Thread: "Muto"
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Old 03-02-2005, 10:10 AM   #7
akiy's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 5,999
Re: "Muto"

Hi Dave,

I just took a few minutes to translate some of the relevant sections from the "Heiho Kadensho" on "Muto no Jutsu." These are taken from the book, "Budo Hidensho" which was written/compiled in 1968 by Yutaka (I think:豊 ) Yoshida. The original text of the "Heiho Kadensho" was written, according to the introduction, in 1632. The following is all my translation, so all errors in doing such are mine.

Loosely translated from the section, "The truths regading 'muto no jutsu'":
Regarding the "Muto no jutsu" (the techniques/tactics of "muto"), it does not have to mean that we must always take away the opponent's sword. Also, it is not showing that one can take away the opponent's sword and make it into an achievement. It is the technique of not being cut when you do not have a sword yourself. The spirit of trying to take away the sword is not essential.

Some commentary on the text states (translated), "The "Muto Dori" of Yagyu Shingan ryu is rather famous, but there is no scarcity of the number of interpretations of its contents and meaning. [...] When faced with a person who is wielding a live blade and without the benefit of armor, the "muto no jutsu" required to take away the sword is, in essence, throwing yourself into the worst possible situation yet still being able to achieve victory."
Loosely translated from the next section, "Victory is in not getting cut":
One does not have to always take away a sword of a person who does not want his sword taken. In other words, an opponent with his heart set on not having his sword taken has forgotten how to cut; because he is too busy thinking about not having his sword taken, he will be unable to cut. In this situation, this is victorious for us as we are not going to get cut. Taking away the opponent's sword is not the objective; rather, we are training not to be cut when we are without a sword.

The techniques of "muto" are not aimed at taking away the opponent's sword, but rather, to be able to use the available tools around you freely. If you have the ability to take away your partner's sword, then it will not matter what your partner wields. So, you may be able to face a sword-wielding opponent with just a fan and still come out victorious. This is the crux of the "muto no jutsu." If you are walking aroung with a bamboo cane without your sword, even if someone tries to cut you with a very long sword, you may be able to deflect with your cane, perhaps taking away your partner's sword or not as the case may be, be able to control your partner, and end up not getting cut; that is victory. Take this into consideration as the crucial meaning of the "muto no jutsu."
Loosely translated from "The core of muto is maai."
The objective of "muto no jutsu" is not to take away your opponent's sword nor to cut your opponent. Take away the sword from your opponent when he has the intention of doing nothing else but cutting you, but do not have the intention of taking away the sword from the beginning.

The primary objective of "muto no jutsu" is to take proper maai. You need to understand at which distance you can be with a sword-wielding opponent and still not be able to get cut. If you understand this distance, then you will have no fear of being cut; also, if you know that you can get cut, you can work on the tactics opposing that situation. You will not be able to use "muto no jutsu" without being in the range of having one's flesh cut. You will only be able to take away the sword if you are in a position of being cut - in other words, by getting cut, you can take away the sword.
Loosely translated from "Enter under the handle of your opponent's sword":
In "muto no jutsu," have the intention of using your bare hands as weapons when your partner is wielding a sword. Because a sword is long and your arms are relatively short, unless you enter into your partner's body to the point of being in danger of getting cut, this tactic will not work. However, is it really possible to take away your opponent's sword? In order to achieve that, you must enter through the distance of your opponent's blade and enter under your partner's sword handle. Of course, this may not be possible depending on the time and place, but unless you are willing to go into your partner's body, it will be impossible to take away the sword.
I have to say that the "Heiho Kadensho" is a very interesting text with good insights (in my opinion) into budo.

Hope that helps,

-- Jun

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