|[ olvasnivaló » Ura & Omote - 1996 September ]|
In essence, what Dr. Harada wrote was that the Internet is indeed a great way of disseminating information, but that some of the information currently available is incorrect. The other concern expressed was that, because of the convenience and ease of getting information, people might choose to train less often. At the end of the article Dr. Harada quoted Hatsumi Sensei who said that people should ask him or his senior instructors for the information they need.
I believe, as Dr. Harada believes, that the Internet is a very valuable way of transmitting information. The ninja of ancient Japan used any and all means they had available to reach each other and send messages regarding strongholds, enemy numbers, etc. I would like to believe that if the internet existed then, they would have used it to transmit information to each other.
My purpose for starting Ura & Omote was NOT to replace Soke's information or training. Nor was it to in any way discourage people from training in Japan. I always encourage my readers to find a trained ninjutsu instructor and to study directly from Hatsumi. In fact, the following appears in my newsletter each month:
"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"
My goal for starting Ura & Omote was to connect more readers and to strenghten the ties within the Bujinkan by helping those beginning in this art, sending out correct information on our history, and sharing experiences that others have had in their many years of training. Most of the information transmitted via the Internet is correct, and for those unfortunate enough not to have an instructor available to them or for those unable to fly to Japan -- due to family, finances, work, etc. -- this information helps educate them further, thus allowing them to continue with their training. Also, little pointers on how to execute a proper stomp kick or how to punch all help people keep their focus on the heart of the training.
Yes, we can make good friends via the internet. Yes, we can share information. But it's the training -- the glue of the Bujinkan, so to speak -- that binds us together. If it were not for Hatsumi Sensei and his willingness to share his teachings, none of this beautiful martial art would exist today. I think that those in the Bujinkan who are serious about their training can effectively communicate and further share what they have learned via the internet without it being detrimental to their training or to the art.
This is a martial tradition. Being such, we should keep training as our focus and use the information that we get from sources, such as the Internet, to supplement and improve ourselves.
PETER KING: I began training in the Bujinkan properly in 1983, in Japan with Hatsumi Soke and Ishizuka Shihan. I came from a background in traditional Kobudo, having previously trained in Ryoi Shinto Ryu Jujutsu, Tenjin Shinyo Ryu Jujutsu, Yoseikan Budo and French - Boxe Francaise/Savate in addition to the usuals such as Boxing, Judo and Aikido. Prior to 1983, I had had some training in Kukishinden Ryu Hanbojutsu, but from someone who had received limited training with Hatsumi Soke in stick techniques only.
U&O: Why did you begin training in this martial tradition?
PK: I saw from a copy of Hatsumi Soke's 'Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu' book that the techniques he was teaching were both pragmatic and natural. The principles shown in the techniques were consistent with those I had already learnt, yet I found the expression of body movement particularly fascinating. Also attractive was the omni-competence throughout the various distances and combat methods from grappling to the use of the longest and heaviest of weapons.
U&O: What is training like in Europe? What would you say are the differences from training in Japan or in the States?
PK: I see what is happening in Europe as being very positive and I am greatly encouraged by the progress that is being made here. I am very happy with the excellent friendship and cooperation that exists between Sveneric Bogsater 10th Dan, Pedro Fleitas 10th dan, Arnaud Cousergue 10th Dan and myself. We give joint seminars around Europe together and have been christened as the 'Shi Tenno' -- Four Kings of Europe by Hatsumi Soke. Not only do we teach, drink beer together and enjoy each others company, but one of us will usually have been to Japan recently and be able to share what he has learned with the others. I believe that the mutual respect and unity that exist between us four should give an example to other practitioners in Europe. We are also fortunate that many European people have traveled to -- and also stayed in -- Japan and trained with Soke and the Japanese Shihans. They bring back their knowledge which helps to enrich the standard of the Bujinkan in their own countries. We are a continent made up of relatively small nation states striving for unity at this point in our history. This is lucky for the Bujinkan.
U&O: What's the most important thing or lesson -- it doesn't have to be a physical technique -- that you have learned or gotten out of this training?
PK: I don't know what is the most important, but I can share some thoughts with you. I have come to realize that many things that I had heard in words and thought that I understood, really had no meaning until, I really began to understand them. This is part of a process of letting go. We think of 'KyoJutsu' as being able to define the difference between truth and deception. Perhaps that in itself is a deception and the reality is that such things are not fixed, but as with our training -- fluid and ever moving possibilities. I remember that Hatsumi Soke would often say "Don't just watch what I am doing but gain the feeling of the technique." Like the others I would nod, but not understand. Now I am beginning to feel the feeling of the movement, almost like having taken up some ownership of the techniques. It is something that can only be explained through the practice of Taijutsu, not words. There are many of our facilities that we do not use in our everyday lives. We can realize these only by letting go and not being fixed by habits of what we believe to be logic. This is one of the benefits of training.
U&O: What is training with Hatsumi Sensei like? Please share any insights that you have on Hatsumi Sensei with us.
PK: For a martial artist training with Hatsumi Soke is like having died and gone to paradise. The first time that I trained in Japan it was not in the Bujinkan Arts. I was fortunate to be exposed to many great teachers who were legends in their own arts. The next time I went to Japan, I trained with Hatsumi Soke and I knew that that was enough, he was everything. I do not say he is the greatest because I train with him, but I choose to train with him because he is the greatest teacher of martial arts.
Many people mistake Soke when he says "play." The Bujinkan is both martial (fighting and survival) and art (higher expression) -- both are extremes, but give balance to each other. It is good to acknowledge the fighting aspect of our training. When Hatsumi Soke suggests that members should confront high grades rather than complaining about them I (in a perverse way) like the idea. It is a "put up or shut up" and encourages us to stay sharp, train harder and not pass comment on others.
