I was scanning through youtube today and came upon a great video of Soke Hatsumi performing the Godan test for a variety of individuals. It brought back memories of 1996, when I took and passed the test.
“We train in the use of weapons: rope, swords, spears, chains-everything is a weapon. A piece of paper. Anything that is nothing. I’m a walking arsenal – but being a ninja is more than just the physical. It’s teaching awareness, the spiritual. You have to develop a real killing feeling, but with the ability to not kill. You have to have the guts to kill. But also the physical and spiritual ability and strength to not kill, to give your opponent an out, an excuse to back off. In truth I don’t teach them anything. I show them how to lead their lives. It’s up to them to grasp it or not.” – Soke Hatsumi
As a ninjutsu practitioner, we should constantly be honing our ability to utilize and deal with weapons. Whether we were back in the early days or on the modern streets today, attacks with w a weapon happen every day, and if you are not preparing yourself to deal with reality. Hiding your head in the sand and avoiding this type of training could result in you or your loved one being seriously injured or killed. Now, I am not known for not being somewhat controversial in both what I say as well as in my training methods, so prepare yourself for the rest of this post!!(LOL)
Myth Busting 101
“Will traditional ninjutsu training will prepare you to deal with a weapon attack.”
Well, yes and not so much. It may give you a better chance of surviving but having spent 4 decades in various weapon based arts (Southeast Asian, Western, Chinese, and Japanese) I will throw out to you that most training against a static attacker with the application of traditional taijutsu movements will not adequately prepare you for an attack. Why you might ask? It is not real and there is no force on force training going on here. Let me explain what I mean by Force on Force training: This is where two or more training partners are attempting to smack the crap out of each other. Is it sparring, yes. Is it brawling, yes. Can you get hurt, oh yes you can! But without this type of training you will not see the realities of real combat. Now there are many ways to apply this principle in your training, and since this post is about weapons training here are a few suggestions for you.
Force on Force Training
1) Use simulated weapons that you may carry every day in your sparring sessions. This would mean knifes, collapsible batons, chains/ropes, guns etc.
2) Start with them in a common concealed carry position and start the simulated situational sparring session having to deploy the weapons
3) Add multiple man attacks and multiple man counter/defensive situations.
4) Wear real everyday clothing
5) Utilize an AAR (After Action Review/Report) of the session, film it or have others record the highs and lows of the sessions, what worked and what didn’t
6) Add low light situations
7) Add realistic and explicit language
Ok, there are a few tips, but your training should be fun as well, and there is nothing wrong about taking your traditional weapons practice to new levels by applying the above training tips. I have sparred with bokkens, shinai, naginata, various swords, shields, spears, staffs, flexible weapons etc. etc., I know I am a bit crazy and I have taken my share of injuries, and gone home healed up and came back for more. You may or may not want to take your training that far, but there are alternative padded weapons and protective armor that will allow you to still gain some of the benefits of this harsh level of training. Here is a link of one of my students and I demonstrating at a training event several years ago, this was not scripted and was at full power with control.
Well I hope I have stimulated some thought and changes to your next practice session, more on this subject to come.
Alright Ninja’s! It is time to start kicking your physical conditioning up a notch. Below is a workout we use prior to starting our training session. The names of the exercises may be strange to some of you, so please feel free to contact me for any explainations you may need. Oh yes, the workout must be completed in 20mins or less, so welcome to the suck!(LOL)
2 X 3 min rounds skipping rope (1 min rest between sets)
2 Mins of death (JJ, SS, Burpees, MC) 1 set
5 Heavy bag shoulder lifts(100 lbs)
5 Pull ups – 5 Over and Unders (2 sets no rest)
5 Ring body/ab extensions (Hold for 30 sec)
10 Side crunches (L and R)
25 Push ups
5 Turkish get ups (60% 1rep max)
Downward pyramid Round Kicks (start at 5)
Jab, Cross – Bob and weave (Focus mitt)
Notice that there are other “arts” techniques in this session, yes they are there for a reason! So learn to apply them properly and they will serve you well in combat.
Sunday is a great day for training of the body and mind. Hopefully, you aren’t slacking off just because most people take Sunday as a day of rest. I like to think of it more as a day where I can improve and or have some time to spend with the family doing some training. This morning, for instance my wife and I decided to go for an intense 3 mile power walk in the hilly area around our home. It had to be on the streets though as the snow is yet still not melted from the trails on our property. Of course this morning I definitely needed a long stretching and mobility session from Saturday’s class and workout (excellent time and practice my friends!!) So, you may ask why I am rambling on about training on Sunday? Well, it is all about what I have written about here before, the Ninja Lifestyle. The Ninja Lifestyle isn’t one that is easy, soft, or even a wanna be. It is something that permeates your day with energy and fire to know and understand more and be better within your life each day. I take this very seriously and apply it to all areas of my life, and I do mean all areas, why wouldn’t I?
