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[ olvasnivaló » Ura & Omote - 1996 December, 1997 January ]

Ura & Omote - 1996 December, 1997 January



Benjamin Cole

Well, my friends. . . The Year of the Sword, unfortunately, has come to an end fairly quickly. The training at Ayase has been a whirlwind of awe-inspiring techniques and wisdom. Hatsumi-sensei has made us laugh; he's made us think; he's made us re-evaluate our training every time he shows it "one more time." This series was my attempt to bring part of that excitement, part of that wisdom, to as many Bujinkan practitioners as possible.

If money grew on trees and we had no other responsibilities in the world, I am convinced we would all be traveling the world to train with the best in the world. But of course, reality is not that simple. Although I truly believe everyone *should* be reading Sanmyaku, unfortunately, not everyone can afford it. Although everyone *should* be attending every Tai Kai and coming to Japan, unfortunately, not everyone can just leave their job and family for a month to do such things. "Quotations from Soke" was for all those people whose money situation or other responsibilities, familial or otherwise, prevent them from being here.

The most wondrous thing about training at Ayase is the way Soke communicates -- he communicates with his body, with his eyes, with his facial expressions, and lastly with his resonant voice. Every person who finishes a session with Soke walks away with something that has changed him or her. Everyone remembers different things, and everyone is touched in a different way. In fact, you could say, every person's interpretation is different -- for that is the beauty of Taijutsu.

Taijutsu is not an argument over which foot was forward the last time you saw the technique. Nor is it an argument over what is gained and what is lost in the mere existence of an Internet newsletter or a collection of quotations. This brings me to something very close to my heart.

I should begin by saying that it is not in your best interest to look at each individual quote as a whole unit; the quotes are obviously out of context. Though I try to clarify points with my comments, there is no way you could understand some of what Soke says without being there yourself, and even then good luck. Some of the comments may have subtle word plays or backgrounds that no one but the big guy himself can understand. But that doesn't mean that all is for naught. Look at the whole, not the parts. Some recurrent themes are there for you to discover and make yours.

I once saw a practitioner take his uke out *hard* with little regard for safety. Soke turned to me and said, "We can learn a lot from each other, can't we?" On the surface, he said just what he said. Further down, however, he was saying, "That's not how you want to treat people when you train" . . . possibly. And that's the trouble with translating what Soke says. Because there is no way of knowing what exactly he is getting at, the "surface" meaning is all that can be translated.

Translating Soke is not easy. There are so many layers, so many stories, so many subtleties that would be possible if one wanted to treat what he says as a legal document for a product liability lawsuit. But fear not, the surface meaning is frequently all we need worry about in our normal training. The deeper meaning is reserved for those who "choose to listen." Soke's writings, in Sanmyaku or otherwise, as well as what he says on any video are similar in this respect. The more you train, the more you truly "listen," the more will open up before you. Read them once, they mean one thing. Read them a few years later, they may take on whole new meanings for you.

As I've written before, "Quotations from Soke" are purely my interpretation. They are at the mercy of memory and the beers that killed off millions of high-quality brain cells after practice; in no uncertain terms, they are flawed. But they are all I have to offer. They are here for your taking. They tell a story. And if you look deep enough, you may recognize the little thread of Taijutsu in what is before you. If asked, I would tell you that I think I do a fairly good job of capturing the "essence" of what Soke is saying. Does that make them perfect? No. Does that make them another tool in your journey toward completeness in Taijutsu? Sure. But nothing more than a tool.

May all your choices be good ones. -- Ben

This is a collection of quotations made by Masaaki Hatsumi-sensei during practice sessions at Ayase, as recorded in my training diary. Despite the current debate over the role of the Internet in the Bujinkan, Ben will continue to make this part of his diary available. If you truly look at what Hatsumi-sensei is saying, you will understand that these words (as with any printed, spoken, or otherwise) are to be used as a reference, nothing more. It is up to YOU to make the proper choices in your life and in your training. My hope is that more and more Bujinkan practitioners will increase the intensity and frequency of their training as a result of this series. I also hope that these words will push people to do what they can to make it to Japan to train with the only one who truly understands this art. As for the quotes themselves, I try to remember the general flow of the training sessions when I record my thoughts, because, as Hatsumi-sensei once said, "I teach from what I see around me." I have tried keep these quotes in essentially the same order as they were made during the training session, but naturally memory does play its tricks. These are my interpretations as to what Hatsumi-sensei was saying, based upon my feelings at the time. They should not be viewed as verbatim nor as "official." Words in parentheses are my comments, most of which are for clarification.
OCTOBER 15 (Tuesday)
"This is the year of the sword. Next year will be jo, sword, and Taijutsu."

"I am planning on bringing all the Taijutsu training together by the year 2000. That's why I changed the name to Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu this last year, to solidify things. These four or five years are to be the culmination of these teaching of the ancient schools (ko-ryu), and I had hoped to bring it all together, this cycle, with the sword."

"For those who continue their training with me over these next few years, they shall understand the essence of the art."

"Doron (Navon) has been training with me for a very long time. And he still continues to come and train. He understands my art very well. It would be wise to listen to his comments."

"It's very important that you all purchase and view the videos from the various Tai Kai. The people who help organize the Tai Kai also sell videos specifically for each country. There are even videos for the Israel Tai Kai through Doron. (Pointing to Doron) If you watch these videos, you will be able to better understand the videos I put out as well."

"The flow I saw in Europe was impressive. People do not get stuck on only the techniques. They keep changing and did very well. . . Many people get stuck on the technique and don't feel the flow, and that is too bad. . ."

"You have to be able to sense your opponent without looking at them. . . You have to be ready to move against them at any time, even if you are not looking at them. . . This is not one-on-one."

"Use your body to punch. It's not just your arm power, unless of course you're extremely strong. Use your spine and body regardless."

"Strike all three points at the same time. . . If you don't use your knee here to strike, your opponent will not go down if he is large. In Holland, everyone was so huge. I had to make sure to put them down. Otherwise, they would just pick me up with one hand and toss me like a toy. (Laughs)"

"The reason why you place your arm there is that it gives your more options for henka."

"Distance is very important."

"After you've broken their clavicle here, grab it and pull on those shattered bones. . . In a real encounter sometimes you need to be this ruthless to survive. At times, it's either kill or be killed."

"Listen to Doron, he understands how effective these techniques can be."

"Don't teach this technique to others. This is a true killing technique that could be misused by bad people. Not everything I teach should be taught to everyone."

OCTOBER 29 (Tuesday)
"You are all too nice. You need to get a little more animalistic."

(After using a kasumi no kamae technique with Taijutsu) "Your arm covers the other one to confuse your opponent. They don't know what to expect because both arms are there."

"This striking down on the bicep opens their neck up for you. It makes the neck attack more effective."

"You can use anything around you. Something like this (mini bottle of health drink), or a pen. Anything will be effective."

"(When you do the first strike on their bicep with the bottle) They go, 'Ah, itta!' ('It hurts!'). And then you go, 'Aita!' ('He was open!') (as you slam into their exposed neck with your forearm)." (The humor in this is that the two expressions have nearly the same pronunciation.)

"Takamatsu-sensei once told me, 'There is no need for you to make your hands into hardened weapons like me (by tearing bark off of trees, etc.) You can just use what is available around you in everyday life'."

"These (health) drinks have alcohol in them. You can drink part of it, then use the other half as metsubushi. It will burn their eyes."

"You can also use something like this (drink), to fake out your opponent. You can be stumbling along as you drink it. This would make you appear weak, which would make them lower their defenses."

"You can't throw the metsubushi from far away. They could easily avoid it. You have to get in close to make it effective. . . You have to break it open before you use it as well."

