Skip to main content

Bujinkan Daikomyosai Party and Training Themes from Japan

What are the current Bujinkan Themes?

For my second week of Japan training, I begin with a visit to 上野東照宮 Ueno Tōshōgū. This shrine was built in 1627, and enshrines Tokugawa Ieyasu. I have visited many times, but they did an extensive remodel a few years ago. This was my first time going beyond the 唐門 Karamon and into the grounds. The entire 本殿 Honden is covered in gold leaf and looks spectacular with the gingko leaves fluttering down around me.

Michael Glenn at 上野東照宮 Ueno Tōshōgū

Later that night, I arrived a bit early for Nagase Sensei’s class. He had moved the class time back 45 minutes so I took the opportunity to review my notes from the prior class. He has been working with 十方折衝 juppō sesshō and the directions for 天地人 Tenchijin and the sanshin within it.

He described many aspects of Tenchijin. He would control his opponent at three points, high, middle, and low. He told us the Ten direction is 天照大御神 Amaterasu ōmikami. The Chi direction is 国常立尊 Kunitokotachi no mikoto (that’s how people pronounce these kanji). And the Jin direction is the spirit across from you, or your opponent.

Nagase Sensei and Michael Glenn December 2022

He also emphasized these three points on the jutte: the tip; the pommel; and the hook. He told us that we have sanshin in our training development. Learn taijutsu up to godan, bōjutsu from godan until judan, and kenjutsu until 15th dan. Then after that is what Soke teaches with mutō dori.

The next morning I dressed up to go to the Daikomyosai party AKA Hatsumi Sensei’s birthday party. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Soke has had some health issues and everyone in Japan is taking precautions for the virus. There was a joke going around that we would all line up in the parking lot and Hatsumi Sensei would drive by and wave like the Queen.

Since the Bujinkan Honbu Dojo is still closed (as of December 2022), People ask me about class schedules and where is there training in Japan right now? They see my photos of my training at various dojos in Japan and they want me to give them the location and the schedule. That is not how it works. These are private classes and you have to be invited or ask permission.

Technically you even need permission and must be a “member” of the Bujinkan to train at the Honbu dojo. But in actual practice, anyone can drop by a class if it is on the schedule. But we all know each other, and strangers stick out…

For private dojos, every teacher is different and has different expectations, but it is customary to ask first. This is why it is so important to form good relationships with the teachers. Or if you are new to Japan, your own teacher should have these relationships so they can give you an introduction.

Back to training updates from Japan. The next morning, I went to Furuta Sensei’s dojo in 茨城県 Ibaraki-ken. He came to pick us up from the train station for a 25 minute drive to his house. It is a nice old Japanese house with a garden and an out building for a dojo. We trained for a morning session, then had lunch in his kitchen. Then we did an afternoon session.

Furuta Sensei's Dojo December 2022

It seemed like Furuta Sensei had three years (pandemic years) worth of teaching waiting to get out. He had so much to share. He told us that many martial arts in Japan are like 化石 kaseki, or fossils. They are being preserved but there is no life in them.

Furuta spoke about kata and densho. He said these are like samples of a dish. You can take a bite of something to taste it, but that is not a meal. He said that people who only do kata or densho are missing the meal. This is something I often say to my own students. The Bujinkan is not just kata or the densho, it is also the kuden and direct transmissions from teacher to student that are not on any menu.

Furuta Sensei said ここ当たり koko atari

During training, he had some peculiar angles for evasion. He also showed various places to strike kyusho as he said ここ当たり koko atari, meaning “hit here.” I found out later why things looked strange to me.

After training, he took us out to dinner to a local Soba shop. If you didn’t know, Furuta will be the next Soke of 雲隠流 Kumogakure Ryū. So over dinner he shared that his recent training used the strategies from this school. He would hide himself in the space with subtle angling of his body, just like mountain hiding it’s slopes in the clouds.

