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[ olvasnivaló » Ura & Omote - 1996 February ]

Ura & Omote - 1996 February


A Reporter Experiences a Day of Ninjutsu

This part was lost during the TXT to HTML formating... Sorry. I'm searching it, if you have it please mail it to me thanks.
-Ville Grönfors, the manager of this site.


Bo Munthe

This article will tell you the story of how ninjutsu found its way to Sweden in the first place and Europe in the second place. It started with the book by Andy Adams, NINJA, THE INVISIBLE ASSASSIN, first published 1970.


My study and training of Martial Arts began in 1958. Judo had just (1954-55) entered the Swedish sport scene, and clubs were growing slowly in Stockholm and Goteborg. It took some time however, before I dared to enter a dojo. At first I trained with friends through self-defense books but since the instruction from the books, as it is even today, didn't give me the right feeling of the motions, I had to find the proper way, through training at a dojo with instructors.

My first visit to a dojo was frightening. It was in the beginning of the sixties. A man from Holland, the late Mr. Gerhard Gosen, had introduced Judo, Jujitsu Tai Chi and Karate to Stockholm. In Goteborg another person from mid-Europe, Bruno Adler had introduced Judo. I was entering Mr. Gosen's dojo during a Judo session which was led by himself. One of his students met me in the hall and we talked a lot - until he showed me some strangulation techniques. At that moment I wasn't sure if I wanted to start my training in a club. Everything went black for me. I still think it is because Mr. Gosen came into the hall and "saved my life" that I went on with my studies.

Finally I started to train in Judo and Jujitsu in a club, and the training was as I had expected - tough physical training, sometimes mixed with mysterious stories. I had the feeling that there must be something more, something around the next corner, something else waiting to be explored. Most of the training was about competition and since my personal view of training never had been into any sort of competition, I felt that I had to look for something different. At that time I didn't know, however, what to look for. I had heard about a book called "Zen-combat", and when I got the book I found a lot of Martial Arts that I never before heard of before. One of the arts was about the magician, the ninja-training, Ninjutsu. At that time, when I saw the book, I didn't "get the message". My sensei in Judo and Jujitsu told me a lot about the mental side of the Martial Arts. A side that I found more and more interesting and wanted to explore. My chances at that time to go to Japan and visit the masters, were zero. No money, no contacts, no nothing... I had to explore the inner side of the arts through other ways, and using books was one such way.

The change came in 1973 with my black belt grading in Judo. As a gift from my students (I had a small dojo already at that time) for passing the test to shodan, I got Adams' book, NINJA, THE INVISIBLE ASSASSIN. That book gave me another insight into the ancient way of the Japanese warrior, called the ninja. I read the book with a feeling of that this was what I had been searching for. A total way of the warrior, with philosophy, martial arts techniques and above all, a living master of the art. Maybe, a person to find. At the same time I had gotten the book, STICK FIGHTING, by Masaaki Hatsumi and Quentin Chambers. The same master in both books.


In the beginning of 1975 I moved to a place outside the south of Stockholm, called "Trollboocken". My training at that time had been in Judo, Jujitsu and Kenpo. My Kenpo teacher had lived in Japan two years and trained five days a week - now, maybe, I thought, I am getting some chance to find contacts in Japan?!

The name of the place I moved to was translated into English language since I was trying to find a suitable name for my dojo. I found that the meaning of Trollboocken was "Hobgoblin brook" - in Japanese it turned out to be "ninja no fuchi". I felt that it must be a meaning with this - my karma was going in a way I could not at that moment realize the strength of. In the spring of the same year, I wrote to Kodansha International who published the "Stick Fighting" book and asked them for Hatsumi Sensei's address - I had their answer on April 28, 1975.

A new letter, this time to Japan and Hatsumi sensei, telling him about my interest in the art called Ninjutsu and that my homeplace was called "ninja-no-fuchi". No answer - a new letter asking if he had got my first letter

June 12 1975! A postcard came from Tetsuji Ishizuka, one of Hatsumi Sensei's shihans, and the start of something that all people in Europe who train in this art now share - ninpo taijutsu (or budo taijutsu as it is called today). The postcard is still kept in my storybook about ninjutsu development, as well as the letter from Kodansha.


1975 Ishizuka sensei came to Sweden the first time on September 3rd, 1975. I still remember when I was waiting at Arlanda airport for him. The feeling was hard to explain; I was going to meet a real ninja. A person who was, hopefully, going to teach me some of the secrets from the books I had been reading over and over again. Then he entered Swedish ground - I knew his looks from the Stick Fighting book. I could hardly believe that the man who came to meet me was one of the best ninjutsu teachers in the world. With a smile and a comment about the weather, "It's like Japan", he greeted me. We had one of the hottest "Indian summers" ever at that time. We went to my home in "ninja-no-fuchi"; my head was spinning.

A week of "cloud nine" followed. I don't know if one can get bruises being on cloud nine, but bruises I got, many of them. This first week gave me the insight in the true Martial Art - ninpo. It also gave me a brother for life - a brother and friend and mentor who gave willingly from his enormous knowledge. Ishizuka sensei came back to Sweden in 1977, on his honeymoon, for one more week training.


Between those two years, 1976 in July, I finally got the chance to go to the homeland of the ninja, to Japan. I got a scholarship from a Swedish insurance company and I was going to study cooperative insurance in Japan. I went for two weeks. Two weeks that were full of impressions, insurance studies of course, but mostly it was about ninjutsu. I lived, slept, walked and talked of nothing else other than ninjutsu.

My first meeting with the grandmaster is still in my memory - fresh as it was when it happened. At that time Hatsumi Sensei's dojo was in his home. The first meeting was, as it often still is, over a cup of tea. We talked about different things in Sweden. I was the first one from Sweden, so it was interesting for Sensei to hear about the land where polar bears were running around on the streets in the winter!!!!

The meeting was very nice, but the charismatic aura from the ninja grandmaster was frightening. He showed me some different techniques and invited me to the training later on that day.

The dojo was at that time in his home - 16 square meters, with three cats, a parrot, a lizard somewhere and at least ten people training very hard techniques. I remember, Ishizuka sensei's laughter, since Manaka sensei very often was trying to rip my chestcage to pieces, maybe rebuilding it to a fruit basket. Hatsumi Sensei's training was astonishing. I do not think I remember anything of the techniques we did from that time.

More meetings with the grandmaster, exchanging presents and listening to the stories that now most westerners know of.

I went back to Sweden after those two weeks with my head full of impressions and a shodan in Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu. I was very proud and was already planning to find a chance to go back to Japan. But, it was not until seven years later that I was going to have a chance to go back.


My contacts with Japan and the Bujinkan had given me the address of another seeker of the art, Mr. Stephen K. Hayes. In 1981 he had come back to the States after training some years in Japan and since I was going to Texas to writing an article for a magazine in Sweden, I thought that this would be a good chance to meet Steve. It was a very interesting meeting, talking about the Japanese way of ninjutsu, how Sensei taught, and how he had changed from one person to another.

Twice that year I went to him - for training and talking about the development of ninjutsu. At that time I still didn't know what was going to happen in Europe. Steve was well known, highly graded and well-established on the Martial Arts scene already at that time. It was very inspiring to talk and train with him.


Now the ninja were being explored on the bookshelves by Lustbader's book, "The Ninja", and Chuck Norris' movie, "The Octagon." Articles, movies, radio programs and books were overflowing the market in the world.

In Sweden things went in a specific way too. I had found a place on the eastside of Stockholm (the "fine" area). It was in a basement - an old potato cellar! - about 200 square meters big. People said I was crazy to try to make a dojo of it. I thought so too, but my friend who had found the place for me, he believed in it. After six months of hard work, we opened the Ninja Center in Stockholm on October 11, 1982. The place was fully booked before we even started our training - 200 people enrolled and the ninja boom was becoming a fact in Sweden too.

Exactly one year after the opening of the Ninja Center Eastside Dojo I opened the Southside Ninja Center in Stockholm. That place was almost double the size. Slowly ninjutsu started to grow in Sweden. People contacted me from different parts of the country and pretty soon there were 15 clubs in Sweden and about 1500 people training. In my southside dojo alone there were 450 people training in 1985. Things were going very well and I really misunderstood all of it, as I can see now.


I felt I had to go back to Japan for training with Hatsumi sensei since things were becoming very big. I went with mixed feelings. The last time I was there, 7 years ago, the grandmaster was frightening and very tough in his training. Was I going to make it, or was it going to be a flop? During my meeting with Steve he had told me about the total transformation Hatsumi sensei had gone through. Something I would not believe until I saw it with my own eyes.

