08 Oct Hino Sensei Interview
Interview of Hino Akira, “Wakayama’s tengu” – by Leo Tamaki
Wakayama’s mountains, located east of Tokyo, have always been considered as a spiritual place. There, one can find the many temples of Mount Koya, the sacred waterfall of Nachi as well as dozens of sanctuaries. And this is where Ueshiba Morihei, founder of Aikido, was born. It is also the place where Hino Akira, one of the greatest contemporary martial art master, built his house and school, the Hino Budo Institute.
Hino sensei is coming straight out of a novel. He grew up in Osaka’s suburbs where he quickly witnessed – and sometimes involuntarily played a role in – violent brawls. As a teenager, he followed a path towards music – that indirectly lead him to the way of martial arts. He has authored several books and videos, and so today his voice is heard beyond the martial world’s boundaries. Nowadays, Olympic medallists, kick-boxing and free-fight champions, professional football and rugby players as well as dancers, actors and therapists come to study with Hino sensei the efficient use of the body according to Budo’s principles.
Meet a master of exception.
Sensei, when did you begin martial arts?
I was 21 years old. I started with the practice of Shorinji Kempo, but not the one known in the West. The style I studied is from a very old and small school. My teacher was its 36th soke .
This school has no link with the Shorinji Kempo developed by So Doshin?
Absolutely none. Techniques are completely different. The Kempo I practised was a Kobujutsu, a traditional Japanese school of martial techniques. We studied empty hands techniques as well as ancient weapons such as kusarigama .
And it’s also called Shorinji Kempo?
Yes, despite very different roots these two schools have the same name. Unfortunately, this problem has been brought to court. The small school had the oldest proofs of existence in Japan (and therefore won the case), which is natural because So Doshin’s Shorinji Kempo comes from China.
Why did you start martial art practice?
(Laughs) At first, it was for drumming. I am a jazz drummer and was not able to match the power of westerner musicians. When looking for a solution, I remembered someone teaching martial arts nearby. A few movements were similar to what I wanted to achieve. This person was Shorinji Kempo’s soke.
Has practice brought you what you were looking for?
Actually, a problem quickly appeared. I realised that, with an equal level of practice, smaller sized people were not able to compete with larger practitioners. I also realised that training, rather than resolving this issue, was freezing the situation. Which led to the impossibility for small people to win.
I found this weird and started having doubts. I then visited numerous ryuha , but wherever I went physical strength remained a major limiting factor for those who had less strength.
In Japan, there is an old saying “Ju yoku go o sei suru”. This means that supple wins against hard, that softness surpasses strength. I heard this saying from Mifune Kyuzo , when I was in primary school.
Mifune Kyuzo was one of the true kami  of Judo. At the time, there was no TV but we had this kind of flipbooks. They were made of successive pictures, which gave an illusion of movement when riffled through. There was one with Mifune, and this is how I discovered his famous kukinage . I was dazzled.
If the supple can win over the strong, why can’t small ones win against stronger people? I found this weird so I started my own research. In parallel, I kept going to see other schools and to practise Shorinji Kempo.
So, did you open your own dojo?
No. I was continuing my career as professional drummer and, to be honest, I started to feel that it was impossible for the weak to win against the strong… I kept practising and researching on my own, but I had almost given up on finding a principle allowing the supple to win against the hard.
I had no lead, until I heard by chance that a Chinese teacher was invited to teach Shaolin’s Tai Chi Chuan and Kung-fu in Japan. I thought that this principle could exist in Chinese martial arts, so I went to have a look.
The teacher was a woman, an elderly woman with a really supple practice. Astonished, I wondered if it was a well-being gymnastic or a martial technique. I asked her the question and she answered that it was a martial art. I then told her: “Excuse me, but if this is a martial art would you be so kind as to show me what you would do against a chudan tsuki , for example?” She said there was no problem, so I attacked her. Before understanding what was happening, I was thrown!
I thought: “It exists!”. Even though I am not tall, I was still a vigorous young man and an elderly woman just won against my attack without any strength. I just discovered the real existence of principles allowing the suppleness to surpass strength. This is one of the keys that allowed me to continue my research.
Did you then start Chinese martial arts practice?