(As he flays Arnaud with a practice kusari fundo) "This will break their bones in many different places. . . This is the way to use the fundo."

"Go ahead and put a kick in their at the end. If you don't get into the habit of doing so, you will just stop after the strike."

"In order to do the kick, you need to get your proper distancing and position. This is very important for you to be able to do the kick, or make henka."

"Women, especially, need to remember to keep going and put in something like a kick because they usually lack superior strength."

(To a female practitioner) "If you don't kick your opponent (i.e. keep moving) you become a target. And if a really strong man manages to get a hold of you, you won't be able to move as much and it might be the end."

"You can use this idea (of keeping moving) as a means for escape as well as attack."

"It is very important to practice the technique. Then the counter and the counter to the counter."

(Concerning a whipping sword technique) "Be careful. It is very easy to put out an eye with this technique."

(Concerning the same whipping technique) "You should be able to take out two opponents standing side-by-side with this technique."

"Use your body to strike here. Don't use only your arm strength."

(Concerning using a hidden knife) "This is Bikan-ryu." (Not to be confused with Gikan Ryu or Biken. I checked later with some Japanese to see if my hearing was correct, and it turned out to be a mixture of the kanji, or something like that.)

"Don't use your arms to attack with the knife. By simply moving your body out of the way of the attack, you have set up your counter."

"This isn't the movies (he says as he tosses his knife back and forth between his hands like a stereotypical street punk). . . You have to be able to use every means possible to take out your opponent."

(When asked why we should train with a technique that nearly exposes our backs to our opponents) "If you learn these techniques, you will not be surprised by other opponents or by people using similar techniques against you."

"I have said before that I do not want to teach bad people. This is why. Someone with ill intentions could use these techniques to truly kill others. . . That is why I want to train only those with good hearts. That is why the Bujinkan does not need to get any bigger. Bad people might learn these techniques, and once they're out, they're out."

"You have to be ready to move your torso and head to avoid the punch. . . You could also head butt or whatever."

"Be very careful with this technique. In a real fight, if you put your weight behind it, you can break their kneecap."

"Go ahead and let 'em have it. . . If your opponent is a fifth dan or above, really try to punch them. . . The dynamics for both of you will change."

"You are all improving nicely. There is no need for talk. Training only. 'No think. No talk. Train'."

NOVEMBER 12 (Tuesday)
"The movement is first kiri-age, then kiri-sage, then tsuki. Practice them well."

(Noguchi-sensei's comment) "If you are trying to kiri-age, don't bend your elbows. Otherwise your sword will point downward. Rather, extend you arms."

"After the kiri-sage, there is no need to remove your sword from their body to do the tsuki. If it's already in their body, leave it there. Just twist and thrust. . . If you hit a rib, just twist your blade to lay it flat, and then thrust all the way through."

"When you go to do a kiri-age, be mindful of your tsuka. It could get in your way. So you need to remember to either push it away with your elbow, or hold it close with the inside of your arm. It all depends on the situation."

"You could also push your tsuka straight back with your elbow like this. (Soke is standing in Hasso no kamae, which means that his left elbow is in front of his body, and thus his forward-pointing tsuka. Without losing his stance, he places the inside of his left elbow on the open end of his tsuka, and pushes it straight back) It's a real shame, but many people who are involved with creating "jidai-geki" (samurai movies, etc.) do not know such techniques. If they were to see this one, they would be extremely surprised. . . You can't see it from the front; you have to look from the side. It certainly looks cool, don't you think?" (Yes, I must admit. It did.)

"You can hold the sword at many different heights in hasso. It can be up high or down low, depending on the space you have to work with. . . If it is down low, for example, you must make your kiri-age cut tighter to your body."

"The line of the cut, the distance, and the direction are all very important."

(Someya-sensei) "I was cut on my finger last year and the sword just slid right through it. Being cut with a sword is like being shocked by electricity. Keeping that in mind, you can see how with the first cut (the kiri age), you can actually open a person up for the kiri sage cut on the other side."

(Concerning Doron teaching a knife technique) "Listen to him. He's a 'killer.' You all need to get that 'killer' instinct as well. Otherwise, you will be killed yourself."

(Noguchi-sensei) "By not moving in, you are in their space. You have to create your own space. Don't remain in your opponent's space; make your own. (In other words, they expect you to be at arm's length, which is where you are when they initiate their attack. But if you move in, you cut off their attack and are in perfect position to launch your own.)

"As I've mentioned before, you need to have eyes to see in martial arts. You need to have eyes of the heart. If you don't have such eyes, 'no buds will sprout for you.' " (Though "me ga denai" is a common expression that means on the surface "no buds will sprout," the underlying meaning is that "nothing will come your way," or "your attempts will be fruitless.")

"This flow is very important and is mentioned in the "Mansen-shukai" (an ancient Ninjutsu scroll, literally translated as "Ten thousand rivers coming together in the sea"). But just reading those words about 'flow' does not mean that you can understand the concept. It can only be understood through training. . . Similarly, it wouldn't matter if someone were to steal the Bujinkan densho. That's because they couldn't understand them."

(Through a practitioner) "As you can see, there are many variations. But the principle is the same: this flow."

At Soke's request, a practitioner described having the technique done to him by Soke) "It was like I was being controlled, being pulled into him. I could do nothing." (To which Soke added,) "It's almost like bending someone's mind. You can control them with your will to control them. (For Star Wars fans, the "old Jedi mind trick" might come to mind)

"It's the movement of the feet and the body that make this technique possible."

"Always keep moving, so that you can flow into the next technique."

"This movement is very difficult. It takes many years of training to make it a natural part of you."

(Doron) "Just let them do the work for you. If you fight it, you will not be able to get it. If you just let them move your sword for you, though, it will just slide into place."

(After someone messes up the technique and gets countered) "Getting hit like that is good. Look at it as a learning tool."

"These techniques are intended for fifth dan and above, but everyone is the same. There are no 'sempai-kohai' here."

(During demonstration time, after someone made a mistake) "By watching everyone, you come to see how important distance is. Use these times to learn from each other."

"As a result of his training, Doron has made these movements an inherent part of him. It would be wise to emulate and treasure him. As you saw today, it does not matter if you have a sword, or a knife, or no weapon at all. The movement is the same."

"When you are training, you must have a pure heart ("magokoro", in Japanese). This heart is like a filament in a light bulb that burns brightly."

"I hope you all understand the proper way of training, and the proper way of training with swords."

NOVEMBER 15 (Friday)
"Learn these fundamental cuts well. Spend about the next ten minutes practicing these three cuts. Who was here last time? Raise your hands. Okay, good. Spend the next ten minutes training with one of those people."

"If you move your saya like this, your sword might actually get stuck in it when they attack."

"So many people don't know that you could use your saya like this."

"This art is so different from so many other arts. That's because it's so real. Even people from other arts can taste the difference when they see such techniques."

"This technique is good against boxers (who try to cover themselves with the non-punching hand)"

"This movement is just like when you are using a sword. It confuses your opponent."

(A practitioner describing punching Soke) "It's like when you are grabbing for something and it's not there. I was punching, but he wasn't there when my fist got there."

"Don't use any strength. It's not strength. It's natural power."

(When grappling with someone) "If you try to hold them down, you won't be able to do it. But if you don't try to do it, there's nothing for them to resist against and you can easily get them."

"We are not martial-whateveryoucallits. We are not martial producers. We are martial artists. Artists. I want to put that beauty back in."

"I'm not punching him in the face. I'm just lifting my hand and he's moving into it here."

"You need to keep the elbow tight so they can't attack you."

"The hand moves with the body."

"This is not something that can be explained. But by having it done to you, you will understand."

"You could do this, or this, or this. You have to have this flow."

"No, do it again. This is for everyone's good. Watching you is practice for us all."

