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Old 04-18-2007, 05:33 AM   #1
Ethan Weisgard
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Hasso no Kamae

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
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Old 04-18-2007, 06:09 AM   #2
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

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

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Old 04-18-2007, 06:38 AM   #3
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

Quote:
Ethan Weisgard wrote: View Post
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.
Quote:
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.

Kentokuseisei
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Old 04-18-2007, 08:19 AM   #4
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

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:

Quote:
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".

-- Jun

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Old 04-18-2007, 11:02 AM   #5
Ethan Weisgard
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote: View Post
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".

-- 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
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:27 AM   #6
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote: View Post
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.

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Old 04-18-2007, 11:59 AM   #7
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

Quote:
Jun Akiyama wrote: View Post
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/...no_kamae_g.jpg

The forearms look a bit like 八.

Last edited by Mashu : 04-18-2007 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 04-18-2007, 02:33 PM   #8
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Ki Symbol Re: Hasso no Kamae

Quote:
Ethan Weisgard wrote: View Post
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" [ ] 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.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 04-18-2007, 02:46 PM   #9
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

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.
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Old 04-18-2007, 03:06 PM   #10
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
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.

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Old 04-18-2007, 10:43 PM   #11
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

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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.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 04-19-2007, 12:27 AM   #12
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

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
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Old 04-19-2007, 03:51 AM   #13
Ethan Weisgard
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

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
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Old 04-19-2007, 04:00 AM   #14
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

I also have the impression that it is the shape of the arm in the sword kamae that lead to the name.

/J

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Old 04-19-2007, 11:00 AM   #15
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
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?

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Old 04-19-2007, 01:23 PM   #16
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

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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.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 04-19-2007, 02:00 PM   #17
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
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.

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Old 04-19-2007, 03:29 PM   #18
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

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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=lBCcj...elated&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=w6fey...elated&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.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 04-19-2007 at 03:35 PM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 04-19-2007, 03:45 PM   #19
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

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Erick Mead wrote: View Post
Shoji Nishio shows this kind of positioning and flow in his turning cuts.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBCcj...elated&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.

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
In this you can see it in a somewhat more abbreviated form.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6fey...elated&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.

Last edited by ChrisMoses : 04-19-2007 at 03:52 PM.

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Old 04-19-2007, 10:54 PM   #20
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

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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.

Quote:
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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.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 04-20-2007, 08:19 AM   #21
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 04-20-2007, 09:04 AM   #22
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

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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.

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Old 04-20-2007, 09:08 AM   #23
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

Chris is spot on.

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

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Old 04-20-2007, 01:40 PM   #24
Ethan Weisgard
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

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,

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Old 04-20-2007, 02:02 PM   #25
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Re: Hasso no Kamae

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...

Chris Moses
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