|[ olvasnivaló » Ura & Omote - 1997 Spring, Summer ]|
Well, we're certainly trying, Soke. Most certainly trying . . .
May all your choices be good ones.
This is a collection of quotations made by Masaaki Hatsumi-sensei during practice sessions at Ayase, as recorded in my training diary. I try to remember the general flow of the training sessions when I record my thoughts, because, as Hatsumi-sensei once said, "I teach from what I see around me." As such, I have tried keep these quotes in essentially the same order as they were made during the training session, but naturally memory does play its tricks. These are, naturally, my interpretations as to what Hatsumi-sensei was saying, based upon my feelings at the time. They should not be viewed as verbatim nor as "official." Words in parentheses are my comments, most of which are for clarification.
"There is no need to buy a jo. Just go cut one down. This is one that Noguchi-sensei cut down. What's it made out of? (Noguchi answers that it is a type of tree that is usually covered in thorn-like protrusions. He had shaved them all off, but the weapon still had a varied texture.) Really? I never would have guessed . . . You see how it is thinner on one end than the next? This would be deadly when flailed like this (spins the weapon). See how fast it goes because of the extra weight? You must know your weapons in this way."
"These five years are very important. I have been planning on this five-year cycle for a while. We have done bo, naginata, yari, ken, and so on. For those of you who have been training with me, you will have come to understood some important points of Taijutsu. For those of you who haven't, just keep training and things will come to you. "
"People are training very well all around the world. I feel that the ones who are slowest in their development are actually here in Japan. Train hard; it's time to catch up."
(Concerning an "orientation" movement) "Spend about ten minutes doing this, getting accustomed to your weapon."
"With a thinner jo, strike them with (the corner of) the end, rather than hitting them with the length, which may break your weapon. As you can see, this will scrape off part of their face. Be sure to know your weapons well andtheir limitations, and use them to your advantage."
(While showing a particularly nasty technique) "You can strike them in the neck, or nose. You could also hit them in the mouth like this. (Puts the end of his jo in his uke's mouth). Then you can step on it and knock their teeth out."
(After a practitioner gets hit during a multiple attacker scenario) "Do you know why you should not try to hit them with your weapon? Because you will forget about the potential for other attackers. There could be others. Remember that."
"You must escape in such a way that other opponents cannot follow you. (i.e. behind others or objects)"
(As his uke rolled to escape, Soke placed his jo so the uke would roll over the top of it.) "If you do ukemi too much, as in this case, you may actually be putting yourself in danger."
"There is no need to roll over when you do a yoko nagare. There is no need to expose your back. Just do this. (Lays down). There are many type of yoko nagare. This is a type of yoko nagare. (Jumps a little to the side as he leans his body.) So is this. (Does another henka) That is why one cannot put out books. These are all 'correct.'"
(Concerning sweeping your jo to knock your opponent with the other end) "Keep your elbow in tight on this one. And don't lean. It's much faster if you stay upright. (Whacks his uke in the head with a fukuro shinai) See! (Laughs)."
"There is no need to use force here. Just extend your leg, and they will trip and fall."
"What happens if they don't fall down, then just do this. (Switches to an arm bar and folds up his uke like a pretzel.)"
(After beating up a practitioner) "That's your otoshi-dama from me." (Laughs) (Note: An otoshi-dama is a yearly gift of money given to children by their family members. It's the equivalent of a Christmas present in some Western countries.)
"There is no need to go and buy a jo. Just go up to the mountains and cut one down. Be careful; it's cold and snowy right now. Find a weapon that suits yourself. Just don't steal anyone else's, otherwise you'll have to reckon with them. (Laughs) "
"You should all bring weapons that pose no danger to your partners."
"I am convinced that by the end of this year, everyone's Taijutsu will be very good."
"The jo is a weapon of either a shogun or an old man. It is the weapon of someone who knows many other weapons. That is why we have worked from six-foot staff, to yari, to naginata, to sword, and now on to jo . . .Move as if you are a shogun."
"If you are not training with me, you do not understand. For those of you who have not been training here five years, keep training."
"If your teacher is a fool, even if you train hard all your life, in the end, you too are still a fool."
"Tai sabaki is very important here. Please learn it."
"This is not the significance of techniques. It is the flow that I've mentioned before. This is the flow that those of fifth-dan and beyond should be practicing."
(After he saw someone do an amazing escape, Soke asked him to attempt the same technique on him. Soke sent his uke crashing to the floor, flustered, then said,) "Do not be surprised by amazing things. Beautiful things are not to be awed. Beautiful things are to be broken." (He then turned to the uke and said,) "Thank you for teaching me . . That is why I insist that I am zero. This is because I learn from you all."
"Those of fifth dan or above training together should be helping each other to learn, training together, learning together."
(Oguri-sensei was asked to speak about a move Soke put on him) "Normally, when you try to hold someone down, you rely on muscle and bone. But when Soke held me down, he was encompassing everything without muscle. Then by tighten ing his muscles, he could react to anything I did, and defeat me."
"You may see martial arts, such as those coming out of China, and think they look like monkeys, but they are effective. The reason is because they incorporate these principles of jojutsu."
"Everyone watch Noguchi-style . . . Monkey-style."
"By lifting the arms (like a bird taking off) you are actually preserving your balance. It is very important to do this. This is the third point of today."
"If you don't move your body inside, you are open for a counter-attack. Please remember this."
(To a practitioner) "When people start doing randoori in this way, many times they get caught up in the moment and forget the importance of distance. Please be careful."
"Everyone fifth-dan and over should be learning from each other, helping each other. I am still learning from Takamatsu-sensei today."
"Please bring weapons that you will not harm your uke with."
"Please tell Jack (Hoban) that everyone should prepare such padded jos for use at the New Jersey TaiKai."
(After making everyone use one practitioner's padded jo, he quipped) "Don't let your 'stick' fall into other people's hands." (spoken with definite Freudian implications)
"If you count on being able to do ukemi to get yourself out of a dangerous situation you may actually put yourself in an even more precarious situation."
"Don't do this one for real with a hard weapon. It will crack open their head and spill their brains. Be very careful."
"Be aware of your surroundings with this one. There are still people who do not have sufficient ukemi who may get hurt. Be careful."
(Concerning a technique whereby you are carrying your uke on your back) "Those of you who have a light partner are lucky with this one. (laughs)"
"Whether they punch or not is insignificant. By moving your body into them like this, you will cause them to lean over . . . You must think of the physics of these techniques."
"You don't want to bump into them because they'll fall over. You just want to hold them with your body."
"By learning these techniques, you can see the scariness of the martial arts."
"The reason why you pull them on to your back is that there may be someone behind you, and you can use them as a shield, them dump them." (Drops his uke. Then begins the technique again whereby he picks up his uke on his back again) ". . .You can dump them forward as well, if someone is in front of you." (Does so.) (Not bad for a man past legal retirement age, if I do say so myself.)
"If your opponent is very large, it might be dangerous and foolhardy to pick him up. (Laughs) So instead, do something like this" (He then proceeds to tip his opponent over, does a forward flip, lands with his back on his uke's chest and then pretends to elbow the poor sap's groin and face simultaneously.)
"You are all too rigid, trying to make it into a set pattern. Don't get stuck on the technique. Let the first punch 'live', just don't be there. Then make your move when the second one comes."
"Don't have the feeling that it matters to you that you have to do a move. Otherwise, they will be able to read you . . . It's like those dull-witted attempts to generate ki."
(When the interpreter couldn't quite understand what Soke was saying, Soke said to a nearby Japanese person,) "Go ahead and try to explain it to him. Interpretation is another part of training, and to understand this art it's important you understand what I'm trying to say . . . And if you can't explain it, well, just tell him anything. (Laughs)"
"If you're not in a position so your foot can reach, move your body to get where you need to be. Don't be silly, people."
