Training With Nagato Sensei

Michael Glenn in a mirror, Bujinkan Hombu Dojo just after Nagato's class
Beautiful spring day here in Chiba. Very warm.

Yesterday was blustery, but not cold. I haven't had a break from training since I arrived here. 2-3 classes every day starts to make me physically and mentally exhausted. So I was determined to take a break yesterday.

I decided the night before. And I woke up still convinced I was taking a break. Then I found myself looking at training schedules. Ok... maybe one class.

But which one. I couldn't decide. So I flipped a ten yen coin (similar size and weight to a quarter.) Heads I was going to the first afternoon class, tails I would not. It came up tails.

I put the coin away and went to class anyway. What is wrong with me? I need the break. I'm going to get injured.

So I went to Nagato Sensei's class, thinking I would find a relaxed training partner so that we could train safe and gentle. Before I found anyone, Peter Crocoll grabbed me.

Peter likes to train safe and gentle. He has been training so long, that experience has taught him that you learn more when you are not injured. And that bashing and smashing each other is really not what the teachers here are teaching.

Nagato asked for someone to start the class off. He wasn't looking in my direction so I didn't step forward. But I was body checked from behind out onto the mat. It was Peter! He had shoved me out there in the middle.

So much for being an easy class. I showed the first thing that came to mind, which was 行違 Yuki chigai, since we had been working on this in my class at home recently. Nagato had me repeat it a few times. So at least I got to throw Peter around in front of everyone.

So, as you may know, Nagato then uses the person who demos the technique as his uke. I prepared myself to be worked over. But Nagato was quite gentle.

Since this technique is like an ambush to the uke, I was confused at times whether he wanted me to attack. I know he showed at least one counter.

Nagato had some really interesting variations on catching the opponent's rhythm as you walk past. Some had kamae like a helicopter, picking up the uke's collar. Another henka had you reverse to walk backwards to catch his hand in a really subtle way.

I was surprised when he asked me to now show another technique. I had no clue what to do, so I just motioned for Peter to grab my lapel. Again, didn't wait for an attack, I just used Peter's elbow on the grabbing hand to affect his balance, Then covered his opposite side, before picking that arm up for an omote.

Nagato asked me to do it again. I did, with some refinement. The he said do it again. A few times. So I did it again. and again. Each time exploring henka. I was flowing along ok, then Nagato started counting. Each Henka I did, he counted, "One, Two, Three…" I'm not sure how many but I was throwing Peter all over the place.

I received a number of compliments afterwards from other people in the class, but I'm not sure what was going on there. Peter said Nagato was giving me a chance at revenge  for him having pushed me out there. Maybe Nagato did enjoy seeing Peter get thrown around a bit.

So again, I expected Nagato to work me over, but he did not. He did a variety of henka, trapping the grabbing hand with his elbow, receiving a punch and ending with a hon gyaku. It was a bit of a blur for me.

After class I received more congratulations and compliments. I said thank you. Then it was time for the next class. I didn't need to flip a coin this time.


Michael Glenn

Yes I did, and it was worth it!

Shinobi Exchange

Thank you for sharing your honbu stories.

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