U&O: What plans do you have for the future and your training?
PK: I wish to continue both as a student of Hatsumi Soke's Bujinkan and to encourage the development of other Buyu (martial friends). To this end, our training network in the United Kingdom is known as the Bujinkan Buyukai.
We are more than we believe that we are, the path of Budo is a voyage of discovery.
WHEN AN ASPIRING PAINTER seriously wants to become a great artist, he usually goes to Paris, to the Louvre, and sits himself down with his sketchpad in the corridors of that great museum. He picks a masterpiece that is most like his own particular style, and works on copying it -- trying not to duplicate the work for its own sake, but to try to grasp some technique or feeling that the original master used to create the work, so that he himself may become better than he was before. This was a common practice in the early part of this century, and maybe still is today.
You should look on the historical forms of the Bujinkan schools in this same way: not as ancient combat forms that MUST be worked and transformed into modern fighting situations at all costs, but as old masterpieces that, when copied correctly, impart some skill and insight to he who copies them. Each one of the forms has something to add to you arsenal of abilities -- a certain new way of stepping, an unexpected piece of ukemi, a really effective lock, or an interesting striking combination.
This is only ONE WAY to think of the kata. You make yourself better by striving to understand them and practicing them correctly, so that when you come to the point after several years of training when you are ready to practice shinken gata, you have a lot of experiences to draw upon in addition to well established movement skills.
LET'S SUPPOSE a few things; first, you are a skydiver. Let's say it is required that each diver will not inspect his own parachute, but has to have his friend do it. You would want your friend to inspect your parachute very thoroughly, right? If it was really your friend, you would also want to make sure his parachute was in good working order and would work like it was supposed to, wouldn't you?
This is like training in the dojo, and your parachute is your taijutsu skills. You want your training partners to let you know if your skills will really work like you need them to in the real world, and likewise you should be concerned that your friend's skills are real and reliable if they are needed. View your training partners not as adversaries competing for ranks, but rely on them as valuable allies who, in every class, help to keep your taijutsu skills strong.
When teaching combat techniques, some students ask me: "What happens if he does this?" or "What am I trying to do to him here?" or some such question. How I feel about that is as follows: all I am doing is teaching them how to use chopsticks. This is how to hold them in your fingers, here is how to pick things up without dropping them, etc. But they are asking me "What happens if I don't like the way this tastes?" or "What should I eat first?" or "What if I throw this up in the morning?" That is for you to decide.
YOU ARE A SLIDE PROJECTOR. You are not the slides -- the slides are the techniques you know. You put one in, take one out, switch them around as you need them in order to best do the job. Some people have more slides than others, some less; you collect them as you go. You are not the light that shines out of the projector -- that is your taijutsu skills. It doesn't matter how many slides you have if your light is so weak that you can't see what the image is supposed to look like. In other words, a whole lot of memorized techniques are useless without a strong foundation of taijutsu.
As a teacher I use techniques to illustrate the fundamentals of taijutsu -- that's how I get across the ideas of how to better utilize the body. Students likewise use the techniques as 'body practice,' training themselves to move with more balance and natural power, so that eventually they can actually use those techniques that they were taught in actual combat. So in the beginning of your training (the first five years), think of the techniques as methods by which to learn to move yourself with naturalness and balance. And of course when these two things are achieved, speed and power are a natural consequence.
TECHNIQUES ARE TOOLS to get the job done in the most efficient way. You don't use a screwdriver when you need pliers. You add techniques and methods as you are taught them, putting them into your mental 'toolbox.' As before, however, it doesn't matter how many tools you've collected if you don't know the difference between a Phillips and a flathead screwdriver, and can't hammer a nail in straight. Master each tool before adding another. If you don't know how to use an electric circular saw, but instead always saw everything by hand, you won't be very efficient. The same can be said of martial arts techniques.
WHEN A TECHNIQUE IS DONE INCORRECTLY, usually we are talking about locks and throws here, the only way a student can then make it work is to force it with muscular power, and even then it doesn't work very well, and certainly does not feel NATURAL. This is the state that I see most people in, including the majority of black belts: substituting muscular force instead of using the natural body power of Taijutsu.
When a locking or throwing technique fails, it usually feels "dead," that is to say there is no longer any flow, and it stops. Adding power to a dead technique is like adding water to a dead plant. DON'T DO IT-- IT WON'T HELP! It will prevent you from understanding the real methods. Muscular power will not revive the technique. In real combat, by forcing the technique you merely expose your weakness and set yourself up for defeat. It is far better to change and adapt. BUT in the classroom, if your technique 'dies,' don't immediately switch and go off on some tangent. Ask your teacher to help you identify the problem and correct it.
Power and muscular force definitely has a place in this art, but it is a skillfully used tool. Add power only into techniques that would have worked anyway. Then you are adding water to a live plant, and that is actually doing something. If you wonder about your own abilities in this respect, what you should do (if you don't do this already) is try different locks like omote gyaku or onikudaki with no muscular force, and see if it still works. From all my experience in the art I can say this: if you can do the lock softly and without power, than you can really do it. If you can only perform the lock with a lot of strength, then you can't really do it. This issue is not about locks, but about fundamental understanding of taijutsu.
For those who haven't seen it, "Passenger 57" is the story of John Cutter (Snipes), a security specialist for an airline, whose plane is hijacked by an international terrorist. (Trite, I know). The human struggle segment of the film centers on Cutter's attempt to "get back into the game" following his wife's death. She was fatally shot when Snipes tried to foil a robbery at a convenience store they were at. And, YES, it WAS partially his fault.
