On Kakkofudo, and being invincible

articles blog Aug 08, 2022
 

"I am invincible" Maciej said as we were leaving the Dojo on Saturday morning. I knew what he meant, I think maybe more than he realized.

After morning training, I asked Maciej if he wouldn’t mind helping to film some Jutaijutsu forms we’d used that week as a sort of framework to begin the kamae. These were somewhat advanced forms, and I didn’t want to make small mistakes early on, so some self-review was in order.

kakkofudo (確固不動) means to be invincible. It’s an interesting  word I only know about because Sensei taught it to us one afternoon following training in the old Honbu Dojo. The discussion was centered on the purpose of Kobudo study and how it can make one live forever, (not immortal, that’s a different article). However, the term has stuck with me, along with both its illusions and truths.

Kakko (確固) translates as ‘resolute’ and Fudo (不動) meaning ‘immovable’ … the same kanji as in the tradition Shinden ‘Fudo’ Ryu 神傳不動流, we had just begun training.

I hadn't realized how much he'd hit the mat within the course of the four minutes we recorded, until I reviewed the video. I was too focussed on my own technique and trying to fix what was wrong with something I’d learned over 15 years ago.

Maciej joined the Dojo in his 40s, somewhat slender, and a much older man in his forties, than he is now over a decade later and a Yudansha in the Dojo.

He is younger, and he is stronger. I think his mind is also much more settled, having raised a family. He is much more flexible, and filled with happiness. He is resolute in his life as a man, firm in his skill enough to step into whatever is asked of his body and mind.

 

But … being slammed to the ground, by your gripped skin, joints locked, in a Dojo that's +80F inside, over and over ... is something that would devastate the body of most men his age, and much younger.

Well, most men are not like Maciej. You see, in the same time he spent training, most men lose muscle mass and gain fat. He did the exact opposite, by building significant muscle and chiseling his body into his fifties, all while being a strict vegan.

To remain young, it’s said that the body and mind must stay in continuous physical motion, it must keep moving, growing. The technique I asked him to assist me with, is furo shi nage (風呂仕投), the bathhouse throw. In the densho, it isn't explained as that, but rather, ‘continual momentum’.

The lion of age will eventually catch us all... but the man who fights this lion day after day, on the mat, in the gym, on his knees - and wins one day at a time - conquers a far more devastating opponent than he could ever face in a ring. To be at your physical and mental prime, after living a life that is long and meaningful, and physically push your body far beyond what most men are capable of - is indeed, Kakkofudo - invincible.

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