Tenmon skill development

Tenmon – Meteorology

Within the ancient Ninja skill sets was that of Tenmon or weather forecasting. In the early days there was no “weather channel” to turn to see what tomorrow’s weather would bring you as such early Ninja developed several clues based upon their observation of nature that helped them prepare for the day. Similar in fashion to our own “Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning” allegory, the ninja’s power of observation of all things came heavily into play. Now although not perfect here are two observations from the past on precipitation:
If it begins around midnight or 4pm, it will last for a long time.

If it begins about 10 am or 6 am, it should stop & the day will be fine

Now how can you improve your Tenmon skills? Follow on my young ninja and learn a bit more:

1)      Study the sky! Learn what the different shades and colors of the sky tell you about the upcoming weather.

2)      Learn the various cloud types and formations.

3)      Learn the basic directions for most storms in your area. (Hint…follow the jet stream)

4)      Observe the animals. Many people say that animals are more in tune with the natural flow of weather and act differently pre- event.

5)      Record you lessons learned and review and improve your skills as you go forward.

 

Now I have to watch the snow falling, it is a quiet and relaxing way to prepare for the exercise tomorrow.

Bufu Ikkan

Hardcore Training

What made Soke Hatsumi, Takamatsu, Ueshiba, Takeda, and a long list of samurai, ninja, and martial artist able to reach a pinnacle in the arts? Well as the title states, it was and is hard core training. Many people do not know that Ueshiba’s early dojo was also nicknamed Jigoku dojo or Hell dojo. Sokaku Takeda, head master of the Daito ryu, was feared for his intense methods of training. A few of you can remember training in the basement of my home a few years ago. Do you also remember the intense training? We had few mats to practice with, never mind dodging the lolly column or the cramped space. Training was austere and hard. Lately, I have noticed a slack in the training as we practice today in our new dojo. That bothers me! I want all of my students to surpass my skill, but that won’t happen if you only haphazardly train, once a week and live on Fruit loops. I hope that this article will help you recognize the changes that are being implemented in our dojo as you read this. Have I peaked your curiosity yet? Let’s move on.

 

Shinken gata

 

“True sword training.” When we practice we must train with the intensity of a real attack. This is the essence of shinken gata. When attacking act like it is an attack on a real opponent. Don’t stop your punch 1 foot away from him. How is your partner supposed to learn, if not from a real attack. When receiving, receive the attack. Learn to be able to take ukemi and continue to train without injury. Do not fight your opponent attack, you are liable to be injured if you do. Train as a team, equal in each responsibility. Giving and taking, sharing and learning through practice(safely). Our training will be very demanding, especially to the upper ranks, but through severe training you learn to deal with a real attack when it happens, and not just talk about it from the hospital bed. You will notice an increase in the pace and intensity of our classes. My uke( upper levels) will have to learn to receive a technique, well! I would like to refer you to a quote from Shoto Tanemura of the Genbukan dojo;

“In the past, severe training was the proper tradition, but now days people tend to avoid it as much as possible. Sometimes being ruthless or withstanding brutality is part of the art of self protection. Easy training will not make it possible to protect you from attack and danger. When your life is in danger and you are totally involved in survival you can easily endure severe injuries and hardships. Remember “Suetmi no Seishin” which is the spirit to fearlessly throw your life away. More literally, this is about your spirit/soul.”

(Although Tanemura san does not train in the Bujinkan anymore, what he says still rings true.)

Have you ever heard the idiom “No pain, No gain.” Well it is also true in the martial arts. You cannot train easily and expect great results. Just as you cannot just meditate and expect to be able to handle a large physical attacker with your mental ability. At the 5th degree test, we are supposed to feel the intention of the attack and avoid it, but what good does it do us if we cannot counter that attack once we have felt it. This problem has plagued the Bujinkan dojo(all) for many years. Some schools, such as the European and Isreali, have strengthened the requirements for testing.(You will see this in the next article). For us, it means that we all have to make a commitment to train seriously, but to still enjoy and not injure ourselves or partners.

I would like to suggest the following training routine for all students and instructors alike:

#1) Start with ryutai junan taiso. Flexibility is a key in our art and in life in general. Stretch 3-4 a week, and always before class.

#2) Increase your aerobic capacity by running, jogging, skipping rope etc.

#3) Emphasize the basics. The Kihon happo and Sanshin no kata, ukemi, and taisabakki.

#4) Train with an open mind and heart. Train as if you knew nothing. Always strive to learn more. Have a constantly questing heart. You must temper this with not always asking “What if?” Just do! And your answer to the “What if?” will appear before you.

