Astock Budo Seminar Comes to an End
Sensei Hatsumi Masaaki spoke
The following is an article from a Japanese newspaper that Hatsumi Sensei sent to me several months ago. The translation was done by my Japanese tutor. Hope you enjoy it. Ken Harding
ASTOCK BUDO SEMINAR COMES TO AN END:
Master: The life and the obscure martial arts of Sensei Takamatsu Toshitsugu
It felt like Spring was close at hand on the warm Tuesday in February when the Astock Budo Seminar was held at the Shibuya Forum 8. In the last segment of this martial arts seminar, Sensei Hatsumi Masaaki told about the eventful life of his teacher, Sensei Takamatsu Toshitsugu. In Manshu (Manchuria, China), Takamatsu Sensei enjoyed a reputation as a man of great bravery. While he is a remarkable master of martial arts, he is hardly known in Japan. From Takamatsu Sensei, the nine old-style schools of Japanese martial arts were handed down to Sensei Hatsumi Masaaki, who founded the Bujinkan Dojo based on Takamatsu Senseis martial arts, art, ideas and personality.
Also, Hatsumi Sensei talked about his teacher, Takamatsu Sensei, which has been a rare opportunity. Furthermore, even though they cannot be loaned out, Takamatsu Senseis training films were shown to the public. Being able to see Takamatsu Senseis mastery of techniques has become a rare personal experience. Moreover, it was a pleasure to see Hatsumi Sensei in his younger days.
Here is Hatsumi Senseis story:
Sensei also painted often, as did I. Once, while I was pursuing my studies in mass communications and my health broke down, he painted a picture and gave it to me. It was a very stylish picture. During my recovery, the sensation I got from the picture was get well and enjoy life.
Takamatsu Senseis method of teaching was very unique. One time, he said we were going to practice shirahadori (stopping a sword with your hands), and he dragged me to the park at the Kashihara Shrine, then told me to catch the katana. But because my hands were numb from the cold, I couldnt grasp anything. This was not what he had planned. He taught with that kind of flexibility. He said that in martial arts, the situation is always changing. After training was finished, we returned to Takamatsu Senseis house where I was staying. At such times, he would say You look cold Hatsumi, why dont you get under the kotatsu, and he told his wife to bring me some hot sake. I think Sensei was grateful to get to bed. Then, the next day he said Last night, while you were sleeping soundly, I passed through your room 3 or 4 times on my way to the bathroom. Lessons such as these were not taught.
When Hatsumi Sensei speaks about his teacher, his face is filled with a look of awe and respect. It took an extraordinary student to make such frequent trips for 15 years, from Noda in Chiba Prefecture all the way to Kashihara in Nara Prefecture, just as it took an extraordinary teacher to keep him coming.
Shidoshi Ken Harding, 7th dan, heads the Missouri Bujinkan Dojo in St. Louis. He received his rank and teaching certification in Japan directly from Grandmaster Hatsumi, and returns to Japan on a yearly basis to further his training. He is the author of Shadow Words: Ninpos Art of Kyojitsu Ten Kan Ho, and publishes the monthly newsletter Shadowgram. He is a full time instructor and author who devotes his life to the study of Ninpo, as well as the philosophies of many cultures. He is a member of the Shidoshi-Kai (the official instructors organization of the Bujinkan), and enforces proper membership requirements as issued by the Bujinkan Hombu Dojo. He may be contacted via E-mail: email@example.com; Web page: http://tiger.coe.missouri.edu/~ninpo
It was during the Spanish Tai Kai in November 1992. My instructor at that time was the organizer of the Tai Kai and all of the dojo worked hard in the organization of this event and it wound up to be a great success. During the Tai Kai, it was arranged for Sensei to be interviewed by 2 of the most important Spanish newspapers. We waited for the journalists to arrive but 15 minutes before the scheduled interview only two journalists of one local newspaper had come. Our instructor was really worried about this and made the decision: Dani and Kim, you are the journalists. Take two more students as photographers. Hurry up and dress well; go on and do it right.
Can you imagine our nervousness? But we didnt worry; we were ninjas, and this was our mission, and we were going to do it perfectly. This was the spirit we lived in at the time. The word of our instructor was the law and the only truth, but this is another story...
We appeared just in time. Mr. Ben Jones translated English-Japanese. Mr. Ricardo Gonzalez translated Spanish-English. All the questions were done by Kim and me because the real journalists of the local newspaper didnt know a thing about ninjutsu so they let us ask all the questions. Im sure that Soke knew immediately who we were because I felt it at the moment but he acted like the Grandmaster he is, and he treated us like important journalists.
