One thing of which Bujinkan is even famous, is the Sakki test. The purpose of the test is to detect a killing intention (from the name’s most common translation), and avoid it. It is used to test for fifth dan – because of which it is also called Godan test – also leading to receiving the teacher title shidôshi.
Takamatsu performed the test to Hatsumi as a surprise after leaving the room and returning stealthily – with a real sword cutting twice, Hatsumi avoiding them with ukemi. Undoubtedly god thing that Takamatsu estimated correctly that he was ready for the test…
In the Bujinkan shinai was chosen as the device, eventually being changed to soft(ish) sword to make it easier for the top of the head in case of hits.
In the earlier years Hatsumi performed the tests himself. Around 2001-2002 possible second attempts were given for the jûyondan (at the time) to perform, 2004 also first attempts. Eventually Hatsumi stopped performing them and tests started to be performed with his permission abroad without his presence – later also in Japan.
The test receiver sits on knees in seiza in front of the test performer and closes eyes ready to receive. The test performer touches the top of the receiver’s head with the sword before lifting it up, also closes eyes, and at a fitting moment delivers the killing intent and strikes towards the receiver’s head. If the receiver avoids at the right moment, the test has been passed, if not, there usually follows one or two retakes during that session. In the past it was required to avoid the strike completely with an ukemi, nowadays it’s enough to take one’s head out of the way while the strike stops at shoulder level.
The performer should be able to deliver the killing intent to ”push” the receiver away – while striking as silently as possible. Possible sources of sound are at least body movement, tightening the hold on the sword, unnecessary back-and-forth movement of the sword and change or breathing. The reason for this is obviously that the receiver has the chance to experience precisely the avodance of the killing intent.
The receiver is in a quite charged state while sitting there ready to receive – and after all it is quite a smart reaction to avoid when hearing an attack towards one’s head…
Because of the charged state there happens quite often false starts as the receiver avoids too early. After those one just has to find a zero state again to continue the test – despite that being not so easy.
After passing it is useful to analyze recollections of the test… after all, there are two possible reasons for passing: either detecting the killing intent and avoiding at the right moment – or a false start happened by chance at the right moment. The full realization might not be reached on that matter, but it is not a bad thing to develop knowledge of yourself…
Also the performer should analyze what happened… on both conclusions. Was the test performed properly?
Thinking about the function of the test, easiest comparison might be spontaneously turning head when noticing someone staring outside of the previous field of vision, or watching the vigilance of animals. Some kind of voiceless communication is transmitted between bodies.
Jukka Nummenranta, daishihan, dôjô-chô
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