I asked this master to teach me her technique, but she answered it was impossible. Her stay in Japan was too short and I was too old. I was older than 25, and she considered it was too old to start Chinese martial arts practice. For her, to reach real efficiency, you had to start practising very young. I answered it did not matter, and asked her what I had to do.
In her style, there was a form called Unshu, the “cloud hands”. She taught it to me and advised to practise it daily.
At this time, I had a friend studying Shito Ryu Karate who suggested I come and train at his dojo. I answered that I was not interested as Karate was based on strength’s use. He answered it was not the case, and that the Shito Ryu Karate practised in this dojo was very supple.
In my mind there was no such thing as a Karate without strength, but I accepted to have a look. I found out that his master’s practice was really supple. He was at least 20 years older than me and I was invited to attack him. I hit him with all my strength, but he deflected the attacked with an unbelievable suppleness and relaxation. This was exactly the same feeling as when I attacked the Chinese master.
You then started practising Shito Ryu Karate?
Yes. At this moment, I understood there existed a practice based on relaxation developed by a few Karate masters. It’s logic in fact, as Karate’s roots come from techniques originated in Okinawa and China.
The master once told me: “Originally, Karate’s techniques were intended for the battlefield. It’s not a sport and techniques are useless if they are not performed in a relaxed state.”
By training there, I understood that my personal research was heading the wrong way. However, thanks to this work and errors, I could open my eyes.
Shito Ryu Karate Training (picture by Jean-Baptiste Rosello)
You then opened your dojo?
Yes. After a few years, I finally opened my own dojo with the benediction of my Shito Ryu’s master. This is when I truly started my research.
Beforehand, I read the writings of Itto Ittosai, Yagyu Sekishusai and many other kenshis . But I did not understand how to apply the described principles. Practising at Shito Ryu’s dojo gave me some precious hints that allowed me to progress efficiently in my research. Even though my current practice is totally different, these are the foundations upon which my reflection evolved.
Younger, you lived in a rough area. Did you fight often at the time?
(Laughs) Yes I often found myself fighting. I grew up in a rough suburb of Osaka, where brawls started for no reason. It was a very rough time. War was recently over and there was still a lot of violence. Knifes and bike’s chains were out in no time, this is how people fought.
I tried to stay away from all that, but it was not an easy task whenever a weapon appeared in the opponent’s hands. (Laughs) Unfortunately there was rarely any other option.
Going through such hardship deeply marked me. In my early days, for example, whenever I started to loose “by the rules” against a 4th dan in the dojo, instinctively I started to fight differently. I was called to order and asked not to win by “brawling”. These kinds of things also made me doubt, and so later, in my dojo, we started to fight without rules. I had several occasions to observe the perverse effect of rules when high-ranked practitioners from other disciplines came to my dojo. They were regularly surprised by hits aimed at “forbidden” (in their dojo) zones. This is the terrifying side of rules.
Step by step you then developed your practice?
Yes. Some technical points baffled me, but in the end it was mainly the practitioners’ “childish” mentality that was embarrassing. (Laughs) People want to become “strong”. But being “strong” has many interpretations. You can be strong at brawling, you can be strong in a competition, etc… And this is also what I had in mind and was researching at the beginning of my practice. But, step by step, I asked myself what I really desired by wanting to be strong. This is a question everyone must ask himself. By reading Ito Ittosai or Miyamoto Musashi’s writings I understood that true power is not related to technical level or fighting capacity. Obviously, if you were not able to cut the opponent or avoid to be cut, you would die. This is indeed a kind of strength.
But that is a relative notion. Generally, we use the term “being strong”, which implied comparison with one or more persons. And I asked myself what “being strong” meant. Not in comparison with someone, but in the absolute.
This is something I found striking and thought a lot about. I then realised that strength or weakness are not real and that practice must aim higher than winning over an opponent.
Have you studied Shinto or Zen in parallel to your practice?
I have not studied these topics in a scholar or intellectual way. I have often spontaneously felt things when I did not have particular curiosity in a topic. True and authentic practice naturally leads to changes.
I have often felt attracted to places such as these mountains where we are, or the mount Hiei near Kyoto. By going to Nara temples or other spiritual places, a change can take place without it being linked to a particular study.
What kind of changes?
Nowadays, a theory says that under intensive practice, martial or religious, modifications of the brain’s synapses take place. It is a topic that I generally avoid, but around the age of 34 or 35, I was in unbearable pain during three days. Even if I could stand up, I was unable to make any movement. For a week, I had a fever over 40 degrees. After this experience, I felt a deep change in myself and my perceptions.
