Archive for April, 2008

Apr 25 2008

Is it time to get excited yet?

Published by under Training in Japan

It’s getting close to that time. Reading week in Japan is coming up so bring Yen to Japan with you. It’s almost time for training with soke, I hope this weekend goes by fast.

I’m excited, can you tell?

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Apr 23 2008

Japan in One Week

Published by under Other Stuff,Training in Japan

It is getting close to that time, gearing up for yet another Japan trip. This time I will spend 3 weeks in Japan, thought things will be a bit different.

I am working while I am there. Not a job teaching English, just working for my employer in Edmonton remotely from Japan. If this works out well, I expect this will be the first of many trips to Japan taken while working. this will allow me to spend shorter periods of time in Japan more frequently.

Anyhow, everyone going on this trip, get your passports ready and convert some yen because the time for Japan draws near.

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Apr 21 2008

Drills for more realistic training

Published by under Bujinkan Training Drills

Sven-Eric Bogsater said that the more realistic the weapon the less realistic the training. This applies to weapons mostly but once explained you may see that the same applies to taijutsu and martial arts in general.

There are many whom are involved in the “Fighting Sports” who maintain that if the technique does not work in the ring it will not work in real life. There are those at the opposite end of the spectrum (like the majority of the Bujinkan) whom say that exercises like sparring are not needed to learn effective technique.

I will admit right now that I have spent years in a martial art where there was sparring on a regular basis. There are many things that I have learned through that experience. I do not however agree with the statement that if it works in a ring then it works on the street.

There are a couple problems I found (find) with sparring:

1. Someone wants to win.

When someone is trying to win techniques are not learned. If you learn a technique during class and want to practice it, how will you do that in a sparring situation? Your partner knows what you are trying to do because he has seen it as well and will counter you. Once this happens you will start to rush and muscle techniques.

2. Concern for safety

If you are not a soulless monster, you will hold back. You are concerned for the safety of those with whom you train. How can you not be. This creates a situation where real attacks are not thrown for fear of hurting the other person.

3. Safety gear

To solve the previous problem we add safety gear to the mix, this allows us to hit harder and go faster, but now we can also take liberties. With sparring gloves, wist locks are near impossible and punches can be blocked boxing style without fear of arm damage.

The question of course is what can we do to solve this problem? What can we do in lieu of sparring which will give the same skills? Well once again thank Anton’s legendary munificence cause your about to find out.

There are two progressions which you can use to increase the effectiveness of your techniques.

Progression one Striking drills:

1. Exchange attacks 3 at a time.

Make sure you establish which attacks are allowed (punches, kicks, elbows, knees…). You can start limited and then expand later. Throw the attacks as seamlessly as possible and make the change from defense to attack have a little gap as possible. The goal is not speed but a constant flow while making sure that your kamae does not break down.

2. Exchange attacks 1 at a time.

This is similar to the last one however the distance will change and your defense will rely primarily in your footing.

3. Exchange attacks 3 to 1.

In this drill one of the partners attacks 3 times to each 1 counter that the other does. This allows little time to setup where you want your opponent to be based on your attacks so once again it will rely heavily on footwork. In this you can not forget the happo sabaki gata.

4. Free exchange

Now it is up to the defender to find a spot to take the initiative. Once you have a pace going and it is clean then you can start to increase the speed and intensity until it breaks down.

5. Add weapons

This seems self explanatory but it is not. You must use the weapons like and extension of your body when attacking through all these steps. You must also not change the defensive movement because your opponent has a weapon. Why? Because you don’t know if he has one or not. Pretend that if he has a knife, every attack he throws is just as deadly as the knife. When defending with a weapon in your hand, realize that you don’t have to use it. If he was the one who started with the weapon, you have taken it from him, are you going to now take his life with the weapon. If you can (legally and mentally) good for you. But don’t forget what you are doing.

Progression two kihon applications:

1. Teach one of the kihon (though it can be any technique.

2. Teach that same technique against a punch.

If it’s omote gyaku, you should be able to do it against someone who is punching right.

3. Teach that technique from a moving start.

Don’t line up for the technique, start outside of range, move into range and then begin.

4. Use the technique from a moving start against more than one punch.

Don’t assume that once the technique is started your opponent will be helpless, find out by having him continue to persue you with attacks throughout.

5. Apply the technique during step five of the striking drill.

Exchange back and forth and when the correct situation appears, take the opportunity. This is where the temptation to chase after the technique appears, this must be resisted. If you find that attacks are changing to avoid having the technique done, provide a technique and it’s reverse. Omote and ura, ganseiki and musha dori, etc…

Hope this has helped because if it hasn’t, I wrote a lot for absolutely no reason. Oh and as always feedback is good. So criticize or just let me know that you are reading.

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Apr 16 2008

Never Stop!