(As he grabs someone's face from behind) "If you are behind them like this, cover their eyes. Then you can show them things as you like (by spreading your fingers) Open it a little and show them their worst fear. Grab into their face. Cover their eyes. You don't want them to see all the media getting it all on tape. (Laughs)"

(To a practitioner) "Don't look at the weapon. If you concentrate on something like taking the weapon, they'll pick up on it. If you catch a bee without thinking about it, you won't get stung. If you concentrate on it before you move, though, they'll pick up on it and fly away. The same goes with flies. The self-preservation instinct is only natural."

(To a practitioner) "Don't look at the weapon. No good again. No you looked. You need to have antennae to pick up things."

"This technique should be summed up that if you think it's there, it's not. And if you think there's nothing, you've actually got it. And that is the difficulty."

"You don't have to be able to do this immediately. Just keep working on it. It has already been some forty years since Takamatsu-sensei's death, and I've been training every day. There's no need to rush. If you rush, you'll actually miss some things. Don't work too quickly, just work at your own pace. It'll come to you."

"I am very pleased with how things are going with the Bujinkan. You are all learning this "true art." Just keep training."

"There are many teachers around the world, but they don't understand what a true art is. I feel sorry for their students, because it is they who ultimately suffer."

"I have said this before: I am not teaching. I am just helping you to understand these things by yourself."

NOVEMBER 19 (Tuesday)
"Make each movement complete. Don't just go through the motions. You must be ready to make either of these techniques (kiriage and kirisage) into a tsuki."

"Move your sword as if it were your "tool." (Laughs as he looks to see if any of the women were embarrassed by his libido.) I'm not pulling your leg here. I say such things because you have to make the weapon move as if it were another appendage. . . Martial arts are very Freudian."

"Don't get caught up in the technique itself. You'll be trapped."

"Anyone can learn a technique, but the flow is what you should be striving for."

"Don't focus on the arms. Use your body."

"I am not teaching beginners; I am teaching professionals."

"Don't grab -- beginners grab. Professionals bring the arm to them (by moving their feet)."

"Move with a weapon as if you didn't have it."

"You could do this same technique with a knife. Just keep it hidden. Don't go swinging it around. We're not yakuza here."

(Noguchi-sensei) "Don't let your knife get to the outside of the attacking arm like this. When your opponent tries to punch you, just take the center with your blocking arm like this. Swinging your arms wastes motion and forces you to swing your arms back when they continue their attack with their other limbs. Rather, take the center, then when the second punch comes all you have to do is barely move to take that center as well."

"Your thumb is a sword. That's why this is called a one-digit sword."

"You must learn to use weapons as if you are not using weapons."

"When you are using hidden weapons you must learn how to use them. Otherwise, your opponent may take them from you and use them against you."

"Don't grab. Just let your hand move with their movement of their arm like this and you will naturally grab them (with your pinkie and ring finger)"

"It is extremely important that women train seriously. If someone's Taijutsu is not effective, the people they train with are partially to blame. There is a fine line between being a gentleman and doing someone a disfavor by making them think they've got a technique when they actually don't. . . (In other words, don't take falls for anyone) If you don't train seriously, you could end up being killed."

"It's a true shame that so many teachers around the world refuse to make mistakes in front of their own students. Such pride is a travesty for their students. One can't live life through pride."

"If you can't take these things to heart, all there is to do is die."

"You need to move like the wind, but have all your positions set."

"Does anyone have any more comments about today's technique?"


Benjamin Cole


"This technique is very dangerous. Please be careful."

"When you do a 'tsuki,' don't actually try to stick your opponent with your sword."

"All weapons are the same."

"This technique is the same with a pistol."

(After showing how to run two opponents through with a sword) "If you are using a pistol, you can shoot through someone to hit another person. Sure you could shoot someone in the head, but the skull is hard. But if you shoot through a soft part, like their neck or bicep, you can shoot two people with one bullet. . . All weapons are the same."

"Anyone can just shoot someone with a gun. Even a child. I want you to learn how to use one effectively."

"Don't get trapped in the technique. It's 'kihaku' (the spirit or presence)."

"I am teaching at a very high level. You need to learn to throw away everything."

(After a very good demonstration by a practitioner) "You can see how important it is we all learn from each other. We all have so much to share."

"Don't try to punch them. If you try to punch them, you will be using your muscles. You can move faster if you just do it like this (he says as he thumps his uke to the ground)."

"I am not teaching techniques here. Anyone can do a technique. I want you to learn the flow. It cannot be taught. It must be discovered. But having it done to you by me will help you to understand."

"It is very important that everyone come to train with me."

"This is cannot be translated. This is not words."

"As I mentioned before, the man who caught Aikman did not carry a gun. That was because he had the same type of feeling as I do, and so he was not dependent on a gun. This is what I am trying to teach. Using a weapon without using the weapon--which is the same as not having the weapon in the first place."

"This art has a 2,600 year history. It is hard to believe that it's still around. . . And that it can be applied to modern weapons and modern situations."

"I just want the world to understand the essence of the art. That's all."

"I am very pleased with how the Bujinkan has progressed."

DECEMBER 6 (Friday)
"It is very important you all have and protect the 'budo' heart. You are not to be politicians. You are not to be salesmen. You are to be, first and foremost, martial artists. Everything else is secondary to that. That is my wish."

"What happens if your leg hurts and you have trouble moving? What happens if you cannot move one of your legs? Then just move like this. (Keeps his left leg bolted to the floor and moves his right foot around: out to the right, backward, behind the left one.) You need to be able to adjust to your situation."

"Do not fall to the side and land on your hand like this. You may break your wrist or forearm, or jar the elbow or shoulder. This will lead to troubles in your shoulder and other joints as you age. Please be careful."

"Don't make the other person your opponent. If you do that, you lose your awareness to other people. Taijutsu is not just one on one."

"You are just sending them on their way. That's all."

(To a befuddled practitioner) "The reason why you cannot get this technique is because you *are* good. But if you were not good, you could *never* get it."

"I think you all noticed when the sword hit (the cloth in my armpit when I did the technique). You shouldn't be concerned if that happens (and they stab through your clothing). It's just like that video (from Quest) where the sword went through my gi. You just have to be able to use it to your advantage. (He then does a move that surprises everyone)."

"Up until now people have been concerned with learning techniques. That's why they cannot make 'henka' (variations)."

"This is the way to use chainmail. You all remember when I talked about wearing armor beneath your clothing (at Daikomyosai). . . Chainmail can be found in nearly every country around the world. So it's very important to learn to use it. This is a way to do so to your advantage."

"If you don't understand this way of using chainmail, it would be a real waste."

"You are trying to move your opponents with your sword. . . You don't have to cut them, just knock them (with the flat of the blade), then once you have them in the position you want them, kill them."

"Be a mole. And just dig through your opponents. That is what I am doing here. (He says as he takes on two opponents at the same time)."

(Midway through practice, he grabs someone, has him kneel in Seiza, and proceeds to give him the fifth dan test. A few minutes later, he pulls another person away from their practice and gives him one, too.) "Do you know why I am doing this? Because it is important not to forget what you cannot see in front of you. You must be aware of everything around you."

"A tsuki with a fist is exactly the same as a tsuki with a sword."

(To a practitioner) "Your punches are good and very powerful. You remember the way of punching I taught during the 'ken' practice. But you need to adjust to this way as well."

"Don't start your punch from back here (on your hip). Of course, they will be able to defend against that. Just shoot it out from here (in front of the chest), but don't use your arm strength."

"You are supporting them here. (He says as he holds his uke with the outside of his elbow) And then just let them do the work for you."

"We're getting near the end of the year, so I am speeding things up and making them a little more difficult."