For those of you with horrible memories, Rogers' hit "The Coward of the County" tells the tale of young Tommy who refuses to ever fight because his papa once said, "Promise me, son, not to do the things I've done. Walk away from trouble if you can. Now, it won't mean you're weak, if you turn the other cheek. I hope you're old enough to understand. Son, you don't have to fight to be a man." At the end of the song, Tommy avenges his girlfriend, Becky, by taking on the Gatlin Boys ("and there was three of them"). Tommy then bursts into song (strangely, in the same voice as his father), stating, "I promised you, dad, not to do the things you've done. I walk away from trouble when I can. Now, please don't think I'm weak; I didn't turn the other cheek. And Papa I sure hope you understand, sometimes you gotta fight when you're a man."
Now that the preliminary stuff is over with, let's get to the meat and potatoes. I hope my writing on the following situations lubricates discussion and adds something to your "training." (Note: All pronouns are masculine for ease of reading. If you allow the use of "he" rather than "he/she" bother you, you're missing the point. I shouldn't have to make such clarifications, but the world isn't that simple anymore, is it? As well, I have chosen to avoid the entire "legal" side of martial arts and their use in self-protection. There are a few good books on this subject which should be required reading for all practitioners. Don't base your decisions on hearsay. Get the facts!)
Example 1: A criminal, with no true desire to hurt me, pulls a gun and demands my money. Understanding that money can be replaced, but my life can't, I give him my wallet and he runs away. I am alive, but shaken. My immediate life focuses on contacting my credit card company, the police, etc.
Example 2: A criminal pulls a gun and demands my money. Understanding that money can be replaced, but my life can't, I give him my wallet. The guy shoots me anyway (There are rarely reasons why anymore. I don't know, maybe I reminded him of his old Spanish teacher from middle school. The reason doesn't matter at this point.) I am dead.
Example 3: A criminal, with no true desire to hurt me, pulls a gun and demands my money. As I fake removing my wallet from my back pocket, I am checking his openings. With the speed of Mercury, I find myself in on the guy. I have control of the gun arm, but he's putting up a fight. There are essentially only four outcomes in this situation. Me dead or severely fucked up. Him dead or severely fucked up. Me putting him either face up or face down (ura and omote) then sitting on top of him while I wait for the cops to arrive. Or him on the ground immobilized by pain as I run away.
The painful reality of anyone in situation three is that the millisecond you choose to engage the assailant physically, (to quote my mother) "someone's gonna get hurt." Although you always have a choice of whether you're going to kill your assailant, or just subdue him, most probably HE is going to be trying to KILL you from the second you move. Once you've started that snowball down the hill, you can't just stop fighting, throw up your hands, and say, "I'm sorry. Let's forget this ever happened." He'll probably shoot you just for fucking with him in the first place (Passenger 57). Your resistance becomes a dare--a test of whose better. And if you're not, you're dead.
Any good martial artist can pick and choose the fate of his uke (or opponent). Omote gyaku applied strongly, but smoothly, puts the uke on his face on the ground. No real harm done, except to the ego. The same technique with a quick jerk can shatter the wrist and slam his head on the pavement. The second you initiate a struggle situation, however, your opponent isn't thinking about his options to save you from harm. Unlike you, he won't be thinking about whether to put you in an arm lock and keep you there until the police arrive. He wants to get out of there as quickly as possible, and you're in his way. This also means that he will be more hurried in his actions and his mind will be more occupied than yours. This is good and can be utilized. Reality also tells us, however, that if you don't end up on top, you're most probably dead. This is bad!
I don't know about you all, but I do not look forward to the day when I might have to kill someone to save myself. We all have choices and need to exercise them prudently. We do have an obligation as martial artists to decide on a case-by-case basis just how to handle the situation. That may include killing our opponent, but it may also be as simple as walking away. Yes, Tommy, "sometimes you gotta fight to be a man." Just don't get shot by the asshole a few minutes later when he comes back "to teach you a lesson" over something as silly as a bar stool.
On several occasions recently, Hatsumi-sensei has stated that those who are scared of dying should stop training. Although many people just brush such comments away as unrealistic or eccentric, nothing could be more true. Martial arts are truly about life and death. Anyone who is not willing to face that inner demon now will falter, second-guessing himself at the most vital of times, and end up on an express train to that giant dojo in the sky. Believe me, you're not going to have time when you need to make the choice. As with situation two, it is really hard to truly know what the criminal is going to do. But this is where things like intuition, the fifth-dan sense, and common sense come into play. Believing in them and trusting your senses and abilities (including your observation skills) you've honed over the years training is extremely important. Vitally important.
Two other factors that will influence your decision to kill, maim, subdue, embarrass, or not engage your assailant are his relation to you and the location of the attack.
If you are in your own neighborhood (or are certain your assailant knows where you live), your choices will be different than if you are in a random park and he a random punk. Never underestimate the human desire for retribution. If you fuck someone up and they know where to find you or something/someone connected with you, they'll be back. They'll be back with friends and firepower.
We are all striving to lead righteous and peaceful lives. We do not seek fights nor dangerous situations. We are willing to fight for certain principles, however, and we hope to right certain wrongs. But life in America isn't as serene as we all hope. (It ain't the Fifties anymore, folks.) Times are rough and a little bit more. . .real.
Occasionally, we get sidetracked by the "training high" (I admit I love it myself -- as addictive as homemade ice cream, with half the calories). We forget that martial arts are, at their core, about life and death. A punch at half speed in the dojo is far cry from one trying to kill you. Remember, things are going to go a lot faster in a real fight. Once your skills have come far enough, make sure to pick up the intensity and speed. Your uke's (assailant's) body mechanics will be different and you may find some techniques useless, while others will be easier. As well, training with "intention" will allow you and your uke to feel realism in the attack. It doesn't have to be fast (don't get hurt) to get across the feeling that "if I don't move, I'm going to get hurt."
