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Showing posts from December, 2009

9 tips for creating Henka

Henka is vital to our study of the Bujinkan arts.  It reflects the world around us and the ever changing present.  I would go so far as to say that if you don't understand henka, you are not doing Bujinkan.  Hatsumi Sensei has stressed this in his near constant remonstrations not to get stuck in technique. If you are new to your Bujinkan study, how do you create henka?  Does it just spring from the imagination like a child's finger painting, or a jazz musician's solo?  Yes, and more.  In the first case a child is often learning the basics of the world around them.  They try to better control the paint to produce images, but their expertise is not there yet.  Yet they are uninhibited by failure.  And quite happy with their results.  A jazz musician has studied enough to have immense control over their technique.  Then they break away and let loose with an energetic freedom.  Most Bujinkan students are somewhere in between these. When I was first learning about henka, I

Fresh Ninjutsu Secrets from Hatsumi Sensei

I had a great training trip to Japan and I wanted to discuss something I experienced during class with Hatsumi Sensei.  I always thought learning ninjutsu would be the ultimate goal of our training.  This year I saw something beyond that.  A new horizon for me. Students often ask me when I am going to teach them ninjutsu.  It's a valid question for an art that claims the ninja heritage.  So to answer, let's look to Hatsumi Sensei for inspiration. When I first began training in this art in 1988, most people didnt' call it  Bujinkan.  We called it Togakure Ryu, or, more often Ninjutsu.  Out of the 9 schools we study in the Bujinkan, Togakure Ryu is one of the 3 "Ninja" schools.  The funny thing was Hatsumi Sensei was teaching us many things like Koto ryu and Gyokko Ryu, but we all called it Ninjutsu since we didn't know any better.  Or maybe he was teaching that if you had eyes to see it. As Paul Masse recently pointed out in his blog post: Daruma , Ha

Why do we wear tabi in the Bujinkan? And should you?

I'm not afraid of controversy.   This blog tackles the tough questions.  Questions sure to inflame the keyboard martial artists that troll the various forums.  One question that repeatedly flames up all over the interwebs is: Why do Bujinkan members wear tabi? I know I crossed a line.  After asking a question like that there is no going back.  If you have been hiding under a cheeseburger and don't know what tabi are, from wikipedia: Tabi ( 足袋 ? ) are traditional Japanese socks . Ankle high and with a separation between the big toe and other toes, they are worn by both men and women with zori , geta , and other traditional thonged footwear. What are some good reasons to wear tabi in Bujinkan training?  I made a list of possible reasons: If you wanna be a ninja, dress the part.  In America, tabi are all ninja baby. When you read those ninja books from the '80's it is easier to follow the foot diagrams. If you are caught by the enemy (the cops) wearing tabi gi

Daikomyosai week

Daikomyosai was wonderful for me. The energetic yet subtle movement expressed by Hatsumi Sensei was very inspiring. Sensei has put a lot of faith in us to share this art outside of Japan. After hearing some of Sensei's oldest students tell their stories, the attitude they share is a sincere gratefullness to Sensei for his generosity. Many people in the Bujinkan are inspired by Sensei and inspire others in turn. I have been creating art on my iPod during this trip. This is partly inspired by Sensei. As an artist my art has often been complex. Watching Sensei make his paintings so freely has given me another direction to explore in my own work. I know my friend Paul Masse takes inspiration from Sensei too. I even convinced Paul to do a quick sketch on my iPod. I won't post it here, so as not to embarass him. He needs more training. After Daikomyosai, we were back to normal classes with the Shihan. Yesterday I visited the Tokyo-Edo museum. The museum itself is a fant