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Ura & Omote - 1998 Summer


Quotations from Soke, IX

by B. Cole
Well, my friends, the year is over half over and there is no end in sight. We have just moved into the Chi no Kata techniques, although this installment does not include comments on those Fudoza techniques yet. Regardless, Shinden Fudo Ryu has been a blast so far this year! The techniques that Soke is showing look nothing like the stuff you see on the Quest video, and the training never lets up. It goes without saying that "Nature" is the key to Shinden Fudo Ryu. Soke emphasizes this point nearly every practice, and insists on the lack of set Kamae and/or preconceptions. Everything, especially your technique, must flow from Nature. What an exciting and amazing Ryuha to be studying!

Although I've written it before, I will continue to repeat myself. Don't base your training on the interpretation of a student of a student of a former student of Soke's. Come (or go) to the source! The foundation you lay today will be what you carry forward into your training for the rest of your life. Soke is not getting any younger, although you couldn't tell so from his Taijutsu. But Soke is still human, and one day his amazing movement will be only available on video or in dimming memories. Do what you know you need to do... May all your choices be good ones.

- ben

This is a collection of quotations made by Masaaki Hatsumi-sensei during practice sessions at Ayase, as recorded in my training diary. If you truly look at what Hatsumi-sensei is saying, you will understand that these words (as with any printed, spoken, or otherwise) are to be used as a reference, nothing more. It is up to YOU to make the proper choices in your life and in your training. My hope is that more and more Bujinkan practitioners will increase the intensity and frequency of their training as a result of this series. I also hope that these words will push people to do what they can to make it to Japan to train with the only one who truly understands this art. As for the quotes themselves, 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. "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 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.

March 6 (Tuesday)
"Okay, let's start with something from the other day. Shiraishi, teach."

"We will now move into Uryu, which is made up of the characters for 'rain' and 'dragon.'"

"Okay, he grabs you. You must adjust your body by pulling in here. This will raise the other side of his body and allow you to get this hand off, and up."

"You are not removing their hand with your hand. You are removing it with your body."

(Noguchi-sensei had some wisdom to share concerning Uryu) "When you come out of your spin under their arm, you should have Ura Gyaku."

(Noguchi-sensei had some wisdom to share concerning Uryu) "This hand is so important in this technique. You'll only have one shot at it so it is important to get a good grip and keep a hold all the way through to the end. If you don't, this technique will not work properly." (To which, Soke added) "Noguchi, is such a good teacher."

"There are many variations depending on your footwork."

"You can do this same move with an object in your hand. With a knife, just lay it on here like this. You can apply pressure here with the hilt when you move in . Then you can duck under just the same, and throw them just the same as well.... Everyone get some object and practice this technique while holding it."

"This will work the same with a sword. Here, let me show you."

"You could also come to this point and apply something like this and switch hands. Then you can do that technique from the other day. (Brings his uke to the ground) What was that again? (People start yelling out names, most of which are incorrect for the technique he is showing. One of the Shihan states with authority "Gekkan" and Soke smiles at his own absentmindedness.) Yes, 'Gekkan.' That's it! See how they flow into one? When you can come to realize that any of the Ryuha's techniques can so easily flow into any other technique, then you can start to understand the entire Ryuha."

"In Shinden Fudo Ryu, we use this knuckle to strike with (whacks his uke's nerve)."

"You are not punching them; it is your going into Kamae that punches them."

(After showing us a ferocious choke, Soke adds) "This is why this technique was banned from Judo competitions. It is too dangerous."

"When doing this technique with a sword, you drop back behind them, and then draw...."

"It is important to practice so your movement is the minimum necessary to complete its task."

"If you had cut too deeply into this first attacker's body, you would not be able to defend if a second attacker came here."

"The punch comes to where they cannot see it. I always try to attack where the senses cannot detect."

"This technique will not work if you cannot control their legs."

"Okay, let's work on some counters."

"Fine. You grab them. They move to escape. Just bring the arm against your body."

"You are not grabbing the hand, you are merely resting your hand on top of theirs."

"Act as if you have glue on your palm."

"They punch. You rest your hand on their hand. They come to punch again with their other hand. You extend and sandwich their hand between your hands. This hand is very important. You pat it to show how important it is to you. (Soke laughs) You'll take good care of it for them, won't you? (as you duck under their arm and break their hand off at the wrist for them)."

"You go to grab them from behind, but this time you are wearing a sword. Here's how you might grab them."

"And in Togakure Ryu Ninjitsu we use 'Shukko' like these. Doing this same technique with 'Shukko' might look like this. (Ends up grabbing the man's face and scraping downward to imitate ripping off skin).... You can use all sorts of 'toys' in this way."

March 17 (Tuesday)
"I will say this before I forget. There will be practice tomorrow and the following day at Hombu dojo from 1:00."

"Is there someone from Australia who called me yesterday? (A hand slowly goes up) You're a student of Wayne Roy's, right? Okay, you will train with him and him today. Both of them are from Australia as well.... Be friends! (Soke joked, quite aware that the young man must be nervous about his first trip to Japan, among other things....)"

"Please use this time to warm up your bodies."

"Pull tight. Get your elbow up. Then turn."

"You can do this with three people or four. 'No difference. All the same!'"

(Concerning a four-on-one technique wherein everyone is holding you in some form, Soke made a jibe at one of our more portly Buyu, then turned it into a learning statement for all.) "It is important to learn how to use the weight of your opponents. (Chuckles as he looks at one of his students.) In such a situation, you must immediately know who is the heaviest, who is the lightest, who can be moved easily and who with great effort. By doing so, you will discover a way to escape."

(After Ed Martin did a demonstration, Soke commented) "Papa-san did a very good job of using his elbows. Please try to notice the good points of everyone."

(To a practitioner trying to force a technique into working, Soke advised) "You must train more. You are using too much strength."

"You are not just kicking when they come to punch. If you think about kicking, your movement actually stops. You lose the centripetal force you originally had. You must merely spin in place like this. (Soke spins like an ice skater with a leg extended)"

"I am going fast today. Do not worry about techniques; catch the feeling."

"If you are fifth dan and above, you should not be focused on just you and your opponent. You should be aware of others. This also includes paying attention to how others around you are training, and learning from them."

(Soke has his back to his uke, turns and says) "Attack whenever you wish. (When the punch comes, Soke steps out of the way, turns, grabs his uke, and sends him flying. He then turns to us all and says,) This is very similar to when I first went to America and told Stephen (Hayes) to punch at me from behind.... This is called 'Keihai' and is different from the fifth dan test. It requires you to read the 'Maai' between you and your opponent."

"If I had been unlucky or read the situation incorrectly in a real fight, I could be dead. It is very important to remember that people are living things that can, and will, die. Please remember this as you train."

"If you are in a (Uryu-like) situation whereby you cannot just reach up and grab their hand to initiate your escape, you must use your body to adjust their balance. By doing so, you will lower the hand. Do not think to grab it. It will naturally lower to where your hand is. From here, merely grab it with that hand. It is only natural.... Then move to escape."

"This is the Uryu way of evading a punch."

"Please note that the movement of Shinden Fudo Ryu is very natural.... Please keep this in mind as you train."

"There are times when you do not wish to cut with your knife. You can merely lay it on them like this and do the technique normally."

"You can also strike with your knife as well. This will hurt. This will break the arm. In fact, why not break both of them!"

"Even if you cannot do a technique, please have fun and practice it anyway. By doing so, you will be improving. And you will eventually grow to be able to do it."

"Okay. Let's work on the grabs for 'Uryu' (i.e. the initial Tori role)."

"If you have a gun and are working with a friend, you can do this to draw it. (Draws a plastic gun, using his partner's body to hide his movement.) This is the same with a knife, Shuriken, or even Metsubushi."

"I want you to realize that being able to quick-draw a pistol or quickly draw a sword is nothing special. Learning to draw your weapon like this is.... This is not the movies here. This is real life."

"It is so important not to teach these techniques to dangerous or psychologically unbalanced people."

"There are times to kill and times to not kill. Please bear this in mind with grave consideration."

"You could not possibly understand this if you see it on video. It is only through training that you will come to see those points."

"There are so many good people here from around the world. There is no need to worry. I am just trying to have you all grasp this feeling and take it back with you."

(At the end of practice, Soke grabs his Fukurojinai and calls out the name) "Sekiguchi! (When the answer returns that Sekiguchi-san was in the bathroom, Soke laughed and then asked,) Who wants to take the test today?"(Several hands go up, all of them pointing to someone else-friends, and or teachers, putting their friends on the spot.... But, hey, what are friends for?)

