Chimon basic drill 1

Chimon

The study of geography, and how to traverse an area without getting lost, is a skill that the ancient Ninja knew well.

In today’s modern work, we are lucky to have GPS navigation in our cars, on our phones and even portable hand
held units! It is awesome technology and a handy tool for your ningu, but this article is about
building your capacity to “observe” and “process” not just how to get from point A to B (part that is part of it).

O.K here is your quick lesson, go to your nearest larger city and upon arrival get a map of the area. Review the map for the basic road structure and layout of major items, ie: city hall, a shopping mall, or even a library. Now that you have this information, go to the highest point possible for an overview of the area. Your last piece of this lesson, is from where you are, pick one of the major items you chose and head their on foot, without asking for directions and not referring back to your map, so as to not seem the typical tourist.

Can you do it?

Shidoshi Steve L.

Wisdom from the Shinobi Masters

“The vast universe, beautiful in its coldly impersonal totality, contains all that we call good or bad, all the
answers for all the paradoxes we see around us. By opening his eyes and his
mind, the Ninja can responsively follow the subtle seasons and reasons of
heaven, changing just as change is necessary, adapting always, so that in the
end there is no such thing as a surprise for the Ninja.”

Toshitsugu Takamatsu

“Ha”- To Break

Ha (Break)

When begin to discuss the philosophy of “to break” one needs to understand your art deeply. Here is where I find many people lose track of the purpose of a technique. The purpose is to teach a principle that applies to a specific attack situation (kata). The purpose of varying from the technique (henka) is to expand upon your understanding, and application of a technique or principle.

To break away, is the step, which begins to internalize the nature of Ninjutsu. Too many beginners want to start with all the fancy variations that Instructors teach or demonstrate, but yet how can they, if they do not have a proper understanding of the fundamental of their art? This applies to both the physical combat methods, or the strategies and esoteric knowledge that is contained within ninjutsu.

As an example, when I was learning lock picking on a basic master lock, I was at times frustrated as I
could not open the lock immediately, yet with hours of practice, I could eventually open the lock in less than a few seconds, but I had not yet broken away from the basic skills. So, I decided to challenge myself with my Yale door lock I had purchased awhile back for practice. Within a minute or so I was able to apply my skills and open the lock! I had moved from the basics of one lock
and broken off to a new and different feel and type, yet I was still grounded in the fundamentals of the art.

As you continue to develop their will be many walls or obstacles put in front of a student testing your greater understanding of Ninjutsu principles and practice. Here are some words of wisdom that were passed to Soke Hatsumi from Takamatsu Sensei,

“As for walls, think of them as being made out of ice. If you are a man who possesses a warm heart of natural justice, Hatsumi, hitting a wall will be no problem. Walls made of ice will just melt!”

 

Remember – first preserve, then break and diversify, but stay grounded in the fundamentals.

Bufu Ikkan

Sensei Steve L.

Leaping Skills

Tobi – Ninjutsu’s Leaping skills:

In this short clip you can see one of my students and I clearing about 4 ½ feet high over the bar, but why the hell would you ever need this in you training or life.

Tobi- The category within taihenjutsu, that covers leaping
is an essential skill to aid your abilities for avoidance, climbing, advancing
or retreating quickly, or even added to your ukemi skills. As an example, when
I trail run, I often have to leap over logs, boulders, ditches, even small
streams, I do this on the run and can cover some significant heights and
distances through my training efforts. If you would like to improve your
leaping skills here are three training tips to send you on your way.

1)     Explode! Yes, explode; learn to utilize every
ounce of energy and muscle tension to leap forward, backward, Up and side to
side. Do this while starting from a standing position (Shizen no kamae), and
see how far you can expand your leaps over several weeks.

2)     Use resistance bands to pull you back while you
practice. I actually use bungee cords and have even used old bike inner tubes
to add this type of resistance.

3)     Plyometrics. Add plyometrics training to your
regular routine and you will be leaping further and higher, never mind the
added cardio sessions to your workouts.

In the Ninja Warrior Conditioning series, you will learn a
host of bodyweight and simple tool assisted training drills that will push you
to a  level of conditioning like those of
our  ninja warrior ancestors. (all in the
Ninja Lesons!)

Shu Ha Ri #1

Shu – Ha – Ri

(Protect-Break-Leave behind)

During your training in Ninjutsu, you will transition through many development stages. Along this path, you will have to
overcome obstacles that hinder or slow your progress. I have been asked by many students wondering about what to concentrate on, or what is right or wrong at each of these stages.  They see senior students training on the kihon happo, and various henka, and ask me “what is right?”, “where should I focus my next practice on?”  “how can I progress faster?”My answer to
these questions, are the principles contained within “shu – ha – ri. “

To grasp the principles contained in shu – ha – ri, you must start at shu (Protect).

Shu
(Protect)

In “protecting” one’s art, and at the simplest of understanding, each of us, have to start with
the fundamentals of our art, and practice them diligently. There is no need to forget them in fact you must master them for a true understanding of that which you practice. Training daily in the fundamentals of ninjutsu, like the sanshin
no kata, happo no sabbaki, kihon happo, and the kata of the various ryuha that comprise the curriculum of ninjutsu.

In Soke Hatsumi’s words,

“It means a Budoka obeying that which he must while pursuing Bufu Ikkan, and refers
to a process where one is consistent and single minded about observing kihon
happo, budo techniques, one’s attitude when learning budo, and the rules of
training.”

“Protecting” is the essence of learning a warrior tradition, the lessons being taught in these basic and sometimes even advanced lessons, are ones that have been gleaned from successful combative encounters, and can form the basis for many strategies, that you can employ in self protection or the protection of others. They may include deceptive tactics (kyojitsu tenkan no ho),
solid fighting tactics or even avoidance method. This stage in your training should not be glanced over or even treated as being “just a beginner”, as it is here you will form a firm and deep understanding of the systems fundamentals.

Remember, “We all need to continue to develop a beginner’s heart.”

In my many years of training and teaching I have run across several if not many low level instructors teaching in a very mediocre manner when this most basic of steps was left out of their  training. This could be  due to their Instructor’s teaching or even the young instructor simply deciding that they did not need to learn and master their fundamentals of their system in
this manner. What is sad is that many are not even aware of their deficit and their students will only suffer for it.

So I end this post with a question and a request: Honestly reflect and self examine where you are today in your training, and if you have not mastered the fundamentals and are protecting your art, take a step back and learn with a beginner’s mind once again.

 

Bufu Ikkan

 (As I am preparing Lesson 3 for release, there is an 8 page component covering “shu” which includes a checklist to help you stay on track.)