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


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