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Showing posts from January, 2014

Bujinkan Rank from the Heart

御神籤 omikuji, 道祖神社 (Doso jinja) Katsushika, photo by Michael Glenn One day you learn there are no Bujinkan ranks … only people you can choose to invest in. We form many relationships in this world: Family; friends; coworkers; parole officer; guy who works at the sandwich shop… It's obvious not all of them have the same value. One thing I really love about the Bujinkan, is that it is possible to develop some of the most meaningful relationships of life with people you meet in training. I have made lifelong friends. I have seen others do so. I have watched people date and get married after meeting in training. I have witnessed children start training at a young age and grow up to become amazing adults with an entire Bujinkan dojo looking out for them. I have also lost friends who have died. I have my own personal way of honoring their life in my training. But the whole art is richer for the life they shared with us. And many of us feel this deep in our hearts when we bow in for ea

The 奇翻 Kihon of 宝剣 Hōken

sky pots, at 赤門勝専寺浄土宗 photo by Michael Glenn There are mysterious and strange surprises when studying the Bujinkan and what it means to be ninja. But the deeper you go, the more you find it is all connected. The mysterious evolves from the not so mysterious. Like kihon. Let's consider the kihon of muto dori. On its surface, it seems simple. Evade when the sword cuts. But this is reasoning from analogy. You know that when you don't move you will get hit or cut, because that has happened in the past or in other situations. But what is so amazing about the teaching Hatsumi Sensei has shared with us, is that we don't reason from analogy. We don't do things because that is the way they've always been done before. That produces a dead and lifeless art. Hatsumi Sensei has written kihon as 奇翻, which suggests an odd turn, or a tricky mind with wondrous power. So, maybe we should reason from first principles instead. So again, with muto dori, what is the first pri

The Art of Hidden Change

Hidden Convenience, Kashiwa. photo by Michael Glenn I saw the way Hatsumi Sensei hit the guy in the neck. But his victim fell down like he had been shot. I tried the technique with my training partner. Not the same result. People sometimes ask, when do we study Ninjutsu? I answer, every class. Here is one of the lessons of the Bujinkan. There is more to it than what you can see. This makes it hard to study unless you experience it in person with a qualified instructor. Even then, you will miss most of it. What is happening underneath the surface techniques are what Soke calls 小さな chiisana henka  and 見えない mienai henka. These are small, hidden changes where the real art comes alive. You won't find them in technique descriptions or even in the densho. These are best taught through kuden or even better through 以心伝心. This is why the same kata done by different instructors can appear so completely different. It is also what allows you to win no matter what your opponent d