|[ olvasnivaló » Ura & Omote - 1997 February ]|
It felt like Spring was close at hand on the warm Tuesday in February when the Astock Budo Seminar was held at the Shibuya Forum 8. In the last segment of this martial arts seminar, Sensei Hatsumi Masaaki told about the eventful life of his teacher, Sensei Takamatsu Toshitsugu. In Manshu (Manchuria, China), Takamatsu Sensei enjoyed a reputation as a man of great bravery. While he is a remarkable master of martial arts, he is hardly known in Japan. From Takamatsu Sensei, the nine old-style schools of Japanese martial arts were handed down to Sensei Hatsumi Masaaki, who founded the Bujinkan Dojo based on Takamatsu Sensei's martial arts, art, ideas and personality.
Also, Hatsumi Sensei talked about his teacher, Takamatsu Sensei, which has been a rare opportunity. Furthermore, even though they cannot be loaned out, Takamatsu Sensei's training films were shown to the public. Being able to see Takamatsu Sensei's mastery of techniques has become a rare personal experience. Moreover, it was a pleasure to see Hatsumi Sensei in his younger days.
Here is Hatsumi Sensei's story:
"In the 25th year after Takamatsu Sensei's death, I am glad that we had a chance like this. I was groping in my pursuit of martial arts when I happened to meet Takamatsu Sensei. I was 27 years old. That part of my life, before meeting Takamatsu Sensei, is dead. Since then, I have felt as if I have carried on the spirit of Takamatsu Sensei. Takamatsu Sensei not only talked about form and technique, he drove them into my mind as a way of life. Until then, I only did foolish things and I think that because of him, I became an honest man. Ever since that chance meeting, every week for 15 years, I continued to travel from my home in Noda to his place in Kashihara, traveling at night to attend training, then returning home again at night. (The distance was more than 250 miles one way). Takamatsu Sensei was born in Kobe and studied, among other places, at St. George's English School, and a Chinese composition school. His father was a congressman in the prefectural assembly. As a young man he spent 10 years crossing China, doing diverse activities. He had many dangerous encounters, and it sometimes seemed that he would not survive. His martial skills were honed by experiences like these. He was always able to survive because his teachings focused on actual combat- 'Do it this way, and you won't live,' 'Do it that way, and you won't kill.' I think that because instruction used to be only one-on-one, it was possible for me to learn a lot in just 15 years."
"Sensei also painted often, as did I. Once, while I was pursuing my studies in mass communications and my health broke down, he painted a picture and gave it to me. It was a very stylish picture. During my recovery, the sensation I got from the picture was 'get well and enjoy life.' "
"Takamatsu Sensei's method of teaching was very unique. One time, he said we were going to practice shirahadori (stopping a sword with your hands), and he dragged me to the park at the Kashihara Shrine, then told me to catch the katana. But because my hands were numb from the cold, I couldn't grasp anything. This was not what he had planned. He taught with that kind of flexibility. He said that in martial arts, the situation is always changing. After training was finished, we returned to Takamatsu Sensei's house where I was staying. At such times, he would say 'You look cold Hatsumi, why don't you get under the kotatsu,' and he told his wife to bring me some hot sake. I think Sensei was grateful to get to bed. Then, the next day he said 'Last night, while you were sleeping soundly, I passed through your room 3 or 4 times on my way to the bathroom.' Lessons such as these were not taught."
When Hatsumi Sensei speaks about his teacher, his face is filled with a look of awe and respect. It took an extraordinary student to make such frequent trips for 15 years, from Noda in Chiba Prefecture all the way to Kashihara in Nara Prefecture, just as it took an extraordinary teacher to keep him coming.
Can you imagine our nervousness? But we didn't worry; we were "ninjas," and this was our "mission," and we were going to do it perfectly. This was the spirit we lived in at the time. The word of our instructor was the "law" and the "only truth," but this is another story. . .
We appeared just in time. Mr. Ben Jones translated English-Japanese. Mr. Ricardo Gonzalez translated Spanish-English. All the questions were done by Kim and me because the real journalists of the local newspaper didn't know a thing about ninjutsu so they let us ask all the questions. I'm sure that Soke knew immediately who we were -- because I felt it at the moment -- but he acted like the Grandmaster he is, and he treated us like "important journalists."
I've saved this otherwise secret (and heretofore, unpublished) interview for all of these years and am sharing it here:
Tai Kai Barcelona -- November 21, 1992
Question: For how long has ninjutsu been practiced in Europe?
M. Hatsumi (SOKE): It was approximately 25 years ago that the first European person interested by this art came to Japan. Since then, it has been growing slowly and it has only been a few years, less than 10, that it has known a big increase.
