|[ olvasnivaló » Ura & Omote - 1998 March ]|
(Soke spent several minutes before practice taking about how the sword is used.) "You don't have to cut with this blade. Just let it fall. It would cut right through armor or a helmet. Splat! (his onomatopoeias most descriptive)."
(After bowing in, Soke pulls out a pamphlet-like photocopy, opens it to the first page, and throws it to the floor.) "Noguchi! Seino! Show us some Shinden Fudo-ryu!" (The two Shihan waddle over and get down on their knees to read the book. One of them says under his breath, "Nichigeki no kata" to which Soke pipes, his back to them as he pans the room, "Yes! From Nichigeki!" (And so class begins.)
"Practice this fundamental technique five times apiece."
(Soke calls his uke to throw him. Within seconds, the uke falls to the ground screaming in pain. "But Soke didn't do anything?" you question, but you know there was something...) "Only the person who had it done to himself understands. There is so much that you cannot see. You must experience it yourself. You must practice and find out how these things work." (After a few minutes, Soke begins showing us some of the sneakier finger grabs he had utilized on his poor uke. Another layer of the onion revealed.)
(Concerning a finger grab to the nerves) "You must practice this until you canget it every time without fail."
"It is like I said about my time in Holland. They were all so big, that if I didn't use techniques that 'can't be grasped', I could never have taken any of them down. You must discover how to do techniques that cannot be grasped." "This movement is very natural. So you must, in a sense, create your ownnature."
"You are all already Shihan level. Don't worry about techniques. Just win."
"You are all focusing too much on applying techniques. There is no need." (Turns and walks away as his uke falls to the ground, a victim of common-sense physics.)
"It is not strength. Taijutsu requires you to use no strength."
"It is the same with a bo, or a yari, or a naginata. You just lower it down to set up and then stab in. And still again from there, it is the same." (Moves as he throws his uke to the ground).
"This is why we have spent these last five years going through bo, naginata, yari, sword, and jo. It is only now that you could possibly understand their connection to one another, and how you could understand Shinden Fudo-ryu."
"Break their arm over the bo."
"It's just like Takamatsu-sensei used to say, a gun should not be held when aiming, it must be 'thrown' at the target when aiming."
"With Shinden Fudo-ryu you are in armor. Real armor is very heavy so if you relaxed your muscles, the weight of the armor would crumple down on you. Remember this. So they go to grab you to throw you to the ground, all you need to do is open up and grab the 'skirt' here behind them. So long as you do that, they cannot throw you. And from here, you can reach up and grab the back of their helmet to tip their head back. This will allow you to punch, otherwise you would hurt your hand on their mask. (Makes his hand into a bear paw, and brings it to his uke's face) Or you could place your hand on their mask here, and slam it into their face. Just keep a hold, and keep slamming it to bloody them up. Then you could rip the mask off, or just force their head back, exposing their neck. This is how you must train."
(Soke takes out his sword.) "Now we will begin with tying the sword. In Shinden Fudo-ryu you fold the tassels over in half like this, and then tie it loosely like this so if you grab either end and pull, it comes undone. (Does so) Don't tie it too tightly. It must be able to fully extend with one tug. Then from there, you put the sword into your belt as normal. The tassle? It can go either over the top, or under the bottom. Then you tuck it here in front to keep it out of the way."
"When you draw your sword in Shinden Fudo-ryu, you do so as if moving into Ichinokamae (Does so empty-handed). Practice this for a few minutes... Try not to twist your body too much. Remember Ichinokamae."
"There are three ways to draw your sword. (Pulls his sword close so it is standing straight up) (Something)age. (Returns his sword to the center so it is parallel with the ground) Chu, which is what I just showed you. (Tilts his weapon forward so the hilt points to the ground a few feet in front of him) And Sageage. (Draws his weapon. He then resheaths it and asks Noguchi-sensei to stand before him with a sword. Soke draws his sword to Noguchi-sensei's leg using Sageage). When you draw, you are not drawing to 'cut'. You are drawing to 'plunge' (the sword into them). Splat! (Soke makes one onomatopoeia after another, 'plunging' his sword into an invisible opponent, then 'grinding' the sword around inside their body, then removing the weapon, raising it high against his head, and coming down in a gigantic chop - finishing the job.)
(Soke walks over to Noguchi-sensei and asks him to grab him and try to throw him. Noguchi-sensei tries to oblige, but is stopped in mid-throw by Soke dropping his weight and repositioning himself. As he does this he brings his furthest hand up and touches the back side of his neck. This helps him keep his spine straight, and then acts as windup to a haymaker punch from hell to Noguchi-sensei's face. Soke shows the technique again. The third time, however, he brings his other hand behind his head to show that it can be done either way. This was not anything mind-blowing at the time. What followed, however, left everyone in the room speechless. Rather than punching Noguchi-sensei in the face as expected, Soke's hand returned from behind his head carry a KNIFE! He slashed across Noguchi-sensei's neck with the rubber weapon and walked away; no one saw what happened until Soke stopped moving and people could focus on the object in his hand. The fact that he could hide the weapon for so long without detection was shocking. It came from nowhere like a magician's sleight of hand, and was quite a lesson. He panned the room confidently and said, " This is what you must learn."(This, my friends, was truly spooky.)
"Who here can do a judo-like roll? Here. Watch how it's done." (Shows us)
"Okay, that's enough of that."
"When your opponent grabs you and tries to throw you, first of all, drop your weight. Keep your right elbow tight here, but don't punch. Place your fist here in front of theirs. Then from there, push to throw them to their back."
"Use only your elbow to control them."
"The reason why the tsuka (for Shinden Fudo Ryu) is so long is so you can do things like this. (Chokes his uke)."