Ive saved this otherwise secret (and heretofore, unpublished) interview for all of these years and am sharing it here.
Tai Kai Barcelona November 21, 1992
Question: For how long has ninjutsu been practiced in Europe?
Q: How does the ninjutsu Grandmaster see the future of this art?
Q: Sensei Hatsumi, you often talk about peace and harmony,
about non-violence, etc.; in fact this is your continuous message. If
peace is your objective, why are you dedicated to teaching war and
combat techniques, ways to kill, etc.? How do you explain this?
Q: Then, do you think its necessary learn to kill?
Q: The ninja have a very bad and degenerate image that comes
from films, books, etc., in which they are often portrayed as vulgar
assassins without scruples... Are you doing anything to change this
around the world?
Q: Is ninjutsu open to all the people? And to students of other
Q: Who created Ninjutsu?
Q: Which is the ninjutsu objective at present?
Q: How do you perceive the attraction that all of these people
(practitioners) feel to the culture of your country and your art?
.Q: Dont you think that there are people that could use
this knowledge to cause harm and damage?
Q: What can you say about ninja theme such as its seen in
Q: How do you see the ninjutsu in Spain and specially in Catalonia?
I want specially thank you for the opportunity that you bring me by opening your communication media to give this knowledge to the public. There are other media that have their preconceived opinions and they are closed for us. I hope that this is going to change promptly.
Daniel Esteban Garc’a has been training in ninjutsu since 1987 with Pedro Fleitas. He currently holds a sandan and has been teaching for about three years at the Bushi Dojo, that he founded in 1994 with 2 other buyus: Kim Oliveras, and Antonio Aguila. He may be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, the year of the jo is upon us and Soke has been beating us senseless for about a month now. Several times over the last few weeks Soke has asked us all to bring padded jos to practice in order to insure safety. As most of the techniques entail knocking bones and thrusting pain points, had he not insisted upon such weapons most of the class would be in the hospital by now. Soke also requested that we get the word out that everyone attending the Tai Kais should come prepared with a padded jo. Since then, several people have asked about just how to make such a weapon. For those of you who have never done so, it is important that you dont make a weapon that you think is safe, but actually isnt. The following is one way to make a boffo jo.
Hint: Trying to wrap the entire length of the jo by yourself takes a long time and is difficult to control. Two people working together can finish extremely quickly. My wife helped me make mine. For example, while I held down the opposite tabs, she cut the 1 inch tape and taped them down. Then, when we got to wrapping the entire length of the weapon, she held the jo in her hands and twisted it while I held the tape, making sure to keep a constant angle and regulating the overlap. We finished wrapping the entire weapon in less than ten minutes (Thanks, Hiroko)! Because a team can work quickly, you might want to think about having a Jo Making Day with some friends from your dojo. In just a few hours, everyone can be fitted with spanking new weapons with which to beat each other! Hey, what are friends for?
Ben eats, sleeps, and trains in Japan. He may be reached at email@example.com.
You are demonstrating a technique in your dojo. An eager student raises his hand with a question. You nod your head and he asks, What if you have someone grab you from behind and he holds a gun to your head. Can you do this technique?
The dreaded what ifs! It is easy to be drawn off the subject like a runaway roller coaster and lose the interest of the class. One way to solve this problem is to disallow questions during class. However, how will you answer them after class? What one student is thinking may be echoed by more. Is that students question relevant to their development? Resoundingly yes! It is also possibly relevant to every students development.
Since there is value in these questions, how can you control the dreaded what ifs and use them to develop a topic?
Instructors that make a difference in learning; make it fun to learn and give their students insight into life are few and far between. Bud Malmstrom, whose knowledge of the subject matter of Bujinkan Ninpo Taijutsu is recognized world wide, recently taught a class entitled Protecting a Friend in Dayton Ohio at the 16th Annual Shadows of Iga Festival sponsored by Shidoshi Stephen K. Hayes. His class was so popular that he was asked to teach it three times; once for each of the three days of the Festival.
Analysis of Mr. Malmstroms method of teaching proves it to be relatively simple and infinitely effective. His method can be duplicated by any instructor and is not limited to Martial Arts. Following is the basic class structure used:
Most teachers follow this method of presenting material for any class. However, what was unique about Mr. Malmstroms method that held the Festival class raptly attentive to every word? How did he control the direction of his class and not allow what ifs to distract his intent?
He took the dreaded what ifs, applied them to his topic of protecting a friend and used them as a tool to develop his class. Step by step he escalated his what ifs from best case scenario to worst case scenario.
