|[ olvasnivaló » Ura & Omote - 1996 April ]|
Let me start by saying that I really am proud to have so many excellent Bujinkan sempai, and I look forward to the maturing of those relationships. Our traditions come from those who bonded together out of necessity; but it doesn't mean that they always got along. Their strength was that they stood by each other enough to hand the tradition over to our Soke. Many lessons there. Respect is earned, whether it be from Dr. Hatsumi or from your fellow students, so I will continue to work to earn any respect I may have in our community. In this country, instructor status is confusing because a sempai to one person may be a sensei to another. I teach others as a sempai, but as a lowly godan, I do not consider myself an "instructor." When we critique each other, therefore, we should be careful to whom we are speaking and on what level, lest we be misunderstood or misquoted. Sempai and kohai don't have to trade Hollywood kisses (outside of Tai Kai), but a respect for all instructors and the training is something worthwhile. I personally take it as given that at least 70% of our training, from technique to administration, should be determined by the mandates, wishes and whims of Dr. Hatsumi. His generosity is the reason we are all here; we owe him at least that. However, there is 30% that we can and should control. Our 3 to his 7, boys and girls, still represents 300 years of responsibility! With that in mind, I would like to make a proposal, with the hope that counter-proposals (other than those of the "mind your own business, foolish girl" ilk) will be forthcoming from all instructors, even those not on the Net.
We have a unique organization, with a wealth of experience in our many instructors and students. Now that we know what we have, we need to figure out how to capitalize on those treasures. The 70% is obvious: train with the Boss. However, as for the 30%, perhaps we should start to learn from the history (mistakes and triumphs) of other expatriate martial arts traditions. We are still young enough to do that effectively.
Let's be clear: by "capitalize" I do not mean make money. How you make money is your business. I refer instead to increasing our understanding and utilization of all of our accumulated experience. This will make all of our lives better, and at the expense of no one. We have at least three generations of American instructors who have trained in Japan. We also have instructors, worldwide, who have taken the training to another level: awareness through movement, healing and cleansing of the mind and soul, traditions born of American soil . . . Yup, we have every necessary human technology imaginable. We also have a cadre of "professionals": lawyers (yeah, I put us first, what of it!), doctors, accountants, teachers, construction artists, bodyguards, national security specialists - who apply our training to the outside world. Cool.
I think, therefore, that it is time to consider a senate of U.S. instructors, who make a commitment to get along and respect each other to further our common training progress. Ain't nobody here got wounds that should last more than ten years! Everyone who has passed the Godan Chosa, therefore, should pledge to be involved as a voting member. Yeah, well, just like our "Founding Fathers" set it up, only the landed classes deserve the vote. But in this case, it's much easier to join the landed class: just rain and train and train. I use the Godan Chosa as the yardstick because it is Soke's measure, and we can and should respect it as the most objective measure. Of what, I don't know, but that's not important. A steering committee of those who have been awarded Shihan status should also be established. I propose that we sit and talk about it openly at an instructors' meeting at Tai Kai. Then, I will shut up, be deferential, and all that rubbish.
Who has the time? We all do. Who has the money? Well, everyone teaching can afford to contribute $25 per year for telephone, internet and mailing costs. Who will run it? I will volunteer to do the administrative stuff and connect with Japan. Hell, an accountant from another dojo can keep the books; someone else from another dojo can maintain the mailing list, etc.! A fresh start, integrating - not rejecting, who and what have gone before. Yeah I know, the idea isn't new, but it's still a good one.
No one needs to relinquish dojo autonomy, but we should vote on and adhere to major policy issues in good faith. Issues such as advertising strategies, media relations and bizarre articles published under Bujinkan auspices, student admission and expulsion, training arrangements, the problem of grading other instructor's students, the translation mill, seminars, etc. These are perennial issues. On the up side, establishment of a scholarship program for training in Japan would be outrageous, wouldn't it! Bubble, bubble. . .
Dr. Hatsumi has started a new cycle of training this year. From all accounts, it is more rigorous and intense, which should please the hard-asses out there. Those who go to Japan: Yo! Come back and teach the rest! I spent over $10,000 in two years on training, but I had the luxury of a high-paying job. Those who live(d) there before me independent of the government payroll or some other source fork(ed) over the same and suffered. So, yeah, I got a problem with those who take liberties with the training. The idea that you can learn and teach this stuff without going to Japan or even making the effort to get to Tai Kai, makes me go hmmm.
Communication problems should be minimal at this point. We have Doron, Ben, Rumiko, Mark Lithgow, Mesdames Kubo and Osada and myself who regularly translate - most of us are on the Net. At least 10 other pretty good translators train in our arts and live in Japan. Don't know about Europe. The Net and Web can often be accessed for free at libraries - so tune in, check it out. No one need founder about, if they bind their roots before they go to Japan. We're beyond sign language, pigeon Japanese, and excuses for not relating directly to Soke and the Japanese Shihan.
I think that everyone expresses Taijutsu as appropriate to themselves, but the basic and advanced training is something that should be preserved intact for many years to come. Just because Soke said America has grown up, doesn't mean we know anything. I believe that the spiritual lessons of our system are integrated into the training - it is a very, very old science, not to be lightly tampered with. There is no need to make it easier, we just need to study more and learn to teach better. To do that, we need to talk to each other and compare notes. We have some people who excel at kusarifundo; others who know shuriken, yari, naginata, or bo both ends to the middle. A few people even have really good Taijutsu. We need to honor those who have this knowledge by identifying them and supporting their teaching across the country. Obviously seniority matters, but training and the ability to share are even more important. This has been repeated by Dr. Hatsumi only about a million times. There is no ego issue for me, cuz 'hell, I ain't good at nuthin'!
Each senior instructor should compare curriculum with others at Tai Kai, renovate and improve. Male instructors and students: start honoring the Taijutsu expressed by women, in deed as well as in thought! Not all Bujinkan women are "white belts." We have at least one expert on Taijutsu, who uses neither his hands nor feet. He sees things we cannot. He travels more than I do - shouldn't he be given time to speak at every seminar? Children and new students, who are our future, should be taught with care by the top dojo instructor, because we are shaping a new generation. We certainly can't complain of a media image of our own making. Yada, yada, yada.
Well, O.K. Perhaps I am one of the trouble makers and rumor mongers mentioned in the last issue of Ura & Omote. Wowzers! Yet, those who talk to me directly know that half of my gossip over the past three years has been devoted to trying to get people to talk and respect each other for the skills they bring to our Bujinkan. I use my own eyes and ears, and say what I believe to be true. And, while I certainly have opinions about everything under the sun, I try to be consistent. When I change my mind, it means that I have learned something, so I try to learn something every day. I am a true horsewoman, who sticks her foot in it on schedule, so I apologize for any inconvenience. Just remember that good witches make a rich gravy when you add water, but bad witches just melt away.
We have a one hell of a group of people, and fewer crazies everyday. We have so much experience and knowledge that we can pat ourselves on the collective back. We deserve it. I end with that thought only because it is true. Now, it's time to get to work.