Have you done anything particular before this event?
No, I was only intensively training. But I was not training with random movements just to train. I was passionately researching. I was researching to understand what was happening when I was moving in this particular way, what was the effect of this movement… There has been a very long period where I was researching like this by training from 8am to midnight.
Is this when you met Hatsumi sensei?
This happened much later. At the time, I was already fully in my own research. It was more than 10 years after and I was over 40. One of my friends brought a video of Hatsumi sensei and told me “Look what we found. It really looks like cinema”. I had a look and was astonished. The essence of my work and my research were the same! I therefore really wanted to meet him in order to be certain. But after reflection I told myself, obviously nowadays he will agree to meet me. But it will end up as me having to become or not his student, and I have no intention to become his student. Therefore, he will not show me his complete practice. And I asked myself how to study what he was doing, in a different way.
At that time, Hiden  had asked me to write a regular chronicle for their magazine. I then decided to meet Hatsumi sensei as a journalist. This is how I met him. I wrote an article that he really appreciated. I really took the time to think about the best way to share in writing what I had experienced and seen during our meeting. He was very surprised. Later, he explained that I wrote about things in his practice that he did not know how to express, and we became closer.
One day, I asked him to practise with me and we “joined our hands”. He seemed very impressed this day and told me that, by looking at me, it seemed I was part of his school. I was simply moving supplely and was able to follow correctly his techniques. He asked who my teacher was, and I told him this was the fruit of my own research. He was surprised by my answer. We stayed in good terms since then.
Are there any other masters who impressed you?
Around the same time, I went to see Shioda sensei when he was teaching near Shinjuku. It was truly exceptional. I had seen beautiful pictures of Shioda sensei in a magazine, and I had been struck by his ability to demonstrate such beautiful and masterful shapes. When I learned he was giving a demonstration, I jumped on the occasion to go and see him.
He was very small, around 1m50 and weighted around 45 kilos. I was astonished when I saw him. We were in a huge room but my friend and myself were so enthusiastic that I think Shioda sensei spotted us. (Laughs) He came closer and did the end of his demonstration just in front of us.
After this demonstration, I reflected a lot about what I have seen. There was an obvious technical virtuosity, but what struck me is much deeper than that. I came to the conclusion that Shioda sensei revealed the most understandable use of the body while using Bujutsu’s principles.
It is almost impossible to catch movements of masters such as Hatsumi sensei or Kuroda sensei. Their efficiency is hidden until you reach yourself a high level. Conversely, Shioda sensei showed to those who really looked, the quintessence of the efficient use of the body. It was astonishing.
And any other Aikido masters who impressed you?
I cannot really answer to this question as I have actually seen few. There are probably other skilled masters but I don’t know them. I have to say that I was so satisfied with what I saw with Shioda sensei that I did not look further.
After seeing him, I absolutely wanted to understand the essence of his practice. I promised myself to master this essence whatever it took. This is what I said to Hatsumi sensei, “I allow myself to steal from you as much as I can”. (Laughs)
These are masters that had or have a lot of students studying their techniques. Personally, I was only interested by the essence of their practice. The techniques as such did not interest me that much.
Are the theories that underlie the use of the body in Aikido, Judo or Kage Ryu the same?
Yes, they are similar, even if some minor differences exist. In ancient styles such as Kage Ryu, we use a wider variety of weapons, which increases the difficulty as it requires an additional adaptability compared to modern “specialised” disciplines.
The most important with masters such as Shioda sensei is found in the fundamental principles they demonstrate. If we are not able to understand this, then you can move as relaxed as you want, no efficiency will arise from it and thus this is a practice with no meaning.
Budo and Bujutsu therefore should use the same principles of the use of the body?
You mentioned being supple…
It is a fundamental quality. But there is a reason to this suppleness. Because, without it, you cannot accomplish your goals. Being supple without goal is useless.
What is the difference between Budo and Bujutsu for you?
To answer simply, I would say that Bujutsu are essentially Gijutsu, a technique. They teach a competence, a know-how.