"When you see these techniques, you understand why I say it's important not to teach bad people. Teach only those with good hearts."
"Practice more with the jo and with the fist."
"Work on striking these various targets. There's the foot, shin, leg, chest and face. Spend a few minutes trying to hit these targets."
"Watch everything around you, not just your opponent."
"Watch your distance... You'll notice when you practice, you tend to move in the same fashion and with the same distance. This is a bad habit that must be resolved . . .
"Practice it this way (first kick) 'KYO' (second kick w/o lowering the leg) 'JUTSU' . . . Kyo . . . jutsu . . .Kyo . . . jutsu. Practice this."
"These past five years that began with the 6 ft. staff have been part of an overall program."
"I'm an old man now. That's why I'm teaching you the old man's weapon."
"If you have weak legs, you need to use a jo. If you have strong legs, you can actually *use* a jo . . . I hope you all understand what I'm trying to say."
"You've gotta hide your intentions. You've gotta hide your personality."
"It's like far-sightedness or near-sightedness. People with these afflictions always adjust at the same distance. Your blood type as well. (Laughs) (Note: For those of you who don't know, there is a belief in Japan that your blood type determines your personality. This means that someone who is type A will tend to react in a certain way, and differently than someone who is type B, for example.)"
"All weapons are the same."
"There are higher ranking people around the world who would think that this technique is advanced, but there are people of lower ranks who can do it, while they themselves cannot. There is no difference in ranks in that sense."
"Because we have a lot of space today, there are many jo throwing techniques you all can practice."
"Step back when you want to throw your weapon (to cock it, in a sense) Then send it out (parallel to the ground) like this."
(During a four-on-one attack) "Throw the jos at the same time. Try to get the timing right."
(To the poor guy in the middle) "If you can catch one of the weapons being thrown at you, do so."
"The reason why I am doing this is so that someone, somewhere can understand what Takamatsu-sensei was trying to teach me. Right now, I feel there are many people all over the world who understand. In fact, thousands who understand what I'm trying to teach, and this is good."
"The movement of this martial art is completely different from other arts."
"When you understand this movement, you will understand what nature is."
"Jojutsu incorporates all Taijutsu. That's what makes it difficult. If you don't understand this, you don't understand Taijutsu."
"These last five years have been extremely important. Starting next year, I will begin teaching the Biken-jutsu, beginning with Shinden Fudo Ryu Biken Jutsu. The new cycle will last nine years . . . That is, if I live that long. (Laughs)"
"Don't do this technique with a hard weapon; you'll crush their throat. That's why it's important everyone have soft weapons for training. (Turns to a practitioner) Thank you, for introducing us all to your padded weapon the other day."
"Jojutsu is very difficult in that it is a cluster of kyojutsu. If you don't have good Taijutsu, you don't have good kyojutsu, and that affects your jojutsu."
"This is not striking the hand. Try to lay your hand on theirs; don't strike."
"You need to have this kind of swaying. (Let's his weapon tick-tock like a grandfather clock)"
"Practice this for five minutes until it becomes comfortable."
"It seems like everyone's pretty much got it so let's move on to this one."
"The jo is not just doing nothing here. Look at the angle and notice how it is actually supporting the leg. This is very important."
"The jo can do anything a sword can do, but you can hit with the other side as well." (Laughs)
"This is why my shuto hurts so much when I do it. Because I am using my entire body to strike, not just my arms."
(After tilting his jo with his foot) "This is not just kicking the jo. You are doing another form of yoko nagare, but it's hidden. Do yoko nagare, but don't show them you're doing so."
"Don't forget the theme for today when you practice these new moves."
"If your opponent wants your jo, give it to him. Just give him your jo. Say, 'Here it is,' like this. Then >whack!<" (Pulverizes his uke).
"I will leave you with this technique."
"I used to give the godan test by whacking down without impunity. Many people ended with red welts on their heads like samurai hairdos."
"There were some excellent TaiKais this last year: Holland, Atlanta, Aliante . . . And they all have videos available. I would like all of you to get a hold of them. By watching them, and the videos I will be making, you will get the feeling of how to use ken, tachi, dai and sho."
"Do not stop. You must keep flowing onward. (Proceeds to show his poor uke what he means by kicking, then punching him, before throwing him.)"
(After surveying the room and seeing several people with the wrong distance, Soke adds) "If your distance is far away, there are times when you can bring your (l.) foot forward... Okay, everyone, do this with me . . . One (steps back). Get your distance here so you can move . . . Two (steps l.f. forward). See, from here you can do anything. Three . . . (Pulverizes his uke)."
"Don't grab the jo here. Just caress it like this. That way when you turn your body, you're using your spine, not your arm strength, to hit them."
"Use your body to punch, not your arm."
"The reason why I have both people demonstrate the technique (when I call them out) is so both people have an equal chance to practice their ukemi."
"I have been teaching so people all around the world will understand this art. And there are many good people everywhere. It is a good thing so many people from around the world understand. Please keep going."
"Don't be timid in your training."
(After watching someone do an unexpected counter on his partner, Soke commented) "If you see an opening like that, take it. That was very good . . . (Then, turning to the person who was countered, he said) Try it again . . . (This time the practitioner properly covered himself so the counter couldn't be repeated. Soke was obviously pleased.) You see, *that* is training. Training is why he was able to learn from that counter last time and keep it from happening again. Learn from this."
"Everyone has very good movement today. So often there is too much 'talk' about other people's techniques. But those who criticize others in that way do so because they cannot really do the techniques themselves. There is no need for talk. Train!"
"There are many such techniques incorporating this principle. I am showing you just one of them. Play with this for a while."
"If your opponent is big, the technique will change in this way. You can use your elbow to strike (into the face or neck)."
"It does not matter what size they are. You must be able to move freely."
"Techniques are no big deal. Don't think too much of yourself if you got one particular technique down. There is always a counter. And a counter to that as well."
"Taijutsu is endless."
"This technique, as with any in Taijutsu, encompasses the past, the present, and the future. People who look at only one of these three are lost, just like people who think only of themselves."
(After throwing his uke effortlessly) "People are no big deal (Repeating almost exactly his earlier statement that "Techniques are no big deal.")
(To a practitioner having some difficulty) "No, do it again. Find the natural power you just had. There's no punch this time . . . One more time . . . (After a few minutes, he let the person sit down to think about his training.)"
"I will be teaching at Someya dojo on Sunday. Everyone is welcome."
"There were three TaiKais this last year-in Holland, Atlanta, and Alicante. I would like everyone to view these videos. (They are available from the organizers of the TaiKai's respectively) By doing so, you will come to understand the strength of the Bujinkan. In the future, the (1996) Daikomyosai video, as well as a ken, tachi, and biken video will be released. Please watch them all."
"The arts of the Bujinkan are not fossils; they are living. That is why I say that everyone should be training with someone who trains with me *now*, not those who trained in the past."
"The arts of the Bujinkan are faster than the Internet. They are evolving as you sit there looking at your screen. Remember that."
"There are many wonderful fairy tales all over the world. They play a significant role in that there are many important good things to teach children. Unfortunately, there are very few good fairy tales in Japan today. That is why I wanted to make 'Jiraya' (the TV show he wrote and starred in a few years back)."
"This is why the 'densho' (scrolls) and books are meaningless. This is why no one could ever steal the arts of the Bujinkan. (Soke ties up his uke effortlessly) Can you write *THIS* in a book!?! You wouldn't understand it if you read it in a book. You probably wouldn't understand it if you saw it in video. (Hell, folks, I didn't understand it, and I saw it live! Oh, well. That's Soke for you. (smile)
(To a practitioner) "If you learn to use your space and angles, it does notmatter if your opponent is large or small, fat or thin. It'll work."
