Archive for March, 2012

Developing Silent Movement

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

You have heard a crash from another room, you silently leave your bed and have to move to where your weapons and or gear are, but are you ready?

Alright ninjutsu practitioners, here is another lesson for you to add to your routine practice. This one will involve familiarizing and moving throughout your household in total darkness.

Step 1: All lights are off and curtains drawn so as to prevent outside ambient light from entering the rooms of your home.

Step 2: Move as silently as possible from room to room. If you have a family have them join in on this exercise. At this point in the exercise if you have weapons hidden in your home or have an escape plan in place, now is the time to see if you can reach them or escape in total darkness.

Step 3: With the lights out concentrate on your other senses to help guide you through your home.

Step 4: After exercise review with all participants and ee what the weaknesses were. Who was the loudest? Were you able to get to a safe area? Were you able to secure your weapons? Review and practice this exercise to increase your night movement skills within your home, it may save your life in the future.


Bufu Ikkan



Jibun De Narai

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Jibun De Narai

A Message From Hatsumi Sensei

Life and death are connected. Like In-Yo (Yin & Yang). This is my teaching theme for the year. Like a magnet and metal, life and death are attracted to each other, always getting closer. If you are born and given a life, death is inevitable. When death comes do not be surprised or shaken. Get on the rhythm of life. Get in balance with it. This is the theme of the year. That is why I tell my students it does not matter how skilled one becomes in martial arts or even Ninjutsu for that matter, if one can not attain this balance or rhythm. This is the basis for the Kihon Happo! Not the forms!

If you keep practicing the form it does not produce any real results. Always doing the forms is a childish way to practice. There are even times when the form can be what gets you killed. Often I hear my students argue over topics like “the correctness of this form” or “this posture should be this way” and such. True battle or real fights are never correct, in form or spirit! It is not about that. If you think the opponent is strong you will naturally go and get something such as a rifle and “boom”!!! Right? Very simple isn’t it? This type of common sense or “obvious ways” are important. This is why I teach my students:

Jiyu ni, atarimae ni, Jibun de narai, jibun de ikiro!

Freely, with common sensibility, learn on your own, live on your own!

Even though I have many students, I do not need them, but they still come to see me right? This is because I teach them how to teach themselves. This is why they come to me. But this is very different from just making up a Ryuha and such. This is the real path I teach. All around me I have many strong friends from many countries. Most of them are people who had to survive wars in their own homelands. They are all the real thing, real warriors. We understand each other on a certain level. My training with Takamatsu Sensei has made me aware of these types of people. It is like we are our own species. Even you Sean, you had to fight for your own survival on several occasions, right? You even got stabbed from behind. You had courage and a keen mind to help you survive. But your poor opponent! Ha ha ha!!!! Bad guys are always planning something devious. They are “big idea” people, always coming up with some kind of con. But it is important to develop the mind to withstand these types of people, learn to perceive them. My way is to never think about anything at all. You know me, I am usually not really thinking about any one thing in particular. It is just a matter of “keep going”.

This is the best way to guide your students. This is the way it is when you train with me. When my senior Japanese students make mistakes and go astray I get on them and scold them. It is the same with all my students all over the world. I have no borders. I do not hold anything back from the non-Japanese. I do everything on a man to man basis. This is the way it has always been. If I do not teach this way my students may be killed when the time comes. It would be very sad for me. This is why I do not teach in a strange and unnatural manner. I teach people to teach themselves… freely!

 Bufu Ikkan!

Wisdom from Manaka Sensei

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

In the old days, there were no pharmacies. You had to know how to create your own medicines and cures. Therefore, the ninja had to know how to do such things himself. Today, however, you can get medicines from a drugstore. As for homemade gun powder, it is so dangerous. It is not safe to make such things in your home.

You do not need to know how to make it. You do need to study subjects like chimon (geography) and tenmon (weather conditions and star patterns). There are so many things that you should know besides taijutsu. As for poison, you may not be able to use poison formulas from ancient times. Many things were regarded as deadly poisons because there were no antidotes in the old days.

Today, many drugs we have, take away the deadliness of what was a poison yesterday.
It is important to let your students know that there are so many other items to learn outside of the taijutsu training. These items of knowledge should constantly be updated. How about electronics? Or flying an airplane? In the old days, there was the bugei juhappan, or  classifications of warrior knowledge”. Now, in the modern ages, that might be closer to 180. A ninja has to know everything. Otherwise it is difficult or impossible to complete his mission.

