Modern Metsubushi Concepts

When I was a kid, we watched "professional" wrestling...alot. We were sort of dense, we did not quite understand that the winners and losers were decided before the match. So, we never understood how a "Referee" could be so blind to the truth. Blatant cheating was never caught and whenever the "good guy" did the slightest thing wrong, he was always busted. It made for good, addictive entertainment looking back.

So, we had many misconceptions from watching this nonsense. We would hear the "Commentator" scream into the microphone, "Oh...and a CHOP to the THROAT!" [Gasp!]

When I started in Jujutsu, my world was crushed, I found out this was all fake. I was almost ten years old, after all... I found out that a Shuto [Karate "Chop"] to the throat was often fatal and one of the most vital weapon/target combinations a person can have in their arsenal. My Instructor told me, "If you donít believe itís fake, watch it closely, they are hitting the pectoral muscles high in the chest..." Sadly, he was right and it doesn't take a masters in health administration or a masters in communication to understand. You cannot grow muscle over the trachea and you cannot survive with a crushed trachea.

Pro-Wrestlers most certainly are some tough human beings, and they do get injured and they have a great capability to injure someone that would attack them. However, itís not real...many things are not real... [I just had to say that so this does not look like simply a slamming commentary on Pro-Wrestling]

So, I would walk through the door on a Saturday, my Mother is sitting there watching two dudes pounding on one another for money, and she is screaming at the TV like someone possessed. Then I saw something that I had probably watched as a child but for some reason, I forgot...

A Japanese Tag-Team [They were probably brothers and owned a Law Firm in Wisconsin or something in real life], well, one of them reached into the waistband of his shorts and rubbed his fingers into his palm...and then he blasted the other guy in the face with a handful of salt.

So, I sat down and watched this. And my Mother is screaming, "You cheatiní sonsabitches!" I always reminded my Mother when she would read The Enquirer, "The only thing scarier than the stories in The Enquirer are the people that read The Enquirer and actually believe those stories..." The same applies to pro-Wrestling.

So, she is believing all of this is reality, on the TV. Now I am rather intrigued...Iím watching this, I get up and walk away. The mind is moving now...

This would have been about 1984, "The Ninja Craze" was in full swing, hand in hand with "The Balisong Craze..." So, I began to do some reading...

Whatever meager allowance I was given, whatever money I could earn, I spent on books and magazines. I bought my first piece of junk Balisong Knife in that time period as well. I was into both of these "Crazes" full swing [pun fully intended].

I must have driven my Instructor to drink heavily, I was always dragging books into class for him to explain movements. Mostly books by Stephen K. Hayes. Some concepts Hayes would write about, I was intensely interested in. Sometimes I received a good answer and sometimes I was scolded.

I would read about metsubushi, the use of powders and all sorts of things to either vanish or to blind someone so you could either exit or damage them. This was appealing to me, I thought back to the fake wrestling, right? Common sense, salt in your eyes would hurt.

After awhile, my Mother could be heard in the bathroom, "Where is all the baby powder?" She would be in the kitchen, "Where is all of my salt and flour?" I was out in the woods experimenting, you see...

Enter The Ninja

So, do you remember the rather bad Sho Kusogi "Ninja" movies? I already had the low-down from Shidoshi Hayesí books that these movies had nothing to do with Ninjutsu except to cash in on it. It was sort of neat to see the smoke bombs and whatnot though. So...Iím in the woods, Iím using anything in the house I can to figure things out for myself. Iím dusting trees, bushes, anything I can. Iím having a ball. My Mother is pissed and has to run to the store just to make Christmas cookies, but me, Iím in the woods and Iím lighting everything up.

Whole portions of the woods have turned white from flour and baby powder, ants are dying from salt poisoning...Iím having fun.

So, I had this friend, the same age, and he was taking Shotokan at the time. We would have these discussions about Jujutsu and Shotokan, and we thought we were the Kings of the World. We knew everything! One day, we were screwing around in the backyard and I dusted him with an aspirin bottle of flour. If we put aside the fact he was extremely pissed, it worked like a charm. He was gagging and rubbing his eyes, and I became the dirtiest bastard in the world at that moment. It worked!

Stephen K. Hayes

"A second method of creating the effect of invisibility is to take away the perceiverís capability of sight. This method includes smoke bombs and smoke screens, chemical gases and sprays used as eye irritants, metsubushi blinder clouds of ash, sand and iron filings and intense flashes of bright light, all of which render the perceiverís sight temporarily useless."

Do you see the Gateway that Shidoshi Hayes opened?

Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi

[The following are excerpts from the December 1996 Issue of "Ninja Magazine," once in a while, this magazine had a great article in it, this was one of them.]