Both Cutter and Tommy had to make some difficult choices in their simplified, fictitious lives. As well, both had to face the consequences of those decisions, at least until the song ended or the credits started rolling. But things be a little different for us "fleshy" types. Life AIN'T the movies. We're all gonna have to face reality once our adversary gets out of custody, the hospital, or whatever. We don't look forward to such choices, but they'll be there. . .someday.
I hope this piece can serve as a catalyst for discussion. Questions of morality and the value of human life are fine over beers, but when the shit comes down, you're not going to have much time for "philosophizing." Hoping your good choices outnumber your bad ones, I wish you all good training.
After reading Charles' book, so many things standing in my way fell by the wayside. Like Charles, I am above average height. So many of the postures and techniques did not work well for me due to the fact that the weapons I was using were much too small or short. It took so long to arrive at this conclusion, but everything has been made clear. A warrior carefully selected his weapons directly to his size and strength, and selected the appropriate weapon to the task at hand.
Waza such as Ganseki Nage ("throwing the big rock") would never work for me because I couldn't find an Uke taller than me. This elbow throw works very well on an opponent that is larger than the defender, but is difficult when trying to break the balance of a smaller opponent. When I finally met an uke who was taller than me, I did eight variations of Ganseki Nage smoothly and easily.
When I was lucky enough to attend a few of Charles' seminars, I brought up the question of height differences. Charles reminded me that Soke Hatsumi explains how Taijutsu (body art) is different for everybody. No two people will move in exactly the same way. Body size affects how a waza is performed. Unlike some martial arts that demand that the student adhere to a rigid stance or technique, Budo Taijutsu allows for differences in size and strength. Shihan Stephen K. Hayes once said during one of his seminars that "Martial arts were created for people and not the other way around."
When I first starting using a Japanese Katana (foot sword), I also trained with other Ryu (schools) to learn better how to utilize my own Kenjutsu (sword arts) skills. What I got was a great deal of anger and resentment because I wouldn't "do it their way." I also noticed that in Fukoro Shinai (bamboo training sword) matches, I also won a lot! Seigan no Kamae (the perfect eye posture) sent these people into orbit because they had never heard or seen it before, and therefore, it was wrong. When I started showing up with my Katana sporting a long Tsuka (handle) I had made, this caused people in other schools to scream at me that I had it wrong again. Amazing how easy it is for someone to feel threatened by the truth. Indeed, Soke Hatsumi wisely said that "no school owns the monopoly on truth."
I use Ninpo as my outline for learning any new technique. Even when I practice European martial arts, I am using the waza learned from taijutsu. These days when I work on my Kenjutsu techniques, I favor my Scottish Claidheamohr (Claymore greatsword) in lieu of a Daito (long sword) or No Dachi (war sword). My Claidheamohr is taller than some of my students! A sword is a sword when it comes to swordfighting. It's all a matter of finding the right one for your own personal sword.
If you can find Charles' book, I recommend that you add it to your library. Among other things, Charles' offers a guide to determining the proper length of blade for you. Swords fall into various groups as far as size is concerned. Basically, they are: short sword, arming sword, long sword, hand and a half sword, two handed sword, greatsword and bearing sword. The expression of "the right tool for the right job" holds true in swordsmanship. When someone asks me what the right length for a sword should be, I tell them it shouldn't be too long to allow you to draw it out of it's sheath. Also, the scabbard shouldn't drag on the ground when you wear it on your side. This is not to say that you shouldn't be able to use ANY sword you come across.
I also read a great book by Mr. Jack Hoban entitled "Ninja Warrior Bojutsu Defense Techniques." Like Charles Daniel, whose knowledge was a great inspiration to me, Jack Hoban's book put so many things in perspective for me. I was really grateful that there were teachers willing to share their knowledge and expertise with the general public. Jack wisely advised the practitioner to be familiar with any length of weapon, not just whatever suited them personally. I believe that this attitude and perspective demonstrates what is most important about the art of Ninjutsu (the art of invisibility and endurance).
A sense of spontaneity and adaptability can mean the difference between defeat and victory in a defensive situation. As it was in old Japan during the warring states period (Kamakura), unpredictability can mean the difference between life and death when the chips are down. It is also true that one size does not fit all.
To keep up with the tradition of a Martial Arts school of more than 20 years, the instructors in Bujinkan Israel decided to create a guideline for ranks, to be maintained in all branches of the school. This proved to be a very difficult task. Although most of the active teachers are direct students of Doron Navon, and have had at least 15 years of training in the same class, each teacher has been used to his own way of instruction, his own approach, requirements and his own technique (and ego expression). Suddenly we all had to pull together and form a body of instructors with an agreeable medium to conform to.
When things had to be altered to conform with the original Densho and with some new requirements we added, we realized that in order to establish equality we must set a transition period, of two to three years, in which everybody have to work to adapt to the new requirements. Those ranked in the previous requirement system can keep their rank, but when going for a higher rank they have to show their competence in the new set. This rule is quite demanding, since each of the test (apart from the lowest kyu) starts with a simple but an comprehensive task: "You must be able to perform any requirement from all the tests up to your rank, including the one you are currently holding."
It takes only two lines in the test sheet, but it can mean many months of preparation.
The school comes to the aid of all instructors and students by setting seminars dedicated to the new sets of requirements. In mid August we had more than 120 students from all over the country coming to a 1-kyu seminar, that lasted seven straight hours, and at the end of the day we performed tests, and about 50 students passed the 1-kyu test. This seminar was compulsory for all the qualified instructors who actively teach, and it can be now noted as one of the most successful seminars we had in the past few years. What was really important was the unity of all the instructors, and the ability to sit down together and work on the differences. We decided also that in all tests for grades higher then 2-Kyu during the transition period a teacher from a different dojo will attend.
