Ten-Chi-Jin: A Comparison of Eastern and Western Philosophies

Ten, Chi, Jin

The Japanese concept of TenChiJin is a fundamental principle in martial arts that represents the interconnectedness of heaven, earth, and man. In this article, we will explore the origins of Ten, Chi, Jin in Hinduism and its comparison with Western philosophies like the Christian trinity.

Ten-Chi-Jin: Origins and Meaning

Ten, Chi, Jin is a concept that originated in Japan but has its roots in Hinduism. In Hinduism, the Trimurti represents the three aspects of the divine: Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), and Shiva (the destroyer). Similarly, Ten, Chi, Jin represents the three dimensions of existence: 天 Ten (heaven), 地 Chi (earth), and 人 Jin (man).

Ten represents the divine or spiritual realm, while Chi represents the physical or material world. Jin represents humanity and the connection between the spiritual and physical realms. The concept of Ten, Chi, Jin emphasizes the interdependence and harmony between these three aspects of existence.

Ten-Chi-Jin and Western Philosophies

While Ten, Chi, Jin has its roots in Hinduism, there are similarities between this concept and Western philosophies like the Christian trinity. The Christian trinity represents the belief in one God in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Similarly, Ten, Chi, Jin recognizes the interconnectedness of three distinct entities. In both concepts, there is an emphasis on the importance of the balance and harmony between these entities.

However, there are also differences between these concepts. The Christian trinity emphasizes the unity of the three persons, while Ten, Chi, Jin recognizes the individuality of each element.


Ten-Chi-Jin in Martial Arts

In martial arts, the concept of Ten, Chi, Jin is fundamental. Martial artists use this principle to understand the interconnectedness between their physical techniques, their mental focus, and their spiritual development.

For example, a punch can be seen as a manifestation of Jin, as it is a physical expression of the power that comes from both heaven (Ten) and earth (Chi). By understanding this concept, martial artists can learn to balance their physical techniques with their mental and spiritual development, leading to a more holistic approach to their practice.

The Importance of Balance and Harmony

One of the key aspects of Ten, Chi, Jin is the emphasis on balance and harmony. Martial artists who understand this concept can learn to balance their physical techniques with their mental and spiritual development. By doing so, they can become more effective practitioners, not just in their physical techniques but also in their overall approach to martial arts.


In conclusion, Ten, Chi, Jin is a fundamental concept in Japanese martial arts that represents the interconnectedness of heaven, earth, and man. While it has its roots in Hinduism, there are similarities between this concept and Western philosophies like the Christian trinity. By understanding this concept, martial artists can learn to balance their physical techniques with their mental and spiritual development, leading to a more holistic approach to their practice. The key to success in martial arts lies in achieving balance and harmony between these three aspects of existence.

Yudansha – Bujinkan Black Belt Guide

Discover the essential techniques of Bujinkan Dojo with Mats Hjelm’s “Yudansha.” This comprehensive manual is based on the Japanese concept of Ten, Chi, Jin, providing a practical and holistic approach to mastering this ancient martial art.

With detailed descriptions and accompanying photographs, “Yudansha” offers a step-by-step guide to striking, throwing, grappling, and weapons techniques. But it’s more than just a technique manual – it’s a guide to personal growth and spiritual development.

By applying the Ten, Chi, Jin principle to your training, you’ll not only become a more skilled martial artist but also a more balanced and harmonious person. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced practitioner, “Yudansha” is an essential addition to your library. Order your copy today and take the first step on your journey to mastery.

Martial Arts and the Neuroscience of Free Will

Martial Arts and the Neuroscience of Free Will


I will try to explain Japanese martial arts and the Neuroscience of Free Will in this article. The three approaches of Go no sen, sen no sen, and sen sen no sen have been used for centuries to develop effective strategies for both offensive and defensive manoeuvres.

However, the scientific study of human behaviour has challenged our traditional understanding of free will and decision-making, calling into question how much control we have over our actions. In recent years, advances in neuroscience have shed new light on the nature of free will and how these martial arts concepts may relate to it.

The Three Timings in Japanese Martial Arts

Let’s start with the three timings.

後の先 Go no sen is a reactive strategy, where the practitioner waits for the opponent to initiate the attack before countering.

先の先 Sen no sen is a more proactive approach, where the practitioner responds to the opponent’s attack as it is happening.

先先の先 Sen sen no sen is the most proactive strategy, where the practitioner initiates the attack before the opponent has a chance to act.

All three of these strategies require different levels of skill, awareness, and timing. The choice of strategy can depend on a variety of factors, such as the practitioner’s level of experience, the nature of the opponent’s attack, and the context of the situation.