March 20 (Friday)
"Sorry, I'm late. Traffic was horrendous. Please keep practicing. (After dressing quickly, Soke leads the bow in, then states) There will be practice at Hombu dojo tomorrow and the next day... Okay, Shiraishi. Let's start with what you were just doing. Go ahead and show the last technique again. (Shiraishi-sensei obliges). Okay, good. They are coming in to punch you here. Focus on the walking as you're striking. (Slams his opponent three times until he is plowed over.) Okay? Play!"

"Never, ever think that it is only one on one. You never know when there could be others, so you must practice accordingly."

"This same technique with a sword would look like this. (Shows us) To draw your sword, you use your entire body to spin so you literally send their head flying. You must also practice your distance so you are at the perfect distance like me (where you are cutting with the uppermost eight inches of the blade, the sharpest part of the sword)

"Okay, Noguchi, teach!"

"When you move here to your knee, you should focus on landing. It is like when a bird lands. You are touching your 'wings' to the ground to find you balance. Then from there, you can spring up and strike with your 'wings.' Once here, you can spread your 'wings' to open them up, then take the Ganseki or whatever. This is the true way of doing 'Unjako.' This is the characteristic of Nature of Shinden Fudo Ryu."

"It is like when a bird lands on a branch, then springs off."

"Tenth dans, walk around the room and help teach."

"Once you have this movement down, you could very easily incorporate a roll. (Does so) Play!"

(After several minutes of watching people doing their roll incorrectly, Soke piped up) "Watch carefully again. (Shows the technique again) You can catch their legs (with your legs) when you roll through. Then you could kick here. (Kicks the further leg away by heeling the kyusho on the inside of the shin) Then heel here (pulls his leg back toward him by bending his knee and heels the exact same place on the closer leg. Kicks his uke back and forth like this several times to make his point. Judging from the way the uke walked after Soke got done with him, I'm sure he understood the point quite well.)"

"For this one, you want to wait for them to try to kick you. Your head is right there, so when they come to kick, move in here. Even if they connect, it will just graze you, but you can still do your roll."

"Please make sure that your ankles are properly warmed up before you start doing this type of move. I am trying to teach you how to live, not how to tear your own Achilles tendon. It would be a pity if you defeated yourself in a real fight by hurting yourself."

"Okay, Tim (Bathurst), put on a sword and do the same technique. (Tim tries, but is immediately corrected.) No, you're focusing too much on drawing the sword. Don't even plan on using the weapon. Just move naturally, focused on your 'landing,' then naturally draw your sword as if it 'throw' it... When you go to draw, don't draw straight toward them. They will sense that and be able to escape or defend. Instead, draw away from them and then turn your body toward them to bring the sword in."

(A few minutes later, Soke has a practitioner come out to do 'Unjako' again. The person does the technique extremely well, but with a slight variation. Soke looks pleased and says,)"Very good... Show them. (The practitioner holds up his hands to show the 'Shukko' that were hidden on his palms. Soke looks around the room and says,) Do you understand? (Heads nod, and soon Soke has the practitioner show three or four variations using the 'Shukko.' When he's finished, Soke turns and says) Until now, the level of Ninjutsu that has been taught by teachers around the world has been extremely low because everyone's Taijutsu has been so poor. But from this point on, we will be going into the higher levels of Ninjutsu."

"The Bujinkan is alright now. Until now, there've been such poor teachers out there trying to teach, but now that the level is so high, things are definitely alright."

"All of you can do just as wonderful things as I can. Plus you're young. (Laughs)"

"You! (Points to a practitioner especially skilled at leaping) You will be good at doing this. Come here! Andrew (Young), be his uke. (Soke then had the poor guy doing some extremely athletic Taijutsu that only a few people in the world could do.) From there, jump up onto his hips, then throw him. (Does it.) 'Two or three, alright!' (meaning to just play around for a few techniques) Good. Now throw him one handed. (Does so.) Good. Now, this time stick your arm under his arm in Unjako and throw him. (Does so.) Very good!"

(Later, Soke calls out the same practitioner and gives him a jo) "Use the jo to help yourself jump onto him... (He does, and is balanced on the thighs of his Uke. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, Soke persists in asking the improbable) Now, kick him. (The guy tries, but loses his balance and falls off his Uke. Soke admonishes him and tells him to do it again) No! Use the jo as a leg, and that will free one of your real legs to kick him." (In the end, the practitioner manages to appease Soke with his creative body movement.)

"'Unjako' could be done with any number of weapons."

"You must find the proper distance. Then from there, you have more choices. You could throw your Kodachi or Nageken (a short throwing sword), Shuriken or Metsubushi. (Pulls out a rubber egg to represent a Metsubushi-filled egg shell) There are many distances at which you can use Metsubushi. You can use it close like so, or drop way back, and throw it from this distance."

"Please be careful around you and try not to use weapons that could pose danger to others during training."

"Okay, let's have some people show some things. (People chose various length weapons, and or the lack of, and gave us quite a demonstration of good Taijutsu)."

March 24 (Tuesday)
"Who has training tomorrow evening?"

"Okay, Noguchi. Show 'Unjako'..."

(Noguchi-sensei shows the technique once, then explains it the second time through) "It's not a Ganseki, but a Shinkanken. And remember to push down, not up."

(After a brief warmup with the basic technique, Soke says) "Okay, if everyone has that, let's move on..."

"They come to punch, you drop to your knee here. Don't touch their foot, merely be here. Okay. Play!"

"Do not worry about applying a technique here, just hide here below them. You need to fall to your knee here without having any plans otherwise."

"Do not rush. Before you land, you naturally want to slow down. You should never come in at full speed."

"There are many kinds of birds. Some fly down and land in nests, others grasses, still others water. But all of them resemble each other in take-off and landing."

"If you cannot understand the importance of Nature, then you cannot truly understand Shinden Fudo Ryu. And you can only come to see this by training with me."

"Do not focus on trying to take them down. Just get to this position and roll from there."

(Concerning jumping) "This is just like with an aircraft. The landing and takeoff are the most important. Don't worry about what happens in between. That will only be natural... Ed (Martin) understands this point. He used to be a pilot. (Laughs)"

"Once you have this roll down, there is nothing stopping you from going to the other side. Please practice this."

"With the sword, this technique would flow like this... (Shows us.) Understand? Play!"

"You can also do butt 'Henka' as well. (Soke laughs, then shows us what he means. He evades an incoming punch with the technique we had been practicing, then adjusts his butt by bringing it to the outside of his uke's knee, and sitting down on the leg so the uke falls to his face.)"

(Soke grabs a bo and walks to the middle of the room) "Do not consider this a jo. Consider it a naginata for now. When they come in to attack, you could do this. This would impale them."

"If this were a bisento, you could merely let go at this point, and it would fall onto them, cleaving into them. From here, you can just grab your weapon and drag it across them."

"There may be instances wherein a battle-scarred warrior would approach, using his sword as a walking stick. If attacked, he could stick his sword in the ground and do this. (A millisecond after the opponent comes in, he is pulled down and then sliced up with a knife that magically appeared in Soke's hand.)"

"I have never shown this technique to anyone before. I have kept it secret for all these years. Only those who are training with me will learn this."

"There are many people who have stopped training with me and so they can never understand these points. It's like when you cut off part of a living being. It will merely rot and die."

"Do not overexert or hurt yourself. If you cannot handle something, please do not do it."

"This is 'Fudoza' for Shinden Fudo Ryu... You must be able to drop down and sit on a boiled egg without breaking it... (A few minutes later, Soke calls out two names and throws two rubber eggs, which he normally uses to represent Metsubushi, onto the floor.) Go on. Try to do it. (Laughs as they try.) No! You must have it right beneath your butt. Try again... As you can see, it is important to learn how to keep one side up while doing this."

"Please try to keep your legs pulled in tight when doing this technique."

"Keep your feet laying on top of one another and keep them so there is no space between your leg and theirs."

"By moving your body, you can easily control them."

"Don't let yourself touch your opponent when rolling away to escape. You will get caught up in their limbs and that could be very dangerous."

"Last year, the video that Ed (Martin) put together received my 'Academy Award.' There is only one such award each year. If you are going to buy one video, buy this one. It is without a doubt, a superb piece." (Soke then led the applause for Ed)"

"Everyone has so many good things to share. Please share among each other and be friends."