In all the tests now for the different ranks we unified the requirements to a set of five parts:
* Taihen - All the movements in this chapter were introduced gradually, and while the acrobats among us can utilize their skills for extra credit, the non-acrobats can still get the rank.
* Kihon - Attacks, Blocks, Evasions - in all the combinations found in the Bujinkan Densho, are introduced rank after rank with complex movements reserved for the higher ranks.
* Kata - Each rank test consists of at least three Kata sets from different schools of the 9-ryu in Bujinkan. The more complex Kata are required in the Dan-Grading.
* Randori - In all examinations from 3-Kyu and up the student must show his ability in Tai Sabaki, in a combat situation. Hence, the Randori, unlike a real fight, stresses that the students is entering this game to experiment new techniques, and not to win a fight.
* Kumite - This is the full contact fight, and the higher the rank tested, more opponents are coming against the student.
This basic structure appears in the tests we perform in all the ranks. It enables the senior teachers to assess the progress of the students and recommend a cause of action to improve on weak parts which need working on.
In the Dan ranks we follow these guidelines:
* 1-Dan: The student must show proficiency in all the requirements of the previous Kyu test, meaning the whole set of Kihon movements, the locks, the chokes, hand releases, body releases, Kata performance of empty hand Kata and of Hanbo, Bokken, Bo and Tanto.
* 2-Dan: The Ura Waza - all the counter techniques against the whole set performed in the previous test. This shows the ability of avoiding the techniques and the ability to go with the flow.
* 3-Dan: Here the smart use of combinations and Moguri is stressed in all techniques, showing the ability of the student tested to use his weight and mass to counter his opponent and to combine Tai Sabaki, Taihen, Kihon and Kata.
* 4-Dan: In this last test in the first Dan set, the Nagare (flow) is the center of attention. There is no resistance in the counter attacks, but flow of movements and harmony with everything.
* 5-Dan: It is performed with the emptiness necessary to feel Soke's attack.
Within the school walls, we try to establish a standard, and those who are awarded ranks merely by attending a seminar abroad, know better than to boost their new diploma when they come to practice. The mat is the only qualifying arena, and the hours spent training are the true judge. With the echo of Sensei's words brought by Masanori Harada in Ura & Omote (Volume 2, Number 8, August 1996), we also feel that a careful balance of ability and of the spirit is the key to a truly meaningful rank and a true Martial Art.
It was a hot day in August when I arrived at the dojo. I had never actually been in a ninja dojo before, had not even seen one for that matter. My enthusiasm was only diverted by the adrenaline I felt coursing through my blood. I figured it must be the excitement of finally getting involved after many years of self-training from books, misled informants and other pseudo-budo. All of that didn't matter now. I was there and I was actually doing it. I couldn't resist my feelings.
The teachers arrived and everyone was clapping. I scratched my head but agreed that they deserved it. We all filed in the dojo, changed, and lined up. Nothing mattered at that moment except that I was there. Then it happened. I felt the Bujin moving within. At that moment, I became a part of the warrior lineage that has stretched back for a thousand years. Then suddenly, the silence was shattered by the oath, "Shi-Kin Hara Mitsu Dai Ko Myo." About the only thing I could think of was the energy in that place. "Clap-Clap-Bow-Clap-Bow." And that was just the beginning.
I was soon deep into the practice and I found myself observing such simplicity, yet not being able to mock or mimic it quite literally to save my life. The Bakemonojutsu "ghost arts" eluded my spirit. Upon my own climax of confusion, I approached the master and asked him to demonstrate again. He happily agreed. I believe I attacked him, he was there when I started, and then he wasn't. I was caught in a wind and my next thought was, "How did I get here?" I was flat on my back with a sword in my face.
The Japanese saying, "Shoshin wasu reru be karazu" means, "Don't forget your first experience." It implies more than what is said. It has meaning for me to keep that first feeling alive throughout my training. I had experienced real ninpo, and I just can't leave it alone. I must pursue it, to, "Keep going," to find the living, breathing warrior within, my own bujin, and the budo way of life.
For a long time now I have been interested in police work, but I haven't ever taken the time to find out much about it. Finally I bit the bullet and signed up for a citizen ride along program with my local police department. I asked for an evening ride since it would allow me to really see what police work is like, and I wouldn't have to take time off from work. My ride came on a Friday evening for about four hours and it really opened my eyes and gave me a new perspective on a lot of things. The experience itself wasn't too noteworthy, but I did accomplish my goal and found out a lot about the realities of police work. What really struck a cord with me was some of the things my host officer was telling me. For instance in a part of town close to where I live there is a decades (or centuries) old conflict going on between northern and southern Afghanis, and that many of their kids (not much younger than myself) have actually seen combat in their native land and some have even killed.
This came as a shock to me. My neighborhood is fairly quiet, and I would never have thought twice about venturing into the so-called war zone. And this really illustrates the point that most of the authors of the posts and articles I had been questioning were trying to make. Know your area. Know the possible threats so that you can be better equipped to handle adverse situations. Be cautious in areas that you don't know well, even if they seem safe. All of a sudden these lessons really hit home.
Many people have suggested that you consider a ride-along with your local police department. What, better way can there be to really find out what your area is like, than to talk to the people who see the worst of it every day? I really can't emphasize the point enough. And of course the overriding point here is not to question, or worse yet, ridicule what you are given, but to make use of any and all information that comes your way.
In my training, I have always asked myself, "why do we have to keep working this every day." I'm sure many of you have asked something similar. What I learned from just one bit of information in a ride-along, could possibly have saved my life. Never again will I question the intentions or teachings of my instructors, well at least not without knowing something more about it. A little bit of knowledge truly is a powerful thing. Go out and find some for yourself.
