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[ olvasnivaló » Ura & Omote - 1995 June ]

Ura & Omote - 1995 June


Content



PREFACE



If you enjoy reading this newsletter, feel free to distribute it to any system/on-line forum/BBS you want (remember to get permission to upload first!). You may also print this newsletter and distribute it to anyone

interested, provided you don't charge a fee for this service. If you've received a copy of this newsletter from a friend, please E-mail the editor -Liz maryland at: Ashidome@aol.com - to be placed on our direct e-mail distribution list. Enjoy!!!


GIVE HARD TRAINING TO POINT OUT THE ONLY VULNERABLE SPOT

Masaaki Hatsumi

This translation of Soke Masaaki Hatsumi's work is from the philosophy book "Hiden Togakure Ryu Ninpo" or "Secrets of Togakure Ryu Ninpo". It was translated by Shidoshi Joe Maurantonio and Hideaki Tokumitsu. Both have worked on Sensei's Sanmyaku as translators and Joe is currently involved with Sanmyaku as Assistant Editor. He also publishes a newsletter called "Heart, Faith & Steel" which is about "Insights to Martial Training".

When I was young they said the first step of shugyo is to endure the pain that the teacher gives you. On the other hand, these days, from my point of view I can say it's a bad tendency to be over-protective. There are so few young men who will go through this hardship. It seems like there are so many boys who would like to stay in a nursery, who want to grow painlessly. So they give "shigoki" [hard training] a bad name, and they almost consider the elders fools who give them a hard time. It is an irritating phenomenon for me because I think not only in the field of Budo we can't grow good humans without giving them shigoki intentionally.

But we can't keep our status only by insisting on the idea that shigoki is right, and, on the other hand, we can't keep our hierarchical relationship by democratic ways without shigoki. I came to the conclusion that I can't eliminate shigoki, so I decided to think of a new way for shigoki.

I criticized them sharply when I found my students' shortcomings. Then they started to think that I was an old type of teacher and looked at me with a sense of fear in their eyes. If I put off criticizing them, even for a few days, and then criticize them later, some of the students feel they didn't understand my intentions anymore; why earlier, I intentionally pointed out their faults and attacked them. I think this is a trait of modern man - they hardly understand this shigoki as well-intentioned.

Then I called my students and said "I never pick on your faults to annoy you. First of all, if I think it's useless to tell you your faults I will not say hard things to you. And also, you are bad only in the ways I mention. If you rectify your weak points, you can be a wonderful Budoka..." Their eyes looked at me completely differently. In other words, the phrase "you only have one weak point in you" really works. They think they can rectify this point and start to show a fighting spirit again. If we cannot apply the method of shigoki we must invent a modern approach to it. The students who cannot believe in their teachers are occupied with evil minds. Therefore, we have to teach them the evil of their minds and help them find their good points.


Masaaki Hatsumi has studied various martial arts (karate, aikido & judo). He is currently the Headmaster of the Togakure Ryu Ninpo tradition and eight other martial traditions. He has studied the martial arts for over four decades and is considered, by many, the *only* true ninja grandmaster alive.
Hideaki Tokumitsu is a translator living in New York. He has been involved in translating, Hiden Togakure Ryu Ninpo, Soke's letters, and for SANMYAKU. He has studied the martial arts since the 1970's and has been interested in the Ninjutsu since his early childhood in Japan.
Joe Maurantonio is a Shidoshi who has traveled the US, Canada & overseas to further his training. He is Ass't Editor of SANMYAKU, puts out his own newsletter (HFS) and teaches really intense classes in Bronxville New York. He's funny, serious and clan oriented.

Brought to you by:
Heart, Faith & Steel and the Bujinkan New York Dojo

The translation copyright of this "item" lies with Soke and Shidoshi. You may share this with friends (PLEASE DO!) as long as it remains in the same form and Soke, Joe & Hideaki are credited. Contact Shidoshi Joe Maurantonio at alk13@columbia.edu .


THE ART OF NINJUTSU AND THE FELDENKRAIS METHOD: AN INTERVIEW WITH DORON NAVON

Perry Thompson

When Shihan Doron Navon went to Japan in 1969 he had no idea that he was going to become part of Japan's most ancient surviving warrior tradition. He made the move from his native Israel simply to study and compete in judo and other well known martial arts.

He describes the art he found as, "the Encyclopedia Britannica of martial arts." After being introduced to Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, soke of the nine schools of the Bujinkan Dojo, Navon became the first non-Japanese to be accepted as his personal student.

In Japan he was also introduced to the Feldenkrais method, a movement training system developed by Israeli physicist Moshe Feldenkrais. The system, which has roots in a variety of sciences as well as in the martial arts, was developed to allow people to make more efficient use of their bodies. Navon feels that practice in the Feldenkrais method is a useful supplement to martial arts training and travels extensively teaching both.

While in the United States to conduct a seminar for the Bujinkan Ki Oni Dojo, Navon granted the following interview in which he shares some of the insights he has gained in his two and a half decades of training in the art of ninjutsu and the Feldenkrais method.

Perry Thompson: How did you become involved in ninjutsu training?
Doron Navon: Well you know, my name, Doron, is a word that was used by the ninja which means to disappear. The ninja used to put their hands like this, in this kuji, and say "Doron" and he would disappear in smoke. So I was meant to go to this art by my name. Doron is an Israeli name, it means a gift, but in Japan when you say Doron, it means a ninja disappearing. I didn't know it when I went to Japan.

I did judo and jujitsu as a child. When I went to Japan I was regularly practicing in the Kotokan, and doing a little bit of other things like karate, stick fighting, kick boxing and aikido. And I thought to myself it is really interesting that everything is separated. Why is it that this one uses sticks, this one nunchucks; can't it be together? It would be more easy, more simple. That is when I met Hatsumi sensei, and I saw what I wanted. Here is an art, actually nine schools together, that incorporates everything. It had the basic taijutsu, which was empty-handed technique, and on that same movement all the weapons were built. So it was perfectly what I wanted. And also I understood that in the olden days that's how the arts were. They had a base of the empty hand forms and on the empty hand forms they had all kinds of weapons.

(PT) How has the training changed over the years?
(DN) Well, those years when I came it was very rough, and very, very painful. Through the years Hatsumi Sensei has said it is like a child growing up, and now we are adults. Sensei discovered, through many years of training, the right way for teaching.

In those years nobody cared so much about teaching. They cared more about mastering the art than teaching it. To teach it on a very large scale you must find a way to eliminate the danger from the dangerous techniques. And if you want to teach many people you must teach it in a form that will lead many people to train.

I think we have reached a stage now where training is playful, very interesting, very creative. In this way, in the early stage of training, in the first few years, they can play with the movement, with the techniques, with the weapons. So when you play with what you learn you put it into yourself in a more natural and harmonious way. Then later on, when you master it, you can put on hardship. That is the right way of teaching. And I think that the way it is taught now is a very good way. Many people introduce danger in the early stage of learning and what it actually creates is the opposite effect, because it hinders movement in a stage when you are not ready for it. You never see a lioness introducing dangerous things to the cubs unless they are big enough to go out by themselves and fight for their lives. Actually it is the opposite, they protect the cubs.

It is the same way when you take a martial artist and you put him into a very dangerous situation in the beginning of his training. This is a mistaken concept and very few people come out of it healthy. You need to introduce the danger at the right time, when the person is ready. Tiger cubs play, have war games, many times so when they become old enough they can use it. The mother teaches them, but they don't fight for their lives. So when sensei saw that he had to deal not only with one successor, but with thousands of people who wanted to learn this art, he started to change the way of training to suit an art that is now all over the world.

(PT) I know that you also have a high rank in judo. Do you recommend that students study another martial art or do you feel that ninjutsu has everything you were looking for in an art?
(DN) Yes, I think ninjutsu has everything we need. But there comes a stage when a martial artist must learn other martial arts so he can stand against them. When you get good enough I think it is good to go and study other arts. Not to go too deep into them, but just to know them enough so you can protect yourself from them in a time of conflict. If you know only your art it is not enough for self protection, you must know all the other ones a little.

(PT) What do you feel is the purpose of ninjutsu training?
(DN) What is the purpose of ninjutsu training? Is there a purpose? I could sell you all the "blah-blah" that any Hollywood star sells. But simply, it will make you a much better human being. It enhances learning and takes violence and puts it in a form in which you don't hurt other people. If you have any aggression you take it out in the art and not on the street or on your family. And also, you go through a process of learning. For example, when I came to the martial arts I was only interested in becoming strong. In my childhood I had been in many street fights and always needed to take care of myself. I moved from school to school and in every new school you have to fight for your place. All of my life as a child it was constantly necessary that I protect myself. So the dream of becoming a martial artist was very powerful because I thought, "Then I will be strong." But then when you start it and you get past the "becoming strong" you start enjoying it for the art itself and all that nonsense and all the aggressiveness toward the world just disappear. I also always wondered why just the bad guys are strong. They beat you up, they take your basketball, they throw knives at you. I said, "Why don't the good guys get strong?" So I started martial arts very early and I'll tell you that I have only used it for self defense when I needed it. Also, the better I became, the less I was interested in conflicts.