Steve was right. Something had happened with Sensei. He was the same person, but not the same anyway. He was very kind, gentle and his training was in a way worse than before. The pain in 1976 was fast and devastating. This time the pain was another way; I found myself lying on the mat, laughing my head off because of the pain in the techniques. (I couldn't cry, could I.......?!)


In the beginning of 1983, I received a letter from Mr. Brian McCarthy, of Ireland. Mr. McCarthy wanted me to introduce ninjutsu in London, England and Dublin, Ireland. So it was, and the introduction was made in October 1983 with about 115 people in London and about 50 in Dublin. The organizers, Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Jim Shortt had done a fantastic job. Many of the people who attended that introduction are now very highly graded in Bujinkan.

After the introduction in the UK, Holland and other countries, such as Greece, Spain, Germany, Norway and Finland followed.

During one of my visits to Japan in 1984, Hatsumi sensei said that he wanted me to organize the training in Europe. I tried as hard as I could, from my point of view, to do so and sorry to say, bad things started to happen. In all big organizations the political side will grow. So it did even here, with many bad things came up. Many of them were my own fault, and some was others.


Last year, in March, I went back to Japan to celebrate my 20 years in ninjutsu training and 20 years of friendship with Ishizuka sensei. One Friday night I went to Hatsumi Sensei's training in Budokan Tokyo. I was astonished. 85 people, most of them gaijins, were training on the mat. It was amazing to see how huge the growth of Bujinkan had become, especially compared to my first training session in Japan, July 1976. I am very happy - for Sensei's sake, and for the spreading of a true Martial Art.

My meeting with my old Japanese teachers and friends, especially Hatsumi sensei and my brother, Ishizuka sensei, gave my a kick forward. I am not a part of the official ninjutsu training anymore. I am training probably even more intensive than ever. My training the first 20 years was obviously on the outside - the omote. I was going on the surface all the way and since ninjutsu is much more than that it took me many years to find the right way. Now I have found the deeper meaning of life, and my study and training has changed a lot. Philosophy, finding inner strength and physical training is one for me now.

I really hope that the Bujinkan will go on forever, or as Sensei wrote to me on the first kanji, Ninpo Ikkan - forever!

Bo Munthe is now teaching in his own dojo outside Stockholm, Bujinkan Bo Dojo, Kuro Yama Kai, Ibsengatan 9, S-161 59 Sweden. Tel/fax 46 8 877 420. The training in the dojo is Bujinkan budo taijutsu and ninpo goshinjitsu. He is working as a teacher in mental development, conflict-stress management and self-protection. He can be reached via e-mail at: <>


Mark O'Brien

Greetings again from Noda City, where the crisp days of winter are upon us again. The leaves are off the trees and it is fairly chilly. No snow yet and very little rain, so far. The days have been clear, in fact you can often see Mt Fuji from the river, in the early morning or at sunset. Because it's been so clear the nights are quite cold, especially if the wind is howling through, which is a good bit of the time.

Some of the locals say that north wind comes down across Siberia before it comes over the sea to blow down the length of Japan. If you ever feel it as it cuts through you to the bone, it is easy to believe that to be true.

When last I wrote it was O-Bon season, towards the ends of summer. I'd like to go back a few months to that time. Another festival I wanted to tell you about is the Bon-Odori festival. This festival is related to O-Bon in that it is another way the Japanese people remember and honor their ancestors. Bon-Odori roughly means "Dance of the Dead."

This festival is usually held at the shrines locally, but sometimes in a park or even a vacant lot. They build a two-story tower; this is where the musicians, usually drums and sometimes a flute, play from. Nowadays, the music is recorded and played over loudspeakers in some places.

The people from the neighborhood dance around this tower. The dance is a simple set of hand and leg movements that are repeated over and over as the people circle the tower. Every area has its own style of dance, but it is always simple and easy to learn so everyone can participate, especially the children (or even visiting foreigners).

The standard dress for this festival, as well as other summertime activities, is the "yukata." A yukata is a light kimono with a belt or obi, usually worn with sandals or wooden geta. The younger women and children usually wear designs of bright colors and patterns, or floral patterns splashed across a darker background. Traditionally, men wore simple patterns of navy and white, but these days most men just wear shorts or modern beach wear.

Another accessory is the fan - not the folding kind everybody knows, but a round, flat one with a long handle. Traditionally these were made from paper and wood or bamboo, now most are paper on a plastic frame. This is used while dancing to augment your hand movements, or to cool yourself after. When not in use it is carried tucked into your obi.

Sometimes you will see old men or very young boys wearing a "jimbei." This is another traditional outfit for summer. It is a short pajama-like tunic and shorts; at the seams where the sleeves meet the body there are large spaces for ventilation.

The atmosphere at most festivals is very carnival-like, often with games and vendors. There are several foods common to Japan in summertime: shaved ice, watermelon, BBQ corn on the cob, yakisoba, and octopus or squid on a stick. These types of things are available from the vendors.

Another thing that is common to Japan in summer is fireworks. They are available all summer long. There are often big fireworks displays on the weekends. From the river you can see pretty far in all directions, so you see fireworks almost every weekend during the summer.

OK, let's get back to the present.

Concerning the Bujinkan, the biggest event of the year was held here just a few weeks ago, the Daikomyosai. As I've said before, this is a party to celebrate Hatsumi-Sensei's birthday, and includes three days of training much like a Tai Kai. This year's event was attended by over one hundred people from different countries around the world, who came to learn from and pay their respects to Sensei.

The subjects of this year's training were Naginata and Daisho Sabaki and their relationships to Budo Taijutsu. This was shown repeatedly over the three days, as Japanese instructors would demonstrate basic waza, then Hatsumi-Sensei would do countless variations off of those. Of course, his taijutsu looked effortless.

As usual the training was recorded and will come out as a video in the Quest series. It will probably not be available for a few months yet. If you were lucky enough to be here it will be an excellent reminder of all the techniques that were practiced but you've forgotten. For those of you who weren't able to make it, I'm sure it will be the next best thing to actually being here.

Hatsumi-Sensei gave the godan test to six people at various times throughout the training. He said just as in real life, you never know what's coming next; this is why he gave the test without warning. All six passed at different times. Another high point was the awarding of new 10th dans. America received some more, as well as another new one for England.

The godan machine has been working overtime, as five more people have since passed at the end of regular classes recently. This brings the total of people who have passed 5th dan to 334 worldwide in the Bujinkan. Most of these are people who live and train outside of Japan.

As one might guess, Hatsumi-Sensei had quite a bit to say to this representative audience of the Bujinkan worldwide. I'd like to relate to you some of his conversations from before, during, and after the actual event.

At one of the special classes held on a Saturday morning at Noguchi Dojo, Hatsumi-Sensei talked about the coming year and about SanMyaku. 1996 is the Year of the Rat (according to the Chinese calendar; its use is also prevalent here). Because the rat is known to have lots of offspring, Hatsumi-Sensei feels it's possible that next year could show considerable growth in the Bujinkan. This year is also the year he figures to complete the establishment of the idea of Budo Taijutsu.

Concerning SanMyaku, Sensei reminded everyone that it isn't something you should read once and put away. You should re- read it periodically. As you grow and your experience and perception changes, the next time you read it your understanding of it will be different. It makes a lot of sense when you think this way. Sensei stresses that SanMyaku should be considered by Bujinkan members as similar to the letters that he received from Takamatsu-Sensei, which he still reads and learns from.

(Incidentally, the last issue of SanMyaku to come out over here was #9; it had several pages devoted to a letter that Sensei received from Takamatsu-Sensei. This is something for those of you who subscribe to look forward to. For those of you who don't, what are you waiting for? Sensei wants every member of the Bujinkan to purchase and read his magazine. How many times do you have to be told?)

During the Daikomyosai the level of training was very high and Sensei was quick to remind everyone that when you train with him, he is teaching to the level of 5th dan and above. He mentioned that how one trains up to 4th dan is different: below 4th dan your training should emphasize proper form and correct basics. After 5th dan you work on catching the feeling and flow, while form is not so important anymore. After you know the form and each step of the technique correctly, then you break the form and begin to leave it. You start to work on things unseen.

Continuing this same theme, Sensei mentioned at a recent evening class that the feeling is something you catch with your body and it remembers. He compared it to learning to swim or ride a bicycle: once you learn, your body always remembers how. Hatsumi-Sensei said that his art is movement, natural movement. When you combine that with the feeling, in a real situation this is more valuable than trying to remember how to do a technique.

Another subject he commented on was politics and why so many people in the Bujinkan can't get along. Sensei said that up until now there have been too many promoters, merchants, and politicians in the Bujinkan. It has reached a time of maturity and we need people who have real skill as martial artists. Sensei feels that if everyone would train together, share with, and learn from each other, we would all progress that much faster. He went on to say that if people just trained and didn't worry about who is number one, right or wrong, weak or strong, but just strive to improve their own taijutsu, there would not be these problems. Most of these problems come from people who would rather talk, build a business, an empire, or their own egos than train. The Bujinkan does not need these people.