DECEMBER 17 (Tuesday)
(Regarding a sword draw) "Be careful not to cut your ear off when you do this technique."

"Use this technique when in very narrow spaces. And if the ceiling is low, go down to your knee like this."

(To a practitioner) "You move as though the technique is stuck in your head. Rather, you should move as though you have forgotten the technique."

"Do not teach these things to bad people, or write them down so others could discover them."

"If you can read a technique (in the densho, etc.), so can your enemies. It is very important to learn things that are not recorded somewhere. That is one of the reasons why I don't like to release books any more."

"These are not 'conventional' techniques. That is because you cannot truly kill people with 'conventional' techniques. (i.e. You must be unconventional to win)."

DECEMBER 24 (Tuesday)
"When you use a real sword, you can finally understand the importance of distancing."

"When you go down on your knee here, don't forget to use your other hand as your counter-balance."

"This is 'kyojutsu'. . . This is the area between the 'kyo' and the 'jutsu' in 'kyojutsu.' You must find that balance. It is very important."

(To a practitioner who owns a replica of the sword Soke is going to film ken techniques with) "Oooh, that sword is beautiful. . . It is perfectly balanced for just this type of technique. May I? I'm not going to make any more of them. Take good care of it."

"Remember: with a ken, you can use either side of the sword to cut."

"You can use a ken like this. Lay it on your body and whip it like this (Twists his body fiercely and whips his ken). This can be done with many, many weapons. . . You can also use this to throw your ken at someone. Just release it at the right point and it will fly right through a person."

(To the owner of that special ken) "Can you get out your ken again? I want to show you something. . . You see how nicely it cuts through the air. Listen. (A faint whistle flies through the air.) Watch out over there. You never know. The pin might come out and the blade will go flying. (He chuckles as all but one person, who didn't understand Japanese, scramble out of the way.) I'm not joking. The pins have been known to break and the blade will go flying. Please be aware of this."

"Just try to hold them (with your sword). Don't worry about cutting them."

"The punch comes from where he doesn't expect it. . . This is Gikan Ryu. . . This is not something that can be taught. But if you have it done to you, you'll know you're being done *big time*. (Laughs)"

"This should be a 'Nice catch!' Just catch their arm, and then from there you can do anything. You can move in slowly like this. Frightening, isn't it? Or you could just do this."

"Show them this hand, then. . . (He clocks his uke with his other hand from behind)."

(After putting his uke in an extremely painful position with just his fingers) "Come here and look at my fingers. You can't see from there."

"It's okay if they punch you here. Because you are in an advantageous position. Just do this."

"It looks like you are going to punch them here. That's why you should grab their hand instead."

"Okay. Everybody watch Noguchi-sensei. . . Noguchi-sensei, teach! Jungle style!" (Laughs)

"This move is like a big bear. (Half the class lifts their hands like rearing bears)."

"Everyone have a wonderful New Year. Next year will be jojutsu -- jojutsu, ken, and Taijutsu. I have been thinking for a while about emphasizing Gyokko-ryu, as well."

Ben lives, trains, and sleeps in Japan. He may be reached at


a Musubi Journal interview with Stephen K. Hayes
Some confusion has arisen in the past year in regards to just who is and is not a recognized and legitimate teacher of Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi's Bujinkan Dojo martial arts. Claims and counterclaims have appeared in forums on the Internet and the popular commercial on-line services. Many members have written to us with queries as to who to believe. They want to know what is true. Some seem to fear that the new Quest Centers are evidence that our founder Stephen K. Hayes has somehow parted company with his original teacher Masaaki Hatsumi. Others claim that Masaaki Hatsumi no longer recognizes Stephen K. Hayes as his senior-most Western Hemisphere student. In the following interview, Nine Gates Institute founder Stephen K. Hayes comments on the controversy:

Musubi Journal: What is at the bottom line beneath all these rumors?

Stephen K. Hayes: The bottom line is that Masaaki Hatsumi is my teacher. You just can't change the facts. Yes, I was awarded a graduate certificate of program completion several years ago, but I still see my martial arts teacher each year. He still continues to endorse my teaching work here in the West.

In fact, as recently as last October, my wife Rumiko received her Shihan senior master teacher degree from Masaaki Hatsumi. We are still very much a part of the family.

MJ: How will Masaaki Hatsumi be involved with your Quest Centers?

SKH: I think of the new Quest Centers as our tribute to my teacher Masaaki Hatsumi. They are a salute to his vision of bringing the once-hidden Japanese warrior arts to a world sorely in need of higher ideals. It is well-documented that I went to Japan twenty-some years ago and "discovered" the ninja art of Masaaki Hatsumi. After years of training in a tiny little Noda City dojo with an obscure master of the martial arts, I wrote a series of books that blew the lid off thirty-four generations of secrecy. Because of those books, the western world then had access to Masaaki Hatsumi and his Bujinkan Dojo martial arts. When I left Japan to move back to the United States in the early 1980s, the Bujinkan was unheard of. Within two years, I had put the Bujinkan on the map to the point where the 1980s were referred to in martial arts circles as "the decade of the ninja". Today, as a result of that work, thousands of people call themselves students of Masaaki Hatsumi's Bujinkan Dojo. That is my way of saying "thank you" to my teacher.

MJ: How are your new Quest Centers structured?

SKH: At the October 1996 Festival in Ohio, we made public our final plans for the establishment of a group of martial arts schools united in their approach to teaching Kasumi-An Bujinkan Dojo taijutsu as a form of self-protection and personal empowerment. We have come up with an approach that will allow people in many situations to participate. At this point, we are committed to creating a group of schools that fit into the two following categories:

1.Schools Owned by Stephen K. Hayes: November 1996 was the debut of a network of my Stephen K. Hayes Quest Centers in Ohio and California. These and further training halls will be staffed by teaching professionals who share my vision of what martial arts training is supposed to be. Far beyond the conventional stereotype of martial arts schools as we know them today, our new Quest Centers will focus on all the technologies that will allow us to evolve into tatsujin, or fully actualized human beings operating effectively in all areas of life.

2.Schools Owned by Stephen K. Hayes' Friends: The second part of the new plan includes the opportunity for qualified people to be trained in our curriculum and business management systems so that they can qualify to operate their own Quest Center under a licensing agreement with HGI (?). February 10-14, 1997 will be the first of a series of instructor college "boot camps" through which instructors can qualify to run their own schools utilizing our new technologies. Subsequent one-week boot camps will be held in April, June, August, the week before the October Festival, and December of 1997.

We will train and license member schools to use documented and scripted taijutsu self-protection martial arts and Life Enhancement Technologies lecture, discussion, and meditation curriculum programs for each week of the students' training from 1st day white belt through 1st degree black belt. We will train and license member schools to use documented and scripted school management programs for each task and employee position in the school. We will provide member schools with access to a full line of professionally-designed sales tools and products bearing our center name and logo, instructor training at one of our training centers, and construction guides for building new training centers in a manner similar to my own.

MJ: What will these new Quest Centers mean in regards to your relationship with Hatsumi Sensei's Bujinkan Dojo?

SKH: Hatsumi Sensei has been my martial arts teacher for over twenty years now. Nothing can change the reality that I got what I got under his direction, despite these silly rumors on the Internet. I will still issue Bujinkan Dojo degree licenses from Hatsumi Sensei to my senior students.

MJ: But you are calling them Quest Centers and not Bujinkan Dojos.

SKH: Our Quest Centers actually make up an advanced education system designed to lead to fully developed human beings. Bujinkan Dojo taijutsu for self-protection is one thing that we offer at the Quest Centers, one part but not the total package. The new centers will involve much more than just the physical actions of taijutsu. Therefore, the name of the Quest Centers reflects more than merely kick and grab technique, and so it would not be accurate to label these centers Bujinkan Dojos.