You get more and more respect for human being and any living thing. You respect it because it is alive and you see that your job, if you want to use the martial arts, is to help preserve life, not to destroy it.

(PT) What do you think is the key to understanding ninpo?
(DN) An open heart; flexibility of the mind, then, when you have this, you have flexibility of the body too; endurance; and a love for what you do. And intelligence which will be built through your years of practice.

(PT) The Feldenkrais system is an important part of your training. How did you become involved with it?
(DN) I was a student of Dr. Feldenkrais. I learned a lot from him in the last ten years of his life. He also came from the martial arts, and we met in 1969 when he came to visit Japan. The reason I came to him was when I lived in Japan I was injured a lot. After a few years those injuries started bothering me and my whole body was in pain. Because I knew several students of Dr. Feldenkrais, I was introduced to the system and I got to know him. First, I had to cure myself. I found that there is a way to move in which pain is not necessary. Even if I have injuries I can learn to move in such a way that the injuries won't bother me any more. When the body works in a very integrated way even if you have injuries they don't bother you. And even if they bother you, you have a way of dealing with them. It is more from the quality of your movement and how you do what you do than in trying to heal a painful spot. It is a real look at the state of the body and mind relationship.

(PT) Could you talk more about Feldenkrais and its relationship to the martial arts?
(DN) It is very simple. It consists of two things: Awareness though movement, which are group lessons, which are often done lying on the floor with very delicate movements, in which we learn to pay attention to the way we act and move and help improve it. Many of the movements come from the process of growth of the child in early childhood and many of them come from the martial arts. There are thousands of different lessons.

The other part is called functional integration. And this is when you put your hands on a person and you teach him through manipulation. It is a method which you can do to another person to help him improve his use of himself. The Feldenkrais method is built on those two parts. I use a lot of awareness through movement lessons because they give the person control in his own hands. And you learn what you do that is not good for you and you learn what you can do that is very beneficial to you. You can find out in the way you move and act what can be helpful and how you can improve yourself. So it is not only for dealing with injuries, it is for people who want to improve their martial art or their sport or their dancing. You can advance 100% faster in whatever movement or art you are in by learning it because it heightens the understanding of the self, especially in the body and the motor system, much more than anything I have ever seen. I am not boasting about it, I have used it for many years and I can see it working with my students. I have taken people that had no chance of becoming good martial artists and they have become great martial artists just because of the Feldenkrais method. It allowed them to go beyond the limitation of what they could have done if they just did martial arts. I think it is a tool that allows the talented to be more talented and the non-talented to be talented.

I am working on a book about the Feldenkrais method and the martial arts. It is called "The Subtle Power". I wrote it in Hebrew and now I am translating it into English to publish it around the world. I think this book can be very beneficial to martial artists in learning to use themselves efficiently. Feldenkrais teaches you to be very powerful without investing a lot of power. When you look at great martial arts masters you see that the way they move is so flawless, easy and light, yet still very strong and accurate. Most of the students can not do it, they all need effort. The Feldenkrais method deals with the essence of movement. When we see a master we try to imitate his movements, but imitating his movement externally does not give you the ability. The ability that he has is an internal combination of his movement, mind, and personality. Feldenkrais will allow a huge percentage of people to become very good because it teaches the secret to the way we, as human beings, move.


Moshe Feldenkrais, an Israeli physicist and judo player, originally developed his system of movement exercises to treat a chronic knee injury. He did extensive research on human movement that combined his own knowledge of physics and the martial arts with sciences such as anatomy, anthropology, bio-chemistry, learning theory, neuro-physiology, and psychology. The resulting system not only helped him end the pain in his knee, but also improved general quality of movement for Feldenkrais and his friends to whom he had taught the system.

Unlike most exercise systems that seek to stretch or strengthen various muscles or to burn excess calories, the Feldenkrais is designed to retrain the brain to make better use of the students' existing physical capabilities. Feldenkrais believed that when given a choice, the brain will adopt the method of movement that causes the least amount of strain. His theory is used by performing a simple movement until the brain finds the most efficient method of performing the action and imprints the new method of movement into the memory. These movements are generally performed while prone, to counteract gravity and remove concerns about balance, thus allowing the student to concentrate fully on the movement.

Because the Feldenkrais method seeks to train the body to function as one integrated, efficient unit, the effects of a given exercise are seldom confined to the areas which you believe you are working. For example, I have done exercises that were supposed to help with my own chronic knee problem and discovered that they also added tremendous power to my punches and Navon Shihan teaches a balance exercise that also strengthens hip throws.

Perry Thompson


THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXERCISE BASED ON THE FELDENKRAIS METHOD.

To achieve any benefit from this lesson it is vital that you move very slowly, relax, and remember to breath. Do not force any movement. Learning is achieved by relaxed repetition as the brain finds the most efficient method, not by simply forcing your body to work the way you think it should. You should not tremble as you perform the movements. Trembling is a sign of using excess force.

Begin by scanning the state of your body. To do this lie on your back with your legs a comfortable distance apart and your hands above your head. Your hands should be far enough apart that your right arm is approximately in line with your left leg and vice versa. Close your eyes and try to feel which areas are in contact with the floor.

Now raise the upper part of your right arm, using only shoulder movement, until your upper arm just lifts off the floor. Let the arm drop back to the floor. Repeat this movement 25 times. Make a complete pause between movements so that each one is a separate action.

Bring the arms slowly down to the sides of your body. Do this slowly to avoid causing pain in the shoulder you have been working. Draw your knees up into a bent position and rest while observing the differences you feel between the left and right sides of your body.

Now turn over onto your stomach with your arms and legs spread as before. Raise your right elbow using only shoulder movement, note that the hand will not necessarily raise this time, and let it sink back down. Repeat this 25 times. When lifting your arm, is your wrist remaining straight or is it loose so that it bends as the arm raises? If it remains straight there is unnecessary effort in the muscles of your forearm. Only the muscles in your shoulder need to work. The rest of your arm can relax.

As you continue increase the movement until your entire arm and shoulder raises from the floor and it feels as if no effort is required. To do this you will have to begin using the large muscles in your back. Relax and let your brain figure it out as your shoulder muscle begins to fatigue. Now lie on your back in the bent knee position to rest and observe the feelings in your body.

Remain on your back and stretch out your arms and legs as they were in the first movement. Very slowly raise and lower your right arm and leg together, just enough to lift the back of the hand and the heel off of the floor.

Repeat the movement and pay attention to which limb returns to the floor first. When you decide which one goes down first you will also realize that it lifts slightly before the other as well.

Now raise and lower the arm and leg alternately. Observe which vertebra lift from the floor when the leg is lifted alone. Did they also move when the arm and leg were lifted together? Turn your leg (i.e. your hip joint, knee, and foot) to the right. Now slowly lift your leg. How does this position affect the movement of the vertebra. With repetition it will become clear that when the arm and leg are raised together in coordination with exhaling, the work is done by the stomach and chest muscles together and rather than raising the vertebra are pressed into the floor. This creates a feeling of lengthening in the body which accompanies most correct actions. Rest and observe the changes that have been made in the way your body contacts the floor and in the sensations on each side of your body.

Roll onto your stomach with your arms and legs spread as before. Observe which way your head naturally faces when you lie down. Now make sure your right cheek is on the floor and raise your arm and leg. Do this several times then repeat with your forehead on the floor and finally with your left cheek on the floor. Which required the least amount of effort? For most people it is with the left cheek down. Repeat the motion about 25 times and note how the pressure of your body on the floor shifts to the left side. Continue for another 25 repetitions but now also raise your head, letting your eyes follow the movement of your hand. Turn onto your back and rest.

Slowly get up and walk around. Feel the different sensations in each side of your body. Does one side feel lighter or longer? Look in the mirror. One side of your face will look fresher and the eye will be open further. Do not fight this feeling of difference; observe it as it diminishes. If you do not encounter something that causes a great deal of tension the difference should be noticeable for several hours. During this time see which side of your body functions more smoothly.

Slowly perform the San Shin a few times on each side. Does it feel different than normal? Is it smoother on one side?

After observing the difference for a while work on the left side by repeating the above movements with the opposite side. What changes does this cause in your body?

Now raise your right arm and left leg together. Repeat 25 times. Observe how this feeling differs from raising the limbs on only one side. After a short rest raise your left arm and right leg 25 times. Next raise all four limbs together and your head while you exhale. Repeat this 25 times. Now repeat 25 times raising only the limbs, leave your head lying on the floor. After a short rest repeat these combination of movement while lying on your stomach.