"If he (or she) was discovered or faced with possible capture, more often than not the agent was probably outnumbered by the enemy. In order to Ďequalizeí the odds, the Ninja had to develop a method that would provide him with time, even if it was only a fleeting moment, so that he could bring into play other Ninjutsu techniques that would ensure his safety...

The technique of metsubushi (sight removers) involves a very wide range of eye blinders, not just powder-like substances thrown at attackers: dirt, mud, gravel, sand, pebbles, stones, ashes, ground pepper, nettle hairs, oil, water, poison liquids, smoke and explosives are just some of the many ingredients that may be used. Equally wide-ranging and diverse are the containers which these sight removers were carried in...

...One particularly interesting and ornate container is called the sokutoku. Often worn around the neck like a decorative pendant, it would not arouse undue suspicion; but in an instant it could be a most effective means of subduing an enemy with a single breath. The hollowed out device is usually filled with ground pepper then plugged with a pencil-thin stopper attached to a thin line. When attacked the Ninja merely brought the sokutoku to his mouth, removed the plug and blew hard into the mouthpiece.

[Other methods of metsubushi] ...These would include methods of headbutting your opponent, poking your finger or snapping a towel in his eyes, or the use of neko te iron claws. Even reflecting the sunlight off a drawn sword blade into the enemyís eyes is a part of this."

Hatsumi Sensei also mentions that punching the nose to cause uncontrollable lacramation is metsubushi. Cutting the forehead so that blood runs into the eyes, or cutting/thrusting directly to the eyes, these are metsubushi. Youíre beginning to see the Big Picture, yes?

Enter The Dragon

So, I had a copy of Sifu Bruce Leeís "Tao of Jeet Kune Do" from the local library and I began to study that. I began to understand from being in fights, that alot of things that were taught in Jujutsu you could see coming from a mile away ["Telegraphed"] and people could dodge them. And I knew Shotokan had the same problems, and then after I hooked up with a guy who was taking Isshin-Ryu [forgive me if the spelling is incorrect, it looks wrong] and even that Martial Art suffered from the same illness.

Sifu Leeís eye jab was used alot and the more I worked it, the smoother and faster it became. It was great, you just shot the hand out with the fingers extended and boom! You were in someoneís eyes! Even if you missed, you created the opening as the person flinched. Like the Fencerís direct thrust that Lee was inspired by in part, it almost always lands...

The Finger Jab [Thrusting Spearhand, etc.] existed in Jujutsu, but the whole concept as taught was not as "scientific" and focused on...therefore, it often did not work.

The Concept Expanded

So, what exactly is "metsubushi?" Well, it is a concept as I understand it. Iíve given you a few examples. Literally striking the eye, as in the infamous and effective JKD Eye Jab, that is metsubushi. Throwing some powder that is purposely carried for that reason, that is metsubushi.

What else? If you are walking out of the 7-11 and someone pulls a knife on you and screams at you, "Gimme your wallet!" And you then fumble with one hand like you are grabbing your wallet, and you pop the lid on the coffee cup quietly and easily with a fingertip and project the hot coffee in their face, that is metsubushi.

MACE, CN/CS "Tear Gas," O.C. Pepper Spray, these things are metsubushi and are about the best things the person interested in this method can carry. They are ready-made and they are accepted in most areas. Check your laws, in some areas, they are highly illegal.

So, in areas where you cannot carry a can of O.C. Pepper Spray, how can you utilize the projectile concept of metsubushi? Simple, you can carry a container of salt even on an airliner, right? Itís for food. Baby Powder would raise some eyebrows if you were searched on a city street, given the every day hysteria we live under with regard to everything...some idiot would probably arrest you for a controlled dangerous substance. Then, when the tests came back negative, any folding knife or whatever else you were carrying would be held against you as additional charges so you did not sue them for the "Baby Powder Arrest." Thatís the way that works, you see...

So, we have salt and we have pepper as legal alternatives. Pepper is lighter than salt, both will work, I just think salt is better. The baby powder and flour, they most certainly are more "visual" to the bystander, more dramatic in effect, but they are not practically superior. And you can carry them in your "off" or "weak" side pocket in a 35mm film container. You can pop the lid off with your thumb while the container is still in the pocket.

Weíre not done yet, however...

Michael D. Echanis and The Infamous "Black Book."

Michael D. Echanisí "Black Book," otherwise known as, "Knife Fighting/Knife Throwing for Combat" has an excellent section on throwing edged weapons. Knives and Shuriken, to be exact.