Q: How does the ninjutsu Grandmaster see the future of this art?
SOKE: More humane.
Q: Sensei Hatsumi, you often talk about peace and harmony, about
non-violence, etc.; in fact this is your continuous message. If peace is your
objective, why are you dedicated to teaching war and combat techniques, ways to
kill, etc.? How do you explain this?
SOKE: It's very simple; only if you know pain and death, then you can defend yourself from it. If you have this knowledge you will appreciate and defend life, much better, yours and that of others.
Q: Then, do you think it's necessary learn to kill ?
SOKE: Yes, it's necessary, because today there exist many criminals and killers and there is a lot of violence against defenseless people. It's necessary to protect yourself and to protect other people from this kind of aggression -- always working for justice and to defend the life.
Q: The ninja have a very bad and degenerate image that comes from films,
books, etc., in which they are often portrayed as vulgar assassins without
scruples. . . Are you doing anything to change this around the world?
SOKE: The only way to do that is by giving the knowledge of the true message. It is for this reason that we have these events --Ęseminars around the world. We also try to change things through the communication media. For this reason, I'm traveling around the world, because it's impossible to communicate and "connect" from far away -- I must do it personally, near, face to face.
Q: Is ninjutsu open to all the people? And to students of other martial arts?
SOKE: Ninjutsu's open to everybody who has a pure heart and wants to learn this art and use it for justice and harmony. In fact, many of the Bujinkan Dojo practitioners have been practitioners of other martial arts. They have changed to ninjutsu because they have seen that this was what they had always been looking for.
Q: Who created Ninjutsu?
SOKE: Ninjutsu has not been created. . . It would take a long time to explain it at this moment, but its enough to say that it was a "movement" that arose about 1,000 years ago in Japan to defend the justice and protect the defenseless people.
Q: Which is the ninjutsu objective at present ?
SOKE: For human beings to achieve happiness and well-being. For it, one of the most important things is the Nature/Human Being relationship. The harmony with the environment, with Nature is fundamental, because if we damage it, in fact we are damaging ourselves. If man destroys Nature, he destroys himself.
Q: How do you perceive the attraction that all of these people
(practitioners) feel to the culture of your country and your art?
SOKE: I feel very happy. Moreover, it's wonderful because of the possibility of knowing many different people and making friends -- everybody joined with a common feeling. Also it is fantastic be able to teach this art to persons whose role in life is to watch over and protect other people, like the army, different security corps, police, etc., and make them to understand the way of the pure heart.
Q: Don't you think that there are people that could use this knowledge to
cause harm and damage ?
SOKE: We can say that Ninjutsu is a science and we can compare it with other sciences, like chemistry, medicine or physics. It depends on the use that you give it. You can do good or bad things. In other ways you have to look for harmony. If somebody uses ninjutsu for bad things, he is working at destroying himself, because it is an anti-natural action.
Q: What can you say about ninja theme such as it's seen in films?
SOKE: During the 80's, there was a "ninja boom" in the U.S.A. spoiling and distorting reality. This affected me deeply and I decided go there personally to give the knowledge of true Ninjutsu with seminars, etc. Some books were published then, and I gave interviews, etc., to hopefully put an end to all the lies. It seems that at the end, people were beginning to understand. For example, the ninja turtles, well, they are funny and healthy and this contributes to erasing the bad image.
Q: How do you see the ninjutsu in Spain and specially in Catalonia?
SOKE: It is very good. There is quite a high level and much enthusiasm. Also here people have great hearts. They are really ladies and gentlemen. People come to enjoy the art and the knowledge, not the violence. It's not possible to find people with bad hearts here. I want specially thank you for the opportunity that you bring me by opening your communication media to give this knowledge to the public. There are other media that have their preconceived opinions and they are closed for us. I hope that this is going to change promptly.
2.Put the pipe insulation along the length of the pipe, making sure to leave at least 1 inch of empty space on either end.
3.With some scissors, cut 3/4 inch into the end of the insulation at 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and 9 o'clock, as well as halfway between each of those cuts (This will give you are total of eight cuts, and will make eight "tabs" like petals of a flower).
4.Cut a 1 inch wide ring from the excess insulation and then cut that in half to give you two crescents.
5.Take one of the crescents and tape the free ends together with some tape. Stuff it into one end of your "jo" to fill in the empty space, with the "fold" on the inside and the taped ends so you can see them (This is very important; if you don't add these pieces of insulation to the ends, thrusts will hurt your uke, and the pipe will eventually rip through the tape on the end).