Budo are Ways. But these are Ways that require the practice of martial techniques to be followed. If we stay at the level of Jutsu it is only techniques. There is a saying “i tsuku was hi, i tsuku zaru wa se”. Briefly this means that if we let ourselves “touch” by pain, we die, but if we make abstraction of it, we live. This is a very deep sentence that is not to be read literally and only in a context of combat. Pain can also be understood as sorrows or thoughts.
But there is a flip of the coin. We cannot simply renounce every feelings and accept everything just by considering that everything is always for the best. This is something that we have to feel with the body, as much as with the head.
Thanks to such sayings, we can enter the Do (Way). Without such words we cannot enter the Way. How do you follow this teaching? It is to accomplish this teaching that we use techniques as support. Techniques as such are nothing.
In Budo/Bujutsu, some schools consider katas  as very important whereas some others consider them as almost secondary. What is your opinion about it?
Katas are extremely important. We cannot work on a kata or a technique the way we like. Kata imposes a precise movement with a precise reason. And we must seek to understand the meaning of this work with our own bodies.
In this kata we will move like that, in Yagyu we move like this, etc. and we need to study, with the body and not the mind, the reasons of such or such movement and by extension, the meaning of this work. Katas are essential pedagogical elements. Practice without these foundations is the same as wanting to write before knowing the alphabet.
But you don’t teach katas?
This is quite paradoxical…
The difficulty is that, amongst the people that come to study with me, their goals are often very varied. They aim to study principles that they can use in dance, in Kick-boxing, in free-fight or in other martial arts.
If we practise kata, it has to be done scrupulously for it to have a meaning. It is simpler for me to teach them the mechanisms of the body’s use before teaching the kata to those who want to go deeper in their practice. At the start, I therefore mainly teach the principles that are then practised as katas by the advanced students.
You practised Taijutsu, Kenjutsu, Iaijutsu… The principles that underlie your practice are they the same?
Yes, they are all the same.
Is it important to work with weapons or is it enough to practise bear-handed?
Yes, it is very important. A katana cuts immediately. We can always tell ourselves that it is possible to resist a punch, but it is impossible to do so against a weapon. It is a much subtler work, but essential.
However, it is impossible to use a weapon if we don’t know Taijutsu’s principles. The link between the body’s use bear-handed and armed is essential. Even if the techniques differ, the principles remain the same. To practise differently with a weapon and without is pointless.
What are the principles of your method?
It is very difficult to speak about it without demonstrating. Let’s say that there are particular principles of the spine’s use, principles that use twisting, etc. The essential is to feel “kanjiru”, to truly “own” your own body, to feel what is happening in a movement. People cannot control their bodies. They are unable to move it following the given indications. (Laughs) There is also the principle of connecting, “tsunagaru”.
The goal is to make one with your own body. In Budo, we say “shin shin ichi jo”, the body and the spirit are one.
What do you concretely mean by linking, “tsunagaru”? Is it not to use your body in a dissociated manner?
It is one of the things. It is also to move without disrupting the contact of a grab, without breaking the link created with the partner. These are things that must be researched with the body, as intellectual comprehension is an illusion.
Do you also train kiai?
Yes. For example, we do an exercise where several people are aligned. One is placed at their back and shouts a kiai towards one of them. If the one aimed at raises his hand, the exercise is a success.
Judo, kick-boxing and other combat sports’ champions come to see you. What do you teach them?
They often lack inspiration. They can only respond to a movement with a really limited amount of movements. Their repertoire is very limited. On the other side, dancers are very amusing as they do totally unexpected things! (Laughs) I learn a lot by observing them.
Do you have a particular work on breathing?
No. If the body moves naturally, the breathing pattern will be right. It is because our movements are not natural that breathing is perturbed. Animals do this very naturally. (Laughs).
Do you practise specific exercises to develop Ki, such as Qi Gong?
Our practice is based on sensibility, and this is what develops the Ki. There is no specific exercise, but all our work must develop it naturally.
Nowadays, many martial art practitioners do strengthening or endurance training. What do you think about it?
I think it is useless. The muscles we need will naturally develop through our daily activities. Developing them more than this is weird.
It is normal for professional combat sports fighters to develop their musculature in order to absorb part of the damages received. It is justified by their activity. But this is done in the context of combat sports, which are very different from the martial arts. It will often reduce the quality of their movements.
Nowadays, some masters say that our current use of the body is very different from our ancestors. What do you think about it?
