Kajiya soke has conducted a workshop in October 2014. At this occasion, he answers an interview at the request of Nguyen Thanh Thien to honour the invitation of Pavez sensei from Katsujinken Dojo in Santiago, Chile.
Nguyen Thanh Thien: Dear Kajiya soke, dear Headmaster, what is Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu?
Kajiya Takanori soke: Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu is the school of martial arts that the great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi founded approximately 400 years ago. This school is a Hyoho (way of strategy / way of spiritual realization) fully using the body with a weapon, the Japanese sword in our school. Miyamoto Musashi’s Gorin no Sho, Book of Five Rings, is a very logical and plain martial arts book. It is his written legacy.
In the keiko (exercise), we practice the kata (formal mouvements repeated in a routine). There are katas of one sword (Itto seiho), short-sword (Kodachi seiho), two swords (Nito seiho), staff (Bo seiho) and truncheon (Jitte seiho), etc. Through keiko, it is instructed that one can reach a stage when one becomes able to overcome any situation.
Nguyen Thanh Thien: What is kenjutsu (sword technique)?
Kajiya Takanori soke: Kenjutsu is a representative of the Japanese martial arts which include many other arts. The Japanese sword is ranked as the highest Japanese weapon and is one of the Jingi (the sacred treasures). The person who masters the Japanese sword is especially called Heiho-sha (heiho is another pronunciation for hyoho, Heiho-sha meaning genius of war).
It is said that aikido originates from kenjutsu movement.
In kenjutsu, there is no game. We train with kata. We practice kata repeatedly and by doing so, we pay utmost attention to work out our mind and our body and strive to develop strong ki (energy).
Nguyen Thanh Thien: Who is Miyamoto Musashi?
Kajiya Takanori soke: In Japan, Miyamoto Musashi is known as the strongest and the greatest swordsman. He was a genius both in the literary and the martial fields. He won in real fights more than 60 times and left a number of national treasures, mainly painting and calligraphic works.
Miyamoto Musashi is the founder of our Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu.
Nguyen Thanh Thien: Who is the headmaster of Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu? (his role, his function, his activity)
Kajiya Takanori soke: The title and the function of soke, headmaster, of Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu are inherited from generation to generation since Miyamoto Musashi. I was appointed the twelfth soke by Iwami soke. The first duty of the headmaster of Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu is to hand down to the next generation what was inherited by the successive headmasters. The headmaster must embody the skill and the heart of the school. And, for the better life of people, he must inform it widely.
Kajiya soke, Pavez sensei and sempais in Chile
Nguyen Thanh Thien: How did you become headmaster of this ancient school?
Kajiya Takanori soke: I use to live in the suburbs of Tokyo and there I trained in Itto Ryu kenjutsu. At that time, I learned that there was a person living in the neighbourhood who had learned Niten Ichi ryu from Aoki soke, headmaster of the eighth generation, and I engaged into the practice of Niten Ichi Ryu too.
I knew for a long time that Imai soke, 10th headmaster, lived in Oita, Kyushu.
When I came to move to Kyushu, I decided to contact Imai soke immediately in order to participate in keiko, which I did.
Iwami sensei became the 11th soke soon after.
As for me, I did not intend to become a headmaster. I think that first reason why I was made headmaster is because I did keiko steadily.
Nguyen Thanh Thien: What is your background?
Kajiya Takanori soke: As for my background, I studied Itto Ryu kenjutsu, iai and shuriken, and I practiced jujutsu too.
Nguyen Thanh Thien: What is Japanese tradition and did you study other Japanese traditions?
Kajiya Takanori soke: Japanese traditions host tea ceremony, flower arrangement, dancing, ceramic art, the many martial arts, cooking Japanese food, etc.
I learned tea ceremony parallel to the martial arts. I learned the Ogasawara koryu (old school/tradition) tea ceremony handed down to the Kokura feudal clan. This is because I thought that Musashi sensei (teacher/master) himself might have studied this specific tradition.
Nguyen Thanh Thien: This is your first time in Chile and in South America. Is this a modern evolution or do you think it is in Musashi’s spirit to teach there?
Kajiya Takanori soke: If the people of Chile have heard of Musashi sensei and if they wish to learn his Way, then the conditions of my coming to Chile to teach are realized. I am honoured to present my Japanese tradition in Chile and in South America. I have been invited by Patricio Pavez sensei whom I thank for this great opportunity to meet new students, a new country to me and its rich culture. It is indeed a very modern thing to become acquainted through internet but we always end up in a very traditional way by meeting in a dojo (study house). I believe if a good friend practices on the other side of the earth, he will greatly benefit from listening to the teaching soul of Musashi sensei, guiding the students through martial arts. That is the purpose of my coming to Chile and to South America. I will commit myself to transmit the heart of Musashi and his sword with no restriction and with no sway from the authentic Japanese way. I wish to meet the energy of the Chilean students and guide their body and mind in the hyoho of Musashi.
Nguyen Thanh Thien: What is Musashi’s spirit? What is his sword like? What is special in Musashi’s sword art?
Kajiya Takanori soke: Train carefully. The keiko of thousand days is Tan, and the keiko of ten thousand days is Ren.
It is important that, tomorrow, I beat yesterday’s me.
Nobody can become a champion only by having read a text.
A characteristic of the swords of Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu is to use the two swords, a big one and a small one. It is a deep thought to use all weapons one can be equipped with, and to assume a situation where one may have to wield a sword with one arm. It is a profound thought to fight to the end in a restricted state.
Nguyen Thanh Thien: Why is practice important? Today, one turns to computers, to machines, to externalised services. Why train our body and mind, ourselves, with one sword and two swords?
Kajiya Takanori soke: We have body and mind and soul. Each has to grow. Our body cannot perform well without the keiko. A daily effort is essential in everything.
The reason why we practice two swords is to swing freely a sword with one arm.
This ability prepares us to respond to a situation which cannot be controlled with one sword wielded by two arms.
Nguyen Thanh Thien: You have travelled extensively abroad to teach Musashi’s sword since 2005. What thoughts does it bring you?
Kajiya Takanori soke: To teach abroad means to touch different cultures and to be touched by them in return. I feel joy that Musashi sensei’s teaching is welcomed in different countries and I feel joy in the encounter with new friends. In this state of mind, I am thrilled with my first encounter with Chile.
Nguyen Thanh Thien: When you teach, what is most important? When students learn, what is most important?
Kajiya Takanori soke: For teachers, one should think of methods to improve carefully because deshis (students/disciples) are different, each one of them. One teaches how to work out the body and use the mind. It is most important to teach how to make up strong ki. For deshis, it is important to carry out what was advised by their teacher, obediently.
Every day, it is important to correct the mind and body.
Kajiya soke and Pavez sensei
Nguyen Thanh Thien: Why are Musashi’s sword and spirit important for our generation in Japan and in Chile?
Kajiya Takanori soke: It is important that one knows oneself. It is not only important but it is also our duty as a human to perform the purpose of life.
Through keiko, as a means to attain a better knowledge of oneself, one realizes a shortcut to a better life. This is true in Japan. It is true in the same way in Chile. It is true where every man stands.
Photographies by courtesy of Hyoho Niten Chile © 2014 and Nguyen Thanh Thien © 2014