"Please be aware of where you are striking." (Hits Ed Lomax in the back of the neck with the middle knuckle of his left hand, followed with a punch to the same place, then did a hooked dragon tooth to the other side of his neck from the front with his r.h.)
"Everyone only teaches one-on-one techniques nowadays. All of them - kendo, kempo, iai, everything. They don't take into account another opponent. It is sometimes easier for you with multiple opponents. No one teaches this way anymore... I am not saying for vanity reasons. It's just that no one teaches this way anymore. It's as if those iai teachers don't even know this stuff ever existed."
"This is the same with any weapon. You should understand this because of what we studied over the past few years." (Does the same technique, mimicking use of a naginata.)
"The difference between judo and what we do is that in judo, you have the intention of throwing someone. So you tend to utilize strength and speed to try to win. But this means, of course, that as you age, you lose your ability. But with our throws, you are not intending to throw them. You are merely trying to take advantage of your opponent's weaknesses - to fill up their holes, in a sense. And since you do not rely on strength, your abilities will not deteriorate over time. You will actually be better because you cannot use strength to apply your techniques."
"Okay, Ed. Start from Nichigeki."(Ed starts out fine, then does a henka at the end). "No, no! Do the standard nichigeki with no henka." (Ed obliges. Class begins.)
"When your opponent tries to do the throw, you must roll faster (in the same direction they are going to throw you), striking them with your elbow as you do so. Then as you follow through, crush their chest cavity with your elbow (once they end up on their back)... Don't really DO this now!!! It's too dangerous. I am merely showing you."
"You must practice trying to make yourself into a ball."
(After showing a particularly difficult maneuver, Soke quipped) "Old farts can't do this." (The truth is most young whippersnappers couldn't do it either. ;-)
"You must grab their hand with both hands so you will not lose your grip when you go to throw them."
"Okay. Noguchi, teach."
(Noguchi-sensei) "If you don't keep your back straight when you do a technique such as this, it appears that you have distanced yourself properly from them, when in fact you haven't. This, in fact, puts you in a very dangerous position."
(At one point, Soke started calling people out to demonstrate. When he saw that people didn't get the principle, he started cracking down hard. Let me assure you that at intense times such as these, there is no translation going on. Only the Japanese speakers can understand every nuance of his anger, but believe me everyone knows something is up.) "No! Do it again! Lead with your shoulder. Don't stop midway... Do it again. No! You're stopping... I am correcting you for the benefit of everyone... (I'm sure they didn't feel that way at the time) Do it again!"
(After working on techniques that put undo strain on the neck) "Okay. Let's set those techniques aside. Too dangerous. Let's move on then."
"This is not a choke. (It broke the seventh vertebra... backwards! Bringing it to the point of no return hurt like the dickens, by the way.)"
"You can press only on the chin, or let your arm slide up and take the nose. (Laughs as his uke screams in pain at this seemingly innocuous "choke")."
"Cover them completely with your entire body... (Jumps on his uke like a panther. All fours spread out wide.) He's big, so I can' use arm strength. (Begins applying a choke, using all his body weight.) Use your entire body." (His uke, who just happened to be six foot six, hopped off the ground; he had been laying on his back, folks.)
"Watch carefully and learn from others."
"Doing this with a sword should be no different (Puts his sword in his obi and then shows us)."
"Once you have practiced taking out one person, practice defending against multiple opponents. (Rather than drawing his sword against the man he just threw, he turned in a random direction to face off with invisible opponents.)"
"If they don't go down, keep changing the angle at which you are applying pressure to feel them out so you can eventually break their balance."
"Don't be trying to utilize ukemi in this roll. It is not yoko nagare. Just twist yourself as you fall to the ground; they'll have to come with you."
"You must learn how to roll straight onto your own bo for this technique. You must make sure to position it so you can very naturally roll onto it and thus your opponent. This would be devastatingly effective if you had armor on."
"Switch your grip on your sword here, using only your fingers, like this."
"When this doesn't work, just start pounding on them with the Dakken way of finishing them off. This stuff works without a doubt." (Smiles)
(Concerning close in punching) "It's the same, but different. (Punches his opponent several times in succession with his right hand) It's the same, but different. You can't see the difference (in the punches) with your eyes, but he (the uke) can feel the difference. (The uke nods as he nurses his bruised rib area)"
"Don't forget to practice both sides (left and right)."
"You don't always have to grab with your hand down (as I showed you)."
"Not every punch is going to be at Jodan (face) level. You always practice that way so you forget that punches could come to Chudan (midlevel) or Gedan (below the belt) levels as well. Please practice all three."
(At one point, when showing us a variation of Gekkan, his uke ends up flipping onto his back, rather than onto his stomach as the technique demanded. Soke laughed, and turned to us, saying) "Don't let them flip over like that. (They started again, and this time, Soke made sure his uke couldn't squirm his way out of the impending pain. ;-)" "To throw them to their stomach, pull them a little forward, and then down."
"Okay. Let's show the Dakken way of doing this technique."
"When you move to take the hand here, use your (right) elbow to strike into their chest."
"Strike them, and keep striking them, to put them down!"
"Don't let them go! (He calls to a visitor) Come here. Punch. (The visitor complies. Soke elbows, shutos, then punches the poor guy. Soke doesn't let him go until he's pummeled him to the ground, literally.) Don't let them go. Do you understand? (The dude looks stunned, and nods his head. No words necessary for that one, folks.)"
"To break the elbow here with your knee, you must make sure to line up perfectly perpendicular. If you don't have this angle, you won't be able to do it."
"There are many, many ways you can punch. I am showing you that they all work, and all can be used."
"Be careful. If you slip or lose your balance, you will severely injure your partner. Please be careful."
"Even if they have a fist, if you place it against your body when trying to apply Hongyaku, it will work."