"I said a similar thing on 'Jiraya' once . . . I sometimes go back and watch it. Among the 50-odd episodes, there are budo lessons within them."
"It's hard to understand life. That's another example of when not understanding is alright. It's better if you don't know when you're going to die . . . If you knew when you were going to die, you wouldn't live life in the same way -- just experiencing life for what it is, experiencing its beauty and goodness."
"That's what I'm teaching you -- life."
"I have a few of the articles for the new Sanmyaku to show you . . . Because there are so many people in so many countries involved in the translation and distribution of it, there are some copies running a little behind. I've been trying to give everyone time to catch up before releasing the new one."
"You don't take books to war. You take bullets and food. Not books . . . And besides, books are bulky and heavy. (Laughs) Believe me; I lug books with me when I travel overseas. They're very cumbersome. Carrying a book to war, then returning home with it afterward would be quite a feat, wouldn't it?"
"Learning to use space is an art. That's the 'art' of martial arts . . . You must be anthropological in your training. This is an anthropological art." (Beams proudly after having properly pronounced "anthropological art" in English)
"The arts of the Bujinkan are different from any other."
"If even a small woman like her can get the technique on you, then that shows you how effective it is. It doesn't matter how big or strong you are. Practitioners of most other martial arts just don't understand this point."
"The fifth dan test is not a test of whether you can evade the strike or not evade the strike. It's a test of whether you can stay in kamae the entire time."
(Soke pulls a practitioner aside, has him kneel down, and proceeds to give him his fifth dan test. The class stops and people turn to watch.) "Keep practicing!" (he says, waiting until people turn back to their own business before continuing.)
"It's okay not to understand. This is not something that can be taught. If you actually think that you understand, then you are full of yourself and will suffer as a result of that hubris. But if you train, perhaps one day it will come to you. If it doesn't, there is no shame in that either. Just keep training."
(Concerning a very creative two-on-two jo move that a couple of people had thought of) "Very good. It is good to use such kyojutsu."
"You are not striking them on the front of the leg, but rather the side of the knee. This is because people used to wear armor and the back of their knee was exposed."
"When you roll into them here, be sure to kick them to knock them over. If they are wearing armor, they are most probably wearing weapons. And if you don't knock them over, they will be able to draw their sword and stab you."
"Andrew, show him how to roll there . . . I've been watching him and have noticed that he has some bad habits when he rolls. We must use this time to learn from each other in this way."
"Everyone is different in different ways. Some people are big. Some are small. Everyone has different 'parts.' (Laughs) . . . Please don't misunderstand me here. (Yeah! Right, Soke ;-)
"If you understand this movement, then you can understand the movement of 'ia' (sword drawing). All weapons are the same."
"It's okay if you don't understand. If you think you do understand, then you are egotistical. Then you start doing your own thing, and creating your own style."
"It's okay if you don't understand . . . No one understands what 'God' is as well. That's okay . . . That's why I chose to use (the character for) 'God' (jin) in the name Bujinkan."
"Don't move in with your arms, move in with the wind."
"You are all moving too fast to understand this technique. Slow down and understand what you're doing first."
"If you don't understand the first move I showed you, how can you expect to be able to do the next move . . . Develop one stage at a time . . . Life is the same way. That's what I'm teaching."
"This move is not to practice the kick. It's to practice distance and timing."
"Evade like a butterfly would."
"Never let them go, even if another person attacks you. (Calls someone over to attack him while he holds his uke in a choke hold with the jo) Keep control of the opponents you already have *AND* take out any subsequent ones."
"Don't grip your jo to strike them. If you grip, you can't make any variations, such as flipping your weapon."
"Don't move in with your elbow. Move your feet and your elbow will move in with your body."
"There will be practice at Someya's tomorrow, and I will teach there at 1:00 on Sunday. There will also be practice at Noguchi dojo on Monday at 8:00."
"There are three tenth dans here today. Use this as a learning opportunity."
(Concerning a pinch into the tear ducts) "Don't do this for real. It will really hurt them."
"I am not teaching you techniques. I'm teaching you 'guts.'"
"You need to have this ferociousness in a real fight."
"The reason why he can't do anything is that I have Ura Gyaku on him. See. If he tries to kick (motions for his uke to kick), I need only drop my weight here, and he can't move."
"Don't think about trying to strike them in the fingers here, just do it and you'll hit them."
"I should show you all how to punch. Here. Use this one against that last move I taught you."
"I ought to show you some more throwing techniques. Okay. Here's one."
"It's okay if you don't understand . . . Here, I'll show you one more (so you can be even more confused. Thanks, Soke. :-)"
"You all think you are doing what I am doing, but, in fact, there are very few people who truly understand."
"You are not trying to pry their fingers open. That will never work. Instead, just lay your hand there, and walk. Their hand will open up and their thumb will be right there for the taking."
"I am not teaching techniques. I am teaching the flow."
"All of you need to be a little more animalistic."
(Noguchi-sensei said) "Soke asked me to describe this feeling. It's like he's moving in one direction, while a wind is moving perpendicular to that movement. There is nothing I can do." (To which, after seeing the Phallic way his jo must have looked, Soke quipped,) "It's like having a third leg . . . I'm sure many of you guys understand."
"Here, do it with me. Uno, Dos, Tres. Uno (whack), Dos (whack) and Tres (thump)!"
"When is everyone teaching? (He then proceeded to call on every Sensei in the room and had them relay their dojo information.)
"The Hombu (Headquarters) Dojo should be completed by August. It will be open every day for practice during the day, and we will continue to have practice here at Ayase at night . . . As well, I will be making a list of all the dojos and their location and time, and will hang the information on the wall in the Hombu Dojo. Please keep training on your own time."
"Everyone, please read the "The Guidelines for Participation in the Bujinkan." If you cannot adhere to those Guidelines, then you should not be training in the Bujinkan."
"I am teaching things that cannot be taught. People who come to train with me should not think they are going to be 'taught' anything. That's an extremely amateurish way of thinking, and this isn't kindergarten."
"Please be very careful with this one. Go slowly or you will hurt someone."
"You are not just moving your arms; you are moving your feet to move your arms. Please remember this."
"The higher your rank, the stricter I will be with you."
"Keep your jo against your body here in Seigan."
"The power of your arms is nothing. If it were just your arms, it would be no big deal. It's the power of your body."
"You should not be trying to avoid the punch here. Confront the punch. Then just move out of the way naturally. Don't try to do anything."
"Why am I not taking this technique to its logical conclusion and taking the arm? (A visitor blurts out an unexpected and off-the-mark answer. Unfazed, Soke continued to answer his own rhetorical question by having another uke try to attack him.)
"You can only understand if you have had it done to you."
"I am teaching things that cannot be taught. I am showing you things that cannot be seen."
"Move as thought you don't have the jo. The jo itself is insignificant."
"All of these techniques could be done equally effective with a yari, naginata, sword, or bo. They are all the same."
"The reason why I insisted you keep the jo against your body is so you can adjust how far it protrudes like this. (Moves it forward and back in his hand like a pool cue)"
"Every time you have an 'opponent' it will be different. So you must be able to adjust."
"Even if you miss, you must 'let it live' and go with the flow. Keep moving into something else. That is kyojutsu. If you cannot do this, then you shall surely die when you find yourself in a real situation."
"You must learn to move freely with the 'kukan' (space) you have, regardless of its limitations. If the ceiling were low, you would have to do this technique like this (drops to his knee)."
"You're trying to clip them with your weapon . . . You want to break both of their arms."
"If you think you can do something well, it's because that movement is one of your bad habits. Those habits become your openings and weak points."
"I am trying to destroy everything you all have learned until now. If you cannot do so, you will never understand the 'kukan' of which I speak . . . And if you fear having your bad habits broken, you will never amount to anything."