Bereitschaftspotential: Martial Arts and the Neuroscience of Free Will

Neuroscience and Free Will

The question of free will has been a topic of debate among philosophers and scientists for centuries. According to traditional views, we have the ability to make decisions freely, without being determined by outside forces. However, recent research in neuroscience has suggested that our decisions may not be as freely made as we previously thought.

One of the key findings in this field is the Bereitschaftspotential, a phenomenon discovered by Hans Helmut Kornhuber and Lüder Deecke in the 1960s. This term refers to the readiness potential that occurs in the brain before a voluntary movement is made. In other words. The brain shows activity related to a movement before the person is aware of having made a decision to move.

The Relationship Between the Three Timings and Free Will

The concepts of free will and neuroscience may have a relationship with the three timings in Japanese martial arts. One possibility is that the timing choice reflects a decision-making process in the brain. For instance, the decision to use a reactive strategy like go no sen may involve a different neural process than the decision to use a proactive strategy like sen sen no sen. These distinct neural processes might be reflected in the Bereitschaftspotential or other neural signals associated with decision-making.

Another possibility is that the martial arts concepts of timing are not related to free will in the traditional sense. Instead, they reflect a different kind of agency or control over one’s actions. For example, a skilled practitioner using all three timings might respond to an attack in a manner not predetermined by unconscious processes in the brain. They could instead choose a timing that is best for the situation, based on their training and experience.

Personal Experiences

We have all witnessed Hatsumi Soke’s ability to move swiftly when attacked. Without an understanding of the Bereitschaftspotential as described earlier, it may appear as though the opponent is assisting him. Personally, I have also experienced similar situations with Hatsumi Soke and others, wherein I had already made the decision to attack but the person I intended to attack had already begun moving. At that point, it was too late for me to change my plans.

On one occasion, Noguchi Sensei stopped my movement three times in a row by ‘flinching’ at the exact moment when I made the decision to attack. I couldn’t help but stop and freeze in my tracks. He laughed at my frustration, and that was a very valuable lesson.


To conclude, the three timings in Japanese martial arts and the neuroscience of free will are both captivating subjects that offer a glimpse into the human behaviour. Though the relationship between them remains incompletely comprehended, further exploration may help elucidate how our actions are determined and how we can cultivate effective decision-making strategies in various situations.



KYOKETSU-SHOGE AND NAGE-NAWA. This article is about the weapon (actually farm tool). At the end is a video (from Bujinkan Kaigozan Dojo previous week).


Kyoketsu-shoge (距跋渉毛) translates as “to run about in the fields and mountains”. It is one of the weapons used in Togakure-ryu and Kumogakure-ryu.

This weapon is believed to be the forerunner of Kusarigama. Wikipedia says it is a double edged blade with a curve edged blade attached. I don’t believe that was true. I think the double edged blade was just as dull as the Kunai. And only the inside of the curved blade was sharp.

The Kyoketsu-shoge was used by the rural peasantry class from the Iga province. If they was caught with something that looked too much like a weapon, they might have been executed on the spot.

Kyoketsu-shoge as it probably looked hundreds of years ago. Except the rope, it was made of hair.

I think it was a multi purpose farm tool. You dig the earth, cut the grass, tie up the grass with the rope etc. Why would a farm tool have chain. Rope made of hair was less suspicious. The farmer could stick into his belt and not cause too much attention.



Nage-nawa 投げ縄 (rope throwing) is not as easy as it looks. The trick is to throw the loop and make sure the rear end of the loop passes on the other side of the hand.

On the video below I show you two common techniques we in the Bujinkan Dojo use at demonstrations. In the first technique I hit down on his hands to unarm him. Threaten him with the blade and protect the sword (we had no room to do this on camera).

Throw the ring towards his head. He steps to the side and catch it. Yank it out of his grip and prepare for the throwing. Do the first loop around his hand. He grab the rope with his other hand. Make it look like a tug of war. Loop his other hand.

Blind his eyes with the rope (or Shuriken, powder etc), he covers his eyes with the hand. Continue and loop the rope around his hand and neck.

He kicks. You do Kerikaeshi and take him down. Tie him up more with the rope. Put the blade to his neck and cut his neck.

The second technique he is attacking you and you deflect withe the blade and strike with the ring behind you to hit him. Loop the sword and yank it out of his grip. Loop his hands and neck as previous technique.

Do these techniques with good choreography and acting and it will look good in demonstrations.