Swords have always held a deep fascination for me. When I was a young boy growing up in my home town of Houston, Texas, my mom and dad took me to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. In one of the vendor booths, my father bought me a tiny replica of a Japanese sword. It had brightly colored plastic fittings and a dull metal blade. Playing Zorro with my childhood friends, my sword got severely bent from all the banging I put it through battling my playmates in make believe wars. I took it to my dad and he expertly straightened it out, returning my favorite toy to it's former glory. "Real Japanese swords don't bend like this one, son." he reassured me.
My folks were big on movies. They would load my brothers and yours truly into a white station wagon with an inflatable mattresses on the fold down seats and head for the Thunderbird drive in.
Two films that really impressed me were "Red Sun" and "The Magnificent Seven". "Red Sun" featured the popular actors Charles Bronson and Toshiro Mifune. If you haven't seen this flick, basically it has Chuck as a gunfighter and Toshiro as the last of a long line of Samurai in 1860's America. This was the first movie I had ever seen that featured a Katana. The two handed handle made sense to me. The graceful curvature of the bright and glittering blade inspired both fear and awe. The skillful way Mifune-san wielded this elegant weapon inspired a desire to learn more about the Japanese culture that produced such a unique sword. When "The Magnificent Seven" was playing, my dad told me it was a remake of "some black and white Japanese Samurai movie." It took several years before I discovered Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai." I wept when I went to see it at the River Oaks Theatre as part of a foreign film revival. This is a powerful story of six Ronin (masterless Samurai) and one impostor hired to protect a farming village during feudal age Japan. If you have not seen this powerful and compelling film, then you are in for a treat.
A sword represents a powerful connection to the past for me. No other weapon holds such a fascination and admiration. The Nipponto (Japanese sword) occupies a special place in the history of man and the art of metallurgy. A sword is composed of all elements, earth, fire, wind, water, and the void. Steel is composed of both iron and carbon - earth elements. Steel is annealed by the elements of both fire and wind. Steel is tempered by being quenched in liquid - a water element. The sword is conceived and forged by humans. . .the void element. To present a historical perspective for the Japanese creation and use of swords as a military weapon, one must first understand some of Japan's history. To sum it up using a time line, it looks like this. Gokaden (the five traditions) Yamashiro/Kyoto, Yamato/Nara, Bizen, Soshu/Kamakura and Mino. These represent five periods of swordmaking in Japan. Swords fall into classification by length of blade, measured in Shaku which equals 11.930542 inches. A Daito, ("long sword") is over two Shaku in length. A wakizashi ("companion sword") is between one and two Shaku in length. A Tanto (knife with a guard) is under one Shaku. I welcome any comments or information to make this more accurate. Please note that this is a small overview and not all of my sources agree on specific dates.
10,000- Jomon Period
200- Yaoi Period
300-552 Kofun Period
300-710 Yamato Period
300-900 Jokoto (Ancient times) Period. Earliest prototypes of Japanese swords. Also known as the Chokuto (straight sword) period. Appearance of Iron Swords in Japan. The Japanese import swords made in China and Korea. The "Ken", a straight, double edged sword appears. Koto (old sword) Period ends.
552-645 Asuka Period
710-784 Nara Period
794-1184 Heian Period Appearance of the Tachi ("to cut in half") a long and curved single edged sword.
857-1160 Fujiwara Period
1184-1336 Kamakura Period (Warring states period) Constant warfare makes huge demands for the finest weapons. The No-Dachi, a six-foot long war sword appears. Masamune, a premier swordsmith that makes blades of "homogeneous steel" is very popular. His efforts and style and define this age of sword making. His blades are known to cut through swords from earlier periods. Appearance of Ji-Samurai, or saburau (to serve).
1274-1281 Mongols 1st and 2nd attempts at invading Japan. Mongol fleet destroyed by "kamikaze" (divine wind) and typhoon.
1336-1392 Nanbokucho Period
1392-1568 Muromachi Period. Katana replaces Tachi in the Bushi (warrior) arsenal.
1530 New Sword (Shinto) Period in Japan. The traditional and distinctive methods of the Five schools are lost.
1543 Portuguese arrive in Japan , firearms introduced.
1568-1615 Momoyama Period Wakizashi (companion sword) is worn with Katana, forming the Daisho (long and short) a sign of status and rank as Samurai (he who serves).
1584 Miyamoto Musashi, the Kensei ("Sword Saint)" is born in Japan
1575 Firearms used against swords , Samurai lose to conscripts 1581 Gen. Nobunaga Oda invades Iga Province on Nov. 3, with a force of 46,000 Samurai against 4000 Ninja Warriors.
1615-1804 Edo (the "Gate") Period
1804-1868 Shogunate (Bakumatsu) Period,
1867 End of New Sword (Shinto) Period in Japan . Showa Period begins Many Ryu (schools, or style) devote their effort to making copies of famous swords.
1868 Shin-Shinto ("Modern Sword") begins.
1868-1912 Meiji Period 1871 Samurai stripped of their privileges
1876 Carrying of Daisho prohibited in Japan
1877 Samurai revolt , the end of the Samurai, defeated by conscripts wielding teppo (match lock firearms).
1912-1926 Taisho Period
1926-1988 Showa Period. Swords such as police sabers, (Gunto) are mass produced using modern heat treating, forging and chemical tempering methods. Swords produced during this period cannot be considered as true "Samurai" swords. In 1936 several young army officers lead a "second restoration" revolt. The revolt fails.
1941 Japanese Imperial Navy attacks Pearl Harbour, Hawaii Dec. 7. Japan recreates the warrior ethic, Battan death march includes atrocities such as beheadings of U.S. servicemen using Shingunto (military swords).
1945 Japan surrenders on board the U.S.S. Missouri Sept. 2. War ends, U.S. servicemen bring home between 250,000 to 350,000 "war trophies," many swords are ancient, ancestral Katanas. 1988 Heisei Period
I had promised Liz maryland an article but couldn't think of anything that people would want to hear me waffle on about. Then one of the Dojo members suggested that we sit around and have a discussion about the Bujinkan and budo in general and maybe put in a transcript of what came out. So for what it is worth the following are my feelings and experiences on a number of issues. Like I say, they are my feelings and opinions only and I can be contacted by e-mail on email@example.com if you have anything to add.
The following discussion took place after training at my house one night and was a complete surprise to most involved.
Duncan Stewart: Richard, it seems that over the past couple of years there has been a great deal of talk about rediscovering Kyusho in the martial arts. This has been hailed as almost a great breakthrough. However as far as I can see this has only been what the Bujinkan has been teaching, or at least what you have been teaching to us. Are kyusho an important part of the Bujinkan?
