Nagato Sensei: A Very Strong Nurse

Nagato Sensei with Michael Glenn
During the Kunoichi Taikai, Soke asked Vanessa Adán to show some things from her experience dealing with mentally disturbed or drugged patients at a hospital. Patients are often bigger and stronger than the nurses who have to deal with them. Especially for smaller women nurses.

Patients may act violently and react with aggression. Hatsumi Sensei suggested that we learn to
"Move in such a way that the opponent doesn't resist. He doesn't continue to fight or create more agrression."
Of course in these jobs, one of the key challenges is to calm, subdue, or control the patient without injury to them or the staff. This can be difficult in a chaotic situation where accidents may occur. Another strategy Soke gave us was,
"to move in such a way that it doesn't give the opponent any feeling. Once you feel something, you need to be able to change. Otherwise there will be an accident or something will happen. Move in such a way that you're not a catalyst for an accident."
Sensei also advised us to use our surroundings. For example using a chair to unbalance or as a barrier between yourself and the opponent. He said,
"This is important, because the obstacle… the chair becomes a weapon."
Since there were no chairs on the mats at Ayase, Sensei asked Nagato to be a chair. Nagato crouched down on all fours. This itself was a lesson to everyone.

I've seen Hatsumi Sensei ask his senior students to do things that are somewhat embarrassing or seemingly beneath someone of their stature. Yet, they never seem fazed or unwilling to cooperate. They have so much respect for their teacher, and Sensei always makes these requests without ego or pretense. I don't think Nagato would very likely pose as a piece of furniture for anyone else except Soke.

So Nagato Sensei is posed on the ground as a chair. Soke knocks the "patient" down across Nagato's back and says, "Then the chair picks him up and takes him away."

Nagato stands up with the guy slung across his back and walks away. Hatsumi Sensei says, "he might be a very strong nurse!"

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.

A Class With Hatsumi Sensei and Chinese Sandstorms in Japan

Atago Bikes Blown Over by High Winds, photo by Michael Glenn
Here in Japan the winds have been intense. I've been dodging debris and digging sand out of my eyes and hair. Even the trains have shut down because of high winds.

They say the pollution has increased as it has blown in from mainland China. I've never thought of wearing one of those dust masks that Japanese people often wear, but it could have helped today. None of this has stopped me from training!

I will be updating with detailed training notes and videos for members of Rojodojo. If you haven't discovered everything there yet, now is a great time to help me out and sign up! Maybe then I can buy a dust mask, or at least go to more classes.

Here is more detail on Hatsumi Sensei's class last night: Ken 剣: Class With Hatsumi

Meanwhile I will keep adding great material to this blog as well as my Mosh Pit. So far training has been wonderful and I will find something to hold onto so I don't blow away. Bufu Ikkan!

The Tragic Trap of 無理心中 Murishinjuu

candlelighten paperhouse photo by Konstantin Leonov
Tonight's class was entangled with violent local events. I will share them here because I have compassion for the victims and because they expose a deep concept for our own training and lives. This idea was expressed by Takuan 沢庵 as,
心こそ、心迷わす心なり、 心に心、心許すな  "It is the very mind itself that leads the mind astray; of the mind, do not be mindless."
An hour before my class, I heard news that two police officers had been shot and killed in Santa Cruz. I didn't know them, and this unfortunate event has no direct impact on my life. This could be just another tally from the daily news but tonight felt different for some reason.

When I arrived to our training area, the roads were shut down with police barricades.  As I followed the stream of cars being detoured around the perimeter, I noticed the officers manning the barricades had their assault rifles at the ready.

I asked one of them if there was access to where we train. He said it was open, but the roads were closed. So I drove around to the nearest point and parked. I saw many pedestrians streaming past the blockades without interference from police, so I followed to see what was going down.

I approached the center of the gathering crowd. I saw SMPD’s SWAT, Beverly Hills Police Department,  and the Santa Monica Fire Department as well as HAZMAT trucks. Wow, ok, maybe we were not having class tonight.

I asked some bystanders what was up. They said there was a hostage situation in one of the residential houses. I peered down the street, past the second level of police barricades. In the dark I could see the house they were focused on. It was far enough from our training location for us to be safe with our class.

So I coordinated parking for some students then we walked over as a group to the training area. Along the way, I asked several police, park rangers and other "official" looking people if it was safe for us to be there. No one would give me an easy answer. They just shrugged and said they didn't really know what was going on.

I told everyone to keep their gear contained and ready in case we needed to make a fast exit.

After our class warm ups, several TV news vans arrived and parked near us. Then the Red Cross van showed up to provide information and refreshments to the neighbors who had been evacuated from the area. We continued training on the kata 輦輿 renyo.

A friend of mine who is a media photographer arrived so I took him aside and asked about the situation. A man (later I learned his name was John Carroll Lowery) had tied up his 15 year old son and 86 year old mother in law. The son escaped and called police.

Later that night, he let the mother in law go. The police crisis negotiators said he seemed depressed and indicated marital troubles when they communicated with him. After the communication stopped, the police made entry around 4:30 in the morning and found he had shot himself.

There have been a lot of 無理心中 murishinjuu (murder-suicides) in the U.S. and around the world recently. I think about how the person who commits these acts has cornered himself. The trap he is in is lonely and all in his own head.

This illusion of being trapped then sets the person on a timeline or course of action that leads to being trapped for real by violence. Thoughts have immense power. They are life and death.

Later when I was alone in our training area, a breeze swept over the park with the breath of tonight's desperate action. Then stillness.

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