6.Bring two opposite tabs (for example, 12:00 and 6:00) to the center, and tape them down with an 8 inch length of the 1/2 inch electrical tape. Tape the next two tabs down, perpendicular to the first two. The end of your jo should have an "X" of tape at the end, and four unfixed tabs. Tape the other tabs down, making sure to pair them with the tab opposite them. Continue to apply tape over the tip until all the insulation is covered. The end of your jo should now be rounded.
7.Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the other end of the jo.
8.Using the 1 inch electrical tape, wrap around the end of the jo (perpendicular to the length of the weapon) to cover the ends of the 1 inch tape. Slowly change your angle so you can begin to wrap the length of the jo (like a barber shop pole) with the tape. Go slow to make sure you do not have any bubbles or wrinkles in the tape. Eventually you should be wrapping at a 30 degree angle along the length of the weapon. Make sure to cover the already applied tape (so you cannot see any of the insulation along the length of the weapon). When you near the end, gradually adjust your angle so you eventually are perpendicular to the length once again. Cut the tape!
9.Drink beer and try your new weapon out on someone close to you. ;-)
*Hint: Trying to wrap the entire length of the jo by yourself takes a long time and is difficult to control. Two people working together can finish extremely quickly. My wife helped me make mine. For example, while I held down the opposite tabs, she cut the 1 inch tape and taped them down. Then, when we got to wrapping the entire length of the weapon, she held the jo in her hands and twisted it while I held the tape, making sure to keep a constant angle and regulating the overlap. We finished wrapping the entire weapon in less than ten minutes (Thanks, Hiroko)! Because a team can work quickly, you might want to think about having a "Jo Making Day" with some friends from your dojo. In just a few hours, everyone can be fitted with spanking new weapons with which to beat each other! Hey, what are friends for?
The dreaded "what ifs!" It is easy to be drawn off the subject like a runaway roller coaster and lose the interest of the class. One way to solve this problem is to disallow questions during class. However, how will you answer them after class? What one student is thinking may be echoed by more. Is that student's question relevant to their development? Resoundingly yes! It is also possibly relevant to every student's development.
Since there is value in these questions, how can you control the dreaded "what ifs" and use them to develop a topic?
Instructors that make a difference in learning; make it fun to learn and give their students insight into life are few and far between. Bud Malmstrom, whose knowledge of the subject matter of Bujinkan Ninpo Taijutsu is recognized world wide, recently taught a class entitled "Protecting a Friend" in Dayton Ohio at the 16th Annual Shadows of Iga Festival sponsored by Shidoshi Stephen K. Hayes. His class was so popular that he was asked to teach it three times; once for each of the three days of the Festival.
Analysis of Mr. Malmstrom's method of teaching proves it to be relatively simple and infinitely effective. His method can be duplicated by any instructor and is not limited to Martial Arts. Following is the basic class structure used:
1.Gave name and background. Explained who he is and why he is qualified to teach this topic.
2.Gave topic of class. Why this topic was chosen and how it can be applicable from different points of view.
3.Gave the students techniques and scenarios to work with. Demonstrated and explained what he wanted the student to accomplish.
4.Observed the class to pinpoint problems as they arose.
5.Asked if the students had any questions or difficulties throughout the class. Answered questions and addressed problems with solutions.
Most teachers follow this method of presenting material for any class. However, what was unique about Mr. Malmstrom's method that held the Festival class raptly attentive to every word? How did he control the direction of his class and not allow "what ifs" to distract his intent?
He took the dreaded "what ifs," applied them to his topic of protecting a friend and used them as a tool to develop his class. Step by step he escalated his "what ifs" from best case scenario to worst case scenario.
Built into every step from the simplest to the most complicated was the assurance of success. For example, the first technique was to get the attention of the aggressor away from his friend. The student stepped between the aggressor and the friend, pointed his finger at his own nose and said "Look at me!" repeatedly and forcefully. The student continued walking to lead the aggressor's body and attention away from the friend making sure to stay safely out of range of attack. The friend left the scene. The student ended with "Oh, never mind." while walking away.
Simple? Yes. Effective? Yes. This is the best case scenario. Mr. Malmstrom used his own life experiences with police work and executive protection to reinforce the effectiveness of this method. The conflict ended with no one getting hurt. All of the students experienced success. At that point every individual was completely committed to the class.
Mr. Malmstrom emphasized the important points, safety for example, with humor both verbal and slap-stick. He gave bad examples of how the technique can be bungled and good examples of how the problem can be handled. He captured everyone's attention by giving bad examples so ridiculous that the students laughed.