Richard Jones: From when I started training in the Bujinkan with Chris Rowarth in England we always talked about nerve points. The Japanese names went over my head to begin with but I quickly learnt where such points as nagare and uko were and what angles the strikes hurt the most etc. I remember being demonstrated on once (as my neck after years of rugby and gridiron is not small) to show everyone what angle to hit uko at and being knocked out from just a light strike - this being in 1985 before the so called kyusho revival. As far as I am concerned most of Hatsumi Sensei's techniques are nerve point strikes as anyone who has been "tapped" by him will testify. As a green belt on my first trip to Japan I remember at one of the boss' Friday evening training sessions at Kashiwa Dojo a technique that involved multiple Kyusho strikes ending up in a strike to omote kimon. I was training in a threesome with two of Ishizuka Sensei's long time students. Obviously their strikes were not having the desired effect as I could still stand. They called Hatsumi Sensei over who then after a brief discussion explained that not everyone reacts to every kyusho strike (an important lesson in itself!) Grinning, he then asked me to tsuki. I remember being hit in three places and then feeling a sensation akin as to how I imagine being electrocuted would feel and ending up in a heap on the floor. Hatsumi Sensei said "However there is always a solution". (NB I remember him laughing as he said this.)
Dominic Rea: Are the kyusho names from the Koto Ryu ?
Richard: As far as I know they are, they correspond to the names given in Hatsumi Sensei's Taijutsu book which shows the Koto Ryu Kyusho points and also in the Knife fighting book. You can cross reference these points with acupuncture points to get a better understanding as to how they are just the points talked about at great length nowadays in books and magazines. An example being that uko is the much vaunted Stomach 9 point, Jinchu corresponds to GV 26 etc. Another useful exercise is to see what angles the Koto ryu kata end up striking the points at so you can figure the best angles out. Sensei's videos are excellent for this. Back to your question Dunc, I figure that the Kyusho are a very integral part of the Bujinkan.
David Papadimitrou: You always say that the kyusho strike is an added bonus though.
Richard: True and it is. . . what I mean by this is that the technique must work anyway. Remember the previous comment by Hatsumi Sensei - you can not rely on the kyusho strike being enough, although it may well be. Therefore it may be best to consider the kyusho effects as an added bonus to a good technique, that way you will not be caught out.
Dominic: How important is going to train in Japan ?
Richard: Erm. . . I consider it to be really important for your training to get to Japan. Things have changed from when I was in England as a green belt and it was basically an unwritten rule that to get your Shodan you went to train with Ishizuka Sensei and of course Hatsumi Sensei. Nowadays the world has many high ranking instructors and maybe it is an alternative to train with them. However my own feeling is why settle for second best. Also Hatsumi Sensei is the person who you can discover the most from. I feel that training in Japan with Hatsumi Sensei and the Shihan is so different from training at a Tai Kai.
Obviously if your Instructor trains in Japan, then things should be OK. I remember Nagato Sensei saying that you must train with a GOOD Instructor then go to Japan so Hatsumi Sensei can undo your bad habits. If pressed on the issue I would say that I do not see how you can say you are really serious about training without having some long term plans in the pipeline about getting to Japan. I do not know about other places but here in Australia there are Godan and Rokudan who have not been to Japan and I find that pretty bizarre.
Duncan: There is always a lot of talk about the Bujinkan not being effective, yet most of us work for the police or security firms etc. It obviously works - jutaijutsu works full stop - so how come there is this dichotomy?
Richard: That's a hard one. . . I think that partly it stems from people who trained within the system and could not cope so they left and slagged it off. Also especially martial artists will try it, "spar" with a few people and decide that they can not get the locks and throws to work and in a sparring situation do not get them put on to themselves and then say "look it's crap you can't put locks on". What they fail to realize is that in a real fight/situation things are different. You know yourself that if you looked to put a lock on, you couldn't - it has to happen in the natural flow of the situation. OK you work at the hospital and use jutaijutsu all the time to restrain people, you know the locks flow on as a natural part of the situation. This is what people do not realize; in a sparring situation its damn near impossible to put a lock on. You can not afford to disable a person with kyusho strikes then crank musha dori on risking taking out their elbow and shoulder - in a real life situation you can. That is why I get you to do randori as we do. (NB. In the Bujinkan Hobart Dojo we practice randori as an exercise where one person attacks viciously trying to overpower the defender. They do not spar - they just attack. The defender must neutralize the attack and safely restrain the attacker.) To say that the techniques of the Bujinkan are not realistic and that Hatsumi Sensei lacks power shows a complete and utter ignorance of the techniques. You do not have to see people's throats ripped out and limbs dislocated to realize that these things work.
Dominic: Soke says that you should strive for the right feeling during training. What is the right feeling ?
Richard: My interpretation of this is that you should train as if you mean it. This doesn't imply that you have to go flat out and crazy. What it does mean is that the feeling has to be there. You can have fun and laugh, but while you are doing the technique you need to be 100% into it. This is easy when you are doing the technique but I see a lot of people who forget that this should also stand true when you are attacking.
Duncan: Please elaborate.
Richard: Well, what I mean is that if you are just attacking without feeling or sloppily then you ruin it for your partner. Why bother moving out of the way when the distancing is wrong, or worse still when the attack is off target. . . you see this a lot.
Duncan: Kamae seems to be the starting point of most waza, but then Soke says you have to lose your form. So why are there kamae and what should you concentrate on form or feeling?
Richard: Gee thanks, the second part first. Soke says he teaches at the level for Godan and above, and usually his general comments are aimed at these students. He has also said that until Godan you should concentrate on your form, doing them correctly etc. After the Godan test you are ready to drop your form and get the feeling of what he teaches. As for the kamae, they all have their purpose. People often say "but you wouldn't stand like that really" and you show them how a kamae can be seen in normal everyday stances and then they understand. Also when people are shown that, say, Ichimonji no Kamae makes it 95% sure that an attack will come from a certain side, then they see the relevance in them. The same happens when you show how a technique flows through a number of kamae. . . they are living postures and people quickly realize this. Although this sounds a bit dicky - kamae become an integral part of your movement, both in training and in life.
David: Soke says that you have to go through hard training to really understand budo. . . can you explain?
Richard: Again this is only my interpretation, but I feel that you have to go through hard training to know how you would react in a real situation - to feel what it is like to be in a fight, to be hit etc. Yet for a lot of people they do not need this - if they are unlikely to get into a fight or dangerous situation then why train hard and risk injury ? I do not believe that you have to train hard and fight for you to be able to use the techniques in a real situation. . . but to me it is important that I feel that I could take care of myself and my family, I have been attacked by people and I am glad I went through a period of hard training. But I do not think that we need to train like that all the time. You'd spend more time not being able to train - people who work in the security field tend to get more practice for real don't you think.
Dominic: Dicky question time. . . why did you get into martial arts and why the Bujinkan ?