"When they bring the sword up into kamae (after drawing to strike you and missing), attack them by either striking them or chucking your bo at them (spearlike)."
"When you wear your sword, you want to make sure it is pointing out in front of you like this. Don't let it droop. This is wrong. Pull it out of your obi a little so it stays in balance. Then when you want to draw it, make sure to push your scabbard back with your left hand as you draw... Then when resheathing, pull your scabbard forward again till it snaps into place. This looks really cool. (Laughs)"
"Make sure to perfect your angling. In this way, you will be able to lead people astray."
"Use everything you've learned until now. Use your Taijutsu."
"This technique is almost identical to this well-known Jujutsu technique. (Soke then shows us) Please practice this until you can get it."
"You don't actually have to grab them to get this technique to work. It's like when electricity flows between two objects that are separated. It is this space that you must learn to utilize."
"For every technique you learn, you must understand the ten thousand henka that are possible for it."
"Now, I'd like to show you an interesting way of punching."
"It doesn't matter if you hit them with the shuto or not, because from here (his right hand pointing directly at his uke's face), you can punch (does so)."
"This hand is not really coming up to grab and pull. Everyone is moving as if it is. This hand is covering you the entire time. Keeping this in mind, it is very easy for you to take the gyaku here (does so)."
(Soke puts his uke flat on his face on the floor and turns his uke's hand completely over, palm flat) "This is a gyaku. You cannot see it from there (Lifts his foot to reveal the hand) But if you experience this firsthand, you'll understand."
"If you only focus on one technique, it is the same as being dead. You must understand the life of every technique."
"Okay, it's time to do a little sword."
(Soke puts a sword in his obi and Noguchi-sensei prepares to punch) "Anyone who would punch at someone wearing a sword has to be weird...(Laughs) Get a bo, Noguchi."
"Just come straight to that shoulder. (Soke places his sword on the body of his uke) You don't even have to cut because when you step away from them (does so), the blade will (drag and) cut them."
"It doesn't matter if you punch them int he shoulder, the muscle, or the nerve. Just so long as you hurt them. (Laughs)"
"When doing Segan no Kamae with a Shinden Fudo-ryu sword, please keep your elbow in tight against your body. This will help keep you from tiring out from its weight."
"If you keep them standing, and merely rest your sword on them, it does not matter how many other opponents come."
"If I rest my sword right here (on his opponents chest, only inches from the neck), that's the end (i.e. his uke would have to be an idiot to try to do anything)."
"There will be training Sunday and Tuesday from 1:00 at Hombu. There will be no practice here on Tuesday."
"I have just finished the ken, tachi and katana video."
"After breaking their arm here, give it a crank once around for good measure. (I winced at this one)"
"Okay, Shiraishi. Show us the basic Fubi technique."
"It's important to utilize the freedom of movement in the human body. Everyone should become like octopi to be able to engulf everything."
"You bring your hands up the middle of theirs and up onto their neck. Either are okay; either to the inside or the outside."
"You can also apply nerve pinches to their neck here, before spreading their arms."
"You must drop your weight to get the headbutt. Doing it from here will not be effective. If you drop here and strike to this point, you will crack their skull."
(At one point, Soke laid down on the floor and said) "Go ahead. Put me in any lock you wish. (Inviting people to try some Judo and Jujutsu locks on him)"
"When they apply such a choke, it is important to use your shoulder to free yourself. Use your entire body."
"The feet are just like the hands."
(Concerning groundfighting against the mount) "You must bring your leg to the inside here to be able to utilize it."
(After about 20 minutes of groundfighting, Soke decided to change techniques) "Okay. That's enough groundfighting for today."
"I taught Wangetsu no Kamae last week, so working from there... This is Wangetsu, but you must also practice the stance in Gedan."
"Be careful of those around you."
"Imagine this is a bisento. It is very heavy. That is why the left hand against the body is so important. Then from there, let the weapon fall. There is no need to cut. The weight of the weapon will do that for you. Then from there, cut up diagonally, extending fully with your body."
"If you understand this movement, then you can understand bojutsu. (Grabs his bo and makes for the center of the circle)"
"Here, everyone, watch. Doing this technique in bojutsu requires you to be in ihen no kamae. (Nods for the attack to come, whacks it aside, then whacks the sword out of the way.)"
"Now, let's look at the other side, and understand how the ken is to be used (When his thrust is blocked with the technique he just taught, Soke quickly flips his weapon, using the nagare the block provided, and whacks his opponent.)"
"Okay, let's do this with a sword. They come to grab you, and you draw your sword here-sideways. (the sword held at waist level pointing at 11:00, the tip about two feet in front of his navel.)"
"Okay. Someone manages to grab your hand when you go to draw. Use your body to draw here and it will not matter.
"If two people grab you like this, always move closer to one of them like this."
"You should also learn to draw as you turn around."
"As you can see, Someya's sword is very long. You must practice drawing and utilizing your weapon in very confined spaces-when you have no space in front of your, no space above you, and none to your side as well."
"If you can understand this, then you will begin to understand true iai."
"The trick to using your sword effectively is to minimize the extent to which your move the blade. Don't go swinging it around more than necessary or you will open yourself to an attack."
"Okay, Pedro. Teach anything you want. Pedro-style. All good."
"You must learn to observe the punching arms coming at you. If they come in with a tatezuki like this, then you must shuto in this way. This will break their bone here. If they come in with a seiken, you must strike the arm at a different angle, so you do not hurt yourself and can inflict proper damage on them. If you catch this angle here, you can break this other bone here."
"If you get the shuto correctly, you should be able to punch directly into the same place with the same hand."
"The walking on this technique is very important."
"When you kick, you are not just kicking without purpose. You must find the angle you need to attack specific targets on that attacking leg. If you kick their muscle here, it will tighten up for example and make subsequent kicks more difficult. Please train with these things in mind."
