Seishin teki Kyoyo – Spiritual Refinement

 

alvinhew_deep-meditation

For a ninja to be truly effective they were instructed in various manners, to be aware of themselves, and this was achieved via Seishin teki kyoyo. The basic fundamental of this spiritual refinement was to be in the moment at all times, without anything clouding their mind the Ninja would be able to perform effectively. There are 7 basic areas that are involved here but in this brief article we will start with “Self Knowing”.

Self Knowing involves a deep look inward, and knowing oneself. What motivates you? What drives you forward, what are you afraid of? What are you weaknesses?

Sometimes this deep inward journey can be extremely painful, and not all are suited to know themselves to this degree, some cannot do this without a guide to bring them along over a period of time, helping them understand these critical components of their own nature. Others can do this with deep focus and concentration during regular meditation sessions.

As a basic exercise let’s start with a simple understanding of what motivates you.

Start in a comfortable position, and begin to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, each cycle count in your head as 1 and when you reach 9 counts start again at 1. As you fall into this rhythm ask yourself this question  : What motivates and drives you each day toward your goals in life?. Continue your meditation focusing deeply on this question, as answers start to come, remember them but push harder and deeper. After your session , immediately start free flow writing everything that you thought of. Over the period of a few such sessions you will surprise yourself with what you begin to realize about yourself.

Now how to use this knowledge, well that is another lesson to come!

 

Bufu Ikkan!

Airyu – “Living the Ninja Lifestyle”

 

Ninja Nutrition: Boosting your immune system

Alright Ninja Fans,

After a short break and way too much to catch up on around the Ninja homestead, I am back to posting new material here on the website. Now with Winter coming on and a lot of indoor time, many people tend to fall prey to the ravages of colds and the flu during this time, but I am here with some nutrition tips to help you stay healthy during the winter or hell anythime year round, and it all starts with a bit of healthy eating of the following items!

In no particular order my favorite immune boosting foods:

#1 Garlic

Garlic is nature’s antibiotic. It’s antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and antioxidant properties help to not only fight infection, but to ward off sickness in the first place. Garlic contains sulfur-based organic compounds, which give garlic its funky order and help boost the immune system. Mince it raw and blend it with some chickpeas, olive oil and lemon to make a hummus, add it to sauces and side dishes. It’s a powerful bulb that’s sure to keep illness at bay.

#2 Miso Soup

Miso is a fermented soy product rich in probiotic cultures, which are essential for immune health. Approximately, 80 percent of our immune system resides in the gut, so in order to keep our immune system strong we need to keep our intestinal system healthy with probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms (good bacteria) that help fight off all the bad bacteria. They also help fight illness by increasing the number of virus-fighting cells.

#3 Pumpkin Seeds

These awesome seeds are rich in immune-boosting vitamin E, zinc and essential fatty acids, including the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant omega-3. Vitamin E is required for the production of immunoglobulins. These act as our body’s own personal bodyguards as they destroy all those pathogens that try to do us harm. Zinc helps increase the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and T cells.

#4 Mushrooms

Whether we’re talking button, crimini or shiitake, mushrooms are amazing immune boosters. Mushrooms are rich in a type of polysaccharide called beta glucan, which has the ability to “activate” the immune system and help prevent infections. It regulates white blood cells and keeps them in a highly prepared state so they’re ready to attack any invaders. Mushrooms are also rich in vitamins, polyphenols, sterols and zinc, which all keep our immune systems healthy and strong.

Bufu Ikkan

Airyu

PS: Stay tuned for changes going on here at the site!!

shinobi iri

Silent Stalker

shinobi iriSilent Stalker

by Masaaki Hatsumi

(This article originally appeared in Ninja Magazine in 1985)

Great article and I have also added some side notes on how I utilize certain aspects of this article in my own training.

In any martial art, including ninpo, the most important aspect is footwork; therefore I will discuss footwork and the background of certain techniques.

Everyone dislikes the cold, including the ninja; so even in the summer ninja wear tabi, Japanese socks, to keep the feet warm. The feet are the key points of the body for retaining heat and health. In Oriental medicine, it is called zukan no kunetsu, meaning: ” Keep the head cold and the feet warm”. This is essential for staying in good health as well as curing illness. I, personally, will always wear tabi no matter how warm the weather. [With all the new wool blends for daily use there should never be a time for cold feet, camping and hiking here in New England during the fall, winter and spring have taught me this fact well!]