Now, this website has become quite popular lately, but it wasn’t just a flash in the pan, it took several years of steady posting great content that others within the ninjutsu community needs and or wants to learn more about. It took patience and dedication, and learning from my mistakes(Oh I have made lots of them!!) You will be hearing me (or reading) more about Living the Ninja Lifestyle, and I think you are going to enjoy it, but I have to leave you with at least 1 new lesson for today!
1) Go and get your training journal, and please you better have one by now!
2) Review what you accomplished last week for learning new techniques, tactics, and strategies, and write them down
Now this week you are going to have a goal, one based around your fundamental nutrition plan,
1) Take your Training journal out and review everything you have eaten or drank throughout the day and log it in
2) Add a column for supplements and vitamins
3) Now repeat this each day.
Now the trick here is to not change what you are doing just because you are recording it. The purpose of this exercise is to determine your nutritional weakness and honesty with yourself is of the utmost importance. Each time I run through this drill I gain a better understanding of when I need to fuel the fire with high quality items as I am binging on some snack food because my blood sugar is heading down. So start this lesson as a first step in understanding what you are taking in on a routine basis, it will surprise you, never mind how many extra calories you may be sneaking into our nutrition plan. Alright, go on and take on the week with a fire in your belly to improve your nutrition!
0 dark thirty on 3.19.14, I get my sorry butt out of a nice warm bed, pour myself a cup of coffee(yes I drink coffee in the morning and then a switch to green tea later in the afternoon), sit on the floor in the living room and start to stretch and loosen up my body through a series of junan taisao exercises. All the while looking to see how light it is outside, the temp was a balmy 18 degrees, with no wind so a nice morning to get out and build some cardiovascular conditioning with a quick 5K! Yes, I am a bit crazy to get up early to take care of my training, but my daily schedule is packed and it is often difficult to fit in additional physical training unless I push myself out of my comfort zone (I seem to be using this statement a lot lately), and if that means getting up a bit early, so be it. Remember, your worst enemy is the one you look at in the mirror every morning. He will give you every excuse to not hit the road, gym, trail, training floor, read a book, watch a martial art DVD whatever, it is easier to just sit back and relax or stay in bed, but that is not the path of a Ninja!! Today is a long one here at the Plant(my other job), so I won’t be home until after 8:00pm, but during my lunch break I decided to stay putting this quick post together to let others on this website know, I understand it is tough to put in the time and effort to train, but there is no other way, nor should there be. The path of a shinobi warrior is one that is not easy, your training is tough, gaining knowledge and putting it into practice is difficult, but the rewards can be life changing or even lifesaving.
So, let me ask you; what are you doing today to improve yourself?
Well, last weekend I got to spend some time in the great out of doors, practicing camping and survival skills in the snow. If you are a ninjutsu practitioner, you must constantly push yourself out of the comfort zone and explore new avenues of training. In 2009, I slept in the above (unfinished) snow trench in 10 degree weather, warm and snug on top of hemlock bows. This year, I have been pushing the limits of my Hammock Tent, and have slept out in about the same degree of coldness, but with a lot more wind (more pictures and information coming)! So not only did I hone my trap and snare making skills but I learned a great deal from my old pal, whom is a trapper about new ways to lay and set snares for emergency game trapping in a survival situation.
Lots of great information to put together for you from this weekend so stay tuned for more posts coming your way!
“A ninjutsu practitioner is very rarely surprised by a situation, he utilizes his skills of observation, preparation and his training covers areas not normally found in traditional arts. It is through this wide angled view and preparation that he is able to protect himself and ones he cares for.” – Airyu
Ok, many, many emails have been coming in, so it is once again time for a Q&A session!!
“Airyu, I dig the post on 3/2, but can you tell me what you started to eliminate after you were honest about it? Thanks” – Randy W. Conn.
Ok Randy, one item I worked on was telegraphing. Allowing my opponent to see when I was about to strike. It was my shoulder, I would tense and it would ride up a bit just before I was going to strike. I spent hours and hours in front of a mirror working to eliminate this flaw. Then I started utilizing live opponents in various sparring scenarios to help me hone it even more. This is just a martial arts example, but I read this quote quite a bit and try to utilize it’s meaning in other areas of my life, financial, work, home life etc. See what else you can use it for and write me back when you can.
“Hi There, I have been constantly taught that you will lose fine motor control in a stressful environment and so you wouldn’t be able to shoot accurately, is this really true because it doesn’t seem correct.” – Bill T. Vermont
This is one I have heard for years but is proven wrong all the time! How else would our elite warrior teams like Operation Delta, SEAL, Rangers etc be able to fight back if they could not control the adrenal dump in their system? (Look up the SAS Kill house and see how they use live people in their drills to ratchet it up a notch) Recently, I was working with a group of boys on various first aid skills, when (planned) a boy ran out and started screaming that they had been hurt, they had fake blood on them and really played the part. Many of the boys stopped dead in their tracks, yet the ones whom had done this type of training, jumped right in to treat the victim. Training under pressure works, now start adding it to your regular program!