Richard: I knew that was coming . . . well I started in 1968 when I was seven. My Auntie's next door neighbor did Judo in Japan after the war ,then in London and ended up teaching in our little town. I did this until I was fourteen. However when I was 11- and this was the Bruce Lee and TV Kung Fu era remember - I hurt my ankle playing rugby and hopped into the local take away. We were good customers and the old guy took me in the back and made a poultice for my ankle. It worked and when I returned to thank him we started talking martial arts and he said he taught Kung Fu. I begged and he taught me along with his sons and friends. I think it was a northern Shaolin style but he moved back to Hong Kong a few years later. This left a void and I decided to work through every martial art I could . . in my town this meant Shotokan Karate and Aikido. I hated karate but I think this was the teacher's fault not the art. I loved Aikido and most of the judo guys did it as well as both were more self defense oriented than the clubs you tend to find now.
When I moved to Liverpool there was no good Aikido Dojo (that I could find) so I did Jujutsu and escrima plus a bit of boxing. It had been years before when I read the book that must have turned more people onto Ninjutsu than anything you know - Andrew Adams NINJA book. Also I had the stick fighting book that Soke did with Chambers, so I knew of Hatsumi Soke. Then I heard that there was a student of Stephen Hayes (Brin Morgan) who practiced with a group near Liverpool so there I was. I then moved to London and fell in with Chris Roworth and Peter Kings training and never looked backed. The Bujinkan has always been what I imagined I was looking for and a budo which suits me, I suppose. I owe a lot to these guys and when I left for Australia via Japan they put me onto Ishizuka Sensei for whom I have the biggest respect. Training in Japan with Hatsumi and the Shihan (mainly Ishizuka Sensei) was a dream come true and just blew me away. As you know I get back there whenever I can.
Duncan: So what was training like when you first went?
Richard: I suppose it was like it is now. It seemed harder at the time but I think that is due to the fact that I was worse then. Training as part of the Kashiwa Dojo was fantastic. I loved that actual Dojo and Soke's Friday night training there was fantastic. I suppose it felt different from the Budokan in Ayase. Of course, there were also less foreigners training in Japan then. In England at the time there were not many Dan grades at all and it was like an unwritten rule that you went to Japan to get your Shodan. In Australia when I arrived people were actually put off going to Japan by being told that you had to be so good to train there etc. - the usual cover up jobs for people who are scared of their students realizing they are crap. Andrew Mac was already there and shortly after Ed Lomax went over, but that was about it. People really wasted their time over here (in Australia) for years. Do you believe that the so-called head instructor of Australia at the time told me that after my training with Peter King, Chris, Ishizuka Sensei and Soke going to his training would be like going straight to University from Kindergarten! Until Andrew & Ed plus the Jarvis brothers came back things were pretty grim in Australia.
Duncan: How important is ukemi?
Richard: I think it is very important. . . if your ukemi is no good, you can not train safely. In the Kashiwa Dojo, I believe, that they wouldn't let you train until you could perform ukemi OK. To me ukemi is not just rolling and breakfalls. Like Soke says you can perform ukemi when receiving a tsuki - to learn to absorb a blow is proper ukemi. Anyway, it's getting on and we should stop now. Thanks guys for the great chat.
These are of course just my personal thoughts and I am willing to discuss them further. By the way, anyone know of any dojo in Estonia ?
Tori: From the kumiuchi stance. As the uke steps in with his right foot in an attempt to perform Osoto Gake, use your right hand to strike the uke's right inside knee joint with a fudoken. Then, use your left hand to strike the uke's right arm with a gedan ukenagashi while simultaneously stepping back. Then, jump back and away from the uke.
Tori: From Migi Seigan no Kamae. As the cut comes in, step back with your right foot out of the way of the attack, on the inside, and catch the uke's wrist with your left hand. Then, use your right hand as a shuto to strike the uke's right forearm. Immediately, use the same hand as a shikanken to strike the uke's wrist in order to remove the kodachi. Then, take the uke's right hand with your right hand and apply ura gyaku. During ura gyaku, use your right foot to kick out the uke's left knee. Pin the uke to finish.
Tori: From Migi Seigan no Kamae. As the cut comes in, move in with your left foot and simultaneously use your left hand to strike the uke's right elbow from underneath while going down onto your right knee. Then, stand up and strike the uke's ears with a happaken. Kick the uke in the groin with your right foot to finish.
Tori: Use both of your hands to strike both of the uke's ears with a happaken Then, strike the uke in the face with a kikakuken to finish.
Tori: When the uke comes into striking distance, step forward with your left foot and step on the uke's right foot to stop his movement. Use your left hand to strike the left side of the uke's neck with an ura shuto. Then, jump back and away.
Tori: When the uke comes into striking distance, use your right hand to strike the uke's stomach as a fudoken. Then, move yourself into position on the left side of the uke and use your left foot to kick the uke in the stomach.
Tori: Walking towards the uke. When the uke comes into range, use both of your hands to grab the uke's shoulders while pressing your thumb into his ryumon, vital point. Pull the uke in close to you and strike him in the head with a kikakuken. Then, perform a backwards body drop while placing your right foot on the uke's stomach. Throw him directly over your head and follow him over as to end up sitting on his chest.
Tori: Walking towards the uke. As the uke comes into range, use both of your hands to slap the uke's ears, happaken. Then, jump up and kick the uke in the body with both feet.
Tori: From the kumiuchi stance. Use your right hand to grab the uke's left chest muscle. Then, put your right foot by the uke's right foot, drop down to your left knee to the left side of the uke to throw him to the ground.
Tori: Walking towards the uke. When the uke comes into distance, use both of your hands to grab the uke's skin on the sides of the his body. Then, while holding onto his sides, slide through the uke's legs to force him down face first into the ground.
Tori: Walking towards the uke. When the uke comes into striking distance, use your right hand as a goshiken, five finger strike, to the uke's chest. Then, strike the uke in the stomach with a right stomp kick.
Kevin Millis was born April 13th, 1956, in the year of the Monkey, and has been involved in Martial Arts for over 20 years. His martial arts training began in 1972 as a member of his high school wrestling team. His interest in various martial areas continued until 1976 at which time he began training in Kung Fu San Soo, achieving Black Belt ranking. At this point Mr. Millis was introduced to Bruce Lee's method of Jeet Kune Do, entering a period of study with the Dan Inosanto group. Continuing his search for personal excellence, Mr. Millis gravitated to the collective skills and concepts embodied in Ninjutsu and entered training with Stephen K. Hayes, the acknowledged Western authority on Ninjutsu.
Mr. Hayes introduced Mr. Millis to Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi who subsequently invited him to journey to Japan for training. Mr. Millis received Shodan ranking directly from Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, 34th Grandmaster of the Togakure Ryu Ninja, and was commissioned by Dr. Hatsumi to establish a Bujinkan dojo in Southern California. Mr. Millis has taught this art for more than a decade. He continues to study with Grandmaster Hatsumi to date and travels to Japan yearly for continued training. In February of 1996, Mr. Millis was awarded the rank of 10th Dan - a ranking held by very few non-Japanese. He is widely recognized as one of the truly excellent Master Instructors in the Bujinkan Budo training system with students worldwide.
