No Easy Day

Hey Ninjutsu fans, it has been quite a while since I have written a post here. I am not dead and if you are following the Facebook page you would know that I am posting there at least once a week (Motivation Monday’s) but anyway no excuses, I am back to posting so let’s jump in!

Every day we have a choice to wake up and start the day with a bang or hit that snooze button and go back to sleep. Well, if you are like me you get up and start the ninja grind, pushing yourself to be better, learn more and be a better martial artist. There is no easy day, no day off if you want to achieve and improve. Yeah, that is the hard truth, No Easy Day!

This morning I woke up early (shit it is even Sunday) sore and stiff from class the day before, grabbed some coffee, and started self-massage, stretching, and mobility drills. Then suited up for a 6.6 mile run on the rural roads around my home, had breakfast (yogurt, nuts and fruit), finished this post, cut and split firewood, got in some no spin short blade throwing, time on the range, developed plans for the week, class notes posted etc..etc..etc

What did you do?

My days are far from easy, I push myself hard, when I need rest, I rest but then I hit the learning aspect to keep me sharp, my mind and yours needs training just like any other muscle. Now, this isn’t supposed to be some motivational, Pollyanna post to say, now you can do it to, this is a post about what I do and think that Ninjutsu practitioners, hell good martial artists should be doing every day. Whether or not you decide to read this and get inspired or not is up to you. I am just throwing it out to get you thinking like a ninja…No Easy Day, yes the SEAL’s use this saying as well as elite athletes around the globe, and I am here to tell you it is true, your days should not be comfortable, or easy as it does not prepare you for life.

I am a big fan of the stoic philosopher Seneca and I read this short piece at least once or twice a week:

“Set aside now and then a number of days during which you will be content with the plainest of food, and very little of it, and with rough, coarse clothing, and you will ask yourself: ‘Is this what one used to dread?’”

It reminds me that what I think, dread and fear is far from the truth, and that by training hard and pushing myself each day, I can overcome obstacles that I didn’t think I could. My philosophy of “No Easy Day” isn’t unique, it isn’t for everyone and most people who start down this path will drop it after a few days, but a true ninja warrior will read this embrace it and put it into practice in their lives and training.

Now, what are you going to do after reading this, just asking…

Bufu Ikkan

Airyu –“Living the Ninja Lifestyle!”

Cover and Concealment

Hello Ninjutsu Fans,

Time for another post to help expand your training and knowledge, this post is about Cover vs Concealment.

Pretty straight forward  and easy to understand but too many people I have seen or even trained with make common mistakes when talking about cover or concealment. So lets start with Concealment. Concealment by it’s name alone explains it, you are hiding or concealing yourself from someone or something. Common methods utilize camouflage, shadow play, night movements etc. A key here is that you are not protected by anything (usually) when you are speaking about concealment.

Now cover is something completely different but it can also conceal you. Cover is the use of solid objects between you and your enemy, preventing projectiles or another type of weapon to penetrate you easily. Not all cover is good, like hiding behind soft furniture will not stop a bullet, nor will most single sheet rocked walls. A nice brick or concrete wall or multiple inches of solid wood can help to cover you. So I think you are getting the difference here.

Now there are methods to enhance your concealed location to enhance your protection. Some examples are layers of ballistic cloths within a couch or chair, the same can also be added to your automobile panels. Other ideas are a bit more work like hardening your walls with layers of steel plating or sand bags in a wall.

A modern ninjutsu practitioner must be aware of the use and protection from firearms and cover and concealment are two tactics that you need to understand well and make use of in your life plans.

Bufu Ikkan

Airyu

The Ninja 90 Challenge!

Hello Ninja Fans, well it has been a while since I threw the gauntlet down in front of you. The last time only a few actually picked it up and took the challenge seriously. Do you remember last years 52 week financial challenge, I only receiver 17 confirmations, from those who actually completed it. Sad in today’s world but the money was not the point….it is the discipline, the sacrifice, the challenge that was why the challenge was thrown out at you.

So now what? Well how about the Ninja 90 challenge!

You notice it says 90, but not much else right? Well yesterday I decided to challenge myself for the next 90 days to accomplish as much as possible, physically, mentally, emotionally. This will not be easy I can guarantee that but if you accept the challenge you can make large strides in a very short amount of time.

Step 1: Accept the challenge and commit 100% effort for the next 90 days

Step 2: Physical challenges teach discipline, so commit to working out a minimum of 3 times per week with the 90 circuit: 30 Push ups, 30 Sit ups, 30 Burpees (no break between sets, rest between circuits) Week 1 = 1 complete circuit, Week 2 = 2 Complete circuits, Week 3 = 3 Complete circuits, Week 4 = 4 Complete circuits.