Good examples can be demonstrated by students who are particularly effective. This praises the student and keeps everyone interested. The student continues to pay attention in case he should be called before his peers later in the class.
"What ifs" can be the bane of an unprepared instructor. "What ifs" can be relevant to the goal of the class or take the class completely off track. Stay one step ahead of the student and imagine the "what ifs" yourself.
Mr. Malmstrom took one "what if" and intensified the situation: "What if the aggressor has grabbed your friends shirt and is about to punch?." He escalated the scenario one small step. He escalated the technique appropriately. The goal of this scenario was not to kill or maim, but to immobilize. He pointed out potential problem areas with two basic statements:
* What you *are not* trying to do.
* What you *are* trying to do.
Allow the class to ask questions at this point. If you get a "what if" question that you plan on using later, "Ahh, we're getting to that!" is an effective tool and creates anticipation. Watch the class. While observing the class, do not get drawn into separate discussions with individual students or groups. If a student is persistent, give that student your full attention. Look him in the eye and listen. Answer any questions. Ensure that you are approachable but remember that there are other students in the class. The instructor must lead the class. Diplomatically break away with a smile as you call the rest of the class to attention for the next demonstration.
Use a watch or clock to time your delivery and the amount of practice you allow for each technique. Balance the instruction with practice. As the teacher, you need to track the students to make sure that they do not run into problems. If more than three do the technique incorrectly, assume that you did not explain the technique in such a way that everyone understood. Stop the class. Explain the technique again. Reiterate the goal or purpose of the scenario. Demonstrate what was done incorrectly and correct it. Humor works well here. At this point have the students "shadow box" the technique. Let the class practice and time the exercise.
If everyone is successful, escalate the scenario! Again take the "what ifs" and make the bad guy badder. What if he is the Incredible Hulk? What if he has a knife? What if he has a gun?
The topic and goal of "How to Save a Friend" involved: "What if an aggressor was hassling or threatening," "what if your friend was being physically assaulted," "what if your friend is backed against a wall," "what if the bad guy is very large," "what if he has a weapon," "what if your friend is against the wall, the attacker has a weapon, and he is holding it to your friends neck."
Before the last technique or scenario reiterate the purpose of the class. Remind the class where they started (the first what if) and where they ended. Do this before the last technique rather than at the end of class. It is important to send the student home with a chance to do the technique with the main purpose firmly in mind. This way the student owns the knowledge.
Those dreaded "what ifs" have now become the wonderful "what ifs" of how to develop a concept and fill an hour with worthwhile knowledge that students will be grateful to learn. Allow a few minutes at the end of class to answer any final questions. If you prepare your class properly, there should be very few. Answer the questions, add variations and use humor to emphasize the important points. Even if a "what if" question will not lead the class in the correct direction, use it to point out such things as: "We would do something different if the attacker has a pump shotgun but I want you to learn this right now."
"What ifs" are not only an effective teaching tool. The martial arts student can creatively enhance study by imagining "what ifs" of his own. For example; would I do this technique differently if I were in a narrow hall way, at the ball park surrounded by people or even in a public bathroom stall. "What ifs" prepare you for the unexpected and give you a way to think of variations and problems before they arise. Self protection is optimized when you anticipate problems and already have them rehearsed in you mind. Reaction time is quicker. You will not have to think of what you should do, you will know.
Some questions to consider when training include:
1.What does the body do naturally? For example, when the eyes are covered, the natural reaction is to open the hands.
2.What do you want to do to the attacker's body? What do you want to do with your body? This is related to the mechanics of the technique. Focus on what is effective.
3.What result do you want? The result is to distract, immobilize or maim. One that is appropriate for a policeman on the street, i.e., use of deadly force would not be appropriate in a training class among friends.
Practice techniques with the following variations in mind: different body types, different attacks, different space limitations and other factors such as if the attacker has a weapon or realizing what weapons are available to you in different environments. Using "what ifs" enhances your training inside the practice hall and prepares you to defend yourself and those you love outside the practice hall.
I have met many practitioners who place a high premium on athletic abilities (i.e. strength and speed), and rely heavily on these as a substitute for learning proper technique. Furthermore, many believe that learning a handful of "tricks" and complicated "moves" is more important than learning and maintaining the solid basic techniques such as footwork, timing, and proper physical orientation and posture. The logic behind this goes something like: "If I practice this one advanced kata/trick long enough, eventually I can do it so fast and so strong that it will always work." This is fundamentally flawed. Although "tricks" can work and have their proper place, there is no substitute for solid knowledge of "the basics" and practicing them regularly, no matter how "tough" someone is or how "good a fighter" they are.