Mr. Millis is the Principal instructor at Lifeskills Martial Arts in Irvine, California where he teaches regular classes and seminars. He travels extensively conducting national and international seminars and workshops. His considerable training skills are being produced as a series of instructional video tapes to compliment Bujinkan training. In addition to his martial arts skills Mr. Millis is an expert technical rock climber with first ascents in both Joshua Tree National Monument and Yosemite National Park. He is also a published composer, artist and musician, and in 1993 he was presented with the Presidential Sports Award of Excellence for his many contributions to physical fitness.
Mr. Millis' senior student is Mr. David Larson, currently ranked 4th dan. His dojo director is Chuck Cory, currently ranked 3rd dan. Mr. Millis currently has 15 ranking 3rd dans, 15 ranking 2nd dans, 6 ranking 1st dans and approximately 150 kyu ranks.
Mr. Millis conducts seminars at Lifeskills Martial Arts approximately every 4-5 weeks. These seminars average 3-4 hours in length. He also personally instructs 6 classes per week. Mr. Millis will be in St. Louis with Mr. Ken Harding on April 6 and 7th and will be at Bujinkan Millis Yamajika dojo, in Virginia, on October 19th and 20th.
Internationally, Mr. Millis will be instructing at the European Ninja Festival on August 22, 23, and 24. The theme for that seminar will be "Friendship and Harmony" and training will focus on Kenjutsu, Bikenjutsu and Gotonpo. For more information on this seminar contact Steffen G. Frohlich.
After a narrow escape from the hospital, Takeda offers to take Racine to his island for protection. Racine accepts and soon they are on a bullet train headed for the coast. Unbeknownst to Racine, several of the Mikado have snuck on board to kill him, as he is the only man to ever see Kinjo's face outside of the cult and live. What follows is one of the best combat scenes to ever appear in a ninja movie. Takeda's sword and his wife's Yumi (bow) wreak havoc on the ninja and Racine is safe again.
Once they reach the island, Racine is left in the care of the swordsmith, played by Tak Kubota. This is where the movie begins to get a little hokey. Racine realizes that he is bait for Kinjo. Takeda has a long-standing feud with the ninja master and sends word to Kinjo that he must come to get Racine. The rest of the movie is all swords, arrows, and shuriken, but is also tries very hard to sound plausible. (As if that's possible at this point)
This film has much better production values than any of the Golan-Globus films, excellent, if unrealistic, fight sequences, and reasonable performances with a touch of wry humor.
Also interesting is the subplot about an evil ninja master who is on the verge of retiring due to his aversion to killing Chen, who in Kinjo's words "has the spirit of a tiger". Also interesting is the Police Inspector who has seen Columbo too many times.
All in all, even with the unrealistic plot, this is a mildly entertaining little flick. It is now available on video and worth a night of popcorn and beer with your training group after a class.
I constantly bite my tongue when people start correcting me in seminars or other training events when they say things to the tune of "No, he said omote gyaku is done this way. . ." Well, I get a tad confused at that line of thinking. Omote Gyaku is simply a name for a concept. By learning that omote gyaku is done a certain way, it becomes a technique; No longer is it a free moving idea. Right there we have one of the biggest learning blocks built into the 'Kihon Happo' and the entire art. Each motion teaches many ideas and theories, it doesn't matter if during the practice of 'Ichimonji' you strike with an omote shuto or a sokuyaku geri. If you do, does the name change? Who cares? The labelers do, but just ignore them and let them build a cage of names and labels and watch them wallpaper it with their lists of techniques and henka. Then they may reside in this self made prison while those that listen to Sensei can move freely.
While I'm on this particular rant, let me also address the labeling and categorizing of things as 'Advanced' or 'Basic'. There are no such things. To call things 'Basic' or 'Advanced' is to place a preconceived notion of the conceptual depth of the motion on the student. Many people teach, for instance, omote gyaku and ura gyaku as 'Basic' joint locks. By doing that the student, once borderline proficient in the motion, stops exploring it's intricacies because the label infers a shallowness of concept.
The purpose was to once for all, subdue the population of Iga that as they put it "did not respect the sovereignty." Oda Nobunaga planned a much bigger operation than his son Oda Nobuo had used at his failed attempt in 1579. Nobunaga was planning to attack from six different ways at the same time, where Fukuchi Iyo and Mimisu Iyajiro were supposed to be guides on the northern route from Azuchi down through Koga, because that route was hardest to defend.
Oda Nobunaga himself commanded the force that left Azuchi in august 1581, but after only half a days march he was stricken by illness and they had to abort the operation. It was not until September that Nobunaga had recovered, and he summoned his generals to a war council in Azuchi. The army was divided to attack at six fronts at the same time, and the strategy was to burn and ravage as much as possible to prevent the people in IGA to use the same tactics as they had in 1579.
The population in Iga had through their channels received information about the six armies, but they did not have the resources to ambush a force that large.
The troops in Iga were about 4,000 men, so they decided to retreat to two places to concentrate their defense there. One place was Heiraku-Ji temple on a small hill in the village of Ueno, the place where the castle of Iga-Ueno is situated today. The other place was mount Tendoyama, not far from where the castle of Maruyama once stood. The six routes Oda Nobunaga used were:
Two men from Iga, Momoda Tobei and Yokoyama Jinsuke managed to reach the foot of the mountain and take the head of Gamo's two sons. The besieging army temporarily had to retreat due to this and Momoda Tobei, Fukukita Shogen, Mori Shirozaemon, Machii Kiyobei, Yokoyama Jinsuke, Yamada Kanshiro and another man was called "the seven spears" to honor them because of their success in the battle.
The Iga forces decided to continue with nightly raids against the enemy vanguard. They prepared a quick attack that surprised Tsutsui's army. The soldiers did not even have time to put on their armor, and the people of Iga were lucky because a wind caused all torches to blow out. Because of the darkness many of Tsutsui's soldiers cut down each other, but the troops of Iga used passwords to know who was enemy or friend. They organized a night raid against the Tsutsui's army, they succeeded too.
As Oda Nobunaga's armies successfully defeated all resistance in the rest of Iga, they gathered around Hijiyama. Finally more than 30,000 soldiers out of Oda Nobunaga's total army of 44,300 man surrounded the mountain. In spite of the immense advantage did Oda Nobunaga not win the battle with the help of weapons. Because of the dry weather and a powerful wind, Oda Nobunaga decided to set fire to the whole area. Those who tried to escape from Hijiyama were driven back into the flames.
This was the end of the last bigger resistance in Iga and those who still fought against Oda were spread throughout the region. Depending on which source, the fall of Hijiyama was at the 10th or the 11th of September 1581 or at the beginning of October the same year (this means that the exact date of the invasion is not verified either). The forces of Nobunaga started a hunt that would continue long into the year 1582, to defeat the last groups of resistance in Iga.
There were only scattered remnants left out of the 4,00 head strong army of Iga, and many innocent lost their lives in Nobunaga's devastating hunt for ninja. Even if most knew about ninja, only a minority belonged to Ninja families or were trained in the art of ninjutsu. Some sources states that there were only eighty survivors from the three families of Hattori. Many fled to other places in Japan. One Jonin from the Hattori family was killed when Tsutsui Junkei attacked the castle of Kikyo.