As Soke made mention of the importance of reading "The Guidelines for Participation in the Bujinkan," they are being reprinted for your perusal.
Only those who have read and agreed with these guidelines shall be allowed to participate.
Only those able to exercise true patience, self-control, and dedication shall be allowed to participate.
A physician's examination report shall be required. Specifically, individuals with mental illness, drug addiction, or mentally instability shall be barred from joining. The necessity of such a report concerns individuals who may present a danger to others, for example, those with infectious diseases or illnesses, individuals with clinically abnormal personalities or physiology, and individuals lacking self-control.
Individuals with criminal records shall be turned away. Trouble makers, those who commit crimes, and those living in Japan who break domestic laws shall be turned away.
Those not upholding the guidelines of the Bujinkan, either as practitioners or as members of society, by committing disgraceful or reproachable acts shall be expelled. Until now, the Bujinkan was open to large numbers of people who came to Japan. Among them, unfortunately, were those committing violent drunken acts, the mentally ill, and trouble makers who thought only of themselves and failed to see how their actions might adversely affect others. Through their actions, such people were discarding the traditional righteous heart of the Bujinkan. From this day forward, all such people shall be expelled.
Regarding accidents occurring during training (both inside and outside the dojo), one should not cause trouble to the Bujinkan. This is an extremely important point. Those unwilling to take personal responsibility for accidents occurring during Bujinkan training shall not be admitted. Reiterating for clarity, the Bujinkan shall not take responsibility for any accidents happening in the course of training, regardless of the location.
All those joining the Bujinkan must get an annual member's card. This card not only preserves the honor of the Bujinkan members, it indicates you are part of a larger whole--one whose members come together with warrior hearts to better themselves through training and friendship. It evinces the glory of warrior virtue, and embodies both loyalty and brotherly love.
The tradition of the Bujinkan recognizes nature and the universality of all human life, and is aware of that which flows naturally between the two parts.
"The secret principle of Taijutsu is to know the foundations of peace. To study is the path to the immovable heart (fudoshin)."
The code 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.
To follow this code is part of the dojo's guidelines.
Meiji 23 (1890) Spring, Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu
Showa 33 (1958) March, Takamatsu Toshitsugu Uou
Hatsumi Masaaki Byakuryu
(9) Initial training begins with Taijutsu:
Kyu levels: beginners
First to Fifth dans: Ten (heaven)
Fifth to Tenth dans: Chi (earth)
Tenth to Fifteenth dans: Jin (person)
The eleventh to fifteenth dans are broken into Chi (earth), Sui (water), Ka (fire), Fu (wind) and Ku (the void); the Happo Biken will be taught at these levels. The fifth dan test shall only be administered by Soke. True shihan can be given fifteenth dan.
Recently, the Bujinkan has become truly international. Just as there are various time zones, so exist various taboos among the world's peoples and nations. We must respect each other, striving to avoid such taboos. We must put the heart of the warrior first, working together for self-improvement and for the betterment of the Bujinkan.
Those not upholding the above-mentioned guidelines shall be forced out of the Bujinkan.
The Bujinkan Dojo
Togakure Ryu Ninpo Happo Biken, 34th Grandmaster
Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu Happo Biken, 28th Grandmaster
Koto Ryu Koppojutsu Happo Biken, 18th Grandmaster
Shinden Fudo Ryu Daken Taijutsu Happo Biken, 26th Grandmaster
Kukishin Ryu Taijutsu Happo Biken, 28th Grandmaster
Takagiyoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu Happo Biken, 17th Grandmaster
Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo Happo Biken, 14th Grandmaster
Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo Happo Biken, 21st Grandmaster
Gikan Ryu Koppojutsu Happo Biken, 15th Grandmaster
The Bujinkan Headquarters publishes "Sanmyaku", the Bujinkan publication. All members should own every copy, and read and re-read them consistently as part of your training. Reading them soon after you join, a year later, and then several years after that, will afford you with different interpretations and different feelings. "Sanmyaku" also contains information concerning the worldwide practice of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu and the various materials (printed, video, or otherwise) available for training.
The title Mr. Hayes chose for his article (originally featured in his Musubi Journal) was quite apt. Not only did he dispel the Rumors by confirming everyone's greatest fears, but he has raised the level of Worry in the Bujinkan to gargantuan proportions. Stephen K. Hayes may have "put the Bujinkan on the map" with his books, but he certainly sounds like he's lost his way tome. Three issues in particular demand examination.
First comes Mr. Hayes' claim that he is a "graduate" of the "program." Since when has Bujinkan training been a "program" that can be "graduated" from? (Perhaps Stephen is confusing HIS curriculum with what training is really supposed to be.) I wonder if Noguchi-sensei, Hatsumi-sensei's senior-most student in BOTH hemispheres of the world, is a "graduate" like Stephen. Thirty-five years of training, and he still insists he "learns" from Soke. Funny one, that Noguchi-sensei. He really must be bad at those "mere kick and grab techniques" to not have gotten it by now . . .
Next comes the controversial Quest Centers. No matter how Mr. Hayes tries to veil reality with such soundbytes as "I think of the new Quest Centers as our tribute to my teacher Masaaki Hatsumi," nothing changes the fact that the centers are a franchise . . . Yes, everyone: A FRANCHISE!?! (Would you like some fries with that?)
I hear that at least one of Hayes' students has set out on his own rather than pay the $10,000 Hayes was asking to continue under him. (Or was it $25,000? I'm sorry the numbers are just too large for me to fathom. Would you please enlighten us with the truth of the matter, Stephen?) The fact that Mr. Hayes was willing to part with one of his personal students over such an issue aptly illustrates his moral standing as teacher of "an advanced education system designed to lead to fully developed human beings." So what exactly is at "the bottom line" beneath all these rumors, Stephen? Do tell.
The third issue of haunting concern is Stephen's answer to the question, "What about people who claim that you do not spend much time in Japan anymore?" I know I wasn't the only one who was disturbed with the fact that Stephen didn't answer the question.
The fact is that Mr. Hayes manages to find time to take his students on his famed "Ninja Tours" (as they are jokingly labeled in Japan), but he can only find time for an afternoon of tea and a group photo with Hatsumi-sensei -- the teacher he professes so much to love and admire. (The photo then shows up in his Musubi Journal, by the way, so all his little minions see that he's "still very much a part of the family." Quite an effective public relations ploy, if you ask me.)
Rather than merely making the source of the art we all love a mere side-show on his next tour, perhaps Stephen should get back to training and see what he's missing. (Or perhaps he's afraid that his students will discover that THEY'RE the one's that are truly missing out.) Ask anyone living in Japan, native or foreign, how many times in the past ten years Mr. Hayes has been to practice at Ayase with Soke, and I'm sure many of you will be surprised to hear that you have more fingers . . . on your left hand! And while you're at it, why don't you find out how long Mr. Hayes actually did study with Soke ov er in Japan. Once again, the number may surprise you.
I am convinced that Stephen K. Hayes is not the type of man who gives up easily. So he's naturally hunkered down for the fight ahead of him in making his McQuest Centers a reality. This letter probably won't sway him to stop their establishment, nor will it encourage him to show up at Ayase instead of leading his flock through the landmarks of Ninjutsu history. I'll tell you one thing, the most historically significant thing in Ninjutsu history in the world today is not a building, nor a burial ground. It's a little old man who walks his dogs for three hours a night in a little town called Noda. And he prefers hand-made sushi over cookie-cutter Big Macs anytime.
The main problem with Who Flung Dung Fu wasn't necessarily the technical flaws, but the mindset that the program generated in its students. People were taught quite regularly to think of EVERYONE as a potential threat, and to "analyze" people for their "threat potential". This mindset was characterized by paranoia, tenseness, lack of calm, and fairly much everything unpleasant in life. I joined the martial arts to get away from these sorts of things, looking for that whole "inner peace" thing.
