When I first came to the lands of the
Mirumoto, I was alone. They did not
accept me as more than a curiosity, and they did not understand me any more than
I could understand them. When I
began my search for Niten, they
thought that I was an adult searching for something that a child might
the Journal of Kakita Brent, On Mirumoto Hojatsu's "Niten"
Why This School Is Called the Two-Sword School
I have spent many years on the road, and I
have fought forty-seven duels, and I have never lost. This is because I employ a technique that has no anchors to
tradition. I employ a technique
that teaches movement rather than memorization.
My school is called niten, for
I use both of my swords, not just the katana.
Those who ask why do not understand my thinking.
They will attempt to build a house with nails but no hammer…
Commentary: This school is unique, and not simply for the way of holding two
blades. Hojatsu's thinking, his
learning from his father, shows not only the strengths of his way, but also the
weaknesses that the Mirumoto see in the styles of other men.
This must be remembered, and both styles considered while understanding
Your stance should never change, not from
peace or time of war. Natural,
natural, natural! The way you stand
with a sword in your hand is the same way you stand with a tea cup in your hand.
If you fight as you stand, your stance is natural and you do not need to
shift your mind.
commentary: The word Mirumoto uses for "stance is "kamae."
It means posture and stance, but it as also come to mean school.
Often times, a samurai will say to one another, "Show me your kamae,"
and the other will fall into his stance. From
this stance, a perceptive samurai can determine which school his opponent has
Commentary: Here, at least, I find a certain balance. It is as Kakita said, "In both peaceful times and in
war, one's attitude should be the same - refined, noble and disciplined."
Peace and war require the same concentration…merely trained to
different ends. On a natural
stance, I have found that this is true, and yet it is not. Your stance changes as you train, but it is not merely your
fighting stance. Your very stance
of life changes, being more prepared; more trained. This is natural, to change wholly, and not divide yourself
What You Show
There are two concepts taught by Shinsei:
"What you show" and "What you do not show."
Strategy is nothing more than knowing how to deceive.
Truth is in the killing.
Commentary: As I looked upon this at the first glance, I saw great dishonor is
such a tactic. And then I
contemplated. The way of the
Daidoji to make war
is deception. Akodo wrote,
"All is war." It seems
that Mirumoto Hojatsu understood. A
duelist shows nothing, but a Mirumoto steps further.
He shows them what is wrong, and thus defeats an opponent with both his
strike and his mind.)
Seeing the Surface
Do not be deceived by the surface.
Learn to see what you are not meant to see.
Watch what your opponent cannot hide from you.
Do not look at his eyes. A
man can always lie with his eyes. Watch
his shoulders, his belly, his breathing. Watch
all of these. Keep a broad mind. A man can fool you with one, but if your mind is broad, he
cannot fool you with all of them. You
must practice this diligently.
Commentary: Many people have questioned Hojatsu's section here.
Why include a counter to your own techniques?
But this is because it is a truth of the sword, not just in the schools
of the Mirumoto, but also in all schools. Understand
that every man or woman that you face, all of them strive to hide their true
strength. Learning to recognize
what is real, this is an important skill, vital to victory.)
Strike From the Spirit
When you strike, strike from the spirit.
Thought is slow. Spirit has no time, no hesitation. Nothing can distract the spirit.
Leave the mind behind.
commentary: Mirumoto uses the word ku, which can mean many, many things.
It can mean "spirit," or "emptiness" or
"nothing" (there is a profound difference between
"emptiness" and "nothing"). Shinsei explained that the spirit exits "where there is
nothing" where "[action] is unclouded by emotion or thought."
He explained that perception (the body) is a veil through which we see
the universe. The body is
imperfect, so our perception is imperfect.
