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Ethan Weisgard
04-18-2007, 06:33 AM
Hello all.

I had at one time found a good explanation on-line of the meaning behind "Hasso no Kamae," but have lost it somewhere when changing computers! The translation of "number eight-like" was not the actual meaning. The concept of the eight directions meaning that one is able to attack or defend in all directions had something to do with it, but I remember it as having more than that meaning. Any bids?
PS: I also found one site that mentioned the original writing of hasso as  死合 - (spooky!)
I hadn't heard this one before - but this isn't the explanation I am searching for!

In Aiki,

Ethan Weisgard

Aikilove
04-18-2007, 07:09 AM
Hi Ethan.
I also remembered something like that. Was it from a passage in "go rin no sho"? I have a vague recollection that Musashi wrote something to the effect of: "From hasso no gamae one is able to defend/attack in any direction"

/J

Kent Enfield
04-18-2007, 07:38 AM
but I remember it as having more than that meaning. Any bids?Hasso, like seigan, is a Buddhist term. It refers to the eight stages of life of the Buddha. How it became to be associated with a sword kamae, I don't know.
PS: I also found one site that mentioned the original writing of hasso as  死合 - (spooky!)Well, I'm not an expert, but I can't see how you could get "hassou" out those kanji. What you can get is "shiai". People sometimes claim this as a older version of that term, but they never have any primary sources for it.

akiy
04-18-2007, 09:19 AM
As Kent mentions, I have found that the term "hassou" 八相 comes from Buddhist traditions. One definition of "hasso" (or "hassou joudou" 八相成道 or "hassou sabutsu" 八相作仏) that I have found is:

Eight successive phases that a Buddha is said to manifest when appearing in the world in order to save people. They are (1) descending from heaven, (2) entering the mother's womb, (3) emerging from the mother's womb, (4) renouncing the secular world, (5) conquering devils, (6) attaining enlightenment, (7) turning the wheel of the Law, and (8) entering nirvana.Does anyone else have any thoughts on the term "hassou"?

I, too, found the "looks like an (arabic numeral) 8" description very lacking. I think it comes from the visual of Saito sensei's "hassou" series in his jo suburi.

If anyone finds out more, I'd encourage them to add to the current AikiWiki entry for "Hasso no Kamae" (http://www.aikiweb.com/wiki/HassoNoKamae).

-- Jun

Ethan Weisgard
04-18-2007, 12:02 PM
As Kent mentions, I have found that the term "hassou" 八相 comes from Buddhist traditions. One definition of "hasso" (or "hassou joudou" 八相成道 or "hassou sabutsu" 八相作仏) that I have found is:

Does anyone else have any thoughts on the term "hassou"?

I, too, found the "looks like an (arabic numeral) 8" description very lacking. I think it comes from the visual of Saito sensei's "hassou" series in his jo suburi.

If anyone finds out more, I'd encourage them to add to the current AikiWiki entry for "Hasso no Kamae" (http://www.aikiweb.com/wiki/HassoNoKamae).

-- Jun

Thanks for the reply, Jun. I can understand the Katate Hachi no Ji Gaeshi term corresponding with the two strokes used in making the kanji for "hachi". But the position Hassou doen't really fit in with anything, as far as I can see. I am trying a Japanese language Google search, but have only as of yet found technical descriptions of Hassou no Kamae.
I hope someone can uncover the connection!

In Aiki,

Ethan

mjhacker
04-18-2007, 12:27 PM
I, too, found the "looks like an (arabic numeral) 8" description very lacking. I think it comes from the visual of Saito sensei's "hassou" series in his jo suburi.
I concur.

The explanation I heard in Japan was that the scabbard and raised sword create the shape of the kanji for 8 [八] lying on its side. I have nothing more than anecdotal evidence for this so far.

Mashu
04-18-2007, 12:59 PM
Does anyone else have any thoughts on the term "hassou"?

I, too, found the "looks like an (arabic numeral) 8" description very lacking. I think it comes from the visual of Saito sensei's "hassou" series in his jo suburi.

-- Jun

In samurai heraldry 8 is sometimes represented by to birds facing one another. Banners with 八幡大菩薩 Hachiman Daibosatsu on them sometimes have the 八 that way. Maybe it has something to do with the naming?

http://www.shinzen-dojo.net/le_dojo/les%20gardes/hasso_no_kamae_g.jpg

The forearms look a bit like 八.