Finally lie on your back and observe the new sensations in your body. Begin at your feet and work up. How does each part feel as compared to when you began the lesson?

To get the most from this lesson you should repeat most of the movements each day for the next week. It is not necessary to go through the whole thing each time. Just do them as you recall them for as long as it takes to regain the feeling you had when doing the original lesson.

For further information on the Feldenkrais method, get Feldenkrais' book Awareness Through Movement or contact the Feldenkrais Guild (1-800-775-2118 or e-mail fldgld@aol.com ) which can give further information or help you contact an instructor in your area.


Perry Thompson began studying ninjutsu at the University of Michigan Ninjutsu Club. After four and a half years of study, he is currently a Shodan under Sensei Otto Cardew at the Bujinkan Ki Oni Dojo in Dexter, Michigan. He may be contacted at: pbt@umich.edu .


BLADE OVER THE HEART: AMERICAN NINJA

Ellen Pearlman


Charles H. waits behind the wheel of a battered car on a street in Spanish Harlem. A white guy, he slouches into his seat in order to avoid drawing attention to himself while he supervises a team of narcotics agents assigned to a controlled drug buy of cocaine. His car radio plays hot-footed merengue while he calms down using the ninja "earthbreath." He needs to stay calm. His men are in the apartment across the street, buying drugs. If anything goes wrong, it's his call. Hidden from view is his protection: a bullet-proof vest and his Mikkyo training.

In an open loft apartment during midday, Charles appears the good neighbor, the one who would lend you his lawn mower. His pistol, in its tan leather case, lies exposed on a glass table next to use. I ask, "If you had to take a live, would you envision yourself as a protector?" "Exactly," he responds. "I am a protector of myself and of the public. that is what I do. I am a government agent. I took an oath. Unfortunately there are bad people in the world who want to hurt and kill. I have to prevent that. I do a lot of it just by arresting people. They they're not on the street to hurt somebody, and they're not gathering more negative karma. As a Buddhist, I guess you could use the image of Fudo, the Japanese deity who stands for fearlessness in our Mikkyo training. He figures prominently in our Buddhist meditation. He is fixed, immovable, with a sword and a fierce face. In the Air Force, I was a law enforcement instructor. I taught Officer Survival. But until I learned ninjutsu I did not realize what officer survival meant, and that law enforcement was far off the path of what they needed to do. You see it in this Rodney Kind thing, cops not being trained properly, and frustrated at not being able to control somebody, which is fairly easy to do." He pauses, thinking this through. "I work with police departments-not regular cops but the special response teams, the SWAT reams. I guard government people. These white militant supremacists who train in military tactics have guns and sell firearms to lunatics, to anyone who is going to threaten, assault, or kill a government agent. Some assignments are bribery cases with Chinese organized crime, Korean organized crime, the Mafia."

Highest Buddhist tantra points to a reality beyond good and evil. I ask Charles, "If Mind is viewed only as emptiness and luminosity, then how can someone be evil?" Charles explains, "There is something that Stephen Hayes once said: 'Do not look at yourself as good or bad.' As I arrested people and served search warrants, I began to think this way, and I found that I did not look at them as good or bad, did not have feelings of hate or anger toward them even if they tried to assault me. If I just looked at them as both, that they are the same, and that there is good and bad in everybody, if I did not judge them, it made it easier on me. I don't have to judge them now, I don't have to resent or hate them. I can actually show compassion toward them. I am still going to arrest them, or whatever-that's my job. But I don't have to judge them. Even though they did something wrong, I don't condemn them and send them to hell. They are still my brother or sister. Hopefully what I am doing is helping them get on the right path."

The path for those engaged with Hayes' training continues the "eighteen ways of the warrior," a system that began in India, was conveyed to China, and in the ninth century arrived on the shores of Japan. Of these eighteen qualities, the texts give primacy to "spiritual refinement." Other categories are "leaping, tumbling, landing, falling, different blocks, use of the sword, spear, halberd, sickle and chain, full staff, half-staff, three-quarter staff techniques, blade throwing, archery from horseback, special disguises, concealed weapons, special medicines, strategies, and strategies of heaven and earth."

Invisibility, stealth, and cunning were coupled with a disdain for aggressive force. The ninja strongly relied on subtlety. One ninja training manual says, "The essence . . . the spirit of ninja [is those] who have the power to use patience together with body, mind, and subconscious. It is this power that one must develop by training hard. The result will lead to the ability to pocket any insult and later throw it away without a trace of resentment."

In Japan, the ninja were often born into the lower classes, but samurai could become ninja after they were defeated in battle. Thus, they were not bound to the strict samurai codes of honor. Training schools or ryu, started as loose-knit family groups, and most ninja were raised from birth. Children were encouraged, starting at an impressionable age, to engage in games stressing agility and balance. Older children learned to kick hay bales and play adroitly with sticks. By early teenage years, real weapons were introduces, such as the five-pointed star blades called shuriken, as well as ropes and chains. They learned to walk silently over roof tiles, raised platforms, tatami mats, through dry underbrush, leaves, and shallow pools. A ninja was taught to walk through water "like a crane," move through tight spots "like a sand crab," and slink across planks or mats "like an octopus"-skills that made them useful as secret spies and henchmen to the powerful Japanese shogunate.

Female ninja were classified as part of the kamae of sui (water) and were cultivate to manipulate energy through preying on increased feelings of emotional satisfaction; like the ocean, they would draw out, only to come back, like a wave at riptide, in unexpected ways. these women, or kunoichi as they were called, were given special training in psychological skills and intuition. Taught to manipulate men high-up in the enemy hierarchy, they were known to conceal blades inside musical instruments and sex toys. Shimma kunoichi, ninja family members, were trained as spies who were taught not to fall in love with their targets or lose sight of their ultimate goal after successful seduction. According to Rumiko Hayes, a ninja black belt and the wife of Stephen Hayes, head female agents were sent around the country to collect young female orphans, whom they raised with care. These orphan girls were forever indebted to their agents and would do whatever they were asked in terms of seducing men. Karima kunoichi were women who were not part of the clan but were temporarily hired as maids, mistresses, entertainers, fortunetellers, prostitutes, or artists. In contemporary times, female ninja often fulfill the same roles as men, working in security and law enforcement.


Michael T. runs one of the ninjutsu training dojos in the United States. Part of the year he hires himself out to an agency that supplies international diplomatic security agents. Tall and reed-thin, he has the look of an introverted scientist and, in fact, much of his job involves detailed preventative analysis in order to protect his clients. He also practices Tendai Mikkyo Buddhism. Inside his dojo office is a laptop computer, a phone with several incoming lines, martial arts books, and catalogs selling knives, guns and paramilitary gear. There are also books on Buddhism and dream-yoga practice. Michael says, "No doubt in my mind, there isn't a person off the street or an animal or anything on the planet that isn't capable of ultimate violence. I think my training makes me more capable of non-violence than most folks I meet. I can let situations ride to a very extreme point, let things escalate very fast, because I know I can always control them if I need to. I stay calmer longer. I can talk to people and do all sorts of tricks to calm them down."

I ask Michael how he applies this work in a crowd, how he can survey thousands of people and be successful. He touches the tips of all his fingers together in an arch against his mouth and forehead, shuts his eyes for a minute, and thinks. "Just achieving a calm mind in the middle of a crowd makes it easy for me to find the least calm minds, the violent minds. I've become more sensitive through practice, which puts me way ahead of the game. Now, instead of one thousand people to look at, I only have two people who are violently intentioned. I protect people. A few times I have been sharper than most of the other people on my team because of these skills. Probably I would not have that capacity were it not for the Mikkyo aspect of ninjutsu."

This ability comes from Michael's kuji exercises. There are nine basic kuji which involve using different mantras (chants) and mudras (hand symbols). He explains, "There are exercises to stay centered, exercises for energy, exercises to gain insight, to anticipate dangers, and many exercises to hide from danger. I can call up extra energy when I need to. There will be circumstances when I am working twelve or sixteen hours, and then a situation occurs. For example, some unwanted guest shows up on a floor that I am protecting. You have to summon quick energy; you have to be sharp, because that person is sharp."

When Michael teaches seminars to law enforcement personnel, he uses these kuji in simple ways. "We will, for example, give them a night stick. We call it a focus exercise. So instead of the mantra Kahm-man we will say "calm mind." Just remember "calm mind." If you take the night stick in your hand and think "calm mind," it has been known to work very well."

Because it is such a rigorous martial art, many people who walk into the dojo are street kids who want more, not less power. Michael says, "I'm not teaching a street kid who is violent how to be more efficient at being violent. I teach him how to be less violent, how to retreat from the potential for violence. Very few people leave because we are not at tough enough martial art. People leave because we get them in touch with other parts of themselves."