Without a solid foundation in the basics any advanced technique or trick is a very risky venture at best, fatal at worst. A simple basic technique, properly applied, WILL almost always work, no matter how big or tough the opponent. However, the more complicated advanced techniques probably will NOT work if poorly executed by someone who has not first put the time and effort into learning and maintaining the basics, no matter how "skilled" a fighter they may be. The point here is that in the real world it is not excessive strength or speed that counts -- proper technique and timing, balanced with adequate strength/speed will almost always prevail.
It would seem obvious, but going to the dojo once or twice a week is not all there is to good training. Spending time in individual study is equally important. This does not mean doing two-hundred kicks in front of the mirror at home every night or watching old Bruce Lee/Steven Seagal movies while having a beer, but it does include things like keeping up with a training log/notebook, periodic reviewing, and physical and mental conditioning. A notebook is obviously a very helpful tool in increasing one's fluency (and hopefully aptitude) in his chosen art, and requires regular attention and updating to stay current, but this is often overlooked. It is not enough to learn the basics and record them in your notebook; they must be practiced frequently to maintain the necessary skills. Periodic review can possibly lead to helpful new insight into old ways of doing things.
It sounds childish, but the simple regimen of eating right and regular exercise has always been the best way to stay physically fit, but the majority of Americans fail at this self-discipline for a variety of reasons, primarily a perceived lack of time and convenience. Everyone owes it to themselves to make the time and effort to get and stay in good physical condition.
Mental conditioning is more complex than physical conditioning but just as important. Often viewed by many martial artists as being limited to "focusing chi" or "extending wa" and similar metaphysical concepts, others see semi-religious meditation and/or developing a "competitive" or "killer" attitude as the end-all of mental self-discipline. The subject is much more practical than that. Mental self-discipline in the form of time management is important. Time must be set aside in one's schedule for training as well as for time off from training. One should make a training schedule and make their best effort to stick to it. Students and instructors should be realistic and avoid making unreasonable commitments they cannot keep.
When a student learns a new technique in class or a new way of doing an old one, mentally reviewing the technique later (preferably ASAP after class) will help him remember and do that technique better in the future. The more often he thinks about it and mentally reviews it, the better he will understand and be able to perform it "in real life," and be able to teach others. Developing these habits through conditioning one's mind is sometimes not easy but can have huge payoffs and is well worth the effort.
A good question to ask along with "What did I learn at the dojo today?" is: "Why do I study my chosen martial art?" Many people study martial arts as a recreational sport which provides a competitive physical outlet. Some are enthralled with the mystique and "magic" of the Orient and want to partake in an esoteric and sometimes metaphysical hobby. A relative few want only to examine the few proven control, fighting, and killing techniques that really work. The majority of people who study martial arts do so as a way to gain physical self-confidence, rank, or self-defense skills because they feel vulnerable in some way or desire an ego boost. Whatever the reason, it is essential that students recognize specifically what their own reasons for studying a martial art are and continually strive to progress directly towards their goals. Periodic re-evaluation of goals and the progress made is a part of this continuous process. There is always room for improvement, and no excuse not to better oneself. To do otherwise (resting on one's laurels or getting sidetracked) is to risk stagnating or even deteriorating the progress already made. If students are having difficulty meeting their goals they should ask their instructors for help -- that's what they are there for.
Students should never allow themselves to be complacent and settle for second best in their training, dojo, fellow students, instructors, or themselves. Compromise can be your truest friend and your worst enemy. If a student is unsatisfied with an aspect of their training, they should definitely consider (tactfully but firmly) saying so to their instructor and fellow students and work to improve the situation, even if that means looking for a new instructor or martial art to study. As a corollary students should always keep an open mind and be on the lookout for different people or a different martial art that may better suit their own goals. The thing to keep in mind is that students should study a martial art for themselves -- not anyone else.
The words of the great general are centered on the use of armies by generals but, as we will see, we are all generals in command of resources, allies, and every aspect of our lives, if we choose. By studying the martial arts for self-protection, each of us has chosen a path that will affect and insure success in our jobs, relationships, business dealings, and every part of our life.
The most important aspect of warfare, and the focus of the first chapter of Sun Tsu's work, involves the activities of laying plans. Forming the beginning, but impossible without the last chapter, it forms a circle; the prior planning and preparation for warfare is a major determining factor in the outcome of any conflict.
Sun Tsu said: "The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence, under no circumstances can it be neglected. The art of war is governed by five constant factors, all of which need to be taken into account. They are: the Moral Law; Heaven; Earth; the Commander; Method and Discipline.