Erick Mead
04-18-2007, 03:33 PM
Thanks for the reply, Jun. I can understand the Katate Hachi no Ji Gaeshi term corresponding with the two strokes used in making the kanji for "hachi". But the position Hassou doen't really fit in with anything, as far as I can see. I am trying a Japanese language Google search, but have only as of yet found technical descriptions of Hassou no Kamae.
I hope someone can uncover the connection! It may just be the functional description of the eight aspects (directions) [八相] in which one may immediately strike from this position. I was taught that in the happo-giri 八方 切り( eight sides) the transition through the center point of each successive strike is always passing through hassō-gamae 八相構え, which was meant to convey, as I learned it, that the cuts may be performed in any direction at need. This "aspect" [ :D ] becomes particularly apparent in some of the more fluid variants of this exercise.

You could stretch for the Buddhist connection along this line of thought. 八相 hassō is the Eight Aspects (= [sort of] "eight sides") of the manifestation of buddhahood, but that is merely the realization in his life of the principles of the Noble Eight-fold Path to enlightenment [ 八正道 ] hasshōdō

八正道 is symbolized by the eight-spoked dharma wheel. The turning of the dharmachakra is the seventh of the Buddha's aspects, just before attaining to nirvana. Thus, reference may mean the penultimate action or position just prior to victory). The wheel may be the image or association intended for the hassō-gamae.

Or it just may be a functional description of it with happy coincidence to the Buddhist imagery. Or just possibly, a word game or pun on hassō 八相 in the religious sense.

Paul Sanderson-Cimino
04-18-2007, 03:46 PM
I always thought it was the arms forming a "hachi" shape - two lines slanting upward.

As for being able to cut to any direction...I don't see how that's a unique property of hassou. In fact, it seems like it's a rather limited kamae in terms of options.

ChrisMoses
04-18-2007, 04:06 PM
I was taught that in the happo-giri 八方 切り( eight sides) the transition through the center point of each successive strike is always passing through hassō-gamae 八相構え,

Could you elaborate on this? I cannot picture what you're talking about here at all.

Erick Mead
04-18-2007, 11:43 PM
Could you elaborate on this? [happo-giri -- transition through the center -- passing through hassō-gamae] I cannot picture what you're talking about here at all. Happo giri typically is begun in kihon with a "step-pivot" at each cycle and the sword lifting fully to jo dan kamae. The point of happo giri is of course to make recovery of the sword flow into the following cut and to integrate the movement of the body in that flow to change direction without effort or thought. Once this fluidity becomes dominant in the movement the sword hilts do not rise much above the eyes for each cut. To raise it further places the mass of the sword more off-center which slows the turns.

As the step-pivots become more accelerated or more sudden, they have to tighten up (like a skater's spin) and the sword thus passes through hassō gamae instead of jodan kamae at each turn. The sword comes only to the center just before again cutting in the new direction. This becomes even more apparent in doing the "step-pivot-tenkan" happo-giri variants (which are draw cuts rather than advancing cuts). In either case, we are practicing in the happo giri the ability to pivot and strike 270 degrees in either direction from that center pivot hassō. Like spokes on the wheel.

Dan Rubin
04-19-2007, 01:27 AM
I don't know how applicable this is, but in Legacies of the Sword (pages 72-73), Karl Friday describes the kamae of the Kashima-Shinryu. Their kami-hasso ("issuing from above") appears to be the equivalent of hasso no kamae, and their shimo-hasso ("issuing from below") appears to be the equivalent of waki gamae. In a footnote, the author states:

"The orthography for the "hasso" of kami hasso and shimo hasso is borrowed from a Buddhist phrase referring to the eight phases of the Buddha's life. This is probably a stand-in for a homophone meaning 'start out' or 'send forth.'"