Built into every step from the simplest to the most complicated was the assurance of success. For example, the first technique was to get the attention of the aggressor away from his friend. The student stepped between the aggressor and the friend, pointed his finger at his own nose and said Look at me! repeatedly and forcefully. The student continued walking to lead the aggressors body and attention away from the friend making sure to stay safely out of range of attack. The friend left the scene. The student ended with Oh, never mind. while walking away.
Simple? Yes. Effective? Yes. This is the best case scenario. Mr. Malmstrom used his own life experiences with police work and executive protection to reinforce the effectiveness of this method. The conflict ended with no one getting hurt. All of the students experienced success. At that point every individual was completely committed to the class.
Mr. Malmstrom emphasized the important points, safety for example, with humor both verbal and slap-stick. He gave bad examples of how the technique can be bungled and good examples of how the problem can be handled. He captured everyones attention by giving bad examples so ridiculous that the students laughed.
Good examples can be demonstrated by students who are particularly effective. This praises the student and keeps everyone interested. The student continues to pay attention in case he should be called before his peers later in the class.
What ifs can be the bane of an unprepared instructor. What ifs can be relevant to the goal of the class or take the class completely off track. Stay one step ahead of the student and imagine the what ifs yourself.
Mr. Malmstrom took one what if and intensified the situation: What if the aggressor has grabbed your friends shirt and is about to punch?. He escalated the scenario one small step. He escalated the technique appropriately. The goal of this scenario was not to kill or maim, but to immobilize. He pointed out potential problem areas with two basic statements:
What you *are not* trying to do.
Allow the class to ask questions at this point. If you get a what if question that you plan on using later, Ahh, were getting to that! is an effective tool and creates anticipation. Watch the class. While observing the class, do not get drawn into separate discussions with individual students or groups. If a student is persistent, give that student your full attention. Look him in the eye and listen. Answer any questions. Ensure that you are approachable but remember that there are other students in the class. The instructor must lead the class. Diplomatically break away with a smile as you call the rest of the class to attention for the next demonstration.
Use a watch or clock to time your delivery and the amount of practice you allow for each technique. Balance the instruction with practice. As the teacher, you need to track the students to make sure that they do not run into problems. If more than three do the technique incorrectly, assume that you did not explain the technique in such a way that everyone understood. Stop the class. Explain the technique again. Reiterate the goal or purpose of the scenario. Demonstrate what was done incorrectly and correct it. Humor works well here. At this point have the students shadow box the technique. Let the class practice and time the exercise.
If everyone is successful, escalate the scenario! Again take the what ifs and make the bad guy badder. What if he is the Incredible Hulk? What if he has a knife? What if he has a gun?
The topic and goal of How to Save a Friend involved: What if an aggressor was hassling or threatening, what if your friend was being physically assaulted, what if your friend is backed against a wall, what if the bad guy is very large, what if he has a weapon, what if your friend is against the wall, the attacker has a weapon, and he is holding it to your friends neck.
Before the last technique or scenario reiterate the purpose of the class. Remind the class where they started (the first what if) and where they ended. Do this before the last technique rather than at the end of class. It is important to send the student home with a chance to do the technique with the main purpose firmly in mind. This way the student owns the knowledge.
Those dreaded what ifs have now become the wonderful what ifs of how to develop a concept and fill an hour with worthwhile knowledge that students will be grateful to learn. Allow a few minutes at the end of class to answer any final questions. If you prepare your class properly, there should be very few. Answer the questions, add variations and use humor to emphasize the important points. Even if a what if question will not lead the class in the correct direction, use it to point out such things as: We would do something different if the attacker has a pump shotgun but I want you to learn this right now.
What ifs are not only an effective teaching tool. The martial arts student can creatively enhance study by imagining what ifs of his own. For example; would I do this technique differently if I were in a narrow hall way, at the ball park surrounded by people or even in a public bathroom stall. What ifs prepare you for the unexpected and give you a way to think of variations and problems before they arise. Self protection is optimized when you anticipate problems and already have them rehearsed in you mind. Reaction time is quicker. You will not have to think of what you should do, you will know.
Some questions to consider when training include:
Practice techniques with the following variations in mind: different body types, different attacks, different space limitations and other factors such as if the attacker has a weapon or realizing what weapons are available to you in different environments. Using what ifs enhances your training inside the practice hall and prepares you to defend yourself and those you love outside the practice hall.
Abbie Pair, and her husband Christopher, have been studying Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu for 2 1/2 years under Bud Malmstrom, and more recently, Randy Sessions. Abbie may be reached via e-mail at: The-Instigator@msn.com.
