Nawa no Kankaku

Iv’e just returned to training and have enjoyed attending Sokes classes as always. Last night at the Honbu, Soke once again mentioned that the theme was to move and wrap up the opponent with the feeling that he is becoming entwined by rope. This is Nawa no Kankaku.

We shouldn’t move just like we are tying someone up with a rope. It’s far deeper in significance as always. The concept is that we are tying our opponent up with our soul or Tamashii. Being captured by ones soul or spirit can be likened to being wrapped up my an invisible cord or rope. The feeling of restrictivness and entrapment is the ultimate aim of obtaining Nawa no Kankaku.

In a sence, this feeling  may be  linked to Sanninjutsu and Kannashibari. By this I mean a feeling of mind control while subduing the opponent by giving him a sence of  being “frozen” on the spot, unable to move a muscle. We can maybe appreciate that this feeling can be interlooped with the current theme Soke has been talking about.


In regards to training, we see that when mastering the principles of taijutsu and understanding the kihon, we can literally slow down time and observe that each movement is connected ( like knots/links in a rope/chain ). I feel that Soke is helping us realise the feeling of mastery and also helping us to achieve it by creating thought around the concept of Saino Kon Ki. In order to become a bugeisha of the finest, we need to fully integrate,understand, and master the concept of Saino Kon Ki. Upon doing this, we will be able to live within the freedom of the Kukan. With the time we generate from mastering these principles, we will come to understand that “performing a waza” is a very low aspect of budo training. I’d like to try and explain from my very limited understanding. The consistent success one has in training is a result of understanding Shin Gi Tai and Saino Kon Ki  or Saino Shin Ki. As a result, one controls the Kukan and can therefore come closer to having a sence of Kanjin Kaname. By this I mean that from moving in the kukan one can see the future actions of the opponent that ultimately dictates ones responce. Being able to recognise this enables one to move with confidence and with naturalness. From a new found sence of inner knowing and confidence, we can move in a more neutral manner, free from the restraints of kamae and technique. I think we can observe this mastery in both Soke and Nagato Shihans taijutsu quite easily.


Knowing that one is always in a safe position or Anzen no tokoro  that enables your techniques to work effortlessly, will ultimately allow one to know the invincibility of the ninja’s taijutsu and true mastery of budo.

One needs not to be concerned about fighting, strength, power, or the skill of the opponent. It should feel like fishing. One opens his heart and soul, and in a sence casts a line out. When the opponent moves toward him, the line tangles and according to the situation, more is let out or wound in. It all depends on the opponents movements.The art of kyo jutsu tenkan ho  is a linked aspect in this regard. Therefore, even though one looks like he his retreating from strong attacks, he is infact holding the opponent with Tamashii ( his soul ). The soul can be likened to a rope, and entwines around the opponents whole being to render his attacks useless. This inturn takes the opponents will  to fight, as the rope cuts deeper and becomes tighter the more he struggles.

How much rope do you need? It’s situational isn’t it. If we can observe this rope as human blood vessels, we could use the following analogy. Upon stretching out all of the human’s blood vessels ( Shin / kokoro ), we would have a length of about 60,000 miles long ( enough to go around the world twice ) This capacity ( Saino ) is more than enough to control your environment ( Utsuwa ).

We can also look at how cowboys use a rope to break-in horses. Initially, the manner of breaking-in is quite a difficult process and there is much resistance. Initially it is found that creating a safe zone that removes the horse from any more unesessary stressess will aid in better results. From there, the horse is introduced to various noises and commands while slowly adding equipment. This stage is about developing a trust relationship with the horse. Often the rope/reigns must be tightened to control and take away the rebelious nature of the horse. Upon being re-conditioned, the reigns/rope can be removed, but the feeling remains in the horses soul. At this point, it understands it’s place, respects it’s master, and has no sense of rebellion. This is control.


We are all animals. To advance our lives, we need to engage in training. We need to be led until we can learn to lead ourselves. Until then, we search for information and teachers to guide us. In relation to domesticating dogs, we put them on a lead and walk with them while introducing survival skills in the concrete jungle. If the dog breaks this connection ( the lead ) than it often runs away, only to be found run over by a car, starving, or diseased. Therefore, it is important to know how much we don’t know, and maintain the connection with our masters/teachers. It is only when our teacher gives us his permission, may we begin to tread away from his shadow and experience a different life. Until then, we must follow the rules and conditions set. These are defined for a reason. The reason is to learn how to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our country. If we cannot learn this essential teaching, or break from the rope that leads us, than we would surely die, or become overwhelmed by the pressures of modern day society.

I feel we can liken this to training. Soke has mentioned that he wants us to become “death doctors”. From my memory, he wanted us to learn how to take away the diseases of people that would destroy them. These diseases are not what we commonly see as diseases such as cancer, but the emotional,psychological, and spiritual diseases that lead people astray in life. That is why students experience hard training from their teachers. The teachers are just trying to remove the “restrictions” of the students and their “evil ways” that stop them from becoming a true martial artist. If we relate this to nawa no kankaku we can appreciate that as students we are being whipped,tied, restrained, taunted,but most importantly led by the rope to possible saviour. Please don’t misinterpret this as Sado Masochistic behaviour. lol. This actually reminds me of something Nagato Sensei once said.

” The difference between the Bujinkan and Sado Masochism is that in the Bujinkan, there’s a meaning to the pain!”

All we have to do as students is hang on tightly and not let go. Much like the horses tail. If we let go, or don’t have the ability and heart and are shaken or whipped off, we have lost the connection and will be left to swim alone, around and around in a dark ocean of desires. This is the link, the connection we need to maintain with Soke and the Shihan.


It’s just like driving too. If we follow the road lines ( rope ) that curve, straighten and change direction ( henka ) but stay on the right side, we will eventually reach our destination. However, if we fail to follow them, we may end up in a crash or in prison. So, with this sense, entangle yourself lightly but firmly with the rope ( teachings of the Bujinkan ) and tie the knot ( if you will ) with love until the day you die!

Bufu Ikkan!

3 Responses to “Nawa no Kankaku”

  1. GREAT to see you’re back in Japan and have healed up quite nicely! Please send me an e-mail, it’s been too long since we talked!

    As always, love the words of wisdom (and the pictures….Is Steve still taking them?).

    Take care!!! Be well!!!

  2. Marcelo Moya Says:

    Really liked the analogy of taming a horse!! It really points to a deeper more encompassing side of budo rather than the strict physical aspect!!! I couldn’t agree more that following soke and shihan (such as yourself) is like following a light through the abyss of ego. Thank you again for your posts!!!!!

  3. […] Duncan Stewart speaks of things like Nawa no Kankaku – Sanninjutsu and Kannashibari, things which are not easily understood by our common Western […]

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