Mar 18 2012

Conditioning, Waza and other thoughts

Published by under Bujinkan Training Drills

The topic of what is practical fighting technique vs what is movement exercises has come up on more than one occasion.  I often get a bit miffed if during training people attack me putting themselves in a position that makes the technique far too easy to preform.  At a Shawn Gray seminar in South Dakota we discussed certain training habits in length.  I will do my best to summarize the learnings from this conversation.

I am very much of the opinion that when we (North Americans) started training in the arts of the Bujinkan, we did what we expected to see.  What I mean is many visitors had a few weeks maybe twice or three times a year to train with Hatsumi Sensei and the shihan.  They brought back what they could (and I thank them for that), and trained what they remembered diligently until the next visitor could make the trip.  The problem is that to fill in the gaps many relied on previous experience in other martial arts.

I do not by any means begrudge them for this, we are learning a martial art to defend ourselves, as a result it is good to have a more complete set of skills until you can fill in the gaps with Japan knowledge.  There is however a pitfall that I have fallen into for far to many years.  It’s only over the last few years that I have been climbing my way out of this trap.  The real danger is creating our own system based on what we want to see.

As someone who has trained in several martial arts, for years my previous martial arts experience prevented me from looking past certain habits to see what was being done in Japan.  Also there are many things that I did based on training done in the past (Bujinkan and otherwise) that I saw completely contradicted on my Japan trips and instead of accepting that this is the way that things are supposed to be done, I passed it off as that’s what I will do when I reach a higher level of proficiency.  What was the point of going to Japan if I didn’t go to learn?

I have to apologize to all of the teachers that I trained with in Japan who tried to teach me what I was doing wrong only for me to ignore the lessons because of my foolish notions of what I wanted to do.  There is no end to the amount of material available to us now, take a look at what Hatsumi Sensei and the shihan have been doing for years and see if it has really changed all that much.

There are certain things done for the sake of body conditioning.  Moving in what I would call “odd” kamae that doesn’t seem like it would have much of a combat application.  I was given an exercise by Seno Sensei in October of 2008, just a simple punching drill which made my body ache when I did it.  He told me afterwards that if I practiced it for a year that I would develop a body able to properly do the techniques of the Bujinkan.  Do not confuse junan taiso with waza, there are some exercises we do just to free up our bodies for future movement and technique.  If I could pass on a bit of advice for beginners it would be this.

  • When you first start training work on taihen jutsu (ukemi and happo sabaki)
  • Continue on the San shin no kata to co-ordinate your body
  • Begin the Kihon Happo to learn to defend yourself (use omote tsuki no oni kudaki)

If you work through this method your Budo will be on the right path.  I also encourage you that if a teacher in Japan takes interest in showing you their version of a basic technique, work on it find out how to do it their way not yours. You have chose to take the time and money to go learn in Japan, take that final step and take the effort to learn their art while you are there.

Your Life is on the line, practise well.

No responses yet

Sep 26 2011

Changing themes

Published by under Training in Japan

At the start of the year the theme seemed to be kihon happo.  Now it seems to have changed to the sunshin of Koppo Jutsu.  In all the classes there seems to be that emphasis of going to the eyes, ribs and fingers in techniques.  It is apparently women’s self defence and good for when you are older.  I think I will give it another 30 to 40 years before I make this my mainstay of taijutsu but it is good to know.  Also it is good to be able to teach.  The concepts of not using power and working on your opponents weak spots and angles has been a standard for as long as I have been training.  Mind you that has not be that long in comparison to some.  It is a humbling experience meeting up with people like Sveneric and Mariette in Japan whom have been around since the early days.

You know the days when foreigners could not find a place to stay in Noda because they were not welcome.  The days when all of the train information was in Japanese and good luck trying to ask for help.

We owe a lot to those whom have paved the way for us in the past.  Remember to thank them when you see them.  While your at it take time to thank the translators as well.  They don’t have to translate, it frankly makes their training harder.  Wait I need an entire post for this one.

Your life is on the line, practise well.

No responses yet

Sep 23 2011

Wow what a trip so far

Published by under Other Stuff,Sight Seeing

I have been to 43 classes so far and have 8 to go.  It has been so long since I have been hear and a lot has changed.  I can only liken the atmosphere around here as a bit tired.  There have been several minor earthquakes and two typhoons since I have arrived 3 and a half weeks ago.  You can tell how much the big earthquake has weighed on this country and how much recovery remains to be done.

This is different from any other Japan trip I have been on as I am looking forward to getting back to Canada.  I will see if I have time to visit the Tokyo Sky Tree before I leave but I think that I may just forego any sight seeing and just stick to training and then Canada bound.

I hope I can work another shutdown and make it back here for Daikomyosai after the Lubos seminar.

Your life is on the line, practise well.

No responses yet

Sep 12 2011

Shinken vs Renshuu

Published by under Training in Japan

I had an interesting conversation with some fellow Budoka that I count amongst my good friends.  The discussion was concerning the comparison between those who study the martial arts and those who have learned to fight through experience.  A great deal of material was covered over the hour period which we were on the subject.  I will try my best to condense summarize what was said and what my thoughts are on the matter.

Mainly from the “real fighting experience” side you will tend to hear the argument that “person X that I know takes martial arts and they got beat up by person Y who is just a brawler”.  Another argument you will hear often is when you are in a “real fight” you forget 90% of what you learn anyhow.

I can not speak for anyone else who was sitting around the table discussing this but here are my thoughts.