MJ: Some people interpret this as you "breaking away" from Masaaki Hatsumi. Why is it that some people like to claim that you no longer train with Hatsumi Sensei?

SKH: Well, the truth is that I have been very fortunate in my life. I have attained the kind of success in life that I set out to attain thirty years ago. I literally made my dreams come true; Black Belt Hall of Fame, seventeen published books, friendship with movie stars and powerful people, being asked to travel with the Dalai Lama as security escort, not to mention the obvious worldly symbols of success that my family displays. Of course, all the notoriety that comes along with success creates envy and resentment in those who see their own lives lacking in power and success. Instead of being inspired by the work of their superiors to strive for greater possibilities, the envious attempt to pull down those above them.

MJ: Why is there so much confusion about your relationship with Masaaki Hatsumi?

SKH: Masaaki Hatsumi's Bujinkan dojo training hall network is not set up along conventional Japanese martial art organizational lines. If we were set up like the judo Kodokan or the aikido hombu, where all members are supervised by a central authority, the teachers of Dr. Hatsumi's martial art would operate in a well-defined and authentic hierarchy. As it is, Bujinkan license holders are strung together only in their claims of having been trained by the grandmaster or one of his senior instructors. Oddly enough when compared to other martial traditions in Japan, there is no enforcement of any system of respect for seniority.

MJ: It wasn't that way in the old days, was it? Why isn't there the kind of respect for seniors that we would expect in the Japanese martial arts?

SKH: Dr. Hatsumi has set up his system in such a manner that all teaching members operate autonomously of one another. I understand that this seems to be the same sort of set-up that Bruce Lee left behind for his Jeet-kune-do. Nobody knows what is true. This is very confusing to people outside of the art, in that there do appear to be contradictory claims as to just who is legitimately licensed and who isn't. The positive effect of such an "unorganized" organization structure, however, is that all teachers claiming to be authorized by the grandmaster have the responsibility to interpret the art and demonstrate its power in their daily lives rather than simply rely on political hierarchy to support their claims of mastery. It also gives us all a lot of freedom, something that is crucially necessary if this art is going to move into the Western world as a thing of value and not just an odd hobby for eccentrics. The "bad news" is that there is a lot of confusion. The words "freedom" and " chaos" describe the same phenomenon.

MJ: What about people who claim that you do not spend much time in Japan anymore?

SKH: This is somewhat true, in that I spend more time in the West now than I do in Japan. After graduating from the program, it was my duty to set out into the world to test out what I had learned. Japan is now like a wonderful retreat for me. It is always a refreshing escape to go back, but my work lies here in the West.

MJ: But some people say that they are in Japan learning things from Masaaki Hatsumi now and you are not.

SKH: Yes. That is true. It was my turn to be there studying in the 1970s. Now twenty years later in the 1990s they are going through the lessons I went through when I was back there at their stage of training. As a graduate, it is my job to test out and prove in the world what I learned when I was a young man there as a student.

MJ: Don't you feel that you are missing something by not being there in Japan now?

SKH: Nostalgically, I consider Japan my heart's home. I really enjoy it there, and of course half of my daughters' family lives there. It would be fun to give up all the challenge and work here in the West and go back, but it would not be proper for me to live in Japan at this point. It is like graduating from a university. After all the degrees, it is time to go out in the world and see what you can do. If I were still to be in Japan going through the same lessons again and again, I would be hiding from the challenges and responsibilities of life. People look down on the "professional student" who never leaves the classroom to face real life. No, this is where I belong. There is much important work to be done, and we are just now setting things in motion.

This article was submitted by the editors of Stephen K. Hayes' Musubi Journal. For more information regarding Quest Centers or Shidoshi Stephen K. Hayes, contact: Musubi Journal; PO Box 291947; Dayton, OH 45429-0947


Peter King

In Martial Arts most people's perception of Jo is derived from the Shindo Musu Ryu Jodo/Jojutsu. During my earliest visit to Japan, I had the opportunity to train in the Shindo Muso Ryu with Kaminoda Sensei (who was Chief Instructor to the 'Kidotai' - Japanese Riot Police). Although this was no more than a passing visit, I did nonetheless have some familiarity with approach.

However nothing could have prepared me for the revelation that was in store, when I experienced the radical Jojutsu techniques of Kukishiden Ryu.

This year (1997) Jo will be the featured weapon of the Bujinkan and will be taught in Japan and at Tai Kais abroad by Hatsumi Soke. As such, I hope that some details of the Jo, its use, history and the first waza of the Jojutsu will be of interest to Bujinkan members. (Neither the Bujinkan, nor Hatsumi Soke are in any way responsible for any errors or omissions, that I may unwittingly have made.)

The Kukishinden Ryu (nine demons divine transmission school) was founded during the Kamakura period (12th century). The founder was apparently visited in his sleep by nine demons, during nine consecutive nights. It is said that these demons instructed him in the secret techniques that became the foundation of the Ryu. In later years the Kuki family were tasked with protecting the coastal waters of their home region in Kumano and extracted a 'toll' from passing ships to support that patriotic duty.

The techniques of the Jo (also known as Yonshaku Bo - four length staff) are said to be 800 years old and came from the techniques of Rokushaku Bo and Sword, containing elements from both arts. The length of the Jo may vary, dependent on the size of the user.

The Jo is not primarily a military weapon, indeed it is considered as more of a defensive weapon, as it doesn't have any sharp edges (as with a sword). However once a sword has been used a number of times, it may lose efficiency, because of damage to the blade. This is not the case with a Jo, which will always remain good.

Because of the length of the Jo (being approximately two thirds of the Rokushaku Bo and only slightly greater in length than the sword), it was necessary that the user move in to strike and then back out of range again. Used correctly the Jo could apparently break a sword blade.

One advantage of Jo training is that it very good for body positioning and alignment. Many of the movements also relate to Taijutsu techniques such as Omote and Ura shutos and tsuki.

Jumonji (figure ten, i.e. cross) is the first waza of the Jojutsu and described in brief it goes something like this:

Far more detail is necessary to complete this waza and rather than risk drawing criticism for publicly exposing our techniques, I have included only such details as to afford a flavour of the form. As Hatsumi Soke says you must learn the feeling of technique, it cannot be learnt from books or videos you must go and train with him.

Peter King is a 10th dan in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. An active contributor to the Hombu, he is the holder of a Bujinkan Gold Medal (1987) and various Bujinkan Hombu awards and commendations. He has organized 7 UK Tai Kais (and attended many more internationally), is about to embark on 15th trip to Japan, and is the UK Branch Head and Sanmyaku publisher. Together with friends Sveneric Bogsater 10th Dan, Pedro Fleitas 10th Dan and Arnaud Coursergue 10th Dan, he has been christened by Hatsumi Soke as the 'Shi Tenno' (Four Kings of Europe). Peter can be reached via e-mail at:


Ilan Gattegno

We are quite fortunate to have a living Master to guide us and inspire us to pursue our Martial Arts careers. Hatsumi Sensei is one of a kind. Very few schools can actually see their Art in the making -- by such a phenomenal person. As the years go by, as Sensei talks about the time when he will no longer be teaching, his students must take matters into their own hands. If we sit and wait for Sensei to do everything for us, since he is the only Master, we will find ourselves on our own one day, not quite ready for a future without him.

The Bujinkan as a school has evolved tremendously over the last two decades. I still remember, in 1975, when only a handful of people were practicing and we could all call each other by our first names. Now with hundreds of people scattered all around the globe, we are all anonymous. The first Tai Kai held in Yumoa Mura in October 1983 lured 120 people. Now some Tai Kai attract more than 600 people. Students come to learn from Sensei, although he does not teach anymore. He speaks about the principles, about the feeling, about the spiritual levels, that most of us are just aspiring to understand some day, but most of his words really and truly are way above our heads.

