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Showing posts from June, 2013

A Hard Truth About Your Bujinkan Training Schedule

Sumo Wrestlers 1914-18, photo by A.Davey How long does it take to be a Shihan? What about a Shidoshi? Blackbelt? How about just being good? These seem like silly questions to ask, but I want to examine some real numbers here. I think we will be surprised at what the numbers reveal. Let's start at the bottom. No experience, no classes, pure beginner. How long is it to go from beginner to "not" beginner? Everyone's ideas on what it means to be a beginner are different. So I am asking you. Is it going to classes for a few months? A year? 3, or 5? How many ACTUAL classes does it take? In my own training I teach 3 classes a week. So my own students have the opportunity to show up to roughly 12-14 per month. And if we take off for holidays and such, maybe 150 per year. Except, almost no one comes to them all. How long does it take to reach beginner's level? (That's what our black belt level is called: Shodan) How many classes? How many c

Umu 有無: Something From Nothing

涅槃 photo by Aeternitas. I train outdoors all year. Traditionally ninja, and many of the founders of the Bujinkan ryuha, all found their inspiration for training in nature. Lately, in every class I am annoyed with mosquitoes. But I also observe the nest of some Cassin's Kingbirds and how they teach their fledgelings to catch those same insects out of the air. This kind of direct insight is very valuable. Hatsumi Sensei says, "Training in nature, where there is not only a lack of footing but one is attacked by the wind and rain, is greatly different from training in a dojo with wooden floors or mats, and with air conditioning installed." He says that to develop higher powers of perception we must train in nature. This is how we develop the ability to produce something from nothing in combat. 必要な無から有を生み出す勘生という知恵を授かったのであろう。 So every class, I start with only the open air, the sky and the earth. Then we bow in.   This lonely path of the warrior is self reliant.

How to Attack the Kyūsho, 強経 Kyokei

踩上一脚 photo by 大杨 Last night in class the kata I was teaching required you to stomp down on the kyūsho 強経 kyokei. This is supposed to move your opponent and open him up for the rest of the kata. The way most people teach this is to stomp the ground like a Maori tribesman. Stomping like a polynesian warrior or bratty child is the omote way of doing this technique. This means it is obvious and easily seen or countered. And if this is all you put behind this strike, many opponents will not be moved. What I have learned from Hatsumi Sensei is to accomplish more with less. Exist inside of nothingness, he says. Be able to move from there. The Japanese text of the kata we were studying says 強経を強く踏み付けると. This suggests breaking through the strength of the opponent by stomping this 急所 kyuusho, kyokei. First, let's see where this kyūsho is located. 強経 kyokei is above the five toes of the foot. A strike here attacks the strong tendons on top of the foot. This creates an ataxia which will

An Authentic 妙法 Myouhou: Transcendence Disguised as Injury

砲台~十八羅漢~猴子( 全身是傷 ) photo by houliuken If you are athletic, or train hard like I do, you will face the problem of being injured at some point. At first this feels like, why me? Why now? But then if you are like me, you get to work finding a way to move forward, overcome this obstacle and to heal. You can solve this problem. And maybe, if you approach this problem properly, you will encounter the same wonderful mystery I have. Let me explain. I train when I'm injured. I do this because the nature of life means there will always be encumbrances to peak performance. I want to be able to adapt when I encounter those obstacles. But there is another, better reason I have discovered. The kind of discovery that may only occur while training injured. While I was in pain and feeling gimpy one night, I had a flash of inspiration: Constraints on free movement can open up infinity. This is an authentic 妙法 myouhou, or mysterious law in life, art, and training. The greatest lives are