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Showing posts from July, 2015

Why is There an Ox Cart Wheel in the New Bujinkan Honbu Dojo?

Two shishi dogs and goshoguruma in the new Bujinkan Honbu Dojo. photo by Michael Glenn Before class, Hatsumi Sensei unwrapped several large objects. Noguchi Sensei was quite curious. Two were the heads of dogs. I laughed when Noguchi Sensei forced open the mouth of one. As the jaw came unhinged, Noguchi bent over to see if there was anything inside. Then he put his hand in and pretended the dog was biting. The third object was a large wheel. I turned to my friend Paul Masse and said it looked like a dharma wheel. But I was ignorant. I look at my students and I know immediately when they understand and when they don’t. It’s natural as a teacher. And Hatsumi Sensei does the same thing. I don’t just feel his attention, I literally see him watching. It is like we are all travelling down the road he built. He is patient about it. He knows if we stay on the path, it will all work out. That night he even told us, “I’m giving you some hints so that you can practice on your own. D

The 骨 Kotsu of Bujinkan 手解 Tehodoki

Michael Glenn is frequently beat up in the Bujinkan Hombu Dojo A little over a week ago, I was in Soke’s class trying to do 両手解 ryō tehodoki. Normally, this is not difficult for me except there were complications. Hatsumi Sensei showed this double wrist escape while he was being punched by a second attacker. Of course, he destroyed them both with little effort. Soke looked around the dojo. I think he saw everyone fighting. His main point tonight was not to fight at all. He admonished us, “戦わない tatakawanai.” Hatsumi Sensei watched me and said to do it without waza, without technique. He offered his wrists so I could grab them. I didn’t feel him move at all. One of my training partners tried to punch him, but was blocked by my own arms. Then we were tangled. My other training partner attacked Soke, and all three of us ended up in a pile on the floor of the dojo. Hatsumi Sensei stood over us laughing. He told me, don’t do it with waza, but with 繋がり tsunagari or connection. Then he dec

悪い感覚 Warui Kankaku: Use Your Bad Technique as a Strategy

I get the distinct feeling I'm being watched. I wonder if he would approve? I sat across the dojo from Hatsumi Sensei. He had just thrown his opponent to the ground. Then he kicked him in the skull. I felt the thud in my legs where I sat. The impact vibrated across the entire floorspace. Then Soke said something that made everyone laugh, but he was quite serious… "This is a bad feeling." He used the words 悪い感覚 warui kankaku. He went on to add that you have to take what's bad, and make it good. This idea hits on many levels for our current Bujinkan study. Of course when someone attacks you it creates a bad feeling. The bad feeling can also arise when you find yourself in a bad situation. It can even help you avoid trouble before it starts. Take the "bad feeling" and turn it to something good by winning the fight, or by escaping before the fight. But Soke also meant 悪い感覚 warui kankaku on another level. He meant that we should take our bad technique and

How to Use 初心 Shoshin to Protect Your Bujinkan Training

Rain brings Summer Flowers to the Bujinkan Hombu. photo by Michael Glenn During the tea break today, Nagato Sensei said some profound things. He began by speaking about how Soke has said that we should not teach bad people. Then he gave some examples. Nagato named names. He listed some of the bad people that have passed through the Bujinkan. He aired some dirty laundry with details I won't write about here. Then he also shared how they are dealt with by Soke and the Japanese instructors. Nagato commented on the interesting fact that Soke does not eliminate these people from the Bujinkan. He said we need these bad people around to learn from them. They are the devils we know. Keep your enemies closer, as they say. He said in the Bujinkan, we need to be capable of doing worse than the devil himself. He used the mafia or the yakuza as an example of evil. They may be bad, but we are worse. He said they should be afraid of us. But then Nagato explained that the most important of all