In order to increase strength and virility, the ninja massage their feet by holding the first three toes and rotating them. [Many of you know I am an avid runner, both trail and road running. Each stretching session I massage my feet, rotate my ankles and pull and flex to maintain my joint and tendon elasticity]

Even kunoichi (female ninja) practice this technique to ensure-good health of the whole body. It is particularly good for the liver; pancreas and the entire intestinal system. Part of the technique includes rubbing the bottoms of the feet to maintain good blood pressure and a balanced nervous system.

Ninja will also train by walking on beans scattered on the ground; this helps massage pressure points as well as toughens the bottoms of the feet. More advanced ninja eventually learn to walk on tetsubishi (sharp-spiked caltrops) without injury; this is accomplished not only because the feet are toughened, but because the ninja has learned to walk with perfect balance and lightness, distributing his weight so that he barely touches the thorny caltrops. [I use beans, marbles and even a foot roller for these exercises]

Walking is an excellent exercise, and one can do it anywhere at anytime. When I walk my three dogs every day, I walk them briskly for three hours, making sure I take small, quick steps. It is a good lesson to learn, even on the street for, occasionally we will encounter a cat or something that will excite the dogs. However, since I am always walking properly, I am always in control; I am never pulled too fast or tripped by a tangled leash. [I always try to get additional walking in each day if possible, I park away from the store, use the stairs instead of an elevator, walk in the woods etc., always trying to be light and nimble, avoiding people and items is a great way to advance your elusiveness]

Two years ago [1983] I held a ninja seminar in Dayton , Ohio . Most of the American students I met there seemed to walk more like “Frankensteins” than martial artists. They found it extremely difficult practising the small, quick steps. Many of them felt I walked too quickly, but I explained that in Japan , the foot is considered the ” second heart”, and to have a strong heart means to have a strong mind. So, walking properly also develops the mind.Walking is the most important thing in one’s life. Even classic Japanese No plays emphasise this.

When this technique of walking is mastered, when one “walks like a ninja”, one feels as though their feet never touch the ground. It is as though the ninja walks on air. In fact, one of my students, after observing the demonstration, said, “Sensei, your feet are not touching the ground. You seem to be floating in the air”. Another student, a professional soldier whose nation was at war, told me that training of the legs (in his country) was essential; that even while in Japan he always climbed stairs, never took the elevator. When I heard this, I knew he was a good warrior.

Walking is the basic body movement of martial arts. When you are learning the martial arts, be conscious of walking at all times; always train in the aspect of taijutsu (body techniques). It will leave little chance of your being attacked successfully. I know a professional gunfighter who wears gloves all the time. This is a type of thinking that is important to all martial arts: One should always be training and caring for one’s self. Training is an everyday thing, just as walking is an everyday thing.

Side-walking (yoko aruki) ninja technique involves lowering ones center of gravity and stepping one foot over the other. It also requires a dance-like arm movement in order to maintain balance. When carrying a weapon, one walks according to the environment and one’s relationship to it. It is important to practice side-walking in different environments. With a sword, especially at night, the sword can be drawn and the scabbard used to ” feel” what lies ahead.

Next is shizumi araki or low position walking; a technique especially useful in narrow areas. On a narrow path for example, a lower position is better, making you less visible to a potential attacker. Another low side-walking technique is called ninpo uzuru gakure. Mokuton means to hide in the trees; sooton – to hide in the grass; and sekiton – to hide in the rocks. These can all be developed once the basic walking technique is mastered.Whether the ninja walks alone or with others, he and they can progress undetected if everyone walks “correctly”. The obvious advantage of walking in numbers while on a mission is that, when you are three ninja, you are six eyes, six ears and three noses, each focused in a different direction so that all areas are covered. [When practicing the various stepping motions, I practice this in a constant movement. For example walking straight at an opponent or object I step to the side using yoko aruki and then continue on in my path, (similar to the shinden fudo ryu practices). For shoten no jutsu I use a small 2 X 6 on an angle, then run at a straight wall to see if I can scale it quickly]

In shoten no jutsu (going up to heaven), ninja practice walking up large plants placed at various angles, increasing the incline to as much as 80 to 85 degrees in order to master the art of walking and climbing in the forest. Training eventually advances to climbing plants or tree trunks situated at 90-degree angles. After reaching the top, the ninja then learn to tumble back down to their original position (kamae). Often, when carrying a sword, both sword and scabbard are used to maintain balance. Side-walking is also used while up in the trees crossing from branch to branch. In koto ryu koppojutsu (which includes side steps and other body techniques), the ninja can easily move backward while facing forward simply by crossing one leg after the other. This is particularly useful when eluding an opponent’s attack and positioning ones self for a counter attack.

