|[ olvasnivaló » Ura & Omote - 1995 May ]|
People who are studying martial arts are apt to think that they are rightly human; that they have a right philosophy and that they are acting and behaving correctly. But what do other people think?
One day I was watching a talk show with a martial art novelist on TV. The novelist, who didn't look like he really knew about the martial arts, looked so weak, but was talking as if he had been a great swordsman. These modern day novelists become great swordsmen all too quickly. I don't know if they have a problem, or if the problem is with the mass media.
Novelists who are not studying or training in the martial arts can't talk about the way of the martial arts or movements of the martial arts. But some of them even interrupt the professionals who are studying or training in the martial arts. I call these kind of novelists megalomaniacs. I wonder why the mass media lets these amateur critics be sensei of certain arts. This is a crazy world.
I have heard that the writers, researchers, stunt men, and martial artists disputed over the mutodori scenes in the N.H.K. TV series "Haru no Saka Michi". To me, you have to risk your life to do muto dori against a real sword. There is a poem which describes the will and heart of muto:
Hell is under the sword which is brandished, just step in, and there will be heaven.
When you face the sword, you need guts. The person who can't get true guts normally gets fake guts, (craziness) by using liquor or drugs. I once had a talk with one martial artist: "Hatsumi-san, I have met many sensei, but a lot of martial artists are nervous." "You mean persecution mania or being sensitive to winning or losing?" "Yes." "When I see my teacher, Takamatsu Sensei, I can tell that the martial art allergy, thinking too much, will be dull if you train enough. He says it is senility, but he is quite well and very strong."
There are times when a martial artist can become crazy, such as megalomania, inferiority complex, persecution mania, and too sensitive (chusatsu moso), which makes you think somebody is trying to attack you. For example, if you become a megalomaniac, you think you are strong, a hero. Inferiority complex, which you could get if you keep losing, can make you think you are not good at all, or that you don't have the talent to be a martial artist. Persecution mania makes you think that your opponent looks stronger. Chusatsu moso makes you think that somebody is trying to attack you because you have a lot of weak points. This is one of the mental diseases which everyone will have if they are in the process of training. Only an individual who is in the "World of Craziness" and can get out can become a master.
It is said that the sword saint learned zen a long time ago. But there was a dark period of Zen in the history of Japan. The priest Ikkyu lived during that period with the spirit of rejection called himself "Fukyo" (crazy). You can interpret craziness and courage as the same thing. One day, Shogun Ashikaga visited Ikkyu to reform the bad customs. Other priests started to shake and worry because of the presence of the Shogun, but Ikkyu took off his hat and stood up on a place higher than the Shogun, and was about to give his hat to him. One of the Shogun's followers was very upset and put his hand on the handle of his sword, ready to draw when he thought he better not cause bloodshed before the Buddhist altar. Instead he reached out his hand to receive the hat for the Shogun. Ikkyu then said: "I can't give this hat to a follower like you. I will only give it directly to the Shogun." This is an example of courage with humor.
There are many forms of the Kyo (craziness). The form of split: changes of techniques or martial art to find a good teacher. The form of depressive: a person who smiles (gets gratification) after cutting (attacking) someone. The form of diversion: the person who attacks the opponent's territory by himself. The form of alcoholic: a person who can't hold the sword without liquor, etc. Anyone who becomes crazy of the craziness and then returns back to the normal state will become a true expert. I tell my students that if they can do mental concentration, become a kind of schizophrenic or split personality, or they can't detect the existence of the opponents in every direction.
There is an tendency for modern martial artists not to do training by themselves. I used to train by myself. When my teacher was not there, I found out the secret by myself. I stayed in the mountains and trained with trees, wild animals, and nature. I trained using taihenjutsu against trees. When I trained against wild animals, I read their minds first and then punched or kicked them. I practiced throwing techniques against a big bull. I trained against the changes of nature, and learned to foresee them and take advantage of the changes.
But its better being with your teacher. But if your teacher is not good, you learn only the shape, and you end up with puppet martial arts. By the way, the book called A LAISSEZ-FAIRE POLICY, a bestseller, should be welcomed because this policy can give you great creativity. If I have a student who doesn't learn, but enjoys the martial arts, I leave him alone. I don't say anything and I don't even train him. But if he still likes martial arts, he trains by himself and starts to learn something. If you teach him too much, it sometimes doesn't work. Oh Yomei fore knew that people were coming to him by Do In Jutsu, technique of leading, conducting, but he thought that teaching this to people didn't do any good for them, and he stopped teaching. If you do too much, its no good. It is the same for the martial arts. I don't teach real advanced techniques unless they are to advanced students. The secret is not the number of techniques.
