Mindset of a Ninja!

Ninjutsu practitioners throughout the ages have learned that through difficult, hard and sometimes dangerous training an interesting mindset Ninja Eyesbegins to emerge, Endurance! Not endurance in the sense of physical fitness but that of a mental state, being able to “last longer” or “go further” than their opponent or a challenge placed in front of them. This is the endurance that cannot be broken even under the most impossible or dire of circumstances. It is a passion to strive to overcome any obstacle laid out in your path. Chipping away each day at small portions of whatever it is you are being challenged with. There are many stories of famous athletes who were not very talented when they first began their careers, but they persisted criticism, harassment, put downs etc. Yet each day they would hit the gym, throw the ball, shoot baskets chipping away until their non-existent talent became their casual skill. Remember, talent is over rated. Effort can overcome genius, through shear will to perform at a higher level. Again it will come down to persistent practice, training the body and mind to go through more than it seems it can take. Not too long ago I was speaking with several of my students and friends, several of whom had succeeded in completing Hell Week and graduated to become a US Navy SEAL. Our conversation pivoted around the mind and the mental ability to endure. They all had seen several individuals that they thought would make it through the training but yet got up to ring the bell and left before graduation. Why? There mental endurance cracked, a weakness budded in the mind and it bloomed into a belief that they could not push through the training.

Your lesson here is to not let those seeds of doubt bloom in your mind! Recognize them as everyone has them, but do not let them take hold and grow. Each day I fight the same demons as you, I challenge myself physically and mentally, often pushing myself “accidentally” past preconceived limiting beliefs. That is the mindset of a ninja! Do you have what it takes? Then do the following right now:

1)      Write down three limiting beliefs you have regarding your physical state, or training.

2)      Stare at them and think “what would happen if I did not possess these beliefs”?

3)      Tear them up and now going forward deeply believe they do not exist in your life, each time they arise you will beat them down and take small consistent steps to improving your training and life.

Bufu Ikkan

Ninja: The Non-Conformist

Conform – a) To comply with rules, standards or laws, b) Behave according to socially accepted conventions or standards. (Merriam Webster nonconformistDictionary)

One principle that I believe many historians and martial artists in general miss as to why the Ninja were so powerful an adversary or ally is/was the Art of Non Conformity. The early ninja clans did not want to comply with the standards and rules being set by their samurai overlords. They wanted to live as they and their families wanted. As such they tended to move to or originate in fairly remote areas such as the Iga and Koga regions, isolated and dependent on themselves for survival, it would seem very clear that they would have adopted and developed a “non-conformist” mentality. Whether it was in the daily living or their martial art practices, a ninja developed a very different sort of guiding principles in their lives.

How interesting that they utilized the strategy of “kyojitsu tenkan ho” (truth and falsehood as one) as a method in which to approach an attack, a mission, even the design of their weaponry I would say very non-conforming to the standards of the day.

As this Website is all about how to train in ninjutsu, I would be remiss in not giving you a lesson to work on or to incorporate into your training. So, let’s take a look at becoming a “non-conformist” in your training and life.

Being a non-conformist doesn’t mean to just break the rules just to break the rules or standards. What you need to do is start a general effort to see where you are just “conforming” to a standard and  moving and understanding  just why are you doing this or that to conform to the rule. Can you break the rule, or common practice and still learn and grow from the lesson?  Sounds interesting now doesn’t it? As an example on a basic level of non-conforming, conforming to a kata is a part of the learning process but breaking away from the kata is another method to learn how our art expresses through you as an individual. But what about your life, are you just conforming to a set standard? Living in that suburb, two bedroom house with like-minded neighbors or have you struck out to the rural areas and are working hard at being independent?(I took this on a few years ago and love every minute of it!) This is such a big topic, you will be seeing a couple of other posts on this topic so stay tuned!

Bufu Ikkan

 

Ninja Warrior Conditioning

Great Day For training ninjutsu fans!

A warrior of any tradition is required to maintain physically at the top of their game. Being called to a mission, could require enduring long stretches of motionless observation, with a quick burst of speed and power to bring an opponent down quickly. So of course with my students I train hard and push them to achieve high levels of physical and mental conditioning. Now after being repeatedly asked as to what and how we train I decided to start throwing out some of the components to our workouts. Now remember, these are only a portion of what is actually in the full workout session but this will start you with new material for your training sessions .

Workout: 5 Sets total. Between each exercise 30 seconds rest with a 2 minute rest period between cycles.

Burpee to Chin Up – 10 reps

Sit ups – 30 reps

Sprint 50 yards (walk back to start)

15 push ups

15 Squats (Hindu squat)

 

Bufu Ikkan

Ps: no puking! (LOL)

My First Taikai

My First TaiKai,

The other day I was looking through an old photo album and I came across pictures I took at my first TaiKai from 1989.My best student and I saw the full page ad in Black Belt magazine and we had been practicing for several years together, but had not had the opportunity to meet and or train with Soke at that point yet.  So we saved up the money, jumped into the car and my student and I made the 6 hour road trip to meet and train with Soke Hatsumi and the Shihan he brought with him from Japan first hand.