Of course, just training on your own is not enough; you can still go down a strange path. For people above 5th dan and anyone who is teaching this art, Sensei stressed that they need to come to Japan and learn directly from him as much as possible; at the very least, once a year. He explained that this martial art can only be taught personally "man to man." Sensei went on to say in his class rank means nothing, shodan is the same as 10th dan - he is just hoping someone will understand what he's really teaching. The important thing is to be there, so you have a chance to catch the lesson. He talked about instructors who have high rank and feel because of that, they understand the art, but don't come to Sensei's classes any more. He included 10th dans, both foreign and Japanese, in this group. Sensei said that because he and his art are always growing and changing, people who don't study with him are like expired goods, they just don't realize they've gone sour. They are practicing and teaching from old news or out-of-date ideas. If they came to his class they would be exposed to the Budo Taijutsu Sensei's teaching now, as well as the direction he's taking the Bujinkan from here.

Another point Hatsumi-Sensei brought up was that, especially for those who teach, it is more important to always be a student. When you stop learning you stagnate or die.

He also commented on another group of people he calls "collectors." These are people who have lists of technique names from different ryu, and because they've seen or practiced a waza to match the name, they figure they know those techniques. Sensei reminded everyone that just like the Kihon Happo, where you have to be able to do 8 variations off of each technique, then 8 more from each of those, and so forth, these people don't really "know" any of those techniques. It would be better to have a "blank scroll." Don't try to be number one, try to be zero.

At one of the morning classes just after the Daikomyosai, held at Noguchi Dojo, Sensei asked the new English 10th dan what he'd like to see. He requested Gyokko ryu, so Sensei said "OK". We worked from a Koto ryu technique, Hoteki, but he said we would do it using the feeling of Gyokko ryu. Part way into class, Sensei began to talk about how his Budo Taijutsu is different from other martial arts. He brought up the fact that real fights nowadays are, and especially on the battlefield of old were, very rarely one against one. He pointed out that memorization and practice of form, as done in most other arts, will not prepare you for this situation. You have to have the feeling to be able to vary the technique to handle more than one attacker. You have to be aware of everything around you and how to use one person against another, as well as the surrounding environment. We spend about half that class training with Hoteki from that situation, and working from those ideas.

At a recent class in Ayase, Hatsumi-Sensei told everyone that the theme for 1996 will be "the movement of the sword." He said the weapons we will be working with will be ken, katana, and tachi. He decided to give us a taste of what it will be like, as we spent the remainder of that class doing counters to the Daisho Sabaki waza we had been practicing. Most of these involved basic taijutsu ideas such as moving with, dropping under, kicking, striking, or off-balancing the opponent, so that even though he was trying to prevent it, you were still able to cut him in the end.

Other Bujinkan related news for 1996. The online bulletin board service that originates from Japan will be operational in January. More information will be available when it goes on-line.

Manaka-Shihan is just now finishing up the last of the upper level of Kukishinden ryu. The emphasis with this ryu has been the special movement that accompanies the wearing of armor, which is one of the conditions that this style was developed from. At this level the techniques are very complicated. No, actually the techniques are basically simple, what's hard is trying to fit them in with everything else that's happening. In 1996, he will begin working on Densho techniques from Shinden Fudo ryu.

The video of the latest Daikomyosai will be out sometime this year. Remember that forms are available for ordering videos directly from Hatsumi-Sensei through the dojo hombu in Japan.

The forms include a complete list of titles and prices. To receive these forms, send your request, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope, to Joe Maurantonio c/o Heart, Faith & Steel, P.O. Box 146, Yonkers, New York 10710.

With the start of another year, if you haven't already, it's time to renew your Bujinkan membership. [See Japan Report #2, or email Joe Maurantonio at]

I recently had the pleasure of attending the classes of an instructor I don't usually study with. Hiroshi Nagase is a talented 9th dan who was a longtime student at Noguchi Dojo before studying directly under Hatsumi-Sensei, eventually starting his own class a few years ago. Lots of foreigners have told me about his class; they like it because he spends a lot of time on basics.

The three classes I went to, we worked from the forms of Ichimonji, Hicho, and Jumonji, respectively. After lots of taihenjutsu practice, ukemi, and taisabaki for warm ups, he demonstrated the basic form. He quickly pointed out the form will not work in a real fight. He went on to show simple, but practical and very effective variations from the form, all utilizing basic taijutsu ideas. Anyone who thinks that traditional techniques will not work in the real world should visit this class. If the visiting foreigners that train with him go back, practice, and teach the things they learn from him, I have no doubt the Bujinkan will be a strong, effective force for good in the world, just as Hatsumi-Sensei says it should be.

'Til next time, happy holidays, keep going and growing.

Mark O'Brien is a Shidoshi living in Japan since about 1986. He trains with Hatsumi Sensei and the various Shihan regularly. THE JAPAN REPORT is Mark's attempt to help Bujinkan practitioners living outside of Japan. It can be found in each issue of Heart, Faith & Steel (see below). Heart, Faith & Steel Insights to Martial Training P.O. Box 146, Yonkers, NY 10710 contact:


Jeffery Connor

Is there any large city in America where one can walk alone at night and not get the heebie-jeebies at least once? Well, you all know the answer to that question. It's no secret that our streets are pretty spooky to roam and there are plenty bad guys out there who plan on keeping up their hard work.

We are also busier nowadays than ever before and the computer generation has given us more time to do even more work! So what do we do, stay at the office and shelter ourselves from the evil-doers that lurk out our front doors? It's not a bad idea but it is a little impractical. For those who brave the city nights, I offer these suggestions that may aid you in making it home from the office safely.

Plan your route before you leave. This can be as simple as visualizing the streets you'll walk before you leave, or as elaborate as mapping out your route on paper to avoid unnecessary stops along the way.

Call your destination before you leave. Make people aware you will be in transit and what time you expect to arrive.

Leave work or travel in pairs. Statistics show that bad guys don't like a challenge. Two minds working together are also better than one.

If you have mace carry it in your hand. In an emergency situation, there is no time to dig it out of your pocket or purse. Also, carry a mace that emits a spray versus a slim stream. Targeting the slim stream in a high stress situation is difficult.

Walk in well lit portion of street. Also avoid alleys and gangways. (Even if they are the quicker route!)

View the insides of parked cars as you approach. Many people are abducted in this way. If you must pass a parked car with people inside, pass on the driver side. Most people are grabbed by the passenger while the driver prepares the getaway.

Be aware when passing wooded areas, high shrubs, etc. Remember the criminal relies on the element of surprise.

While passing people on the street, make eye contact. Criminals do not like being noticed nor do they like an aware, confident person as a victim. However, be careful. A long, lingering stare may be taken as a threat. Only make enough eye contact to say "Hello, how are you, I know you're there."

Invest in a fanny pack. If you don't mind leaving your 400 lbs. of "necessary" items from your purse at home! Fanny packs offer a low profile, hard to snatch means of transporting personal items. If you really need those 400 lbs., though, wear your purse strap across your chest.

Save the headphones for the gym. . . (and the sunglasses for the daytime, Mr. Cruise) Do not interfere with your sense abilities to perceive danger.

Do not clutch valuables. If transporting items of value, do so in simple bags and do not squeeze them to your body. This only draws attention to you and your package.

Keep jewelry and expensive clothing items to a minimum. Remember you want to keep a low profile and not be singled out as a target.

As you approach your vehicle, have your keys in hand. People are frequently attacked while entering a car. Having your keys ready will cut down on you "entry" time.

Lock doors immediately upon entry into your vehicle. It's also a good idea to do a visual check of your backseat before entering the vehicle.

If stopped at a traffic light, leave ample space between you and the car ahead of you. If you think you might be a target for a carjack or "smash and grab" you need enough space to escape. However, if the criminal is already upon you I suggest cooperation. Possessions are not worth your life - although I'd probably pay them to take my car!

Always maintain view of surroundings with aid of auto mirrors. Keep an eye on what is around you when stopped in your car.

When parking cars outdoors, put "The Club" on your steering wheel. No, I'm not "The Club" spokesman. It is hard to pick them and the criminal is likely to pass yours up for a less secured vehicle. They are a good visual deterrent. Remember, the criminal does not like a challenge.

I hope these simple, some obvious, some maybe not so obvious suggestions will aid you in your approach to personal safety and get you home to those you love.