Now, the tagline on this website and my personal training philosophy is “Taking the powerful ancient ninja strategies and techniques and utilize them in real world, modern applications.”. Sensei Manaka’s words hold so true to this it almost scared me when I came across this writing in my notes from the 90’s. In many of the free blog lessons presented here, I have always taken the “traditional” and applied it to a “modern” situation. Without doing so, the art of ninjutsu would become stagnant, and wither and die. Even within the “taijutsu” skills, a modern practitioner must incorporate a realistic approach to their training, applying the fighting skills in the ring against a live, hitting opponent. Why would your other skills that derive from the Ninja Juhappan, be stagnant? They shouldn’t and that is why you will always find a modern application being taught here! So, before you go to your next practice, or begin to learn a traditional strategy, think how would you translate this into something you will use in today’s modern environment!.

Bufu Ikkan


Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Shu – Ha – Ri

(Protect-Break-Leave behind)

During your training in Budo Taijutsu, you will transition through many stages. Along this path, you will have to overcome many obstacles that hinder your progress. Many students wonder about what to concentrate on, or what is right or wrong at each of these stages.  They see us training on the kihon happo, and various henka, and ask me “what is right?” The answer is shu – ha – ri.

To grasp the principles contained in shu – ha – ri, you must start at shu(Protect).

Shu (Protect)

In “protecting” one’s art, and at the simplest of understanding, each of us, have to start with the fundamentals of our art, and practice them diligently. There is no need to forget them, in fact you must master them for a true understanding of that which you practice. Training daily in the fundamentals of the sanshin no kata, happo no sabbaki, kihon happo, and the kata of the various ryuha that comprise the curriculum of budo taijutsu.  In Soke Hatsumi’s words,

“It means a Budoka obeying that which he must while pursuing Bufu Ikkan, and refers to a process where one is consistent and single minded about observing kihon happo, budo techniques, one’s attitude when learning budo, and the rules of training.”

Ha (Break)

To “break” one needs to understand. Here is where I find many people lose track of the purpose of a technique. The purpose is to teach a principle that applies to a specific attack situation (kata). The purpose of varying from the technique (henka) is to expand upon your understanding, and application of a technique or principle. To break away, is the step, which begins to internalize the nature of Budo Taijutsu. Too many beginners want to start with all the fancy variations that Instructors teach or demonstrate, but yet how can they if they do not have a proper understanding of the basics. Many walls are put in front of a student often hindering his progress towards greater understanding of budo. Your mind, your body, grasping at understanding, these are one’s that all students face.  Words of wisdom were passed to Soke Hatsumi from Takamatsu sensei, that go like this,

“As for walls, think of them as being made out of ice. If you are a man who possesses a warm heart of natural justice, Hatsumi, hitting a wall will be no problem. Walls made of ice will just melt!”

Ri (Leave behind)

Now we come to “ri” or leave behind. The ability to leave behind technique, is one of the highest aspirations of a martial artist. We have seen Morihei Ueshiba, Hatsumi Soke, Bruce Lee, and so many others who achieved a state that, many of us dream to achieve.  It is spoken of as “mushin”(no mind), the ability to deal with whatever comes. It doesn’t matter “how”, just deal with it as it happens from wherever your body is, or is going. We focus so much on what we have to do (technique), that we often lose what the ultimate purpose of the technique was (survival). Again to quote sensei Hatsumi,

“The fifth dan test, is a process for entering into “ri”, in order to grasp incomprehensible techniques, movements, forms, and thoughts which neither the opponent nor yourself understands, you leave yourself behind.”

Through diligent practice, a student (and we are all students) will gain an understanding to the insights of true budo. Not any one technique or principle, but all and none applied to the purpose of your self protection.

As a final note, Miyamoto Musashi, in the chapter titled “Void” from the “Book of Five Rings”, writes

What is called the spirit of the void is where there is nothing. It is not included in man’s knowledge. Of course the void is nothingness. By knowing things that exist, you can know that which does not exist. That is the void.

People in this world look at things mistakenly, and think that what they do not understand must be the void. This is not the true void. It is bewilderment.

In the Way of strategy as a warrior you must study fully other martial arts and not deviate even al little from the Way of the warrior. With your spirit settled, accumulate practice day by day, hour by hour. Polish the twofold spirit heart and mind, and sharpen the twofold gaze perception and sight. When your spirit is not in the least clouded, when the clouds of bewilderment clear away, there is the true void.

Until you realise the true Way, whether in Buddhism or in common sense, you may think that things are correct and in order. However, if we lood at things objectively, from the viewpoint of laws of the world, we see various doctrines departing from the true Way. Know well this spirit, and with forthrightness as the foundation and the true spirit as the Way. Enact strategy broadly, correctly and openly.

Then you will come to think of things in a wide sense and, taking the void as the Way, you will see the Way as void.

In the void is virtue, and no evil. Wisdom has existence, principle has existence, the Way has existence, spirit is nothingness.”

Twelfth day of the fifth month, second year of Shoho (1645).

Teruro Magonojo