A laissez-faire policy is the method which was born from the realization of "nothing". Modern society, which seeks only the method which is born from "something", makes useless people. Sometimes I tell my students who are still in high school: "I don't like the way you study because you don't have a goal. I will teach you. First, fall in love with Ninpo. Falling in love will give birth to everything. If you fall in love, you can train by yourself. From there, you start studying everything."A lot of foreigners come to me, so I naturally started studying foreign languages. History of martial arts, thoughts, religion, philosophy, mother's tongue (advice), foreign language, psychology, chemistry, physics, etc. You start studying by yourself. So it is not important whether you are good or bad at something, as in budo, or how many techniques you were taught or know, but its more valuable to learn the truth of the game by self training. "Life is self training." This is the axiom I tell myself and my students. Of course it is most important to have attentiveness. Attentiveness lets you have a manner to train in order not to get into trouble.
Brought to you by the
Missouri Ninja Center
8336 Watson Road
St. Louis, MO 63119
Feel free to distribute this information to anyone either electronically or on paper provided that:
If I see that this is done properly, and if people request it, I will release more of this hard to come by information. This is part of a series of translations of authentic Ninjutsu material available in the martial arts section of America OnLine. Type Keyword: Grandstand. Send feedback to Shadowswrd@aol.com - Ken Harding.
Like most people, we want to be happy and, in a modest way, successful. We are concerned about the monumental problems facing our world. We feel that solutions require both a "top down" and a "bottom up" solution. By activating "Life Values" in our own lives we can, in a "grassroots" sense, help to transform our communities back into the life sustaining social organisms that they can and were meant to be. I have actually borrowed this term "life values" from another mentor of mine, Dr. Robert L. Humphrey. As a Marine Lieutenant on Iwo Jima, he definitely qualifies as a warrior. By teaching "Living Values" to our children we feel we are preparing leaders of the future who will guide us toward a happier and less violent world.
My studies, both in the Western World, as well as in the Orient, have yielded some clues as to how to attain a serene and meaningful life. The secret seems to be, not surprisingly, values.
Human beings are the only living things that have values. Values are those things that we choose to get or keep. The operative word being choose. Humans, from times immemorial, have been asking the question: "What are the correct values for man?" And there have been many responses, but, recognize this: all the uncountable answers to that question are moot unless we are alive.
Any true philosophical point of view starts with a premise. Mine is that life is the superseding value and that all other values are subordinate to it. You should know that mine is an evolving point of view. I believe that is because life is a process. I invite you to share part of the process with me.
A whole philosophy, like a whole person, should have a spirit, a mind, and a body.
Training the spirit, I believe, can activate a deep respect for life. Respect for life is part of our nature, and though it is easily obscured by the myriad of cultural and environmental biases that we all are subject to, it is there. And it is deep. And when we live according to our nature we are rewarded with a life of happiness and serenity. When we don't live according to our nature, the misery starts. Guaranteed.
A warrior's lifestyle is focused on protecting and preserving life. All life if possible. That is because all lives have equal intrinsic worth. Now this might sound a little strange, but, we are not concerned at this point, about behavior. Of course there is "good" behavior and "bad" behavior. And sometimes, maybe often, "good" and "bad" is a matter of opinion. For example, in 1776, from the British point of view, the behavior of the American revolutionaries was bad. Maybe treasonous. Of course the Americans did not see it that way. We have been vindicated over time, but only because we were successful! Think about it.
Once we have an activated life value, we begin to sense our own human equality. And though we can sense that others' lives, too, are equal, how do we deal with all those conflicting behaviors and cultures? Some of which are irreconcilable. How are we going to get along? If we can't do that, we can't be happy. We might even end up killing each other. In fact, that is just what is happening all around us, and has been ever since the first caveman from Cave "A" cracked that no good, stinkin', lyin', thievin', caveman from Cave "B" over the head with a bone?
You must also train the mind. Part of that is understanding why living a productive life is moral, i.e. lifegiving. Regardless of the kind of work, if it produces life-sustaining goods or services, we can find happiness and serenity in the endeavor.
Training the body covers the preservation of life in a physical sense. I was a Captain in the United States Marines and I have a pretty strong background in the martial arts. Obviously, everyone has a different background and may not join the Marines or spend a lifetime devoted to martial arts training. But I'd like to share my perspective with you because there are many aspects of a warrior's lifestyle that can be useful to anyone. If this discussion inspires you to take up some martial arts training, or at least, prompts you to get your children some as part of their complete education, that would be great.
Because here is the bottom line: You can have good values. You can know how they can be applied to make for a happy life. But if you lack the moral or physical courage and skills to live them. It is all for naught. In this world, today, there is much emphasis put on what you should do. Should I be a lawyer, a doctor, a candlestick-maker? What? Now I don't want to explode the American dream, here. But, unfortunately, the environment, the culture, genetics, timing, luck, all those things may limit what you can do in this life. But they don't necessarily have to dictate how you do it. That can be up to you.