Jeffery P.O'Connor is a Deputy Sheriff with the Cook County Sheriff Department in Chicago. He has been studying Ninpo for two years under Wayne Bearstler at the Illinois Martial Arts Academy in Schaumburg, IL. When not at the dojo, he enjoys doing the things "husbands are supposed do" by the order of his new, lovely wife, Tiffany! Jeff may be reached via e-mail at: <>


Ken Harding

A particular phone conversation with my friend and mentor Ed Sones inspired a few thoughts within me. It seems to me that the martial art we practice is like a lump of cold, wet clay that we have been given. It is shapeless and ready to be molded by our hands. It is nothing much to look at until we shape it and give it form. We all have a desire to create something artistic and useful, so we go to pottery class to learn what to do with it. We study the techniques and craftsmanship and soon we are making pots and vases and so forth. Like children we look at what the person next to us has made and possibly make fun of it, thinking the labor of their hands is of little value. We all think ours is the most like the teacher showed us. It's human nature to be judgmental of others; but the teacher is telling us: "It doesn't really matter if your vase is beautiful or ugly! Enjoy creating it!" In the end, Hatsumi Sensei says, it doesn't matter if you are weak or strong, a good martial artist or a poor one. What matters is to live the right kind of life, and if you can survive, that is enough.

There has been much criticism on the Internet recently about the quality of martial artists in the Bujinkan. It has been along the lines of calling people "wimps". Unfortunately, the observation is not incorrect. Those who have followed my writings know that I have been saying something similar for years; not with the intention of name-calling or putting people down, but with the challenge to "buyu" to raise the level of seriousness and intensity in their training. If you practice martial arts as a hobby, that is fine. However, a student with that kind of attitude should not be raised to the upper black belt levels. There are Bujinkan teachers who look like they are right out of high school. Some are technique collectors and what Hatsumi Sensei calls "martial arts scholars." We all have seen teachers who seem to get a boost from having a lot of high level students under them, and pump out yondans like they are an endangered species, regardless of actual ability. It doesn't matter to me personally if people can't realistically use this art in everyday situations. I'm sure they are benefiting in some other way. The situation does, however, affect the way the public views our art, and determines the kind of respect you will receive from the martial arts community. This doesn't really matter either, unless you have an ego and care what other people think. This has, surprisingly, driven some people out of the Bujinkan, but I think that is too extreme a measure. If you can't help being judgmental, then judge people on their seriousness in studying the art and the goodness of their heart. If you don't think they are "tough enough," then just smile and wish them well. Go and work on yourself.

Now back to the clay metaphor. So here we sit with our vases in front of us, and some of us think we have finished the project, and do nothing more. They can show you their good looking vase. Yet the most important thing has yet to be done. The vessel needs to be filled. Some people have empty vases, and think the vase itself is what they set out to create. I hope you can see the point of this parable. You can prepare the vessel all you want, but until it is filled with the feeling it has not realized its true purpose. It shouldn't just be something to look at. The forms are not enough; they are just what we see on the outside. Some people see nothing but the forms. They are just the empty vase, waiting to be filled. Hatsumi Sensei has said the three things that are vital in Taijutsu training are 1) form, 2) to correct the form, and 3) the feeling. Don't stop at 1 or 2. If you don't understand what 3 is, just keep going and maybe you will. It's not enough to have good looking forms.

One last thing about when Hatsumi Sensei says: "It doesn't matter if you are strong or weak," or "It doesn't matter if you are a good technician or a poor one." This phrase is not an excuse for being a low-quality martial artist. It is not intended to be a mental crutch for those who don't feel they "have it". The meaning was put to me very well by one of my good friends in Japan. "If someone wants to kill you, they will," he said. This is true. If someone was intent on killing you, eventually they would succeed, no matter how strong of a martial artist you are. I'm talking about someone who has no concern of the possible consequences to themselves. They don't care if they get killed or caught in the process. They would obsess on the act, watch you daily, maybe become your friend and wait until your back was turned; or maybe shoot you from a hundred yards with a high powered rifle.

This is not to say that you should throw up your hands in exasperation and quit your training. Quite the contrary, train harder with the intent of surviving. I think what Hatsumi Sensei means is that you should not become obsessive about strength and technique. If you spend all your time in these areas, you may miss the important moments in life. When your time is up, it is up - and you will wish that you had spent that time differently. This realization is important and it is part of budo. I think this is what he means by budo means living.

There is no real strength without softness. Without softness you have only an imitation of strength. (Tension is a common word for this.) This may be enough for you to possibly prevail against the unskilled fighter, but it will not fool everyone. The higher level martial artist will see through this flaw and confound your technique. It is important to see that true power has two sides. It is this kind of dual edged strength that appears mysterious to the beginning student. When you feel this dualistic power, you can obviously feel that there is strength being applied against you, but you can't really feel where it is coming from, and therefore you can't counter or fight against it. This is why the techniques of the Bujinkan are so powerful.

If you don't think there is power or realism in the methods of the Bujinkan, you should re-evaluate how you are doing things. Consider that it is not the art that is weak, but the person practicing the art. You might seek new teachers and experiences until you discover the real feeling.

Portions of this article appear in the book "Shadow Words" by Ken Harding. Shidoshi Ken Harding, 6th Dan, heads the Missouri Bujinkan Dojo in St. Louis. He began Taijutsu training in 1984, travels every year to Japan to study directly under Hatsumi Sensei, and studies Japanese language, Yoga, shiatsu, and herbology. He may be contacted via E-mail: <>


Frank Luce

Matthew, Chapter 8 (23-27): Jesus and the apostles were in a boat. Suddenly a violent storm came upon the sea. The apostles became frightened and they woke up Jesus who was sleeping. He said to them, "Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?" Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.

Wow!!!, he knew Kuji 8.

An article appeared in the January issue of Ura and Omote titled "Christ and the (right) Cross". The article stated that our art contains upper occult teachings which the author felt caused a conflict with his Christian beliefs.

My experiences as a Christian practicing this art have led me to just the opposite conclusion. I see no conflict with the mind-body sciences taught by Stephen Hayes and my Christian beliefs. The word occult simply means "hidden." It does not mean evil or bad as most people would think. To have occult powers is to have hidden knowledge - knowledge generally not known or revealed to the majority.

Jesus possessed many miraculous powers. His apostles possessed similar miraculous powers and so did the large majority of Catholic saints. Like the 20th century monk Padre Pio, who bore the five wounds of Christ and was best known for his bilocation ability (being in two places at one time) and his healing powers. The Buddha also possessed such miraculous powers and said that these powers were only a by-product of his enlightened state. Jesus did not teach these miraculous powers openly. He kept the knowledge hidden and only transmitted it to those who were spiritually advanced enough to learn it. Should we label this hidden knowledge used to perform these mysterious good works under the broad term "occult" or just call it Christian good doing and Buddhist nice stuff? Or are these miraculous powers hidden in all of us waiting to be discovered as we move closer to our full human potential? Jesus told us we can do what he has done and even greater works.

In Matthew, Chapter 12 (22-30) the crowd asked Jesus how they could be sure his miracles were not the work of demons done only to fool and trick them. He told them that evil cannot produce good - it can only produce evil. This is a simple truth: darkness cannot produce light, light cannot produce darkness and a sword cannot cut itself. Therefore, anything that brings peace and harmony into my life does not conflict with my Christian beliefs. On the contrary, it bring me closer to the Christos within.

The nine levels of development is a method to bring peace and harmony to an individual. It is a method to help individuals develop their full human potential. This mind body science is just that: a scientific approach to self-actualization, and not a religion or a study of occult beliefs. It is a method to bring peace to the lives of all who study it. While Stephen Hayes is a Buddhist Priest, and you can study and learn Buddhism from him, this is optional. The curriculum doesn't requite you to take Buddhist vows or study the teachings of the Buddha. If anything, studying this mind-body science had lead to an increase in my Christian faith and not brought me further from it. it also has improved my concentration, calmed my mind, helped me find my weaknesses and provided remedies for them. Over all, it has resulted in a more balanced mental, emotional and physical state, which in turn has improved my taijutsu, as well as, greatly improved the overall quality of my life.

This is why I do not condemn the Kuji part of our training as evil or anti-Christian. I welcome it with open arms. I believe that valuable lessons and truths can be learned from both Christians and non Christians. When I look at Stephen Hayes, I do not see a Buddhist priest or a Ninja master; I see my brother, and when I look deeply into his heart, I see myself. No religious dogma binds me; my heat is open and ready to receive all the knowledge that enables me to move further and further into a state of wholeness.

I am not suggesting that anyone should or shouldn't study the Nine Gates mind-body sciences. These studies are not for everyone. This is a personal choice and in my case, these studies have been a positive force in my life.