I have recently noticed that my fellow martial arts practitioners have a general tendency to not give much thought about what they do in training sessions or why they train the way they do. Here are some things I think about:
I have met many practitioners who place a high premium on athletic abilities (i.e. strength and speed), and rely heavily on these as a substitute for learning proper technique. Furthermore, many believe that learning a handful of tricks and complicated moves is more important than learning and maintaining the solid basic techniques such as footwork, timing, and proper physical orientation and posture. The logic behind this goes something like: If I practice this one advanced kata/trick long enough, eventually I can do it so fast and so strong that it will always work. This is fundamentally flawed. Although tricks can work and have their proper place, there is no substitute for solid knowledge of the basics and practicing them regularly, no matter how tough someone is or how good a fighter they are.
Without a solid foundation in the basics any advanced technique or trick is a very risky venture at best, fatal at worst. A simple basic technique, properly applied, WILL almost always work, no matter how big or tough the opponent. However, the more complicated advanced techniques probably will NOT work if poorly executed by someone who has not first put the time and effort into learning and maintaining the basics, no matter how skilled a fighter they may be. The point here is that in the real world it is not excessive strength or speed that counts proper technique and timing, balanced with adequate strength/speed will almost always prevail.
It would seem obvious, but going to the dojo once or twice a week is not all there is to good training. Spending time in individual study is equally important. This does not mean doing two-hundred kicks in front of the mirror at home every night or watching old Bruce Lee/Steven Seagal movies while having a beer, but it does include things like keeping up with a training log/notebook, periodic reviewing, and physical and mental conditioning. A notebook is obviously a very helpful tool in increasing ones fluency (and hopefully aptitude) in his chosen art, and requires regular attention and updating to stay current, but this is often overlooked. It is not enough to learn the basics and record them in your notebook; they must be practiced frequently to maintain the necessary skills. Periodic review can possibly lead to helpful new insight into old ways of doing things.
It sounds clichéd but the simple regimen of eating right and regular exercise has always been the best way to stay physically fit, but the majority of Americans fail at this self-discipline for a variety of reasons, primarily a perceived lack of time and convenience. Everyone owes it to themselves to make the time and effort to get and stay in good physical condition.
Mental conditioning is more complex than physical conditioning but just as important. Often viewed by many martial artists as being limited to focusing chi or extending wa and similar metaphysical concepts, others see semi-religious meditation and/or developing a competitive or killer attitude as the end-all of mental self-discipline. The subject is much more practical than that. Mental self-discipline in the form of time management is important. Time must be set aside in ones schedule for training as well as for time off from training. One should make a training schedule and make their best effort to stick to it. Students and instructors should be realistic and avoid making unreasonable commitments they cannot keep.
When a student learns a new technique in class or a new way of doing an old one, mentally reviewing the technique later (preferably ASAP after class) will help him remember and do that technique better in the future. The more often he thinks about it and mentally reviews it, the better he will understand and be able to perform it in real life, and be able to teach others. Developing these habits through conditioning ones mind is sometimes not easy but can have huge payoffs and is well worth the effort.
A good question to ask along with What did I learn at the dojo today? is: Why do I study my chosen martial art? Many people study martial arts as a recreational sport which provides a competitive physical outlet. Some are enthralled with the mystique and magic of the Orient and want to partake in an esoteric and sometimes metaphysical hobby. A relative few want only to examine the few proven control, fighting, and killing techniques that really work. The majority of people who study martial arts do so as a way to gain physical self-confidence, rank, or self-defense skills because they feel vulnerable in some way or desire an ego boost. Whatever the reason, it is essential that students recognize specifically what their own reasons for studying a martial art are and continually strive to progress directly towards their goals. Periodic re-evaluation of goals and the progress made is a part of this continuous process. There is always room for improvement, and no excuse not to better oneself. To do otherwise (resting on ones laurels or getting sidetracked) is to risk stagnating or even deteriorating the progress already made. If students are having difficulty meeting their goals they should ask their instructors for help thats what they are there for.
Students should never allow themselves to be complacent and settle for second best in their training, dojo, fellow students, instructors, or themselves. Compromise can be your truest friend and your worst enemy. If a student is unsatisfied with an aspect of their training, they should definitely consider (tactfully but firmly) saying so to their instructor and fellow students and work to improve the situation, even if that means looking for a new instructor or martial art to study. As a corollary students should always keep an open mind and be on the lookout for different people or a different martial art that may better suit their own goals. The thing to keep in mind is that students should study a martial art for themselves not anyone else.
Brad Hodges perspective towards life, death and martial arts is well appreciated by his Sensei, Kendall Kelsoe. Brad is a close personal friend and student of Kendall Kelsoe and holds the title of Hatamoto. Brad is every bit Senseis teacher as he is Senseis student. Brad has trained Kendall in the art of European fencing, armored combat and Medieval battlefield tactics. Brad is also a modern military buff, favoring aircraft and armor. He may be reached via Kendal Kelsoe at BugeiBoy@aol.com.