A warrior's philosophy like mine is not about what to do to become rich, or famous, or build a successful real estate business. It is really about human nature. And how living according to your nature will give you the serenity and strength to live any kind of life you want or pursue, any destiny that beckons.
I recently wrote an article about the life value of a Ninja. It appeared in a recent issue of Sanmyaku magazine, which is the newsletter of the Bujinkan Dojo of Masaaki Hatsumi. It was written in American English, translated into Japanese, and retranslated back into "British" English for publication. Welcome to the 1990's!
I was afraid to over-interpret what was written, so I merely helped with grammar and spelling. I left many mysterious passages for the readers to puzzle out for themselves by "reading between the lines."
Yet for me, there seemed to be an essence to Hatsumi Sensei's teaching. That is that "life" is the most important value for the Ninja. I think it is significant to note that Sensei does not qualify that value. In this context, he does not say, "a life of happiness," or "a life of success," or "a life of wealth." These secondary values are all relative. He speaks of life in its most elemental and universal sense.
To support this essential viewpoint, he says several other things that we have all heard, such as "I am no country," meaning perhaps, that cultural values obscure the essence of budo; and "I have no style," which may be an admonition that style obscures the essence of taijutsu.
This issue is literally a matter of life or death, and has always been so. Even recently, in the former Yugoslavia, we see this concept of the life value being forsaken. They are obsessed, there, with notions of "country," and "culture" or "style." "Culture" has come to be considered the definitive criterion of human worth. When this occurs, it almost always follows that those not of your culture somehow have less human worth. Then comes the "ethnic cleansing." When "culture" is treated with more importance than life, the killing begins, guaranteed.
In a more general sense, this means that anyone that puts something above life: culture, money, honor, fame, prestige, etc., will kill too easily. It also means that they can be easily killed by people of other, "lesser" cultures that they treat with disrespect.
Cultural values are relative: They can be different for different people, depending on the environment. Even people who are ostensibly of the same culture can easily disagree on their values. Are all Americans the same? Are all Japanese the same? Do they think alike? Have the same experiences? No, of course not. Even the cultural or behavioral values of the same person can change. In this way, the importance of culture can be thought of as a myth; a creation of the human mind.
The only thing that may be the same about people is that they value their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. We are all equal in this regard (and no other of relative importance), regardless of culture. When this fact of human nature collides with the cultural or behavioral caprice of we imperfect human beings, conflict and violence result. This is why I believe that it is important to live as if "I am no country."
This issue is particularly pertinent for the budoka. We train as Ninja; yet as human beings we are susceptible to cultural biases like everyone else. Remember, the goal of our training is to live. Many of us train in the martial arts up to a certain level of proficiency. We become comfortable there. We "fall in love" with a martial arts style of our own creation. Even though we may train for many years after that point, we never really progress. Style, like culture, is not of importance in matters of life and death. We will not progress unless we abandon our style for mu (formlessness).
One might rationalize that it is foolish and dangerous to give up a "tried and true" method, our "style," for formlessness. But the fact is that the thing that kills you is anything except the thing that you have trained for. This is why style is useless.
Again, the purpose of Ninpo is to live. There are no modifiers, no qualifiers. Live, just live. But this life value is a dual one: our lives and the lives of others. Protecting one's own life, of course, is self-defense. Protecting others is warriorship.
It sounds romantic or heroic to imagine ourselves, as warriors, running around the world protecting the weak and defenseless. But, this is not realistic. To live truly as a warrior, and help make peace, we must set an example of treating all persons, even those poorer and richer, dumber and smarter, better or worse, with basic respect. This is difficult and may take great courage; people who seem different can frighten or disgust us. Yet, if we don't respect the lives of others, even if we don't like or understand their behavior, conflict or violence will naturally result. Aren't there richer, smarter, better people than you in the world? Does that make their life worth more than yours? Not to you! All people are the same in this way. Our martial arts skills can give us the courage and confidence to see the life value in all persons, and support and defend that value. Life, not culture, color, creed, or behavior, is the most important and universal value. Life is worth defending. This is the goal of our training: to protect life.
Attila S., Captain of Guards at Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York City, walked into the prison mess hall. Four hundred inmates were sitting quietly, just like a coiled snake before the strike. There was none of the din and clatter of an average mealtime. The sharp taste of tin filled Attila's mouth-the flavor of fear. His senses lurched into full alert.
"Get out," he commanded his subordinate guards. "This place is gonna blow." At Rikers Island, you don't second-guess your commanding officer. When the door slammed behind them, it seemed to echo one hundred times its normal sound.