Here are some books to read if you wish to explore the subject a little further: Esoteric Christianity, Anne Besant, Theosophical Publishing House, 1970. The Pipe and Christ: A Christian-Sioux Dialogue, Father William Stolzman, Tipi Press, 1995. Living Buddha, Living Christ, Thich Nhat Hanh, Riverhead Books, 1995.

Frank Luce is an instructor at New York Budo. He may be reached through the editor at <>


Denny Kinsella

At the "Living the Dual Mandalas" seminar in 1987, Shidoshi Hayes gave us the names and attributes of the figures in the central lotus of the Taizokai mandala. The great problem for an American using these archetypes as "heroes" to emulate, however, is that they are distinctly Japanese in character. Sure you can look up Amida Nyorai in some book or another, but your experience of Amida will usually remain something exotic, something "outside" of you. Shidoshi Hayes mentioned that he would like to find similar "heroes" from American folklore so that we could understand them just as the average Japanese understands the characters that make up the mandalas: as an emotional part of our own culture. This article is, therefore, my humble attempt to put the Taizokai "heroes" in a recognizable cultural perspective.


What better way to present the confidence and good nature of the realm of earth than with this friendly giant? This story of the north woods tells us of a lumberjack so big that when he dragged his ax, he inadvertently created the Grand Canyon. Because few things were powerful enough to affect him, Paul was very slow to anger. His practicality is shown in the way he ran his camp. If you have thousands of hungry loggers to feed, then you build a griddle so big that your kitchen help puts sides of bacon on their feet so they can skate across the griddle to grease it!

Paul Bunyan symbolizes the power of the earth mode to calmly solve any problem in the physical world with invention and humor.

I know what you could be thinking: this is too simple and childish to be of any use to me. You must, however, understand that you are trying to communicate with your sub-conscious mind, and the sub-conscious speaks in symbols of the simplest kind. Remember Jesus' advice about becoming like a little child; don't take this so seriously!


The "water person" is expansive, sensual, ambitious and optimistic. These conditions are evident in Huck to anyone who has read Twain's text. In addition, Huck also exhibits the negative water traits of manipulation and pride. Notice how he turns to their advantage the situations which threaten to expose Jim as an escaped slave. His elusive quality can be seen in the following exchange:

"Miss Watson told me all about the bad place, and I said that I wished I was there. She got mad then, but I didn't mean no harm. All I wanted was to go somewheres; all I wanted was a change. I warn't particular. She said it was wicked to say what I said; said she wouldn't say it for the whole world; she was going to live so as to go to the good place. Well, I couldn't see no advantage in going where she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn't try for it."

Huck Finn symbolizes the quality of the water mode to withdraw, figure out a course of action, and rush back with a solution to the problem.


The "fire person" uses his or her will power to control the environment. Most of what we know about the legend of Congressman Davy Crockett comes from his memoirs. A more expressive and eloquent monument to self-love cannot be found. As for his qualifications to act as an archetype for aggression, consider the following story:

"I reached into the hollow log and put my hand into something as soft as a featherbed and heard an awful growling. But it was only an old b'ar I woke out of his winter nap, and I took out my knife Butcher to see which were the best man. But the critter was clean amazed and made a bolt to get out of the scrape, most cowardly. "Hollo, stranger!" says I. "We don't part company without having a fair shake for a fight." And so, saving your presence, I clenched hold both 'is posterities."

Anyone who grabs a bear by the "posterities" must need to be aggressive! Davy Crockett symbolizes the quality of the fire mode to approach a problem with enthusiasm and energy.


The "wind person" is motivated to help others in their development through wisdom, humor, and love. To represent the realm of air, we have a man who dedicates his entire life to seeding the North American continent with apple trees. Barefoot, Johnny wore no clothes but cast-offs that he traded for his seeds. Often he wore only a coffee sack, with a pie tin for a hat/cooking pot. His respect for all life allowed him to communicate with the wild animals.

With his knowledge of the vegetable kingdom, he was often sought out by all as an herbal healer. A preacher once said, "Where now is there a man who, like the primitive Christians, is traveling to Heaven barefooted and clad in coarse rainment?" Up walked Johnny Appleseed, who pointed with his thumb at his coffee-sack shirt.

The Indians saw his eccentric behavior and thought he was "touched by God" and therefore did not molest him. When the War of 1812 caused the Indians to go on the warpath for the British, Johnny Appleseed warned the American settlements of the Indians'movements.

Johnny Appleseed symbolizes the quality of the air mod to use benevolence to nurture others.


The void realm is that place from which we draw the optimum performance in our personal abilities and talents. Abraham Lincoln, at least the man of the legends, had qualities of each of the other elements, plus the "Void" properties of commitment, inspiration, and creativity. Consider the close of his Second Inaugural address:

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God give us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care wor him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations."

Can you think of a better philosophy for a spiritual warrior?

In conclusion, I wish to point out that this is not the only possible set of archetypes that could be used. Indeed, most cultures have similar archetypes attributable to the five elements. What is important is that you use symbols that strike an emotional chord within you, to lead you to a better understanding of yourself and your environment.

This article appeared in the March-April 1988 issue of Musubi and is reprinted with permission. Denny Kinsella is a brown-belt student at the Illinois Martial Arts Academy, in Schaumburg, Illinois. He may be reached via e-mail at: <>


Mike Hennessy

In a previous article I laid out my thoughts on how to effectively deal with the media. Of course that article left dangling the question of how to get the media's attention in the first place. The most common way of getting noticed is through a press release. Naturally, some press releases are more effective than others. In this article I'll lay out some of my ideas about the differences between a release that gets read and acted upon, as opposed to one that gets canned after a cursory glance.

To understand what makes a good press release you have to understand something about what drives today's news business. Quite simply, the people who put together newspapers, TV newscasts and radio newscasts must fill more space and time with fewer resources than ever before. The romantic view of the news business is that only the best news stories make into the paper or on the air. The reality is that if every person who has an assignment comes back with a story, no matter how weak, there is just enough material to "fill the show."

The main burden of filling the show or the space falls on the person who makes the daily assignments. In television, this person is known as either the assignment editor or the news planner. In radio, the news director is most likely the person calling the shots. In newspapers, each section of the paper has an editor or executive editor who calls the shots. For simplicity, we'll simply call that lucky person the assignment editor. Every day the assignment editor starts off with an assortment of hard news stories that must get covered. (Court cases, government meetings and "spot news" such as traffic accidents and violent crimes.) Very seldom is there enough hard news to meet the day's news budget. Even on the most crowded news days there is a need for lighter stories that help take the grim edge off the news. When they get through sorting out the hard news the assignment editor has to find ways to meet the rest of the day's budget. That person can not afford to send out reporters on stories that don't turn into stories.

Every person who makes assignments goes through piles of press releases every day. In fact, there are so many releases that the first thing they have to do is throw out ones that don't meet their needs for stories. The person writing a release has to remember that they only get one shot at catching the assignment editor's eye. That means several things when you are putting together a release. First, the release must contain a "hook." The hook tells the assignment editor why they should be interested. For TV this means a story with plenty of moving pictures. In radio, this means the opportunity for a reporter to come back with audio, whether it's provocative sound bites or exciting natural sound. In print, this can mean interesting pictures or interesting facts that will make for an interesting story.

In most cases, the hook is tied to a one shot event. This goes back to one of the basic rules of journalism. If a dog bites a man that's not news. If a man bites a dog, that's news! Think of it this way, a group of martial artists training diligently night after night without incident probably isn't news. However, a group of martial artists training for one day with their grand master from Japan may be news.

As a brief training exercise, or kata if you prefer, try putting yourself in a TV assignment editor's place. Just imagine that you have a hole in your newscast. The news director is looking for an offbeat, somewhat cheerful piece to close out the show. You look for ideas in your stack of press releases. Will you take a chance on a scientific conference that offers interesting facts, but nothing to video of except scientists sitting an auditorium being lectured by other scientists? How about a planning task force that will release a study of how to prevent your home town from being turned into one series of strip malls after another?'s something interesting. The world's number one ninja is in town for a three day seminar. He will demonstrate unarmed combat, traditional weapons and their application to today's self defense needs for men, women and children. There is a clear schedule of events on the release, with the name and telephone number of a person to contact. Even better, there is an offer to let any member of the media who so desires to take part and be photographed taking part. The number one ninja will also make himself available for brief interviews at a specified time. Best of all, there is a clear map to the seminar. There is even a picture of the number one ninja copied from a national martial arts magazine cover.

You can probably guess which story has the best chance of being told. The last press release shows that the person who wrote took the needs of the television medium into account. There will be interesting pictures...maybe even a kid throwing a grown up around like a sack of flour. The assignment editor has a dream situation. The show closer can be a brief segment of video with the anchor person narrating, it could include a brief sound bite from someone involved with the event or it could be a full blown story with a news person trying to learn how to be a ninja in one easy lesson.