For all the "supposed" differences that exist between the two, there are many similarities. One of these similarities is in the teaching methods employed. In both the Bujinkan and the Bujinkan Kasumi-An, each teacher has the privilege to use his own method of transmitting to his students the material that makes up the Bujinkan Hombu curriculum. There are no two teachers that do this in the exact, same fashion. They are all teaching Bujinkan Budo (or Ninpo, or Ninjutsu). Shidoshi Hayes' particular method of teaching is called Bujinkan Kasumi-An. The teachers who have decided to follow this system also teach the Kasumi-An curriculum. It is the same as saying the American Bujinkan Dojo, the Australian Kobudo Dojo, New York Budo, etc. I can go on, but I think I have illustrated my point. The names are just the names by which the schools, and therefore the training methods, are known -- nothing more, nothing less. Regardless of what it is called, both the Bujinkan and the Bujinkan Kasumi-An teach the same thing. Or, as Shakespeare would say, "A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet."
In each of these schools, the dojo-cho or head instructor has his own training philosophy, teaching style and training method. He uses the tools available to him to disseminate the information contained within the Hombu Dojo's curriculum to the best of his ability. Every instructor I have ever met -- whether he be in the Bujinkan or in the Kasumi-an -- has told me that one of the many different goals of ninpo is not memorize strategies, concepts, body dynamics or techniques, but to internalize them and personalize them to fit your personality, body type, strengths and weaknesses. You weren't supposed to become a carbon copy of your teacher. This is often referred to as finding the Bujin within you.
Why are there differences between the Bujinkan and Bujinkan Kasumi-An? I think people spend most of their time looking for differences that aren't there. They are not seeing the essence or truth of what is in front of their face. As human beings, we are all afraid of differences. A look at history confirms this. Whenever the human race has been confronted with something it did not understand or was new, it tried to control it or destroy it. It usually took an extraordinary person to rise above their fear to bring the new to the human race.
One of the main problems lies in referring to the Bujinkan and the Bujinkan Kasumi-An as two separate entities. They are not. I started training in Japanese martial arts when I was two years old, and this training was on and off until I started in ninjutsu four years ago. In every lesson I ever had, family was important. The idea of family has always been a part of every martial art. We are all family and we all carry the Bujinkan name. I train at New York Budo, a Bujinkan Kasumi-An school and I am a member of the Marishi-Kai, the Bujinkan Kasumi-An Instructor's Guild. However, when I have the time and money, I go to seminars at schools or training groups that are not affiliated with the Kasumi-An. Why do I train in this manner? Why don't I just train in the Bujinkan Kasumi-An or transfer to a Bujinkan School? I train both systems of teaching because they are both teaching the same art -- Bujinkan Budo.
In May of 1994, Black Belt Magazine interviewed Muramatsu Sensei. "It's a cultural thing, not so much a difference in technique, but a matter of the culture impacts upon the technique." Muramatsu indicated in this interview that differences in Japanese ninjutsu and American ninjutsu show up in small ways, such as in how a non-Japanese would attack as opposed to how a Japanese might attack. Overall, however, the ninjutsu techniques do not differ much at all in the two countries. He notes, "The way people live [in the two countries] is different." That is why Stephen Hayes developed his program to teach Americans to deal with situations native to this country, as well as to make it easier for Americans to learn Japanese concepts. Do students of the Kasumi-An learn the Kihon Happo? Yes, but not in the same fashion. The kihon happo, the Sanshin no kata, and everything else are included within the Kasumi-An curriculum; they are just introduced to students in a different manner.
The ease of learning from an American viewpoint is one of the reasons I train in the Bujinkan Kasumi-An. I also have learned over time that training in Japanese martial arts does require the study of older technique and body dynamics in order to understand modern techniques. It is an "In" and "Yo" approach to training. Older training methods are the foundation that flow like a circle into the new (or modern) methods which flow back to the older methods and start the cycle again in an unbroken circle. Learning the Japanese language and culture has also helped give me an almost complete view of the art. This is why I train in both systems -- though no one method is better than the other. In my experience, training in both has proven best. I do encourage people to find the training that suits them and the way their mind most easily learns the material.
I have often heard others criticizing other people's taijutsu. This is really unfair, considering that everyone learns differently and at different rates. Everyone's body is unique and they have their own strengths and weaknesses. The teacher they learned from may not teach in the same fashion as yours does, etc. To fairly assess someone's skills, you need to take all of the above into consideration. Because of this, no one person has the right to "bash" someone else's taijutsu. This includes Shihan and Shidoshi -- they are teachers, but they are also students and the above apply to them as well. I've heard things such as "This shihan's taijutsu is better than this shihans..." or "This shidoshi's taijutsu should be better for his rank..." Before you are caught up in criticizing someone -- be it a black belt, another kyu ranked student, shidoshi or shihan -- remember what I have said in this paragraph. For whatever reason, these people have "earned" their ranks. You would not want someone to say the same negative things about you.
Instead of bashing each other, we should be learning from one another -- as a family should. I think members of the Bujinkan should come and train with members of the Bujinkan Kasumi-An and vice versa -- sharing training methods and training philosophies with one another. We should be proud of each others' accomplishments and support one another. When one of us is doing well, we are all doing well. Cliched as it sounds, united we stand, divided we fall. Our tradition lasted 900 years because of family unity and loyalty. Let's ensure that this traditions lasts another 90o years.
The beginning of this association's activity was important in the spreading of ninjutsu in Finland. They arranged for teaching and held seminars. Seminar activity encouraged people to come for active training especially, when the teachers were experienced like Sven-Eric Bogsater (Sweden), Moshe Kastiel, Motti Nativ and Moshe Zouler (Israel).