Ninja no shinobi kobashiri means running in small steps with the body leaning forward. In the night, while in the mountains, you can see the sky between the trees. This is your path. You must also use care when near the water or anything that might give off a reflection, lest you be detected. (Moonlight can be an enemy as well as an ally.) [I often run in the early morning and it is pitch dark, running with a headlight you can only see a certain distance in front of you, forcing you to focus on every step]

 

In Japan , the martial arts are not only “offensive orientated”, but very defensive as well. The Japanese are basically agricultural land oriented people; and our martial arts have developed out of that tradition. I hope these illustrations of basic footwork and ninja body movement and techniques have been helpful to you. It is good to start from the ground up. It is important to have good feet on the ground.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and my side notes on how I and my students utilize footwork in training.

Bufu Ikkan

 

Developing the Mental strength of a Ninja!

Mental-Strength

Alright ninjutsu practitioners, it takes daily practice of pushing yourself to grow stronger, face your fears, do the things others will not do, to develop the mental strength of a Ninja. There is no time to waste on feeling sorry for yourself, or thinking I am not going to work out today, or some other lame excuse that is holding you back from pushing your boundaries, physically and mentally. So what traits should you be striving for? Well, here are 7 things you should be attempting to improve each day.

  • Balance Logic with Emotion: In other words when you are ready to unleash that tirade at someone, take a step back and seriously apply the rules of logical order of thinking to the situation. (more on that someday soon!)
  • Develop the ability to adapt to change: Change is good, life is change and there is no use in clinging to the past. Embrace the changes as they come, if they are not for you adapt and adopt what works for you in life.
  • Face your fears: Everyone is afraid of something and fear is a heathy reaction. It can keep us safe and comfortable, but that is the problem if you never face your fears you may never experience life to its fullest.
  • Sharpen your skills: Sharpen your skills in all areas of your life and training each day. Do not brag or show off, but improve each day so you can become the best that you are capable of.
  • Hardships are opportunities: Everyone goes through hard times in training and in life. It is in these dark times that many of us give up, but push through hardships will pass and you will come out of it stronger and more prepared to deal with future events!
  • Be productive: Time is your most precious asset, being productive is the only way to maximize your most precious asset, don’t put off what you can accomplish today till tomorrow, as that day may never come.
  • Learn and analyze your mistakes: Everyone makes a mistake, how you learn or not from it is the issue at hand. Analyze what happened honestly, and vow to improve yourself to not make that issue occur again.

Now these seven points are just the beginning of a path, but once you are on the path you have taken a step that 90% of the people on this earth will never do. De different, embrace ninjutsu and be strong mentally.

Bufu Ikkan

Wisdom of Takamatsu

Hatsumi_Sensei_Toshitsugu_Takamatsu_300px_96ppi“Takamatsu Sensei used to tell me(Soke Hatsumi) that it is a fortunate thing that I am in connection with some divine force in the universe. I accept this mystery for what it is. I believe that such things can and do exist in the world of human beings. If such connections are used wrongly, or are taken in a wrong direction, they can become destructive things. Such abuse would be a form of heresy. Hold on to your pure and straightforward heart, Takamatsu sensei used to tell me. To obtain such a heart, the basic requirement is ninpo taijutsu training. From there, you go on to enlightenment.”

A question to you all: Have you done your daily ninpo taijutsu practice today?

Bufu Ikkan

Airyu – “Living the ninja lifestyle.”

Dangerous Common Plants

Hello Ninjutsu Practitioners!

Alright, I have had a few emails about my Facebook post regarding my edible plant training a few weeks back, but what most started asking was in regards to what common plants can be poisonous. So on that note here are three commonly found plants that are dual purpose – Beware!

Elderberries

Elderberries Elderberries are a no-go when it comes to eating raw in the  woods. Consuming the stems or leaves will leave you with a  severely upset stomach, and a report from the Centers for  Disease Control and Prevention found juice made from the raw  berries is poisonous as well. Elderberries contact glycosides t  that turn to cyanide once digested. The good news is that cooking breaks down these harmful compounds, so any jams, wines, or foods made with processed elderberry are safe to eat. Just save the bush-rummaging for the animals.