Dan

Ethan Weisgard
04-19-2007, 04:51 AM
Interesting points and detailed information are coming forth - great! The spiritual aspects behind the term Hassou are very interesting. I think that the closest bid is the idea that the sword /jo-holder's arms form a shape resembling the kanji of "hachi." In Aiki Jo, the right arm holding the jo is, however, vertical and not at an oblique angle. In Aiki Ken I haven't seen the Hasso no Kamae used, but it is of course a traditional posture in kenjutsu, so it would make sense to use the term for the jo posture. I hope more can be unearthed regarding this question. Onegaishimasu!

In Aiki,

Ethan

Aikilove
04-19-2007, 05:00 AM
I also have the impression that it is the shape of the arm in the sword kamae that lead to the name.

/J

ChrisMoses
04-19-2007, 12:00 PM
As the step-pivots become more accelerated or more sudden, they have to tighten up (like a skater's spin) and the sword thus passes through hassō gamae instead of jodan kamae at each turn. The sword comes only to the center just before again cutting in the new direction.

Are you sure you're talking about hasso no kamae? I still can't wrap my head around your points here. We're either not talking about the same 'hasso' or the same 'happogiri'. (right) Hasso no kamae, has the tsuka to the side of ones face, tip pointed up, left leg forward. Is that what you're talking about?

Erick Mead
04-19-2007, 02:23 PM
Are you sure you're talking about hasso no kamae? I still can't wrap my head around your points here. We're either not talking about the same 'hasso' or the same 'happogiri'. (right) Hasso no kamae, has the tsuka to the side of ones face, tip pointed up, left leg forward. Is that what you're talking about? If you also include gyakku hassō no kamae, which is right leg forward, sword on the left side of one's face, and then alternating for each change of direction in happo giri, then, yes we are talking about the same thing. Happo giri - "eight-direction cut." Happo undo with the sword.

This occurs in the ki no nagare because centering is more critical at speed. If you suddenly stopped moving in ki no nagare -- just after the step-pivot and just just before your next cut -- you are in hassō, with the tsuba by the ear or temple, the tsuka slightly forward and the kissaki slightly back, as opposed to jo dan, with sword fully up, centered on line and the blade tip all the way back.

It was just something that was pointed out to me at the time that I was learning different turning variations on the happo giri, and that the happo giri, hassō and the dharmachakra all relate to the same form.It is no great secret of the movement by any means, and there are other rhythms in which to do it that can go to jo dan. But that involves an extra half a beat in the movement to turn/raise/cut, where as the ki no nagare hassō transition is simply a one beat turn/cut, with the arms therefore doing far less and the hips doing proportionally more.

ChrisMoses
04-19-2007, 03:00 PM
This occurs in the ki no nagare because centering is more critical at speed. If you suddenly stopped moving in ki no nagare -- just after the step-pivot and just just before your next cut -- you are in hassō, with the tsuba by the ear or temple, the tsuka slightly forward and the kissaki slightly back, as opposed to jo dan, with sword fully up, centered on line and the blade tip all the way back.



Weird, I have never seen happo giri where the sword is brought to through this position, but rather it is brought overhead into a kiri-otoshi/shomen giri.

Erick Mead
04-19-2007, 04:29 PM
Weird, I have never seen happo giri where the sword is brought to through this position, but rather it is brought overhead into a kiri-otoshi/shomen giri. Obviously, do whatever your instructor prefers, but the several variations in the happo giri are very useful study if you find some one who plays with them. I had to go hunt some "movin' pic-chers" to help illustrate. Shoji Nishio shows this kind of positioning and flow in his turning cuts.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBCcj25NlJ8&mode=related&search=

He cuts in the first three seconds -- turning underneath an uke nagashi (another one of one of the happo giri variations, BTW) and coming to that modified hassō position to perform the te giri. In the last four seconds he flows from an upward do or mune cut, through a turning uke nagashi again and then again through the modified hassō for the cut. In neither case does he raise to jodan. In fact, even his hassō is darn near seigan with the tsuka.

In this you can see it in a somewhat more abbreviated form.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6feygETacI&mode=related&search=
Although the view is blocked somewhat by uchitachi's body, the view is actually in line with his final cut so you can see that the sword never comes to jodan and stays on his left side (gyakku hassō) until he flows into the final cut.