Martial arts is meant for self defence, the goal is to survive and protect yourself and others.  When you first step onto the dojo floor you have a certain level of proficiency and every day you are trying to increase that.  When we forget Jigoro Kano’s talk about “mutual welfare and prosperity” martial arts training becomes a competition to defeat an opponent.  The only one we should be trying to beat is ourselves of the past.

As Budoka we are often expected to active some fantastic results, never lose a fight and be in phenomenal shape.  (Well so far I have the last part of that down.)  The truth is we are students trying to learn and as such we can’t put the expectation that we are going to be invincible.  We must however live up to the expectation that we improve everyday.  It’s not whether or not we can beat someone who never took the martial arts before.  There will always be someone stronger.  Budo gives us a chance to improve upon ourselves and gives us a fighting chance because of slow and constant development.  If we are stronger that we were when we started the martial arts, we stand a better chance of survival and that’s the point.

Your life is on the line, practise well.

No responses yet

Sep 12 2011

Japanton Round 8

Published by under Training in Japan

So I arrived in Japan the 1st of September.  There were a limited amount of people who knew because I wanted to make it a surprise for others whom were on their way.  They are here now and my sneaky preparation hid the fact from them until I walked in the honbu door.

So so far 11 full days in I have attended 22 classes.  I will start posting some of the training ideas that I have picked up from the classes over the next few days.  Hopefully I can get a bit of information that will help your training at home while I am here even if it’s just through my words.

Your life is on the line, practise well.

No responses yet

May 21 2011

Dedication to Abi Allen

Published by under Training at Home

At the Canadian Tai Kai I went over something which to me is very important.  So important that I have decided to share it with everyone whom can read this blog.  So Please bear with me and thank you for reading.

In 2001 I had the privilege of meeting Abi Allen, a fine martial artist whom had a lasting effect on me and my taijutsu.  Abi is the first person to ever make me say, “she is a good martial artist” as opposed to “she is a good martial artist for a woman”.  The skill and reality which Abi brought to training is something that I will appreciate and try to emulate for the rest of my life.  If you find this praise a bit over the top for me, I apologize but I do feel that strongly about her and her skill that my words are not enough to let you know the respect that I had and still have for what she taught me.

To give a brief description of what she taught me 10 years ago which I felt obliged to pass on it was three basic methods of generating power from the koshi sanppo.  For those whom are not so familiar with the names of techniques, that is ichimonji no kata, jumonji no kata and hitcho no kata.  Abi explained them as rotational power in ichimonji, transitional power in jumonji no kata and vertical power in hitcho no kata.  I don’t know that I can explain the concepts better in writing that I can in video so I will leave it up to you for now to ask me for the information when you see me next.  I am sorry but sometimes that’s just the way things go.

I miss you Abi, I will practise well.

No responses yet

May 19 2011

Canadian Tai Kai #4 – The Arrival

Published by under Training at Home

Finally I am back in Toronto.  No posts for a while an I apologize for that but now I am inspired and will do my best to keep you with a healthy dose of Anton Budo know-how.  Sat and had a talk with Craig Olson, got a sneak peak at Sensei’s new book and spent some more time thinking about what I can show everyone here.  Also what they have to show me.  I know it will be a good time so if you happen to be in the greater Toronto area this weekend please stop by and say hello.  Or better yet train because we all have a great deal to learn through these opportunities to share.

Your life is on the line, practise well!

No responses yet

Sep 23 2010

Time for more self study

In light of work causing the next Japan trip to be put off to the new year (Hatsumi Sensei don’t retire please), it’s time for some serious self study.

One thing that I have been glossing over in the past few months of training has been an emphasis on kamae.  When moving through a technique you should be in kamae/moving through kamae, appropriate kamae.

Aside from ukemi, the first thing you should learn in my opinion is kamae.  You start with your basic Hira, Seigan, Shizen and Seiza.  Because Gyokko ryu contains many of the basics of our art, I would teach Ichimonji, Hitcho, and Jumonji from Gyokko Ryu.  When you learn those and move through these kamae then you would follow up with Hoko, Doko, Fudoza, Kosei and Ihen.  It is very important to have correct powerful rooted kamae without surrendering your ability to move.  This alone can take some months to understand the basics.

The real trick to Kamae is being in an appropriate kamae.  It does you no good to be in a good strong kamae if your distance is such that you are in a position where you can not defend yourself.  Appropriate kamae in at an appropriate distance should above all be the focus of your training.  So I guess we need a good way to practise this now.

The exercise is simple take two kamae, take two of the 9 directions (I am counting the 8 compass directions and down by means of seiza, fudoza or another kamae on one knee).  Lets say forward and to the left is my first direction, and my second direction is directly back.  I will take my first kamae forward and to the left then my second kamae directly backward from there.  Then I will change the order of the kamae, then change out for new kamae.  After I have moved through all the kamae I will do that for all 80 other combinations of movement.

I kind of droned on for a while there so I am sorry about that, but kamae is something I have been thinking through a great deal recently.

Your life is on the line, practise well.

No responses yet

Aug 02 2010

One Small step at a time

Published by under Other Stuff

When I have felt in the past that I was stuck in my training, I often chose one thing to work on.  It could have been my trailing leg during my rolls, making sure that my knee followed the line of my tsuki, or keeping my shoulders rolled back.  Anything is OK, just making sure that you have something that you can improve and observe that improvement.

Make sure that as you train you keep something in mind.  It is easy to get discouraged in this art, if you have something to measure progress it will help you get through it.

Your life is on the line, practise well.

No responses yet

Jun 07 2010

Away for a few days

Published by under Other Stuff

I am once again away for a few days for work.  There is much to learn from those who have recently returned from Japan.  Enjoy the chance to get this training.

Your life is on the line, practise well.

No responses yet

« Prev - Next »