"The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger. Heaven signifies day and night, cold and heat, times and seasons. Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death. The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness. By Method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the gradations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure. These five factors should be familiar to every general. He who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail.
"Therefore, when seeking to determine your military conditions, make you decisions on the basis of a comparison in this wise: Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral Law? Which of the two generals has the most ability? With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth? On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? Which army is stronger? On which side are officers and men more highly trained? In which army is there the most absolute certainty that merit will be properly rewarded and misdeeds summarily punished? By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat. The general who hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it will conquer -- let such a one be retained in command. The general who hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it will suffer defeat -- let such a one be dismissed! But remember: while heading the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules and modify your plans accordingly.
"All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe that we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder and crush him. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is superior in strength, evade him. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. Attack him where his unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
"The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat; how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose."
In studying a martial art for self-protection we must insure that we include within our training all possible conditions that we may encounter in our own defense or the defense of another. In translating the first chapter we must approach it, from the very beginning, on the most personal level. Just as our ninpo-mikkyo teaches us that the microcosmic is the same as the macrocosmic, the inner universe is the same as the outer universe, the grandiose lessons of the Art of War are just as applicable if the army is an army of one. The following analysis is offered to assist students with this personalization method.
The Earth factor is the understanding of distance, positioning, timing, angling, freedom and entrapment and the measurement and assessment of threat-levels and approaches closest to the essence of the physical principles of ninpo-taijutsu. Hatsumi Sensei, when faced with the task of selecting a title for his video training series, focused his attention here calling ninjutsu "Martial Arts of Distance."
Admittedly taking longer to master, the kata of ninjutsu require at least two individuals. This allows for the study and mastery of this distancing and positioning, something seriously lacking in the study and practice of the solo practice forms so popular in today's more conventional martial arts. Each one of us as the Commander of our own abilities, thoughts, words, actions and relations with others must develop the virtues and personality traits that will "naturally" provide for successful outcomes with as little effort as necessary. Mirroring the bodhisattva ideals, we must develop a deeper understanding of human nature and our roles, authentically speaking from the heart, acting with compassion, courage and self-discipline (as opposed to sympathy, anger, hatred or any of the other stronger emotions) as our sole guide if we are to be worthy of enlightened happiness.
Our Method by which we use our faculties as well as our own self-discipline in maintaining our levels of health, fitness, and skill level are the final constants to be considered in the quest for success. We must be able to "walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk," so to speak, and avoid the all too common habit of paying lip-service to that which should be done instead of taking the time to actually do it and thus be able to speak and act from experience. It is not enough to believe that your techniques will work after practicing them in step-by-step fashion with your favorite training partner. We will learn much more by seeking out and finding the conditions in which a given technique will fail and then using that information for further exploration. We must rely on our own self-motivation, inspiration and discipline, especially after receiving our black belt, dan rank goal, or teacher's status, to continue our practice, fitness and exercise routines, and mental and spiritual study if we are to remain in a state of readiness.
Only after we know our own strengths and limitations can we exploit those of our adversary. As spoken by Sun Tsu twenty-five hundred years ago and mastered by our ninja spiritual ancestors, "All warfare is based on deception." But, if we lack the proper preparations, who will we be deceiving: the enemy or ourselves?
Keeping the mouth shut is a hard concept to grasp when the zeal of training overtakes you. This is something I've had to learn. To just "shut up and train" is what has to be done in order to advance. Newbies to the art like myself may relate to what I am saying. You're excited about learning. You want that black belt. You want status. You want to BE SOMEBODY (awakening to the truth that pride and ego play a tremendous part in our thought process).
But let's face the truth Đ we're just a white belt, not Hatsumi's right hand man. We haven't written books on the subject of Ninjutsu or filmed impressive videos. We haven't been training for over a decade. "Someday" you think to yourself, but your desire for the prize says "Today." It's like the old saying that Rome wasn't built in a day. And a good martial artist isn't created from your skills playing Mortal Combat III on your home entertainment system. It takes time to develop skill. It takes time to condition our bodies. It just takes time in general -- and that means it takes dedicated time to the art. Not your idle free time: dedicated time. Doing a good "Ichimonji no kamae" in the mirror as you brush your teeth in the morning doesn't count.
One of my favorite Hatsumi quotes says "We have little time for the idly curious, or the mentally unstable." But even I've failed, the "perfectionist-Virgo-can-do-no-wrong-man of the universe." I spend too many long hours at work, allocate time for the wife, eating out, going on trips, deadlines, bills, friends, relatives. Ninjutsu is still on the list, but its way down there sometimes. And sometimes it can't be helped. But how right is it to call myself a practitioner of Ninjutsu if my practice isn't a concentrated effort enough to break a sweat? We've gotten over the decision making process of a new student. Ninjutsu is the art for us.
