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Ura & Omote - 1998 April


Fighters vs. Warriors

by Christopher S. Penn
A lot of people in the martial arts focus very heavily on the mechanics and the technologies of combat, of fighting. Learning how to successfully fight is important so that we can use our skills to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Learning the strategies of fighting can teach general strategies for success.

However, groups that focus on fighting without balancing it out with sensible philosophies and ethics and values risk degenerating into a very dangerous mindset. A person who works so hard at being a fighter risks being confined to the mindset of a fighter. If you can imagine someone who views life as a series of fights that are either won or lost, you can understand where I'm heading with this. We need more than just fighting skills.

Once upon a time, there was a group of people, a caste in a society, the Warrior Caste. This group loved to win. They loved to fight and to improve their methods of fighting. They reached a point where, if no fights, no battles, no wars were occurring, they would go out and start fights or create conflicts out of petty incidents merely to do something. Fighting was their purpose in life, and if they weren't fighting, they were drifting through life without purpose.

There are two groups that can fit in this description. One is from the science fiction show Babylon 5, and refers to a society called the Minbari. In turn, this society was partly based on another society, feudal Japan. The caste, of course, are known to us as the samurai, and during the Tokugawa period, the warriors either had to change into something else, continue fighting, or go underground. Later, in the Meiji era, the fighters were faced with the permanent extinction of their caste.

One of the things I admire about Stephen K. Hayes' To-Shin Do program is the inclusion of values, ethics, mind sciences, and philosophies that make it more than just fighting. Fighting is not "in style" these days, and hasn't been in style since the Old West in America. Specializing in fighting, therefore, can lead to a serious problem regarding skill building and opportunity. One learns all these fantastically destructive skills for what seems like no reason.

Part of the problem in other areas of the Internet and in the martial arts in general are groups that focus so heavily on fighting, on being members of that fighting caste, that they lose sight of the skills of personal development and self-development. Learning how to fight and learning how to damage, maim, or kill without learning why or why not is a risky proposition at best. Some of the more aggressive personalities on those forums are fighters with fighter mentalities. Others are cowards who would like to fancy themselves as fighters, and delude themselves into thinking they're great fighters... legends in their own minds, in a way.

Why are we different? Those of us here who truly focus on the big picture, on the goals we've set, namely helping ourselves, our friends, and our communities, have learned to take the skills of destructive power and the strategies of winning and learned to make them effective in other areas and specialties. A fighter may not be needed all the time, but a priest, a confidante, or a friend will never find themselves out of work.

Please don't misunderstand me- fighting skill is vital to self-protection and protection of others, but developing fighting skill ONLY has a terrible price. Given a choice between being an outstanding fighter and a lousy human being (such as a drunk, an abusive spouse, or a paranoid lunatic) or being a good fighter and a great human being, I'll choose the second, because I've lived the life of the first, even though it was a short period of time (3 years), and let me assure you that it's a terrible, sad, and very lonely existence.

I had an instructor once who was a fighter with a fighter's mentality. He was also a prison guard, and had some of the most self-destructive views I've ever seen in a human being. He was an alcoholic who preached politics to the kids' class, talking about how the President of the United States was a pot-smoking, dodge drafting, no good (insert expletives here)- to a class of 6-8 year old children.

It's better to be an okay fighter and a great person, because you'll have more friends, and in this day and age, the more true friends you have, the better off you are. It's also a much happier lifestyle.

Chris Penn has been training for five years with various instructors around the Northeast. He wishes to acknowledge fine instructors such as Stephen K. Hayes, Bud Malmstrom, Jack Hoban, and Mark Davis, who have all played important roles in his development. He would also like to thank Peter Steeves, the person who got him into ninpo in the beginning, and the F&M Ninpo Society for keeping the spirit alive. Mr. Penn can be reached at for questions, comments, and jokes.

The San Shin no Kata: Get a Ninja Body

by Richard Ray
You might wonder why I used the term "Ninja Body"... It is not a consideration of appearance. When I use the term "Ninja Body" I am in fact referring to a body that acts, and reacts like the body of the Ninja of old. The Ninja of long ago, were said to have much endurance, resilient strength, flexibility, and "spring".

One of the best ways to achieve these attributes, is by practicing the San Shin no Kata. This collection of techniques is said to be a special gift to Masaaki Hatsumi, from his teacher Toshitsugu Takamatsu. Hatsumi has said that the San Shin is a way to practice the basic attacking pattern by yourself. In addition these are the basics of how to use weapons. This was said to be one of Takamatsu's secrets.

Unfortunately, most people don't practice the San Shin in a way to reap it's full benefits. One reason for this is that maybe they just haven't been shown how to do it, or maybe (probably) because done correctly it's HARD! If done correctly, after a short while, you'll be breathing hard, and the muscles in your legs and lower back, will start to burn.