#5) Always train with intensity. Give your training, and your partner’s, all you can. You should be tired at the end of class. If not, ask yourself if you gave it your all.

 

Many people assume that Soke Hatsumi’s way of movement now, is how they should train. I would like to refute all of them by saying NO WAY! Soke has trained for many years at a very intense level. Only once he completed this training did his method of movement come to him. That and that he once was very ill and could not train in this manner. His new emphasis at the Hombu dojo is, true fighting method. Not some play acting disguised as a fighting method. As we move into a new year, I hope all who will train here will understand the idea of Shinken Gata.

 

” You need to have ferociousness in a real fight!”

Soke Masaaki Hatsumi

 

Ninjutsu Training Online Podcast 2

Hello Ninjutsu Fans!!!

Alright, I was away for a few days and I get a flood of emails asking where is the next podcast! So here it is, I will be discussing the Ninja Juhappan, what to expect in future episodes and how many podcasts to expect each month. Enjoy!

Bufu Ikkan

A Ninja Lifestyle

Hello Ninjutsu Fans!

I had a few emails shot my way over the last couple of days where a few NITs(Ninja’s in Training), after reading my  first Ninja Lifestyle post ( A Ninja Lifestyle)  wanted to learn more about how to cultivate or enhance their training into their everyday life. Well here is #2 in a series on the Ninja Lifestyle.

“Deru kugi wa utareru”

Literally: The nail that sticks out gets hammered down

I have been fortunate to travel to many places within the United States and in Europe for training and fun. One ninjutsu strategy and skill set I always utilize is the onshinjutsu(art of invisibility). Now many of you may be thinking “he wants to be invisible what the hell is he thinking?” Actually, not invisible but like the Japanese proverb says “not the nail that is sticking out either. So how do I go about this, well first as any ninjutsu practitioner should know by know I utilize the strategies contained within Choho to determine what the local area is like, what people tend to wear, what would stand out in the area, then I utilize Chimon, to understand the lay of the city or area I am in, where are the areas to avoid and where are the ones the locals tend to utilize.

From here I put together my travel arrangements, clothing and tools I may need to call upon in an emergency, and off I may go to where ever I am heading. As you can see by utilizing the ancient strategies in a modern application, I will most likely prevent myself from standing out in the crowd and my trip will be as uneventful(in a bad way) as possible.

Now of course there is a lot more to this process then I am letting on here and there are many other strategies and skills I am not letting on to, but more of this weaving of the Ninja Juhappan skillsets will be coming in further blog posts.

Bufu Ikkan

Wisdom from the ninjutsu masters

The essence of all Martial Arts and military strategies is self protection and the prevention of danger. Ninjutsu epitomizes the fullest concept of self-protection through martial training in that the Ninja art deals with the protection of not only the physical body, but the mind and spirit as well. The way of the Ninja is the way of enduring, surviving, and prevailing over all that would destroy one.

Toshitsugu Takamatsu

Ninjutsu’s Fundamental 13 techniques

The key to success in Ninjutsu’s Budo Taijutsu is consistent practice of the thirteen basic techniques contained in Sanshin no kata and the Kihon happo. It is from this basis that all of our Budo techniques start and end.

              In the beginning, it is easy to overlook this part of our training and underestimate the value of these simple kata. Most of us have never looked at them deeper than the basic form. But, underneath the surface, there is a myriad of hidden skills to learn. From our henka, or variation of the basic kata, to a deep understanding of the principles being taught, each kata is an endless journey that should be explored to it’s fullest.

             Even now at rokudan(6th dan) I practice these techniques diligently. Many times I hear people complain that they know the kihon happo or sanshin no kata, so they should do something else. Yet, when I watch their technique it is clear that they have not been practicing these kata enough! I am always observing all the student’s practice. It is a great feeling to see some students grasp this basic principle and go with it, and it is frustrating when others do not hear the words of wisdom that I am saying. Practice the basic thirteen techniques, know them inside and out, only then will you begin to grasp Budo Taijutsu!

 

“When I was taught the Gyokko Ryu Koshijutsu Kihon Gata, there were in this engendering of fundamental form the eight methods.  I was told that this kihon happo is the origin of all budo.  So I say to you earnestly, you make this the basis and teach it to your students.”

–Toshitsugu Takamatsu as told to Maasaki Hatsumi.

 Bufu Ikkan

Update

Hello Ninjutsu Fans and Practitioners!

Whoo hoo, lots of emails from both the podcast and the last blog post! Thanks for the inputs ninjas!!