Now I realized why all of my classes with him felt different. He had been expressing ideas from Kumogakure Ryū and I didn’t know it. Based on this new insight, I had to go back and revise my notes from each training session with him!

On the flight home from Narita to Los Angeles, I spent some time reflecting on Hatsumi Sensei’s birthday. The party was great fun for me. It had been 3 years since I had seen most of my friends here in Japan. Everyone was happy to let loose a little.

My friend from Senou Sensei’s dojo, Sasa, was entertaining our whole table. Sayaka, Ueki, and Hirotoshi kept things youthful and I enjoyed their wonderful smiles and energy. Nakagawa-san dressed up like some kind of scary geisha with unkempt nose hair and bad jokes.

Hatsumi Sensei and Michael Glenn Dec 2022

Hatsumi Sensei and Michael Glenn Dec 2022

The restaurant has two levels. Hatsumi Sensei sat downstairs and we took turns visiting with our birthday gifts to him. I made this trip to Japan in his honor and I felt lucky I was able to see him.

I made a video about all of this while I was in Japan that you can watch here: Japan Report December 2022 Part 3


Popular posts from this blog

Noguchi Sensei Surprised Us With Gikan Ryu

Noguchi Sensei Shares 40+ year old Gikan Ryu notes. photo by Michael Glenn They love to crank up the heat in the Bujinkan Honbu. I find it too hot on most days. But today I had been doing photography out in the cold pouring rain, so I found myself ready to embrace the warmth of the dojo. Noguchi Sensei greeted me when he arrived. He normally shares a few jokes with me, but today he seemed very focused. Less than 20 students were waiting for him to bow in. He did so promptly as is his custom. Then he announced we were doing Gikan Ryu kata. I was surprised. In more than 30 years I have not been shown these from any teacher. In between kata, Noguchi Sensei showed me a tattered notebook with the kata handwritten in a numbered sequence. He told me these were his actual notes from more than 40 years ago when Hatsumi Sensei taught these only to him. if you are interested, I recorded a video of my experiences for 特訓 Tokkun members of Rojodojo: Bujinkan Kuden: Gikan Ryu wit

Ninjutsu - The Spider's Thread (蜘蛛の糸, Kumo no Ito)

photo by ajari This last year, some of us have heard Hatsumi Sensei make reference to a spider's web dangling down from heaven.  As usual with Soke, there are many layers to this idea.  If you subscribe to my training notes (if you aren't a subscriber yet, you miss a LOT of free Bujinkan notes), you can get even more details from my classes with Hatsumi Sensei. One idea that Sensei put out there for us was in his painting of Daruma with a spider descending a web and alighting on Daruma's eyebrow.  As Paul Masse explains: The Inscription reads, “ Ninjustu is on your eyebrow.... the spider`s thread, so close, the village of Togakure”.  Sometimes things are so close to us that we can not perceive them. Hatsumi Sensei has continued to reference this web from the heavens.  If Ninjutsu is on one's eyebrow, or there is a thread to heaven dangling down but we do not see it, how can we use that in Budo? Maybe it will help if we look at another story that Hatsumi

Training From Inside a Bujinkan Dojo Membership Program

What can you learn from the Rojodojo membership program? or, Why start an online membership? I have been training all of my life. Started in 1985. Around that same time, I also got into film and video production. So when I began teaching Bujinkan and started my own dojo, It seemed like a natural thing to make training videos. I assumed I would put them out as DVDs. I even made some with chapters, extras (remember those?) and gave them out. But, this was the era of Netflix and streaming video. Many people were abandoning DVDs and VHS was already a dinosaur. Then my next thought was how can I stream these training videos? I put a few on youtube, a few on amazon, and I quickly realized it was a full time job. Between the teaching of classes, the video production, post production, streaming setup… And the equipment wasn’t free either. I knew I had a few friends from my mailing list and from social media who might be interested. So I set up the streaming on my new website and I