Archive for the 'Other Stuff' Category

Jan 12 2009

Remembering Brad VanAlstyne

Published by under Other Stuff

I can not say enough good about the short time that I knew Brad.  I was looking for a way to properly remember him on my blog.  That’s the least that I can do.  I found this post he wrote so I thought I would share it.  It speaks volumes to the quality of man that he is.  It’s a post on testing what you know taken for, sorry Shawn.

A small bit of my background will explain what I have experienced in my training. I started in the Bujinkan in 1987 when I was 16 years old. I had trained in other MA since the age of 9 years and had done quite well. When I say my 1st Booj instructor move I was hooked. This person had speed, power, flexibility and raw ferocity that seemed to defy reality. I began training the next class. We would condition ourselves by smashing shinai into our bodies to build up resistance to strikes we would hit anything hard. We would bare knuckle spar all the time. We would have people come to the dojo to challenge us even. We would boast all over the city that we were the best. By the time I was 20 I had had countless challenges from high ranking students from every type of Martial Arts that were in the city. I never lost. Why? I had no fear. I would never quit no matter how hurt I was. My body was a finely tuned machine for fighting and I tested it all the time.
If you are still with me here is what all of that got me.
In 1991 I went to the Texas Taikai (my 1st ever) and was blown away by sensei and others. I had also been extremely disappointed by what I saw too. I remember Mr. Severe doing a demo with his students and can attest to his skill and ferocity. I like it he trained like I did and as I thought everyone should. I saw others that I felt were not worthy of the rank that they held.
Then I met a person who shed some light on what I had seen.
Her name is Abi Allen and I will be grateful to her forever. She told me that I could learn a lot from everyone there and that I should not be closed to others. I was young and stupid (I can say it I was) and did not really get it.
Sorry that this is long winded by I do have a point.
She came to Canada for my wedding and a seminar and I had the opportunity to train with her. She tried to teach me to open up but could see that I was a closed door. She then told me to show her what I had. She then proceeded to beat me like a dog for the next hour. No matter what I did she was better than me. After an hour I was exhausted and could barley move. She asked me how I felt and I told her I was beaten. She said well now we can get started. She proceeded to teach me sanshin for the next few hours and as I learned to move properly she talked to me about me, her, life, Hatsumi, ect…

I have trained the way she has instructed me from then on and have been growing ever since. What I have learned is that I am an exponentially better “fighter” than I was before but more importantly I am a better person. I do not regret my earlier training although it caused numerous bone and joint problems and I ended up with a Kidney transplant due to the severe training. But when I teach my students I train as Hatsumi and the Shihan do. The skills and methods have been tested under conditions we can just barley imagine. I have learned to trust those that have gone before me and have suffered so that I do not have to. Instead of trying to chase reality scenarios do the techniques exactly as shown by your teachers. If you do this then the fighting part will take care of itself.

Just my personal experience

Brad V

In your passing you teach me I have to live a life without regrets.  Brad, I will miss you.

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Dec 12 2008

Fifth Kyu

Published by under Other Stuff,Training at Home

Last night I ranked my second 5th kyu ever.  At our school you do not receive a green belt until you are 5th kyu.   The reason this is done is I want a clear distinction in Skill from a beginner to experienced practitioner.  This does not happen very often in the Bujinkan so you have no idea to whom you should look for guidance.  I will also go on to say that once you reach 5th kyu your training must change.  You are now one of the students whom will be chosen for techniques where there is difficult ukemi or harder hits.

Basically you become a personal Yabu-san.  Anyhow Congratz Marcus on your rank, for us it’s a big one.

6 responses so far

Dec 01 2008

Becoming a master

Published by under Other Stuff

Hatsumi Sensei said that we must train to become masters.  I have a question, what is a master?  What makes a master?  How do you know when you have reached that level?

Hatsumi Sensei was saying that to become a Shisho (master) you will have to move beyond techniques.  Then again he has been saying this as far as I know since 1989.  So what can we do to reach this point?  Is there something more than just getting beyond doing techniques?

I have always wondered if I had a chance to ask Hatsumi Sensei anything, what would it be.  Well I now know what I would ask, what makes a master.

Who knows maybe one day I will get the chance.

4 responses so far

Nov 20 2008

Back Home in First Class

Published by under Other Stuff,Training at Home

Well I had to spend 12 hours in MSP airport but I made it back safe.  Was moved to first class on the way back from MSP, it was nice.  One person mentioned they were in seat 15F.  Under my breath I said “Do seats go up to that many letters” which got a laugh out of everyone who heard.  I know I’m the bad guy.  Don’t worry next class I will be in Coach so it’s OK.  Now the real training starts, figuring out how to put what I learnt in my everyday training.