Conspicuous in the dojo was a lack of good humor, a lack of easiness and fun that pervades good ninpo schools. Jokes were all but banished from the dojo, and God help you if you ever cracked a joke about any of the people in the class! The teacher of the class was constantly delivers vituperative lectures about the condition of the world, often making vivid analogues between the world and a toilet, and how we as Dung Fu students should be able to take down anyone who gave us dung. He often taught about the "true nature" of the President of the United States in the most denigrating terms. While people in the senior class were old enough to understand the nature of politics, the teacher was giving these searing invective lessons to 4-6 year olds. Not the best way to inspire your kids to grow up healthy.
The most outstanding feature of Dung Fu classes was the attempted violence. The system had enough holes in it to make a cheese-maker in Switzerland Limberger-green with envy, and to try to compensate for said flaws, every single person in the class tried to be as violent as possible. This led to bad form and terrible attitudes among the students. Gestapo training camps were probably more laid back.
The point of this criticism of Who Flung Dung Fu is that ninpo schools are now really beginning to branch out, with multiple schools in major cities and schools opening up in the smallest of towns. As the art spreads, we need to keep in mind the true points of ninpo, that ninpo is a way of life, and that ninpo is ultimately about love. For instructors, please, I implore you, teach your students more than just the taijutsu. Teach us how to relax, how to effectively protect ourselves so we can be truly relaxed walking down a street instead of looking for threat potential in someone's Chihuahua. Teach us the meditation, the mind science, the spiritual stuff so we can become balanced human beings.
For students like me, remember to take everything with a grin, even when it hurts. Wouldn't it be great, as you breathe your last moments of life, to realize that you spent the vast majority of your life training to love, to laugh, and to really enjoy life? The Bardo Thotrol, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, emphasizes that your last moments of life will determine your rebirth. Wouldn't it be great to spend those last moments laughing, saying, "Not only could I kick butt, but I had a rockin' good time learning how!"
Hatsumi-Soke has been emphasizing good character and good attitude since the very beginning. Devote time to getting together outside of the class to hang out, to enjoy each other's company, to share the important aspects of your life with your training group or dojo. If there is someone of terrible character who you wouldn't feel comfortable spending time with, they probably shouldn't be in training in the first place, and as Hatsumi Soke reminds us, they will eventually go away.
Ninpo will give us the confidence and relaxed attitude of knowing that we can handle ourselves and stand tall, so why not embrace life with a smile? Train hard, but have fun!
To end this article in the true spirit of ninpo, I submit a joke by J. Courtland Elliott, II:
Q: How many ninja does it take to change a light bulb?
A: You'll never know, but it always seems to get done.
You say to the salesman in the men's store, "Nice pants, but I don't think I can kick in them."
You want to say "I'm sorry" and involuntarily bow instead.
You go to the shoe store to try on shoes and instead of walking or jogging around the store, you practice pivoting, sweeps, moving in kamae and kicks. You then check to see if the shoe has a sufficiently hard striking surface and whether it protects the toes well (since you only buy shoes if they're particularly flexible and/or have steel toes) . . . and lastly, you don't even care if (and they probably are) the other patrons are looking at you funny (that's the big clue).
Every time you pass a wall you start to wonder: "Is that structural or drywall?"
You hit your head on a low doorway or ceiling and you kick it in anger . . . damaging or breaking it.
While tying your bathrobe you notice: "GACK! NO! The left side of the bathrobe goes on top . . ."
You find yourself wondering, "What was I doing in my office when I was spinning around and flailing my arms and legs?"
You're practicing your strikes/shutos/etc. while driving down the highway, notice someone in another car staring at you, and suddenly turn your strikes into vigorously fanning away an imaginary fly.
You use various strikes to turn lights off and on.
You don your clothing with kicks, thrusts, and punches.
You open and close doors with stomp kicks.
You find yourself idly doing iaido and kenjutsu moves with plastic knives at the fast food place.
You can't walk by anybody else from your school without casually exchanging a flurry of mock strikes and kicks.
You haven't gotten over the phase of seeing everybody walking around with a blanket of little red cross-hairs on all their vital spots
You leap to your feet and shriek with indignation while watching "Kung Fu," "Walker, Texas Ranger," "Highlander," or any Ninja Turtles cartoon at home.
You deliberately go to see martial arts movies in the theater so you can leap to your feet and shriek with indignation during the movie, out in the parking lot, and with all your friends the next time you're at class.
You find yourself practicing bo staff techniques in miniature with your pencil during dull meetings.
You try to backfist/strike the correct floor button on the inside of the elevator, based on your memory of the button's location, before you get in far enough to see it.
You notice you never stand with your arms crossed or your hands in your pockets, you never lean against walls or stand with your knees locked, and you try to make sure that you are in a nice, stable shizen no kamae at all times.
You tend to keep at least one martial arts weapon close at hand by your bed when you sleep.
You have at least one fantasy where you are a martial arts hero and end the fight by saying something so cool that you make Arnold Swarzenegger and Clint Eastwood look like nervous chatterboxes.
You have begun to master the reflex to commit a very messy homicide when, directly after someone finds out you practice martial arts, they immediately ask, "Are you a Black Belt ?"
You have the urge to bow every time you enter or leave a room.
You accidentally call your professors "sensei" and respond by grunting "hai" instead of saying "yes." In fact, you initially address your boss, parents and callers in Japanese.
While standing in line, you find yourself practicing some kamae or kata in miniature.
You bow to greet someone when you are introduced to them.
You start to do a kneeling bow before you enter any room.
You start wondering what technique would fit best if the stranger passing by would attack you.
You are considering doing irimi-nage on every bicyclist who's speeds towards you and forces you to step aside.
You are at a party and don't understand why everybody is looking at you and your Aikido-friend, with whom you're having a conversation where at least half the words are in Japanese, weirdly.
After training, you are discussing techniques with your friends at the bus (or train) stop and start practicing with them and don't understand why everybody else who was at the bus (or train stop) has disappeared.
You can't hold an unopened umbrella in your hand without finding yourself unconsciously practicing sword techniques.
Walking down the street, you try to "feel" how many people are walking behind you, then quickly look back to see if you were right.
You use evasion and pulling/pushing techniques when playing basketball.
You check the balance of the pens you use, just in case you have to throw them at some attacker who waltzes into your office.
When you need to get by someone on a crowded train or bus, you find yourself poking your thumb into their floating ribs.
For the ladies (and some men): You check to see if you can assume kamae in your skirt and high heels and practice using your pocket book as a kusarifundo.
You never leave the house without at least one innocent looking object that can double as an instrument of death, mayhem and destruction (i.e. hair spray = mace, keys on a chain = kusarifundo, etc.)
However, the difference between beating your opponent and beating the shit out of them when to stop will largely depend on your state of mind at the time. Some people may go into a sort of berserker rage and actually kill an opponent without knowing what is going on. However, to be able to sense the danger and consciously elevate yourself to a form of controlled rage is what's known as "killer instinct".
Complete control of this instinct is what is needed. You should be able to turn this on and off as easily as you would a light switch. You are faced by an enemy, you carefully move into Jumonji No Kamae, his eyes blink, and you destroy him. Punching, stomping and gouging, in a split second -- there is no opponent, just a pile of whatever you decide to leave on the ground. Does he spend the rest of his life in I.C.U. ? Does he die instantly? That is up to you as a martial artist and as a human being. Some people in other martial art styles and in law enforcement may say to match force with force. Other styles will train to show your opponent the error of his ways. Still, other styles will train to put him down hard and then go back to being your pleasant, kind, everyday self.