Always remember that press releases are written for people who may know nothing about your topic. You must constantly ask yourself if your release makes it clear to the outsider why they should be interested in what you have to offer. You should also limit your release to one page. Remember time is at a premium. Multi page releases often get thrown away unread. Whether to include a picture is a tougher call. A picture is wasted with a bad press release, but it can help a reporter or photographer identify their subject quickly and efficiently.

In addition to the content of the press release there a few common sense tips for effectively getting your word out. Have a list of addresses and contact persons for each media outlet you plan to contact. This will save time and reduce the chances of your release getting delayed or thrown away because it went to the wrong person. Also consider using a fax machine to send out your release. Almost every serious news organization will have a fax machine and most welcome press releases via fax. Most organizations readily give out their fax number. This can be quite a saving when it comes to postage.

One further word about dealing with the media: if you invite them, do not expect them to come at any specified time. If there are things going on that you really do not want to have covered simply schedule them for a time and place separate from the event you do want publicized. Journalists are extremely busy and notorious for running behind schedule. Designate someone to act as a media liaison. This person should be able to help the media gain access to the people they want to speak to and should be allowed to act as spokesperson for your event. If all this seems like a lot of trouble, keep in mind how valuable the exposure you receive can be. Advertisers pay thousands of dollars for the briefest commercials and print advertisements. If inviting the media to cover an event seems like too much trouble, think how valuable an opportunity to get positive exposure for Ninjutsu is. The media are doing you a favor to cover your event, not the other way around.

Mike Hennessy is a retired journalist who covered stories ranging from murder trials to hurricanes. He also was an assignment editor at a Tampa, FL TV station. He's now much happier selling appliances at Circuit City. He's a longtime student of Mark S. Russo. You can reach him at <>


Dale Seago

Dale Seago
Meiro Itachi Dojo
1601 Ocean Avenue, Ste. 316
San Francisco, CA 94112
(415) 333-6078

I trained in a variety of Japanese, Korean, and Okinawan martial arts commencing in 1967. On being exposed to the Bujinkan in 1983, however, I dropped everything else to begin learning. My first teacher was Jack Hoban, who at the time still lived in California, and since 1986 my principal mentor in Japan has been Shiraishi sensei. I still have close ties with Jack and his BuYu organization, as well as with Bill Atkins of Twain Harte, California and his Tenchijin Dojo network. I passed the 5th dan test in 1989, becoming one of the first 20 Americans to reach this level; and in terms of the rank structure I am considered a "shihan" (e.g., 7th dan and above).

The name of the dojo literally means "Happy Weasel", though "meiro" (properly written with a long-vowel sign over the "o") also has overtones of playful mischief. The name was picked in an effort to capture some sense of the "feeling" of training here, and is derived from close observation of one of the most wonderful of creatures, the ferret. For those unaware of the fact, ferrets (which are mustelids or members of the weasel tribe) are incessantly playful; insatiably curious; consummate infiltration & escape artists; untiring lovers; and appallingly ferocious fighters when need is upon them.

Since I am employed full-time by one of California's largest banks, I am not able to teach throughout the week. Classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, with occasional weekend seminars; and groups of students also get together regularly outside the formal class periods to work on material from the classes. The Tuesday and Thursday classes are quite different - sort of "ura and omote" sides of the same thing. Tuesday is essentially taijutsu, with some of the shorter weapons included, and is held in a gymnastics gymnasium north of San Francisco. The Thursday class is a weapons class, focusing essentially on battlefield weapons: long & short swords, staff, spear, & halberd. This one is held outdoors in a tiny park in San Francisco - in the dark, the wind, the cold, the fog, on the ground.

There is no option for new students to sign up for one or the other: it's both or nothing, as the contrast in training tools and environments is an important part of the training process.

In teaching, I place no emphasis on "metaphysical" disciplines such as meditation or mikkyo. I am by no means unfamiliar with such things, as years ago I was heavily involved in such disciplines myself. Hatsumi sensei insists very emphatically that such things are unnecessary to the study and mastery of ninpo, and my own experience/observation indicates that, until one gets a thorough grounding in the physicality of our arts, such things are more often a distraction from training than an enhancement. (Some people are remarkably reluctant to understand that ALL forms of meditation are nothing more - or less - than ways of focusing or directing one's attention and intention. The physical training itself, PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD, gives the same results. Perhaps I'll expand on that idea in a future article.)

On the other hand, if someone does want esoteric spiritual training, the San Francisco Bay area happens to be particularly rich in legitimate teachers from any number of authentic historic lineages, and I encourage interested persons to seek them out on their own time. In the dojo proper, however, I have more to teach about Bujinkan martial art than time available to teach it.

I do emphasize non-physical things which apply directly to understanding the CONTEXT of being a warrior in contemporary society: things such as ethics and moral philosophy, law, and political awareness. (It does one little good to learn to execute a perfect physical technique in a self-defense situation, only to find after using it that one is now going to spend the next few years in prison.) Continual intelligence gathering in the areas of politics and legislation is also essential to understanding how the right to protect yourself and your loved ones from physical violence is being whittled away day by day.

My perspective on training and teaching is strongly influenced by many years of military experience (commencing with the Vietnam War and lasting through the 1991 Persian Gulf War) in intelligence, law enforcement, and special operations work. I prefer that a martial art have maximum physical applicability across the widest possible range of circumstances in a world which, unfortunately, is still a very dangerous place; and I find feudal-era arts such as those of the Bujinkan perfect in this regard. (If more practitioners of martial disciplines trained as though they were really aware of the robberies, rapes, and murders going on all around them instead of thinking about the next belt rank or the next tournament or how to improve a sparring strategy, we might soon have a more civil society. But I digress.)

I appreciate the "timeless" nature of the feudal arts. The same methods taught originally to resist/escape arrest or capture by agents or soldiers of a hostile government can be used against would-be carjackers or kidnappers in today's cities. Infiltration/exfiltration skills used by feudal scouts, spies, and unconventional warfare operators can save your life if your car breaks down at night in the wrong part of a city. If you know how to prevent someone from drawing a sword to cut you down, you can recognize and neutralize someone trying to bring a concealed knife or handgun into play. If you understand weapon disarming - and weapon retention - with swords, knives, and polearms, knowing how to move to stay safe from edges and points, you can do the same with firearms once you know how to use them. (Firearms proficiency is a requirement for first dan in my dojo.) If you understand yoroi kumiuchi or armored fighting methods, you know how to move effectively while wearing today's antiballistic body armor, helmet, and duty belt or load-bearing vest festooned with gear (as well as how to neutralize others who are so encumbered).

Given all the above, it may seem astonishing that for several years now I have also taught self-defense workshops under contract for the (highly "politically correct") University of California at Berkeley. I regard these classes, which are mostly attended by women, as a wonderful opportunity to inculcate a sense of self-reliance and personal responsibility in members of a generation which (at least here on the Left Coast) is being taught that "the state as nanny" is, and ought to be, supreme.

Dale welcomes commentary on his profile and may be reached at <>


Christopher S. Penn

MORTAL KOMBAT New Line Cinema, 1995. Color, about an hour and a half. Video, VHS.


Mortal Kombat: The Movie is based fairly loosely off of the video game by the same name. The movie's plot is simple: three of Earth's finest martial artists compete in a tournament to save Earth from invasion. Guided by Raiden, the God of Thunder and Protector of the Realm of Earth, the martial artists defeat various fighters, including two "Chinese ninja" and a four-armed half-man, half-dragon.


While some legends do exist about the Lin Kuei, the Chinese forest demons who are compared to Japanese ninja, I've never seen ninja dressed so... colorfully. The special effects are very flashy and a lot of fun to watch.

Most of the action scenes are decent; a few of the characters lack actual martial arts skills of any kind, but the producers cleverly cut and shot to minimize their weaknesses. Robin Shou did a magnificent job of choreographing the fight scenes. Don't be looking for realistic combat moves in this movie; most of the fights are pure eye candy, but worth watching for entertainment's sake alone.

A special note: in a recent issue of Black Belt magazine, Robin Shou explained that the film's cinematography is based off of Hong Kong style camera work, as opposed to American camerawork. What this translates to are more full-body, distance shots of fight scenes (a la Jackie Chan) than close-up, blow-by-blow shots (a la Steven Seagal).


