Since olden days many opinions have been expressed about which part of an opponent one should look at [during a duel] but the majority of people have supported staring at an opponent’s face. When so doing, the eyes should be narrower than usual but the mind should be broad. The eyeballs should not move and when the opponent is near they should be focused as though they were looking into the distance. In this way, a man can look at not only his opponent’s face but his whole body, thus being able to anticipate any offensive thrusts he might make.
In my opinion, there are two kinds of eyes: one kind simply looks at things and the other sees through things to perceive their inner nature. The former should not be tense [so as to observe as much as possible]; The latter should be strong [so as to discern the workings of the opponent’s mind clearly].
Sometimes a man can read another’s mind with his eyes. In fencing, it is all right to allow your own eyes to express your will but never let them reveal your mind.
This matter should be considered carefully and studied diligently
In combat many instructors have taught that you must look into the opponent’s eyes to judge their next move, but as Mushashi states there are 2 types of “eyes”, 1 that only can see the surface, while the second that can perceive the inner nature of things. The second is where a ninjutsu practitioner should always be training their perceptive abilities to, while the former is a common occurrence in new or beginner practitioners, actually some never leave this level of the martial arts throughout their training life.
Developing a set of “perceiving eyes”, involves diligent study of many aspects of combative skills, people, nature and also developing a method of quickly filtering through information rapidly. So, I leave you with this question as a first step: “When do you know someone is your opponent?”
Within Ninjutsu, the strategy of “ken tai ichijo”, or translated “the body and weapon are one” is one of the first principles that should be firmly grasped by all practitioners in their training. The coordination of utilizing the body’s full weight and power that can be generated by proper alignment of the musculature and body positioning is not an easy task, it can take years to fully grasp or master this principle throughout the physical empty hand and weapon skills that you will learn.
But like each piece I put here on this website and the podcasts, I am going to lay out a few training tips to help bump you up a level in your next training situation.
1) Practice the Kihon Happo and sanshin no kata, utilizing the ken tai ichijo
- In the air
- Against a heavy bag or makiwara
2) Train with HEAVY weapons! Items that are two or three times the normal weapon weight will pull you into their momentum. This forces you to utilize your whole body in a smooth, cohesive movement to prevent the tool from “getting away” from you.
3) Proper sabaki to enhance your striking power. A strike and footwork must be coordinated utilizing the following patterns: (Daken Shiho gata)
- Step and strike together
- Strike and step following
- Step and then strike
- Strike and no step (body movement)
Once this concept is fully internalized it allows us to understand that synchronized movement between intention, breathing, walking, twisting and flexing the spine, as well as moving the arms, legs, and weapon simultaneously in unity leads to real power and martial arts effectiveness. Unifying your body to any weapon at hand then becomes an extension of the same movements that you have trained with the empty hand flow. Seamless transition between weapons and unarmed combat at this point is as effortless as breathing.
“Train from the beginning with a sincere heart directed by proper motivation. It is pointless to work at the martial arts with the mere intention of collecting as many techniques as possible. This form of consistent concentration of course lacks the counter balance of the power of observation. Training for experience without awareness will only produce a martial arts scholar – one who is no more than a walking technique catalog with no real heart.” – Soke Hatsumi
How many of us have seen or trained with those martial artists that exemplify Soke Hatsumi’s wisdom. They come to training, they catalog the technique, they know the material but cannot yet make it their own. I have trained with many “drill collectors” , most mean well, some believe that they are better because they have memorized all these drills, but yet when the pressure is on they fail to be able to utilize the “drill” in a sparring match or fight. So, why is this??
Well a Ninjutsu practitioner should be holding in his heart the determination that in all situations I MUST survive! You notice I didn’t say I need to or have to I said must survive. With this in your heart how can you not be training to internalize and interpret each drill with an application to help you on this overriding principle of “surviving”!
In your next lesson apply the sincere heart of survival and attack your training as if you are in a life or death situation. There is no retreat, you can only survive if your skills are up to the task, so practice with this life saving intensity!
The ancient Ninja were renowned for their physical prowess. Through the hours of physical practice they achieved a great level of physical and mental conditioning that rival the great athletes of today.
So to help accelerate you along in your physical conditioning, I will be from time to time adding up these Ninja Warrior Conditioning workouts to push your levels of physical and mental conditioning up a notch!
Ninja Warrior Endurance Work Out
5 mile Run
25 Push ups
100 Yard swim utilizing only (Australian crawl, overhead stroke, or butterfly stroke )
25 yard side stroke both left and right sides
Oh yeah this has to be completed in under 1 hour!
I did this workout yesterday, and came in at 48 minutes, so let me know how you do by posting your comments or by emailing me directly.
Hi Ninjutsu Fans
Here is a new Podcast for your Enjoyment and Learning!
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