On an early Saturday morning, Stephen Hayes is at the dojo teaching an introductory Mikkyo class. People filter in and bow from the waist before they enter the room, their hands slack on their flanks. Discreetly hung in different corners are carved Japanese spirit masks and some black ink calligraphies. The electronic beeper from the martial arts classes is replaced by the changing, sweet timpani of two small Tibetan hand cymbals. Musky rust-colored sticks of incense are lit with tapered matches. Participants are not in black, but are now wearing white gis with white belts and white tabi socks. They sit cross-legged in rows, some holding Tibetan dorje scepters and brass bells. The atmosphere is serene and cloistered. There is no smell of martial arts swat. A different shrine, off to the left, has been opened and a drawing is uncovered. It reveals a wrathful, somewhat feminine, multiheaded demoness on top of a hairy, wild boar and is flanked on either side by elaborate mandala paintings. This honzon contains the enlightened quality of energy, a kind of wrathful crazy wisdom. The participants begin changing: Om boji-shitta boda hada yami. Om sammaya sa to ban. ("We reach up to unite with highest truth. Awakening the enlightened mind is my aspiration. We reach up to unite with highest truth. The vow merging heaven and earth forces is my embodied commitment.")


How many of Stephen Hayes' students will awaken to enlightenment? "Up until now, the majority have come into training from a martial arts approach," he says. "There are a lot of people in the world now who could really use all of these teachings-martial arts as well as Buddhism-but if we came out in too straightforward a form they would think, 'No, that is not what I want."So there's a certain subtlety to introducing dharma concepts. There are people who are very happy with their Jewish or Christian faith. I'm comfortable with that because that's the way I did it. It took me years." Musing further, he puts a well-muscled hand to his curly-bearded chin and says, "I look around at the modern Buddhist scene, and there need to be all different kinds of roads in and all different approaches."
This article originally appeared in Tricycle, Spring '95. Ellen Pearlman is a writer living in New York City. She trains at New York Budo under the guidance of Jean-Pierre Seibel and may be contacted through the editor: mailto:Ashidome@aol.com


MULADHRA - THE ROOT CHAKRA, PART 2: GROUNDING

Jian Shan


When people often think of the chakras and the concepts that are related to them in various religions, they often think about moving energy up. They think about raising themselves up toward God. There is a prejudice in such practices as Kundalini yoga towards raising energy, while very little is said about sending energy down the system. Such a process is called grounding, and it is every bit as powerful.

Without this grounding, we are unstable people. We are subject to our emotions. We lose our centeredness, flying off the handle at small things, or becoming empty-headed on the major goals of our lives. When we lose this centeredness, this grounding, our attention wanders from the present moment, and we can feel powerless. Our grounding occurs through our roots, where we gain stability, nourishment, and power. Without it, we are separated from nature, our source of nourishment. In essence, we are easily manipulated.

Being grounded implies limitations. Each move down the chakras means becoming simpler, more definite, more tangible. While this limitation may be troubling to some people, it is an integral part of our creative processes. If we didn't limit our choices, we would never get anything accomplished. Being grounded is a simplifying force, bringing our awareness into the body which exists in only one space and in only one time-the here and now.

On the other hand, our thoughts are more nebulous, extending outside time and space. We often think about the next thing that we have to do, the next Shadows Festival, or the next Blue Lotus Convention. Our bodies remain behind. When we aren't grounded, we may feel as if we aren't getting anything accomplished that would lead us to be able to go to the next Festival or Convention.

Through grounding, we are able to weather the stormy periods of our everyday lives. We are then able to prevent getting overloaded by the stresses we create. We are able to channel these destructive energies into the ground. Grounding is like focusing a camera lens-dissolving two images into one. Our astral or psychic bodies become firmly connected to our physical bodies. If someone were to look at us when we are particularly grounded, they would sense a dynamic clarity about us.

When a person desires to study a complex subject in depth, he needs to ground himself in the basics. Our lower chakras are the foundations upon which everything that we do is built.

Now like everything else in life, this chakra needs to be kept balance. Undue attachment to the security of being grounded can be detrimental to us. The physical world that we inhabit is only a tool, it should not be the goal. We can become attached to the material comforts of this world. It becomes possible that this attachment can dominate our minds with addictions to material comforts, and the accumulation of more and more of these comforts becomes the basis for the lives of many people. It is not satisfying of a need that is the problem, but the attachment to this security that becomes the trap.

Grounding is not a lifeless, dull process, but a dynamic and vibrant one. As we become simplified and integrated with our environment and reduce the tension in our lives, we experience increased vibrancy. This may seem easy to be intellectually grasped by many people, but the experience cannot be fully explained exoterically. It is a skill that cannot be built in one or two meditation sessions. One can detect a little benefit after a short period of time, but only after a protracted period of time can the real benefits be achieved.

Exercise 1

Stamp one foot several times and then the other. This helps to open the foot chakras, and makes contact with the earth beneath us. This is great to do in the mornings as well as during the junan taiso warm up exercises before training in the taijutsu earth modes.

Exercise 2

Lie on your back and raise your legs, with knees relatively straight-but not completely straight. Push your legs into the air with your toes toward your head. Push into your heels. If you find a place that makes your legs vibrate, stay at that point and let the vibrations continue as it energizes your legs and hips.

Exercise 3

Lie flat on your back and get comfortable. Make sure you are warm enough, for the body may get so relaxed that it become colder. Begin breathing deeply, and keep the breath going in a comfortable steady rhythm throughout the entire meditation.

Begin by raising your left leg a few inches off the floor. Hold your breath for a few seconds and tighten each muscle in your leg. Then, with a gush of released breath, let all the muscles relax and let the leg fall onto the floor like a dead weight. Give it a small shake, ground it, and let it be. Then move onto the right leg.

After the legs are grounded, move on to the left arm, making a fist and tightening all the muscles as you possibly can. Release. Now the right arm. Lift...tighten...hold...release.

Roll your head from side to side, stretching all the muscles in your neck. Raise the head slightly off the floor, hold, tighten, release.

Next, curl up your nose, purse your lips, and scrunch your eyes together. Hold, tighten, release. Repeat with your mouth open, tongue out, and face stretched. Hold, tighten, release.

Mentally go over each part of your body, one at a time and check to see if the parts are really relaxed. Begin with the toes, the feet, the ankles, the calves, knees, and thighs. Check to see that your buttocks are relaxed, your stomach, and chest breathing in and out slowly and deeply. Check to see that your neck is relaxed, your mouth, tongue, cheeks, and your forehead.

Now allow yourself to observe your body, peacefully breathing in and out, in and out, deeply relaxing. Observe your thoughts, letting them come and go effortlessly. If you wish to make changes in your body, now is a good time to make silent commands or affirmations. Keep them positive, such as "I will be strong" instead of "I will not be weak". Smile inwardly. Smile at your accomplishments here and now. Think about how good your body feels, and how good it will feel as you go about your tasks. When you are ready, shift your focus away from the here and now, back to your surroundings. Begin flexing your fingers and toes, and wiggling your legs and arms. Open your eyes and return to the world refreshed.


Jian Shan is a student of ninpo taijutsu and may be contacted at: jian@netcom.com .


THE IMPORTANCE OF MEDICAL TRAINING IN NINJUTSU

Emanuel R. EMT Weisgras

Many years ago, when I first started training in ninpo taijutsu, I remember my excitement at finally taking a martial art and learning how to "kick some serious butt!" I, like many people, had seen my share of Sho Kosugi's "Ninja" movies and had been amazed by high flying acrobatics, flashy weapons and the gallons of spilled blood. I was looking forward to being able to walk confidently and fearlessly into a fight, and with a few quick (and flashy) moves, leave my opponent writhing on the ground in agony. Now, to be honest, I had also read a few of Shidoshi Stephen Hayes' books, so my enthusiasm was also tempered by some sense of reality. Nevertheless, the farthest thing from my mind was healing. So imagine my surprise when one day there was a sign on the dojo bulletin board proclaiming a special Sunday class: Okyu Shochi - First Aid and CPR training. I asked about the reason behind offering this course and the explanation that I got was simple and made a lot of sense: We spend a lot of time learning to hurt people and now we should spend some time learning how to heal them as well. Not only did this make sense to me, it practically changed my life around forever.

Needless to say, I attended the one day course (it was an American Red Cross Standard First Aid and Adult CPR course), and then spent the next two weeks looking for people in distress to save (I should mention that I was only fourteen at the time!) and was very disappointed that no one collapsed at my feet so I could rescue them! Nevertheless, I continued taking these classes every time they were offered for the next three years, until I became old enough to teach them. As soon as I could, I went to my local chapter of the American Red Cross and signed up for their instructor courses. I then got myself a job teaching CPR and First Aid for the Red Cross on a semi-regular basis. Among the things I taught people, information about the Emergency Services System and how to activate them were my favorite. I was hooked. I became fascinated with the whole system of emergency care, and, again, as soon as I was old enough, I became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). All this from a first aid course in the dojo where I was learning to "kick some serious butt!" Well, the end result is I will now go and nonchalantly treat a stabbing victim, but I have yet to get to the point where I can walk fearlessly into a physical confrontation and leave the bad guy writhing on the ground.

