THE MEANING OF KOPPO
By Pete Reynolds
Hatsumi Sensei has said this is the year of Koppo, and as such has been talking a lot about it, but what is Koppo? Koppo is often associated with koppojutsu or bone attacking, and that's part of it, but now when Sensei talks about Koppo, he is talking about something much deeper. That being said, it's been very difficult to grasp the full meaning of what Koppo is.
Koppo has been translated as "the knack", as in the knack of fighting. This translation is good, but it doesn't convey what the knack is, specifically the knack to which Hatsumi Sensei refers.
The way Sensei has been explaining it, Koppo is the dissolving away of techniques and the elimination of intention. One example that he gave involved several sword schools whose foundation was never having the intention of cutting. This was superior because by not trying to cut, there was never a weakness exposed. The swordsman would move into the weak point of the attacking enemy, placing his sword in the right spot, and due to the characteristics of the blade and the natural movement of the human body, the opponent would actually cut himself. In like fashion by dissolving away your techniques, and intention of applying them, you will eliminate your weak points. The essence is to simply move into your opponent's weak spot with the proper timing and kamae (Of course by kamae, it is meant the complete feeling and spirit that truly is kamae, not just a static physical pose.) That's it, no more, no less.
Hatsumi Sensei said this past Friday night, that this is the first year that he has taught Koppo, and that he is just now ready and able to teach it, and that we are just now becoming capable of learning it. This speaks to the complexity and high level of what Koppo is. Like an onion that has many layers, Koppo, I'm sure, has many layers as well.