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Stephen K. Hayes - Unleash your Potential

Toshitsugu Takamatsu - Stephen K. Hayes' Teacher's Teacher


Kofuku no Shiori

by Toshitsugu Takamatsu, 33rd Headmaster of Togakure ryu ninja martial arts, teacher of Masaaki Hatsumi, who taught Stephen and Rumiko Hayes

The way to experience happiness is to let go of all worries and regrets.
Being happy is the most satisfying of life's feelings.
Reflect back on all the progress in your life and allow the positive, creative, joyous thoughts to outshine and overwhelm any sorrow or grief that may be lingering there in the recesses of your mind.
Happiness is waiting there in front of you.
Only you can decide whether or not you choose to experience it.

By the time grandmaster Toshitsugu Takamatsu approached mid-eighties in age in the early 1970s, he felt that attaining contentment in life was the point of everything we do in life, including training to gain prowess in the martial arts. He wrote this "Essay on Happiness" as a comment on what is truly important in life.

It should be noted that he does not talk about toughness, the ability to hurt people, or the thrill of conquering others in order to make oneself more important. This statement of the value of life is the essence of martial arts training as seen from the end of the career of one of the toughest battlers who lived in the wildness of the war years of Japan. 


Interview with Toshitsugu Takamatsu

The following 1963 Tokyo Sports newspaper article is from a special series of articles on "the last ninja", the story of 33rd Togakure ryu ninjutsu grandmaster Toshitsugu Takamatsu, who died in 1972. At the time of the newspaper article, Masaaki Hatsumi was 31 years old, just the age that Stephen K. Hayes was when he and Rumiko moved back to America to introduce Hatsumi Sensei's art of the ninja to the western world. Hatsumi Sensei gave a copy of the article to Rumiko Urata Hayes and suggested that she translate it for SKH Quest Center members. The text from 1963 follows:


The Last Ninja

Toshitsugu Takamatsu Sensei says, "When I was 14 or 15 years old, sometime during the thirties of the Meiji era (first decade of the 1900s), I used to play the ball game cricket with members of the British Navy in a Kobe city park. I was a very fast runner, and in those days I had the nickname "Kisha" (meaning a fast locomotive). Once I got on base, I never failed to steal another base. I was very good at sliding. Once I was on base, our team knew that we would score a point."

Toshitsugu Takamatsu began training in the martial arts in his childhood, and he seemed to have the natural capacity to become a ninja. "I am 74 years old, but whenever I meet someone, I tell them I am 18. That way I start to believe I am 18. Even now, whenever I have a match with a judo player, I am sure to throw him once I get my hands on the collar of his gi. As for a boxer, you take a fighting pose with one arm extended out, to make it difficult for him to find an opening for his punches. A ninja uses a ninja's strategy for fighting."

The reporter asked Takamatsu Sensei, "What would you do against a professional wrestler?"

He replied without a pause, "Even in Kashiwabara City (the small town in the mountains south of Kyoto and west of Iga where Takamatsu-sensei lived) there were wrestling matches with such famous wrestlers as Rikidozan (Western style pro wrestler famous in post WWII Japan) and others. Certainly professional wrestlers are in great shape, so if they really fought in a serious way, it would be difficult for a match to last very long. The reason they can fight for so long is that they are careful to avoid damage to vital spots. That is why they can have match after match from one day to the next. If they bite, they use their lower teeth to the forehead in order to draw lots of blood in a very visible way. When they stomp to the stomach, they coordinate it with an out breath. In professional wrestling, there are rules, and these rules are observed very carefully."

This is Takamatsu Sensei's interpretation. I asked if a modern ninja like him could win in a fight with Rikidozan or other famous wrestlers?

"If I had to fight Rikidozan, there is only one way for me to win. Of course, if he can hit me first with his karate, I would lose. So then what is my winning method? I would use both palms to his ears with a sharp strike. This is the ninja's happa-ken ("eight-leaves fist" sharp palm smack) strike. When I use this strike, it breaks both eardrums. Even a powerful man like Rikidozan would wind up with a concussion. If this happa-ken is used as a part of modern fighting arts, it will produce power as great as or even more fearsome than Rikidozan's karate."