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Showing posts from April, 2012

Joukenhansha 条件反射: Reflex Conditioning or a Trap?

I love it when I get to spar with a martial artist who has great conditioning. Not only is it a great test for me and what I think I know about martial arts, but I have a secret weapon in our Bujinkan taijutsu that allows me to defeat them even if they have superior conditioning. This weapon is the conditioning itself. I can use it to trap them.

In martial arts, sports, or combat training people strive to develop fast reflexes. Reflexes don't require conscious thought. In fact the action of a true reflex follows the reflex arc to create a near instantaneous response to stimuli.

This is an advantage in dangerous situations where there isn't time to think about your choices. You just pull your hand out of the fire. In our training we are not usually studying true hard-wired reflexes. Instead we are conditioning our muscles and bodies to develop responses that have proved effective in our training and in combat.

Some people call this muscle memory. Or another term is procedural me…

Falling Flowers of Fear

How do we overcome fear in combat? Fear can be crippling. It can make us avoid taking actions that need to be taken. It becomes an invisible obstacle to reaching a goal. It can turn our taijutsu into hesitation and clumsiness. It even causes involuntary tension in our muscles so that they will not respond the way they were trained.

I had a teacher in college who defined F.E.A.R. as False Evidence Appearing Real. The idea here is that fear is a construct of our own minds. And since our minds create it, our minds can also release it.

What is this false evidence? In combat, the false evidence is death. You don't want to die so you fear being killed. But while you are fearing, you are not dead. So the evidence is a death that has not occurred and might never occur.

Hatsumi Sensei describes it this way: "If it seems that the blade is not yet positioned at your heart, then both life or death are stopping your heart… You must immediately cast out this mind. Essentially have nothing.&q…

潜 Moguri: Diving Into Infinite Courage

There is a secret to 潜 moguri gata. It is of the deepest importance, yet is not taught. It is expected that the students find it for themselves, yet, how many do?

To confront death and enter. Diving down into the chaos of a moment in combat despite the danger of an upraised sword or hail of gunfire… Soke calls this 沈勇不動 chinyuu fudou, a composed and unwavering courage in diving. He compares it to a bird diving into water (more on waterbirds in moment...).

To nurture this courage we must understand the reality of what we are diving into. If we can grasp this meaning, we will understand it is more than blind faith or courage, but rather a strategy for survival and victory.

When we dive down we are diving into infinity of life and death contained in ourselves, in our opponent, and in that eternal instant. The instant that contains a swinging blade, but also is empty. The instant erupting with gunfire, but also forever silent. We are part of that same space.

One of my favorite poems capture…