Next is deciding how bad we want it, not to be insanely driven, but to remain dedicated. Take one day at a time, train often, condition yourself, and learn to be consistent. Humble yourself to the wisdom of others who have gone before you. LEARN from them. LEARN from your mistakes. Go to training each day with the sole intent of becoming a better person, not a martial arts movie star, not a bad ass. Concentrate on the tasks at hand, learning move by move. Try not to see the whole picture, but break it down to the individual pieces. Learn each piece, and then put the puzzle together as you go. By being a humble spirit in training you avoid the foot in mouth disease I spoke of, you learn quicker, offend others less, and get the most of the time you dedicate to your training. Obviously this message is not for everyone. But I know that there are others in cyberville who have this same desire but lack the "time" to make the dream happen. Good luck.
To apply for the permit, you need to submit two application forms available at the Division and a register of katana, which you will receive when you purchase the weapon (Note: a copy is not acceptable). You will also need two photos showing the whole katana without a sheath, and two photos of its hilt (the so-called "nakago") showing the inscribed name of the swordsmith. Either black and white or color photos will be accepted.
You can either go to the agency yourself or send the necessary documents by mail to apply for the permit. If you go through the procedure by mail, obtain two of the application forms by sending a letter, enclosing a 80 yen stamp for return postage domestically (For overseas addresses, return postage will be 210 for Asia, Guam, Midway, etc.; 270 for Oceania, the Middle East, North America, Central America, Europe, and the former Soviet Union; and 330 for Africa and South America).
Fill out the forms and send them with the necessary documents, enclosing 440 yen in stamps (350 for the registration fee and 90 for return postage) to the agency if your address is within Japan (If you are writing from abroad, return postage should be 330 for Asia, Guam, Midway, etc.; 430 for Oceania, the Middle East, North America, Central America, Europe, and the former Soviet Union; and 530 for Africa and South America). It takes 1-2 weeks for the permit to be issued domestically. Please allow a little more time for international addresses.
If you want to carry the katana on a plane, you have to complete the necessary procedures at the airline counter and give the permit to Customs.
Japan Sword Co., Ltd., a katana shop in Minato Ward, Tokyo, applies for the permit for purchasers. The fee is included in the purchase price. The shop is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and is closed on Sundays and national holidays (address: 3-8-1 Toranomon, Minato Ward, Tokyo. Tel. 81(Japan)-3-3434-4321). Inquiries may be made in English.
"The ryu originated by Genpachiro Temeyoshi in the mid 12th century. It is
traced back to Kosshijutsu which was introduced by Izumo Kanja Yoshitero."
-- Hiden Ninja Submission.
Kuki Takei from the Kuki family of Kukishin ryu, was also from the Shinden Fudo ryu.
Takenaka Tetsunoke, senior student of Jigoro Kano (the founder of Judo) was at one time a student at the Shinden Fudo ryu Dojo.
Kuden says that Yari was taught to Izumo (the founder) by Tengu, and these
techniques still remain a secret today. The school uses several different types
of Yari, Ono (war axes), O-tsuchi (war hammers) and Naginata. Hojojutsu (the art
of tying someone with a rope) is used along side the Taijutsu, to help restrain
-- Paul Richardson's Book.
The school specialized in Jujutsu and Iainuki (fast sword drawing)
--Ninja, A. Adams, page 166.
Takamatsu started training at Toda's dojo when he was 9 years old
Shinden Fudo Ryu suits small and weak persons very well.
-- Doron Navon, Ninja magazine #17, page 10
"The law of the Dojo:"
1.To know that patience comes first.
2.To know that the path of Man comes from justice.
3.To renounce avarice, indolence, and obstinacy.
4.To recognize sadness and worry as natural, and to seek the immovable heart.
5.To not stray from the path of loyalty and brotherly love, and to delve always deeper into the heart of Budo.