This is the first of a thirteen-part series dealing, chapter by chapter, with the famous Art of War by Sun Tsu. Written twenty-five centuries ago, this amazing work is a must for those who understand the ancient concept that the true purpose of warfare is peace.
The words of the great general are centered on the use of armies by generals but, as we will see, we are all generals in command of resources, allies, and every aspect of our lives, if we choose. By studying the martial arts for self-protection, each of us has chosen a path that will affect and insure success in our jobs, relationships, business dealings, and every part of our life.
The most important aspect of warfare, and the focus of the first chapter of Sun Tsus work, involves the activities of laying plans. Forming the beginning, but impossible without the last chapter, it forms a circle; the prior planning and preparation for warfare is a major determining factor in the outcome of any conflict.
Sun Tsu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence, under no circumstances can it be neglected. The art of war is governed by five constant factors, all of which need to be taken into account. They are: the Moral Law; Heaven; Earth; the Commander; Method and Discipline.
The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger. Heaven signifies day and night, cold and heat, times and seasons. Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death. The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness. By Method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the gradations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure. These five factors should be familiar to every general. He who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail.
Therefore, when seeking to determine your military conditions, make you decisions on the basis of a comparison in this wise: Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral Law? Which of the two generals has the most ability? With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth? On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? Which army is stronger? On which side are officers and men more highly trained? In which army is there the most absolute certainty that merit will be properly rewarded and misdeeds summarily punished? By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat. The general who hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it will conquer let such a one be retained in command. The general who hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it will suffer defeat let such a one be dismissed! But remember: while heading the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules and modify your plans accordingly.
All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe that we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder and crush him. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is superior in strength, evade him. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. Attack him where his unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat; how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.
In studying a martial art for self-protection we must insure that we include within our training all possible conditions that we may encounter in our own defense or the defense of another. In translating the first chapter we must approach it, from the very beginning, on the most personal level. Just as our ninpo-mikkyo teaches us that the microcosmic is the same as the macrocosmic, the inner universe is the same as the outer universe, the grandiose lessons of the Art of War are just as applicable if the army is an army of one. The following analysis is offered to assist students with this personalization method.
The FIVE CONSTANT FACTORS
The Earth factor is the understanding of distance, positioning, timing, angling, freedom and entrapment and the measurement and assessment of threat-levels and approaches closest to the essence of the physical principles of ninpo-taijutsu. Hatsumi Sensei, when faced with the task of selecting a title for his video training series, focused his attention here calling ninjutsu Martial Arts of Distance.
Admittedly taking longer to master, the kata of ninjutsu require at least two individuals. This allows for the study and mastery of this distancing and positioning, something seriously lacking in the study and practice of the solo practice forms so popular in todays more conventional martial arts. Each one of us as the Commander of our own abilities, thoughts, words, actions and relations with others must develop the virtues and personality traits that will naturally provide for successful outcomes with as little effort as necessary. Mirroring the bodhisattva ideals, we must develop a deeper understanding of human nature and our roles, authentically speaking from the heart, acting with compassion, courage and self-discipline (as opposed to sympathy, anger, hatred or any of the other stronger emotions) as our sole guide if we are to be worthy of enlightened happiness.
Our Method by which we use our faculties as well as our own self-discipline in maintaining our levels of health, fitness, and skill level are the final constants to be considered in the quest for success. We must be able to walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk, so to speak, and avoid the all too common habit of paying lip-service to that which should be done instead of taking the time to actually do it and thus be able to speak and act from experience. It is not enough to believe that your techniques will work after practicing them in step-by-step fashion with your favorite training partner. We will learn much more by seeking out and finding the conditions in which a given technique will fail and then using that information for further exploration. We must rely on our own self-motivation, inspiration and discipline, especially after receiving our black belt, dan rank goal, or teachers status, to continue our practice, fitness and exercise routines, and mental and spiritual study if we are to remain in a state of readiness.
Only after we know our own strengths and limitations can we exploit those of our adversary. As spoken by Sun Tsu twenty-five hundred years ago and mastered by our ninja spiritual ancestors, All warfare is based on deception. But, if we lack the proper preparations, who will we be deceiving: the enemy or ourselves?