The riot had begun.
Safe behind sealed doors, the prison warden locked eyes with Attila, who caught his questioning gaze like a pop fly. "Gut reaction," he said softly, nodding his head. "Gut reaction." The warden sighed; he lifted his arm and rang the alarm.
In a middle-class neighborhood in the inner city, Attila sits at this kitchen table amid barbells and weights. His two young daughters play in a nearby room. Squat and muscular, his soft face is framed by a dark sculpted beard, his raspy voice, filed down by years of talking to inmates. "The situation in the jail," he explains, "was that the inmates were not getting to see their doctors and lawyers. These are very big jails and they grow into monstrosities."
After the eruption, Attila went back into the mess hall. His strategy was to disarm the inmates by talking to them, not in the confrontational, aggressive tone that they expected, but rather to speak softly and to listen, This was neither an arbitrary nor self-styled tactic. Attila is trained as a ninja.
Ninja have filtered unto the Western landscape since the 1970's, mostly through grade-B movies and action-adventure thrillers. The wildly successful popularity of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Cowabunga Dude" has introduced masked, black-clad Japanese assassins into living rooms across North America. But traditional ninja have roots that go back 2,300 years to ancient China. Military men were then called kan. The Chinese classic The Book of Strategy refers to the use of kan as one of the most important aspects of a well-planned army. Kan literally means "gap," such as the gap between "two sliding screens through which ventilation takes place." It is through this thin space that ninja, masters of stealth and disguise, glide in. In Japanese they are referred to as shinobi. Shi means intention or will, no means an expert or talent, and bi translates as information; thus shinobi can be considered the union of intuition, talent, and knowledge.
Attila has trained both as a martial artist and as a tantric Buddhist in the Tendai Mikkyo sect of Japan. His teacher is Stephen K. Hayes, an American who brought ninjutsu, the art of the ninja, to Japan in the late seventies, basing his Nine Gates Institute in Bellbrook, Ohio. Hayes is also an ordained Tendai Mikkyo Buddhist priest. Explaining his response to the riot at Rikers Island, Attila says, "I can pretty much feel what the other person is trying to do-basically through his words or body movements. It comes through the Mikkyo practice."
Mikkyo is an esoteric form of Japanese Buddhism, which Stephen Hayes refers to as "mind science": In addition to the formal sitting meditation associated with Zen, it contains tantric practices which, historically, have been associated with the Shingon and Tendai schools. In tantric practice, all direct experience is considered material for spiritual transformation; specifically, the energy of desire, the root of all suffering, is considered a supreme vehicle for the path of enlightenment. Hayes is a Tendai Mikkyo priest, balancing both physical and spiritual aspects in his approach.
When Attila began training with Hayes, he already had a black belt in karate and was familiar with "kicking butt and taking no names." But that, he concluded was "useless" in his work. "It just was not going to work. The situation inside prison was already too aggressive."
Hayes' dojo, or training hall, is actually a shrine where men and women confront the fear and stress of everyday life-their own and others'. Here they become sensitized to the mental attitudes associated with specific kamae, or body postures. These are based on the five Buddha families of tantric Buddhism, in which different manifestations of the Buddha-or of enlightened mind-represent various qualities. In ninjutsu they are ku (void), fu (wind), ka (fire), sui (water) and chi (earth). Over and over again during intense training, these five kamae are used for transformation.
A tall, affable bearded man with a gentle manner and forearms the size of ham hocks, Stephen Hayes looks like he could absorb the cold fury of hell and only be shaken slightly off balance. When he received the prestigious Black Belt of the Year award from Black Belt magazine, he joined company with Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee. Hayes' preceptor, Grandmaster Masaaki Hatsumi from Japan, granted him full teaching authority in the ninja tradition, calling him Shidoshi (Teacher of the Warrior Ways of Enlightenment). In addition to his school in Ohio, Hayes runs affiliated centers throughout the country and has written extensively on the ninja.
read on: part 2 (Ellen Pearlman)
This chakra, representing the Earth element of form and solidity, is the lowest point of the chakra spectrum. It can be seen as a deep red, which corresponds to the slowest vibration in the visible spectrum. The seed sound for Earth is "ram" and its vowel sound is "Ohhh". These sounds assist us in accessing the elemental and mental state associated with this chakra. The Sanskrit name for the Earth chakra is Muladhara, which means "root".
This chakra is located midway between the anus and the genitals, or the perineum. On the spinal column, it is connected to the section called the coccyx and to the coccygeal spinal ganglion. Connecting this to our bodies, this chakra corresponds to the solid parts of the body, namely the bones, the large intestine, and our bodies taken as a whole. Through the minor chakras in our knees and feet, we respond to the basic underlying force of the Earth, gravity. This force, that constantly pulls us downward, keeps us connected to our planet and to our material existence.
