, so much attention is placed here as well. Plans for Chikushin Martial & Cultural Training Group are geared towards improving our public presentation in the form of updating the website, which will include revised descriptions on our training, a picture gallery, and demo vids. I will also work on advertising abit more to bring in more people who are interested in Japanese martial arts, as well as announce more small events for locals to participate in, most likely through Facebook. Outside of this, small changes and adjustments are being implemented for next year’s curriculum, which will be announced shortly.
Sometime last year I announced that I’m working on 2 books that are translations of old Japanese works. Been working on these as much as possible on a daily basis, and am happy with how things are progressing. There was some changes in which one was prioritized, which are explained as followed:
KINETSUSHU: I was able to locate a 3rd version of this document. Thus, this has been upgrade to 3-scroll translations. While the time frame for completing this is not long, I am putting this book to the side momentarily to work on another.
TSUKI NO SHO: Initially was supposed to be book #2, this has been moved to being my designated 1st book to publish. This changed due to requests for putting out an English version out in a timely fashion. An important document for schools that specialize in Shinkage ryū Heihō, much research has been going into deciphering the contents, which has proven to be very educational. A must read for all kenjutsu practitioners imho. Here’s a sample of a preliminary layout for the book. Note that this is still a work in progress, so editing, revisions, and formatting may change the overall final product.
With plenty of projects on my plate, I’m still dedicated in keeping my blog alive and strong with interesting contents. Here’s looking forward to a progressive new year!