Two arts that demonstrate this the best are Ninjutsu and Philippino armed and unarmed fighting techniques. The reason is simple. Both of these arts come from people that are generally kind and gentle, but have been forced into situations that require drawing upon their killer instinct to survive. When faced with the challenge of protecting their families and villages, anything goes. In modern society, it is not always polite or "politically correct" to discuss the possibilities of delivering death (unless, of course, you are a rap star). However, sometimes you need to confront the question of whether to kill or not. There is a time and place where you have no choice. When you switch on your killer instinct, do it for a good reason. If killing your attacker is the only way to win and survive, make sure you fully understand the consequences. You'll either have to insure that you don't get caught, or face the music. Sakki ("the force of the killer"), like the warrior spirit, is something that each person must find within themselves, and learn to control it for use in the correct situation. To simply unleash this kind of power anytime it strikes your fancy would be very evil, to say the least. But to harness this instinct and use it when it is truly needed is a gift from the gods.
My introduction to acupuncture came when I was lucky enough to cross the path of Dr. Gary Fleischman, a master acupuncture teacher and very good friend. My teacher is the chairman of the Connecticut Board of Acupuncture and Oriental medicine, a professor of acupuncture at Quinnipiac College, and an author who has just finished his first book. I should also add that he is quite adept at seeing auras, a talent I always find very amusing.
Acupuncture deals with a system of the body that is yet undiscovered by Western science. Of the three vital components of the human being, essence, energy, and spirit, acupuncture works on the level of energy. Through the practice of Taoist alchemy, essence can be transmuted into energy, energy can be transmuted into spirit, and the spirit can be merged with the great cosmic void. (I certainly do not speak from experience here, although someday I'd like to!) The Taoist way of life is based upon nourishing and conserving these three "treasures." Anyone interested in the Taoist path is referred to "The Tao of Health, Sex and Longevity," by Daniel Reid.
The energy, known as 'qi' in Chinese, or 'ki' in Japanese is the basis of internal martial arts, chi kung, and I would imagine, higher training in Ninpo. The power of this force cannot be overstated. The ki flows through the body via a system that resembles the lymphatic system and consists of twelve organ meridians and eight extraordinary channels. These meridians are best described by Shihan Hayes as "electropolar." Each organ is associated with an elemental energy, has a spiritual or emotional side, and is considered yin or yang ('in' or 'yo').
The elemental energy aspect is based upon our 'go-gyo' five element system. The liver and gallbladder exhibit the generative energy of wood, the heart and small intestine are associated with the expansive energy of fire, the spleen and stomach are related to the stabilizing energy of earth, the lungs and large intestine coincide with the contracting energy of metal and finally, the kidneys and urinary bladder display the conserving energy of water.
The interrelation and reactions between the elements is graphically depicted in any chart of the creative and control cycles. These particular energies flow throught each organ meridian respectively. Special function points that can tonify, sedate, regulate etc. the energy are found on each meridian and correlate to the five elements. For example, because wood feeds fire, to tonify (strengthen) the heart or small intestine energy, one would utilize the "wood" point on the respective meridian. Besides the organs mentioned above, two other meridians exist: one is related to all of the organs in the chest and abdomen, and the other deals with the pericardium with protects the heart.
This brings us to another critical factor that underlies all Oriental thinking, the concept of yin and yang. For an extensive discussion of these concepts, one can turn to Shihan Hayes' books or to any Oriental philosophical text. It is said that the original Tao gave birth to the complimentary forces of yin and yang. These can best be thought of as the negative and positive ends of a battery, however they are dynamic forces always interacting with each other. Yin is associated with negative, cold, female, passivity etc. Yang is related to positive, hot, male, aggressive etc. It is important to note that negative does not in any way imply bad or inferiion, but merely a complement of positive.
Yin organs include the liver, heart, spleen, lungs and kidneys, while the gall bladder, small intestine, stomach, large intestine and urinary bladder are all yang organs. Understanding the interplay of these forces is critical to understanding the practice of acupuncture. The meridians either begin or end in the hands or feet. The energy travels close to the surface and at either the beginning or end, whichever is not in the hand or foot, goes directly to the orfan. Further, the energy is most active and runs closest to the surface at different times of the day.
Of the eight extraordinary channels, two are worth discussing here. The governing channel runs from the perineum, up the back, over the head, and to the upper lip. The conception channels runs from the perineum up the front of the body. The forces of yin and yang, also known as earth and heaven, circulate through these channels in the "microcosmic orbit" Taoist alchemy deals extensively with meditations and exercises to open the microcosmic orbit. My experience here is currently limited to the use of these channels in acupuncture as I'm currently only beginning to work on this stuff myself. These are very powerful energies are involved in higher Taoist sexual practices and Taoist essence and energy transmutation alchemy spoken of earlier.
I would like to discuss the pathology of disease and the practice of acupuncture in future articles. I thought it more appropriate here to share my teacher's advice on staying healthy throughout the four seasons. This advice originally came from the "Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine," the definitive text on Chinese Medicine published over 2000 years ago.
In the fall, when the yang is giving way to the yin of winter, we should get up in the morning and expose ourselves to the elements. Don't bundle up to quickly, let the pores of the body close. In the winter, when yin is prevailing, we should conserve our yang, bundle up, eat warming foods, and specifically, cover the backs of our necks. (The back of the neck containing two points that are extremely susceptible to cold and wind.) Further, in the winter we should rise later in the morning and go to bed earlier at night. In the spring, the yin gives way to yang. Do not be too quick to take off the winter clothes. Go to bed earlier and rise earlier. In the summer, when yang is prevailing, we should eat cooling foods, go to bed late, rise early, and wear minimal clothing.
My teacher, being originally trained as a surgeon, makes perhaps the best comparison between Western medicine and acupuncture. Western medicine is based upon the sciences of chemistry and anatomy, that which we can see, feel, and test for in a laboratory. Western medical science looks at the body statically and mechanically. The western mind is more left brained and developed in terms of looking at things intellectually and scientifically.
Acupuncture, on the other hand, is based upon the science of physics, the invisible forces around us. Einstein, who originally postulated the relationship between energy and matter, proved to us that the two are interchangeable. The Eastern mind is more right-brained, intuitive and perceptive. Acupuncture views the body functionally and as a whole. Obviously if the two could be combined, they would complement each other and a new, very powerful form of medicine would emerge.
Many Chinese systems condition their hands by way of "Iron Palm" training. Yes, this discipline also involves striking something but the methodology is different. Although there are different types of training, the most common is the repeated striking of a bag of iron pellets, pebbles or beans to strengthen the muscular and connective tissues of the hands and to teach the student how to direct chi [Japanese: ki * Ed. Note] into the target.
One of the first goals of Iron Palm training is to strengthen the tendons and bones in the hands without developing too many calluses. This must be accomplished to achieve the highest level of skill in the arts. Chinese traditional arts classify systems into three levels according to a number of factors. According to this analysis, a system which promotes heavily callused hands is of the lowest grade, while a system which retains a completely natural-looking hand is of the highest.
One of the key sources of strength is to have tendons and bones in the hand that are like iron. This is where the power begins. Calluses themselves are useless if the tendons and bones in the hand are weak or injured. It's important to avoid injury while training, and to heal injuries as quickly as possible. If injuries to the tendons and bones are not healed correctly, the hands and forearms lose strength, flexibility and circulation. This can lead to stiffness, reduced circulation and to symptoms like arthritis (inflamed joints) or tendonitis (inflamed tendons).
To prevent and counteract these symptoms, the Chinese use a liniment called Dit Da Jow (cantonese) or Tieh Da Jiu (mandarin). Dit da jow or "iron strike wine" is common to many forms of Chinese martial arts. Remember though, that dit da jow is a generic term for a family of herbal preparations to be used in conjunction with iron palm training.
