|Ninjutsu Melbourne - Bujinkan Melbourne Ninjutsu|
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I often get asked which books I recommend, well books are great and you can certinaly learn a lot from them. Any of these are worth buying but please keep in mind that attending class by far the best way to learn.
After that you might like to start with Stickfighting by Masaaki Hatsumi Sensei and Quinten Chambers. Written in the late 60's its a great step by step book on how to used the Hanbo 3 foot staff.
We always do some weapons training at the end of every class, normaly we study one weapon for a month then move on to the next one . This takes place over a 6 month cycle which is repeated twice a year.
Over the years i've found that this works best, it allows students to return to a weapon at different stages of their learning and keeps training fresh and interesting. Personaly I like all the weapons training but I thought I'd ask (and you can only vote for one) ...... Whats your favourite ?
After you've made your choice you might like to add a comment about why.
In our adults training Balance along with Distance and Timing (plus others) is taught as a principal embedded in technique. In martial arts, like life, balance can take on many different meanings, some examples are ….
Ninjutsu Alive training, in my opinion just what does that mean. Martial arts training is essentially about learning new skills, some skills you can practice by yourself and for others you may need a training partner or even several training partners to develop the skill being taught by your instructor.
So lets look at a few things we can do by ourselves and then others that we may need a training partner to complete the exercise.
Your training partner should be relaxed and compliant i.e. go with your technique in order to help you learn how to apply a lock for example, it’s partnered so it’s a lot closer to real life . They allow you the time you need to apply the lock or do the throw etc without interfering …..But is that alive.
Sparring is a lot closer to reality, in that instead of being a rehearsed training drill each person is more free with their responses, for example a training drill might start with a lapel grab and strike to the head and then after that the training partner is (in a responsible way) able to continue on with any attack that they see fit to use, it might be more punches or maybe a kick , they might try to throw you to the ground or get around behind you to apply a constriction. With more spirit and conviction, and resistance to your techniques if they choose.
Their goal is still to help you learn what to do, just under more real to life circumstances.
So why not jut train like that from day one I hear you ask.
Good question, the reason is that in order to learn how to apply a technique first you must learn the technique itself. This is best done by repetition on a compliant training partner, the more techniques then the longer it takes you to get your skill set together.
At Ninjutsu Melbourne around half way (2 years ish) to black belt we invite the student to participate
Our style of martial arts has a really unusual punch that in English is called “lunge punching”. It gets a fair amount of criticism from other martial arts styles primarily for being too slow and starting from so far away. I actually think these are it’s greatest strengths so I thought I’d write a little on it from my perspective.
Here’s a clip from the Hon Tai Yoshin Ryu School of Martial Arts, a cousin school of the Takagi Yoshin Ryu School of martial arts that’s found in our training. At point 15 to 17 there’s a reasonable example of what could be considered a lunge punch just in case you’re unsure as to what I’m talking about. Hey, we’re not the only ones that do it …….
In my mind here are the reasons for practicing a lunge punch as the attack (note… as the attack) which is what we do in training, quite rarely in defences do we lunge punch at all. So here it is ….
It is the maximum distance that a person can reach while still keeping one foot on the starting point.
So it teaches maximum distance/range without moving from the starting spot with both feet.
Meaning that if someone wants to hit/cut me I need to be at least the length of the other persons body away in order to force them into taking an initial step forward towards me. i.e. if they’re 180 cm tall i need to be about 190cm away to be just past the maximum range of their reach. This distance allows me some safety; it gives me a little time to see it coming. Obviously you can’t measure it out with a tape measure, you just have to pratice and after time develop a feeling for the right distance.
Now think about a classic untrained fighters haymaker strike, something you see in real life not so much in a dojo. It usually starts from the behind the hip/waist area, travels around using the shoulder as a pivot point in a semi circle while stepping forward with the same side leg, to swing to the maximum reach that the person has available and then continues on past that point in an arc for about 80 cm back near the persons own body somewhere in front of their other shoulder.
Heres the thing, they have a different trajectory but the same distance, the same maximum reach!
Don’t believe me, stand your height from a wall and do a haymaker and then do a lunge punch.
Try it now, I’ll wait while you give it a go……
I’m 180 cm tall roughly, if I stand that distance from a wall and step forward to touch it the only way I can do so is if I turn my body sideways and lean forward with my knee until the knee cap is directly above the toes. It gives me a striking distance of about 180 cm or another way of saying it is that my height is also my reach.
That’s a huge distance to travel and it takes me about .7 of a second to cover that range from a natural standing position. From Ichimonji and having to step thru in takes about 1.2 seconds.
Quite some time in a fight I know, stick with me , it’s going somewhere I promise…
33rd Soke Toshigutsu Takematsu Sensei
A lot of our weapons training is done in pairs with a nominated attacker and defender. This month we’ve been studying Bo (6 foot staff) and the Kata that we’ve been practicing more than any other so far is called Kote Zuke (Wrist Thrust) and it goes like this…
Tori has the Bo in Chudan No Kamae
Uke has a sword in Seigan No Kamae
Tori thrusts with the Bo towards Uke’s chest and
Uke blocks the Bo by moving back into Seigan No Kamae with the sword (moving the sword tip of the centre line and exposing the right side of the body)
Tori then Sanshin steps forward with the right foot and does a left Do Uchi strike to Uke’s floating rib which
Uke blocks by stepping back 45 degrees with the left foot into a Seigan No Kamae position with the sword not on the centre line pointing at Tori
Tori then flips the Bo directly over to strike down onto the top of Uke Head
Uke squats while raising the sword over head to protect themselves
Tori then quickly strikes from underneath to Uke’s now exposed wrist to knock the sword from their grip.