"This movement is exactly the same as I taught you before... This is all so human. You know something, but you don't realize that you inherently know it, until you experience it for yourself. It is so easy to forget because it is so simple."

April 3 (Friday)
"Well, I guess I will wait till the end to speak to you all... We will begin with 'Setsuyaku'... Okay, Noguchi! Teach!"

"Everyone seems to be reaching up to grab the back of the collar. It's not your hand that is doing this, it is the knees."

"Don't try to throw them. Just drop them where they stand."

"You must learn to take control with your body, not your hands. Notice, I am not grabbing at any point here."

"You are all Shihan. You have to look beyond the mere techniques. You are no longer students; you are teachers. You must look beyond the mere techniques."

"The reason I am calling so many people forward to be my uke is that they are all different sizes and shapes. Each requires a different way of applying the technique."

"You can tell who has been training properly and who hasn't, by their movement."

"Please note that the way Noguchi-sensei grabbed the hand at the beginning was exactly the same as the first technique we did this evening. You must be good enough to pick up on such things."

"Do not focus on the techniques. Be free of that. Otherwise you will not be able to move should other opponents come at you."

"Don't focus too much on trying to get this hand under your armpit here. Just let it whip by you like the wind."

"It is so important to understand this feeling I am trying to teach. Until now, there have been so many people who had no idea what they were doing. They were just interested in learning and collecting techniques. But just like with basic techniques, I am trying to tear down the preconceptions surrounding those techniques. Many people may not appreciate that what I am doing is for their own good. But I am trying to break down conceptions of rank, the strength of ego, all such things."

"The more opponents you have, the easier it is to work sometimes."

(While watching defenses against multiple opponents, Soke admonished one of the practitioners via metaphor) "If you have a lot of food and eat it down quickly, you will get sick. Similarly, if you have a lot of opponents, please take your time. If you rush, you develop many openings that expose you to danger. This time is everyone's practice."

(One zealous visitor with a flair for descriptions gave Soke a chuckle, so he was asked to repeat himself to everyone. The point, no matter in what diction it comes, remains the same) "It was JUST like the movies. When Noguchi-sensei just did that technique to me, he suddenly disappeared! I mean we're talking about POOF, he was gone... the whole smoke bomb on the ground, he's outta there-gone! When I ended up on the ground, I had no idea where he had gone-perhaps out for a pizza or something."

"As Shihan, you must be able to pick these things up immediately after seeing them, like Noguchi here."

"This is a last resort move."

"You can also use your 'Tsuka' to damage them."

"Move only the minimum necessary... One of the people who understood this best was Ueshiba (the founder of Aikido)."

"You need to have radar like me."

"It is important to get each aspect of the technique down, but you must also look beyond to encompass everything."

"If you actually intend on going for a certain technique, your opponent will sense it, and adjust accordingly. If you grab, it naturally follows that a throw will come next. They will know the throw is coming and will be able to thwart you. That is why you must learn to hold them without grabbing them and throw them without them knowing it. This is what you must learn."

"This is a last ditch move where you find yourself at the point of being hit. By moving in this way, you can literally hide behind your hilt. This works against a 'Do' (side) cut in this way, or even a shoulder cut in this way."

(To a practitioner during a demonstration) "Very good Ukemi. Very nice."

"First of all, get out of the way. Then worry about the hands."

"Okay, when this punch comes, the thing of most importance is getting out of the way. THEN, worry about taking control of the arm. You must make sure to apply each step of the technique correctly. No one seems to understand this part."

"Today has been an excellent study of Kukan (i.e. space)."

April 7 (Tuesday)
"Who here is teaching tomorrow? Okay, good. Visit these dojos. I will be teaching the day after tomorrow, on Thursday, but I'm afraid I've got some work to do tomorrow."

"Please understand when you come to train with me that I teach at the level of fifth dan and above. I do not personally think I'm particularly good at teaching. There are many fine teachers around the world, such as Doron and Arnaud, who are here with us today... You must also chose wisely among the many teachers out there. There are many students who come to train with me. Teachers who have not trained with me in the last five or six years are no good. Do not train with those who 'used to' train with me. That's living in the past. If your heart has been dead for five or six years, it has already started to rot. Please remember this."

"You are not reaching up with your hand to grab their collar. You are pulling them down by bending your knees. This will bring their collar to you. Do you understand? Good. Play!"

"Please do not forget the importance of Nature in this Ryuha."

"You are not using only your hands to do this technique. You must not forget to bend your knees. (Does a couple of deep knee bends to drive home the point) This is not like pickpocketing (where it is all hands), which is a crime by the way... Understand? Play!"

(About a Japanese teacher he just finished using as Uke) "He is going to earn his tenth dan soon. When you get to certain levels, your body starts to deteriorate from the effects of age, so it is helpful to have others beat on you to keep you fit. (Laughs)"

(Soke has Arnaud come and attack him) "When they come in to punch, just grab a whole bunch of flesh right here (Arnaud screams like a Banshee and almost jumps out of his gi, but Soke keeps hold tight)Then <BOOM> (Soke flattens the guy with one punch)... Big men. Strong men. They all go down-thump! Play! (Laughs at the wimpering mass at his feet.)"

(After Arnaud recovers from the last torrent of skin grabs, Soke calls him over again) "You don't even have to grab much. See how painful just a little skin can be. (Arnaud jumps up and down painfully pleading for his tormentor to again let go, yet Soke seems to be doing nothing.)"

(Having beaten and torn at Arnaud for several techniques, Soke puts his hand on the Frenchman's shoulder and says in English) "He's eleventh dan from France... Nice guy... Play!"

"Once you get them here, you can apply the neck break. You can also break both their clavicles at the same time here. Do you understand? Do you understand why you should never teach people with bad hearts? Good! Play!"

"Rolling onto (and over) your opponent can be very effective in this situation."

"Once you do this, you can easily kill your opponent. (After a brief pause, he added) When I use the word 'kill,' I am not talking about 'murder.' I am talking about killing their spirit in defeating them."

"Don't try too many fancy things when you have multiple opponents. Just get out of the way, and help them to fall into each other... This doesn't look like much, but they both cannot move completely."

(Concerning multiple opponents) "They can come from any direction. Feel free to push or pull people into each other."

"This is a very unconventional way of punching. You make contact with these two parts of the hand at the same time. Then from there, you slit their throat here."

"This strike is just like throwing shuriken."

(Doron had a great point worth sharing) "Please note that Soke is punching from where the opponent cannot see it coming."

"Arnaud is a very muscular guy. There is no way I could put him down without using my legs to strike. He is a 'bear' after all (chides the burly Frenchman with his nickname). Look how little I am! He could take me out with one punch, so I have to use my body in this way."

"This is a type of 'Moguri-kata' (diving down/under something)."

"Do not do this. It's very dangerous. Watch only. I am only doing this because Shiraishi has such good Ukemi."

"I cannot teach you all these techniques. No one can. But what I can teach you is how to practice correctly. And by practicing and moving correctly, perfect techniques will come to you. That's all I ever do to create these techniques."

(Doron was asked to speak about Soke's movement and his answer was quite interesting.) "Sensei was able to get Arnaud to move exactly where he wanted him. This is a type of hypnotism. And I think he's the only one in the world who can do it..." (Soke then added) "I can hypnotize men very effectively, but I always have trouble with women. (Laughs) It's usually the other way around- they hypnotize me and make me do what they want.)"

"Kyojitsu! All Kyojitsu!"

April 10 (Friday)
"Okay, who is teaching tomorrow? Good. Please visit these teachers for training."

"I have finally finished the Tachi, Ken, Katana video, as well as three on Jo... Altogether, I have completed four videos."

"What was the name of the technique, again? Oh, yeah. 'Setsuyaku.' My memory occasionally fails me. (After Shiraishi-sensei shows the technique, Soke adds) Please use this time for warming up your bodies."

"This is the exact same technique, but a different interpretation. Okay, play!"

"Get the hand into Gyaku here, then move in with your body."

"The reason why you are freeing your hand is so you <POW!> (Drops his uke with one carefully placed punch)"

"This art of going down ('Mogurikata') is very important. You all should be much better at going down than me, because you are younger. (All implications acceptable)."

(After one practitioner kept trying and trying and trying to make the technique work, Soke added) "Don't 'Moguru,' 'Moguru' and 'Moguru' to no end. You occasionally need to float up or you will trap yourself. It is as if you are holding them up under water. Sometimes it is advantageous to sink down, and other times to float up."