Many do not understand the Shuriken. One group of people think throwing stars are "killing" weapons and the other group thinks theyíre trash, or in the immortal words of Bill Bagwell in a 1980s Soldier of Fortune "Battle Blades" article on them, "metal confetti."

In the proper context, Shuriken, both "star" and "spike" forms, are effective. They are distractions, and in a way, they are a form of metsubushi onto themselves. Human Beings have a natural fear of having their eyes put out. Used properly, thrown items work extremely well, and a multi-pointed Shuriken could too. It is common sense. The spike forms of Shuriken are like very small throwing knives and they require a greater degree of skill...learning how to throw multi-point "star" and spike Shuriken can carry over to throwing other things accurately. See the connection?

The end of this book is very good (the entire book is worth having on your shelf too) and the very last set of photographs depict a scooping of the foot on the ground to obtain a rock to throw.

Now, some folks will scoff at this. Some will say it is delving into utter nonsense, but there is some serious food for thought here. The toe of the shoe can be used to "scoop" some dirt or sand as well, and this can be flung into the face of an attacker... It is not as outlandish as it might seem.

Other portions of the book depict various rolls and during the roll, retrieving a weapon and during the completion of the roll, coming up and throwing. This is equally applicable with a single rock as a projectile or for a handful of dirt, sand or gravel.

Other Projectiles

Some people have suggested defense-minded people should carry some medium to large sized, steel ball bearings in their pocket for throwing. Guro Dan Inosanto has mentioned that in some parts of the Philippines and Indonesia, rock [and other projectiles] throwing is an art onto itself. Echanis mentioned this in the end of "The Black Book" as well.

A handful of coins, your keys and perhaps your wallet, all have been suggested as projectiles to be fired by a defender at an attackerís vision area.

Guro Dan Inosanto used a regular wallet to great effect in one training video on an unsuspecting subject. In a book, he once flipped the sheath off of a knife into the eyes of an attacker.

Vladimir Vasiliev advocates projecting your sunglasses into the face of an attacker, or your wallet, keys or a hat. All of these things will work. He has specific ways to do this that appear to be minor adjustments to the sunglasses...

Please understand, this is my personal, conceptual view of metsubushi and some may not agree.

Metsubushi and Shuriken Throwing

There are many ways to throw both. Hatsumi Sensei in the article cited above lists five basic methods:

#1 Forward with the palm up.

#2 Forward with the palm down.

#3 Backward [back-handed] with the palm up.

#4 Backward [back-handed] with the palm down.

#5 Spraying an area with an arcing motion of the hand as depicted in this photograph from the article.

Experiment on your own to find what works best for you. It is cheap and fun.

The parallel is obvious when throwing Shuriken. I have never been able to throw "star" Shuriken overhand or sideways. I can throw them with a great degree of speed, accuracy and power underhanded, palm down. This is possibly the best way to throw both Metsubushi substances and star Shuriken as the throw comes from "nowhere."

Why Chemical Irritants have a Bad Reputation

Part of the reason chemical irritants like MACE have a bad reputation for "stopping attackers" is, they were marketed improperly in my opinion and furthermore, people are taught to use them incorrectly. Especially women.

People should be taught four basic things when using even the most powerful chemical irritants like say, 10% O.C. Pepper Spray:

#1 Never overestimate the chemical or underestimate the attacker. These irritants do not work on all people.

#2 Consider the irritant to be a temporary, one second blinder that allows you to do something else in your own defense. A low-line kick to the knee or groin, or some hand strike should immediately follow. There should be a physical strike immediately following any use of a chemical irritant because you never know when it will fail or not have the desired effect. You may only make the attacker flinch, make the most of that flinch.

#3 Remember even after spraying an attacker, you now have a can in your hand, it can be and should be used as an impact weapon, like a Yawara or Koppo Stick.

#4 Do not warn the person that you are going to spray them, try to conceal the can until it is activated. If you warn the person, they could try to dodge the attack, or turn their head, close their eyes, etc., meaning they wonít get the full effect. Why give them a chance to make your defensive weapon less effective? Sure, people will say that you have to warn someone to "legally" defend yourself. If it has come to the point that you have to reach for the can of spray, we go back to the old adage among Gunfighters. "If the pistol comes out, it comes out smoking." If the can comes out, it comes out spraying...or you conceal it inside or behind another object until the moment of use.

Women are usually not taught this because many women find the physical encounter threatening and alot of people would not be teaching Self-defense for a living if they told women they still had to punch and kick in order to survive. Some people want a remote control for a Self-defense device. Life is hard, it is much harder if youíre stupid. Any Self-defense Instructor that is not teaching women to kick the attacker in the knees or groin while they are temporarily blinded by the spray have either overlooked this or they have are not qualified to teach people real, life-saving skills in my opinion. Itís O.K. to overlook something and then correct it. Itís not O.K. to hide behind myths and nonsense more suitable for a Daytime TV Talk Show than Streetfighting.