The way that I have written this above actually makes it harder to learn but easier to read so I’ll rewrite it the way you should do it a bit further down
To do this Kata properly you need to learn three main sections
Here’s how you should actually practice because all the movemnts are connected and it’s not 9 seperate movements but one connected flow
Tori has the Bo in Chudan No Kamae
Uke has a sword in Seigan No Kamae
During a trip to Japan for training a number of years ago, I think about 2002, I was really surprised to find out the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent (TV) was going to be filming at the Dojo.
While talking to the presenter later on I found out that they had wanted to do a story on corruption in Sumo tournaments but couldn’t get anyone to talk about it. However during their investigations they heard about Hatsumi Sensei and thought it would be good for a bit of extra footage so they arranged to come along for an interview.
They spent the day with Hatsumi Sensei (Soke) and were really surprised at just how friendly and nice he was to everyone, I don’t know what he was expecting, Soke has always been pleasant as far as I know.
Anyway by the time class started later that night all the Japanese Shihan (Master Instructors) had been summoned and were putting on a little demonstration for the cameras. All amazing, and I’m sitting there jaw hanging down and mouth open when I hear these 6 words from one of the interpreters…
“Are the any Australians here today?” .....
Several years ago, as the focus for weapons training, Hatsumi Sensei taught the Jo for an entire year but according to friends living there at the time he didn't the Jo Kata at all, instead choosing to focus on flow and variations off the Taijutsu movement.
In Sensei's recent book on stick fighting published about 2005(ish) he demonstrated all of the Kukishin Ryu Kata.
In main stream martial arts Aikido is the most common form of training with the Jo although all their Jo is based on spear techniques, I’ve seen 5 foot spears in antique shops in Tokyo, so it's not as strange as it might sound at first.
History of the Jo 4 foot staff
It is said that in the early 1600s, a samurai warrior named Muso Gonnosuke Katsuyoshi came up with the idea after he was defeated in a duel by the famous Musashi, but not killed. His weapon of choice at the time was a Bo staff, but it was too long. So through deep mediation while in the mountains, he came up with the Jo staff which is about two feet shorter than the Bo and later in another 'friendly' duel gave the legendary Musashi his only defeat.
After he started using the Jo staff, it is said that Muso was never defeated in a duel again. To find out more simply search the net on Muso Gonnosuke, there’s lots of info around.
Some of the key points of Jo training
Uke :- Seigan No Kamae
Tori :- Gedan No Kamae
Tori :- Steps forward with the right foot to do left Ashi Barai releasing the right hand grip on the Jo
Uke:- Jumps up to avoid resuming Seigan No Kamae on landing
Tori :- Continues the motion to move the Jo behind the shoulders and then re-grips the Jo from the right side with the right hand (overarm style) then twists anti clockwise with the hips releasing the left hand grip to strike at Uke’s left Kasumi re-gripping with the left hand
Uke:- moves the back foot around and back anti clockwise to block using the side of the blade in Seigan no Kamae
Tori:- Slides the left hand up to the right hand and steps forward with the left foot, releasing the right hand grip to strike down onto Uke’s head re-gripping with the right hand
Uke :- Parries with the right side of the blade and then steps back with the right foot to move into Dai Jodan No Kamae and then attacks with a downward cut
Tori :- Leaps in to thrust forwards into Uke’s chest and leaps back out for distance.
If you've not read my explanation of the Bo Kata - Wrist Thrust you might want to read that next , particularly the part concerning how to train Kata
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Way back in 1993 - 1994 I was living in London and training with Peter King once a week and my good friend Abdul Kalim twice a week.
Abdul was traveling to Japan every year at the point and training mostly withHatsumi Sensei and Ishizuka Sensei but also the other Bujinkan Shihan. I think it was his trip before I arrived in the UK that he had praticed all 8 kata with Ishizuka Sensei and was training in them regularly at the Kings College Dojo in London.
The Kata names are Jumonji, Roppo, Kyuho, Hi Ryu, Tsuki Iri, Ude Gake, Kote Gaeshi and Tachi Otoshi.
All are praticed against a swordsman, it's not only about learning the Jo strikes but also the correct blocks so that the two halves fit together. After you learn the Jo and Sword sequences then distance and timing become the main focus of the training.
Jo has been a regular part of weapons training at Ninjutsu Melbourne for many years. This month in my classes on tuesday and thursday nights we will be praticing Kote Gaeshi and Hi Ryu.
Here's a very quick break down of Kote Gaeshi (because it's less typing) with more details in class.
Uke Seigan No Kame with the Sword
Tori Siegan No Kamae with the Jo
Tori - Thrust forward with the Jo to Uke's Solar Plexus
Uke - Parries with the left side of the blade
Tori - Retract the Jo , release the right hand grip and twist the left hand forward to strike down onto Uke's wrist regripping with the right hand, can strike to uke ribs instead of the wrist.
It's fairly short and on the surface simple but suprisingly there's a lot to learn even in a few seemingly simple movements.
Hi Ryu is much more complex involving 8 strikes, but we'll cover that toward the end of the month.
Kasarifundo (weighted chain) and Hojojustu (Rope tying) are the themes for Aprils Flexible Weapons Training Classes at the Dojo.
Kasarifundo - We started with techniques such as how to catch weapon safely, then simple striking drills and worked our way up to basic Locks, Controls and Chokes with the Kasarifundo. By the end of this month all of our students have really improved, well done.
Hojojutsu - Everyone loves the Hojojutsu training, there's something about tying another person up that seems to appeal to people. We covered basic hancuffs, loops and wrist restraints then moved onto basic and intermediate tying techniques before finishing the month with capturing kicks and punches with the rope and creating a technique from that point onward.
Next month is Jo 4 foot staff and Shinden Fudo Ryu.
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