Jeff Miller is a Licensed Private Investigator and Personal Protection Agent. He is the chief instruc.tor of Millers Martial Arts/Bujinkan Kuryu Dojo in Sunbury, PA. He has been training in the martial and meditative arts for 2/3 of his life with the last 11 years attempting to capture the essence of ninpo-taijutsu, under the guidance of Shihan Stephen K. Hayes. Mr. Miller is a firearms instructor and wilderness survival tactician and conducts seasonal seminars on the topics. He is the editor of the HANNYA (Insight) newsletter for individuals interested in learning more about themselves and their art. He may be contacted at: JMMiller@aol.com.
Being a neophyte to the art of Ninjutsu I dont think it would be wise to preach to the choir regarding training styles and methods, etc. so Ill keep my writing on a more personal level. I would definitely suffer from foot in mouth disease once I got past discussion of even the most basic of techniques (Uhh, Take-Ori, thats a cool move).
Keeping the mouth shut is a hard concept to grasp when the zeal of training overtakes you. This is something Ive had to learn. To just shut up and train is what has to be done in order to advance. Newbies to the art like myself may relate to what I am saying. Youre excited about learning. You want that black belt. You want status. You want to BE SOMEBODY (awakening to the truth that pride and ego play a tremendous part in our thought process).
But lets face the truthwere just a white belt, not Hatsumis right hand man. We havent written books on the subject of Ninjutsu or filmed impressive videos. We havent been training for over a decade. Someday you think to yourself, but your desire for the prize says Today. Its like the old saying that Rome wasnt built in a day. And a good martial artist isnt created from your skills playing Mortal Combat III on your home entertainment system. It takes time to develop skill. It takes time to condition our bodies. It just takes time in general and that means it takes dedicated time to the art. Not your idle free time: dedicated time. Doing a good Ichimonji no kamae in the mirror as you brush your teeth in the morning doesnt count.
One of my favorite Hatsumi quotes says We have little time for the idly curious, or the mentally unstable. But even Ive failed, the perfectionist-Virgo-can-do-no-wrong-man of the universe. I spend too many long hours at work, allocate time for the wife, eating out, going on trips, deadlines, bills, friends, relatives. Ninjutsu is still on the list, but its way down there sometimes. And sometimes it cant be helped. But how right is it to call myself a practitioner of Ninjutsu if my practice isnt a concentrated effort enough to break a sweat? Weve gotten over the decision making process of a new student. Ninjutsu is the art for us.
Next is deciding how bad we want it, not to be insanely driven, but to remain dedicated. Take one day at a time, train often, condition yourself, and learn to be consistent. Humble yourself to the wisdom of others who have gone before you. LEARN from them. LEARN from your mistakes. Go to training each day with the sole intent of becoming a better person, not a martial arts movie star, not a bad ass. Concentrate on the tasks at hand, learning move by move. Try not to see the whole picture, but break it down to the individual pieces. Learn each piece, and then put the puzzle together as you go. By being a humble spirit in training you avoid the foot in mouth disease I spoke of, you learn quicker, offend others less, and get the most of the time you dedicate to your training. Obviously this message is not for everyone. But I know that there are others in cyberville who have this same desire but lack the time to make the dream happen. Good luck.
Chris Crane, Mountain Dragon is a student of Budo Taijutsu in Austin, Texas under Sensei Kendall Kelsoe and the Austin Bujinkan Tanemaki Dojo. Though relatively new to the art (taking vacations from Budo Taijutsu from time to time trying to get ahead in the corporate world) Chris loves the martial spirit within Budo Taijutsu, and hopes to be a black belt someday and practice what he preaches. He can be reached at his e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
In order to take any katana made by a swordsmith out of Japan permission for export is necessary. The permit is issued by the Fine Arts Division of the Cultural Affairs Agency at the Ministry of Education (3-2-2 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo 100). It is a three-minute walk from Toranomon Station of the Ginza Line, or five minutes from Kasumigaseki Station on the Chiyoda Line (the same line as Ayase Station where Soke teaches).
To apply for the permit, you need to submit two application forms available at the Division and a register of katana, which you will receive when you purchase the weapon (Note: a copy is not acceptable). You will also need two photos showing the whole katana without a sheath, and two photos of its hilt (the so-called nakago) showing the inscribed name of the swordsmith. Either black and white or color photos will be accepted.
You can either go to the agency yourself or send the necessary documents by mail to apply for the permit. If you go through the procedure by mail, obtain two of the application forms by sending a letter, enclosing a 80 yen stamp for return postage domestically (For overseas addresses, return postage will be 210 for Asia, Guam, Midway, etc.; 270 for Oceania, the Middle East, North America, Central America, Europe, and the former Soviet Union; and 330 for Africa and South America).