This is true. It is due to the evolution of our lifestyle. It is evident that there is a difference. However, I want to say “and so what?”. It is natural for it to evolve in line with our era.
When I was a child, it was still the “seiza’s culture”. Now it is different and people are almost always seated on a chair. Does this mean the “world of chairs” is bad?
And even if it were, it would be impossible to destroy this “world of chairs”. This is evolution. It is more interesting to ask how to move properly in our current world. There is no point to keep bringing back golden days that do not exist anymore, that will not come back, and that might even not have existed… People of the 16th century probably regretted the 15th century. It is always the same thing. (Laughs)
Is it important to put strength when hitting with or without a weapon? Or is relaxation more efficient?
The strength is not at all a fundamental element. With a sword, it is very important to “feel” the weight of the weapon. When we have developed a body sensitive to the weapon’s weight, it is possible to reach a true efficiency. Conversely, relaxation is a necessary element. It is the relaxation that allows a linked use of the body as well as a transfer of body weight in one single point.
It is also because the body is relaxed that we can “feel”. If we grab with strength it is impossible to “feel”. If we feel our own bodies, it becomes possible to use our own weight efficiently. It is a very important topic. But there again, there is no point in being relaxed without a goal. We have to be relaxed because it is a necessity that allows reaching a higher efficiency.
Hino sensei and Brahim Si Guesmi (picture by Sebastien Chaventon) “We have to be relaxed because it is a necessity that allows reaching a higher efficiency.”
Is there a link between music and martial art practice?
Yes, in particular concerning the “ma ”, a major component in Japanese traditions. There is also the zanshin. Zanshin is a way to grasp “ma”. The absence of movement during practice is, like silence in music, a very important moment.
I have probably discovered certain things more easily because I was musician.
How did you meet William Forsythe ?
A few years ago, a dancer from his dance troupe called Yoko wanted to practise a Budo. She came to me and I accepted her as a student. Being Japanese, she thought she had to know Budo; but she had no idea about what it was. (Laughs)
I started teaching her, and it seems she was deeply moved. She first came for ten days I mainly explained to her how and why such and such movement occurred.
Obviously, we don’t reach a martial efficiency in ten days. However, her movements had really changed. William Forsythe and the other dancers of his dance troupe were really amazed and asked her what she studied. She then explained that it was Budo and she started to show them what I taught her. It raised their interest and they called to ask me to come and teach them.
What did you teach them?
At first they were very puzzled and did not really know what to expect. I did not teach them Budo as a martial technique. I taught them to use their bodies and develop their sensibility as we do in Budo.
I now teach them every year and they invest themselves very seriously in this research. Our relationships get better and I am very moved by their effort and their will to go further.
What differences have you noticed between dancers and budokas’ movements?
Paradoxically, their way of moving is quite often very close. The principle difference is that dancers’ movements do not develop power. In Budo, a movement without effect has no meaning. A movement only aesthetically efficient is useless in a world where we walk between life and death.
This is the main difference.
How did you end up living in Wakayama’s mountains?
I had a dojo in Osaka, but I was looking for a mountain where I could focus on my practice without material preoccupations. It has been very difficult because the cheap places where often inaccessible or it was forbidden to build.
Finally, one of my students told my story to a youngster of Wakayama, who replied that there was a lot of place in the area. I found this place, asked the owner and explained to him my dojo’s project. He found this amusing and accepted to rent this place to me.
You built it on your own?
Yes, with some students and my partner. I did everything by myself, from the drawings to the construction. It took ten years. I was building it with the money I had, and once it was spent I went back to work so I could buy the necessary construction materials and start building again.
People from the neighbourhood must have been quite surprised?
They were quite surprised. (Laughs)
At first there were seven uchi deshis , and people were wondering what was this group of youngsters with long hair. They imagined we were an extremist group or a new religious sect!
They thought we had built ourselves a shelter. And as rumours spread, policemen from Tanabe came. For roughly three years, a group of six agents came here each month. It was very difficult for them to understand that nowadays we could devote ourselves to this kind of research.
Do you teach differently when you are in Japan or abroad?
No, I teach exactly in the same way. Absolutely the same thing.
Have you ever been to France?