Step 3: Stay connected on the Ninjutsu Training Online website and Facebook page, post your comments, and stay tuned for additional tid bits being thrown out to you.

Hey, it all sounds easy right…..well it isn’t and today was tough for me to get started. It was kind of funny I was having a cup of coffee and I happened to hit a motivational video and it shook me. I was starting to come up with excuses on why I should hit the run this morning. The roads are snowy, it’s cold, I feel off blah blah blah. So, I stopped right there and took a look around my family was still sleeping, so I started to stretch out and practice a few mobility drills, put my gear on hit the road and nailed an 8.72 mile! Day 1 of my 90 day challenge has begun and I am kicking it up a notch, I hope you will join me on this journey.

Bufu Ikkan

Airyu

I’m Back!

Hello Ninja Warriors,

I am back to posting again!! Well, if you follow the Facebook page you would see there are a lot of additional posts that happen there as well..hint..hint!

Here we go —

“However, you must be aware of being touched or moved by something negative. I am referring to what we were discussing earlier, about immature and open hearted young people being “touched” by manipulative con artists. They want so badly to believe in what they want, that they do not realize they are being lead dangerously astray from the true warrior ideal they claim to have pledged themselves to in the first place.” – Soke Hatsumi

How true these words are today in so many aspects of our lives!

Look at the recent rhetoric thrown back and forth between the presidential candidates, news media, rumors from friends, various martial arts schools, cults etc. But how do you hold true and see through the clouds of misinformation that is spewed out from individuals? Well you have to be resolute in your approach to discerning the underlying truth!

Let me utilize the news as an example: you hear a story on the evening news, and take it at face value, but really you should be doing your own research on the situation. Looking at alternative view points left, right, center even conspiracy theorist have a place in your review. I look at martial arts schools and teachers the same way. I have met many, probably hundreds of instructors in many styles, some only believe their way is the way. But how do they know this? Over the years I have gathered a large collection of research material in written, video and audio form. I have interviewed many individuals, been involved in the launch of the martial arts forums around the web, and yet I still have only scratched the beginning of understanding the way.

A ninja, whether historical or modern, must be deeply involved in understanding, researching and defining his knowledge and information each day. You have taken a step by reading my posts, but don’t take my word on anything, your individual research will point you to the truth.

More to come, my brothers in the arts.

Bufu Ikkan

Airyu

Digital Privacy…step 1

gray manAlright Ninja’s, we are in 2017 and it’s time to step up our game with digital privacy.

How many of us have heard about someone or some corporation being hacked? Look at Ashley Madison the online dating site(that no one is supposed to know about…shhh), Target, the OPM database hack open the door for 22.1 million government individuals with secret clearance status, if they can’t stop it how you might ask can you. Well, it starts with something as simple as a password. When was the last time you changed your passwords?

How about that one you use for ITunes, Debit cards, Routers, Email accounts, Amazon etc? Do they all look alike, are the all the same? Let me ask you are you using one of the 25 stupid passwords below? If you are, then you deserve to be hacked!

Most popular and easiest to hack passwords:

  1. 123456
  2. 123456789
  3. qwerty
  4. 12345678
  5. 111111
  6. 1234567890
  7. 1234567
  8. password
  9. 123123
  10. 987654321
  11. qwertyuiop
  12. mynoob
  13. 123321
  14. 666666
  15. 18atcskd2w
  16. 7777777
  17. 1q2w3e4r
  18. 654321
  19. 555555
  20. 3rjs1la7qe
  21. google
  22. 1q2w3e4r5t
  23. 123qwe
  24. zxcvbnm
  25. 1q2w3e

Sooooo, let’s change up the game and follow the following rules to make it a bit more challenging for someone to get your password:

  • Use a mix of Characters, letters and numbers
  • Use upper and lower case in the same password
  • Change your passwords every 6 to 12 months
  • Do not use the same passwords for your financial accounts as you do your email accounts
  • Do not write down your password
  • Instead of a password think about a pass phrase (ex: IamSureIknowmyPassword4)

Or try a password generator like http://passwordsgenerator.net/

(and no I do not get anything for posting the link, other than your undying fealty!!)

Alright, ninjutsu geeks, let’s start rocking out the new year!

Bufu Ikkan

Airyu!