Beginners came and went but a few became really interested in ninjutsu. Due to the activity of this "core group" a great number of independently practicing Bujinkan Dojos has grown all over Finland -- in Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, Lappeenranta, Jyvaskyla, Vaasa, just to mention a few of the larger schools.
"The torch of Bujinkan," as Soke Hatsumi expresses it, now shines brightly all over Finland.
Not everyone had a negative disposition toward us and we eventually got training space and classes going. We had to move the dojo several times, but we always had a place to train. Details like the lack of social spaces did not bother training.
HOWEVER, he cannot be expected to deal with letters arriving in all the languages of the globe! Even English is out -- anything not written in Japanese is quite likely to remain unanswered.
So how do you get a letter sent in Japanese? You find a translator. How do you find a translator? Try the following:
The person who translates your letter into Japanese will also appreciate having Soke's address in Japanese; this can be retrieved from the Web
Togakure Ryu Ninpo - Happo Hikenjutsu was founded in the late 1100s by Daisuke Nishina. It is the second oldest Ryu in Masaaki Hatsumi's Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu system. It is most famous in Bujinkan for the different Ninjutsu weapons as the Shuko, Shinodake, Shuriken, etc.
Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu - Happo Hikenjutsu was founded in the mid-1100s by Tozawa Hakuunsai. The oldest Ryu in Masaaki Hatsumi's Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu system, it is most famous for the Kihon Happo, Sanshin no kata, and Muto Taihenjutsu which are the basics in the Bujinkan system.
Kukishin Ryu Taijutsu - Happo Hikenjutsu was founded in the mid-1300s by Izumo Kanja Yoshitero. It is most famous in the Bujinkan for its many different weapon techniques.
Shinden Fudo Ryu Daken Taijutsu - Happo Hikenjutsu was founded in the beginning of 1100s by Izumo Kaja Yoshitero. Its claim to fame in the Bujinkan are its rough Jutaijutsu techniques.
Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo was founded in the mid-1500s by Sasaki Goeman Teruyoshi. Very little from this ryu has been taught to the western world.
Koto Ryu Koppojutsu - Happo Hikenjutsu was founded in the mid 1500s by Sakagami Taro Kunishige. Know for the Koppojutsu, and unusual Biken style of fighting.
Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu - Happo Hikenjutsu was founded in the mid 1500s by Uryu Hangan Gikanbo. Most famous in the Bujinkan for the many difficult Kamae and Koppojutsu.
Takagi Yoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu - Happo Hikenjutsu was founded in the beginning of 1600s by Takagi Oriuemon Shigenobu. Most famous in Bujinkan as a "Bodyguard School" it has fast and effective Jujutsu techniques, and Daishosabaki.
Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo - Happo Hikenjutsu was founded in the mid 1500s by Iga Heinaizaemon No Jo Ienaga. Famous in the Bujinkan for the Kamayari, and jumping techniques.
This work 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 noting please let us know so we could update and make this even more accurate. If possible, please try to back up your claims with some sort of verification or serious references. A big problem when one does research about the history of ninja and the Bujinkan is that when one compares information in books about the subject with general acknowledged history in history books they often do not agree. This means that all information in circulation is to be considered as gossip until it can be compared and proven against general history. This includes the text above.
Some of the people we wish to thank for the sources are here listed in no particular order. . . Sveneric Bogsaeter * Perti Ruha * Stan Skrabut * Mariette V. D. Vliet * Charles Daniels * Bernadette V. D. Vliet * Stephen Turnbull * Ben Jones * Paul Richardson * HATSUMI Masaaki * Gothenburg ninposaellskap (and possibly many others)
For more information like this, get hooked to Internet and browse over to http://www.algonet.se/~helmet/BUJINKAN/ or phone ++46-8-985948 to MokoNoTora FidoNet BBS.
This translation is allowed to be posted electronically or printed as long as it is left unedited or changed in any way. It is not allowed to be reprinted in any way for commercial purposes without permission. (c) MATS HJELM 1996
Line Drill (Sen Undo): For this drill both training partners are standing at a little over arm's length apart. The attacker throws a right lunge punch at the defender, who backs away at 45 degrees in a good ichimonji no kamae. (The defender may counterstrike or just evade the punch.) The attacker will then throw a left lunge punch, and the defender will again evade. The attacker will continue to alternate attacks while the defender evades. You may do this drill down the length of a hallway or room, or you may choose a pre-determined number of attacks (3 or so). Once the attacker has completed his attacks, he becomes the defender, and the drill begins again.
Beginners should start this drill slowly, with the attacker throwing punches and waiting before the next attack. The beginner should also check his kamae frequently, making sure that they are in proper alignment, with their knees bent, back straight, etc. Do the drill slowly enough to maintain proper form.
Variation: Cool things to do with this kata are to (1) evade to the outside of the punch, instead of the inside, (2) have the attacker throw jabs, which come a lot faster, instead of lunges and (3) speed it up. As mentioned above, don't start playing with variations unless you have the basics of the drill down and can maintain proper form!
Circle Drill (En Undo): Training partners are standing at a little over arm's length apart. The attacker throws a right lunge punch at the defender, who backs away at 45 degrees in a good ichimonji no kamae. (The defender may counterstrike or just evade the punch.) The defender will immediately step forward and deliver a right lunge punch to the attacker, who will back away at 45 degrees. And so on... I like this drill because it is a good warmup for the legs (especially the quads) and it is aerobically challenging. Remember not to hold your breath while doing this drill -- since you're going around in a circle you may get dizzy. Finally, don't "bounce" up and down, but see if you can keep your kamae level through the whole exercise.