"When you are wearing your sword, have it sticking forward a little. Then to draw, push your scabbard back and draw with your body."
"I taught Wangetsu before, didn't I? Okay, well, then, let's move on to Ryusei. That's the kanji for 'flow' and 'star'."
"In Ryusei, you must rest your sword on your arm like this... Do not point your sword directly at them."
"You should be able to hold it quite comfortably with either arm. This is helpful when your sword is heavy."
"If you can hold it with only one arm like this, your other hand is free. You can draw your shoto here, for example, if nother opponent were to come, throwing it at them like this."
"Start with your sword in Segan, then move into Ryusei. Your tip can be pointing straight at them at first, but them move it to the side so as to entice them to attack you. Then ."
"They have their sword sheathed, then approach you. When they come to draw, drop back yourself to keep your distance and draw into Segan. From there, you can safely move into Ryusei."
"Do not cut. Twist you body and let the weight of your weapon cut for you."
"If you can do this, you can do this without weapons."
"When I went to America, I did a similar type of technique on some very high level Karateka - fifth or sixth dans. They were astonished at how easily they ended up falling to the ground."
"Because it looks like nothing, and in fact is nothing, if you get good at this movement, you can have real fun with it in a real fight. (Laughs)"
"You could do this same technique with ice skates on... You all know that ninja used to train by walking on ice with geta. Well, that type of training would pay off in this way, too."
"If you understand this, you can understand Fubi."
"Do Fubi, utilizing this technique... Noguchi, teach!"
"Do Fubi, but this time do not drop all the way to the ground. You must be aware of things that may be on the ground that could hurt you if you landed on them. You must be in complete control of your body and not just blindly fall to your back on techniques like Fubi. This is a kind of ukimi practice. (The translator naturally misheard Soke and said 'ukemi', to which Soke repeated again for emphasis,) No, ukimi! (Literally translated, this is 'floating practice')"
"In this ukimi practice, you are not trying to put on a specific technique, but by clinging to them like this, you prevent them from doing anything. If you had shuko or soko on your hands or feet (respectively), you could easily use them to inflict damage of climb up them like a tree."
(Via a practitioner) "When you jump, you must do it in such a way that your opponent cannot detect that you are preparing to jump. If they see you moving your arms, or other such movements, they will be prepared for you."
"As you can see, everyone has so many good things to teach. That is why there is no number one. Everyone has something to share, and you have a responsibility to learn from anyone and everyone."
"See! See how good everyone is! You are all better than me!" (Not quite, Soke)
"Once you can do this, you can do it with bo, bisento, sword, anything."
(While teaching a throw) "If they don't go down, simply sit on their leg here."
"Use that technique, but with shuriken nage. (After the practitioner doesn't quite get it right, Soke borrows the shuriken and shows us how it's done) Once you get to this point, you should be able to turn in any direction to face any number of opponents."
"If you can imagine this as a bisento, you can see how the weapon's weight could be used. And if another person attacks you midway (Soke takes two attackers out with the same move), you can take them both out here."
"Do you understand? (The person who he asks shakes his head) Well, then. We can't very well move on if one of you doesn't understand. Here, let me show you again."
(During the time when everyone gets up to show a technique from the practice, Soke turned and smiled, saying) "It's nice to just sit and watch others like this. You can learn a lot."
"Okay. Who's taking the fifth dan test today? Okay. Let's go."
"This will be the last day for Fubi."
"Let's start with jumping."
"This technique can be brutally effective with a knife (After showing us a disgusting technique wherein he carves away half the guy's neck, Soke turns and adds,) This is how to use a knife."
"This is why it is so important not to teach bad people these techniques. The Bujinkan needs not grow any larger than it already is; rather it needs those practicing already to understand these points."
"The difference between a mere child and a budoka is that a child doesn't recognize the full potential of an object in his hands. If you yourself can't recognize the full potential of any weapon you pick up, you are merely a child."
"If you can do this, you will understand how to kick with both legs at the same time."
"Okay, Andrew. Do Fubi, but jump to his neck, instead of his waist. (Andrew obliges) Very good. Practice this with three people please. The extra person needs to stand behind the victim to keep them from being knocked down."
"Be careful when practicing the jump in Fubi to the neck. You could severely damage their neck."
"You must be able to jump onto someone in such a way that they cannot detect you in any form. This is very important... This is Shinobi. If you can understand this, then you can begin to understand Ninjustu."
"Okay, jump on their back and draw their sword. (After a few minutes of practice, Soke calls on each pair to come out and show their variations)"
"Okay. Jump on their back and steal his shuriken and throw them from there... If you punch him once and you hear shuriken clink against each other, then you know they are there and can chose to use them. If you can maneuver behind him, you can jump on him and steal them from his pocket..."
"Okay, Shiraishi. Here are some (plastic) shuko. Attack him with this Fubi technique with these shuko. (He does)."
"You must understand how you could do Fubi with shuko or soko. This is just a natural extension of the technique. But to come to that reasoning you must first learn to do it with only your bare hands and feet."
"If you had a gun, you could jump onto one of your opponents and cling to him as you take out the rest. He would also act as a shield for you at the same time."
"Imagine a scene in which two lovers are embracing, perhaps kissing. The man could draw his gun, hold it behind his partner as if hugging here, and still cleanly shoot someone standing to his side. You must train with such potentialities in your head at all times. And you must continue to come here and train with me, regardless of your rank, to keep up this mindset."
"This isn't written in the scrolls. All this couldn' be written. Think of what's written in the scrolls as mere hints."