"From here, punch down into their bicep, or if they are too tall, use an Uraken instead. Then go to their face, and then elbow into the chest or throat. They'll go down."

"Try to remember the importance of this punch."

(To a visitor who is wary to demonstrate and tries to sneak away) "Okay, switch... (The guy freezes in place, and reluctantly returns to the center of the circle. Soke soothes him with this reasoning.) The reason why I insist that you switch is so you can practice both Ukemi and the technique."

"You must be aware of this type of assassination technique, or you could fall victim to it yourself... You must also know how to do this type of teamwork... If you were, for example, part of a Ninja team, you would have to work with others as one unit in this way."

"You have to take everything and move it to the space right here above your shoulder."

"Because I am not grabbing, he cannot react. Because I am not holding him in a palatable form, he cannot have any defense. You must move in this way."

"Don't think you are 'tough' because you can do any one technique well. Don't get too full of yourself."

April 14 (Tuesday)
"Okay. Who all teaches tomorrow? (Noguchi-sensei's hand goes up) Huh? That's it? What about Nakadai? ("Hai!" a voice echoes from behind the locker partition. Nakadai-sensei had been caught with his pants down, literally.) Noguchi teaches at 8:00 tomorrow night and Nakadai at both the morning and evening... He's still young so he can teach in the morning. (Laughs.) Okay, let's begin..."

"Shiraishi, start with any technique. Anything you want... (After about ten seconds of warmup, Soke was raring to go. He stops the class.) Okay. That's enough warmup... Noguchi, teach the new technique-'Musan.'"

"No, no! You are all doing it wrong! Here, watch carefully... This is fast, very fast."

"Fog. London fog. You must have the feeling of moving through fog. You know, like Sherlock Holmes. Moving splendidly through fog."

"This angle is so important. Everyone is rushing to get the hammer fist in, but they haven't even gotten into proper position! Position first! Then, punch! One, two. Understand? Good. Play!"

"You have to have the angle correct to be able to effectively punch. Punch up and in here and it will be excruciatingly painful. Right? (His uke nods, and Soke laughs.)"

"This initial punch doesn't even have to be a punch. (Soke knocks his uke's chin up with the back side of his wrist)."

"In a fight, you need to be almost comical (in the way you face the situation). In this way, you will have the ability to move lightly from one technique to another, and handle potentially any number of opponents."

(Having got the arm lock at the end of the technique on his Uke, Soke comments,) "You don't need to throw him down from here, just drop your weight (by bending your knees.)"

(To a Japanese practitioner) "You are very limber. Such mobility usually means less stability, but you have done an excellent job of creating stability in your locks, etc. without sacrificing your mobility. That is very good. You have been improving well."

"When you get to ranks near tenth dan, you must be able to observe those around you and pick up good techniques from them. This is what I do. I am always watching, always aware of what others are creating."

"Okay, that is enough of swords today."

"I am not only teaching the Taijutsu movement. With the Happo Biken, you must understand this connection between the Taijutsu and any weapon out there. It's all the same. You must learn to tie things together."

"This is not something that can be taught; it must be discovered personally."

"When your opponent comes to punch, no one said you had to use your hands. ('Catches' the punch with his body, then uses his body to move it.) "Please practice trying to get this feeling of catching the punch with your body."

"This is a practice of distance. You must move to a distance whereby they think they've hit, but when it makes contact, it has no power behind it."

"It states in the 'Densho' (scrolls) that you 'Uke' (accept) the punch when it comes in to your waist, but it never states just exactly how to do so. So you can see how all of these variations, and more, are completely valid interpretations."

"This is the Ninja Yokoaruki (side stepping) you all know about. But it is not what you think. This is how it is supposed to be done. This movement, as with any, has a purpose and use... Having three people doing this in unison in close contact is a very interesting and good practice."

(During a demonstration in which the visitors were a little out of control) "Please move as you would in training. In a way, that does not endanger your Uke."

(The practice was pretty intense, so the demonstrations got fairly heated as well. Soke tried to bring us back into the proper feeling with these words.) "Please everyone relax."

"Everything's the same. (Over the course of five minutes, Soke pulls out any and every weapon he has in his bags of tricks, including knife, sword, Bo, Shukko, and so on) This would be the same for Naginata, Bisento, anything... even a handkerchief."

"A Jo is just a Jo. But the thing called Jo itself comes in many sizes, lengths and girths. But you must be able to use them the same regardless of those differences. This is the importance of Happo Biken."

"It was very hot and muggy during practice today. It was quite an appropriate environment in which to study 'Musan.' The characters for 'Musan' mean 'scattered fog.' Please try to have this feeling when practicing this technique."

April 17 (Friday)
"You have to be able to applaud yourself at any point in this movement (focuses on the fact that both his hands remain within a few inches of each other for the entire technique)."

"You must be able to move this quickly (literally explodes at full speed, breaking out of his uke's grasp) and still keep your angles and such correct."

April 21 (Tuesday)
"Before we begin, please note the videos I brought here this evening. There are four videos completed at this point. ('Ken, Tachi & Katana' and three Daikomyosai videos for 'Jo')"

"As well, I am growing ever busier with all my traveling around the world to teach, and other such engagements. When I have been away, I have till now just let you free to train on your own, but Noguchi-sensei and I just decided earlier that it would be best if an eleventh dan taught in my absence. The fee will only be 2000 yen. This includes the fee for renting the facility, so Noguchi-sensei isn't making much out of the deal. (Laughs.) Everyone do your part to help him out."

"As you know, I am constantly being innundated with invitations to attend social functions by representatives of the media, government, and private industry. But these things ALWAYS seem to fall on Friday night. I even had to turn down the Prime Minister once because of my schedule. And I felt sorry about that. I feel that I need to be doing more of those things for you all, so the Bujinkan will be considered 'okay' in the eyes of others, and the future will remain open and bright."

"In our recent Shidoshikai Meeting, the issue of teachers improperly using the Bujinkan name or teachings for their own gains was addressed. It was decided that if ten or more teachers were to contact the Hombu (i.e. Soke) with specific complaints about a teacher, we would move to disqualify him/her and eject him/her from the Bujinkan. The situation has become very confusing for many students and by dealing with the problem in this way, we hope to create a better learning environment for you all."

"If only one or two people write me with complaints about certain teachers, it could be merely personal grudges driving the discourse. But if ten or more people from all over were to write with the same complaint, then they represent a much larger group than just themselves, and the problem is obviously deep-rooted. A teacher who has so many people speaking out against his/her actions need to be faced with this reality. We felt a responsibility as Hombu to make it clear when someone is doing something unacceptable. There is too much confusion right now as to what is acceptable and what is not. I will write the names of any disqualified teachers in Sanmyaku, and that will be it."

"There is a phrase in Gyokko-ryu (I believe) that reads 'Kanshin no Me.' This literally means 'God Heart Eyes.' But the 'God' in Shinden Fudo Ryu is 'Nature.' Please remember this as you train."

"As I've mentioned before, during the Edo period, there were many Samurai, but there was a time of peace wherein they never knew whether things would work in real battle. Even if they were entrusted with the scrolls, they could never verify whether the techniques worked. But as you know, Takamatsu-sensei spent some ten years in China using these techniques in actual battle. This is why I feel so lucky to have this 'Jissen' (real fighting) knowledge be passed to me in that way. We know it works. Thus, everyone's personal responsibility is growing ever larger."

"There are no Samurai who know this around anymore."

"Do not practice the technique. Practice the feeling; this feeling of 'God as Nature.'"

"There are three things humans must learn to function-the lessons of religion, the lessons of politics, and the lessons of Nature. If you do not understand these things, and only martial arts, nothing will become of you. But if you can understand these things as you train, then you will be able to cultivate good martial arts."

"I want you to view what you learn with the eyes of a scholar, the eyes of a humanitarian. This warrior way is part of history."

"You are not punching with only your hand. You are coming in with your entirety, like a wind blowing them over."

"This wind that comes in is blowing randomly, like that of a tornado. This is what I mean by having 'no points.' Then that tornado can come down and smash things, such as their head. This is the feeling."

"No one doing martial arts nowadays understands this. It was lost."

"There should be plenty of people here more skilled at using their hips than myself (all connotations implied)."

"You need to practice this so you have distance enough that they strike you, but such that their punch has no effect. This is why I drink lots of beer. Gives me padding here. (Slaps his gut and laughs.)"