Unfortunately, some of the participants tend to feel glorified by these events and then they go back to their local training group and behave as if they are exactly like Sensei. Not that they move like him, or grasp the spirit behind what he does, but they make believe that they have touched the ultimate. Behind his back they complain about his generous grading system, but they do nothing about it, since they are an integral part of it. They do not follow the Densho and instead practice and teach just what they have seen him do. However what Sensei does today is only a fraction of the art; only a sample phrase from the vast Budo Taijutsu language.

When we think about the schools we belong to, we must think of the distant future. We, in Israel, are lucky to have Doron Navon as our teacher. We expected the world from him, but when he decided to spend half of each year in Japan and elsewhere, we had and take matters into our hands We started building a robust teaching structure -- with requirements -- which we built from our experience and from the years of teaching we enjoyed when Doron was still a full time teacher. It was through cooperation of the experienced teachers that we came to a new set of requirements, encompassing the Ju-Nan-Tai-So, Tai-hen Jutsu, Ju-Taijutsu, Kata, Randori and Kumite, to form a comprehensive Pyramid method of shifting from one layer of the Art to another and thus conveying the true meanings and understandings to aspiring students.

The set of requirements is robust but still flexible enough to ensure the continued development of Budo Taijutsu in the spirit of Hatsumi Sensei. If he does not set the requirements, we, as responsible students, must do so -- and do as we preach -- practice and perfect our techniques and our understanding by keeping the Art alive and by being responsible to ourselves and to our students.

Ilan Gattegno is a journalist, working as the head of reporters in the Business Section of Yedioth Ahronoth Daily Newspaper and the Editor-in-Chief of MacWorld Israel. He is a senior instructor in the Israeli Bujinkan dojo and gives regular classes Tuesdays and Fridays. Ilan also gives seminars in the USA every January, after covering MacWorld Expo for his magazine. His specialty is advanced teaching method, and his recent book "The Art of Learning" is now in second printing (in Hebrew) and soon will be published in English. He started practicing Ninjutsu with Doron Navon in 1974. He is married to Julia (Reynolds), the first Western woman to practice in Bujinkan Hombu dojo and the first Western woman to be awarded a black belt. They met at Tanemura Bujinkan Dojo in 1983 and took part in the first Tai Kai and now they live, practice and teach in Tel Aviv, Israel. They can be reached by e-mail:


Jeff M. Miller

I like to refer to goals as "dreams with deadlines." But goals are meaningless unless we are totally committed by action to see them through.

Commitment is a hard thing for some people. Many people come into the academy through our Introductory Course but don't enroll in the full program because of the fear of "commitment" (or as I call it, the "C" word). They often say, "I love your program, but I just don't know if I (he/she) will be able to stay with it. I (or my child) has never stuck with anything longer than a couple of months."

The truth is that no one can stick with anything if they give themselves (or their children) every opportunity to quit before their goal is realized. Regardless of whether the goal at hand is enrolling in a developmental course, making better grades, reaching the ideal weight or landing the job we've always wanted, people all-to-often find it easier to start when they have set up a lot of 'escape routes.' The act of "copping out" when things get a little boring or tough (both self-imposed states by the way!), has been the sole cause of failure for many good individuals just before they began to experience real progress.

Have you ever been totally committed to something? I mean, so committed that the thought of not succeeding and completing your goal never even crossed your mind? Or perhaps committed enough to continually act toward your goal even though you realized some frustration, boredom or whatever might set you back?

Of course you have! Think about the time you spent learning to tie your own shoes. We all persisted, after many failures and frustrating attempts to reach that goal. It was that important to us, a sign of being able to stand on our own, that we kept at it until we got it right. What if we gave every goal in life that kind of commitment? What if we made every commitment, whether attaining our black belt, enjoying a happy marriage, having a productive and satisfying career or living a healthy lifestyle that important? No turning back.

A classic example of this kind of attitude goes back to a story from ancient China. There is a story about a certain warlord who sailed his troops into the harbor of the enemy in order to effect an attack. To his surprise he found his troops outnumbered nearly 10 to 1. Undaunted by this, and realizing the utter importance of completing the goal, lest this massive army attack his homeland, he devised a dangerous plan. He ordered his own ships burned to the ground in the harbor. Now there was no retreat -- no chance of a wishy-washy, "I don't know if I can do it" attitude. There was only total commitment, to win; or to die. Needless to say, with that kind of leverage over his troops, he persevered and was victorious.

What if every commitment we made carried that kind of weight? What if you were so determined to get your black belt, graduate with honors, stay married, get a promotion, lose weight, quit smoking, or just make your life "work" for you, that there was no other option? Remember, we create our own reality. We are ultimately the only ones responsible for what happens to us on this planet. What freedom! But, choices also have consequences. The choice to go "all out" for the goal may involve hard work (heaven forbid!) or even changing strategies several times to achieve success. But, with that total commitment (indomitable spirit) you can never fail.

So, I challenge you to take the goals that you have set for yourself and commit 100% to achieving them. No turning back. Remember that "Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon must inevitably come to pass."

Now, go burn your ships!

Jeff Miller is a Licensed Private Investigator and Personal Protection Agent. He is the chief instructor of Miller's Martial Arts/Bujinkan Kuryu Dojo in Sunbury, PA. He has been training in the martial and meditative arts for 2/3 of his life with the last 11 years attempting to capture the "essence" of ninpo-taijutsu, under the guidance of Shihan Stephen K. Hayes. Mr. Miller is a firearms instructor and wilderness survival tactician and conducts seasonal seminars on the topics. He is the editor of the HANNYA ('Insight') newsletter for individuals interested in learning more about themselves and their art. He may be contacted at:


Christopher S. Penn

The character of shinobi, the "nin" of ninpo and ninjutsu, is widely interpreted as having one of two meanings -- stealth or endurance. For starters, the character is composed of two sub-elements, a character for "blade" and a character for "heart" directly underneath the blade character. Shidoshi Stephen K. Hayes has often explained the endurance definition as "Although you hold a blade over my heart, I will endure, I will persevere". (Power of the Wave, NGI Press, 1994)

Some people have defined the shinobi character to state that the blade, the way of killing, takes precedence over the heart. Obviously, this definition is not what training is all about.

Here's another way of looking at shinobi, beyond endurance, stealth, or cruelty. Let's interpret it to mean compassion. The blade can symbolize our training, the physical taijutsu we perform. Underneath the blade is the heart, the source of compassion and love, something that must always be behind, backing up, our training. Compassion and love must motivate us to train -- whether it's training to protect ourselves and our loved ones, or training out of compassion, out of a desire to make society a better place by giving at least one person the ability to protect him or her self.

Think about how we train. We train not only to protect ourselves, but in some cases to do horrible things to other people. A full body drop while holding hon gyaku might just shear off the hand of an aggressor. The observer might be shocked by this brutality, so we have to have something behind the training, some reason for practicing this. That's the compassion, the heart under the blade.

Christopher S. Penn is the senior executive officer of the Franklin and Marshall College Ninpo Club. He has finally sold his Ashida Kim book collection from his early training days for the grand sum of fifty cents at a garage sale. He encourages comments, questions, suggestions, and good jokes and can be reached at The F&M Ninpo Club homepage can be found at


Christian Bayer

The news of Manaka sensei leaving the Bujinkan to start his own organization saddened me as much as anybody. It is always sad to see someone leave a tight knit group such as the Bujinkan. And with Hatsumi sensei saying (although I can only confirm this through word of mouth) that anyone that trains with him may no longer be welcome in the Bujinkan adds to the sadness. They unfortunately have some differences that they cannot work out at this time.