"What sword technique did I teach you the other day? Wangetsu? ... Ryusei? ... Let's just work from Wangetsu. Okay, here you are in Wangetsu. The blade can face either way; that's not important. When they come to thrust ('suki'), you don't want to cut ('kiru'), you want to thrust ('sukomu')your blade tip into their 'do' (side). Do not cut. By thrusting into their body here, you are easily able to defend here if they try to counter."
"You can then just push your blade, using your body, into them. Then once behind them, attack their other 'do'. This is the Fubi way of doing this technique."
"If you can learn to thrust into the body in this way, it will not matter if there are object between your blade and them. This includes even armor. You will be able to cut right through armor."
"Okay, here is Wangetsu. Please note the elbow here. You cannot learn this from a video screen. It is so important you learn this from someone who really knows."
"The trouble with most students of sword is they try to form their kamae using only their wrists. You must start your kamae from your elbow, then your shoulder, then your body. In this way, you will learn to proper way of kamae."
"For this, practice with your partner so as to mirror each other. That way you both can see how it works."
"If your partner is making a mistake, such as leaning his or her head to one side, it is your job as a partner to correct them and help them to recognize that mistake."
"For many years, many of the best sword teachers in Japan did not get along so they never shared their knowledge with each other. So the evolution of everyone practicing the sword was stifled. Things are okay now, and we can all come together like this and share what we know amongst ourselves. This is so important."
"You must learn how to jump onto them and 'sit' on them (with your legs wrapped around them as in Fubi). If you can do this correctly, they will be trapped literally standing up."
"What you do is have a small woman stand there, and then try to jump onto them and do this technique. If you can't do it without them falling over, you are no good at Taijutsu. It could be very dangerous for you if they fall over with your legs like that."
(At one point during practice, I became involved in a very interesting conversation with Soke and Yasue-sensei. After we finished, Soke wanted me to share part of our conversation with everyone else. Although I was unsure of all of the specifics of the story, Soke was more interested in the principle, than the specifics. He told everyone to sit down, and so I began.) "Soke wanted me to share a story with you. I don't know who I originally heard it from, perhaps you, Tim (Bathurst), but that's not that important. There is a man who frequents a dojo in England. He is name is Joe Vaughn and he is one of Soke's friends. He was one of the first SAS in England and has seen many things in his lifetime. He is also extremely old now. He watches the training at this dojo with eagle-like eyes as he leans stoically against his cane. Every once in a while he pipes up with a comment like "Fix your stance!" or "You must be more focused!" Well, one day, the people in this dojo were practicing assassination techniques with the knife. Joe shook his head at what he saw and said something like, "That's not how it's done... You, you be a sentry and stand guard. When you hear or sense me, then turn and defend yourself." The person who was chosen to be "guard" stood in the center of the dojo and the elderly man mixed in with the people standing around watching this unfold. After a while, this 80-year-old man comes crawling in on his hands and knees, the knife held tightly between his teeth. Slowly he made his way over to the guard, then without warning, jumped from his hands and knees and slashed the guard across his neck. This was the same man Soke once told us about. He went into a pub that was quite packed with people, pulled the pin out of a grenade, everyone scrambled for cover, he walked up, replaced the pin, and got himself a drink at the now open bar. Soke has given this man a tenth-dan..." (Andrew Young was then asked to translate the story into Japanese. When he finished, Soke added the following,) "I will translate for myself here. What was significant was this some 80-year-old man jumping from his hands and knees up to slice the man's neck. To understand this true killing spirit, summoning the mind strength and timing at just the right point, is quite amazing and equally rare. And there is much to learn from such a man. There is no doubt how he could have earned a tenth dan from me at his age."
"Translation is another form of training. There are several people I am teaching in this way (It's more like torturing, Soke) Translation is not an easy task."
"Okay, everyone practice jumping into Fubi from your hands and knees. If an 80-year-old can do it, then all of you should be able to do it. (Laughs)"
"Today was very good training. I will see you all next month."
Bud Malmstrom was born in San Angelo, Texas on January 20, 1952. After serving in the United States Marine Corps, Mr. Malmstrom settled in Atlanta, Georgia, where he met and married his wife Bonnie, raised his family, earned a degree in accounting from Georgia State University, began his training in the Bujinkan martial arts (over twenty years ago), established the Bujinkan Atlanta Dojo, and became a member of the police force. He gives instruction in defensive tactics and firearms at the Public Safety Training Institute and is a certified Executive Protection Specialist. He has been awarded the rank of judan (10th level black belt) in the Bujinkan martial arts.
In short (no pun intended), he's the genuine article, and he's damn funny, too.
Ura & Omote: I've read that you had no martial arts experience
when you began studying this art.
Bud Malmstrom: That is correct.
U & O: Why did you choose to study this art?
BM: I didn't choose it. It kinda chose me. I just happened to be driving down the road one day and saw 'Karate' on this sign out of the corner of my eye and, for whatever reason, my body just turned into that parking lot, almost out of reflex. It happened to be the only ninja school in the Western hemisphere, and Steve was teaching.
He started me on some kind of hard-style Shotokan, whatever he was teaching at the time. I did that for about three weeks and I just couldn't stand it. I was punching air, blocking air. There were guys over in the corner that were actually hitting each other with sticks and knives and throwing each other down. That looked like a lot more fun so I asked him if I could do that and repeatedly he told me, "No, you have to be a brown belt in some other system because that's like real fighting. Do some other martial art first". So finally I said, "Look, I need to do that or I'm going somewhere else," and he said, "Well, OK. We'll try you over there." And I've been doing it ever since. So I didn't even know what a ninja was when I walked into his school.
U & O: Were you interested in martial arts before that? Were you
looking for a school to join?
BM: I had been in the Marine Corps for four years and that's really all the military or martial training I'd ever had. Then I was working six days a week, going to school three nights a week, and I needed something physical to do. I thought about gymnastics, but there is no adult gymnastics program anywhere in the world. So I thought, "Well, maybe I'll get into martial arts, and this place caught my eye. It kinda grabbed me and pulled me into the parking lot. There I was.