"This type of movement is very important for people with relatively little physical strength. Notice the timing and distance."

"Your hand is actually passing the (opponent's) hand to your foot... The reason why you might do this is because in Togakure-ryu, you could have 'Sokko' on your feet."

"If you have a hidden knife, for example, you could use it in this way. Everyone always trains thinking that they absolutely must stab to the torso with a knife, but this can be very effective as well."

"Rather than a knife, you could use a lighter, for example, to burn them and catch them off guard, then launch your attack... Heck, if it gets down and dirty, you could just splash them with alcohol and set them on fire. If you are going to do it, do it right. When it comes to life and death, you need to go at it with everything you've got... Just don't try this with beer though; it won't work. (Laughs.)

"You do not necessarily have to use a knife. You can use shuriken, or any such weapon, even a pen that have been in your chest pocket. 'All the same!'"

"There is a technique called 'Setsukukashin' (or something like that) that is described in the 'Densho.' It is a very subtle technique. It is very similar in feeling to this technique. That is snow, wind, flower and heart (assuming my above assumption is correct)."

"I've been traveling around the world and teaching for over 20 years. I have been waiting for everyone to advance to this high level. There is so much to be learned from this point forward."

"Soon, the Bujinkan, will be filled with only good people, humble people, who merely want to train."

(During the demos) "That was very good. And that was excellent Ukemi on the Uke's part. He was covering himself from kicks. Very good!"

(During the demos) "I am not just calling on you for the sake of calling on you. These demonstrations are tests."

(During the demos) "If anyone has any questions of rank they need dealt with, please speak with me. I am watching very carefully."

(During the demos) "It's almost scary how good you all have become."

(During the demos) "Please use your time watching these demonstrations to learn. There is so much to learn."

"This is splendid. So much positive feeling. It's almost as if it is living. As if it almost has a life of its own."

April 24 (Friday)
"Takamatsu-sensei taught me a way to throw someone without using your hips. Let me show it... It is so un-Judo-like... In fact, I once threw this fifth degree Judoka with this, and he was utterly astonished that I could do so. He was massive, must have been some 120 kilos (270 lbs. or so).

"Be careful with this one. It will completely blow out their knee if you are not careful."

"You are trying to bring the shoulder exactly above their knee."

"You want to lay your Jo on them very lightly."

"To get this to work you have to move very lightly and naturally so they do not feel you 'pulling' them. Otherwise, they will pull back."

(To a practitioner who just didn't 'get' what Soke was teaching, he commented) "You do not have the points. Please try to look beyond the technique and understand the principles being taught... Very good."

(To a student of Bill Atkins who was visiting without his teacher) "I can see Bill's movement in your movement. 'Very good.'"

(After a practitioner, who has been out for a few months, does his demo, Soke chides) "Too little practice! (They both start laughing at the poignant truth, then Soke becomes more stern.) When you practice too little, you forget how to use your hips properly."

April 28 (Tuesday)
"I will be leaving tomorrow for Italy, but don't worry, an eleventh dan will be here in my stead. I apologize that it will cost 2000 yen, but the facility fee is also included... Okay, let's start. What was the technique again? (Laughs) Ah, yes. 'Musan.'"

"You are all moving your feet too much on this. You won't have that much time in a real fight. You must move like this." (Soke then proceeds to pound the pulp out of his Uke at full speed.)

"Everyone seems preoccupied with the hands. Let's try it wherein you do not grab, but rather move the body."

"You must be able to move like this in the confusion of battle. If you focus on techniques, you will be killed."

"Now you understand how to do this, and how to foil it should your opponent do it to you. It is imperative to know both sides of everything you learn."

"You must bring your knee all the way to your chest for this to work. (Sits down, brings his chest to his ankles) This is why I insist that you all should be this limber. Otherwise, your kicks will be ineffective."

"This is why I insist that I do not teach. I cannot teach this. It must be discovered personally. You must make it yours."

"In Shinden Fudo Ryu, you must have the feeling of 'using' Nature."

"In Shinden Fudo Ryu, you are cleansing yourself of the grime ('aka') that has built up. You must allow your skin to breathe and be pure. In doing so, you will also do away with the parts of you that stink. (Smiles at the multi-layered language he had just placed before us.)

"When the punch comes, you have to be able to hide behind other opponents like this. But if someone else were to come, you must be willing to relinquish that position as well. Please note how I have 'wrapped' this opponent up without doing anything. Don't worry about this other arm. Something will come of that later, when someone else moves, perhaps by the person in question deciding he can punch me and trying to do so. (All three of Soke's opponents fall to the ground in a tangled mess of arms and bodies. Soke laughs, then leaves us to play with ourselves. ;-)

(Fifteen minutes into practice, a stranger walks in reticently, eventually making his way toward Soke. Soke addresses him from a distance. The man explains that he is a reporter from Asahi TV, and has come to watch. Soke politely asks how he came to know of the practice, and if someone had been properly contacted concerning the visit. The reporter explained how he had come across one of the Japanese sensei's phone number, and had contacted him about the art. In time, the reporter was invited to sit down and watch. Soke used this opportunity, however, to speak about the situation and the Press, with little regard to the reporter's presence.) "If you do not hide your abilities at times, you will have media people hounding you, looking for a story. YOU must take control of such situations, and not let them conversely control you."

"When someone asks you about your art, even if they themselves are martial artists, they truly may not understand what it is that we do. This is because martial arts are not taught like this any more. It is necessary to cover yourself from such questions at times. You must be willing to lie to protect yourself in certain situations. Otherwise, someone could use that knowledge of you (i.e your training methods, your daily schedule, and so on) to harm or kill you. There is no shame in lying in such ways."

"You can also strike here in the scapula with the butt of your sword. Break both of the scapula and their arms will be useless. Then just kill them when the need arises."

"Against a knife, you couldn't just move like this because you would be cut. You would have to adjust this way. I want you all to discover these things yourself."

May 8 (Friday)
"I just got back from the Italian Taikai. There were some five hundred people. I received several commendations from various government ministries and representatives, including the Mayor of Milano, and the top military organ, among others. There were about 100 tenth dans present as well... I also was given this (points to a medallion on a necklace around his neck). It's made of gold and has a picture of Takamatsu-sensei etched into it."

"You are not holding them down with your arms. You are holding them down with the air around them... Hold them down with your flatulence. Yes, that's it! With that feeling! (Smiles)"

"If this were a Naginata, you would do this oppositely. If the blade tip were pointing forward and downward, when you moved forward like this, it would pierce nicely downward into their chest."

"I am sorry about my demeanor tonight, but I am still very jet-lagged. (Jet-lag or not, Soke's Taijutsu was brilliant!!)

"This time do this, but keep your elbow tight against your body. If you can do so, you can also freely do things, such as draw your sword."

"This movement here is just like boxing, where you use your body here to cover against incoming punches."

"I am free to punch at any point. This is because I am in control of the entire situation. In fact, I can not only decide when I punch, but when he does as well. Because I can control when and where he is going to punch, I can dispel it at any time. Please try to learn to do this."

"You must control the Kukan. This is what I want you to discover. Please try to discover it when you are training with me. When you are teaching on your own, do as you wish."

"I will be teaching at Hombu dojo on Sunday at 1:00."

May 12 (Tuesday)
(Concerning the technique 'Karai') "You all think that this strike here is the first move, when actually it is this moving backwards which pulls them off balance and into your punch. If you do it backwards to what you actually believe, you will be doing it correctly. (Laughs)... This is why we do the Godan test backwards (i.e. from behind), so that you can begin to look at things beyond what you see as truth. This is 'Kyojitsu.'"

"Everyone has been mistaken by my use of the word 'Kyojitsu' in the past. 'Kyojitsu' truly represents unlimitedness, more than anything else."

"If you do this correctly, your right hand should be free to do anything, such as draw their Shoto, draw a weapon hidden on them, or whatever."

"The 'Kukan' of Taijutsu is the same as the 'Hoben' of Buddhism. ('Hoben' is a type of lie that is necessary and excusable to stop evil. For example, if a robber breaks into your home and demands to know where your money is. You reply that it is in another room that you are renovating, and the criminal falls into the hole you have in your floor. This is just such a 'forgivable' white lie.)"

"Everyone should be comfortable drawing a sword by now; just remember to pull your scabbard back. (Soke draws and resheaths his sword). There are two parts of this drawing movement. 'One' (Pushes his scabbard back) and 'Two.' (Exposes the blade). Don't just run to 'Two.' Remember this."