So, what are some of the problems that I see when people practice the San Shin? Well in no particular order the most common ones are:

1.High Stances. (People don't go low probably because it hurts!)
2.Disjointed movement. (Everything must move together)
3.Lack of concentration. (Some people think of the san shin as a warm up only)
4.Bobbing up and down. (The hips are to remain level)
5.Moving the shoulders past the hips.
6.No flow. (People sometimes step, and then block, and then...It should flow)
7.Bad alignment. (Not understanding the power line)
Those are the most commonly seen ones, and simply correcting these will improve your taijutsu by leaps and bounds. Remember, the lessons learned in the san shin, are the foundation of the Kihon Happo, and the Kihon Happo are the foundation to all of the kata etc.

So what then is my prescription for a "Ninja Body"?

These are the lessons that my experience has shown me to proper perfomance of the San Shin no Kata:

1) The first kata is Chi no kata. Chi means earth, and this kata is the foundation to all Budo/Ninpo taijutsu including weapons. The lessons of Chi is the power line, the front leg pull, stance length, and keeping your hips level.

Question, what do we hit with? Answer the spine! That is actually what does the hitting shuto, keri, whatever, are an extension of the hitting spine. The power comes up from the earth. Grows from the earth you could say....

So, Chi no kata... From shizen no kamae, swing the hips around in a circle, and form Shoshin no kamae. The movement starts with a gripping of the earth with your toes. From there pull, and while keeping your head level (remember no bobbing!) Move your hips forward, and step out to a distance no farther than the length of your inseam. If you step farther, let your rear leg slide to keep the distance.

As this is happening, your rear hand drops into shitanken. Now here is the tricky part... All happening at once, as the same unit, your front knee starts to bend, as your spine hits down to a 45 degree angle (you should feel this in the upper thigh hip, and back NOT THE KNEE!) And the Shitanken swings up, as the other hand pulls back to a Boshiken on the hip causing the hips to turn slightly. There! Are you in a straight line from front hand fingertips to rear leg heal? The line should be at 45 degrees, front knee over toes, and the weight should be held by the upper thigh, hip, and back. This action and posture is the foundation on which all of your future training will be built.

2) Now what is the next thing to appear on earth? Water, or in Japanese Sui / mizu. Before there were trees, or any life, there was water, and so next we have Sui no kata. Water covers the earth, is over the earth, and needs the foundation of the earth to support it. What forms can water take? Well, it can be a little pool just sitting there, still. It can be a river, or an ocean. It can be calm, or violent, hot, or cold, even frozen. Don't think of water as flowing out and crashing back...It's that and more. Water is adaptability!

Hatsumi has said that our kamae should become water, and we should "feel" as though our limbs are submerged in water. The lessons of Sui no kata, are flow, adaptability, and the idea of floating in water. People who have a background in Qi Gong will recognize the idea of floating in a pool of qi. This points to the advanced concepts "hidden" in the san shin.

Ok, Sui no kata, assume shoshin no kamae. Breath in, and start jodan uke. As you start the uke, if you keep alignment, you will notice that at a certain point your spine moves, and that that starts your hips moving, as your hips move you have to step to keep alignment. So...STEP! :-) Every move should should be in a link like a whip, one move starts the other... A flow.

Now, the step should land at the exact time the uke lands, as the uke hits your front foot should slide back a little to start your forward motion. Pull with the front foot (your toes point at ukes centerline) and rock your hips forward while keeping your jodan uke on his arm (or where it "would" be if doing alone...)

Bring rear hand up and omote shuto. Remember to hit with the spine, and you should be in the end position of chi no kata.

3) Next you have fire, or in Japanese Ka / Hi. Without earth and water, there is nothing to burn... Fire teaches expansion, and contraction, and how we attack in the Bujinkan.

Start in Shoshin no kamae, and begin Sui no kata. Everything is the same except when you start to rock forward you bring the rear hand up to the front shoulder, as you do so you turn your rear hip and shoulder to point a little past centerline in the direction of your jodan uke.

What this should feel like is this.... Imagine that your rear hand and hip / shoulder is fire. Your uke punches on center line, and your jodan uke knocks their hand off centerline creating a space between centerline, and their punch. This space is like opening a door, and by opening the door you create a back draft. This sucks you in through the opening. As you get sucked in you contract, and then expand, and overcome them. Hit with ura shuto, and end in the position of chi no kata.

4) Have you ever been around a huge fire? What do you notice aside from heat....Wind! Fire and wind go hand in hand. Fire attracts wind, and wind can make a fire go out of control. It feeds it, and makes it grow in both size, and intensity. Hatsumi has said that we should move like the wind. Like a piece of paper in the can't catch it. When you go to grab it it's already behind you....

Fu no kata... Start in Shoshin no kamae. Everything is the same as in Sui no kata at first except you respond with gedan uke. Continue as in sui no kata, until you start to rock over your knee...As you do so you will hit with Boshiken, and end in the position of Chi no kata. The real "trick" in this kata is timing! At first it is VERY hard to do it right, and takes lots of practice. When the gedan uke is done right, your ukes leg will pull his hips, and that will cause his spine to lean back some. At that point you can see very clearly the path of the Boshiken.