Our consciousness in this chakra is concerned with survival, with our fight or flight response, with our instincts. If we are to ignore this chakra, and concern ourselves with the higher levels, we will be growing without roots, we will be unstable, unable to withstand the trials that will come our way.
In the next issue: Part 2: Grounding in the Muladhara Chakra.
The dilemma involves whether to translate questions and answers literally. While a translator has time to massage the written word, an interpreter serves as a living bridge between two or more people. She must take one language and convert it into a reasonable facsimile of another instantaneously. This manipulation of language is incredibly exciting and a great way to meet all of you interesting people out there, but it has it's drawbacks. One of these is the "blame the messenger" syndrome. The old evil eye for interpretation not to the listener's liking. Having received evil eyes from both sides of the equation, I learned to avoid even thinking when I translate. In this way, there is no friction on the line, no sense that anyone is speaking but the two in conversation. I do this so that you can hear a pin drop when the call comes through!
In my humble opinion, there are times when only straight transmission will do. When I translate for senior students, this is my policy. I remove my sense of self from the discussion entirely -- it is not my place to add commentary. An occasional laugh at a good joke, notwithstanding. I'm human, I laugh when something is funny, but on the whole I keep my little nose out of it. So, don't be surprised if nothing remains actively stored on my brain 5 minutes later.
However, there are also times when it is impossible to translate word-for-word, such as when the instructor does not provide a break in his discussion. In that case, the interpreter really earns her keep, because she must not only remember what was said and get it out quickly, but simultaneously listen to what is being said. Sometimes, I must translate using experience and understanding of the person for whom I am translating. This is why I like to meet as many people as possible, because if I know you, I may be able to anticipate an answer. Then, for the sake of expediency, I can summarize to get at what seems to be the root of the question. It's a never-ending, delicious challenge.
Bujinkan training is quite physical, so translation is usually necessary only for minute points. At Tai Kai, I will be helping with exactly these things aspects. Those with experience learn to learn with their bodies (often painfully), but they also will need clear explanations to last another year. Hatsumi-sensei is quite famous for giving quick answers when he perceives a student to be in over his head, so please leave the complex questions to senior students. Manaka-sensei, Doron-san and others, on the other hand, appear quite willing to entertain "young" questions, with a sense of humor. Gage your question to the instructor.
Bottom-line: think before you ask. Is the answer is obvious? Can you obtain the information from a senior student who speaks your language? Some people seem to ask questions just to be noticed or to seem more advanced. Avoid this, it's obnoxious, and more than one senior student has been embarrassed because of this type of thing. Once you have decided to ask, though, don't be shy. Speak directly to the instructor, and ignore the translator, unless you need clarification. It's YOUR relationship and training at stake.
Nancy*, a nice lady with grey eyes and a .45 in a shoulder holster, started off by giving us several handouts on self-protection. This seminar was about preventing possible dangerous situations. She explained that a lot of dangerous situations can be prevented by using simple common sense.
To illustrate this point, she told us the story of a woman who was raped in the lobby of her building, under a stairwell, because she didn't take notice of an unfamiliar man who was standing just a few feet behind her. She had come home from work and she saw a man loitering in front of her building. She didn't remember ever seeing him in the building before nor was he someone that she recognized from her neighborhood. Her instinct told her not to go into the building, but she was tired and wanted to eat. When she entered the building, he followed her in, put a knife to her throat and raped her. One of the woman's neighbors watched her get raped from the lobby door. When the neighbor was asked as to why she didn't help, she said that the victim looked dead at her and shook her head "no". The victim was afraid that the attacker would kill her if she didn't comply.
Nancy also recounted the story of one woman who warded off a possible molestor. This woman was very pretty -- model looks. She was sitting by herself on the subway, in a nearly deserted car. A man got into the car and chose to sit directly opposite her. He kept staring at her in a way that made her uncomfortable. The train pulled in and out of several stations, but the man made no indication to get off the train. All this time he had been rubbing at his crotch and looking at her. The woman not knowing what to do, decided to keep on ignoring him. She pulled a paperback book out of her bag and pretended to read it. At this point, he got up and sat right next to her. He looked her up and down and kept staring at her. He kept on rubbing his crotch and started to moan. The woman, who was mortified and terrified, slumped forward in her seat, legs and arms splayed, and started to drool. The man looked around, got up and left the train car. When the woman was asked why she drooled, she said that it was the only thing that she could think of doing. She thought that becoming "gross" would turn him off and get him away from her.