U & O: When you began training, what was your biggest
BM: Time. Like I said, I was working six days a week, going to school three nights a week, trying to raise a family (two kids and a wife), and then trained two nights a week as well. I got about four hours sleep per night for about four years. That was the hardest thing: just not having enough time.
U & O: What do you find your biggest obstacle is
BM: I don't really see any obstacles in my martial arts training right now. There's not enough free time for golf, maybe. . .
U & O: Why do you keep training after so long? After all you've
accomplished and experienced, couldn't you just concentrate on your teaching
activities and leave the training to your students?
BM: I think that there are certain things about whatever it is that you're doing that you cannot learn unless you teach it. That's from math to martial arts to pottery to whatever. I can't tell you what those things are, but I know that people that only train don't have it. People who only teach lose something, too, so you have to train and teach, both.
When I go around the world and do seminars the thing that I recognize the most about the teachers or the people who sponsor me is that they don't do enough of their own training. They're so busy teaching that they don't do a lot of their own training, and it requires a balance. If you only teach there's a lot you will lose. If you only train there's a lot you can't get.
U & O: Do you think there is an endpoint to this
BM: Probably about ten years after the student that you're connected to the most dies. Because I believe that Takamatsu still has some influence and input on Hatsumi-sensei. At least that's what Hatsumi-sensei says. He says every night he fights and learns and trains with Takamatsu in his dreams. That may be true. Hatsumi-sensei is getting a whole lot better, so maybe it is true. I think the endpoint for Takamatsu is after Hatsumi-sensei dies.
U & O: What's the focus of your personal training right
BM: My three wood. I'm having a hell of a time... [laughs]. Compacting movement. Making my timing and distancing and so forth more compact, so that it requires less taijutsu to accomplish the same thing, to achieve the same end result.
U & O: Why is it important for you to go to Japan and train with
BM: Because I think the further away from the source you get the more diluted the training and the essence of what should be taught and passed on is.
U & O: You've commented publicly about your involvement with
Manaka-sensei and the work he is doing with his own school, the Jissen Kobudo
Jinenkan. Is there any further comment you'd like to make on this
BM: Yes. I have trained with Manaka-sensei since he resigned from the Bujinkan. I believe that Manaka-sensei has things that he teaches that aren't generally taught anywhere else in the world. I think that his basics are very good and I think a lot of people in America need work on the basics. For me specifically, I need work on my basics, and Hatsumi-sensei doesn't teach the basics anymore. He's far beyond that. It would be like a college professor teaching how to add, or the ABC's: he's way beyond that. I think a lot of people need the ABC's. I know that I felt like I needed the ABC's, and that's why I trained there. But I want it clearly understood that I will never leave the Bujinkan so long as Hatsumi-sensei is the Grandmaster.
U & O: Of all your training experiences, which do you think has
had the greatest impact on your personal development?
BM: I would say the first time I met Hatsumi-sensei. We trained for ten days up at Steve's house in Ohio in 1982. I think that was probably the cornerstone to the effort and the energy that I've put into training to this point. There were many things that happened during that time: he broke my ribs, he pulled a live blade across my face and didn't cut me, I saw him do the godan test to himself - Steve tried to punch him in the back of the head and Sensei just stepped out of the way while he was in mid-conversation. There were a lot of things that happened to me in those ten days that made me stick it out to this point. I think that those ten days probably had the biggest impact on my training.
U & O: What is the focus of your teaching activities right
BM: The basics. I'm trying to get all of my people to be more precise and more specific about where they move, how they move, why they move, where their balance is, that kind of thing, so that at some point it's in their body enough to where they can let go of it.
U & O: What is the core lesson, if you could name one, that you
want your students to learn?
BM: That martial arts is a matter of living, not a matter of winning or losing.
U & O: Firearm and survival training are significant elements of
your curriculum. Why do you feel it is important to study these
BM: Firearms training is a reality in today's lifestyle, at least in the South. Many people carry a handgun here as private citizens. More importantly, almost all of the gangs and punks carry guns. If I truly want to protect my family in a situation where they may be in danger from one of these scavengers then it makes sense to have a gun on me and not in my car. And if you are going to carry it you should know how to use it.
As far as survival training, the more areas of life that you are familiar with the less you have to be afraid of. If you can survive in the woods, then your job becomes a choice rather than a necessity. Working becomes your choice and not something that you have no choice but to do. This is an extreme example, but the more advanced you get at wilderness survival the less equipment you need to survive. The only thing that you can take with you in any survival situation (physical, financial, spiritual, etc.) that doesn't weigh anything and no one can take from and use against you is knowledge. The only way to gain this knowledge is by doing it. So we do it.
U & O: There are those that believe that this art isn't for
everyone and especially not for women. What is your opinion regarding women in
BM: For those who believe this art isn't for everybody, I agree with them. But a person's attitude is what limits the appeal of this art to those people; their gender has nothing to do with it.
I think this art is really good for women because you don't have to be agile, super quick, aggressive or stronger than your opponent. I'm glad for my sake as well.
U & O: In what direction, ideally, would you like the Bujinkan in
America to go?
BM: I don't care. It will go wherever it's natural to go, so I will help it go there.
I would like to take a few moments of your time to explore the possibility of using pain as a tool. Trust me, I know that may seem laughable at first glimpse but please bear with me. At first the common reaction to pain, "Ow quit it! That hurts," appears quite logical. In my opinion it is not the best possible reaction though.