Now, I am not trying to say by telling this whole story that as students of ninpo taijutsu, we should all go out and become EMTs or doctors or even nurses! However, as part of our overall training, and in our process of hopefully becoming "tatsujin" or fully actualized human beings, knowledge of healing should be an integral part of our training. There are many reasons for this on many levels, just as there are many levels of medical training in many different areas that we can pursue. Amongst other things, these can involve such arts as massage therapy and sports medicine. For others it can involve other healing arts such as reiki, Touch-for-Health, shiatsu, Feldenkrais, and even meditation. However on a basic level, there is a minimum amount of training a person should have. And when I say "a person", I mean everyone out there, not only those people who are training in ninjutsu. It is a level of training that is readily available, inexpensive and easily maintained, and all it takes is an eight hour course in CPR and first aid. Let's face it, our art is not a particularly gentle one, and as in any physical exercise, there is always potential for injury, no matter how good you are and how careful you try to be. On a more selfish level perhaps, wouldn't you want the same help available to you should the need arise? If you run your own dojo or training group, the issue of liability exists and a great way to protect yourself is to ensure that your staff members or students are trained in at least the basics of emergency care.

There are many things that these short courses can teach you, such as splinting, bleeding control, how to activate the Emergency Medical Services in your area, how to set up a plan of action for such emergencies, and when to let someone better trained take control and provide appropriate care. It will help you develop if not confidence, then at least the ability to not panic when confronted with a potentially life threatening emergency. Courses in sports medicine as well will give you the benefit of preventive care and the knowledge of how to deal appropriately with more minor "sports" injuries, which I am sure we all know can "grow" on you until they are no longer minor, but, in fact, can prevent you from taking an active part in many physical activities for long periods of time.

A sample plan of action for your dojo to use in an emergency situation would be as follows (for those of you who have been through Red Cross courses, this may seem familiar).

First, CHECK THE SCENE. Ask yourself the following questions: What happened? Is it safe to approach the scene? If not, what can I do to make the scene safe? How many people are hurt? How many people can help? Who is most qualified to help? In a medical emergency, is there a Paramedic, EMT or other first responder to help? Sometimes there will be a situation where you may have a doctor and an EMT or Medic on the scene. Keep one thing in mind: Unless this doctor's specialty is Emergency Care, it probably has been a long time since (s)he actually dealt with an emergency situation, whereas EMTs and Paramedics are trained to deal with them on a regular basis.

Next, CHECK THE PATIENT(S). Ask yourself who is most seriously injured. Remember that it is not necessarily the person screaming the loudest. There are four things you should check on your patient:

Is this person conscious? Des this person have an open airway and is (s)he breathing? Do they have a pulse and are they bleeding severely from anywhere? If they are screaming or talking, you know that they are conscious, breathing and have a pulse. Then you can check to see if they any other injuries that can become more serious later on: broken bones, sprained ankle, etc.

Have someone CALL 911 or otherwise activate the EMS system in your area if necessary. Many times you may not be sure whether or not to call. A good rule for this is any eye injury or other injury that you can not COMFORTABLY walk away from is a cause to call EMS.

Finally, CARE for your patient as best you can. If you train regularly in any location, you should always have a few basic first aid supplies on hand for such a situation. Pack a kit with band-aids, alcohol, gauze pads, etc. to suit your needs. Little things do count.

There are many facets to ninjutsu training, and this particular facet, which is of great importance, is often one of the most frequently ignored, yet one of the most frequently needed. For more information on many of these courses, you can contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross or American Heart Association, your local Department of Health, or let your fingers do the walking and open up your local yellow pages. If you would like more information or suggestions, or if you live in the New York area and would like me to set up specialized courses for your dojo or training group, feel free to e-mail me at one of the addresses listed below.


Emanuel Weisgras has been studying ninpo taijutsu on and off for the past seven years. He has been a New York State Emergency Medical Technician for the last three years and is currently employed by New York City EMS (NYC*EMS). He also teaches CPR, First Aid, and Child Care for the American Red Cross in Greater New York and has done so for the past four years. He loves his job, classical music and "surfing the net". He may be contacted via e-mail at: telaviv@pipeline.com or 73324.1704@compuserve.com.


MUSHIN

Ken Harding

As you approach a more advanced stage of training, you begin to truly experience the effectiveness of Ninpo Taijutsu. As you progress beyond the ways of standing and moving, understanding what is meant by the "feeling of the art", and start using the Kihon Happo in an increasingly realistic manner, you start to get an idea of how dangerous these techniques are when applied in earnest. But I hope you will realize the difference between training and actual combat. Just because you can do a technique in a safe environment, with a cooperative training partner, doesn't automatically mean that you can do the same thing on the street against someone who is intent on harming you.

There are many obstacles to be overcome toward this kind of mastery, and conquering all of them takes a lifetime of training. I am continually asked: "How long will it be before I can use martial arts to defend myself?" The answer is a complex one which depends on many different variables: your length of training, hours spent in class, hours spent at home practicing and conditioning, natural ability, your ability to relax, intelligence, purity of heart, the intensity of your spirit and training, and other things as well. But the elusive skill that true mastery depends upon most is both developed somewhat through training, yet has nothing to do with fighting. It has to do with the mastery of one's own mind.

There have been many books on the subject, but the best ones are those by the Japanese masters, of both budo and zen, especially those written during the time in history when the martial arts were practiced in actual warfare. I will cut through the obscure philosophy and state it simply and directly. If you think about avoiding an attacker's punch, your mind will be captured by the thought of avoiding the attacker's punch, and you will be struck. If you think about striking an opponent, your mind will be detained by the thought of striking the opponent, and you will miss. If you put your mind into your attacker's aggression toward you, your mind will be held by the thought of your attacker's aggression toward you, and you will lose. If you think about not being afraid, your mind will be captured by the thought of not being afraid, and you will bring about your defeat. If you try not to think about anything at all, your mind will be captured by that thought, too. But if you put your mind nowhere, your mind will be capable of being everywhere, and you will not be overcome.

The forms of training which help this ability are Muto Dori (No-Sword Technique), in which you face a sword wielding opponent with just your bare hands, and the other training method is called Shinken Gata (Spirit-sword Forms), our form of sparring which is actual combat. Do not seriously pursue this kind of training until your black belt level. Until then, you must put your mind's attention fully into your physical body to learn the proper taijutsu and technique. But I do encourage you to experiment with the kind of training in which you practice reacting without thinking, and begin meditating to clear your mind. An old poem reads: "To think 'I will not think' - This too is something in one's thoughts. Simply do not think, about not thinking at all."


Shidoshi Ken Harding, 6th Dan, heads the Missouri Ninja Center in St. Louis. He started his training in 1984, has trained with Hatsumi Soke in Japan, and studies Japanese, Yoga, shiatsu, herbology and nutrition. He may be contacted via E-mail: Shadowswrd@aol.com .


UKE

Llermo V. Roger

How important is it being an uke? It is one of many aspects ninjutsu offers in teaching the practitioner, whether student or teacher, the power of the art. We have been focusing on the Tori (defender); it is about time we consider the other side of training - the uke (attacker). The answer to the question is that it is crucial to this of any other art (many do not even look at this side of training). I am blessed that ninjutsu offer both sides of training.

I'd like to tell you a little story of how early on I had to learn the importance of being an uke. Within a month or so with Shidoshi Harding at his basement, as I learned ukemi, I thought to myself, "What's the big deal in doing all this tumbling?" Then he taught the basic postures and techniques. But within 2 or 3 sessions (he was only teaching on Sundays at the time, so I had at least a week to practice before returning) Shidoshi was throwing me around while he told me to use my ukemi. I came to the realization that ukemi was what I used to escape/survive any form of attack or counterattack. The training became more intense as I kept coming back every Sunday. As he threw me up and down, he softly and repeatedly told me to relax. I almost gave up after a month because I didn't like the physical feeling of being thrown, punched, kicked, or the combination of these; I was in pain every time I left his house.

In one of many sessions, he softly mentioned for me to relax. I thought: "How can I relax while I'm being thrown, punched and kicked?" So I asked him, "Shidoshi?!? (puzzled) How important is relaxation with ukemi?" He stated: "If you loosen up, it won't hurt as much." I thought that if I loosen up, I'd be letting my guard down and would be easily hurt. When he mentioned the word relax, I asked him again, "Are you telling me to loosen every muscle in my body instead of tensing them in order to absorb any form of attack?!?!" "Yes," he stated. I have learned that being relaxed absorbs the attack as well as the pain that goes along with it much better than when I was very tense.

