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Showing posts from August, 2013

The Birth of Bujinkan Henka

地蔵尊 Jizouson Altar at 万満寺 Manman-ji. photo by Michael Glenn Henka is like a ritual of birth and death. One essential fact of existence that everyone seeks to forget, is that we are born to this world and guaranteed to die. Everything dies. Thus the way of Bushido is death. But Hatsumi Sensei would like us to flip this idea to rebirth and to give life, protect life. How do we do this if we are half dead already? The traditional rites of passage used to teach people to die to the past and be reborn to the future. I feel this process every time I travel back to Japan. It is always a new birth. Sensei seems to demonstrate this in every henka and even by the way he moves through his day. This is what we should strive for in every class and in our lives. Why die to the past and be reborn? What does that even mean? What is the point? Everyone comes to class for different reasons. But most hope to improve themselves in some way. What kind of improvement are you seeking? To be a k

My Search for the Akō Vendetta of the 47 Ronin

A man lost his head. Not his mind, but his HEAD. Some say he brought it on himself, some just accept that it was the code of the warrior, a result of Bushido. But he wasn't the only one to die in the Akō Vendetta incident. More than 60 warriors died just to take this one man's head. Here I stood lost on a Tokyo street corner. My source had left me with a murky glint in his eye and a hand-drawn map to the scene of the crime. Of course I had to go there. Map to Lord Kira's Residence Going there meant feeling the silence of a 310 year old crime scene. You see the Akō incident happened in 1703 during the 元禄 Genroku era in Japan. It is also known as the story of the 47 Ronin. This story speaks to the very soul of Japan and pairs the code of Bushido with the drama of a great tragedy. It has been told and retold to the point that it has become legend. But facts are facts, and I wanted to see for myself. First I had to figure out where this sketchy map was taking me. It

A Ninja Tease With the 鎖分銅 Kusari Fundou

Pay Attention Because Hatsumi Sensei Never Stops Sharing, photo Michael Glenn I just learned how to do a secret ninja move with the 鎖分銅 kusari fundou. Hatsumi Sensei explained how to do this move from a shadow kamae to crush your enemy. I immediately retrieved a kusari fundo that I have owned for 27 years from my weapons cache. Now for the ninja testing. When I was sixteen, while my friends were buying cool new tires for their cars, I bought a kusari fundou. Like all the other Ninja weapons I was attempting to acquire at this age, I had to watch the mailbox every day to intercept the mail before my parents did. When it arrived, it was better than I expected. This was 1986 and Ninja Movies were playing in the movie theaters. Hatsumi Sensei or Stephen Hayes were on the covers of Black Belt magazine every other month. The Ninja fad in the U.S. was in full effect. And I was fully hypnotized. When I unwrapped this simple but strange new weapon, the first thing I did is what everyone sho