Cherries

CherriesCherries seem harmless enough, but these little guys—their pits, actually—are seriously dangerous. Aside from being nearly impossible to chew, or crack with your teeth, the stones of fruits like cherries, apricots, plums, and peaches contain cyanogenic compounds that turns to cyanide when crushed. If you accidentally swallow a cherry pit, don’t sweat it; they’re rarely poisonous when eaten whole, according to the British Columbia Drug and Poison Information Centre. Just be sure to avoid the broken pits. Just one or two of these seeds can do you in.

 

Rhubarb

rhubarb One of my favorite guilty pleasures!  The key is only to eat the  stalks. The plant’s leaves contain a chemical called oxalic acid,  which is used in bleach and rust removal, according to the U.S.  National Library of Medicine. Eating rhubarb leaves induces a  slew of bad side effects like burning in your mouth and throat,  nausea, vomiting, convulsions—even death. Cooking doesn’t  break down these harmful compounds, either. Talk about a two-faced vegetable: Rhubarb stalks can be turned into pudding, and a naturally-occurring compound in its leaves can be turned into corrosive acid.

 

Beware of these common plants and this post is for information purposes only! Remember a ninjutsu practitioner is always aware of the legality, and dangerousness of his or her actions.

Bufu Ikkan

Airyu – “Living the Ninja Lifestyle”

Fire building

Fire Building Good Morning Ninja!

Your lesson today is something so simple that everyone  believes(especially men) that they can do it without thinking, yes that is  building a fire!! Now the catch is, you are going to do it with 1 match. So,  what is one of the best methods in a survival situation to build a fire? Well  the photo here kind of outlines the whole process for you but here are the  basic steps:

 

1) Gather everything you need prior to lighting anything! (tinder, kindling, fuel)

2) Select a dry spot, you may need to use a piece of wood or bark to start your tinder on, to keep it off a wet surface.

3)I utilize either a teepee or log cabin structure to start the fire off. Use plenty of tinder that will ignite easily (birch bark, pine cones, small shaved dry wood, fuzz stick, pine needles etc)

4) Allow enough air flow to start the fire.

5) Add kindling and fuel slowly as the blaze gets moving.

I have built fires in all types of weather, while camping or for practice. A fire will keep you warm, allows you to cook food and or purify water, adds light and a sense of security to your camp. So my lesson here to you is learn this basic skill, with several types of ignition sources – blast match, old fashion flint and steel, steel wool and battery, bow drill etc. lots of improvised ways to start a fire and they are all handy to know and be able to utilize.

Bufu Ikkan

Airyu – “Living the Ninja lifestyle”

Workout loss!

Ninja LifestyleI was doing some article reading this past weekend and I came across this short piece below, it really hit home as I have been traveling quite a bit and trying to maintain healthy eating and regular physical and mental training is a challenge. So read on and get ready to train again!!

 

“Maybe it’s all the weekends away or the hot sticky weather, but there’s something about summer that makes it tough to stick to a consistent workout schedule.

Though skipping a few gym sessions won’t totally derail your weight efforts, going just two weeks without breaking a sweat can, recent Danish research indicates. It gets worse: In addition to taking a toll on your physique, physical fitness and strength, the findings suggest that it will take you triple the amount of time you were inactive to regain the muscle mass that you lose after a two-week fitness hiatus. (Are you running to the gym yet?)

To come to this finding, researchers gathered 17 active men in their twenties and 15 active men in their sixties. Each participant had one of their legs immobilized for two weeks. After two weeks of inactivity, all the participants lost physical fitness and muscle mass—no shocker there. However, the younger set lost about 17 ounces of muscle and 30 percent of their muscle strength (which is the equivalent of aging about 45 years, according to the study), while the older men only lost about nine ounces of muscle mass and 20 percent of their strength. Simply stated, the fitter and more muscular you are, the more you stand to lose if you slack off.

After the immobilization period, the men trained up to four times a week to regain their lost muscle mass, strength and fitness—and it ultimately took them six weeks to get back to their original shape. Apparently the old adage “use it or lose it” really does hold true.

If these findings don’t inspire you to squeeze in a few weekly workouts, we’re not sure what will. Remember, even if you can only make time to hit the gym for a half hour a few times a week, that’s better than nothing at all.”