A last attempt to assassin Nobunaga was done by Kido, Harada, and Jindai, where Kido from the village of Neba knew Ninjutsu. The attempt took place when Oda Nobunaga traveled in Iga to watch the results of the invasion, and when he arrived at a place named Ichinomya. Kido, Harada, and Jindai had prepared three cannons that were aimed at the place from three different directions. The fired at the place where Nobunaga and his followers were sitting, but Nobunaga managed to survive in spite of that seven or eight retainers were killed. Kido, Harada, and Jindai, who all of them had survived the besiege of Kashiwabara managed to escape into the forests.
Momochi Sandayu, a well known ninja jonin (leader) also managed to escape from Nobunaga's troops with some of his men. They fled to the village Ryugu at Ude Sanbonmatsu in the Yamata province, where Momochi had them make a stand until the 10th June 1582 even if his men wanted to continue the flight. At the 10th of June came the news that Oda Nobunaga had been murdered by his own general Akechi Mitsuhide.
If this is an evidence that the Ninja of Iga still had a functioning network of spies at this time is impossible to say, but it can be considered as one probability out of the way Momochi acted.
This is absolutely not to be taken as "true fact" since it is quite impossible to prove the Kuden. We would be happy for any kind of creative and serious research that you have found out, so if you have noticed some errors in this text or would like to point out something else worth a note please let us know so we could update and make this even more accurate. And if possible, please try to back up your claims with some sort of verification or serious references.
A big problem when one do research about the history of ninja and Bujinkan is when one compare information in books about those subject with general acknowledged history in history books. This means that all information in circulation are to be considered as gossip until it can be compared and proven against general history. This includes the text above.
Some of the people we wish to thank for the sources are here listed in no particular order. . .
Sveneric Bogsaeter * Perti Ruha * Stan Skrabut * Mariette V. D. Vliet * Charles Daniels * Bernadette V. D. Vliet * Stephen Turnbull * Ben Jones * Paul Richardson * HATSUMI Masaaki * Gothenburg ninposaellskap (and possibly many others)
For more information like this get hooked to Internet and browse over to http://www.algonet.se/~helmet/BUJINKAN/ or phone ++46-8-985948 to MokoNoTora FidoNet BBS.
This translation is allowed to be posted electronically or printed as long as it is left unedited or changed in any way. It is not allowed to be reprinted in any way for commercial purposes without permission. (c) MATS HJELM 1996
"Welcome back to NBC's coverage of the Olympic games. I'm Bob Snausage and with me to recap some of the day's exciting events is Jane Halloway. Jane?"
"Thanks, Bob. In a bizarre turn of events, the athletes from the little known country of Bujinkan, captured nearly all the medals in today's competitions. Before we show you the results, let's take a quick look at the history behind this little-known nation.
"Rumored to be one of the many fragmented Russian Republic states, Bujinkan was never even heard of prior to the downfall of the Communist Soviet Union. It is suspected that Bujinkan was once the trendy resort where many of the Soviet Politburo elite spent their summers. Bujinkani's, as they are called, are known for their appreciation of alcohol and have the curious national past time of engaging in repeated physical armed and unarmed combat. Sometimes beating each other senseless before retiring to a nearby tavern for food, drink, and the omnipresent round of dirty jokes, the Bujinkani loves to have a good time wherever they happen to be.
"The Bujinkan national anthem, 'Every Little Thing We Do is Magic,' is currently under fire from former members of the band The Police, for what they call 'a grievous insult to good taste.' The Bujinkan parliament, composed of three Bujinkani's who bear the titles 'Hanbo, Tanto and Fundo' have ruled that The Police have no grounds for suit and should stick to less hazardous pursuits such as high-speed knitting.
"The Bujinkan Flag, a rainbow of grays, dark blues, and browns, bears the inscription 'Black doesn't work as well, dammit!' While such a phrase is obviously confusing to a foreigner, the Bujinkani's tend to treat it as something of an inside joke and often retreat to a nearby shadow giggling to themselves while the naive tourist stands there none the wiser.
"Bujinkan specializes in the export of what marketing experts call 'disinformation.' Selling to several powerful governments, Bujinkan is among the leading innovator in fabricating lots of useless stuff that no one will figure out anyway. Reportedly, the CIA is their biggest client, although that has never been substantiated.
"The average Bujinkani spends most of their time in pursuit of the legendary 'white tabi.' Legend holds that while many pairs of this magical shoe/slipper were once available, they exist only in very limited quantities nowadays. To the Bujinkani, the elusive 'white tabi' is the goal many spend a lifetime chasing.
"Bujinkan is a member of the United Nations Recreation Council and had the dubious honor of suggesting additional funds be set aside for mandatory naked lacrosse competitions. The motion was overturned shortly after it was suggested, by the more slothlike members of the Greenland Delegation, most of whom you wouldn't want to see unclothed anyway.
"In today's events, the Bujinkan team won an unbelievable twenty gold medals and thirteen silver.
"The highlight was the discus competition, where William Navillus hurled the discus an unprecedented five thousand feet! Speaking from the locker room, William told reporters that the discus was just like the shuriken, which we take to be some sort of Bujinkan sport resembling Frisbee, only, and I quote 'you don't have to aim for anything!' endquote. Needless to say, Navillus wins the gold this year and by default for the next fifty Olympiads.
"The pole vault was another area where the Bujinkani's shined today. Team mates Hirc Dushon and Rabby Kremli blew the competition away by setting record heights for their vaults. Dushon gets the gold and Kremli the silver. Both men likened the vault to something known as 'breaching the castle wall' which we figure is another curious Bujinkani saying.
"The fifty meter dash, hundred meter dash and five hundred meter events were all won by Kne Vagase who used a most peculiar style of running. Throughout the event, Vagase's hands stayed loose and limp and he hardly seemed to be exerting much effort. Asked at the conclusion of his third consecutive win what style he had trained under, Vagase reportedly began speaking in tongues by repeating the phrase 'Mu On No Ho' over and over again.
"It seems the only downside to the Bujinkani streak occurred during the swimming competitions today. Several Bujinkani team mates had to be hospitalized after attempting to swim the entire events breathing only through a small reed tube and not surfacing to take breaths like the other competitors did. Two Bujinkani's passed out and were rushed to the hospital as they mumbled something like 'But Yessub did it using only a straw.' The two athletes were later released.
"From our observations, the Bujinkani team seems to be incredibly spiritual. Speaking in tongues and bizarre phrases most likely intimates a strong prevalence toward prayer in their society. Whatever their weird customs, there is no denying the strength of this amazing team. I'm Jane Halloway, back to you Bob. . ."