I remember one time when I was tense: he punched at me in the stomach with the whole of his body - I stayed curled up on the mat for 5 minutes. It was during those painful minutes I decided to relax throughout my training as well as any activity I did outside training. As I threw punches and kicks, Shidoshi was teaching me techniques along with the pains that I received from them.

It was a struggle to relax, and it still is a part of training. It can't be mastered and then put aside; it's an ongoing process inside and outside the dojo as well as inside and outside myself (mind and body). When I learned to relax, my rolls became smoother, quieter and softer; movements became smoother and with fluidity as time passed. The source of ninpo taijutsu became clearer. As I learned how to relax, factors or aspects of what ninpo taijutsu work presented themselves throughout my training.

As an uke, I have learned that the aspects of uke and tori are interchangeable and quite the same. I am not implying that it is good to be an attacker, but that it is first important to defend, then to attack if chosen. All I can say is keep training, and it is nice to be thrown, punched, kicked and grabbed because it teaches anyone what the art is calmness of the spirit, and it teaches humility. Yamamoto Tsunetomo states to all practitioners of budo to keep training, and that a small understanding is not enough. It is a lifetime process.

In order to reach the higher order of Ninpo, it is necessary for the student to gain an understanding of his/her body far more deeply than the average person. Before one can become a great martial artist, one must first become a good uke. There is no other way. We strive to use our bodies in a way that is far too natural for most people to understand. Always remember what the natural state of a human is when he is not thinking of anything at all. That is what I mean by relaxed: if the mind is relaxed, the body will also be so.

Ken Harding


This article was first published in Shadowgram, Number 35, April 1995 edition. Shadowgram is a newsletter published by Ken Harding and the Missouri Ninja Center.
Llermo V. Rogers has been training in Bujinkan Ninpo Taijutsu since 1988 under Shidoshi Ken Harding. He is a Sandan and an assistant instructor at the Missouri Ninja Center in St. Louis. He may be contacted at: Shadowswrd@aol.com .


EDITORIALS



* * * Editor's Note: These articles center around "touchy" subjects and often are topics for serious debates (more often, arguments). They are included in this newsletter to represent different viewpoints. These articles are of their author's own opinions and they do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the editor and staff of Ura & Omote.* * *


THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE

Jeff M. Miller

I have been following the articles and editorials in this newsletter and on-line, as well as the comments and rumors that have proliferated in the Bujinkan for the last few years. For the most part, I have just left much of it alone, preferring to just train and learn all that I could from every source available. I have attempted to ignore the "Shadows of Ignorance" and "Hayes-groupies" comments from those of you who profess to be 'living examples' of Hatsumi-sensei's art.

Well, you've done it. You have violated the primary rule of the warrior. You have offended and caused a desire for retaliation. Your shallow attempt at mute recital of philosophy and your obvious drawing attention to yourselves with your "Look, I talk and act like Sensei" routines has me gagging!

Having chosen shidoshi Hayes as my mentor through the incredibly vast amount of information embodied by Hatsumi sensei's system, I looked up to each with respect and awe; to sensei for what he embodies and toward Mr. Hayes for his ability to translate the art, and the Japanese mind-set and culture into something that I, with my Western perspective could understand.

Now before any of you start the usual eye-rolling or defensive attitude that seems to run rampant in this art today, . . .relax. I still hold respect for both and look forward to many more years of training. And besides, with all of the backstabbing and 'better than thou' attitudes already present within the Bujinkan, you don't need the Genbukan, or anyone else for that matter, to cause you worry.

What then, is the purpose for this piece?-- Just to point out a few observations based on a recent opportunity to train with many of you and, basically, just to get some serious irritation off of my chest!

First, I would like to suggest to all of you who just feel nauseous when you hear or read the name 'Stephen K. Hayes', should just take a hard, long look in the mirror. Preferably one not warped or rose colored. I have heard enough 'Hayes-bashing' to last me a lifetime. It seems that everyone who wants to be an authority or THE one selected by Hatsumi-sensei to be the true voice for the western students criticizes Mr. Hayes for already being that person. Personally, it sounds like a bunch of jealous school girls who start rumors and scandal over a girl who dates the one boy they all wish they could have for themselves. I have bad news guys and gals, he was there first and, like it or not, deserves the same respect given to any of the other shihans.

Everyone seems to be interested in doing it the Japanese-way and the 'right' way, knocking shidoshi Hayes for not doing it that way. Has anyone ever bothered to ask him? I have. And I know that anyone who does will get his honest reasons, none of which has to do with 'being like sensei' as evidenced by the facades worn by many of the so-called 'American Shihans'. As for some of these unasked questions, one need only look at the cultural differences and the way martial arts are practiced between the two countries.

One of these, I'm sure a major reason why many jet off to Japan in the first place, is that "Stephen Hayes doesn't promote like they do there." NO KIDDING! Can you imagine what other martial artists would have said in the early eighties, or now for that matter, if he would have returned from Japan with the 'martial art of the century' where you could earn your black belt in about a year?!!! The average time in most arts for attainment of shodan is three to four years, more for others. We would have been the laughing stock of the martial arts world.

The reaching of black belt is a coveted thing here and in Europe as is evidenced by everyone who wants one. We don't see it as the beginning of real training. We in the West see it more as a culmination, as proven by all of the new shodans who run out of their teacher's school to set up their own. And quite frankly, I have had the opportunity to meet some of the upper-dan people in this art. Come on; sixth dan in six years is a little ridiculous. I expect certain skills to be common-place with such a rank but have been sorely disappointed. When teachers of this rank and higher get hit by students going slower than fight-speed without being able to ride it off, not to mention those who hit themselves hard enough to knock themselves off-balance and into the paths of weapons, they had better watch their backs. There are places in this country where it is not uncommon for 'prospective students' to request a lesson looking for an opportunity to 'test' a teacher's skills. And no amount of justification or excuse making is going to change the fact that you couldn't cut it after the event.

Next is the problem with Hayes not teaching the Japanese curriculum. It could be, as difficult as it may be to believe, that he wasn't in Japan when the Shihan met to decide what they would use for kyu material. Another reason, for the 'kata-collectors' out there, could be that the Koto ryu is probably the crudest form of the nine and therefore easiest for a new student to get a hold on. Anyone who has been studying for awhile has, or should have, noticed that the Gyokko ryu (the material used in Japan) has many intricate aspects ranging from pressure points hits to throws and kuji material. The timing for a simple ichimonji with counter strike is much more involved, if done properly, than that of the Koto ryu. And as for actual curriculum, if people weren't so interested in the color of the cloth around their waist, the number they can place next to the dan-word, or the title they can place next to their name to impress others, they could see that a student training in the Kasumi-an system has everything in the Noda one by 5th kyu!!!-- plus some. I myself have been training in this art for eleven years and am only a nidan-- longer than many of you shidoshi have been around! I would be willing to trade notes anytime.

And, for those of you who have 'taken sides' with particular Japanese shihans who don't like the way Hayes teaches, you need to look at how many of the shihans don't like each other! And as for them determining how he should teach, Hayes sensei has been around longer than many of those you look up to!

And finally, for those of you who just have a chip on your shoulder, you know . . ., the ones out there who keep telling everyone how you would just like to "kick Hayes' ass", . . .grow up! Are you that insecure or jealous that you have to resort to violence to elevate yourselves?! YOU, above everyone else, need to listen to sensei's philosophy instead of nodding in agreement when you hear him talking.

We could all learn from the Chinese Emperor who disliked the political and religious self- righteousness displayed by many weak-hearted people. He placed stones at each border road entering his land that made it illegal to put down another's religion or belief system. He felt so strongly about this, believing that anyone who had to put down others to elevate themselves wasn't as good as those they condemned, that violation of this law was punishable by death. That would reduce the surplus shidoshi population!

Now, on to what I see as massive shows of disrespect towards Hatsumi-sensei.

That sentence should just about make most of you defecate in your gi. I say this based on seeing many of you in action, reading the 'sensei is great' articles, and watching training videos that some of you have had the guts to put out. I must say that most of my suspicions were verified at the last Tai Kai in Atlanta. You people need to look up the word 'cult' in the dictionary!

I decided to attend the event, not only to train with sensei, but to network and meet many of the other people holding senior rank in the Bujinkan. People that I could learn from and get to know. I have to tell you that I was seriously under-impressed.

Half-way through the first day I thought I checked into a southern-baptist convention instead of the Tai Kai. The only thing I didn't hear were people chanting,

"Sensei's Great,
  Sensei's Good,
   Sensei trains
    with steel and wood."

I watched demonstrations by new Godans that looked like beginners, 9th dans nodding in agreement with sensei but not listening to a thing he said (i.e. the first demo had a 9th dan(?) attacking Noguchi-sensei with a 'street punch' that looked remarkably similar to a traditional (16th century) tsuki (and a bad one at that) even after sensei corrected it 4 times!!!-- and I watched a senior American teacher make a fool out of himself trying to make fun of someone else who was making tailored tabi. The joke was on him because Mr. & Mrs. Hatsumi took thirty pairs home with them!