Studying the Art that we do we are all familiar with pain in varying degrees consistent with the way we individually choose to train. The purpose of pain is quite obvious. It's the body telling us "Hey dummy! You're about to break me" or whatever the case might be. Pain is our warning light, our diagnostic machine ready with instantaneous feedback. Really quite impressive if you compare it to our beloved technology. It not only tells us to stop doing something but also gives us reason not to do it again. Since you are a student of ninjutsu you probably haven't picked up on that part too well.
Since we choose to 'do it again' and again and again, why not also choose to use the pain to gain a deeper understanding. Instead of seeing the pain as a negative side-affect, let's open up to the pain.
I'm sure this method is individual and I'm sure my method is a beginner's understanding , but so far it seems to work. I like to open up to the pain as opposed to gritting my teeth and sort of fighting it. Try opening up your mind and letting the pain tear right through. Let it cascade through your whole body and just ride, look at it, admire it and respect it. The feeling I'm attempting to express is very much like a wind thing to me, like the pain is a wild horse.
Now, you may be asking why in the heck would you want to do that. Well you might just be weird, or you could see pain as a great teacher. Pain teaches us great many things, a few of which I will discuss as shortly as possible.
We can learn a lot about our bodies when we are subjugated to pain. Either an injury or just a well applied technique can give us intimate knowledge of a body parts form and function. Ever had an injury like a broken arm or something similar? If you have, you learned how important that part was to your overall function, and if it hurts when you do this, or that, then why is the question. Put the 'question' in the book in your head and the answer too if you find it. Apart from injury lets look at applied pain like we deal with in every class. Omote Gyaku, does that hurt or what? Great, delve into it. What hurts exactly, why, when does it hurt the most? You can't examine these issues if your brain is processing nothing but "OW!" You are Uke after all, not 'punching bag'. Build your skill with the lessons of your pain.
Regardless of religious affinity most folks can agree that Jesus was a great teacher. If you'll give me that I propose to glance at the spiritual implications of accepting pain. Nailed to a roman cross Jesus was thoughtful, deliberate, and kind. He expressed love for the very people who put him there. What do you do when you stub your toe? Are you thoughtful, deliberate, loving? I'm not. So when unexpected pain drops me into that core person I have insight that I can use to better myself. I'm not saying that if I can pretend it doesn't hurt I'm a better person. Just to use those moments to peek inside. Enough said on that.
My last point is one not so touchy. Preparing mind and body for a survival situation. This one is pretty simple, pay attention to yourself when you're in pain. What do you do? It's an important question because it's the same thing you're going to do when your life is on the line and every decision is crucial. If you're in a dangerous situation and you're injured, you can make the appropriate decisions if you know your strengths and weaknesses. For example, "I'm going to pass out if I try to use this arm", or "I'm going to fly into a blind rage if this arm gets hit." These would be good things to know if you're hiding or running from someone. The point being, once you're in that situation, it's a little late to be wondering about how this or that is going to affect you.
I'm certainly not suggesting anyone go around slamming their head into walls. Just read it and give it a try. It couldn't hurt.
We need to build experience through body memory and routine, and then when we have the experience, we need to throw away the memory because it can hinder us badly. For example, I've seen boredom in a relationship. Body memory became so strong and ingrained that it actually created the antithesis of its purpose - it created absolute boredom. Combine boredom with crisis and you get fracturing. Instead of building experience and then leaving behind the routine, this one couple kept the routine and killed the benefit of the experience.
This is what Hatsumi sensei and Manaka sensei talk about constantly. For beginners, we must work on the aspect of shu, the preservation of tradition and form. This is the body memory part, where we drill and practice to get the concepts and feeling burned into ourselves to burn away prior bad habits. Then we work on the ha aspect, the variation and diversion from the form. We call this henka in taijutsu, variations that preserve the spirit and feeling but change the application. Finally, we work on the ri aspect, the breaking. This is where we take the form, the mold, and we destroy it so that all we're left with is the essence of the concept. The arcane concept of shu-ha-ri becomes alive when we transcend the stoic Japanese to get at the concepts. We can look at anything from this pattern of growth.
Sometimes people see only the form and when the form is complete, they perceive that nothing remains. That's the way it was in my karate school. We had these kata (Japanese for forms) which we had to memorize with mental and body memory. When we perfected our memory, we moved on to the next kata. We never got at the essence of karate. We perceived that the form was the end, the completion.
Ninpo approaches its kata differently. We learn the form, the basics, and then we vary them. After varying them, we break free of them and make things happen spontaneously. For people who see only form, they never get at the secrets. That's why you'll hear Hatsumi rail against people who are kata collectors. The form is important - it's the first stage of growth. But we have to break free of it.
Form can also mean expectation, stereotype, or desire. For example, we have these images in our culture which we interpret as ideal. For Thanksgiving, we interpret a large dinner with a big turkey and all the trappings as the ideal. This is our form, and when life doesn't conform to our kata, our expectation, we come away disappointed. Think of how many forms we have, how many expectations. We expect a date to be dinner, a movie, and the intimacy afterwards, and people spend millions of dollars every year trying to fit to this form. The form is there to teach us the basics, but then we have to transcend the basics and get creative. Think about modern fashions. We interpret current fashion as a norm, which is another word for a form, a kata. We learn the kata as a means of understanding the principles of fashion, but some people never get past the image to the substance. They're stuck in form, in shu, forever, and they're constantly disappointed when things don't match form.
When you transcend form and reach variation and ultimately freedom, you really do stop being disappointed. You may go out on a date that doesn't resemble form in any way, no stereotype, but you can really enjoy it because the essence is there, the feeling and spirit of a real date. Likewise, you could go out on a date which matches the form perfectly, but you'll be unhappy because it's a routine - it's lacking the essence, the spirit. The same is true for any form and variation.
When you learn to recognize the essence of things, you can find happiness in places and situations that would baffle most people.