The most common types of "jow" would include the pre-, between and post-practice formulas. A good pre-practice jow must loosen muscles and connective tissues in the hands, so the chi can flow through the hand during the striking. This type of formulation often is applied as a hot oil or as a pot of hot liquid in which the hands are soaked. A between practice jow is a general strengthener, and is often taken orally( yao jow-medicine wine, or yao pian-pills). A post-practice jow must heal any damage that has occurred during iron palm training. Since iron palm training should result in nothing worse than occasional bruising, this formulation is usually not geared to more serious damage such as bone contusions or sprains.
To understand the action of a post-practice jow or "bruise liniment", you must first understand the basic anatomy and functions of the soft tissues. Because of ruptures in the capillaries and smaller veins, a bruise causes the blood to pool in surrounding tissues where it stagnates and turns purplish-black. When the bruise turns red a few days later, it's because the stagnation has broken up and fresh blood is beginning to move into the area again. That new blood helps rebuild the injured cells.
Blood stagnation leads to swelling, which closes off other blood vessels, can damage nerves, and in extreme cases, can tear the skin. In Chinese medicinal theory, it also closes off chi vessels. Each of these effects can obviously lead to other problems.
A post-practice dit da jow must therefore,
Remove blood stagnation
Remove chi stagnation
Tone the blood (return blood components to a proper balance)
Tone the chi (correct both direction and "volume" of chi flow)
Reduce pain to reduce involuntary reflexive muscle tension and spasms.
An old Chinese maxim says "Chi moves, blood flows; blood moves, chi flows." I first started using dit da jow a number of years ago when I was competing in boxing and kick-boxing. My trainer would use them to heal the bruises and joint injuries I would frequently sustain. From that exposure I began studying herbs and related theories of medicine. I have found few liniments that can compare with the healing properties of dit da jow.
To find your own supply may take some doing. If you have friends in the Chinese arts you might approach them and see if their system uses dit da jow. If you live in L.A., New York, San Francisco or Vancouver you can go to an herb shop in Chinatown and ask for a pre-made bottle. I usually get ''five photos" brand. There are a number of martial art supply catalogs that have their own brand. Some of the martial arts magazines have ads for both pre-made and kits to make your own liniment. The kits are the cheapest way to go and will make a quart of jow for about the price of 4 oz. of the pre-made.
So whether you use dit da jow as a method of conditioning your hands without building calluses or as a liniment to help with injuries to other body parts, it is almost a magic elixir in keeping you functioning with less recovery time.
A few years ago, I was a part of a college ninpo club that I had helped to found along with a training partner and good friend of mine. We formed this college club under the auspices of a shidoshi in the next town. Things were extraordinarily quiet, with few people joining and even fewer training, but that was okay. We wanted people to train with, but we didn't want anything other than that.
Cut to a few months ago. My friend had already graduated, and there I was, running this tiny college club. I'd been warned by some people, especially my friend, that there are many people in the world who are somewhat less than enlightened and they tend to spread their misery. Well, the inevitable occurred. One day, during training, one of the college kids who didn't train decided that he wanted to try out the training. He tried some introductory stuff, mainly kamae and avoidance drills, and decided that it didn't seem real.
Most people quit training at this point, and go on to something else, like power basket weaving. This particular college student decided right then and thre that he wanted a live demo -- the kind of demo that involves people actually getting hurt. I was the unfortunate person he chose to attack, and was originally nothing more than a training session had become a very real fight. To make a long story short, and to not bore people with fight details, I didn't get hurt, and he did -- just enough that he stopped fighting.
That's the story and the point. That's what real testing time is about. There's a lot of emphasis on rank in the Bujinkan these days, emphasis on who's got rank and who's qualified to be teaching. There are people running around with egos as big as Montana, and dan grades to match. Let's remind ourselves of a simple fact. It doesn't !*@#%$&! matter what rank you have. When you're out there in the really real world and someone wants to do bad things to you, you'd better be able to stop them in a really real way. Too many of us, myself included, suffer from dojo syndrome, where we create elaborate and ultimately ridiculous scenarios that don't ever happen in the real world. We need that real world experience to help us keep perspective on training.
I won't say, "go out and pick fights." That's stupid and very much against the essence of what we do. I will say that you need to experience real fights in order to experience the essence of ninjutsu. You can't understand it fully until you've gotten past that intellectual thought process and made it a part of you. You can only get this in the real thing, the real fight. How do we get this? By helping other people as much as we can. Sad as it may be, in today's world, if you are working to bring something decent, truly good, and empowering into people's lives, someone is probably going to stop you, and they may not use a lawyer. They may decide that hurting, maiming, or killing you is what they want to do, and it is at that moment when youwill take your first test in ninjutsu. I hope that each and every one of you passes with flying colors.
The ninja of medieval Japan were trained in eighteen fundamental areas of expertise covering a vast range of physical and mental skills. This section comes from Hatsumi's "Ninjutsu: History and Tradition."
Seishin teki kyoyo (spiritual refinement)
The Togakure ninja worked at developing a deep and accurate knowledge of himself, his personal power, his strengths and weaknesses, and his influence on the playing out of life. Exercises in mental endurance, perception, and perspective were taught to the ninja along with his physical skills. By cultivating a mystic's understanding of the universal process, the Togakure ryu ninja became a warrior philosopher. His engagements in combat were then motivated by love or reverence, and not by the mere thrill of violent danger or need for money.
Taijutsu (unarmed combat)
Skills of dakentaijutsu (striking, kicking, blocking), jutaijutsu (grappling, choking), and taihenjutsu (silent movement, rolling, leaping, tumbling) assisted the Togakure ninja in defensive situations.
Ninja ken (ninja sword)
The ninja's sword had a short, straight, single edged blade and was considered to be his primary fighting tool. Two distinct sword skills were required of the ninja. Fast draw techniques centered around drawing the sword and cutting as a simultaneous defensive or attacking action. Fencing skills used the drawn sword in technique clashes with armed attackers.
Bojutsu (stick and staff fighting)
This art, practiced by samurai and peasant alike, was also a strong skill of the ninja. Togakure ninja were taught to use the bo long staff (six feet) and the hanbo (three feet), as well as sticks and clubs of varying lengths. Specially constructed shinobi-zue or ninja canes were designed to look like normal walking sticks, but concealed blades, chains, or darts that could be used against an enemy.
Shurikenjutsu (throwing blades)
Throwing blades were carried in concealed pockets and used as harassing weapons. The Togakure ryu used a special four-pointed throwing star called a senban shuriken, which was constructed from a thin steel plate. The blade was thrown with a spinning motion and hit its target with a sawing effect. Bo shuriken (straight darts and spikes) were also constructed for throwing.
Yarijutsu (spear fighting)
Togakure ryu ninja were taught to use standard Japanese spears and lances as mid-range weapons. Spears were used for stabbing and piercing, and rarely thrown in combat. The Togakure ryu also used a unique spear weapon called a kama-yari, or sickle-lance, which consisted of a spear blade with a hook at the base. The total length of the weapon was over nine feet. The point could be used to lunge and stab, and the hook point could be used to snag and pull an opponent or his weapon.
Naginatajutsu (halberd fighting)
The Japanese halberd was used for cutting and slashing attacks against adversaries at medium range. Togakure ryu ninja were also proficient with the bisen-to, a huge heavy-bladed version of the naginata halberd. Based on a Chinese war tool, the broad-bladed weapon was heavy enough to knock down attackers, smash through armor, and ground the horses of mounted samurai.
Kusarigama (chain and sickle weapon)
The Japanese chain and sickle weapon was adopted into the arsenal of the Togakure ryu. A chain, six to nine feet in length and weighted at one end, was attached to the handle of the traditional grain cutting tool. The chain could be used to block or ensnare the enemy's attack, and the blade could then be used to finish off the attacker. The kyoketsu-shoge, a weapon similar to the chain and sickle, was favored by the Togakure ryu. The weapon consisted of a short hand-held dagger blade with a secondary blade hooking out from the hilt attached to a fifteen foot long resilient cord usually made from women's or horse's hair. A large steel ring was attached to the free end of the cord.