People avoided the Hayes-group like the plague even though we attempted to train with as many of you as possible (Hint: I was one of those who, like the ninja I was taught to be by someone who 'doesn't know anything', wore a blank gi (no patch, nin symbol, etc.) and worked with those of you who didn't just work with a friend (why?). Keep training guys. You made me feel proud for the decision I made.

I watched shihan after shihan called to the stage by sensei to "give their impression of a technique" only to hear them describe how sensei did it. I SAW HOW SENSEI DID IT!-- Tell me what you (a teacher) learned or observed about it so I have a clearer picture. Don't get me wrong, I respect sensei a great deal and look forward to learning a great deal more from him, but some of you people act like puppies at feeding time. And I don't know how many times I was forced to watch a 'kata' performed after the person was asked to show something they learned during the weekend. If my memory serves me correctly, sensei's theme was Shinken Gata, remember? Helloooo, you're NOT listeninggggg!

And then there are those that are disgruntled with sensei for concealing facts, altering others, and withholding information. He's a ninja remember? This information has been distorted for a thousand years, in the light of tradition, who is he to change that now? And, if that's not enough, he's Soke. He has the power, like it or not, to completely rewrite any or all of the scrolls at any time. Originally, before everyone went 'kata-crazy' the Bujinkan was about not dying in a fight and, listening to sensei, I think it still is. It has just become so polluted with museum keepers, megalomaniacs, and dan- collectors that few can see it anymore. The Kasumi-an system is based on the original teachings of Hatsumi-sensei (who constantly points out that 'Hayes understands' when discussion this 'not dying essence' but ignored by those who want to be sensei's prodigal son). And as long as I feel that I can learn this 'essence' from Hayes and Hatsumi senseis, I will be around. THAT is my respect. The greatest a student can give a teacher. I give my respect to both-- to Hatsumi for the tests of honor and character. For baiting me with easy advancement if I just pay him the fee. And to Hayes sensei, for being true to his nature (ninpo) and not turning out clones or a 16th century answer for the problems I have to face today. To both I say 'domo arigato gozaimas''.

This article was titled "The Devil's Advocate" because, as far as Stephen Hayes basher's are concerned, he probably is to the Bujinkan what Satan was to Heaven. And because, to those who drool at Hatsumi-sensei's feet, I will be someone else to hate. But that's OK. You may not like anything I have said here, but you will NEVER forget that I said it!


J. M. Miller has been studying ninpo taijutsu for over 11 years. He is a personal student of Stephen K. Hayes, has trained under Hatsumi Soke, Manaka-Shihan, Jack Hoban and Bud Malstrom both abroad and here in the United States. He also has experience in Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do and Karate. He is a private investigator and runs a dojo full time. He may be contacted at: JMMiller@aol.com .


CONTROVERSY

Chris Davy

This past year has been very interesting in the Bujinkan. Lately there have been a few people publicly questioning and outright trying to remove the credibility of Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi. This makes me very sad. First of all, let us remember that in the past the ninja have been misunderstood, and because of that history has been distorted. People who obviously misunderstand the art today are trying to compare are trying to compare our arts and practice to other Japanese martial systems. They are trying to compare apples and oranges. The point was brought up concerning the fact that other traditional martial arts organizations laugh at the Bujinkan. Of course they do! What we practice and say goes against every facet of most Koryu; why wouldn't they disagree? Our art is unlike any other martial art system, in the way it is practiced and in the way it is taught. It cannot be compared to other systems in any way; it is very different. I am glad that the others see the differences and criticize us, those differences are the exact reasons why I study Ninpo and not one of the more "formal" or "traditional" systems. The Genbukan seems to attract the people who want more structure and "kata". They feel more comfortable with a more regimented traditional martial arts organization. I believe that type of environment kills the nature of Ninpo, the creativity that can be nurtured becomes smothered and killed by that view of "kata" training. I also believe that it is a strong case of "The grass is always greener..." We have all been fortunate to study Ninpo. If Masaaki Hatsumi had not diverged from the ways of his teacher, Takamatsu, we would not have been able to study this age old system of the martial arts. Toshitsugu Takamatsu was apparently very much against teaching Ninpo to the masses (foreigners).

The latest outcry has been about Hatsumi's past, about the other men that he trained with, and the other men that trained with Takamatsu Sensei. There are several names emerging lately. There is Ueno Takashi whom Hatsumi trained with and studied under. Ueno Takashi was a student of Takamatsu Sensei's and was according to the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten passed several traditions by Takamatsu. Then there is Sato Kinbei that has been mentioned by Tanemura as being soke of several of the systems that Hatsumi Sensei lays claim to. I personally have not been able to find Sato Kinbei in reference to any of the Bujinkan schools in any publications that I have. The Bugei Ryuha Daijiten does mention his name on page 523 as the head of Taikawado (aiki, jo, sword, fist, bo). This is the only reference that I can find other than what Tanemura, of the Genbukan, states. Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi Sensei IS LISTED in the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten as the Soke of Takagi Yoshin Ryu, Kukishinden Happohiken, Gikan Ryu, Gyokko Ryu, Koto Ryu, Togakure Ryu, Kumogakure Ryu, Hontai Takagi Yoshin Ryu, and the Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu. Some question the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten as a reference, it lists thousands of Japanese Ryu. To me it is the best un-biased reference that exists at this time.

Hatsumi Sensei may have trained with many other people throughout his life. He may even refuse to discuss them, or deny their existence. I believe that this is out of respect to his teacher Takamatsu Sensei. If you read Hatsumi Sensei's books, or listen to him speak, he makes it a point to give respect and credit to Takamatsu Sensei whenever possible. He never talks about himself. All of the stories of training and martial prowess are about Takamatsu Sensei. This is a traditional way to be; the Japanese honor the relationship with a teacher more than the relationship with their own parents. I imagine that Hatsumi Sensei feels he is thanking Takamatsu Sensei through this practice, and to mention and give credit to another would be disrespectful.

The common thread that all Ninpo practitioners share is the message that the art carries. The truth in the words and movements of Hatsumi Sensei shares with us is clear to some of us; it grabs your soul and becomes a part of you. Others live in fear, and are shrouded with doubt of themselves, and thus in anything they do. They unfortunately begin to resort to childish games where they feel the need to justify there own shortcomings as a human being by shouting "My father is better than yours..." Ninpo is not an easy endeavor. The people with strong spirits will endure through the hardships of the training and become "free" to enjoy life. Others will turn tail and run placing blame to others and begin to play politics, trying to discredit all who threaten their ego. If we listen to the message and stop trying to kill and discredit the messenger, even through the discomfort and pain that comes with the truth, we would all be able to transcend the politics and childish games that are now choking many of us. Let's strive to break this barrier together and show that Ninpo is in fact alive and well in this country.

In closing let me say that there is so much we don't know. Besides the immense language and cultural barrier, there is the incredible depth that the history of the martial lineages carry. They are so interwoven and linked to so many things and events, it would take years of research to sort out small pieces of the puzzle. You would always just be guessing at the truth of your findings. If we put our time to training and studying our art through putting it to practice in our lives we would all have much more to offer our families, communities, and to ourselves.


Shidoshi Christopher Davy has been practicing Ninpo for 10 years. If you have questions or comments feel free to contact:

Bujinkan Yume Dojo
PO Box 3109
Crofton, MD 21114-0109

Or feel free to respond by E-mail: JeffM777@aol.com .


WAZA



DISTANCING

Ken Harding

In Ninpo Taijutsu, there are many factors that need to be understood before victory is possible. Moving correctly, balance, mastery of timing, proper speed and power, and good technique built on years of experience are some of these. However, there is one aspect that is so important that Grandmaster Hatsumi has named the art after it. In several places, including at the beginning of most of his training videos, he calls our art the "Martial Arts of Distance."

What I believe he is saying by that is that the understanding of distance is the most important thing. Through several stories and parables he relates how mastery of distance, keeping out of your opponent's reach, yet coming in to counter-attack, has been responsible for many victories.

Most of the problems student's experience with unsuccessful techniques is due to poor distancing; usually being too close (especially with weapons!). You can't say that it's your partner's fault: if someone is attacking you, you have to be the one to control the distance. Of course your attacker wants to get in close. That's what attacking is all about. Don't allow your attacker to "creep up" on you. If you can't make a waza work well, then take one step back and see if that makes a difference.

Here is what Itto Ittosai, a famous Japanese swordsman who lived hundreds of years ago, said about distance:

Inken No Koto: In real combat, the opponent wants to get close enough to win. This is the case for both fighters. Even if the distance is equal, but one side can attack easily while the other cannot, the true distance is not equal. This is the situation one must study and learn to create. The most important point is to keep the body straight and use footwork to adjust one's distance. One should learn how to make the opponent feel like he is always far away, and thus cannot attack. One must keep flexible in the approach to be able to do this. The decision of life or death hinges on very small points.