“Do you take supplements? What kind and what should I take to become a better fighter? – Ron P. GA
Yes, I supplement my nutritional program. My caveat here is I only supplement after I maximize my nutritional plan each day. That mean high quality food and drink comes prior to supplementing, period end of story. I train hard and I am not as young as I once was, but I run circles around many of my students. Now as part of my Ninja Warrior Conditioning program I offer advice on various supplements I have utilized and which ones have worked best, but this has not been released to the public yet, and will be a part of the upcoming Members area rollout coming soon!! ( I am stoked about this project!!)
So, no at this time I will be a ninja and be evasive on the answer…I can’t give away all of my secrets!
So there are a few answers to the many emails that come to my inbox each day. Before I sign out here, I want to Thank you all for continuing to support this site!! Get your friends and training partners to start coming by, and even liking the Facebook Page “Ninjutsu Training”. Last point the Ninjutsu Training Podcast will be making its comeback, so stay tuned my fellow N.I.T’s (That’s Ninja’s In Training!)
As a ninjutsu practitioner, understanding and surviving an extreme situation, such as a natural disaster, life threatening combat, emergency first aide etc., often depends on the individual’s ability to respond to the threat they are faced with. This “stress response” in humans has for decades been referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response, and understanding the basic physiological and psychological components, will help you potentially survive a traumatic event.
The Physiological Basics
When faced with a sudden or extreme threat, two body systems act together to give you the best possible chance of survival. The reaction is for the most part not under your control. Your brain and your body decide what happens, the biggest toughest guy in the bar may turn and run, the tiny young bar tender may not, 90% of what happens is decided by chemistry.
The sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal-cortical system get together at the first sign of a serious threat and if the threat persists for longer than a few more seconds both systems kick into high gear and adrenaline (epinepherine), noradrenaline (norepinepherine) and a couple dozen other hormones flood the body and the fight or flight response is triggered.
Pupils dilate to take in as much light as possible
Blood-glucose levels increase
Veins in the skin contract allowing extra blood flow to the muscles
Smooth muscle relaxes to allow extra oxygen for the lungs
Heart rate increases
Blood pressure increases
Non-essential systems shut down (digestion for example)
The only focus is the task in hand
It is your reaction to this flood of chemicals that decides what happens next. The first, often vital seconds can be wasted whilst your body decides what to do, which option will give you the best chance of survival. Your brain is processing information much faster than usual and increasing or decreasing the levels as the situation dictates. Running for your life or staying to fight is not at this point entirely under your own control, but highly trained individuals are much more able to overcome the flight part of the response and stand their ground and fight. This is why Elite warriors can enter a room under fire and can remove their enemy with pin point precision. Training under harsh and rigorous conditions allow you, the ability to control or at least understand and then deal with the powerful hormones course through your system. So how do you begin to implement this information into your training? Of course I have a few ideas:
1) Use physical withering prior to engaging in a fine motor operation (ex: Shooting)
2) Have your training partners begin to use verbal abuse during your training
3) Train in low light situations
4) Train in Street attire and the above 3 modifiers to your training
Yes, there are a lot more components, and methods to improve your ability to deal with this automatic physiological response, but a good Ninja doesn’t teach everything he knows!!
Nothing is more important to a ninjutsu practitioner than situational awareness. This is a key to understanding your environment so that you can know better both your circumstances and your options. There are hundreds of examples that could be given here but as an example would you notice the bulge (printing) of someone’s concealed weapon if he approached you in a parking lot? Would you be able to remember enough details of the last turn of a path you passed two hours ago to be able to find it again? If you were attacked, would you be able to give a good enough description of the subject and getaway vehicle to have him identified? Well, let’s give you a great tool to help sharpen your Observation and Memory skills it is called “Kim’s Game”.
Kim’s Game was described in Rudyard Kipling’s classic book ‘Kim’ (1901). A British Intelligence officer, Mr.Lurgan, working in Simla, in northern India, is training the teenage street boy Kim, to be a spy. The enemy at that time was Russia, and the ‘Great Game’ was control of the North West Frontier – the gateway to India. In the book, Lurgan calls the game ‘The Jewel Game’ and ‘The Play of the Jewels’.
To begin with, Lurgan collects 15 random objects on a tray, and lets Kim observe them for one minute. The tray is then removed, and the players must write out a list of the objects seen. As the players gain in skills, more objects can be added, and more detailed descriptions required, for example, the relative position, color, size of the objects.
This game was recommended by Lord Baden-Powell in ‘Scouting for Boys’ as building up good scouting and military skills, never mind has made its way to the U.S. Marine Corps Scout Sniper School at Quanitico. So here is one of many drills that will help you sharpen your powers of observation and memory collection, now start practicing.
Ps: I have a whole new section on Ninja Mind Development Drills coming in the new Members section. Awesome material!!