Yes I know looping around the sword and yanking, the sword would probably just cut the rope. Even looping around his hands he can cut the rope. These techniques is mostly for demonstrations and just fun training.


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Last Tuesday I practiced BŌ-SHURIKEN at KAIGOZAN DOJO. I made up my own Bō-shuriken Kata. I will explain below. Enjoy!

I’m not going into detail how to start practicing because it is too difficult explaining. But basically you always start close to the Makiwara. I tell my students to start close. When the Shuriken is hitting the target good, they should take one short step back. If the next Shuriken does not hit good, do not step back until the next Shuriken hit good. If they manage to hit with all five Shuriken, they can start further away and repeat. As long as all five hit good they can start working on longer distances. When learning a new throw or with the non dominant hand you always start close.

Scroll down to see the video.


This is the order I throw the Shuriken. I’m throwing the 4’th Shuriken with my left hand. So I prepared by flipping it with the point outward.


Prepare by taking this Kamae. Aim with the left hand against the target and hold the right hand over the right shoulder and head. Zanshin.


1. Migi Hon-uchi. Shift the weight forward to the left foot and throw the first Shuriken with the right hand. Bring the left hand to the left hip.


2. Migi Yoko-uchi. Step forward with the right foot and throw directly from the left hip as you would do an Ura-shutō with the right hand.


3. Migi Gyaku-uchi. Step forward with the left foot behind as in Yoko-aruki. Throw the third Shuriken from under with the right hand. Use the momententum from the left step to increase the power.


4. Hidari Yoko-uchi. Spin around anti-clockwise and throw the fourth Shuriken with the left hand directly.


5. Migi Hon-uchi. Finish by throwing the fifth and last Shuriken with the right hand.

Analyse your Shuriken hits.

As you can see only one Shuriken hit good. Most Shuriken are “dead” and only one is “live”. The rear end of the Shuriken should be lower than where it hit, if it is higher the weight is not going into the target so much. It is rather going upward. These hits are called “dead”. When the Shuriken is completely level or the rear end is lower than the tip it is called “live”.

I did a Gyaku-uchi where the rotation was the opposite way. I don’t know which Shuriken that was, maybe it was “live”. Also the two Yoko-uchi might also be “live” as it was rotating sideways.


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Gikan-ryū Koppōjutsu and my JapanTrip#48

On my last trip Noguchi Sensei surprised us by teaching Gikan-ryū Koppōjutsu. I think he just recently decided to start teaching this Ryū-ha. He said he learned the techniques from Hatsumi Sōke four years ago in a private session.

I have trained techniques that was claimed to be Gikan-ryū by western teachers before. I did not see any similarity what so ever, this was completely different.

There is 10 techniques in all, they don’t have any names. He showed us his notes and it was 3-4 pages with descriptions of the techniques. I attended two of the Gikan-ryū trainings he did in November this year. Fortunately I got to train all 10 techniques (I think?) with a lot of henka. It was a blast training with such good friends as Ari (Dai Shihan from Finland) and Philip (Dai Shihan from Denmark).

I’m not gonna give any descriptions here, but Noguchi Sensei said that the characteristics of this school is to attack the opponent from the side. Several techniques you hit his kidney. Many strikes was done with Ura-ken for example.

This inspired me to create a new page to the web site, click the button below.

Nagato Sensei on his first day as Shindenfudō-ryū Sōke

Earlier this year I heard that Ishizuka Sensei had been appointed as the new Sōke of Gyokkō-ryū. Now Nagato Sensei said that he had been appointed as the new Sōke of Shindenfudō-ryū. At the Buyukai I heard rumours about Noguchi Sensei was going to be the next Kotō-ryū Sōke (which now has been confirmed). No one has been appointed Sōke for Gikan-ryū yet, but I have my suspicions.

Sōke is now 88 years old

88 is an important number in Japanese, not only because it is a “double infinity”, but…. The eighty-eighth birthday is the occasion of beiju (米寿), “rice age”, because the Chinese character for rice, 米, looks like the characters for eight tens plus eight (八十八).

Hatsumi Sōke imitating Frank Sinatra, he looked so cool.

Hatsumi Sōke was in a good mood this trip. His knees are weak so he have trouble getting up and down on the floor so we do standing bow ins and outs in the training now.

Senō Sensei said a few years ago, he felt energised during Hatsumi Sōke’s birthday because there was so many familiar places coming and giving him good energy. I think Hatsumi Sōke feels the same way.

I have added several more pictures on the Kaigozan Dōjō Instagram page.

New Books and DVD
New Ninjatō DVD and Book. Also a relatively new Mutōdori Book now in the collection.