Go! Safecast 3 year Anniversary on March 15-16, 2014 in Tokyo

Safecast Office window, Shibuya, Tokyo. Photo by Michael Glenn
My friend Sean Bonner, a long time Bujinkan student, is organizing the Safecast 3 year Anniversary on March 15-16 in Tokyo. He asked me to extend an invitation to any Bujinkan members who live in Japan, or who will be in Japan on those dates.

Safecast is a volunteer organization started a week after the 3/11 earthquake and resulting tsunami that caused the meltdown at the Fukushima power plant. Since there was a absence of reliable information for residents of Japan that really needed it, Safecast began,
"working to empower people with data, primarily by mapping radiation levels and building a sensor network, enabling people to both contribute and freely use the data collected. After the 3/11 earthquake and resulting nuclear situation at Fukushima Diachi it became clear that people wanted more data than what was available. Through joint efforts with partners such as International Medcom, Keio University, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and GlobalGiving, Safecast has been building a radiation sensor network comprised of static and mobile sensors actively being deployed around Japan – both near the exclusion zone and elsewhere in the country."

Watch a short Safecast documentary: http://vimeo.com/51823402

The 2-day anniversary program will consist of  both talks and hands on events, including:

  • Beginning Saturday evening and running until late Sunday evening we’ll host a global hackathon,
  • Presentations, discussions, and reception at Tokyo University
  • a bGeigie Nano workshop. Build your own award-winning radiation detector with assistance from the designers, and learn how to contribute radiation data you’ve collected to our public database. 
Here's a great vid (in Japanese and English) about one of these workshops:

I know all of us Bujinkan members are hands-on people who take action. This is a great opportunity to do that and connect with other people in Japan and around the world who are already in action making the world a bit safer.

If you'd like to attend, please contact Sean Bonner for more info (you have my permission to punch him when you see him).

Oh, if you're not in Japan, they will probably be live streaming the anniversary activities on safecast.org

How Did I Train a Police Officer?

Michael Glenn and Chris Chilton
Ever since I started this blog in 2009, or launched my Rojodojo website for my Bujinkan videos , or even writing to my private Bujinkan email list, people from all over the world have connected with me. This is always something I loved about our art. It is truly international and one big family.

This week I was lucky to meet Police Officer Chris Chilton from Columbus, OH. He had originally connected with me more than a year ago. And now he decided to take a break from the cold and snow in Ohio to come train with me in person.

I don't think the fact that we have 70 degree temperatures and a beach down the street had anything to do with it.

I convinced him to speak a little about some of his experiences this last week. He was very kind to share his perspective:


I had a great time meeting him and sharing lessons I've studied with Hatsumi Sensei. He got along wonderfully with everyone in my classes. And I find it very impressive that he dedicates himself so much to his own training that he would fly across the U.S. in search of quality Bujinkan study.

Chris it was great meeting you and I hope to throw you around again soon!
Chris fit right in with Bujinkan Santa Monica

Will You Step Aboard the Boat to Win the Fight?

電柱 Denchuu in front of Bujinkan Hombu. photo by Michael Glenn
Hatsumi Sensei spent all class trying to teach us muto dori. This is not unusual. He mentions muto dori in almost every class. He has been doing so for years. It makes sense, if you are not there when the attack arrives, then you have successfully defended yourself.

We were lucky tonight. Soke was teaching us how to use our legs and footwork for muto dori. People sometimes think Hatsumi Sensei is talking about psychology, or he is using metaphor to talk about esoteric ideas about disappearing or being invisible. Well right now he just wanted us to move our feet, dammit!

But move them in a special way.

He said to step "浮舟のごとし"  ukifune no gotoshi. This means to step like you are stepping onto a floating boat or pontoon. How does one step from the stable dock onto a boat?

If it is a small boat, raft, or canoe… you step carefully. Any big or unbalanced movements will rock the boat or tip it over. If you are in a fight, the boat is your opponent and his intent on attacking you.

