Snow on the Bujinkan Honbu Dojo

Snow on the Bujinkan Honbu Dojo
Last week when I arrived in Tokyo, it was cold and dark. Much colder than anyone expected. Tokyo hasn't had its first snowfall in November for 54 years. And breaking an even older record, this was the first accumulation of snow in the city center since records began in 1875.

It was dark when I arrived, but I pressed my face to the cold glass of the train to get a look at it. I knew it would melt quickly. So I made a video and you can just see it outside the train: Ninja True: How to get to the Bujinkan Honbu Dojo.

When I arrived at the dojo, a man doing construction near the train tracks called it a November surprise. He thought I was funny because I was poking at the snow and taking pictures. I told him I live in Santa Monica and we never have snow.

Even though it was cold on my arrival, the reception I got from my friends here in Japan has been very warm. The Bujinkan is truly international. I got warm greetings from Spain, Australia, Florida, Canada, Estonia, Colombia, France… and more!

The Japanese teachers always have a smile for me! They always tell me, "welcome back" before hurting me in class. And the classes have been great.

Senou Sensei seemed to be carving up his opponents with his fingers. With almost every technique, he manipulates his fingers to change the opponent's balance and attack. In fact, he started one class by intertwining his fingers like you would for 暗黒透視術 Ankoku tōshijutsu.

Then he used that grip to receive the attack. The fingers became pivot points as they interlaced (かわす kawasu) with the opponent's body. It seems impossible to move someone with one finger, yet he did this to me and I moved!

Hatsumi Sensei has also been carving things up. He did this with a ninja-to, but he also seems to carve up the space itself. I tried to attack him, but he changed the space, and I was moved again!

Hatsumi Sensei told us that for 42 years since Takamatsu Sensei's death, he's changed the Bujinkan theme every year. In these yearly themes he taught us techniques. But this year he's teaching something that goes beyond or transcends that.

He began to demo this feeling or "mood." He showed the connections between being punched, a double lapel grab, tehodoki… and even sword. He said you have to have this "mood" to be able to use any weapon. This word "mood" was both English and Japanese. He said ムード muudo but also in Japanese 無道 mudō or 武道 budō.

Soke said this means you are being led by the martial arts into zero. You think it's there but it's not. You don't think it's there but it is.

He told us that the Bujinkan has come to this high level, so he thinks things will be very interesting from now on (此から先 korekarasaki). Since this was just the beginning of my training here in Japan, I have no doubt things will be very interesting in the coming days.

This will be the first of several articles about the training I am currently doing in Japan, to receive all of them, please subscribe here: Bujinkan updates  

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