But the spirit, that which is in contact with the Void, is pure, and
unclouded by emotion and thought. "Striking
from the spirit," then, would mean striking when perception and emotion are
Commentary: Seeking the Void, the essence of the strike, is what this section
asks the student to do. Learning to
calm the mind is not a simple thing. We
have a hundred things begging for our attention. But in a duel, a swordsman must learn to calm and quiet the
mind. Thinking, as Hojatsu saw it,
was for before the duel, after the duel, but not during the strike. Concentration is powerful, but slow. Remember to seek the swift perfection of the Void Strike, and
you will find your opponent's defeat.)
Let Him Go By
When the enemy charges us with urgency and
strength, let him go by.
A sidestep is quicker than a charge, and
puts you in a position where negotiation means nothing.
Commentary: These few words are important, and they form a great deal of the
strategy of all duels. Learn to see
where the strike comes from…where your opponent's true power lies.
That is important to understanding how to achieve victory.
Avoid your opponent's strength, and then, while his strength is expended,
you can easily find his weakness.)
When the spirit is clear, it is in tune
with the elements, in perfect accordance. Then,
your true perception, you will be with mushin,
and your spirit will be one with all the universe, and you will know your
opponent's every desire.
commentary: "Mushin" means "no-thought" or
"no-mind." When one is of
no-mind, the spirit is free to act without thought. Leave the mind behind, for the mind and body are slow.
When a samurai is mushin,
he is in touch with all the elements, in tune with the cosmic order, and he
knows his enemy better than his enemy knows himself, for his enemy is still
hindered by his own perceptions. Some
call this "kime" or "kiho": focusing the ki, or
Commentary: This is an interesting duality that is also found in the writings of
my ancestor Kakita. Though niten is
devoted to a superior style that must be learned, a samurai must understand
that, as Hojatsu said earlier, you must not be clouded by these words, or any
words, during the duel. Consciousness
is the key towards understanding the unconsciousness, and effort is the
Mirumoto's path towards the effortless way.
"Knowing" as Hojatsu writes is difficult.
Do not let this stop you.)
The River Sword
Be like the water, ever flowing with no
beginning or ending. One movement
leads to another. The river can
flow in all directions at once. Make
your movements like the river, and you will understand my meaning.
commentary: "Be like the water."
There are those who believe a single strike solves the duel.
This is not so. What solves the duel comes before the strike.
Observe your opponent and watch him.
If you are certain of every stroke, you will never make a mistake, never
be caught off-balance and you will always be victorious.
Commentary: This is perhaps the most notable skills that can be observed when
watching a Mirumoto. Make your
strokes so that each provides you with options.
In the practice of mizu-do, we are taught that resisting gives only two
options: resist or fall. The
Mirumoto have much the same thought about the sword.
There is more than defeat or be defeated to this style.
The River Sword, Let Him Go By, these are both marks of this thought.
The way of niten is to provide the swordsman with countless options, so
that he is free to change in order to find victory in his swords.)
The Virtue of Walking
Many schools have a "secret stepping
technique." I have no secret
technique. It is as I have said, in
my school, all movement is natural.
Commentary: Natural, natural, natural! How
simple the words, and yet how difficult they can be to achieve.
So many times in life we say, "I am a samurai.
I am above nature." This
is partly true, and should not be wholly embraced.
Be superior to nature's lures of lust and greed, for we are samurai, and
must carry ourselves as such. Yet,
do not forget that our stance, our walk, all of this is natural for a reason.
Nature's way is often the best, and has worked for heimen and samurai
alike for many years before any of us. Remember
this, for this is a piece of wisdom that many schools have forgotten.)
The Five Positions
There are five positions, one for each of
the elements. All positions are an
opportunity to cut.
When you take a position, allow your sword to meet your opponent's, and
use his own momentum as your own. Every
moment there is an opportunity to strike.
The sword falls easily at your belly with
its tip pointed at your opponent's throat.
The legs are spread comfortably and firmly.
Both feet are flat, so you may move when you wish.
Never move when you must, only when you wish.
The short sword is at your side, resting easily.
Your enemy's confidence will be put asunder by your casual confidence.
The sword is lifted high and falls down
upon your opponent. Many think the
strength of their arms is what cuts. They
are wrong. The sword cuts.