In my opinion thats the secret, practise of what you saw in Japan.  That’s what used to happen when we did not have a lot of information.  People would travel to Japan and take what small parts they could from the Shihan and bring it back to practise.  The problem is we have some much information, what do we practice.  The answer is simple anything we want.

Calm down now everyone, are at a 10 I need you at a 2 (thanks Cenk).  Kihon Happo is important, but the more I train in Japan, the better my relationship becomes with Sensei and the Japanese shihan, the more I hear them telling me about Kihon.  The small points in technique that we need to know.  So it doesn’t matter what techniques you practise so long as you know what’s important.

Anyhow I have three things to work on.

1.  Moving through the hips.  (Courtesy of Noguchi Sensei)

2.  Moving slowly enough to feel opponents reactions, but quickly enough to act on them. (Courtesy of Oguri Sensei)

3.  Capturing the opponents without strength.  (by Hatsumi Sensei)

I will take some time later to elaborate on this.  Especially if you have questions on one of the afformentioned skills.  Anyhow it’s time to rest up for class tonight.

3 responses so far

Nov 17 2008

Yaki Tori

Published by under Other Stuff,Sight Seeing

I trained during the day and tonight had Yaki tori.  It was a good day.

She seemed to enjoy it anyhow.

4 responses so far

Nov 04 2008

I must

Published by under Other Stuff,Sight Seeing

For the world, for the states and for my family it is a big day.  I must sit in this moment and take it all in.  Drunk as I am in Japan, this is a historical moment that I must celebrate.

No responses yet

Oct 14 2008

Vote Today Canadians

Published by under Other Stuff

I will not tell you for whom you need to vote.  That is not how I do things.  We are a democracy, it works because of our participation.  People have bled an died for our freedom, the very least we can do is find out enough about the candiates and parties to vote.  We do not realize how good we have it in Canada with our freedom.  Apathy will result in that freedom being taken away.  Please Vote.

One response so far

Oct 01 2008

What I do.

Published by under Other Stuff

I have recently been asked many times what I do for a living.  Well, my primary job is as a System Developer for ExoCube.  I am also a Computer Science part time Student trying to finish off my degree.  Beyond that I also develop websites when needed.  Haven’t had work doing that in a while.  I hope during my spare time in Japan that I will be able to do a ZeroPoint training website.

As far as hobbies go, I do wall climbing when I get the chance.  I try to go to the gym regularly.  As mentioned before I play piano, poorly but I still play.  I try to keep up on political happenings at least in North America.

So that’s me outside the Dojo.  Oh and I will try to keep this site updated once a week while I am outside of Japan.  On my Japan trips once every two days at least.

No responses yet

Sep 21 2008

A Dedication to those from whom I’ve Learnt

Published by under Other Stuff,Training at Home

When I was going through school (up until the year I graduated) I was put in Piano lessons.  Classical piano lessons.  Although I hated going through and doing exams every year, I did not mind being able to read music and for the most part working my way through songs that I wanted to play.  It occurred to me after thousands of hours of practise that I could not make any of it up.  I was stuck playing music that others wrote, line by line without any variation.

I do not want that to be the Taijutsu of myself or any of my students.  Over the years I have seen many awesome practitioners with their own unique styles.  In Japan and throughout North America I have met people who have taught me many things for which I am thankful and respect.

As a dedication to them I will do my Taijutsu as a reaction to all of their movements good and bad.  I will take the feeling that they placed in my body through their techniques and use it to make carry on the traditions that Hatsumi Sensei is trying to pass on.  As a sign of respect I will not copy them movement by movement and turn our living art into a dead set of kata which must be done according to the scrolls.

Oh and I will relearn piano as well.

One response so far

Aug 11 2008

Jim is #1

Published by under Other Stuff

Some rumors have been going around about who is the most awesome Bujinkan instructor in Alberta.  Well I am here to tell you it’s Jim.  Now if you don’t know Jim, you better ask somebody cause you’ve got problems if you don’t.  Jim teaches, goes to Japan and is a cool guy.  Now I am talking Brock Samson cool.  The type of cool that you just have to take time to recognize on your training blog.

I summary, Jim is the most awesome.  Sorry Brian, Russ, Nick, John, Pierre and Natasha.  Maybe next time.

4 responses so far

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