Fill out the forms and send them with the necessary documents, enclosing 440 yen in stamps (350 for the registration fee and 90 for return postage) to the agency if your address is within Japan (If you are writing from abroad, return postage should be 330 for Asia, Guam, Midway, etc.; 430 for Oceania, the Middle East, North America, Central America, Europe, and the former Soviet Union; and 530 for Africa and South America). It takes 1-2 weeks for the permit to be issued domestically. Please allow a little more time for international addresses.
If you want to carry the katana on a plane, you have to complete the necessary procedures at the airline counter and give the permit to Customs.
Japan Sword Co., Ltd., a katana shop in Minato Ward, Tokyo, applies for the permit for purchasers. The fee is included in the purchase price. The shop is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and is closed on Sundays and national holidays (address: 3-8-1 Toranomon, Minato Ward, Tokyo. Tel. 81(Japan)-3-3434-4321). Inquiries may be made in English.
Ben eats, sleeps and trains in Japan. During their trips to Japan, several foreign visitors have expressed an interest in purchasing katana and taking them back home with them. This article was based on the You Asked For It column of the Saturday Daily Yomiuri newspaper, which deals with matters of special interest to foreign residents in Japan. He took the liberty of editing it a little and adding clarification when needed. Anyone who has any additional comments or information on taking a sword out of Japan, please contact him. His email address is email@example.com.
The information presented here is based upon my personal research, with great help from others (mentioned where appropriate) and has not been verified by, nor received the approval of Hatsumi Soke. It is presented only as the researchers interpretation of history and should not be taken as fact.
NOTES ON THE HISTORY OF SHINDEN FUDO RYU
The law of the Dojo:
GENEALOGY OF SHINDEN FUDO RYU GRANDMASTERS
Name (Area) / Era (Date) / Birth Dates Ikai Hogenbo, Tesshin Sakabe, Tendo 1. Izumo, Kanja Yoshiteru (Kumano) / Yeikyu (1113) 2. Minamoto, Hachiman Tamenari / Genyei (1118) 3. Minamoto, Hachiro Tameyoshi / Hogen (1156) 4. Mizuhara, Kuro Yoshinari / Genkyu (1204) 5. Mugaibo, Shinnen / Tempuku (1233) 6. Ohkuni, Zenhachiro Yoshinobu / Bunyie (1264) 7. Hata, Saburo Sasukeyasu / ? (? ) 8. Kotani, Yuhachiro Nobuchika / Geboko (1321 or 1331) 9. Kaneko, Jinsuke Yoshikiyo / Shohei (1346) 10. Tajima, Genkoro Nariyoshi / Genchu (1384) 11. Kammon, Kokanja Yoshikane / Shocho (1428) 12. Kimura, Hozen / Kwancho (1460) 13. Ibuki, Yoshihaha / Bummei (1469) 14. Otsuka, Hakushi Nyudo Tadamori / Yeisho (1506) 15. Otsuka, Daikuro Tadahide / Taiyei (1522) 16. Abe, Muga / Tensho (1573) 17. Koga, Taro Kyokokaku / Tensho (1573) 18. Katayama, Hokinokami Mori Hisayasu / Bunroku (1592) 19. Shindo, Unsai / Kwanyei (1624-1644) 20. Odagiri, Tohyoe Yoshihiso / Kwanyei (1624-1644) 21. Iida, Jubee Tameyoshi / Meiwa (1764) 22. Mori, Genroku Masahide / Bunkwa (1804) 23. Toyota, Jubei Mitsuyoshi / Keiyo (1865) 24. Toda, Shinryuken Masamitsu (Kobe) / Meiji (? ) / (1824-1909) 25. Takamatsu, Toshitsugu (Nara) / Taisho (1909) / (3/1/1888 - 4/1972) 26. Hatsumi, Masaaki (Noda) / Showa (1968) / (12/2/1931 - )
THE STRUCURE OF SHINDEN FUDO RYU
Yari (different kinds of Spears); no basic techniques from this school have been taught yet.
Ono (Big war axes), no basic techniques from this school have been taught yet.
O-tsuchi (Big war hammers): no basic techniques from this school have been taught yet.
Naginata (halberd): no basic techniques from this school have been taught yet.
Hojojutsu (Rope tying techniques); no basic techniques from this school have been taught yet. MORE INFORMATION ON SHINDEN FUDO RYU
Most of the Ryus Daken Tai Jutsu techniques are demonstrated on VIDEO NO. 6 Shinden Fudo Ryu Daken Tai Jutsu.
Thanks to all ho have helped me with this!...especially Peter Carlsson, Rob Ohkuni, and many others.
THE DISCLAIMER & END NOTES
For more information like this, get hooked to Internet and browse over to http://www.algonet.se/~helmet/BUJINKAN/ or phone ++46-8-985948 to MokoNoTora FidoNet BBS.