It is like a missile going up a launching pad. Right into Jinchu BAM! Be careful! When done right, the uke almost always lands on their head!

5) The last element is Ku. Some people translate this as void, or nothingness.

It is best to just say Ku. The ku used here is from the Buddhist vocabulary. Buddhists believe that everything is Ku. In other words all things are dependent and can't exist on there own. There is no one thing that is out there all by it's self.

No matter what you find, if you look closer, you see it's dependence, and therefore it's Ku. Buddhism teaches that there are three schools of dependence. They are as follows:

a) Things are dependent on it's causes. For example a pencil exists because we have wood, and lead, and metal etc. and people to make pencils, or machines but then we need people to make machines Etc. You can take one part of that pencil, lets say the wood, well you need trees, and they need water, and earth and sun, and carbondioxcide, and then you can take one of these, like the sun...What is that dependent on? You can go on, and on. So a pencil is all of these things, yet none of these things. Which brings us to the next school.

b) Things are dependent upon their parts. Can a pencil be a pencil with out lead? When we think of pencil, don't we think of a certain shape as well? It even has it's own name "pencil shaped" say that to someone and they know exactly what you mean...They get a picture of it in their head even!

So if you look, you see that a pencil has to have, for us to consider it a pencil... A"pencil shape" lead, maybe an eraser etc. But, is a pencil an eraser? Or is it lead? Or even a "pencil shape"? Where is the pencil???? Which brings us to the last school...

c) Things are dependent on us naming them. A pencil seems to really exist doesn't it? But when you look you can't find it. Sure you can pick up a pencil in your hand, and say is a pencil! But I say to you, Where is the pencil? What is the pencil? What if someone from the jungle who never seen a pencil found it, and thought, hmm.... What is this...Then he thought ah ha you stab things with it, and he shows it to his neighbors, and they say what's that? And he replies's...a.... it's a Gumbie! You stab things with it!

What if you meet this jungle man, and seen his gumbie, and said, HA! That's not what that is for...That's a pencil! You don't stab things with it, you write with it. Sure you can stab things, but that's not what it's for...The jungle man looks at you like your nuts and says....A pencil!?!? It's a Gumbie!!! Ok....maybe you can write with it, but that's not what its for!!! So I ask you, where is the pencil?......

Ku no kata...Start in Shizen no kamae. Start gedan uke as you drop back. The gedan uke, and step should land at the same time. Before the movement is completed, your rear hand flies up and forward out of nowhere...Like out of the earth...You expand, and as part of that expansion you kick Zenpo Geri.

So the earth gives us our foundation, the water teaches us to adapt, the fire is the character of our strikes, the wind is how we move, and the qi or ki that makes our taijutsu alive. And Ku is just that... Its all of the lessons, but none of them in particular. So I ask you...Where is Ku no kata? Where is henka? Where are you?!??!??? Kyojutsu desu neh! gambatte kudasai!!!

Richard Ray has been a student of Budo Taijutsu for over 15 years, and has attained the rank of San Dan Shidshi Ho, and is a proud member of the American Shidoshi Kai Fellowship. In addition to training in the Bujinkan martial arts, Mr. Ray has 23 years of experiance in Jeet Kune Do, and Chinese, south east asian martial arts. Mr. Ray plans on taking Novice Monk vows, in the Lin Chi sect of Ch'an Buddhisim. For questions or comments write to

End Notes

by Liz maryland Hiraldo
I would like to thank this month's contributors to the newsletter for taking the time to write articles and help spread some knowledge around. I find it a bit disheartening, though, to see so few articles in this month's edition. Some would say that their time is better spent training. I, however, see this endeavor as a sort of training exercise. By reflecting on and articulating an experience, or kata, or training exercise, you learn more from it. You gain value from the experience and others share in your knowledge. I encourage all of you to write your training experiences down - whether or not they are to be published. It will help you gain deeper insight into your training, and may even help you to improve.

See you in May.

This newsletter was started to connect budo/ninpo taijutsu practitioners from all backgrounds together. Ura & Omote's goal is to provide a forum where we can easily gather and disseminate information (both "obvious" and "hidden"), ask questions and, more importantly, get answers, and share experiences while living the art.
Here's the leagalese
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. If you enjoy reading this newsletter, feel free to distribute it to any system/online forum/BBS/web page you want. You may also print this newsletter and distribute it to anyone interested, provided you don't charge a fee for this service. If you've received a copy of this newsletter from a friend, please E-mail the editor - Liz maryland at: - to be placed on our direct e-mail distribution list. Enjoy!!!

Liz maryland is the editor of this newsletter. She's glad to be back spreading knowledge around the world. An instructor at Hô Shin Dojo, in New York City, she still indulges in her love for picked ginger and Black & Tans (made with Guinness of course!) She also would like to thank her WebMaster, Adam Nelson for making this site possible. E-mail Liz at:
2017 aug. 24.
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