"Not often in the story of mankind does a man arrive on earth who is both steel and velvet, who is as hard as a rock and as soft as drifting fog, who holds in his heart and mind the paradox of terrible storm and peace unspeakable and perfect.
While the war winds howled, he insisted that the Mississippi was one river meant to belong to one country.
While the luck of war wavered and broke and came again, as generals failed and campaigns were lost, he held enough forces . . .together to raise new armies and supply them, until generals were found who made war as victorious war has always been made, with terror, frightfulness, destruction... valor and sacrifice past words of men to tell.
In the mixed shame and blame of the immense wrongs of two crashing civilizations, often with nothing to say, he said nothing, slept not at all, and on occassions he was seen to weep in a way that made weeping appropriate, decent, majestic."
The leader who would be balanced, points the way to victory regardless of the hardships involved, because it is the 'right' way, not because it is 'his' way. Toshitsugu Takamatsu, the 33rd Grandmaster of the Togakure Ryu of Ninjutsu and the teacher of our current Grandmaster once said that, "a true warrior sees life through a veil of tears." He or she can see the pain and suffering that exists and does those things necessary to bring that suffering to an end.
Finding that balance is not always easy though and the power of the earth realm is often distorted. A leader having too much earth, being too commanding is self-serving and egotistical. These are the dictators of the world. They command respect and obedience even through force if necessary.
They are the Saddam Huseins, Adolf Hitlers, Mafia Godfathers, and gang leaders of whatever race, creed, or fad ideology. They are in charge and will quickly illiminate any threat to that command, even family members if necessary. The opposite, but still unbalanced are those who are lacking the proper leadership qualities in that they feel inept and so must control others through bullying or having a 'bossy' attitude. These are the individuals who, no matter where they find themselves, must be in charge. They are the parents who volunteer to help the scout leaders on an overnight trip and 'make' themselves in charge. They are the players who insist on being captain of the team because it's their ball.
The one who would be leader is chosen by the group because they naturally inspire them. The true commander is balanced in his ability to lead and to let his charge lead themselves. He or she provides the inspiration, motivation, encouragement, and value that make doing things their way, the best way. They have the ability to be wrathful, as a parent sometimes must punish a child to teach them right from wrong; a warrior must damage another human being so that they or their loved ones may be safe; or a general might destroy much of a country to eliminate a group's ability to fight with others. They also have the capability to love, laugh, and even cry because they are in touch with the joys of the world, the futility of fighting, and the potential in unity.
Unlike most of our political leaders today who lack vision, inspiration, and the ability to motivate others; who sell 'pie in the sky' dreams to the people, promising to fix all the problems themselves with no work involved; the enlightened leader shows the people the truth and the way to create a world in which all will be prosperous. He or she is able to motivate the group to do the work necessary, no matter what the price, because it is what is right.
What about you. Do you lead in your family, workplace, civic or youth group, or church? What plans or dreams are you motivated by yourself by which you can inspire others? Do you remind others of the goal as the means to prompt action on their part or do you have to resort to bribery or threats to get things done? Like the Dalai Lama of Tibet, Gandhi, Lincoln, and Hatsumi-sensei, we must have our own vision of what is positive, right and good before we can inspire others to give themselves up to the goal.
The Student Creed
I believe in myself.
I am confident.
I can accomplish my goals.
I believe in what I study.
I am disciplined.
I am ready to learn and advance.
I believe in my teachers.
I show respect for all who help me progress.
Ji-shin refers to the Buddha. Reliance on the Buddha in strict Buddhist terms refers to Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha. In more esoteric terms, the Buddha is a reference to ourselves, to our own inner nature as perfect beings. Each of us is a Buddha, though we may not know it.
Reliance on the Buddha as an example of the Way then comes to mean emulating the middle path of the Buddha, working steadily to remove the obstructions and illusions we place on ourselves so that our true natures are revealed. Our true nature, as explained by Chogyam Trungpa, is innately good and wholly natural. We forfeit the restrictions of society and culture to accept everything with an open mind and heart.
Tan-ren refers to the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha as left by Shakyamuni Buddha. We interpret the teachings to include anything which can lead us to enlightenment. Any activity, any meditation, anything which is positive and which is efficacious is a teaching. Some schools of Buddhism use moving meditations and activities as a means of reinforcing the teachings through practice; the Tendai Mikkyo school of Buddhism involves running daily marathons to exhaust the mind and body so that the barriers we have set up are broken down. Obviously, the teachings can also include the martial arts, such as To-Shin Do, as a means of attaining enlightenment.
Son-kei, the Sangha, refers to the community of worshippers and practitioners in Buddhism. We interpret the Sangha to mean those with whom we practice the way towards enlightenment. This can be a school of monks, our co-workers at our job, or our friends and fellow students in martial arts training. Gaining enlightenment requires that we be able to gain a sense of universal perspective, and occasionally on our path we are blinded by our own natures. At those times, our fellow seekers can offer a more objective, dispassionate, or clear perspective on our practices and situations. We come to rely on our friends and our friends rely on us.
By understanding the origins of the Student Creed, we can more fully appreciate the depth and power that it brings to our practice. If we don't investigate, we will never grasp the meaning of the creed and it will simply become another shallow recitation, devoid of personal meaning. By understanding the Creed, we can bring a sense of personal involvement into our recitations, making it our own.
Thus far, my life has been frantic and I hope that the New Year has brought
as welcome a relief for everyone as it has for me. I had an especially rough
year in '97, which led to the absence of the newsletter, my missing tons of
training and a certain apathy on my part to get back on my feet.
Now, the dust is settling and life seems to be getting back in order. Look for constant updates and improvements to this newsletter and web-site. The rough state that this site is currently in is no indication of what is planned for the future. So, please forgive me during this "construction period."
Enough said. Let's train.
That way, I'll have even more to tell you about. Until next month.