What an event, that first morning in the gym, going through various ukemi drills, then the hanbo and bo tactics! I remember meeting so many great practitioners that weekend, and being able to train with Soke and his students the whole time. My student and I were off to the right of Soke and he or the Shihan would come over and correct us, or use us as a demonstration for others, oh yes the bruises and sore muscles. I have to say that this event opened my eyes to the wealth of information that was available (if you looked) from various students who were over in Japan and came back with a wealth of knowledge. One of the treasures I got was a copy/translation of the Kukishinden ryu and Togakure ryu kata that was, let’s say borrowed from a teachers dojo (I love these ninjas!) copied and then returned without him the wiser!

After the several days of training, knowledge gathering and amazing training stories, we had made many new friends and contacts, which in the coming years become training brothers and sisters as well as teachers and friends. Well, a few were I would say, not so much friends, probably rivals that in time lead to the “Ninja Dojo Wars”, but that is a long story for a different day.

So, take a moment and wander down memory lane, and see what you will find!

Bufu Ikkan

Winter training

It doesn’t matter what the weather is like, training should take place in all weather types. The other day we here in the North East has a small Blizzard roll in, and my first thought was “what a great opportunity to train!” So, out I went into the raging snow storm, with my extended survival pack with me, I hiked into the forest behind my home and started training.

So what did I do you might ask? Well here you go,

1) Fire starting (kajutsu) during the storm it was hard to locate dry tinder, but from under a series of hemlock trees I found some dry needles, small branches and a few leaves. Although starting the fire proved to be difficult with my flint and steel, but I managed to get a nice small fire going pretty quickly.

2) Before I got my fire going I bilt a small debris shelter that allowed me to do step 1 in a fairly sheltered manner. Shelter is crucial in a survival situation or even a primitive camping event. Learn how to build several types of shelters, so that you will not be panicing when you need to put this skill into use.

3) Meditation. With the wind whipping and the snow blowing, I slowed my breathing down, focusing on the alpha wave generating fire, and began to expand my awareness around me, allowing the everyday thoughts to drift away and instead counting my breaths, and allowing my peripheral vison to expand.(more on meditation in an up coming post.)

4) As I made my way back home, I focused on Chimon and utilized my orienteering skills to keep me on the right path to my door. To many people focus on GPS and technology today, but during the storm I could not get a solid signal from the satellites, so I broke out the tried and true compass and map and off I went.

Some of you may listen to the Podcast where I state “Where we take the powerful ancient ninja strategies and techniques and utilize them in real world modern applications.” So here is a perfect example of doing just that. Now I hope you learn from this and take it back to your training, and utilize these ancient skills in a modern application.

Bufu Ikkan

 

ps: with over 24 inches of snow that night it made for another great training day SNOWBOARDING!

A Difference in the Approach, Samurai vs Ninja

samurai“The Way of the Samurai is found in death. When it comes to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance. To say that dying without reaching one’s aim is to die a dog’s death is the frivolous way of sophisticates. When pressed with the choice of life or death, it is not necessary to gain one’s aim.”  Yamamoto Tsunetomo  taken from Chapter 1, Hagakure

“The way of the Ninja is the way of enduring, surviving, and prevailing over all that would destroy one. More than merely delivering strikes and slashes, and deeper in significance than the simple out-witting of an enemy; Ninjutsu is the way off attaining that which we need while making the world a better place.” Soke Takamatsu taken from Ninjutsu Hiketsu Bunninja2

As you can see from the heiho written from the perspective of a Samurai and a Ninja, there are some striking differences in the strategies in approaching a conflict. Both have their merits and can be incorporated into you training and approach to living. What I find interesting is that the path of a Samurai was found in death, and the complete acceptance of that fact allowed them, if not freed them from hesitation to act in a moment’s notice. Often this was at the decision of their superiors and may or may not bring a “betterment” to the surrounding society, or without the preservation of their own life. Now a ninjutsu practitioner had a very different outlook, “enduring”, no matter what the circumstances a ninja must endure and survive to fight and live another day, what I am fond of is the last sentence “Ninjutsu is the way off attaining that which we need while making the world a better place.” Whether that world was the small village or family around them, the strategy to better those around them was always a part of the underlying strategy for a ninja to endure or survive for.

As you read and study this difference in approaches, understand there are opportunities when you should dive in with no fear and worry about the outcome (death), but wrapping yourself in the philosophy or “enduring” , thinking out the approach and strategy to utilize and the possible outcomes or impacts to those around (note: this can happen in seconds for a trained practitioner) you is also a vital method for you to study and learn on your journey in Ninjutsu.

 

New Video Section

Hey Ninjutsu Practioners!

I have added a new page called “Videos”,  as alot of my older students were looking for the videos from my sister site. So I will be posting them up asap, and of course all new material is being layed out for new versions of the Ninja Juhakkei!

Bufu Ikkan