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Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, like the Japanese language, is full of subtleties and nuances which will take me more than a lifetime to understand. A few of the forefront concepts I continue to reflect on this year have been kuukan, kokuu, and inryoku. While these are nothing new to budoka, and there is no shortage of opinions on them, I have been revisiting my interpretation of them in relation to my present training.

I have come to think of kokuu and kuukan as the living breath of a waza; complimenting one another in an almost yin/yang dance of dependency. This is indicative of the evolving interaction and connection between tori and uke. Kuukan is the living space and inhalation of a waza while kokuu is the void, empty space, and exhalation of a waza. Together with timing, distance, and balance they evolve into the attraction and repulsion that I have come to perceive as inryoku, the magnetic connection shared across this measure of space.

When this playing out of space dies, the waza dies. The exchange unbalances itself down to just the stagnant kokuu. While I believe a connection can exist across kokuu, I also feel the life of the movement is gone at this time. It's as if the music has momentarily stopped and you are still trying to dance. The music should play...uninterrupted. The waza must breathe of its own accord.

The Girl who can't dance, says the band can't play.
~ Hanan J. Ayalti, Yiddish Proverbs, 1949

When kokuu and kuukan interchange seamlessly, I believe the resulting inryoku affords a giving and receiving of energy helping to breathe life into the waza and resuscitate things further. I presently view this same exchange as the potential (storing/receiving/withdrawing) and kinetic (releasing) energies of a conflict however large or small the scale. This means it can pertain to armies, 1:1 fighting, and even debate. There is a feeding off one another...a tidal give and a take.

I had previously limited my views on storing and releasing energy to the notion of moving in and out of kamae. It now occurs to me, as everything eventually does, the larger picture is more intertwined with these smaller concepts.

The above ideas all culminate into one question for me. How can one manifest and shape kokuu and kuukan to control the inryoku of the conflict. Currently, I feel it has to do with timing the occupancy of the "good space" before the opponent can take it. This "good space" is the next space the uke needs to mount their intended attack. Proper timing forces the uke to adjust their committed attack around the intended space you now occupy thus breaking their own kamae. You are both connected through that same "good space" in this manner. Sadly, I know of no other way to explain the previous point. What I do not mean however is to place your face in the space uke's fist needs assuming you will not get punched. Hopefully those who have trained with Hoban sensei can relate to what I am saying if I have not just bastardized his points on "good space".

Well, in the end, it's just that easy right? I wish. I, like everyone else, am seeking to wrap my hands around what I can at my present level so I may study it before letting it go. However, in doing this, we shouldn't lose sight of the feeling of the waza and our moment in time within it. There will always be something to be said for the popular phrase "Shut up and train".

Understand? Good. Play!