Another very important component of self defense is to have a plan. A sound approach to this is to ask yourself "what if". In the Police Academy our instructors called it "constructive day dreaming". I have heard my martial arts teachers call it "visualization". What it boils down to is mentally putting yourself in various situations and planning out what you would, ideally, like to do and how you would deal with each situation. Be realistic in your planning and remember that self defense is not pretty. If you do, even after attempts at avoidance, have to deploy physical techniques, keep them simple. You should have at your disposal, several simple techniques targeting one or all of three primary areas- Eyes, throat, and/or groin. No matter how powerful or muscular an attacker is, there is no amount of conditioning that will strengthen those areas. You should also plan escape routes, know where phones are along your route of travel, and know the locations of all Police stations along your route of travel. By planing for a variety of different situations, you will disarm your attacker of his most effective weapon against you--the element of surprise.
There are also a variety of self defense products on the market. I will not endorse or suggest the use of any in particular in this forum, however I will offer some things to keep in mind regardless of what product, if any, that you choose. When using any device that attaches to your key chain, chemical agents, kubatons etc., remember that if your are attacked while entering or exiting your vehicle, you cannot effectively use your keys to unlock your vehicle and spray your attacker at the same time. If you do choose to utilize some type of self defense "key chain", you may want to look at one that can be removed from your keys quickly so you can effectively use both. You should also keep in mind that any self defense weapon you carry could also be used against you. Allow for that in the plan. If you choose to use a chemical agent, i.e. mace, CS gas, or pepper spray, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, when you purchase a particular product you should purchase two. One to carry and one to practice with. Second, you should expose yourself to the product so you know it's affect on you. This exposure can be done by spraying a small amount of the chemical on your hand and holding your hand to your face for a moment Chances are that when you spray your attacker you may get some of it on yourself.. If you know how it feels and are expecting your reaction, that will cut down on the panic factor. In addition to the vast amount of self defense devices on the market, you also have a variety of unassuming improvised weapons at your disposal. Some examples are pens, pencils, combs, magazines, shoes, belts and on and on. You are only limited by your imagination.
Here are some personal safety tips:
In closing, I will say that self defense is a serious issue here in the 90's. It does not, however, half to be a complicated issue. By being prepared before the attack, you can win any confrontation through awareness of your surroundings, having a sound defense plan, and by keeping your head.
-- The Japanese master gives an exhibition tomorrow at the Alameda. --
Soke, the highest level master, affirms that ninjutsu "is not a sport, rather a way to carry on good lives," and upholds it as "physical therapy." The same Hatsumi, past the sixty year barrier, is proof that in this martial art there is no age limit. "It depends on the people," he argues, "but there is a man in the United States who is eighty-three."
For Hatsumi, all of the people who begin this lifestyle "are looking for the same thing," which, according to him, translates into the following maxim: "Happiness. This method helps you to rediscover the true happiness there is within yourself." So with this objective, hundreds of ninjas, as we popularly know them, dressed in traditional black, armed with truncheons (hanbo), move forward with Hatsumi in the search for happiness. Enraptured, they attend classes laden with symbolism.
Hatsumi's prestige is not only renown in the East, but also the majority of Western countries. He has received numerous decorations and institutional distinctions, including a knighthood in Germany. Furthermore, he is the only one who is able to grant a fifth level black belt after passing a difficult test. Ruben Cardenosa, one of the organizers of the "short course" given by the Japanese master, believes that Hatsumi brings with him a shock for the participants, and a powerful presence, "a different form of training." Purely a question of spirit.
- - -
The emperor of Japan considers him "a living treasure of all the martial arts." He is the master of masters, with the ability to gather his friends and followers from all over the globe when he offers a Tai Kai (a gathering of the Ninjutsu world). He is addressed as Soke Hatsumi Masaaki, and he will be in the Municipal Pavilion of Aldaya on Saturday and Sunday in a Tai Kai organized by the Bujinkan Dojo.
Hatsumi is a friendly man with very special customs. His cost is high, but he is not moved by money, nor much else. It has taken four years to bring him to Valencia. As much like him his wife is one of the major fortunes of Japan - their families have stocks in Honda, Sony. . . according to information given to us yesterday by the organizers. His presence in Valencia is a gift for all lovers of the martial arts.
Hatsumi, upon arriving yesterday in Valencia, declared that he felt very happy: "They have told me Valencia is a very good place with rice and oranges similar to those in Japan. Here live people with good hearts, and this is essential for the proliferation of the martial arts. All those who are going to participate these few days should be predisposed to study and create a friendly environment." Hatsumi places his requirements upon traveling, like the four bodyguards, comfortable seats on the plane, vegetarian food - probably black rice and vegetable paella (a Spanish rice dish) - a bottle of Campari in the hotel room for his wife, his English translator who he always uses when he travels. . . and of course, he dedicates the entire day before the Tai Kai to Buddhist meditation. He travels with his wife who is a master of traditional dance and will offer an exhibition at dinner on Saturday.
There will be more than three hundred participants, of which more than half have come from all four continents. The session will be held on Saturday and Sunday in Aldaya Pavilion. On Monday the training will be held in the gardens in front of the Palau de la Musica (Music Palace).
I am currently having translated another set of Japanese articles that Sensei has just sent me. Look for them in the coming months.
Andrew Young: Landing at New Tokyo International Airport in Narita City on June 4th, 1988 was the accomplishment of several years of preparation. I came to Japan with the purpose of studying at the Bujinkan Hombu Dojo with Hatsumi Sensei and the Shihan instructors; anything else that turned up would be a bonus. Bringing enough money for about three months basic survival - enough just to train and eat sparingly. After this, funds providing, I wanted to go to Australia to look around.
I first started training in 1984. At that time, there existed small training groups dotted all over the UK (except in the region where I lived. I spent a lot of time traveling and learning what I could. Most of the training being outside in the parks and woods, it always seemed to be cold. My early impressions of training were numbness of fingers and toes and a constant dew drop hanging from my nose! At this time I was still studying karate and was involved at the international level; being a member of the English squad for the style I studied. I had seen deeply some of the faults within karate and I wanted to study another art that compensated for the lack of techniques involving locks, throws and weapons. I initially looked at aikido, then jujitsu, but something didn't seem right in my mind. I had read about ninjutsu in a limited number of history books. The image left in my mind made me feel skeptical about looking into it any further. Perhaps curiosity got the better of me and I went to an open seminar. I had fun! Not so serious as my karate training, but the ideas I gained were invaluable even through the level of skill in the UK at the time was quite low. I decided to go again and then again. Eventually I had heard of some Swedes who had trained in Japan so I packed my job in and went to Sweden in '86, spending three months training every day - it was great! Running out of money I hitchhiked back to the UK and after four months of looking for work, I borrowed some money and went to London. I got a job and a flat and then started scouting for training. By this time I had given up on karate; I was hooked on taijutsu. I contacted Peter King and Chris Ronarth and attended their classes, but I had already decided I wanted to go to Japan. I worked as a security guard, working 12 hour shifts back to back, averaging 96 to 108 hours a week. It was tough going but I had made up my mind. Within 18 months I was on my way.
KH: What is it like living in Japan, and how do you support yourself?
