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3 Tips for 大外掛 Ōsoto Gake You Should Start Using Now

Bujinkan Honbu Masks, photo from same day by Michael Glenn Tonight in my class we studied 夢落 yume otoshi. The last time I did this in Japan, Hatsumi Sensei gave us some insights that I want to share with you. He began by telling us 空間で嚮導 Kūkan de kyōdō, or lead the opponent in the kukan. That was when I should have changed into a new gi. Because it was like a new life for an old ninja. I had a breakthrough for my understanding of taijutsu. But my day leading up to that experience gave no warning it would be special. I trained for about 6 weeks in Japan every year. So not every day could be amazing. This particular Friday was cold, wet, and boring. I had only errands to keep me entertained before Hatsumi Sensei’s class . Even my lunch was uninspired. I hunkered down at the low budget family restaurant, Saizeriya in Nagareyama. I only wanted to get out of the cold rain for a bit and work on my training notes in a quiet booth. Christmas music was already playing, but the holiday decor was
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Our 初稽古 Hatsugeiko: First Bujinkan Training for 2022

五條天神社で、お焚き上げ otakiage preparations at Gojoten jinja. photo Michael Glenn Happy new year! This year makes more than 35 years in the Bujinkan for me. I am humbled by the many gifts training has given me during all these years. But I still feel excited for what the future holds.  Our 初稽古 Hatsugeiko, or the first training of the new year, was a bit different this year. For one, we actually trained on January 1, 2022. This is a holiday for most people, but many of us choose the dojo for holidays anyway! I know many of you have used your vacation time to train in Japan.  And second, I have reached that point in life where many important teachers and students that I trained with are no longer training at all. Some have died, some have quit training. Either way, I made my hatsugeiko in their honor.  For our first training of the year, I put a strong focus on kihon. It was cold, so I didn’t have to convince anyone to warm up. We all trained hard and got sweaty.  We warmed up with ukemi and taih

空打ち Karauchi: Striking Emptiness

Michael Glenn Strikes Emptiness Last night in my class one student said, “This is pretty basic.” I did a double take and said, “Really? You think so?” I told him that the kata was more advanced than it appeared. We were studying 一文字 Ichimonji. This is a 無刀捕 mutōdori kata from 高木揚心流 Takagi Yoshin Ryū. And it does look simple. But mutōdori has so many levels. One morning when Hatsumi Sensei taught this kata he said,  You make him cut the air. This is mutōdori, like he’s practicing by himself and striking emptiness. The question I posed to my students last night was, “How?” How do you get your opponent, ostensibly a competent swordsman, to just cut the air and miss you completely? As an answer, I gave them three insights into advanced mutōdori that I received from Soke. If you are interested, I share these kind of tips for anyone who joins my mailing list, which you can do here: eepurl.com/d0w_r First, give the enemy what he wants. He is seeking violence and destruction. Let him have it.

What Did Hatsumi Sensei Say Four Times in the First Four Minutes of Training?

聖観世音菩薩立像 on top of 万人塚 Banninzuka. photo Michael Glenn In December, during a Friday night class at the Bujinkan Honbu Dojo, Hatsumi Sensei repeated a word four times in the first four minutes of class. In fact, he said it both as a statement and a question as if we just didn’t get it. ゆっくりかな。 Yukkuri, kana? First, he had Nagase Sensei stab at him and he said, We’re not studying the form, we’re studying muto dori. ゆっくり。 (Yukkuri) ゆっくり Yukkuri got translated as, “Go slowly or take your time.” But those words in English don’t capture the full idea. A moment later Soke repeated, The feeling is very important. ゆっくり。(Yukkuri). You can create this lock here on the elbow. Take the knife. It has to be connected like this. This kind of feeling is important. ゆっくりと。(Yukkuri to) My training partner stabbed at me and I tried to use the feeling that Soke had just shared. But I saw Soke glance at me and he interrupted the entire class again to demonstrate, This feeling. ゆっくりかな。 This was

Noguchi Sensei Surprised Us With Gikan Ryu

Noguchi Sensei Shares 40+ year old Gikan Ryu notes. photo by Michael Glenn They love to crank up the heat in the Bujinkan Honbu. I find it too hot on most days. But today I had been doing photography out in the cold pouring rain, so I found myself ready to embrace the warmth of the dojo. Noguchi Sensei greeted me when he arrived. He normally shares a few jokes with me, but today he seemed very focused. Less than 20 students were waiting for him to bow in. He did so promptly as is his custom. Then he announced we were doing Gikan Ryu kata. I was surprised. In more than 30 years I have not been shown these from any teacher. In between kata, Noguchi Sensei showed me a tattered notebook with the kata handwritten in a numbered sequence. He told me these were his actual notes from more than 40 years ago when Hatsumi Sensei taught these only to him. if you are interested, I recorded a video of my experiences for 特訓 Tokkun members of Rojodojo: Bujinkan Kuden: Gikan Ryu wit

Here's What is Happening at Bujinkan 冬修業 Fuyu Shūgyō 2020

Leandro Erlich's "Port of Reflections" at 森美術館, photo by Michael Glenn In my dojo, we set a theme for each season of training. In the upcoming seminar on January 19th we will explore this theme with a sincere and direct effort. The winter season hints at 平常心是道 heijō-shin kore dō, a calm heart is the way. I encourage any teachers who want this extra dimension for their teaching to train with me when the season is right. If you have passed the Godan, you should be able to know the right season for these things. If you don’t yet have that skill, train with the right teacher! The topics we cover come from my own training in Japan last month. You will be surprised by some rarely taught techniques. And we will take a cue from Wumen Huikai’s (1183-1260) expression of how to have a peaceful mind or a calm heart during every season: 春有百花秋有月,夏有凉风冬有雪,若无闲事挂心头,便是人间好时节 “Hundreds of flowers in spring, And in autumn, the moon. A cool breeze in summer, And in winter, the

Don't Rattle Your 忍者刀 Ninjatō

Mt Fuji all the way from Kashiwa, photo by Michael Glenn Hatsumi Sensei surprises me with his teaching. The night before I left for Japan, we studied 忍者刀 Ninjatō in my own dojo. Then, on Friday night in Soke’s class at the Bujinkan Honbu Dojo, he taught one of the secrets of this weapon. I try to prepare for these lessons, yet I am still surprised. I suppose the only way is to always be ready. This is the ukemi of being Hatsumi Sensei’s student. I landed at Narita Airport around 5pm local time. My normal plan is to run through immigration and customs as fast as Japanese bureaucracy will allow. Then catch a two hour train ride straight to Hatsumi Sensei’s class. One hour into the train ride I began to lose my motivation. Warm trains make me sleepy. That, and the 20 hours of travel that wasn’t over yet. I stood up to shake off the tired. It was already dark out, and the train cabin was reflected back to us in the window. I leaned my head against the door to watch the lights p