Once you've tired out one side, switch to left lunge punches and work the other side. Or time the drill -- do 3 to 5 minutes on the left and then repeat for the right. This is an excellent drill for teaching flow, as you are always receiving and then attacking, falling back and stepping forward. Stop your partner on occassion and make sure to check for form! Good kamae is important in all of these drills.
Variation: You can do the same variations as the line drill. You can also substitute stomp kicks for punches (and you can counterstrike with either another kick or a punch). Again, check your form. If your punches or kicks are getting sloppy, slow it down or switch sides. You want to ingrain GOOD training habits not bad ones.
Gyaku Waza/Ukemi (Rolling Drill: Both training partners are again standing at a little over arm's length apart. The attacker grabs the defender's right hand and does an ura gyaku wrist lock. The defender defends by rolling out of the lock. If possible, the defender should also try to maintain hand contact during the roll. Standing up, the defender takes the attacker's hand and applies the wrist lock to him. The attacker rolls and stands up. Repeat.
Another good warm-up before going on to more serious training, this drill is very simple. Go slowly in the beginning since rolling too quickly will shoot your heart rate up. Maintain good kamae and do the best you can. You can try to do omote gyaku as well, although the ukemi will be different.
Have fun with these training suggestions!
I am collecting stories and have been categorizing them in the following manner:
1. Strange Tales Concerning The Masters These are vignettes the observers finds inexplicable. Something they saw their shidoshi, sifu, or sensei do that seemed magical to them. If there is a trick or energy technique that I understand I will explain and debrief. (This might be a picture book.) If it is an old yawner like the aikido iron arm stuff, I'll explain it from the viewpoint of the best written example. Also healing and intuitive interventions would be of great interest.
2. Migraine Madness Examples of the aches, burns and symptoms when chi does not manifest subtly or erupt when forcing energy or spontaneous triggering. There are various symptoms of improper chi work like third eye migraines, extremely tight neck and shoulder, trembling, halucinations, kidney failure, and other fun manifestations like exhaustion, delusions, and paranoia that usually go away when treated properly or the chi-worker backs off.
3. Barfing the Blues Away Dietary advice concerning what your body will let you eat and drink while purging the lifetime of acquired toxins. The Boss is not the only one who spent a long time living on yogurt and rice. What worked and what did not. I'll put in general guidelines and those of you that have tales to tell can fill in some of the specifics.
4. Things that Bump in the Night Historically and experientially there are experiences that are had by meditators that do not seem to happen to those who remain in "the mind of the everyday" or "Newton's Sleep." The process of building a consensus reality of what lurks in the void can only be constructed by sharing. I have told my stories in Path Notes and Shadow Strategies. I will be happy to share those I can get past my censors.
5. Towards a General Unified Theory of Spirituality (GUTS) Quantum Mechanics, Taoism, Relativity, and other disciplines suggest strongly that human evolution includes a mental development that is not exercised to any great extent by survival in the material world but does occasionally exert under special conditions. Some people have come up with some very interesting theoretical positions concerning why Budo is important and works. This not meant to be a rehashing of the Go Dai. I think Steve's presentation from the Mikkyo perspective is probably as good as it gets and that particular lung horse has been well flogged by Ninpo enthusiasts including my own offerings.
6. Techniques That Work and Why Meditation, breathing, posture sequences that have had a real and lasting effect will be described in detail so that esoteric boffins can replicate them to the best of their particular ability. No info held back. If you got one, flaunt it. Editorial commentary concerning correspondents may be added to your descriptions.
If you are interested in participating in this book in progress and would like some credit for your literary skills, submit your essays or tales to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Glenn J. Morris, 2825 Wilcrest # 350, Houston TX 77042. No guarantees that I'll use them, but at the least, we'll talk.
The focus of the book is on the effects of developing chi. There will be no recompense beyond immortality. Buyu Ikkan.
Dr. Glenn J. Morris
My daily routine has consisted of going to work, going to the dojo, then going home to work out, getting up the next day and doing it again. Other students noticed my continued presence at the school and asked if I had moved in. One of my friends pointed out that vacations were a good thing, kind of like a chocolate ice cream cone, and that I should have one... soon!
Eric (you know who he is -- my friend and fave uke) gently prodded me to take a week off. (The last time he "gently prodded" me, he threatened to break my toe.) He noticed that I'd been training almost non-stop -- with one notable exception -- for close to six months, so he threatened me with grievous bodily harm if I set foot inside of the dojo. That's what friends are for...
I've got mixed feelings about this rest period, though. Intellectually, I know that it will give my body the chance to rest and assimilate some of the information which I've been trying to cram into it. When I've taken time off from training in the past, I've found that when I came back to train, my taijutsu had actually gotten better. Resting actually helped me to improve.
Emotionally, though, it feels as if I'm slacking. Something in my mentality says go, go, go or you'll never be good enough. I've worked through more injuries than I can count -- injuries which have never healed quite properly. I've trained seven days a week -- four or five at the school and every day at home. It may seem like overkill, but I've even trained at work, using my lunch hour to hurl pencils at a wall (bo shuriken practice) or closing the door to my office so that I could practice sword draws in relative peace and quiet. All in the name of "getting better" and improving my skills.
Eric's also taking this week off from training, to rest and mend. Yet, he's looking forward to it. I'm currently counting the days and practicing "nin." Perhaps, that's really what this rest period is for. To come to terms with patience and learn "nin" from a different (read: non-physical) venue.
A week seems like an eternity to a "Budo-holic" like me. But, maybe, when I come back, I'll understand Moguri Dori a little better or I'll be able to throw Tim (picture Dolph Lundgren) or Hannibal (the Tazmanian Devil come to life) without even trying.
That's it for this month, guys and gals! As always, please e-mail the authors with your support and recognition. Also, please e-mail me with any errors or adjustments to this newsletter.
See you next month!
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 informaion. 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.