To answer your questions:

1) A new Podcast is in the works and will be up by next week if not earlier.

2) Yes, longer blog posts are coming, just like the last one. BUTTTTTTT you all have to continue to email me your ideas and questions you want answered.

3) Upcoming posts will be including videos of…yes yours truely demonstrating various Ninjutsu skills.

4) Finally, I am still working on the Ultimate Ninjutsu Guide vol 1, how do you know these things?? I must now send out my ninja hordes and kill you all to keep my secrets safe. But, yes it is coming along and I want this to rock the Ninjutsu training world so be ready for its release as it will be a doozey!!

Have to head out for some training now,

Bufu Ikkan

Does Taijutsu Work?

Recently I have been asked, does Budo Taijutsu/Ninjutsu or would you use Budo Taijutsu in a real fight? Well this is a very easy question to answer, YES!! This is a good question, especially for lower ranked students, who are still trying to understand the fundamental techniques. At times new students feel that the techniques that they are practicing will not work, or are not working on their training partner.

 Why? The first thing is improper technique, and this includes sabaak i(footwork), Maai (distance), and ritsudo (rythym). The second thing is your opponent (while training) knows what you are going to do! It is easy for him to stop a technique from working. In reality, will your opponent know what you are going to do in a fight, I don’t think so! Third, when we train it is like stop action, where you can see all the holes and weaknesses of any technique. Now this becomes very difficult when I attack you and apply techniques for real. I don’t tell you what’s going to happen, I strike and tear at kyusho, I use all my skill to prevent you from hurting me and I will cause you pain! A real fight is not choreographed and techniques go awry, but yet you still must come out happy and healthy and go home, while your opponent thinks twice about why he attacked you. As my first example, I would like to take you back quite a few years ago when I was attacked by a man, while I was at a dance club. I was dancing with a lady (little did I know it was his girlfriend), when all of a sudden a large guy started to swing a mad hook punch at my head.

The first thing I did was to slide out to ichimonji no kamae and applied uke nagashi to his oncoming arm. Wham it sent his arm flying and he stopped the attack(that and all the bouncers moving towards us). This wasn’t the end of all of it and by the end of the night I went home healthy and he went home with a mangled face from a series of kikakuken from the mount position.(don’t pick on the little guy, buddy) There is more, in sparring, I moved in with a happaken to the side of my opponent’s head, grabbed his wrist and applied ura katate nage. He went flying in the air and landed on his back. I applied an arm bar, match over. Is there a pattern starting to develop. You need more examples? Takamatsu proved his skill in many life or death encounters in Japan and in China. Manaka shihan(who recently left the Bujinkan), Col. in the Japan defense force demonstrated his skill against two Green berets. Once he defeated them, they respected his skill so much that they gave him an honorary green beret.

                So, how do we train to use taijutsu for fighting? It all starts at the beginning, and what is that you may ask? The Sanshin no kata and Kihon happo. You first must understand the sanshin no kata is not something you can take and just fight with. Many of the instructors in Japan will tell, that you must take the principle of each sanshin no kata and apply it to a fight. The kihon is slightly different, they are designed to take one piece of a fight and learn to defend against it. A big “but” must be put in here because the kihon are just a part of the response, they are not the whole attack and they have hundreds of variations, and counters to counters. Next step is to practice in freestyle (randori). This is not common in the U.S. but is required in Israel and Europe for rank testing. In Israel, it was determined that people were unable to use their techniques effectively, and so their training program changed to incorporate a more realistic approach.

Now the Bujinkan Isreal is known for producing highly skilled (fighting) martial artists. If you have been regularly attending class, you will see(and feel) the principles and techniques described within this article. I am trying to slam this point home! Budo Taijutsu is a very powerful, unconventional martial art. It is also highly effective. (Now, I haven’t even touched the unconventional approach to training and fighting but stay tuned for that nice post!)

  Bufu Ikkan

Passing of a Warrior

Hello Ninjutsu World,

I have been tied up lately and not tracking the on goings of the Bujinkan Shihan, I was very saddened to hear that Oguri Sensei has just recently passed away. Having met and trained with Sensei Oguri I am saddened of his passing but knowing that he has left his mark on the Bujinkan and Ninjutsu practitioners worldwide lightens the load.

Now one that I didn’t hear about was Sensei Abi Allen. I met Abi back in 1989, and it was she whom introduced me to my Sensei Ralph Severe of Dallas Texas during that event.

Time marches on and takes it’s tolls on all warriors.

 

Bufu Ikkan

Sensei Steve