If you're looking for a strong plot, character development, and fine cinematography, then by all means go rent Apollo 13. If you're looking for pure entertainment only, Mortal Kombat is your movie. Most of the blood, guts, and gore have been taken out of the adaptation from the video game; in their place, the producers have chosen to create lots of computer-generated special effects, which are worth watching. Some of the video game characters have had their personalities altered from the original, and a good many are missing their gorier aspects, which will disappoint video-game purists. Overall, if you can find a decent rental price, go for it and get the popcorn ready!
The author, Christopher S. Penn, is a relatively poor college student and recent graduate of a television production course at his college. He trains with a large tree in Buchanan Park, Lancaster, and has rented Mortal Kombat innumerable times. He can be reached at <> and heartily welcomes comments and especially corrections.



Here's a bit of information that is not taijutsu based per se, but is valuable nonetheless, and can certainly be incorporated into your training data banks. It concerns punching. I could preface this little primer by saying that I am a renowned boxer of World class status who has knocked out lesser mortals, that, to quote Mike Tyson, "had some intention", with one devastating punch. But, I'm not. Suffice it to say that I have been around some very good boxers and punchers who were Golden Glove, Amateur, Olympic and World Champs, as well as some plain old goons. And, yes, they have thrown some punches at me with "intention" - hopefully good, but you never know. I, myself, have also thrown some "bad intention" at a person or two. A few things I learned from these encounters are:

A good puncher can and will hit you from every angle. He will position himself so that each punch puts him in a place that the next one will be better... at taking your head off! While he may not consciously know it, his goal is to always be off the center line and never off balance. Some people are taught this and get good at it, while others have an inherent knack for doing this. Either way, this skill is one to work on... often. It is an odd phenomena when target acquisition skills and drills are not taught to students early and often. The reality is that more than 90 percent of the people who walk into a "martial arts" gym/dojo are there to learn to hit well and not get hit by someone else. Those places that talk of meditation before physical skills are developed are really off-base as far as a school that is teaching fighting skills is concerned. After all, Kano, Ushiba, Takamatsu, Ali, Man and Funakoshi all were "formidable fighters" BEFORE they became innovators and great thinkers of their chosen fighting systems.

Hit as straight as possible. Step in or rock forward toward your target when you punch. Punching while moving away from a target/adversary can be used as a fairly effective defensive strategy, but this type of punching maneuver is significantly weaker than moving forward.

Don't telegraph your punch. People don't realize that they can let their opponent know what they are going to do by moving other body parts, flinching, blinking, staring and other unrelated activities, prior to throwing a punch. A smart fighter will pick up on this and capitalize on it. Check yourself out on video or with an observant partner.

Learn to "hold your fire" until you can hit your target. This doesn't always mean waiting until the fight is brought to you either. Don't overshoot your target - this is truly an indicator of an amateur. How many times have you seen a person hitting a heavy bag or punching a mitt and he tries too hard or his control is so poor that he ends up blowing by the target or getting crowded by it? Isn't this lack of control and balanced movement the silly stuff that most "martial artist/fighters" look to take advantage of?

Don't waste your energy missing. Why do you think shadow boxing is so taxing? It's actually a great cardio-vascular workout; but when someone is swinging at your face, I think your priorities are elsewhere at that point. Get in the habit of getting on guard. After hitting, get back on guard, and especially if you miss, get back on guard. Fatigue can make your arms feel like lead, but fatigue can also make your opponents fists feel like lead - lead pipes against your face. Use your energy wisely.

Always end a series of punches with your lead hand. This is no koan, but the simple logic behind this is often not apparent.

There are no wrists in punching. The forearm and fist should be kept in a straight line and thought of as one solid tool, like a mace (not the spray! although a similar result is desired). A boxer's wrists are taped before being put in a glove and then the wrist of the glove is also taped. This is mainly to keep the laces from being rubbed into someone's eye during the clinches (sneaky, sneaky), but it also serves to stabilize the wrist area.

If you are fighting bare-knuckled it is not a good idea to strike someone in the head with your fist. In the face, yes, in the jaw, yes, but not the head. The bones in the hand can be easily broken - and I emphasize EASILY - from striking the dense bones of the head. (Who'd have thought that being a bonehead could be a good thing?) Remember, hitting the makiwara board is one thing, but as Bruce Lee once said, "boards don't hit back." In this bit of cinematic wisdom, Bruce was totally correct. Hitting a flat inanimate object teaches one lesson while hitting an animate object, that has different densities and contours, is much trickier and teaches an entirely different set of skills and approaches.

There are only three types of punches. Period. Call it a poison hand, a lights out tiger fist, mace in your face, ba da bing, ba da boom, or whatever. There are only three - a lead hand punch (jab), a rear hand punch (cross/reverse) and a rear hand that becomes a lead hand (lunge). That's it. This is no koan either, but someone who I respect highly for their fighting skills and I had a good laugh about the numerous exotic names that are used to make these simple things seem like more.

I would love to hear from other practitioners out there about training tips and insights. Hopefully, this newsletter will continue to be the gift that it has been so far, without some of the mental escapades that seem to want to trickle in.

The author of this article wishes to remain anonymous. The author does, however, wish to receive commentary on his article and may be contacted through the editor at: <>


David Lyle

On openings and Technique:
A warrior with weak technique will have no openings.
A warrior with strong technique will have few openings.
An invincible warrior will have nothing but openings.
Be especially careful of the invincible warrior.

On groups
A member of a herd will not be assisted by his associates when he is taken by the hunter.

David Lyle has trained in the Bujinkan Ninjutsu system since 1985. He currently trains with the Washington D.C. group. He receives email at <> where he runs a computer bbs.


Peter Carlsson
Translated by Mats Hjelm
The origin of IGA RYU NINJUTSU can best be understood by studying IGA as a region in JAPAN. From the beginning IGA belonged to the ISE province, but they was separated somewhere around the year 680. ISE was one of the more important regions of JAPAN because of the long coast and the TOKAIDO road between KYOTO and EDO that passed through ISE.

The IGA province became a relatively isolated region, surrounded by mountains on all sides, except on the north side close to the KOGA region in the south OMI province, here is where the NINPO culture was developed. Both the IGA and KOGA regions was located in a relatively safe place just southeast of KYOTO, the capital town of Japan and just south of the TOKAIDO road. So these regions was central and played an important part to the rest of Japan and its history.

To all these external conditions, add an catalyst as General IKAI, a refugee from China with a wide knowledge of strategy and martial arts, and they had all opportunity for development of their own independent RYUHA (martial arts systems). Both as a protection for their own existence and a way to actively participate in the political development of Japan. As a parenthesis it can be mentioned that in SADA (in IGA) there are places called TOJIN-IWA (The chinese rock) and KARADOBUCHI (The door to china's deep water) still reminding of the connection to China.

Close, just south east of IGA at the YOSHINO mountain is where one of the head leaders of the SHUGENDO sect was located. And in south of IGA where the KUMANO mountain are located, is another holy place to the SHUGENDO sect. It is very probably that these YAMABUSHI's (wandering mountain priests) exchanged philosophy and methods with the IGA people.

Within IGA RYU there was a lot of other different RYU's with their own specialties and traditions, but the origin to all IGA RYU martial arts RYU are supposed to have come from IKAI who had fled to a cave at mount Takeo in the IGA region from China. What he brought from China was in first place his knowledge of KOSHIJUTSU that he taught to among others GAMON DOSHI (DOSHI means Moralist). GAMON DOSHI's and his student GARYU DOSHI can be seen as foundation to most parts of the tradition of martial art that developed in and around IGA.

There is one problem in the theory above. According to HATSUMI SENSEI and other sources within the BUJINKAN, IKAI's escape from China was sometime between the year of 1040 and 1050. The reason for his escape was that he had been fighting with the people of KITAN and XIA against king JINSO (Song-dynasty in China), and been defeated. According to history books, the state of Kitan and XIA was victorious during this period of time and it was not until the emperor HUI ZONG allied with AGUDA of the RUZHEN in 1123-1125 that they became strong enough to crush the state of KITAN and XIA. So, either the dates of HATSUMI have to be revaluated, or we have to research the connection between YO GYOKKO and the fall of TANG dynasty some more to find out who it was he who brought KOSHIJUTSU to Japan (this is one of the basic theories known to most in the BUJINKAN). It may also be so that YO GYOKKO brought the KOSHIJUTSU, and that IKAI brought the knowledge about strategy and HICHO KAKUREGATA (statement by HATSUMI) and it was those systems together that formed the foundation of the martial arts in IGA.

To continue, GARYU DOSHI initiated HAKUUN RYU, a school that was further developed and named by HAKUUN DOSHI. HACHIRYU NYUDO is another name that ought to be mentioned, because it was probably he who brought GARYU's knowledge further on to TOZAWA HAKUUNSAI, the first official grandmaster of GYOKKO RYU. GYOKKO RYU is in most cases recognized as a KOSHIJUTSU school, but it's also officially known as a school of NINPO.