Ninja Situational Awareness

Grey ManSituational Awareness

“Fumio sat in the small soba shop, carefully positioning himself near the rear exit but allowing him an unobstructed view of the front of the shop. He had already noted the two men sitting at right of the shop when he entered, both whom were armed with tantos under their clothes. The tattoos indicated they were Yakuza. Fumio rarely missed an opportunity to hone his awareness and observational skills, as in his line of work it could spell the difference between life or death….”

 

Our ancient Ninja predecessors possessed an almost superhuman ability to observe and analyze their surroundings, giving them an “edge” over those individuals attempting to do them harm. This isn’t just some “spy” tactic but a real world skill that you can learn and improve upon, it is known as situational awareness.

Situational awareness is being aware of what is happening around you and understanding and processing that information, so that you can take actions that may be necessary in a variety of situations. What many people won’t tell you though is that situational awareness is’nt a natural occurring skill, and it is perishable, and requires practice to be maintained.

When I teach others about situational awareness I normally start off with this basic drill(I have written about this before)

Drill #1 – “What would I do if….” Ask yourself what would you do if a situation occurred when you were in a restaurant. Can you access a weapon? Are you carrying a weapon, where is the best cover and or concealment, How would I get my loved ones to safety? Etc etc, this game can go on and on and it should be a daily part of your life and training.

Ok, so you probably all remember that drill so here is the next one in the training series:

Drill #2 – “Eyes up and ahead” – Each day when you are walking, take a look around you and notice how many people will not make eye contact with you, or are caught up on their phone, texting or even listening to music. Now your part, don’t look down or away, but each person you walk by try and make eye contact with them. Be confident and sure of yourself, hold your head up and eyes ahead, be aware of who is approaching or entering your space.

So, it two drills to quickly start adding to your skill base. But…wait there is more!

Drill #3 – “Kim’s Game. I love this game, I have used it in many, many ways teaching this to boy scouts, police, military as well as martial artists for years. The game develops a person’s capacity to observe and remember details. The name is derived from Rudyard Kipling’s story, in which the hero, Kim, plays the game during his training as a spy. Basically at it’s simplest, it involves setting up a few objects on a tray covered and then quickly removing the cover, allowing the students to see them and then quickly covering them again. Now it is up to the student to remember what is was on the tray. Now that is a simple version, one I often add is to ask my students questions like “ How many cars are in the yard? What color are they? What was different on the way into the school? And I ask these a lot! Forcing students to be aware of what is around them as they never know when I am going to ask the next question. This game is utilized in military sniper training, recon work etc. It will go a long way to building your observation skills!

Drill #4 – “Wide angle vision” – This drill is a great way to help people understand we too often have tunnel vision when we are in an area we feel comfortable in. Focusing only on what is right in front of you is a sure way to get yourself killed on a battlefield. Basically this drill involves you using drill #2 but also to expand your view to take in everything that is in the 180 degree capability of your eyes.(Yes, I know not everyone can see that wide! But try!)

Drill # 5 – “Exit interview” – Now this one you will need a partner for, next time you go somewhere let’s say a restaurant, after you leave ask your partner How many people where at the server station? How many people were in the waiting area? What color was the shirt of your server? What was there name? How much was the check? Again this is another way to get you tuning in on what is going on around you each day.

Too often we are in a bubble that surrounds us and we close off what is actually going on around you. We need to break down the artificial barrier and take in with all of our senses what is going on around you. Not only will you be better prepared to face potential threats but also you may just take in more of life that is going on just outside of your awareness.

Bufu Ikkan!

Airyu!

Crisis Preparation

crisis-preparedness-signAlright now no one ever has a crises occur in their life… maybe someone does or did, it could have been you. I know that I have gone through a few like lost my job, been lost in the wilderness, had to treat some serious first aid situations etc. With each of these events there are some common items that will help you “Be Prepared” to face the next challenge in your life.

  • Accept the situation. Yes, this is tough to grasp but to deal with what is happening you need to accept the fact that it is occurring to you, right now. I cannot tell you how many times I see or have heard someone in denial of what is going on to or around them. Instead of the denial, accept fully what is occurring and own it!
  • Plan now. Prior planning prevents poor performance!! Yes, sit down and take stock of what is going on to or around you and make a plan of attack. Practice this skill it can be developed. As an example I use the scenario based exercise “what would I do if…” , whatever the situation take a mental not to think what would I do if this or that occurred to me right now. I practice this at a stop light, in a mall, at dinner etc. I even involve my family in the scenarios for their input.
  • Take action. For those of you following the Facebook page posts, I often write about taking action. Why you may ask? Well, without action nothing occurs, and I mean nothing. When I took my first CPR/First aid training session the instructor made a huge impression on me by stating, “if not you, then who, so take action.” You may act and it may not work out as you planned but I would venture to guess it will be better than sitting back and not taking action.