You must step by subtly shifting the balance from the stable, dry, safe land where you stand before being attacked… to the unstable, rocking, dangerous boat of the fight. Then you will be on board.

When you step like this onto an actual boat, the boat barely moves. You transition and become part of it. Its motions in the water are now your motions. Anyone who has been in a canoe or kayak knows what I mean.

Some people step off the land like doing a cannonball. They disturb everything and make a big splash. But they also make a big target. They will have to fight hard to stay above water or not get killed by the attacker.

Practice stepping onto a boat. Or a skateboard. Or a balance bar. Onto ice. Onto rice paper.

Shift your weight through the knees and joints. Then shift your consciousness to be on board and floating with danger. Take the ride like the little duck I wrote about here: Fudōshin 不動心 or Fudōshin 浮動心 Floating Heart?

And then step back to safety and stability. How does it feel?

鯉口 Koiguchi: Cutting the Carp's Mouth in a Sword Draw

Michael's Broken 鞘 Saya, photo by Lisa Peters
Here is an excerpt from my training notes I send every week to subscribers. I thought more people should read about this, so >subscribe here< or keep reading:

Tonight my class focus was 鯉口の切り方 Koiguchi no kirikata. This is "cutting the carp's mouth," or freeing your sword from the "mouth" of the saya. There are many great techniques to do this. But sadly, most sword schools obsess on only one or two.

Tonight I showed 8 methods. This opens the door for infinite secrets.

I used the kata 撥倒 Hatto to give us focus as we practice this iai. First the opponent cuts while my sword is still sheathed. Here I am at an immediate disadvantage. To begin to address this we need the fundamentals of iai.

The first two I shared were 外切り sotogiri and 内切り uchigiri. These are very common. You probably have already studied these. The first has the thumb on the tsuba as you push forward the break the seal. The second has the thumb push from behind the tsuba.

The main advantage of uchigiri is that it is more concealed.

Next we looked at 控切りhikaegiri. In this version you are holding your sword back. Protecting even your opponent from being cut. This done with both the index finger and the thumb. In the version I showed, just because you are protecting the opponent from being cut, doesn't mean you protect him from pain or being defeated. But his life is spared today.

My sword had other ideas though. It even split my saya in two trying to get out!

The next secret I showed was like holding onto the wing of a bird to hold it back from flight. In this method that I won't detail here, you hold the flight of the tip just long enough for target acquisition. Then you let it fly like an arrow.

Now I switched tactics and used the index finger both as a safety to hold the sword, but also to break the seal of the habaki. I learned this one straight from Hatsumi Sensei and I like the hidden factor.

Another one that is useful when your grip is not ready, is 鍔元ギリギリ tsubamoto girigiri. I showed this without even having the sword in my belt. You might just be standing there holding it when you are attacked. Or maybe you just grab it off the floor or table. Whatever the situation, just by squeezing the koiguchi, the flex of your hand against the tsuba releases the habaki.

Then I fought using my saya and my sword as they both slice through the kukan.

Next I did some unarmed taijutsu to expose some of the principles of the kata 撥倒 Hatto that we were using as our foundation. If you can't get it without a weapon, with a sword your errors are magnified.

Returning to the sword, I went into some advanced methods of drawing that I learned from Hatsumi Sensei. They are things I doubt you will see from most sword teachers. They are unorthodox and even potentially hazardous to the user! For this reason I won't share them in print.

I did make a video of tonight's instruction, so if you want to be first to know when it comes out, sign up to my mailing list >subscribe here<.

In one class Hatsumi Sensei said,
"This is a secret of ninja drawing. One part of koppojutsu is having the knack for drawing. Anyone can grab a sword handle and pull it. But you have to bring it out like it's a mist."
This advice will transform your sword draw. But it is also a transcendent insight into our ninja weapon strategy.

That one idea was worth going to class that night. Or, if you are already getting my training notes, doesn't that one tip make you glad you subscribed?

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