HAKUUN RYU was transferred to KAGAKURE DOSHI (a.k.a. KAIN DOSHI or KUMOGAKURE DOSHI), and it was KAGAKURE who taught the system to NISHINA DAISUKE. DAISUKE founded TOGAKURE RYU and TOGAKURE RYU is together with GYOKKO RYU two of the oldest NINJUTSU traditions in IGA, and they have both been a great influence to most of the other schools in IGA.

In the book "Essence of Ninjutsu" by MASAAKI HATSUMI it is mentioned that IGA HEINABE YASUKIYO, another student of GAMON DOJI. Was given a piece of land, IGA HATTORI in the IGA region as thanks for the help he gave MINAMOTO YORITOMO (1147-1198) in the fight against the TAIRA clan. He is supposed to have built a castle, that became the origin to IGA RYU. But since IGA HEINABE YASUKIYO was supposed to have lived in the late 11th century and MINAMOTO YORITOMO in the late 12th century, this story must be considered as doubtful. On the other hand, IGA HEINABE YASUKIO seem to be the basis of the knowledge that IGA HEINAI SAEMON NO JO IENAGA, his descendant in the 12:th generation, used when he founded a school, also named IGA RYU, but which later had its name changed to KUMOGAKURE RYU NINPO.

There is another story that states that ISE SABURO YOSHIMORU allied with MINAMOTO YORITOMO's brother YOSHITSUNE in the flight from YORITOMO. This is more in line with the dates in history, even if it's not verified yet.

All the different IGA RYU had their own linage of SOKE (family head), but IGA RYU as whole also had a lineage of persons that was in a leading role, called JONIN. It is not unusual to find names that also was a SOKE in other IGA RYU's. Below is an approximate list of the IGA RYU JONIN's until the end of 16th century. The mentioned year is not exact or the year they was grandmasters but the year they was active.

Notice the difference between each RYU and the organisation around the same sphere of interests, -the IGA region as whole. For example GYOKKO RYU, TOGAKURE RYU and HAKUUN RYU which was different systems of specialities and methods, was only tools used to protect the IGA region and the interest there as whole.

The different knowledge systems that belonged to IGA RYU was developed and protected by a total of 45 families. These families that belonged into the IGA NINJA RYU are listed by MASAAKI HATSUMI as...

Tozawa * Fujiwara * Minamoto * Taira * Kuriyama * Momochi * Ishitani * Hattori * Izumo * Kimura * Ohkuni * Tsutsumi * Arima * Hata * Kazama * Mizuhari * Hanbe * Shima * Togakure * Sugino * Ise * Sakagami * Narita * Oda * Hisahara * Ooyama * Mori * Abe * Ueno * Suzuki * Otsuka * Ibuki * Kaneko * Kotani * Kashiwabara * Shindo * Iida * Kataoka * Kanbe * Fukii * Sawada * Kimata * Toyata * Toda * IGA

Some of these names are particularly interesting from the BUJINKAN point off view. For example TOZAWA, (TOZAWA HAKUUNSAI who was the first SOKE in GYOKKO RYU one of the nine RYU in the BUJINKAN system).

The TODA family is also interesting. Except for being SOKE's of KUMOGAKURE RYU, they also inherited TOGAKURE RYU in the 17th century from the NATORI family who in turn inherited TOGAKURE RYU when the headline of TODA FAMILY had all died. TODA who was one of the leading families in IGA was also close connected to the TOZAWA family.

MOMOCHI was one of the most famous families and MOMOCHI SANDAYU was without doubt the most famous NINJA leader, together with HANZO HATTORI. MOMOCHI SANDAYU and three of his followers was in the 16th century SOKE in both GYOKKO RYU and KOTO RYU. They had inherited the schools from the SAKAGAMI family. In the 17th century GYOKKO RYU, KOTO RYU, KUMOGAKURE RYU and TOGAKURE RYU would all become under the TODA family by TODA SEIRYU NOBUTSUNA. Later also GYOKUSHIN RYU was brought into the TODA family. Other names that have direct connection to BUJINKAN is ISHITANI, IZUMO and IGA.

Here is a list of some of the RYU that have been part of the IGA RYU and the IGA province's traditions...

Hakuun ryu * Togakure ryu * Kumogakure ryu * Genjitsu ryu * Tenton Happo ryu * Goton Juppo ryu * Kadone ryu * Kukishinden ryu * Gyokko ryu * Koto ryu * Rikyoku ryu * Tsuji Ichimu ryu * Hattori ryu * Taki ryu * Yoshimori ryu * Uchikawa ryu * Gikan ryu * Gyokushin ryu * Takino ryu * Sawa ryu * Gen ryu * Momochi ryu * Ryumon ryu * IGA ryu

This is not a complete list, there was other RYUs that have disappeared through history. Another interesting point worth a note is that IGA RYU and KUMOGAKURE RYU who is listed among the single RYU, is in principle the same RYU. Since IGA RYU changed its name to KUMOGAKURE RYU. Both the GIKAN RYU and GYOKUSHIN RYU was developed from GYOKKO RYU.

To write down exactly how a RYU have wandered through families through history is nearly impossible. This is due to several reasons, for example the history about the martial arts was often taught as KUDEN (direct teaching mouth to mouth) and not written down. Another thing that makes it difficult is that the SOKE often handed out more than one MENKYO KAIDEN (Acknowledged as a master of the system and allowed to pass the teachings) which made the RYU have a better chance to survive. Other schools was only taught to one single person that would be the next SOKE, and if he unexpectedly died so did the RYU.


The original Text and research was made by Peter Carlsson who may be reached at <>

Translation was made from Swedish to English by Mats Hjelm who may be contacted at <>

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 reserch 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 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.


A collection of wisdom from warriors and philosophers through the ages, submitted by Luke J. Molitor
"Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril."

"When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning and losing are equal."

"If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril."
- Sun Tzu

"Patience is the big sister to wisdom."
- Confucious
"A traveler, fleeing a tiger who was chasing him, ran till he came to the edge of a cliff. There he caught hold of a thick vine and swung himself over the edge. Above him the tiger snarled. Below him he heard another snarl, and behold, there was another tiger, peering up at him. The vine suspended him midway between the two tigers.

Two mice, began to gnaw at the vine. He could see that they were quickly eating through. Then in front of him on the cliff side he saw a luscious bunch of grapes. Holding onto the vine with one hand, he reached out and picked a grape with the other and remarked. . . how delicious." - Buddha

"That which does not kill us, makes us stronger."
- Nietzsche

It has been said: "Fail to prepare, and you prepare to fail."


Liz Maryland

February's here and as usual my mind turns to... chocolate! And champagne, lacy undergarments and sicky sweet cards. After I spend a few hours wallowing in self-pity (I'm still single!), my mind inevitably turns towards my training. Training keeps me sane - and stops my self-imposed misery. It forces me to be sharp, awake and alive and the lessons I learn in taijutsu help me to handle life's little, and not so little, upsets. Taijutsu gives me "clear sight" on some issues, and as I learn more each day, I become more efficient in the way I move through and deal with the world.

Training also gives me something better to do than stuffing my face full of chocolate on Valentine's day or snarling at the happy couples that pass me by. In my world, a little kyosetsu practice can take care of anything.

My recommendation is for all of you to put some training into your V-day. If you're single, train in something that you really enjoy and that gives you satisfaction. It will really help cheer you up if you're blue. If you're attached, sneak a little training into your fun on Valentine's day. Practice a little hensojutsu (disguise and impersonation) or work on your knot-tying and escaping. Ground-fighting can also be fun, but keep it simple. Your partner's skill may surprise you!

Wishing all of you a happy Valentine's day - whether you're single or not. As always, I'd like to thank all of the authors for their wonderful contributions to the newsletter. Because of them, we have great breadth and scope of experience and knowledge. Please e-mail them and let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.


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.


We (the publisher and authors) are not responsible in any manner whatsoever for any injury which may occur through reading or following any instructions in this newsletter. Remember, these are martial arts techniques which may result in injury or death. Find a proper instructor wherever possible. Please consult a physician before engaging in the exercises described herein. Keep in mind that all articles herein are of their author's opinion/research and the publisher of this newsletter will not be held liable for any errors or misleading information. If you need further information on any articles, or if you have questions for the authors, please contact them directly. If there is no E-mail address listed, please E-mail the editor and your request will be forwarded.
Liz maryland is the editor of this newsletter. She is a graphic designer by trade and an information gatherer by choice. She trains under the guidance of Jean-Pierre Seibel at New York Budo, where she has learned that many of life's trials and tribulations can be solved by doing Itame Nage to the right people. When she is not out keeping the internet safe for ninjutsu, Liz knits baby sweaters and booties for her expecting friends and co-workers. She may be contacted via E-mail:<>
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