ChrisMoses
04-19-2007, 04:45 PM
Shoji Nishio shows this kind of positioning and flow in his turning cuts.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBCcj25NlJ8&mode=related&search=

He cuts in the first three seconds -- turning underneath an uke nagashi (another one of one of the happo giri variations, BTW) and coming to that modified hasso position to perform the te giri. In the last four seconds he flows from an upward do or mune cut, through a turning uke nagashi again and then again through the modified hasso for the cut. In neither case does he raise to jodan. In fact, even his hasso is darn near seigan with the tsuka.

That isn't hasso, he's just cutting back down along the path he cut up through. Totally different.

In this you can see it in a somewhat more abbreviated form.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6feygETacI&mode=related&search=
Although the view is blocked somewhat by uchitachi's body, the view is actually in line with his final cut so you can see that the sword never comes to jodan and stays on his left side (gyakku hasso) until he flows into the final cut.

Hmmmmmm..

I was taught both of those forms by Minouru Kurita Sensei (who studied sword with Nishio Sensei while he was an uchideshi under OSensei) as part of Seiki Ryu 'kenjutsu' and there is no hasso no kamae going on there. There are some yokomen giri/kesagiri movements. But I think it would be a huge leap (and a mistake) to associate any of those movements with hasso no kamae. It's clear his arms are extended (not bent as is necessary to be in hasso no kamae) throughout those movements. Cutting across the body does not amount to a kamae.

In the second clip, he never comes anywhere close to being in hasso. Hasso kamae has the blade pointing back behind the head, edge forward, but nearly vertical. That's not what's going on there. Don't mistake an abbreviated yokomengiri with hasso no kamae, they are very different beasts.

Erick Mead
04-19-2007, 11:54 PM
That isn't hasso, he's just cutting back down along the path he cut up through. Totally different. ...
Don't mistake an abbreviated yokomengiri with hasso no kamae, they are very different beasts. Where you see distinction, category and difference, I see relation, continuum and coherence of contingent forms. In-yo.

Cutting across the body does not amount to a kamae. In which you missed my point entirely. In ki no nagare, which was the express premise of my observaiton, there is no formal kamae at all, but the transitional hasso position is a point of relatively equal directional potential in the dynamic. That's all I am addressing in the context of the question which was for suggestions on how "hasso" relates to "eight phases" or "eight aspects" and the obvious geometry of the Dharmachakra and happo undo. Don't overwork the point of the discussion. :)

George S. Ledyard
04-20-2007, 09:19 AM
Where you see distinction, category and difference, I see relation, continuum and coherence of contingent forms. In-yo.

In which you missed my point entirely. In ki no nagare, which was the express premise of my observaiton, there is no formal kamae at all, but the transitional hasso position is a point of relatively equal directional potential in the dynamic. That's all I am addressing in the context of the question which was for suggestions on how "hasso" relates to "eight phases" or "eight aspects" and the obvious geometry of the Dharmachakra and happo undo. Don't overwork the point of the discussion. :)
I am sorry Erick, but I am with Chris on this, I don't see it.
- George

ChrisMoses
04-20-2007, 10:04 AM
In which you missed my point entirely. In ki no nagare, which was the express premise of my observaiton, there is no formal kamae at all, but the transitional hasso position is a point of relatively equal directional potential in the dynamic. That's all I am addressing in the context of the question which was for suggestions on how "hasso" relates to "eight phases" or "eight aspects" and the obvious geometry of the Dharmachakra and happo undo. Don't overwork the point of the discussion. :)

Sorry, but that's absurd. The logic that a static combative position draws its name from the fact that it's possible that maybe an eight direction cutting practice might move through the same space makes no sense whatsoever. Besides, none of the examples you've brought up have anything to do with the actual hasso kamae. Kamae are distinct concepts from where the sword is in space, the distinction is often lost in aiki-ken however.

kironin
04-20-2007, 10:08 AM
Chris is spot on.

I don't see what's going on has any relation to hasso no kamae.

Ethan Weisgard
04-20-2007, 02:40 PM
I found this Wikipedia text on the subject:

Hassō-gamae (八相構え:はっそうがまえ, Hassō-gamae), or more formally, hassō no kamae, and frequently shortened simply to hassō, is one of the five stances in kendo: jōdan, chūdan, gedan, hassō, and waki. It literally translates to "appearing-like-eight posture", as a swordsman in this posture resembles the Japanese ideogram for the number eight: 八. It is the ready position with the shinai held in a slight diagonal right by the right shoulder.