(from the Ninjutsu FAQ by Kevin R. Gowen II; firstname.lastname@example.org
The 18 Disciplines
Seishin teki kyoyo (spiritual refinement)
Taijutsu (unarmed combat) skills of dakentaijutsu (striking, kicking, blocking), jutaijutsu (grappling, choking), and taihenjutsu (silent movement, rolling, leaping, tumbling) assisted the Togakure ninja in defensive situations.
Ninja ken (ninja sword)
Bojutsu (stick and staff fighting)
Shurikenjutsu (throwing blades)
Yarijutsu (spear fighting)
Naginatajutsu (halberd fighting)
Kusarigama (chain and sickle weapon)
Kayakujutsu (fire and explosives)
Hensojutsu (disguise and impersonation)
Shinobi iri (stealth and entering methods)
Sui ren (water training)
Cho ho (espionage)
Intonjutsu (escape and concealment)
You are lost the instant you know what the result will be.
After a week of being unable to train because of work, I was finally in class! I had already started chomping at the bit because I hadnt gotten my dose of training, and I was thrilled to be moving again; to be doing taijutsu. Nick, the sandan leading the class, had started us off with some techniques using Hicho no kamae, and then moved on to throws, including tachi and yoko nagare. It was great bodies flying everywhere, good ukemi here, henka to prevent bad ukemi there, etc. I even got to practice (slowly) cartwheeling out of a throw! All in all, a typical New York Budo Saturday afternoon advanced class, with all its camaraderie and fun.
About ten minutes before the end of class, Nick showed a technique for getting out of a headlock using a sideways bodydrop. I hadnt seen this kata before, so I tagged Eric, another black belt and one of my best friends, because I trust him with my life. Along with Aleksandra, a recent 5th kyu, we worked on figuring out the nuances to this technique.
I dont know how my foot got trapped. I had Eric in a strong headlock, and felt his body sliding down, pulling me off balance, as it had a dozen times or so before. This time, however, as I fell, my left foot was pinned by something... Erics side, perhaps or maybe his arm. I felt strain in my knee and in my ankle and as I went over, a loud POP sounded from my ankle. Surprisingly, I felt nothing... then tingling pins and needles in my foot. I sat on the mat, my feet outstretched. Eric looked at me concerned. Was that you or was that me?, he asked. It was me. At that instant, Nick called the class back to demonstrate the next technique. Needless, to say, I didnt do the next technique. As a matter of fact, I havent trained since that class because I sprained my ankle and pulled my Achilles tendon.
As my friend Holly says, Everything happens for a reason. Other than the break from my overtraining (as Eric puts it), this incident is teaching me a lot about patience. Patience with others. Patience with my body and its natural healing process. Patience with myself especially with myself.
It was hard getting around on crutches, but I gave myself the time I needed to adjust. I would like to say that I was as patient when I had to learn to use a cane, but I wasnt. I still cant walk as fast as my friends, now, and I definitely cant run for the bus, but I dont get angry at myself for it anymore. I also used to get impatient with myself for not being self-sufficient. Now, I know that its OK to ask my friends for help and that its not a burden on them.
My biggest difficulty with being patient is that I hate being unable to do anything physical. In turn, I still get angry at myself sometimes for not healing quickly enough. I want to work out... to train... to go rock climbing with my friends... to run. Im slowly learning to be more patient as I visit my physical therapist and wait for my ankle and Achilles tendon to heal. Impatience in this case could have grave results, leading to a more serious injury later on, such as a torn or ruptured Achilles tendon. Impatience is also useless, as it does nothing but waste spiritual and emotional energy.
Im by no means perfect. Heavens knows that I gripe and complain about my inactivity. At the same time, Im trying to do less of that. Im channeling my energies into creating things doing needlework and knitting which also happen to require a lot of patience as well.
Jean-Pierre, our head instructor, once joked, Do you know what the Japanese word for patient man is? ...Ninja. Im working on being a patient man.
Thats it for this month folks! Please be sure to e-mail the authors with your comments. AND please, please, please send articles to keep this newsletter going. See you soon!
Liz maryland is the editor of this newsletter. She trains at New York Budo, where shes currently sitting out due to a badly sprained ankle (Give me five! For what? For finally breaking her!) She has taken up making cross-stitch (its like needlepoint) pillows so that she wont choke the next person who asks her What happened to you? Unable to train, and finding herself with an inordinate amount of free time onher hands, Liz has finally started working on the Ura & Omote homepage which she plans to have out on the net by June. She can, in the meantime, be reached at: Ashidome@aol.com.