"Okay, you come to pass someone and you draw... This 'Maai' (distance) is very important! There is literally no room to draw so your opponent cannot possibly expect you to do so. This, too, is 'Kyojitsu.'"

"Do not focus on trying to draw the weapon with your arm. Your 'Taihenjutsu' draws the weapon for you."

"You want to merely show them your blade; don't cut them. But by moving in this way, you are protecting yourself in all directions."

"There is a Kamae called 'Tora o nirande happo o toru kamae' (or something like that. Sorry. It means staring down a tiger while taking all directions, or something to that effect ;-). This movement is exactly that meaning."

"If you want to cut them, just remember that your sword is heavy. Just let it fall, and it will hack off something. (Soke smiles)"

"If you are focused on cutting them, then that is only the 'reality' (jitsu) half of 'Kyojitsu.' Because you have ignored the other part of 'Kyojitsu,' the 'Kyo,' which is the 'unlimitedness' I emphasized earlier, you leave yourself wide open to attacks from other directions and from other opponents. This is why it is so important to understand both aspects of 'Kyojitsu.'"

"You only want to show them the blade. You have to make sure that you have shown it to them, so get right before them and make eye contact with them... 'Stare' at them with your sword. You must be able to wink at them with your sword. Yes, wink at them."

"Show them your blade... Show them in such a way that they say, 'Now THAT is a nice sword!' (Laughs) But this doesn't end with them laughing."

"Okay. You can start from any Kamae. They come to cut you. Evade. They hit your sword. You drop your sword... And then take over."

"Okay, once again. They come to cut you. Get out of the way. That is truly the most important thing... Then you drop your weapon, and move here, where you're safe. Notice how the elbow prevents him from turning to cut my 'Do' (side)."

"If you practice this properly, the idea of dropping your weapon will not be strange to you when you really need to do so."

May 15 (Friday)
"We have with us this evening quite a reknown marksman, so we will work to incorporate some pistol-work tonight... He managed to evade two shots and take down his assailant."

"There will be practice tomorrow at Hombu dojo from 1:00."

"Okay, we did this the other day. The reason why this movement here is so important is that it leaves your hand free to draw your weapon. Okay, Brin (Morgan), teach."

"You are hiding your ultimate intention behind other movement so they cannot detect it. Everything in Shinden Fudo Ryu begins from the 'Kyo' (falsehood) of 'Kyojitsu.' Please practice in this way."

"You cannot just reach for your opponent's gun straight off the bat. You'll never get it that way. You must move your body naturally, raise your hand actually as if to draw your own gun from your holster (despite the fact that you are not wearing one), but instead draw theirs."

"You don't have to shoot them. You could just scare them by letting off a round, or pretend to have shot the gun and trick them. This is another type of 'Kyojitsu.'"

"You do not have to shoot your opponent with the gun; you can use it to strike. Sometimes pulling the trigger could be too slow and it would be faster just to slam them with the barrel."

"I am not countering with my elbows. I am doing so with my knees."

(Via a practitioner) "It is very important to draw your weapon as you walk. (To which, Soke added) "Walking and drawing, and the same with the knife. All the same."

"Your opponent comes to 'Tsuki' (sword thrust). You must open up here so they want to attack you. You raise up, UP! Lifting up, here! Use your body to get your weapon up and clear theirs out of the way. Then <BOOM!> (knocks his opponent's weapon to the ground)."

"If this were done with a heavy sword (Picks up and unsheaths his, and then instructs his Uke to do the same) No, not that one. I would hate to be responsible for snapping the blade off. Swords can cut swords. Use that one please... Okay, good. They come to Tsuki. You raise up, and then... (moves to the perfect position wherein his sword would cut straight through his Uke's blade."

"It doesn't matter if you manage to knock it from their hands. If you did this with a really heavy sword or Naginata, the vibration of it hitting would hurt them."

"You have your sword any which way, one-handed or two-handed, whatever. And when they come in, you need to make yourself into the wind. That is what I am trying to impress upon you. Become the wind yourself, and then blow in."

"Don't try to cut them, just try to hold them down... Don't let them go, otherwise they'll run away from you, bleeding all over everything. Immobilizing them, then stick 'em... With the sword, sometimes you don't need space."

"Don't have the intention of cutting, just try to hold them."

"Don't stop moving here or you will create openings for your opponent. Just flow right in, controlling the 'Kukan.'"

"There is a book by the author ....... (I can't remember) called 'Kaze no Bushi.' (i.e. The Wind Warrior). This is precisely what he was writing about."

"Don't try to cut them. By moving in on them, the sword will naturally cut into them."

"Your first priority should be on your footwork. The Bo is secondary. If your footwork is correct, the Bo will follow naturally."

"There are many types of kicks; walking kicks, jumping kicks, natural kicks, and so on. But they all incorporate the same basic principle. You must understand this point. You must also understand the things that can affect your kicks. You could be on a gravel road, their could be obstacles around your feet like rocks, or even be on a slippery surface like ice. It is very important to understand these potentialities when training."

"Please pay more attention to getting proper distancing for your kicks. There are too many people who do not practice this point in their Kumite or practice time. If you do not practice with the proper distance, when you find yourself in a real situation you will not be at the right distance. If you get too close to someone very large for example, their bumping into you and grabbing you would be very bad. That is the 'grim reality' of 'Kyojitsu.' (ends with a little play on words.)"

"I think that this was probably a very good practice for everyone. We had a reknowned marksman among us and so you were able to apply the feeling to pistols, and understand how everything is connected in the same way."

"There will be practice at Hombu dojo from 1:00 tomorrow... Shiraishi, when do you start? One o'clock as well."

May 19 (Tuesday)
"We went to do a demonstration for the local Barber's Association today."

"There will be practice at the Hombu Dojo tomorrow from 1:00. Who else is teaching tomorrow? Very well, Someya-sensei as well tomorrow right... Is there anything else? Nope? Okay, then let's begin."

"Okay, we will be begin with 'Karai.' (We do so, and after a few minutes, Soke asks) Is everyone warmed up now?"

"Please note that this kick is not straight. It curves in... Many of you may not be accustomed to this kick; for some, it could be your first time. Please practice this carefully and precisely."

"Why did I teach you to kick in this way? So you cold do this Kaeshi-geri (follow-up kick) immediately afterward."

"This is not a conventional back-kick as you might learn in other arts. Pay attention to how the power is being generated."

"This distancing and timing of this kick are so important. Why? (motions to two people to attack him in sequence from different directions. After knocking both to the ground, he adds) This movement of the body is the same with throwing Shuriken or Metsubushi as well."

"If you understand how this movement works, you can see how it would be possible to cut two opponents with one swing of a sword... (After a brief time, Soke points to a foreign visitor and says) Explain a little about how to point a gun." (The practitioner obliges)

"Natasha, please speak a little about gun use..."

"Okay, they kick. You catch it here... It doesn't matter if you drop it or can't keep hold (let's go of the leg and pretends to stomp on his Uke's knee). Try to make this very natural. It is very important to have the proper distance and timing. Once you have it, you can do anything if you are too focused on grabbing the foot, you will not be able to move on from there. Practice this flow and remember that mistakes are alright."

"Okay, they come to kick. This time you want to keep your distance by walking (grabs the foot) and change your hands (moves the foot he is pulling along with him to the other hand, keeping his opponent off balance the entire time). You should be able to freely pass this foot from hand to hand like this."

"The reason I am telling how to catch the foot in this way is because you could use 'Shukko' as well."

"It is important for this technique to have your center of gravity low. Keep your balance, your center of gravity from your hip level and down. Don't let the fight come to your head, keep it down and under control."

"Everyone is so very good. There is so much to be shared."

"Do anything you want."

(To a particular practitioner who practicing despite an injury) "Please take care not to overdo it. (After the man did an amazing job without using an ounce of strength, Soke piped in) "See! Even if you are hurt, when you CANNOT use your muscles, you can still do beautiful Taijutsu! (It was an impressive example of the true power of the movement we are all trying to make our own.)

(At one point during the demonstrations, Soke threw out a Bo and said) "Someone in your group has to use this. They can whack you with it, or you can take it yourself and see what you can do with it."

"Let's work on 'Ken' for a while (In this case, it was 'fist' (i.e. punching) rather than 'blade' (i.e. sword) he was referring to."

