East Bay Buyu
East Bay Buyu:
Like Jazz, but with More Inner Game
Oakland-based martial arts group East Bay Buyu practices a relatively new method of martial arts – Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. This form is actually a conglomeration of nine different ancient Japanese practices brought together by founder Soke Hatsumi Masaaki four decades ago.
Unlike other martial arts traditions, Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu encourages improvisation and resourcefulness. To this end, warriors practice with their bare hands and makeshift weapons from their surrounding environment, in addition to swords and sticks. (For more information on these techniques, Gaku Homma explicates Taijutsu sword and open-hand movements in his book The Structure of Aikido.)
Providing further discussion about Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, East Bay Buyu maintains a blog (eastbaybuyu.blogspot.com/), in which the latest post (Wed May 28, 2008) compares Taijutsu with jazz musicianship by citing philosophical quotes about jazz that also apply to Taijutsu. Upon examination, the similarities between these two activities go even further than their common emphasis on improvisation. For instance, both jazz and Taijutsu are forms of art through which a person expresses their individual energy and emotion. Furthermore, both require an intense focus on the moment that completely absorbs the participant.
However the two activities are not exactly the same. Beyond the obvious difference of varied degrees of physicality, martial arts focus on an inner development beyond the level of most music instruction or athletic coaching. Beyond physical ability, leader of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, Soke Hatsumi Masaaki notes that his practice works to develop the ninja trait of a “benevolent heart” (jihi no kokoro), which is key to understanding aspects of justice, harmony and spirituality. Thus martial arts practices work to inform the character and perspective of an individual.
(Shi Ming and Siao Weijia further explore the mental aspect of martial arts in Mind Over Matter: Higher Martial Arts).
In short, East Bay Buyu is a group that fosters the learning of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, a new form that builds upon the Japanese martial art tradition by uniquely blending practices and encouraging improvisation.
This post was written by our editorial intern, Katherine Koller.