Yes, a long time ago I spent a month in France. I travelled from Paris to the south of France when I was practising Shito Ryu. A French practitioner from Sète came to the dojo, so I went to see their practice when I went to France. They practised in a sports centre with many other disciplines, Aikido, Judo, etc…
I practised with the group of Shito Ryu and they asked me to stay for a bit to teach them. Some students of the dojo put me up and I stayed a few weeks. It was funny because I always kept my dictionary close despite them repeating it was useless as I did not speak French! (Laughs)
What is misogi?
In modern terms, it can be understood as the research of your own contradiction point. By going past our boundaries using a physical asceticism, we try to enter a state of consciousness that transcends the world of duality…
Is training to resist pain, or similar type of training, necessary?
No, it is a useless work. It is our spiritual blockings that limit our bodies.
What is the importance of the gaze?
It is primordial, but the work depends on the level.
Up to a certain level, you must absolutely fix the gaze. In Budo, we must be able to catch the information in the blind spot. One of the common mistakes in Karate is to try to look at the opponent as a whole. It is because we focus on one point that it is possible to see the whole. Those who do not understand this mechanism often use the saying “Enzan no mikata”, look at a volcano far away. In Aikido, there are also people saying not to look at the opponent. That is also weird.
In your classes you often insist on the importance of kimochi . Could you tell us some more about this concept?
It is a major element of what I teach. It is necessary to be able to feel aite ’s kimochi and be able to make him feel ours.
In human beings, all movement are the result of a feeling or intention. Each movement originates from a necessity or a feeling. If I take my cup to drink, it is because I feel thirsty.
It is impossible to seize a movement. When the move is perceived, it is already too late. One of the keys to efficiency is the capacity to seize aite’s kimochi.
When the opponent’s fist arrives, it’s too late. The most important is not the approaching fist, but the intention to strike, the will to act. It is only like this that we can return a situation. It is unmistakable.
A work based on the control of the opponent’s attack without working on his kimochi is pointless. It is his kimochi that matters. We need to act by seizing his kimochi. It is the true technique of Budo. The most important point.
In the same spirit, it is possible to create an impact on aite just with the kimochi. He will react to the intention we make him perceive.
At a much higher level, it is possible to solve every conflict with the kimochi.
Therefore, you must not rest on a purely technical efficiency.
Absolutely. When I teach, I often summarize the problem as follows: I attack, you block strongly, it hurts and maybe my arm is broken. Bitterness is unavoidable…
A temporary victory that does not disrupt the cycle of violence is not the result of Budo’s study. You must absolutely research not to hurt. Victory does not matter. You must research to touch the spirit, the feelings of the opponent. Hurting him is useless.
This sounds quite similar to the philosophy of the founder of Aikido.
Yes, but I think that it is a common way of thinking amongst the great Budo masters. We find this concept in Aikido, in Yagyu Ryu, etc…
Unfortunately, in practice it doesn’t exist and everyone tries to hurt, to control by inflicting pain. (Laughs)
Thank you for your time Sensei.
Original interview by Leo Tamaki “Interview Hino Akira, “le tengu de Wakayama”, published on 01/02/2008. Link: http://www.leotamaki.com/article-36952391.html
Open translation by Nathan Augeard, with permission.
 Soke: headmaster.
 Kusarigama: weapon made of a sickle and a chain with a weight at the extremity.
 Ryuha: traditional school
 Mifune Kyuzo: Mifune (1883 – 1965) was one of the greatest masters of Judo. Also known as “the man who was never thrown” and “the God of Judo”. He was one of the few who helped Kano Jigoro formalise the discipline he created.
 Kami: divine spirits in Japanese. A few people having reached a divine technique are called kami within their area of fulfilment. This is to be differentiated from the kami status received post mortem.
 Kukinage: throw in the air, famous technique of Mifune, often compared to Ueshiba’s Kokyu nage.
 Chudan tsuki: strike at the level of the abdomen.
 The kenshis are “saints of the sword”, individuals that have given their body and soul to their discipline until they reached the highest level.
 Hiden, first world magazine about traditional martial arts.
 Kata: pattern of movements teaching the principles of a school via specific forms
 Ma is generally translated by interval (time or distance), space-time.
 William Forsythe is one of the most famous contemporary choreographs
 Uchi deshi: student living with the master
 Kimochi: can be translated by “the bearing of Ki”. It means feelings, in a very broad way.
 Aite: can mean both partner and opponent.