"Please note how you punch here. The arm is cranking so it brushes downward across the muscle."

"I won't punch you hard. It would break. (Soke reassures his wary Uke, then smiles mischievously)."

"This is the way to use a 'Shinkanken.' Use it to measure for your punch."

"If you are not at this angle, your 'Shuto' will not break their arm. You must be HERE for the strike to be truly effective."

Ben works, sleeps, and trains in Japan. He can be reached at

Rediscovering Natural Living

by C. Penn

One of the things I think is so important not only to personal safety but to the enjoyment of life is the skill of awareness, which is the use of all six senses to have a feel for the environment around us, to see and experience life to the fullest extent that we can. Of course, it's impossible to do this if you're sleepwalking through life, not paying the slightest bit of attention to the details. Increasing our sensitivity to what's going on around us is relatively easy to do – it requires a little knowledge and a lot of practice. Here are some suggested sensitivity exercises to work on. The exercises are set up on a weekly basis.

Sunday is traditionally a day of reflection in America, and as such we start with the sixth sense, the sense of intuition. Go for a walk in a crowded place, and observe the people you encounter. As you watch or pass someone, and without engaging any rational or logical thought processes, get a feel for the type of person that he or she is. What mood, what emotion? Is this person a fundamentally happy or unhappy person? Go with your gut instinct, and pay very close attention, feeling for emotions and sensations that aren't your own.

On Mondays, we practice exercises involving vision. Every few minutes, refocus your eyes into wide angle vision. Scan your environment using only your peripheral vision. Relax your eyes, trying to detect motion and color with your peripheral vision. Practice reading a book and still keeping an eye on your environment – practice reading in a mall or other dynamic, rapidly changing environments. Take a small section of any place – your room, outside. Look extremely closely at a 6 inch x 6 inch area and learn as much as you can in that area.

Another exercise to practice is to look at someone and try to memorize as much information about them as you can remember. Look at someone, watch them briefly, and then wait half an hour. Recall as much as you can. Determine what makes a person memorable or not, and then apply that knowledge to yourself to make yourself memorable or not, depending on the situation. For example, during an interview for jobs or schools, you will want to make yourself as presentable and as memorable as possible.

A third exercise to practice is to look at a scene very quickly, and then recall as much detail as possible. Perhaps it's a quick glimpse of a mountaintop vista or a photograph in a newspaper that someone is carrying. Whatever the sight is, practice paying attention and capturing as much of the visual information as you can.

On Tuesdays, we practice exercises involving sound. Go outside and sit down. Close your eyes, and listen to your environment around you. Turn off everything in a room in your house or office and listen to the ambient sounds in the environment. What can you hear? Practice walking and moving throughout your day as quietly as possible so that you can better hear the environment around you. Pause for a few moments during walks to listen for the ambient sounds around you. If you hear a sudden sound, practice determining the direction and distance of the sound. Don't forget to enjoy sound as well. Take a few moments out of your day to sit down with a good song or piece of music, close your eyes, and give your full attention to listening to the music, enjoying its rich complexity and any emotions the music evokes in you.

On Wednesday, we practice exercises involving smell. Sit down in any comfortable environment and take a deep breath to clear any stagnant air in your lungs. Then place the tip of your tongue against the back of your teeth, and inhale the air around you. Discern as much as you can from the air. Move around your environment. What areas have distinct smells to them, and why? When you're eating, what foods give off what odors? Could you determine the ingredients of your meal by smell alone?

Thursday is the day we practice taste. Sit down at each meal and work on determining what your food is made of just by taste alone. Close your eyes and try to discern the ingredients that make up your food. Pay attention to the different tastes of water wherever you are – each building, office, and home has different plumbing.

Try altering the taste of your food subtly and determining the difference. We have many spices and condiments you can use with your food, such as salt, pepper, sugar, etc. Also, try reducing the amount of condiments you use on your food to a bare minimum so that you can tell the true nature of what you're eating. You'll quickly be able to tell what foods really are and aren't good for you – some foods, after thorough chewing, begin to break down, especially foods with processed chemicals in them. Drink water with your meals instead of flavored beverages if you can, to avoid "coloring" the food.

We practice the sense of touch on Friday. Close your eyes in your home or office. Try to navigate without using any sense other than touch. When you touch things, try to determine as much information about them as possible. How large is the mouse on your computer in inches? What's the room temperature? You CAN tell by sense of touch. Blindfold yourself and pick up an object. Feel it thoroughly and determine what it is. Do this in a friend's home or office where everything might not be familiar.

Practice walking through your backyard or local (and SAFE) woods at night. Rely on your sense of touch to navigate around unseen branches and pitfalls. Wear thinner shoes – sandals or moccasins, so that your feet can feel the terrain more accurately. Walk around barefoot and relearn the sense of touch in the feet. Go outside on a breezy day and try to determine what direction the wind is moving and how fast.

General awareness comprises our Saturday. Work on integrating all the skills you've practiced during the week. Go for a long walk and try to put it all together.

These sensitivity exercises are designed to help you relax and enjoy the world around you more. Relax, kick back, enjoy life for the grand adventure it is. Learn to see things like a little kid again, as if you were seeing something truly interesting for the first time. So often we become jaded with our daily routines that we overlook what's really going on around us. Stop sleepwalking! Promote awareness and enjoyment of life!

The Four Deadly Sens

by A. Keith
In combat, people often speak of attack and defense. Attackers initiate a hostile move, and defenders are taught techniques to overcome these attackers. As martial artists, we focus most of our attention on the latter. Being the defender allows us a certain moral superiority, and we tend to believe that Budo Taijutsu is therefore "defensive" in nature.

However, with something as volatile and dynamic as combat, often roles are hard to delineate. The attacker and defender become part of one scene. Usually those watching have a very different view of who is playing which part, and the participants themselves may not realize who is initiating and who is responding.

These issues can certainly complicate the pretty picture of "attacker" and "defender", but when it comes down to it, there are really only four options. They have been formalized to a degree in Japanese bujutsu, and can provide the basis for an entire subcategory of study. Whether unarmed or armed, single combat or mass warfare, these initiatives, or "Sen", come in four flavors:

This is the attacking initiative. You see the opportunity and launch an attack. In Budo Taijutsu, this is often the uke, who attacks the tori. In combat, sometimes seeing an opening and attacking it decisively are the best ways to ensure victory. Sen is used after combat has begun, so it's not the same as a mugging or surprise attack.

Sen no Sen
This is somewhat harder to explain. This is the technique of attacking directly while being attacked. In doing so, you win by choking his attack and "beating him to the punch" in a manner of speaking. Those familiar with the Steve Hayes Godai model will recognize this as the "fire" strategy. As your opponent punches, the instant you perceive his movement you attack forward thereby stopping his punch even as your own punch lands.

Go no Sen
This is usually referred to as the "waiting initiative". The opponent attacks, and you allow him to attack, letting his attack draw him out. Then you counter. This timing is the same as ukenagashi, when the opponent punches and you evade the punch, using his own attack as his weakness and striking his arm. Go no Sen is completed. To attack now that you have this advantage, you are using the first initiative, Sen. Many of our techniques fall into this category of Go no sen, followed by Sen.

Sen Sen no Sen
This is an interesting one. It fits into the category of "surprise attacks". Before the opponent even realizes that there is an enemy, you attack. No warning, no threats. He's walking down the street... now he's dead. He probably won't even know what hit him. Sounds a little ninja-like, doesn't it?

Obviously, from a legal standpoint some of these initiatives are more appropriate than others. It's clearly in our best interests to remain safely on the side of legality, especially in this letigious era in which we live. We are raised from an early age never to "throw the first punch" because we will be in trouble if we do. Often we are taught never to fight at all, and in many public schools it is against the rules even to defend yourself from violent attack.

Certainly, violence and fighting are terrible and should be avoided whenever possible, but we must remember that our arts are combat arts. They are not Budo in the modern sense, with sporting applications. They developed through real warfare, where the goal was simply to stay alive. As such they contain both in and yo, ura and omote. To learn to defend without truly knowing how to attack is to miss half of the equation. They are both part of the same coin, and one cannot be fully understood without the other. I hope this encourages some to look further into the arts we study.