It is generally considered to be a variant of jōdan-gamae, therefore an aggressive posture but it is not commonly used. It is seen as the "Kamae of Wood", because the stance looks like a tree.

In Aiki,

Ethan Weisgard

ChrisMoses
04-20-2007, 03:02 PM
While this doesn't have much to do with the linguistic side of things, I should point out that hasso no kamae is something of a hold-over from older sword arts that were designed to be used while armored. It's very difficult to put the sword directly overhead with a kabuto (Japanese helmet), so those koryu that still practice in armor (or as if they were in armor) tend to use hasso no kamae much more than more modern (unarmored) systems that tend to use a more centered jodan kamae. If you get to watch TSKSR, they use hasso no kamae quite a bit. It's also much easier to cut at the targets that would have been exposed from hasso no kamae than from jodan kamae (neck, underarm, inside of the knee...). Kendo's emphasis on cutting downward (kiri otoshi/shomen giri) is in stark contrast to older arts that seldom used this mechanic. Just some FYI...

Kent Enfield
04-20-2007, 09:45 PM
I found this Wikipedia text on the subject: . . . While wikipedia can be useful for easily checkable facts, it is usually pretty poor when it comes to other things, especially martial arts. Over on kendo-world, there was a discussion about how one of the posters, a senior member of Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu, quickly gave up on trying to correct the entries on that art or Musashi, as they were always quickly edited back to the commonly accepted "correct" facts.

This seems to be similar case. Yes, hasso gets described as moku no kamae, but not because it looks like a tree. It's because that's what it's associated with in five-element theory, of which there are two specific applications (mutual production and mutual destruction). Chudan certainly doesn't look like water.

And "appearing-like-eight posture" seems to be playing a bit loose with the translation, especially to call it a literal translation. Leaving alone the translation of kamae as "posture", something more like "eight phases" or "eight aspects" would be much more literal. Yes, 相 ends up in compounds that get translated into English with "appearance", but in those cases, I think a more literal, but usually more clumsy, translation would be "countenance".

I think the forearms-looks-a-Japanese-eight is a back formation, like a lot of other martial arts "knowledge"--hakama hiding footwork, the pleats having spiritual significance, etc.

Erick Mead
04-20-2007, 10:24 PM
... the actual hasso kamae. Kamae are distinct concepts from where the sword is in space, the distinction is often lost in aiki-ken however. Neither point of which would I dispute, although the training focus in each case are different. At an early point in my training, when this essential teaching point was made to me, it made an impression. I have dwelt on it and things that were suggested by it, probably far more than was intended when it was made. I tend to do that with most things, occasionally I find useful things from it. Intended or not, it was fruitful for me.

My sense of flow was at that time constrained by attention to the elements of movements in themselves, lacking a sense of wholeness. From that observation I learned to frame kamae as not being things in themselves but as points along a continuum of unceasing action. I came, as a result, to also see the tai sabaki as more critical than the formal waza, and to see the commonality in the tai sabaki between nominally different waza. I began to look for essential shape instead of operative sequence.

Losing that sense of distinction in favor of relative shape and flow was a large part of improving my sword work. I gained in precision and ease of flow instead of choppy, indecisive speed. I found this very enlightening at the time. It also opened my sense of kamae -- my body's attention given to all eight corners, instead of merely to the front. Made randori a different experience. In retrospect, being shown the fuzzy edges of these categories seemed a revelation of sorts. To me it remains so, especially as mu-gamae is the presumed endpoint of all training in formal kamae.

As I said, I have no idea whether hasso no kamae has any provable historical or linguistic connection to happo undo. As I said the buddhist connection is a bit of a stretch. But even if it is an error, having them placing them together for my consideration turned out to be a very happy fault -- so I share it.

Ethan Weisgard
04-22-2007, 11:03 AM
Kent,

I think your points are very valid. That is why I am hoping that somewhere a more feasable explanation can be found for the term hassou no kamae. The Buddhistic reference is hard to see connected to the physical form of the kamae, so my feeling is that there is a more basic explanation of the etymology of the term.