So in the future, re-examine how you use distance with your training partners. It makes all the difference.


Shidoshi Ken Harding, 6th Dan, heads the Missouri Ninja Center in St. Louis. He started his training in 1984, has trained with Hatsumi Soke in Japan, and studies Japanese, Yoga, shiatsu, herbology and nutrition. He may be contacted via E-mail: Shadowswrd@aol.com .


DAKENTAIJUTSU

Alon Adika

As I mentioned before the Ninjutsu system of unarmed combat is made up of three main components:

This time I will talk on the subject of Dakentaijutsu or striking, blocking and kicking methods. Dakentaijutsu is made up of two distinct disciplines:

There are many different ways of using the body weapons for employing Dakentaijutsu skills. You should utilize different strikes for attacking different targets on your opponent's body. For example, if you want to attack an enemy's soft spots, such as the armpit, you can use finger strikes and toe drives. If you want to attack a hard target you can use a foot stomp or clenched fist.

Here is a partial list of body weapons:

You should practice using the body weapons in various kata. Practice blocking with various body weapons as well as striking with different body weapons. Also practice all possible footwork for delivering the blocks and strikes.

In Dakentaijutsu the whole body is used to generate the power and strength for the various strikes and blocks. When you strike, strike through the target using the power of your whole body behind the attack.

When practicing Dakentaijutsu skills it is not enough to strike an object like a tree or punching bag. You should train with a partner as well to get a feel of what it's like to strike different targets on the human body. You should also train with your partner moving around because a real opponent won't stay in one place. Be careful though, and don't perform dangerous strikes to the head or chest at full force.

A small contraption that can help you practice attacking specific targets with precision can be made by taking a tennis ball and attaching it to a length of elastic. Hang it up and practice striking it, the ball should bob up and down and from side to side because of the elastic.

It is important to practice Dakentaijutsu skills so you learn how to block and strike effectively. Along with Jutaijutsu and Taihenjutsu, these skills form a powerful and effective base for your ninpo taijutsu.

Alon Adika has been practicing ninjutsu since 1987. He lives in Jerusalem, Israel and may be contacted at aq4866@yfn.ysu.edu .


DAKENTAIJUTSU VS. JUTAIJUTSU - AN IN DEPTH LOOK...

Jeff Mueller

Dakentaijutsu and Jutaijutsu are two terms that are used frequently in the Bujinkan today, but many times they are misinterpreted...

These two terms are usually referred to as "Striking method" (Dakentaijutsu) and "Grappling method" (Jutaijutsu). In the realm of simple answers these definitions hold true, outside of that realm in the world of analytical answers those definitions break down. Dakentaijutsu is a way of dealing with an attack, just as Jutaijutsu is. It doesn't matter what the attack is. This is the first misconception many people have, Dakentaijutsu principles have nothing to do with the attack itself, and neither do the Jutaijutsu principles. The difference in the two is how you deal with the attack, no matter what it is. Let's look at methodology now...

Dakentaijutsu can be explained using the word "overkill." You hit the opponent until he falls down, then you hit him while he's falling, and probably after he's on the ground in front of you also. It is the art of destroying what stands before you using your striking skills. The strikes are used on many occasions to remove the opponent's balance as well. Now here's the problem people have with the definitions, and where those simple one's break down. Dakentaijutsu contains many throws as well! Many of the throws we do are found in our systems of Dakentaijutsu. It's all in the way the throw is done.

Jutaijutsu contains methods of striking, as well as throwing. The biggest point behind the Jutaijutsu method is the uke cannot take proper ukemi. You still hit the opponent, but you let the ground do most of the work for you. Let the damage from the technique come from the uke trying to take ukemi, in which case he rips or breaks whatever joints you are controlling, or let him save those joints and hit the ground hard, breaking or damaging whatever just hit.

To recap, Dakentaijutsu doesn't mean the uke punches or kicks as an attack. It doesn't mean you don't throw him. It means you beat him senseless allowing your body to do most of the work. Jutaijutsu doesn't mean the uke grabs you as an attack. It doesn't mean you don't hit him. It means you throw him in such a manner that ukemi isn't possible, allowing the ground to do most of the work for you. I hope this clears some things up for you...


Jeff Mueller is the Head Instructor at the Bujinkan Musha no Tomodachi Dojo in Bowie, Maryland. He has been training in Ninpo Taijutsu since 1988 and has traveled to Japan to train with Hatsumi Sensei and the other Shihan.


DID YOU KNOW...?



Hatsumi Soke inherited from his teacher, Toshitsugu Takamatsu, the position of soke (grandmaster) in the following martial traditions:

34th soke of Togakure ryu ninjutsu
   originally founded by Daisuke Togakure
28th soke of Gyokko ryu koshijutsu
   originally founded by Hakkunsai Tozawa
28th soke of Kukishin ryu happo hikenjutsu
   originally founded by Izumo Kanja Yoshiteru
26th soke of Shinden fudo ryu dakentaijutsu
   originally founded by Izumo Kanja Yoshiteru
21st soke of Gyokushin ryu ninjutsu
   originally founded by Sasaki Gorozaemon
18th soke of Koto ryu koppojutsu
   originally founded by Sandayu Momochi
18th soke of Gikan ryu koppojutsu
   originally founded by Sonyu Hangan Gikanbo, lord of Kawachi
17th soke of Takagi yoshin ryu jutaijutsu
   originally founded by Oriuemon Shigenobu Takagi
14th soke of Kumogakure ryu ninpo
   originally founded by Heinaizaemon Ienaga Iga, 
   who adopted the name Kumogakure Hoshi


FEEDBACK - READERS FORUM



"How would you describe the outlook of a ninjutsu martial artist? Is there any training which helps how you see yourself with regard to lifestyle, eating habits, other people, and personal relationships. Do you favour logic over emotion? Are you serious and thoughtful?" - BHTGroup

"I would like to see more about the various Ryuha in the newsletter and maybe some more historical data." - Alon Adika

This is your area! Feel free to ask question about anything, comment on articles, request information. If you have any answers or information for the questions/comments/issues herein, please e-mail Ashidome@aol.com and the information will be included in the next issue.


THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Joanne Bobier

What you write in ink in small black letters
May be completely lost
Through the action of a simple drop of water.
But what is written in your mind
Stays there for eternity.


END NOTES

Liz maryland

Let's share harmony

This month we had two strongly worded editorials from our readers. This sharing of opinions should help open some eyes. It's hard to believe that such biases and prejudices exist among us, but it is sadly true. Hopefully, we can now do our part to share harmony and lessen the problems that bias and prejudice cause. We are all training in the same art. No one school or "style" should proclaim itself better than the rest. I actually look forward to the day when I will not have to look at T-shirts proclaiming, "The Bujinkan will rise above the Kasumi-An" and where I will not have to listen to "Hatsumi" or "Steve" or "Shihan so and so" bashing from anyone.

****Let's just train. And share the knowledge and goodness that we have. The world is violent enough without our petty disputes.****

I'd like to thank all of the authors for their wonderful contributions to the newsletter. Without them, you would only receive a seminar listing, training group list and pathetic article or two written by yours truly. But because of them, we have great breadth and scope of experience an knowledge. Please e-mail them and let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.

Well, that's it for this month. Enjoy!

Background

This newsletter was started to connect ninpo taijutsu practitioners from all backgrounds together. Ura & Omote's goal is to provide a forum where we can easily gather and disseminate information (both "obvious" and "hidden"), ask questions and, more importantly, get answers, and share experiences while living the art.

Articles Still Needed

In order to produce this newsletter every month, articles will be needed. Please don't count on someone else to write the articles. If you feel you have something valid to share, please do so. Articles can be written on a variety of topics:

Here's the Standard Disclaimer

We (the publisher and authors) are not responsible in any manner whatsoever for any injury which may occur through reading or following any instructions in this newsletter. Remember, these are martial arts techniques which may result in injury or death. Find a proper instructor wherever possible. Please consult a physician before engaging in the exercises described herein.

Keep in mind that all articles herein are of their author's opinion/research and the publisher of this newsletter will not be held liable for any errors or misleading information. If you need further information on any articles, or if you have questions for the authors, please contact them directly. If there is no E-mail address listed, please E-mail the editor and your request will be forwarded.


Liz maryland is the editor of this newsletter. She is a graphic designer by trade and part-time information gatherer. She trains under Jean-Pierre Seibel at New York Budo (where she is majorly stressing out over an upcoming test), is a vegetarian, struggling Buddhist, honorary Jew, lapsed Catholic, part-time pagan, and has a wicked (so wicked, it can't be described) sense of humor. She may be contacted via E-mail: Ashidome@aol.com .
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