AY: Eight years ago there was much more yen to the UK pound [254 yen = 1 pound. Now it is down to 160 yen]. But I went at training like hammers and tongs; training every evening straight for 23 days. I was simply that hungry. After this spurt of activity my body decided to take a holiday and I got sickness with diahorreah for four days as a souvenir. I was badly dehydrated due to the heat of the summer. I had never experienced heat like that. I came from a cold, wet and windy place. This was hot, sticky and still, but at least the dew drop on my nose thawed out.
After the first month I had given up the idea of going to Australia, in fact anywhere. I decided I would stay for at least a year- anyway money was getting low. To stay for a year I needed a visa, more money and a grasp of the language; I couldn't keep relying on other people. One day while looking in the newspaper for a job - I'll try anything once - I came across an advertisement for a Japanese language school. That was it! I would go to school, study Japanese and get a visa. I paid the initial fee of 110,000 yen which included three months' tuition and registration fee. I had two interviews for jobs teaching English. In one job the interviewer was a Japanese male who spoke basic English, I unfortunately spoke dialect with a touch of English. I felt sorry for him. He would ask a question and I would reply. He looked at me blankly and asked again the same question. My second interview communicatively fared better as I spoke to an Englishman from Liverpool who was keen to know news from home. After the interview we went out for a beer. Funny enough, I got both jobs. I lied about the visa bit, of course. In this case the ends justified the means and at that time there were not enough teachers to fill part time vacancies in the Chiba area. In fact foreigners were few and far between. In Noda city there was only Mark Lithgow and Mark O'Brien living there at that time. When I arrived Mark O'Brien was visiting the U.S.
Things are different nowadays though I am still trying to make ends meet. The economic depression Japan finds itself in now has forced many English schools to close and even though my English and Japanese have improved, the job scene has not. I still keep a finger in as many pies as possible work-wise, doing the odd "service" job, translating letters, etc. This year there is a slim chance I will get a business visa working for an import and export company. Anything to train!!! Until things balance out again I have to leave the country every six months or so for several weeks as my visa expires. Last year I had the opportunity to visit America twice, did lots of training, met lots of old and new friends and so on. The whole things are never as bad as they seem, although the Japanese immigration give me a tough time on my comings and goings.
Keeping an optimistic approach and a good sense of humor have been the driving force behind my willingness to carry on. Don't look at the obstacle at hand but try to reach out and see beyond it, learn to help yourself and take responsibility for the situation you are in now. Perhaps those barriers will melt and disappear. If they are still there, go around them! There is always a way when the will is strong.
Culturally, Japan is completely different from the surroundings I was brought up in. This will hit home more if you spend Christmas here, especially as training stops for the run up to New Year's. Basically 'goodwill to all men', Santa Claus, presents and turkey don't exist. This time my Christmas lunch was sashimi salad, while New Year had more of upswing tempo. For all of you who have to work on Christmas Day like me, I sympathize with you.
Martial arts and culture entwine about one another as do martial arts and religion. But culture and religion are the result of the human process; the same process can tread on the toes of martial arts study. Don't get lost in religion or culture if you want to study the martial arts as they will certainly permit barriers in training. This I know from experience. I have enough walls, barriers, obstacles, minefields, trenches, etc., in my daily life without creating any more. What I'm trying to say here is throw away your own cultural ways and beliefs; those of your own country, if they start to get you down and hinder your development. I've survived in Japan only because I studied the culture and desired not to hang on to it.
KH: What are the biggest differences between Bujinkan training in Japan and outside of it?
AY: Obviously the difference is that the skill level and depth of knowledge is understandably better in Japan. On the other hand, something that Hatsumi Sensei has stressed to be vitally important is "kihaku." This basically means the use of your spirit to suppress your opponent. Sensei remarked that kihaku is generally stronger in westerners than Japanese within the Bujinkan Dojo. This strength of spirit is the driving force behind the techniques, without which the techniques are merely kata, in other words, "dead." Over the last few years especially since Sensei has been teaching bo, yari, naginata and this year with sword, the emphasis in training has been to strengthen and exercise the "kihaku" feeling.
My reasons for first visiting Japan were to get a good grounding in the basics and feeling and equally "how to study" and "what to look for." As I said earlier I was only going to stay for one month but ended up initially being in Japan for four and a half years. By this time, training constantly, I was on overload, my head, body and spirit felt broken and confused. I made the decision to leave, promising myself two years of training on my own and unraveling my head! In autumn 1992 I returned back home to the UK, managed to find a job but soon became restless when I realized I didn't fit in anymore. So I thought bugger it and went to Australia. I was invited to interpret at the Sydney Tai Kai in June 1993. I interpreted badly Sensei's feeling. Nearly one year training without Sensei and I really felt lost. I resolved to train harder and remained in Australia. I moved to the Gold Coast in Queensland. Known more for 32 kilometers of golden sand, surf beaches and nightlife, I spent my evenings after work thrashing the local trees in the park. The excellent paper bark gum trees made good makiwara. I had half a dozen regulars, all keen, good guys going back to basics: kicking, punching, throwing and locks, working on timing and flow. I managed to beat the frustration out and cleared myself, redefining my purpose and direction. It would soon be time to return to Japan. I spent one month surfing and then diving on the Great Barrier Reef and partying my brains out.
Since then I've never looked back. I returned back to Japan hungry for training and refreshed. Spending time outside of Japan gave me time to look at points and aspects of training -
Distance: Keeping a good distance from Sensei so that I'm not overly effected by him. I can still make clear decisions.
Balance: Training too hard, believe it or not, makes your taijutsu worse. That is to say it affects your balance badly. The more you train the more you need to rest; give yourself time. But don't be afraid to play with balance.
Angles: Being prepared to take a step back and look from a fresh direction. Don't be too intent.
Timing: Knowing when you need to take a break and when to come back.
Purpose: Clarifying your purpose and reasons will help define your actions. Leaving doubt in your heart, mind or actions undermines your commitment.
KH: What do you see as the future of the Bujinkan?
AY: This is a very good question as I feel that it is one we have to clarify individually and as a dojo. It is our future we must look at. Sensei has often remarked that his intentions for the Bujinkan is one of creating a community of martial artists who share a commitment in living life with justice in the heart. This idea of building a dojo on friendship rather than organization is paramount in making the "art" live.
Really it is up to us, all of us. What do we want from our training. To make the Bujinkan just another organization will demean our art and undermine our potential. Through training in the Bujinkan I have made many friends the world over. I have traveled and trained in many countries and built up a friendship and understanding not only with other people and places but also myself. Perhaps understanding and befriending oneself is an important human necessity.
As I read through what I've written I look back on the last eight years, especially the six years of that time I've spent here. The good times and the bad times intermingled in confusion, but clarity exists and I keep going. I wish all and everyone in our dojo best wishes and happiness in life.
As always, please e-mail the authors with your support and recognition. Also, please e-mail me with any errors or adjustments to this newsletter (I have a feeling that there are several in this month's edition).
See you next month!