Aric is really weirded out by the idea of writing in third person about himself. He is a practitioner of budo taijutsu who gets to Japan as often as possible. Like other pracitioners, he is seeking to understand the nature of the universe by being repeatedly hit and dropped on his head. So far, no luck. He welcomes responses to his articles, and can be reached at

Neurolinguistic Programming and the Warrior Path

by D. Siclari, Jr.
This article is being written at the suggestion of my teacher, Shidoshi Jean-Pierre Seibel who thought an article relating the science of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) to the warrior path would be interesting. I can only write from where I am now, at this particular moment on the path, and as everything in the universe changes, my thoughts will most likely have done the same by the time this is published. I am far from being an authority on either so I can only write about my experiences and observations rather than the technical aspects. My challenge now is to apply all that I have learned to the musha shugyo of moving 750 miles away to college.

NLP is the study of the structure of experience and the modeling of excellence. For me, it has been esoteric so it is rather difficult to explain away analytically and mechanically. I believe an answer to some of the concepts can best be found using a technique taught to me by my Zen teacher, slapping the floor. My understanding is that this allows one to experience the void before the thought process. The nature of some of these things does not lend well to explanation, especially by me. I am nineteen years old and hold only a sixth kyu. I don't really feel ready to write about these things yet but my teacher asked me to so here is my best attempt. Basically, NLP states that as we progress through experiences, we develop personal "maps" to navigate through life. NLP seeks to upgrade these maps. Information, taken in through sensory channels and processed, is used to create the maps and ultimately the ways in which we individually relate to ourselves and the world. The information can become clouded by one's own filters, thus creating what may seem like a problem when things don't appear to be the way one wants to experience them. Kadampa Buddhism teaches that the ultimate nature of reality is emptiness, or lack of inherent existence. So far, I have found a close parallel and use the former to better understand the latter. NLP can also be used to transcend attachments, limiting beliefs, and just about anything else.

Not a religion, NLP is rather a set of tools that can be used on any level, from simply helping one accomplish a material goal, to helping one progress on a spiritual path, or both. An interesting set of circumstances led to my reunion with an old friend who is an NLP master and his subsequent decision to teach me which has had a very profound impact on my life. My teacher is a very spiritual person who shares many of the same ideals that I do. Now in his fifties, he has endless wisdom from many experiences to share with me. Having first noticed a glowing aura around his head, I later learned that he has experienced the awakening of the kundalini.

NLP has served as a tremendous catalyst for my understanding of Eastern Spiritual disciplines and Ninpo. Kadampa Buddhist lineage holder Geshe Kelsang Gyatso defines enlightenment as the dissolution of all limitations and the cultivation of all positive virtues to perfection. If this is indeed enlightenment, then NLP can most definitely be used to speed progress in that direction and help free one from samsaric suffering. Through NLP, I have been able to grasp a deeper understanding of many writings in Shihan Hayes' writings on Ninjutsu, especially almost everything in Wisdom from the Ninja Village of the Cold Moon. I have been introduced to methods of changing my perspective to see things in a different light, mind control techniques to help myself and others see reality, diffusing and resolving conflicts, love, ways of aligning myself with my "higher" goals and purpose, the subtle power of suggestion, materialization of intentions, and ways of finding the resources that I need to accomplish what I want. (I am currently working to differentiate between transient desires and actual intentions.) Further, the tools given to me have helped me to better relate to other methods of identifying with outcomes that I have been lucky enough to encounter. I should note that I have chosen to use the tools that I have been given for these purposes, however they can be used for anything; they do not inherently exist for any one purpose.

Like Ninpo, NLP is a completely open and flexible art. My teacher has taught me to perceive things as information without passing judgment and attaching my filters to the information gathered through experiences. (I have by no means mastered any of this yet.) I have become more aware of how I perceive thing through my five senses and become more in tune with my 6th sense. NLP does not make generalizations and allows for the creativity of the practitioner. It is not a detached art like psychology can be at times and it recognizes that communication is only worth the response that one gets in return. Therefore, when my teacher works with a client he opens by saying something like "What can we explore?" rather than "What can I help you with?" which can imply that the person needs help and can cause him or her to put up a defensive barrier.

One of the most important lessons that I have learned so far is that success in anything depends on being completely in the moment. This becomes of critical importance in my practice of Buddhism, Taoism, and other spiritual practices and in noticing and directing another's behavior patterns. I believe that this may be the key to higher spiritual work and I was told by my Zen teacher that it is how to experience the divine. Being completely absorbed in the moment and harmonizing or becoming one with what is happening is an incredible experience when I am able to do it. NLP is helping me cut off analytical thinking when necessary and develop right-brained creativity. I am very gratified that I have a teacher who can point out areas that need work such as this. It has been said that the mystic is completely honest in what he says because he is not concerned with worrying about what others will think. My NLP teacher is one such person. This is especially true in seeking to transform relationship problems into opportunities. (A real challenge!) I have been working with the Heart Sutra recently and using my NLP background to better relate to the Skandas.

The techniques that I have learned from my teacher for directing another's thoughts can be used in either a positive or negative context. In NLP, we have an implied oath that the techniques will only be used with the most positive of intentions, but as a Ninjutsu student I like to consider the martial applications as well. One such tool is known as anchoring.

Anchoring occurs when a stimulus evokes a sensory response identical to the state that the person was in when the anchor originated. For example when one hears a certain song, it can bring him or her back into a memory. We are all familiar with this. Anchoring can occur subconsciously or can be done intentionally. I have noticed the use of many intentional anchors in Ninjutsu. This has been confirmed by my Shidoshi. I leave it to your imagination to notice how.

In applying NLP to the Buddhist teachings on compassion, I have learned how to more effectively help somebody by not allowing their suffering to affect me emotionally. Emotions can become a spiritual obstacle. As an Emergency Medical Technician and volunteer fireman, I remember my first experience doing a clinical rotation at Yale New Haven Hospital. The violence, death, and suffering that I saw left me thoroughly shaken as did contemplating how I could someday be able to introduce my training in Oriental Medicine and acupuncture to help those suffering from the conditions that I saw in the emergency room. Combining NLP and Eastern Philosophy has helped me to realize that all things fit in under the grander picture of totality.

When I first began studying Ninjutsu, I thought it was the supreme ultimate way of doing everything. Now I see that at like NLP, Ninjutsu can provide the tools and inner resources to do anything. I have found that sometimes it is best to look elsewhere to find the keys to better understanding of Ninjutsu, but then what is understanding Ninjutsu? Like I said earlier, NLP is not inherently a spiritual path but I have chosen to use it that way. Far more than just intellectual psychology, NLP, like Ninpo, is a living set of tools to be embodied by the practitioner and taken out and applied to experiences. NLP is most commonly used in the same context of psychology, to help a client overcome an obstacle. I apply it to better understand the path that I am on. I am seeking to develop knowledge of all religions though I would like to pursue Mikkyo as soon as an opportunity becomes available. I feel that with NLP I have the resources to more fully embody what I study.

Shidoshi Seibel once said to me, "You are clearly on the spiritual path, but don't get caught up in the manifestation of what that path is." I believe that one need not study any particular philosophy to realize some of these things on his or her own. Being human and having experiences is the only prerequisite. I have chosen to live a warrior and religious life. Most of my friends have not and have made some of the same observations that I have. Many of the concepts are the same in different parts of the world. I admire Jesus and through Buddhism have found a path to be more like him. (Though I have heard that there may have been some evidence that Jesus studied Buddhism.) At the request of my teacher, I have attempted (with difficulty) in this article to explain things that I have come to know. By helping me to realize these things, my Ninjutsu teacher has taught me perhaps the greatest lesson - that the best teacher of all is yourself. This article then is dedicated to my Ninjutsu teacher, J. P. Seibel and my NLP teacher, J. Seph Mayo who have had almost unbelievable patience with me. I hope that others can obtain some benefit from it as I believe that what is on paper can be useless unless it is realized through experience.

End Notes

by Liz maryland Hiraldo
That's it for this month. I've been busy with all the updates and trying to keep my design career going, so I haven't had much time to write. Check again next month for an actual "End Notes."

Until then, keep supporting the newsletter!

Liz maryland Hiraldo is the editor of this newsletter. Although she's a bit slow at making edits, she loves the current Ura & Omote web-site. Having a partial life to speak of (she just met a very nice guy who watches much too much Star Trek), she finds it a bit harder to fit training in these days. Having spoken to Ben cole, she's newly enthusiastic about going to Japan, so she's brushing up on her Japanese and her sake drinking technique ("Where does she put it?" "I don't know. She must have a wooden leg or breast or something.") Liz loves to get e-mail, so bother her at

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