The stories Nancy told were meant to serve as examples of possible behavior and reactions to potentially dangerous situations. In the first story, the first woman became a victim because she ignored her instincts. If she had confronted the man with "Excuse me. Are you waiting for someone?" or "May I help you?", then he might not have attacked her because she would have shown that she was aware of his presence. Some other options for this woman were to walk around the block or go to the corner store and wait until the man was gone, or to call a neighbor and have him/her watch as she entered the building.
The idea of using common sense and instinct to protect yourself are very much a part of our ninjutsu training. Here are a few simple and basic pointers for personal protection and safety that everyone (male and female) can incorporate into their lives today.
Make copies of house and car key and store them in an accessible location should the originals be lost. DON'T store your extra set of house keys in your house! You may wish to give a trusted neighbor or friend your spare set. If you don't trust anyone and have free access to your office, then your desk drawer may be an ideal place to store copies of your keys.
Join your local "neighborhood watch" program. If one isn't in existence, contact the police and find out how to start one. These programs are fairly successful in lowering crime, as the entire community participates in ensuring a safe habitat for all.
EYE CONTACT: Maintain eye contact. Look but don't stare. Be aware of who is around you, but don't be paranoid. If maintaining direct eye contact is difficult for you, as it can be for shy people and many women, then practice. Looking someone in the eye may make them think twice about attacking you.
PERSONAL SPACE: You MUST defend it. The second someone threatens your personal space you MUST let them know you will not stand for it. If this means telling the man who is breathing all over the back of your neck on the bus to back off, then tell him. Attackers look for victims who don't challenge them. If you tell someone that they are making you uncomfortable, chances are that they will stop their threatening behavior. If not, the situation may escalate from heavy breathing, to bumping or fondling. Also, don't fall into the "It's not happening to me" mindset. If you feel uncomfortable, then something IS happening and you must react to the situation.
Trust your instincts. If you feel that walking down a particular street will put you in some sort of danger, then DON'T WALK DOWN THAT STREET. Don't second guess yourself, either. We train in ninjutsu to develop our instincts so that we can distinguish between paranoia, a false alarm or true danger. If you are still at the point in your training where you are not sure, it is better to take a different path "just to be on the safe side" than to find yourself in a dangerous situation.
Take evasive action if required. By this I mean, do whatever it is you need to do to defuse the situation. If this means forking over your jewelry or cash, then do it. Your life is not worth a few pieces of gold or money. If it means finding an alternate route home, then do that. If it means talking to the drunk so that he'll stop harrassing you, then that's your option. Do whatever it takes you to get home as peacefully as possible.
(Bet you guys all thought I was going to say fight to the death or something like that. I'll let you in on my personal philosophy for life. If someone wants my necklace badly enough that they want to rob me, I'll give it to them. If someone wants my money so much that they need to pull a knife on me, they can have that. However, if someone wants to rape me or take my life, then we have a definite fight on our hands.)
New or Unfamiliar Areas
Develop a buddy system. If you're going to a play with someone, then go together. Don't meet them at the site unless you are familiar with the area. Likewise, try to travel with a friend when you're going someplace new.
Dress down or dress for the neighborhood. If possible, get a feel for what the area is like. If it is a high-crime area, you may wish to opt for pants instead of a skirt, low-heeled shoes and less jewelry. Also, carry a pocketbook only when necessary. If it is possible put your wallet/purse in a pocket.
Get explicit directions (landmarks, etc.) Don't travel without knowing where you are going. Never let anyone "take" you to your destination. Ask for directions from trustworthy sources, i.e. gas station, priest, etc. If lost, call your party and describe where you are. They may be able to pick you up or redirect you.
Make calls early in the morning in high crime areas. If possible, avoid making calls alone from pay phones in the evenings. Be aware while in a phone booth. You may wish to face the door or opening of the booth and survey who is around you. Always carry enough change for several phone calls and "emergency" fare for buses or subways. If you are lost or evading someone, you may need to make quick calls or to board a bus quickly.
Know police, fire, hospital, etc. location in area. Call in advance and find out the location of emergency areas in case you find yourself in need.
Carry phone numbers of reputable car services in dangerous areas. Try to call in advance for a car, preferably before leaving your safe location.
Join Police Department's COMBAT AUTO THEFT & Operation ID (NYC). Check with your local law enforcement officials for car theft programs or neighborhood watch programs.
If you are purchasing an alarm system get a system that comes complete with flashing lights and activated horn. You may also wish to invest in a cellular phone if you travel alone or great distances frequently.
If you see your car being broken into don't interfere. Call 911. (There is always a back-up thief during a car theft.) Don't confront the thieves: Give it up!
Park in a secured lot. Never park your car in a closed or unattended lot. If you need to park on the street, then try to park on a busy street and/or under lamplight. Remove and/or store items in trunk BEFORE parking your car. Leave nothing visible.