Make Them See The Light

No, not a recipe for making "Ninja Flash Bombs." Something very simple. Flashlights. Not just any flashlights, however. No, the best flashlights designed for "Defensive Use." There was a time when the MagLite brand flashlight was about the best on the market you could own. And they are still excellent Self-defense tools...but flashlights have become much more powerful and alot smaller. The MagLite is still the brightest and best flashlight of choice when you need to use the light for an extended period of time, and it is still the best when you need a bludgeon-flashlight combination. It provides alot of illumination and still has the capability to be used as a weapon if need be. It is a great companion to the smaller LED Flashlights in your vehicle and home.

Law Enforcement Personnel usually have the large flashlight in "The Bludgeon Position." Meaning, it is usually resting on the top of one shoulder, if the light is in the right hand, that would be the top of the right shoulder. With the lens facing the attacker. It is a very simple thing to blast someone with the light, into their eyes, and then simply strike them with the other end of the light. A one-two combination that will put someone out quickly, and if not, you have the light in your hand, you can hit them until they are no longer a threat.

The King of High-Intensity Flashlights are the SureFire Flashlights from Laser Products, Inc. I have owned a SureFire 9P for almost a decade now, and it saved me on at least a half dozen occasions from being attacked by burglars and easily a dozen or more times on the street. Along with an ASP-21 [inch] Baton, I was able to defend myself easily on a few occasions. I cannot say enough about them. They work on firearms, but they can work in your hand as well if you only do your own research and personal experimentation with the concepts.

They can give you the decisive edge when you need it. Most attacks occur in low levels of light, which means if your attacker is utilizing darkness [as smart ones will] to aid them, their eyes will be adjusted to the darkness. The SureFire 9P will make you see spots at 6 feet in a well-lit room, at night, the effects are much more effective. If the eyes are adjusted to the darkness, which takes anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes and an instant flash of white light to destroy...the effects are not only dazzling, they are almost painful. The eyes are sensitive, if they are adjusted to the dark, they are super-sensitive, to say the least.

When you flash someone like this, it is best to keep the Master Eye closed. In that instant that you hit the attacker with the light, close your Dominant Eye. That will save you from being dazzled by your own light and your Non-Dominant Eye will be able to keep everything somewhat in not focus on the light that is blasted onto the attacker. Divert your direct vision from the wash of white light.

If you think I am kidding, let a training partner adjust his eyes to the dark, remember, anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes...and then have a training exercise in the backyard at night or in a blacked-out basement, etc. Let him have it, then reverse roles. That way, you know exactly what you are dealing with.

Another thing you can do in the "Metsubushi Realm" is to purchase inert training sprays to simulate O.C. Pepper, etc., and be creative with your training scenarios. Do this randomly so the person does not know when you will fog them with the inert spray. Do not use anything except those inert training sprays specifically designed for that purpose. The liability warning comes into view once again, donít hurt each other. If you cannot afford or otherwise obtain proper training equipment, donít train with this stuff.

What you are going to find with the use of the SureFire Flashlights and inert training sprays in unpredictable training sessions (meaning the other person, or yourself, should not know which "drill" is going to contain the use of light or spray) is that these things work. They work very well. You will be amazed, you can then take that information and run with it. Create your own training scenarios without being bound by them.

What Else?

I think we should also include in this whole conceptual approach the use of regular, carried items. What if you are carrying your briefcase or one or two bags of groceries? These things can conceal a draw or an already drawn weapon, and they can be used as a projectile. Just like if an attacker screams, "Gimme your wallet!" Give it to him as mentioned earlier, or whatever else you have in your hand(s).

A coat or jacket whipped into the eyes or thrown over the head is delving into "Cloak & Dagger" methods, but is still in this realm. They are effective. The bag of groceries can either be dropped and the weapon drawn, or they can be thrown into the face of the attacker.

If you have more than one attacker, a bag of groceries or a briefcase/shoulder bag, or for women, their purse, these can be projectiles to distract one attacker while low-line kicking another, etc. Like I said, use your imagination! These actions can always be a segue to a draw or an exit. It all depends on the situation.

As I warned earlier, be careful and always train safely. Use eye protection, donít substitute safety equipment with substandard items. Donít use extremely hot liquids, etc. In other words, use your head! Iím not responsible. (Are you tired of hearing this yet?)

Don Rearic

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