Kayakujutsu (fire and explosives)
Ninja were experts in the effective placement, timing, and rigging of explosive devices for demolition and distraction. In later years, the use of black powder and other explosives was supplemented with knowledge of firearms and their strategic applications.
Hensojutsu (disguise and impersonation)
Essential to the ninja's espionage work was his ability to assume false identities and move undetected through his area of operation. More than merely putting on a costume, the ninja's disguise system involved thoroughly impersonating the character adopted. He or she literally became the new personality, whether taking the role of a monk, craftsman, or traveling entertainer.
Shinobi iri (stealth and entering methods)
The ninja's techniques of silent movement, breaking and entering, and gaining access to inaccessible areas became legendary in Japan. Togakure ryu ninja learned special walking and running methods for covering long distances, passing over floors silently, and staying in the shadows in order to facilitate entry and escape.
Togakure ryu ninja were taught to be proficient on horseback, both in riding and mounted combat skills.
Sui ren (water training)
Stealth swimming, silent movement through water, methods of using special boats and floats to cross over water, and underwater combat techniques were taught to Togakure ryu ninja.
Unconventional tactics of deception and battle, political plots, and advantageous timing for use of current events were used by Togakure ryu ninja. By employing or influencing seemingly outside forces to bring the enemy around to doing what the ninja wanted him to do, ninja were able to work their will without drawing undue attention to themselves.
Cho ho (espionage)
Methods of successful espionage were perfected. This included ways of locating and recruiting spies and served as a guide for using espionage agents most effectively.
Intonjutsu (escape and concealment)
Ninja were experienced masters in the ways of using nature to cover their exit, allowing them to "disappear" at will. The goton-po (five elements of escape) were based on a working familiarity with the creative use of earth, water, fire, metal, and wood aspects of nature and the environment.
Forecasting and taking advantage of weather and seasonal phenomena was an important part of any battle consideration. Ninja were trained to observe all the subtle signals from the environment in order to predict weather conditions.
Knowing and successfully using the features of the terrain were crucial skills in the historical art of ninjutsu.
Many of you thought that I decided to abandon this project since there hasn't been a current newsletter since this past February. Contrary to popular belief, Liz maryland is not a myth, she is not done yet; and Ura & Omote is not dead. I just needed to focus myself and share my love and attention with another part of my life -- my friends and family; and by doing that, to re-focus on the work that I'm doing in trying to share and spread this art. Allow me to explain.
This past March, my workload increased and I spent many evenings working late and getting home at 1 or 2 in the morning. Also, the first of my many battles with America OnLine's billing staff began at this time as well. When the time came to release the newsletter, I realized that I didn't have any articles and I did not have the time to pursue others or to write articles myself. I had been too busy with work to send out e-mails asking for articles, no one had sent me any articles, and I was disgusted with the prospect of sending the newsletter out with nothing of substance in it. I decided that I would put off the newsletter until April and release a double-issue. I had already begun toying with the idea of making the newsletter a bi-monthly feature, due to my increased responsibilities at work and at New York Budo, my second home. However, America OnLine canceled my account and made it difficult for me to notify people as to what I was going to do.
As April rolled in, I was still trying to work out my AOL difficulties. There were some billing errors and my service was inadvertently canceled. Therefore, many of the e-mails that were sent to me, never arrived -- they were lost to the gods of cyberspace. During this time, my brother's baby daughter died, and his wife was seriously ill. I cut my hair off in mourning -- I used to have a medium-length "bob" cut, wore black, and worked on consoling my family, and on trying to grieve. I gave as much of myself as I could to my brother and his family, via long distance, and through prayers and many "Hannya Shingyos." Meanwhile, I was still working many late hours, and more and more of the little free time I had left was taken up by helping out and working at the dojo. (In addition to teaching, my job at the dojo is to oversee and train our dedicated volunteer receptionist staff.) The only highlights of my life through all this were my birthday -- which was punctuated by the caring and effort that my best friends, Max, Eric and Denise, put into planning a surprise party for me, and the fact that I had healed sufficiently from my sprained ankle to resume training. So, once again, no newsletter.
May and June were to provide more of the same. My job moved downtown and I was busy finishing up projects and packing. My AOL account was back up and running, so I sent notes out saying that a newsletter would come out soon. . . but life threw a few emotional stumbling blocks my way. A former boyfriend (to whom I was still a bit attached) began dating someone else, throwing me into an emotional spin. I began questioning myself, my self-worth, my accomplishments, my raison d're. My brother's wife was still seriously ill, my brother was in need of help in many areas of his life and my parents weren't handling any of it well. Work had slowed down, but my responsibilities at the dojo began to take up more of my free time. I was, also, feeling emotionally drained and tired from the previous months. I was wiped out from the grieving -- although I didn't realize then that I was not done with it yet. On top of all this, I was depressed, and could not shake the feeling. Through this, my best friend (if you don't know who that is, read all my previous End Notes and figure it out!) consoled me, took me to dinner, gave me hugs and spent endless hours listening to me rant and hope. He kept me sane and, with his usual cynical comments, helped guide my focus back to where it needed to be.
In May, my best friend's father died, and I needed to spend time with him, to be there for him. I needed to share myself with him, as he had done so selflessly with me so many times in the past, to help ease his pain, to comfort, to heal. To be of as little or as much use as he wanted to put me to. Standing by and watching his pain has been one of the hardest things in my life to do. I've only been able to wait and be there for him, and, although he tells me he appreciates all I've done, it's still not enough for me. I'm frustrated because there's so little that I can do; there's so little I feel I've done.
And, in June, more of my fragile world started to come down around me, the details of which I choose not to write here. So where's the training in all of this? The martial arts? Enough with the emotional hogwash. Let's get down to techniques.
Yes, I went to class, as my world was falling down around my ears. I did my onikudakis and ganseki nages and hon gyakus. I worked on my skills, bought books, explored various training methods and other arts. I continued to teach, trying to bring my spirit out, and the wonder and excitement that I have for this art out as well. And, I tried to motivate my students (I'm honored to teach Friday night's intermediate class and Saturday's beginning and intermediate classes at the dojo -- and proud of each and every single student in these classes) into becoming better practitioners -- to really care and love this wonderful gift of budo taijutsu.
So, I've spent a bit of time away from you, dear readers -- getting my life straight, sharing my love and myself with my friends and family, whom I sometimes neglect, and learning a bit about perservering through the hard times. Through this, I think that I've become a bit stronger as a person, a bit more compassionate and caring as a human being, and more loyal as a friend.
Now, I'm back, and the newsletter will be back, although it will be bi-monthly. This will give me the time to be able to juggle friends, family, life, work, the dojo, training, and, of course, Ura & Omote again. Throw in there a bit of down-time for me -- Heavens knows I can use it! -- and some time to enjoy life as well.
I'm ready to share myself with you again -- and by doing so, make this art bigger (by spreading it.); and to continue to bring pieces of this art to those who don't have the means to get it.
Anyway. . . I've talked enough for now. Let's get back to training!
Liz maryland Hiraldo
***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. The next edition of Ura & Omote will be released after the Tai Kai, in August.***
We (the publisher and authors) are not responsible in any manner whatsoever for any injury which may occur through reading or following any instructions in this newsletter. Remember, these are martial arts techniques which may result in injury or death. Find a proper instructor wherever possible. Please consult a physician before engaging in the exercises described herein. Keep in mind that all articles herein are of their author's opinion/research and the publisher of this newsletter will not be held liable for any errors or misleading information. If you need further information on any articles, or if you have questions for the authors, please contact them directly. If there is no E-mail address listed, please E-mail the editor and your request will be forwarded.