I had the fortune to met Manaka sensei at the 1994 U.K. Tai Kai. I thought his form was impeccable. Everything he did looked so perfect. I was utterly impressed to say the least and looked forward to training with him in Japan. I am planning on spending time in Japan after I graduate from college to train with the Japanese shihan and hopefully Hatsumi sensei himself. So for me the news of his departure only effects me in that when I go to Japan I won't be able to train with him.

I am only a nidan and as such this really doesn't have too much effect on me because I am at a level that I still have much to learn from my sensei. I have seen many postings on the internet and talked with many people who seem to feel as if this would effect their training some how. I personally don't see how this effects anyone in the Bujinkan except for those high enough rank that they are friends of and have trained with Manaka sensei regularly.

So for those of you out there that may feel some confusion as to what happens now? Just keep training. That is why we are here in this organization is to train and improve ourselves. I am sure anyone who has been training for any length of time has seen numerous people come and go from their dojos and training groups. Manaka sensei leaving is not too much different. He has just been around alot longer than most.

I am curious if Hatsumi sensei meant that we cannot train with Manaka sensei at all or if we affiliate ourselves with his organization that we may not be welcome. No one has been able to clarify this for me as of yet. Perhaps the only person who could is Hatsumi sensei himself.

Christian welcomes comments on this article, so feel free to e-mail him at He also runs the webpage for the American Bujinkan Dojo, and would like for the readers out there to take a peek at his site.


Brett Smith

It was two years ago this past September that I had, what I believe, was my closest brush with death. At the time, I was working as a food chain store manager on a pretty rough side of town. I had lived in this area for nearly 20 years, so I didn't feel nervous at all. It was about an hour before we closed, and there was only one customer in the lobby, a cashier, and myself in the store. I was sitting behind my paperwork, having a pleasant conversation with the customer as I counted money to deposit in the safe when I noticed the two men, with bandannas covering their faces walking by the front store windows to the door. "Get ready" was about all I had time to say before they entered the building.

The two women looked at me as if to say, "What the heck are you talking about?" The men came in shouting, "GET THE F*CK on the FLOOR!" The shorter of the two pointed his gun at the customer while the other pushed her to the ground. I slowly stood up and placed my hands on the counter top to show that I wasn't going to try anything while the gunman told the cashier to get down on the floor behind the front counter. Then they turned their attention to me. "Get over here and open the register!" The taller man was holding open a plastic grocery bag while the other one kept the gun aimed at me.

I moved up to the register, intending to comply with their every wish. Now I was face to face with the pistol. The barrel was about eight or nine inches long and appeared to be plated with aluminum. The next thing I noticed was that was not a revolver, so there was no way I could tell if it was actually loaded. During my short trip from my work area to the register, I started to get angry. At this point in time the only kind of martial arts training that I had was one semester of Aikido I had taken at the local community college. I had always had fun in the class, but I felt that you had to rely on the "cooperation" of your opponent too much for it to be really effective in a real fight. I had no illusions about taking on these guys by myself. But they just kept yelling at me, pointing the gun in my face, and generally showing me a lot of "disrespect." I know this is what tends to happen in an armed robbery, but I guess I just took it a little too personally.

My way of letting off a little steam started with not opening the register right away. I purposely fudged the code to open it and said that all their yelling was making me nervous. This actually seemed to work. They started telling me in a reasonable tone of voice, "Open the f*cking register and give us the money." I gladly opened the drawer for them. The gunman reached over as soon as it opened and started grabbing cash, and then the change, hurriedly throwing it in his partner's bag.

Finished, he moved over to me, pointed the gun at my head, and said, "Give me the money outta your pockets!" Talk about a one track mind! I stepped away from the counter, keeping my eyes glued to the floor, and began digging in my pockets for all the lint I could muster. Unfortunately I wasn't going fast enough for him, because that's when I felt the first blow to the back of my head. I was more in shock than I was in pain. On the second strike, my hands involuntarily came our of my pockets and up to my chest. It felt as if my forearms were made of rubber, trying to curl up within themselves, tingling as if they had fallen asleep. "This is so weird" was all I was thinking. With the third hit, blackness flooded my field of vision, from the outer edges to the center.

"Man, I wish this guy would hurry up and just knock me out" I couldn't believe I was still standing, or that I was even conscious. About the fourth or fifth crack is when I got the idea, "Maybe if I fall down, he'll think he knocked me out and leave. . ." I tried to fall down next to the counter for a little extra protection, landing with my legs and arms tucked under me and my face in my hands. This position would also make it hard for him to get anything out of my pockets. He tried to pull my wallet out of my back pocket, but my pants were now stretched tight enough to make it almost impossible to pull out with one hand. So, he put the pistol against my head again and demanded "GIMME THE MONEY IN YOUR POCKETS!"

At this point, I had just about enough of this. I grabbed the gun and twisted it out of his grip. I think this took us both by surprise -- both of us were frozen in time for a second or two -- then I corrected my grip on the gun as he went to try to grab it back. We wrestled with it as I tried to aim it at his midsection, then squeezed the trigger. Nothing happened. Crap. Was the safety on? I didn't have time to check because our little scuffle took us into the lobby, where his friend was able to join in the fray. Great. Now it was two on one. And neither one of them was injured. I crouched down, using both hands to try and free the pistol from the desperate grip of my assailant.

The money holder began to try and kick me in the head. He connected with a weak kick to my forehead, then reset to throw another. All I could think to do to protect myself was to block the next kick with the arms of the gunman. As I saw the tennis shoe hurtling toward my face, I yanked hard on the gun to put his friends arms in the way. What do you know, IT WORKED! It worked for the next kick, and the next, and the next. But I could see this was going nowhere fast. Finally, I let go of the pistol. The gunman fell backwards towards the front door and continued outside, his partner close on his heels. They jumped into a waiting car and sped off down the street. I slowly stood up, trembling with adrenaline. I looked to the ladies that were still on the floor, "Are you okay? Were you hurt?"

The girl I was working with got up off the floor, took one look at me, and just lost it. I took that opportunity to look at my reflection in the window. There was blood coming from my mouth, nose, a scrape on my forehead, and when I placed my hand on the back of my head, it was quickly covered with blood. I went to the phone and called 911. The first people to arrive were firefighters. They immobilized my head and began taking my vital signs, then the police arrived. I relayed the story to them, and as one of the officers left to try and pick up the trail, the ambulance arrived. An empty clip was found on the floor behind the counter.

The conclusion was that it had fallen out when I was hit on the head. I was taken to a hospital, where it was determined that no serious damage was done. I ended up getting eight staples in the back of my head. It hurt a lot more after I left the hospital than when I got there. I returned to the store that night to pick up my car, and to see the scene of the crime. There was fingerprinting dust everywhere. Dried up blood trails were all across the floor and blood covered the phone I had used. Two of the area supervisors were in there closing down the store.

The store has been closed down ever since. I drive by every once in a while, when I'm visiting my folks, and just look at the boarded up building, graffiti scribbled all over it, and remember that night. That was probably the longest two minutes of my life.

Brett Smith was born July 19, 1972, in Houston, Texas. When he was three months old, his mother brought him to Austin, TX. where he has been living since. Brett began training in Budo Taijutsu in January of 1996 as a member of the Austin Bujinkan Tanemaki Dojo and has just recently been named "Ichi Ka" (first/best student) by his Sensei, Kendall Kelsoe, for his positive attitude during class, and the hardships he goes through just to get there. Brett (Arashi Ryu san) walks nearly three and a half miles to Budo Taijutsu training in all kinds of weather. Brett may be reached via Kendal Kelsoe at


Jeff Kraschinski

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"

I am reminded of Dickens's words as I recall the weekend of May 25, 1996. The best represented by the grand opening of Stephen K. Hayes Kasumi-An Academy of Martial Arts Dojo in Kettering, Ohio. This euphoric moment served as counterpoint to the closure of the Germantown barn dojo which has served as the Hombu Dojo of the Bujinkan in North America for over a decade.