I do not disagree that the grades awarded to certain instructors in this country and elsewhere are unmerited. If anyone cares to check the articles of my newsletters over the past five years, you will see that in fact I have been saying the same thing. But I have been saying it with the intention of helping the situation, not bashing people. Yes, there are a good proportion of Bujinkan teachers that move poorly, lack feeling, and are missing technical ability and fighting skills. The fault for this trend does not lie in Japan, it lies within the teachers in the U.S.
Hatsumi Sensei has to trust the instructors over here to properly convey what he is teaching. When he prepares to give the Fifth Dan Test, with few exceptions he has never seen the student in front of him. He takes for granted that the person should be sitting there to take the tes-i.e. that he/she has received adequate training to be properly ranked as a qualified Yondan. Maybe Soke's mistake is trusting that task to us.
I have met Bujinkan Shidoshi who's sole purpose, it seems, is to pump out Godan's like they're an endangered species. One Shidoshi I met bragged about how many Godans he had brought to be in his own home town, something like seven or eight. And the skill level of these people reflect the "shake and bake" process. I have lost black belt students to other Shidoshi who offered them a higher rank, and now they are Godans. It's OK that they left me. I don't mind it being said about me that I promote too slowly.
How many of you in the Bujinkan have refused a Dan rank? I refused my Nidan rank, because I thought it came too soon. I think de-emphasizing the importance of rank is the first step in solving this problem. The other important thing, as teachers (and students) is promotion in proper time. My own personal scale is at least two years for Shodan, and at least two years per Dan rank after that. Let's make sure our Yondans are really Yondans, and not Shodans in disguise. This is the solution.
Let's take this art as seriously as it is. One thing Ed Sones said to me after I became a black belt was "Well, now you can be killed in training." And that's exactly the way he trained me: with deadly seriousness. No one has ever come into the Missouri Ninja Center and questioned the ability of the black belts here. I challenge all Bujinkan Shidoshi and Shidoshi-ho to raise the level of seriousness of their training, as I strive to do. Go to Japan, or at least, go to different Bujinkan dojos, as many different ones as possible, to see how others teach. Maybe in a few years no one in or outside of our art will be able to make a disparaging remark about any of the teachers in the Bujinkan.
Most of us train inside in a dojo, or perhaps in a room at the YMCA. These locations have set, unchanging characteristics which are useful to beginners learning the art. Balance, timing, and distancing can all be learned without worrying about uneven terrain, bad weather, slippery surfaces, or possible hazards, such as broken glass or wild animals. However, in order to be more efficient and realistic in our taijutsu, we must also practice outside - in the real world. Doing this helps prepare your body to behave naturally outdoors, as well as indoors. Awareness skills are called into action, as well as technique. Now you have to worry about rocks, cars, broken glass, ice, etc. And if your technique or kamae isn't solid at this time, trying to move will be difficult and you will have to re-evaluate yourself. Perhaps you have some bad habits that you've gotten away with while training at the dojo, i.e. not tucking enough for a forward shoulder roll. Training outside will make you aware of the "cheating" that you have been doing. Furthermore, over time, this kind of training will also become ingrained in muscle memory, leading to a naturalness and poise in your body regardless of the terrain or situation.
Kicking is difficult when your footing is less than secure. Perhaps it's icy or wet out and you can't rely on foot traction on the ground to keep your leg from slipping. Or perhaps you're on uneven terrain, where there are loose rocks and soil. Learning to kick effectively in these situations requires an evaluation of the body dynamics that are called into play each time you kick.
In all kicking scenarios, your body should be relaxed enough to move around and adapt to any changes that occur in the fight. If your body is stiff, then you will be constantly fighting yourself for balance or trying to force yourself to adapt to new positions or to move in a different direction. Next, your hips should be low over your bent knees. Remember to keep your feet beneath your hips-not in front or behind. You should feel stable and supported in this position. If you don't, practice it and work on developing strength in your legs. Move from the hips and make sure that your feet are under you. If your feet go too far forward or behind, you will lose your balance and slip or fall. Lastly, be sure that your entire body is going into the kick. Don't rely solely on the leg for strength and power. A good analogy for this is the difference between something being hit by a 30 pound ball (just the leg) or a 180 pound ball (an average man's body weight).
Once you have the general mechanics of kicking down, take it outside. Find a dead tree or stump (don't kick live trees, they don't like it) and practice kicking it. Remember to bend the knee of the support leg for the kick or you will kick yourself off the tree. Practice moving in kamae forwards and backwards across a hill and throw kick in every other step. Are you falling backwards? Are you falling forward? Check your hip position, your hips and your knees. Constantly monitor and adjust what your body for the situation. Get a partner and practice kicking drills against a shield or target while outside. Check your awareness. Check your posture. You may find that a low kick will work more effectively than a high one or that by adjusting your angle "just so" you can generate a better kick.