In Aiki,

Ethan

Lan Powers
04-22-2007, 12:19 PM
A somewhat simple application of the hasso no kamae position that has yet to be mentioned is the movement pattern of the jo in assuming this kamae....not definitive by any means, but interestingly enough, vaguely "8" shaped as well.

Not ancient, not a numeral from Japan ...just a figure eight motion.

I am very interested in the original provenance "ken-based" as mentioned by the others previously, as I am sure the meaning is more likely found there.
Just an observation.
Lan

kironin
04-22-2007, 05:00 PM
Hasso no Kamae
Philosophical Interpretation

Also known as In no kamae as a feeling of waiting or inviting your opponent to attack. Also known as ki no kamae. The kamae of standing like a big tree thrusting upwards to heaven, quiet yet firm, with roots deep under ground. Cut by going through jodan position like the rush of a falling tree, unstoppable. A semi positive kamae, almost neutral but more than half attack and less half defense.
[Paul Budden Looking at a Far Mountain p.27]

-----

at least that is one view...

Ethan Weisgard
04-23-2007, 04:04 AM
Craig,

I think the philosophical interpretation is very good. It explains the "wood" aspect well, I believe. But the actual explanation of the term in connection with the physical form of the technique is still missing, in my opinion.

In Aiki,

Ethan

akiy
04-23-2007, 09:33 AM
A somewhat simple application of the hasso no kamae position that has yet to be mentioned is the movement pattern of the jo in assuming this kamae....not definitive by any means, but interestingly enough, vaguely "8" shaped as well.
Actually, I mentioned this and my personaly dissatisfaction with it in post #4 (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=175876&postcount=4). I am rather leaning to some sort of older definition which somehow relates the Buddhist "hassou" term to the ken kamae (which has both jodan and gedan components from what I've seen) somehow.

-- Jun

kironin
04-23-2007, 10:02 AM
Craig,

I think the philosophical interpretation is very good. It explains the "wood" aspect well, I believe. But the actual explanation of the term in connection with the physical form of the technique is still missing, in my opinion.


I think what you are looking for doesn't exist. This term isn't meant to convey information about the physical form.

The name Hasso no kamae it correctly tranlated as "eight-phase stance" and is a Buddhist terminology and what Kent said and Jun's leanings is the right direction. Some also call it kanshi no kamae or "watching stance". These various other names should be a clue to the idea that the name does not connect to the physical form but to a feeling or nature of the kind of stance it is.

ChrisMoses
04-23-2007, 11:06 AM
Hasso no Kamae
Philosophical Interpretation

Also known as In no kamae as a feeling of waiting or inviting your opponent to attack. Also known as ki no kamae. The kamae of standing like a big tree thrusting upwards to heaven, quiet yet firm, with roots deep under ground. Cut by going through jodan position like the rush of a falling tree, unstoppable. A semi positive kamae, almost neutral but more than half attack and less half defense.
[Paul Budden Looking at a Far Mountain p.27]

-----

at least that is one view...

I just pulled this book out yesterday to look up what they had to say about it. I think it's good to keep in mind that these terms as they were standardized in kendo would be the basis for many of the aikido shihan's ken work. Kendo is and was required in Japanese schools for boys, so even those aikidoka who did not study some other form of koryu kenjutsu would be familiar with kendo.

pugtm
04-24-2007, 11:58 AM
I concur.

The explanation I heard in Japan was that the scabbard and raised sword create the shape of the kanji for 8 [八] lying on its side. I have nothing more than anecdotal evidence for this so far.

Thisis almost actually when in kendo or iai we assume this kamea it does look like an 8 but its not the scabbards that make it look like an eight but the way we hold our arms. At least that is what our sensei told me i think its a little off but hey there the shodan in kendo not me.

Ethan Weisgard
04-25-2007, 11:43 AM
I think that the explanation of the shape of the arms resembling the kanji "hachi" seems quite logical. In general the terms that were used for the different kamae - especially the ones that are prevalent in most of the ryu-ha- seem to have fairly logical explanations: seigan / chudan kamae , wakigamae etc. The word "hassou" does translate as ".(Japanese) figure eight appearance" as well as having a reference to the Buddhistic term "Hassou" as mentioned in the other posts. I'm going to go for the practical explanation - it makes sense.

In Aiki,

Ethan