The wrists cut. Never the arms. The
second sword is sideways across the chest to intercept the enemy's cut, then
swing about, using the speed of his cut.
commentary: "…using the speed of his cut." Ride your blade along the blade of the enemy while he cuts,
and you will feel this. His speed
can be your speed.
The sword is low and against the left leg.
As the opponent strikes, we raise our sword and let his arms fall into
its bite while we step aside. The
opponent cuts. We step aside.
The sword is low and against the right
leg. As the opponent strikes, we
move as if we are dedicated to the Third Position.
He will guard appropriately, and as he does, our wrists bend like water
and his head is free from his shoulders while our short sword cuts down on his
sword for certainty's sake. Show
one thing, be intent on another. This
is the way.
The sword is held behind us and the short
sword is before us, resting lightly on our belt and we wait for his motion.
If you perform this correctly, you will never need to move.
The opponent will see your stance and he will know that you know the Way.
Sometimes victory is won without a single drop of blood.
The Five Enemies
You will know your enemies by his
Vain Enemy can be fooled by humility. The
Negligent Enemy can be defeated with detail.
The Angry Enemy can be drawn
off balance. The Exhaustible Enemy tires himself quickly.
The Cowardly Enemy defeats
himself. Learn this, and you will
never be defeated.
Commentary: Recognizing your enemy is a challenge, even to a skilled perception.
Kakita said, "Men will lie to you."
Remember this, and remember that Hojatsu spoke of places to see where a
man cannot lie. Look at his spirit
also. Once a samurai learns to look
into his opponent and see him for what he is, rather than what he shows himself
to be, then the samurai can easily achieve victory.)
Timing and Rhythm
There is a profound difference between
timing and rhythm. Many schools
teach rhythm. Their techniques are
measured like music in beats and tempo.
My school teaches timing. I strike between the moments when my opponent is counting
Watch your opponent carefully.
If you watch, he will reveal his timing to you.
Strike when his timing does not allow him to act.
Strike when your opponent believes you cannot.
Show him weakness and he will charge.
When he charges, that is when you have him.
You too, must learn to count.
You must understand his rhythm.
If he breathes on one, prepares on two and
strikes on three, I am striking between one and two.
commentary: This is the true "secret" of Mirumoto's technique, and it
applies to all things, not just swordsmanship.
Study your opponent's timing. If
you know it, you will always win.
Commentary: Finding someone's technique requires learning to watch, and knowing
what to watch for. Watch the
breath, the muscles. This is where
you can find his timing. Your
opponent cannot hide everything from you. He
defeats himself in this. But also,
as the Mirumoto have shown me, be sure that you see the truth, and not what the
opponent wishes you to see. Know
his true timing, and you will be victorious.)
When you engage the enemy, there are three
If he attacks first, kill him.
If you attack first, kill him.
If you attack at once, kill him.
Commentary: Mirumoto Hojatsu reminds us to have no illusions about a duel.
Once it is begun, we must be ready and willing to do what you must in
order to end the duel. Have no illusions about that.
One of you will die beneath the sword.)
I do not believe that I can win, I know I
commentary: When my father defeated Ujimona, he told me afterward, "He was
the better swordsman. His skill and
technique was better than mine." I
asked, then how did you win? He
told me, "Because I knew I would win, and he did not."
Technique and skill can only carry you so far.
There will come a time when they will not carry you at all, and all you
have to rely on is your knowledge that you can never be defeated.
If there is ever even a single shadow of doubt in your mind, you will
fail, and you will die.
Commentary: "Knowing" is difficult.
It is different than egotism or arrogance. Knowing should be something that you take no pride in.
Knowing is simply the truth. It
is in you, in your sword. Understand
that, accept it, and one day it will save your life.
Here is the final words of Niten…here is where the Mirumoto are
understood. To follow the path of
this daisho technique, you must understand that you can not win…you must know
that you will win. This is the
secret of the Dragon, but it hidden only behind your only fear and self-doubt. Defeat yourself, your ego and your fear.
This is the path to victory.)