Published by under Bujinkan Training Drills

Once we understand our footwork, once you can hit solid kamae with your eyes closed, it’s time to move to the next phase of our training. The phase where we never stop. When starting your kata you do not start from a static position. When your kata ends you do not hold out your last attack as if to admire it. This holds true even when you are training alone. I should say especially when you are training alone.

For the most part, in the Bujinkan we do not spar. This is not because we are too deadly, or someone will get hurt. Getting hurt is a possibility regardless of the art. If you are too deadly how can you stop someone and stay out of jail? We don’t spar because this is not a sport. We are not trying to win, but to preserve ourselves and those around us. That said there are lessons to be learned from fighting. To get this experience we either have to go and engage in some real experiences or find the most realistic way that we can to train.

So we need to train realistically with the image of someone who is trying to win (or an uke who can imagine that they want to win without countering the technique because they know what’s coming). What are the attributes that we want in that opponent? Well lucky for you I am feeling generous and will tell you:

1. Punches of a consistent speed

To correctly work on a technique it doesn’t matter if you are moving fast or slow (I suggest start slowly and as you gain proficiency speed up) but the speed must be constant throughout.

2. No breaks in the attacks

When one attack is complete the next should be on it’s way. This will force the tori to preform the technique correctly in a realistic interval rather than the traditional ‘Bujinkan’ attack style, which in many cases is ridiculous.

3. Don’t ignore tells

This does not mean track, this means don’t ignore the fact that the defender looks to the side that he is moving and gives it away. Also as an attacker you are training your attacks, try to eliminate your own tells and make it hard for your partner to defend.

4. Start in motion, end with motion

Start your techniques while moving and after it’s done look around for other opponents. Remember if you see one unarmed person, he has a hidden weapon and some friends who would like nothing more than to beat you down. So you don’t stop to admire your work, you don’t stop to get engaged and lock him up. Look for more opponents, check for weapons.

That’s all I have got for today, if you notice any other points that are important for effective training which I have missed, let me know or post it here.

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Apr 10 2008

www.edmonton-bujinkan.com is live!

I have finally got the domain http://edmonton-bujinkan.com up and running. The only other thing that I must do is have a spot for the West End Club. The reason for the change is site optimization and ease of remembering.

More club news, I am looking at getting the Grant MacEwan campus downtown as a new location for training. With a location in the college it would make future seminars simpler and will re-institute the monthly fees for those who have been asking about it.

Japan trip round 6 is quickly approaching. For those who are going, remember you will be finger printed. Also I still have Japanese study material for anyone who asks. Everyone who is going to Japan on this trip have already been there and understand the language gap difficulty.

Well that’s all for now.

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Apr 09 2008

Rank means nothing, except when it means something

Published by under Other Stuff

I have been debating writing this post for ages. Every time I came to write a new post it appeared in my draft list and I did not have the heart to erase it. Probably because I do think that this is important.

In the Bujinkan rank means nothing. There are those who have skill and no rank and there are those who self admittedly lack skill yet are of high rank. This is OK, because ranks in the Bujinkan is not given out for skill. (This is true primarily for rank over 5th dan but if you travel to Japan the same applies for lower ranks as well.)

A problem arises though when people start refusing rank. The question becomes why refuse rank? Is it because you do not believe you are at that level? If so then train harder and get there. Is it because you don’t want to be the center of attention? For the sake of those who taught you, man up and take responsibility. Is it because you feel that rank is given out too easily? Then go ahead and show people an effective way to teach the art.

We have all seen people chase rank and obsess over it. Don’t obsess over it the other way. What’s the point? Do you want to hold some type of pride over the fact that I am a 5th dan and my taijutsu is as good as a Shihan. Good, so if he got in a fight his high rank won’t save him. Neither will your rank. If you have something good to share, share it. You know like how Hatsumi sensei shares information with us. While you are below 5th dan you can find a good Shihan who has the type of standards that you want to follow. After 5th dan, pass on your knowledge the best way you can. If that means that you smile and accept another certificate (if you can afford the extra cash) go ahead. You don’t have to put your rank on your website and business cards, just understand that when it comes to sharing info, people don’t look around the room for the great san dan they look for the judan, regardless of skill.

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Apr 08 2008

Rob Renner Seminar

Published by under Seminars

This past weekend my friends in Calgary hosted Rob Renner for a seminar.  The material covered was excellent, and the atmosphere was a lot of fun.  For all of those who missed it, you missed out on a great seminar.

One of the primary reasons why I enjoy training with Rob so much is that he reminds us why we train in the Bujinkan.  If he feels that there is something lacking in the training, he will find the missing information from Hatsumi sensei or one of the shihan.  It is easy to have something not work and blame the art.  It is much more difficult to say that you must seek out the answer within the art.

I will also add, he is one of the instructors who will show you that it works.  I recommend that if you are feeling a bit discouraged in where your training is heading, contact Rob next time you are in Japan and go to his kita matsudo classes.  It is a good experience.

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