For myself, it represented a musha shugyo of sorts as I had never been to the Barn, even though I have been training since 1989. After driving down from Toronto my sensei J. Courtland Elliott and I entered Stephen's new Academy of Martial Arts to check in and watch the demo rehearsals.

Shidoshi Rumiko Hayes had apparently picked the music for the demo which Stephen and her were to perform, which happened to be the "Mortal Kombat" movie theme. Stephen apparently had never heard it before as I heard him comment "What music is this? I don't know about this. . .Is that it?" I somehow managed to force down a chuckle at the expense of Stephen, the foremost ninpo instructor in the western world who had never heard of "Mortal Kombat." Apparently, I wasn't the only person. When Stephen commented during the grand opening that "we have to get into the 90's sometime" someone offered "do you mean the 1890's?" which got a great response from all present.

The Saturday grand opening was a hit with all who attended. The demos were performed with relish, although I'm sure some participants were feeling the effects for the next few days. I saw a couple of badly swollen hands. One of the highlights of the demos was an engaging example of what can only be called "clipboard-no-kata" by Dianna Walker. Most people probably wouldn't think of a clipboard as a viable weapon, but she certainly proved it to be one.

Later in the evening, several of us went to a local establishment to grab some dinner, have a go at karaoke and kick back a bit. I was a little surprised when Shidoshi Hayes walked in with Rumiko, and daughters Reina and Marissa. My jaw almost hit the floor though, when he got on stage to perform a duet with Reina. Everyone had a lot of laughs, except perhaps for the waiter who Tom Stowers insisted on calling "little buddy" all night. It was a fun evening, but I could not help a feeling of vague foreboding.

We showed up at the barn about 10:30 am, about half an hour before training. This was a bittersweet moment. The barn dojo along with the Hombu Dojo in Japan has held a special place in my thoughts ever since I began training. The atmosphere of this place was amazing, and if you've never been there you've missed out on something wonderful. The subtle smell of aged wood, dust, and incense, along with the subdued lighting gave the dojo an almost ethereal quality that's hard to define. The training was eclectic, as several shidoshi brought varied concepts for us to work with. New techniques flowed together with older familiar ones as everything from pressure point attacks to the nuances of chi-no-kata were explored.

The one constant I find is that while I continually find my physical technique poorer than I would like, the training always manages to show me I can do more than I believed possible. Stephen ended the day's training with an exercise in meditation, an ancient recitation prayer and a ritual of walking around the dojo using a chime to drive the barn's spirits out of the room and into us all so we could carry them with us to the next phase of the Kasumi-an training legacy.

We stayed after the class to help Stephen pack up and dismantle the remaining belongings from the barn. He stressed that his new dojo is not meant as a replacement for the barn, but that he would like to obtain a new barn facility with some land and wooded area to allow for outdoor, stealth and survivalist training that cannot be done inside. I await that day and seek to help it come about in whatever fashion I can.

I find myself saddened by the barn's closure. While I deeply regret not having gone sooner, I look forward to the new era for the Kasumi-an facilities. I feel that I'm finally becoming a part of the greater Bujinkan community in a way previously foreign to me. My debt to Stephen and Rumiko is more than they can ever realize and I thank them for their generosity as well as Steve Pavlovic and Dianna Walker for their hospitality. The Bujinkan is blessed to have people of their quality and calibre in it, and I am proud to know them.

There's a new dawn beginning in the Bujinkan in North America, and I for one am glad that I am in some small way part of it.

Jeff trains with J. Courtland Elliott in Toronto and may be contacted via e-mail at:


Liz maryland

(from the Ninjutsu FAQ by Kevin R. Gowen II; )

Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi was born in Noda City, Chiba Prefecture on December 2, 1931. He graduated from Meiji University in Tokyo, with a major in theater studies, and now in the director of his own chiropractic clinic in Noda City. In the 1950s and 1960s, Dr. Hatsumi continuously traveled across Japan to study with Toshitsugu Takamatsu, of Kashiwara City, Nara Prefecture, from whom he received his initiation into the life ways of the ninja. Dr. Hatsumi later inherited from his teacher the authority and position of soke (grandmaster) in the following Japanese martial traditions:

Now retired from active teaching, Dr. Hatsumi no longer accepts new personal students. He supervises the Bujinkan ("Warrior God Training Hall") organization, made up of his students who now carry shihan and shidoshi instructor titles and carry out the teaching work around the world.


Liz maryland

Happy New Year! I'm happy to report that Ura & Omote is back. I'm looking forward to another wonderful year of training, sharing and growth. I would like to thank all the authors whose contributions have helped make this newsletter the success that it is. I would also like to thank all the readers of this e-zine who sent me letters of support when I was thinking of ending publication of the newsletter. Your voices helped me make it through a time of doubt. I hope the newsletter continues to enrich people's lives and bring us together in budo.

This is usually where I write my little piece. . . a training diary of sorts. Over the past few years folks have seen me go from having test anxiety for fourth kyu to becoming a shodan to dealing with creeps. Sharing my training experiences and my personal life experiences with you, dear readers, has helped me work through problems; to let go of them.

This month, instead of spieling about some problem, I want to take this space to thank two people who've helped make my life, well. . . livable over the past few months. We've shared countless dinners, drinks and talks. They've endured conversations until 2AM, training with me when I've felt really unsure of myself -- "That couldn't have hurt. . . I wasn't hitting hard" --and my numerous emotional fits this past month.

On top of all this, they each made me part of their families during the holidays. . . and they still like me! So, thanks, CEB and MF for everything! If a woman's is judged by the company she keeps, then I must be thought of really highly!!!

That's it for this month folks! Please be sure to e-mail the authors with your comments. AND please, please, please send articles to keep this newsletter going. See you soon!


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


Ura & Omote will not be publishing any further unauthorized translations of Hatsumi Sensei's work. The editor will occasionally publish translations that have received a "stamp of approval" from Sensei. In order for you to learn more of Hatsumi Sensei's present attitude, the editor suggests that you continue your studies of ninjutsu by finding a legitimate ninjutsu teacher, using Hatsumi's Densho ("Sanmyaku") and his various books or videos, and by encountering him directly at Tai Kai. -- Liz maryland

We (the publisher and authors) are not responsible in any manner whatsoever for any injury which may occur through reading or following any instructions in this newsletter. Remember, these are martial arts techniques which may result in injury or death. Find a proper instructor wherever possible. Please consult a physician before engaging in the exercises described herein. Keep in mind that all articles herein are of their author's opinion/research and the publisher of this newsletter will not be held liable for any errors or misleading information. If you need further information on any articles, or if you have questions for the authors, please contact them directly. If there is no E-mail address listed, please E-mail the editor and your request will be forwarded.

Liz maryland (her last name is Hiraldo) is the editor of this newsletter. She trains at New York Budo, where she gets by with a little (well, actually, a lot of) help from her friends. Excited by a new year of training possibilities, she has already planned all her vacation days around seminars ("Oh, but don't forget about Bud coming up in April. . . after the Tai Kai, there's the Festival -- thank God it's in Jersey this year. . . but what about? Are you going to that?. . .) In addition to her usual activities -- maniacal exercising and non-stop training -- Liz plans to take it easy this year, spend more time with her cats, and actually complete a knitting or needlepoint project. Having been hit on recently, Liz is also looking forward to dating and having what passes for a semi-normal life again. She can, in the interim, be reached at:
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