Within the core curriculum of the Shinden Fudo Ryu tradition, is the “Principle of Nature”. In a discussion with Soke Hatsumi back in 2002, he related to me that “to train in as natural a manner and environment as possible.” Let’s reminisce a bit here, do you remember back when the Star Wars franchise release the Empire Strikes Back? Do you also remember the scene when Luke is running through the swamp on Dagoba with Yoda on his back, jumping, tumbling etc. all using the principle of nature? Well, this emphasis on training in nature is not only good for the Young Jedi, but for us the Ninjutsu practitioner as well!
For those of you following the Ninja Warrior Conditioning posts on the Facebook page, you will note that there is quite a bit of training that is done outside, and one conditioning/endurance method I have been using is Trail running. Trail running is a new beast to many a beginner runners or ninjutsu practitioners, and it will challenge you physically and mentally!
Let me start with some basics first:
1) Get good trail running equipment(shoes, clothes, lights etc)
2) Start on a gentle trail with moderate slopes and terrain
3) Train regularly
4) Be in the moment! (more on this coming)
I fell that I am blessed living in a rural area, with a small mountain behind me (and in front of me as well), so I have easy access to a great trail, well if you consider a deer trail a good trail (LOL)! Now if you are a beginner at trail running remember shorten your stride and watch the placement of your feet carefully! This is what I was driving at when I listed “Be in the moment”, one miss step and a twisted ankle or fall will be heading your way. So you want a challenge? Well start on more aggressive trails or poorly defined ones where you have to dodge, duck and avoid branches, rocks and an occasional wild animal or two! (Can’t tell you how many times I have run right up on deer).
Now I have a busy schedule so I throw in a trail run about 2 times per week and usually around 5 – 5:30 am, so guess what it is dark! Even with a headlamp on, I have to have constant awareness about the trail, obstacles and or foot placement, and your mind can also play tricks on you, ..is that a bear! AHHHH! Don’t limit yourself to just the running, during my runs I engage in body toughening by striking trees I pass, balancing on various logs along the trail for speed, and even throw in some rolling(yes on purpose!) even projectile(shuriken), or weapons carrying.
Alright, I highly encourage you to take up the Ninja trail running challenge! You will take your conditioning and physical skills to new levels.
Bufu Ikkan and See you on the trail!