-- Meiji 23 (1890) Spring, Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu
-- Showa 33 (1958) March, Takamatsu Toshitsugu Uou
Ikai Hogenbo, Tesshin Sakabe, Tendo
1.Izumo, Kanja Yoshiteru (Kumano)/Yeikyu (1113)
2.Minamoto, Hachiman Tamenari/Genyei (1118)
3.Minamoto, Hachiro Tameyoshi/Hogen (1156)
4.Mizuhara, Kuro Yoshinari/Genkyu (1204)
5.Mugaibo, Shinnen/Tempuku (1233)
6.Ohkuni, Zenhachiro Yoshinobu/Bunyie (1264)
7.Hata, Saburo Sasukeyasu/? (? )
8.Kotani, Yuhachiro Nobuchika/Geboko (1321 or 1331)
9.Kaneko, Jinsuke Yoshikiyo/Shohei (1346)
10.Tajima, Genkoro Nariyoshi/Genchu (1384)
11.Kammon, Kokanja Yoshikane/Shocho (1428)
12.Kimura, Hozen/Kwancho (1460)
13.Ibuki, Yoshihaha/Bummei (1469)
14.Otsuka, Hakushi Nyudo Tadamori/Yeisho (1506)
15.Otsuka, Daikuro Tadahide/Taiyei (1522)
16.Abe, Muga/Tensho (1573)
17.Koga, Taro Kyokokaku/Tensho (1573)
18.Katayama, Hokinokami Mori Hisayasu/Bunroku (1592)
19.Shindo, Unsai/Kwanyei (1624-1644)
20.Odagiri, Tohyoe Yoshihiso/Kwanyei (1624-1644)
21.Iida, Jubee Tameyoshi/Meiwa (1764)
22.Mori, Genroku Masahide/Bunkwa (1804)
23.Toyota, Jubei Mitsuyoshi/Keiyo (1865)
24.Toda, Shinryuken Masamitsu (Kobe)/Meiji (? )/(1824-1909)
25.Takamatsu, Toshitsugu (Nara)/Taisho (1909)/(3/1/1888 - 4/1972)
26.Hatsumi, Masaaki (Noda)/Showa (1968)/(12/2/1931 - )
Other weapons used in Shinden Fudo Ryu are the:
Thanks to all ho have helped me with this! ...especially Peter Carlsson, Rob "Ohkuni", and many others.
About ten minutes before the end of class, Nick showed a technique for getting out of a headlock using a sideways bodydrop. I hadn't seen this kata before, so I "tagged" Eric, another black belt and one of my best friends, because I trust him with my life. Along with Aleksandra, a recent 5th kyu, we worked on figuring out the nuances to this technique.
I don't know how my foot got trapped. I had Eric in a strong headlock, and felt his body sliding down, pulling me off balance, as it had a dozen times or so before. This time, however, as I fell, my left foot was pinned by something. . . Eric's side, perhaps or maybe his arm. I felt strain in my knee and in my ankle and as I went over, a loud "POP" sounded from my ankle. Surprisingly, I felt nothing. . . then tingling pins and needles in my foot. I sat on the mat, my feet outstretched. Eric looked at me concerned. "Was that you or was that me?," he asked. "It was me." At that instant, Nick called the class back to demonstrate the next technique. Needless, to say, I didn't do the next technique. As a matter of fact, I haven't trained since that class because I sprained my ankle and pulled my Achilles tendon.
As my friend Holly says, "Everything happens for a reason." Other than the break from my "overtraining" (as Eric puts it), this incident is teaching me a lot about patience. Patience with others. Patience with my body and its natural healing process. Patience with myself -- especially with myself.
It was hard getting around on crutches, but I gave myself the time I needed to adjust. I would like to say that I was as patient when I had to learn to use a cane, but I wasn't. I still can't walk as fast as my friends, now, and I definitely can't run for the bus, but I don't get angry at myself for it anymore. I also used to get impatient with myself for not being self-sufficient. Now, I know that its OK to ask my friends for help and that its not a burden on them.
My biggest difficulty with being patient is that I hate being unable to do anything physical. In turn, I still get angry at myself sometimes for not healing quickly enough. I want to work out. . . to train. . . to go rock climbing with my friends. . . to run. I'm slowly learning to be more patient as I visit my physical therapist and wait for my ankle and Achilles tendon to heal. Impatience in this case could have grave results, leading to a more serious injury later on, such as a torn or ruptured Achilles tendon. Impatience is also useless, as it does nothing but waste spiritual and emotional energy.
I'm by no means perfect. Heavens knows that I gripe and complain about my inactivity. At the same time, I'm trying to do less of that. I'm channeling my energies into creating things -- doing needlework and knitting -- which also happen to require a lot of patience as well.
Jean-Pierre, our head instructor, once joked, "Do you know what the Japanese word for 'patient man' is? . . .Ninja." I'm working on being a "patient man."
* * * That's it for this month folks! Please be sure to e-mail the authors with your comments. AND please, please, please send articles to keep this newsletter going. See you soon! * * *