Train in all types of weather - not just nice spring days. Train in the cold. See what it feels like to move around with a coat. Kicking with a coat on may be more difficult than you expected. Practice kicking in your work clothes. You may need to kick in your suit one day. Train on icy or slick ground. For this, I suggest that you have a friend present to help you in case you fall. Be prudent. Do not endanger yourself unnecessary. By the same token, don't play it safe all the time. Use your best judgment when it comes to your health and your skill level. Ask yourself, "Can I do this without getting really hurt?" Lastly, one final suggestion that I have for those who train in a dojo with tile or slick floors. Train in socks, or cotton-sole tabi, if you can find them. Don't be discouraged if you slide around for the first few weeks. Your taijutsu will improve, as will your balance. Trust me.
All three put together make the unarmed combat system an effective one. No one component can be discarded. Taihenjutsu, the art of falling correctly, rolling and leaping out of danger, should therefore not be overlooked.
At first one must learn how to properly perform ukemi (rolls, leaps and breakfalls) on soft surfaces such as mats. Once this is done we must take our training one step further, out of the training hall and away from the mats. The likelihood of a mattress being present during a real fight isn't high so we must practice doing Ukemi in various places such as on the floor, out on the street , etc... Beginners should start off slowly, moving to harder and less-forgiving terrain as their skill level grows.
In addition to just practicing ukemi, we must also use practical applications of Taihenjutsu. We must practice rolling and leaping against various forms of attacks, such as rolling away from a sword blow or dodging a kick by leaping. Doing the ukemi alone is not enough so we must train to continue from there. Practice attacking after ukemi is done and also practice defending from continuing attacks once your ukemi has cleared you from the first attack.
Another area which must be practiced is using Taihenjutsu skills to get out of various holds or locks the assailant may have on us. Again this must be practiced because if done incorrectly it can lead to unwanted results such as injury. For example if your opponent does "URA GYAKU" to you and you attempt to roll out of it and do it incorrectly you may asist in breaking your own arm.
Finally, here are three tips to make your rolls better:
While there are authentic Ninjutsu groups all over the world, some find it difficult to train regularly with a group. For these people, solo-training becomes even more important.Here are some suggestions on how you can improve your solo-training.
Everyone should have their own practice area. This may mean setting aside a room in the house for training, equipping it with a punching bag, floor mat, and other modern appliances. It may mean going outside and working in the wooded dojo, practicing strikes against straw-padded trees, and rolling on the natural ground.
Practice walking. Examine yourself as you walk. You should always be moving naturally, gliding over any terrain. If you find yourself bobbing up and down as you walk or tripping constantly, or bumping into things, examine why this is happening and work to correct it. Perhaps you are bent over when you walk. Don't look at the ground, look ahead. Allow your feet to have eyes.
An exercise that I've found effective is to climb up and down stairs without glancing down at my feet. Make a conscious effort to avoid watching your feet. Examine how other people walk and figure out where they are off-balance or weak. Notice how some people stomp around like elephants. Study all these things and work to move naturally and with balance.
If you go out of your way to make everyday experiences a part of the training, you'll find your Taijutsu is getting better as well.
If you remember that the best training you can do is in your head, and really analyze the things you are practicing at home, you will begin to come to a greater understanding of the art you are studying. This in turn should help you understand the material being taught in class easier. I hope this helps those who need guidance on home training and if there is a need for more detailed or advanced home training tips I will expand on this in a later issue.
"Right now, I am studying out of Stephen K. Hayes' Enlightened Self-Protection. In the sui no kata example of grappling, it depicts an attack by a cross grab. I can understand this technique just fine. You just roll outside of his grab and bring up your elbow. When I try this technique from a same-side grab, it seems different enough that I don't know where to go with the technique. Can you help?" -- David Green
This is your area! Feel free to ask questions about anything, comment on articles, request information. If you have any answers or information for the questions/comments/issues herein, please e-mail email@example.com and the information will be included in the next issue.
Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi was born in Noda City, Chiba Prefecture on December 2, 1931. Every year, on his birthday, he hosts a training event in Japan referred to as the "Daikyomosai".
Bujinkan means "divine warrior training hall".
The six original shihan of Soke Masaaki Hatsumi are: Manaka Shihan, Ishizuka Shihan, Tanemura Shihan, Kobayashi Shihan, Senno Shihan and Oguri Shihan.
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.
I have received a few e-mails concerning the size of Ura & Omote. I will try to keep the size down, so this will probably be the last "huge" version of the newsletter you get. My promise is to keep the newletter to three posts to make it more manageable for the majority of systems out there.
Well, that's it for this month. Keep training and sharing the knowledge.
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 the editor and your request will be forwarded.