So how does this apply in ninjutsu? Well in being ready to “expect the unexpected” events that happen in life. How many people in the recent natural disasters thought about being ready to take action if there was a fire, flood or other event, Probably not that many. So if you are serious about Living the Ninja Lifestyle, you need to adopt these three primary lessons into your daily routine.

Short post, but to the point.

Train hard and realistic!

Bufu Ikkan

Airyucrisis-preparedness-sign

Mushin and flow

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990, p. 3)

lyoto machida calmThis brief quote is a fantastic description of what many martial artists strive for, that feeling of oneness, flow, mushin. When I am asked about what is mushin, I usually respond with “living and being in the moment, deal with what is there, not what has past or what will be, just now.”

There is no easy path to reach this aspect of the martial arts or with any skill that you are seeking mastery in. What this brief lesson will bring you is a few tips to help you accelerate your journey to mushin.

#1) Master the fundamentals. (A simple statement yet so profound in its measure.) Over the last few decades I have met and trained with fantastic martial artist from many different systems, yet only a few have truly master the fundamentals of their respective arts. Each session practice the fundamentals of your art, if it is ninjutsu then start with sanshin no kata or the kihon happo, ukemi, aruki, and taisaabaki, if it was boxing then jab, cross hook, uppercut, feinting, footwork etc. Without a firm grasp of the fundamentals you cannot hope to move effortlessly.

#2) Put in the time with real training partners. These are the ones that everyone avoids because they “train to hard”, or like to “mix it up a bit.” These are the ones who will push you beyond your comfort zones.

#3) Controlled randori with a good coach. You cannot achieve mushin through meditation alone, you must deal with an attacker, multiple attackers and that has to happen many, many times. A good coach/teacher will push you safely with multiple attackers challenging your skill level while keeping it as safe as possible.

#4) Mental development. Just because I said you cannot achieve Mushin with meditation alone, does not mean you can neglect this critical aspect of your training. A calm, focused mind is not an easy thing to gain and you will need to learn to quiet those doubting thoughts, master your breathing, visualize your movements just as you are required to deeply grasp the fundamental physical techniques you should know.

#5) The last tip…..TIME! It takes time to gain this level of skill, with hours of diligent practice and the additional mental training your skills will develop over time, so be patient!

Bufu Ikkan

Airyu –“Living the ninja lifestyle!”

Building you Intelligence Network

Network

Hey Ninjutsu fans I’m finally back from traveling around the States this past month. Now while I have been traveling I have also been building my intelligence gathering network. Establishing a strong network of individuals that feed you information isn’t that difficult to put in place and the rewards are fantastic. (I’ll share a quick example that just occurred in my work network that I have been cultivating)

So how do you go about building the network, well let’s keep this short lesson fairly brief:

  • When you are in an event where you are meeting many individuals or just meeting someone for the first time, you have a great opportunity to add a node to your network. Learn their name and what they do for work and if the will share a bit about themselves what the enjoy doing outside of work.
  • After meeting take notes on the individual and add them to your network by filing the information on mindmap. You may need several maps to encompass different networks ie:Work related, martial arts related, informational etc. (personally I have three)
  • Routinely review and reach out to the individuals building your relationship with them and deepening the information you gather from them.
  • Put the knowledge to good use!

Pretty simple process and yes it works! Here are a few examples,

On a flight out to Tennessee, I was seated next to a young lady who asked me about a book I was reading, I had already noticed what she was reading and struck up a conversation regarding the material in what she was reading, this lead us to exchanging business cards. A week later I reached out to say thanks for the conversation and when they wrote back it ended up with a big lead for me on a non profit organization that I am doing some work with now.

A recent martial arts gathering lead me to new contacts that have now hooked into my network and I have a new student who lives fairly close,  that one of these individuals had spoken to them about training with me, new student has been on boarded!

A tier 1 operator that I trained some years ago, reached out and we are now sharing some training materials, this lead me to some great work with very talented individuals!

This are just a few examples of what a network can do for you, and I have hundreds of examples of this process and information that I have gained work to my family and my benefit. There is a lot that I cannot share for very particular reasons, but let’s just say a Ninja should always be prepared and in order to do so they require strong information from many sources HUMINT is only one.

Bufu Ikkan

Airyu  – Living the Ninja Lifestyle!