Arriving late in San Diego, I met with Lance and we travelled back to his home where my head quickly hit the pillows.
It is always a “homely” feeling returning back to San Diego. I am always so relaxed that I must bore Lance to tears with being so “zoned out” most of the time. After 5 weeks of travel and on a weekly basis teaching classes and Bushinden Kai, I was becoming tired and missing family.
I was chatting with Pedro Fleitas briefly on-line one day. We both talked about travel and family and the importance of friendship ( buyu ) and moving constantly with Bufu Ikkan or NIN. This is so important. Family is so important. Thank you Pedro for that conversation.
With Rhino comforting us with his casual loitering around the house, I settled in and relaxed the first day inside. Lance and I chatted and enjoyed catching up. Lance had travelled to Vancouver and Los Angeles to attend my Bushinden Kai. This time, I am on his door step teaching for his dojo.
He is very dedicated at improving his undertanding and practise of Taijutsu as practised in Japan. My hat goes off to him. I have gained great friendships with Lance and Coni. Every year they allow me into their home. Thank you so much.
That evening I was asked to take the class at the Anaguma Bujinkan Dojo. After meeting with some familiar faces, we commenced training. I concentrated the whole class on individual drills aimed at improving ones Shin Gi Tai.
The class was interesting in more ways than one. The people in attendance will agree, I`m sure. It is very interesting to see other peoples attitudes and understanding of the martial arts. Especially, with what people consider ” real fighting “.
There are those that believe that ” to be a man ” you must stand and fight to prove ones worth. Self Defence and the martial arts is treasured as an art of self preservation. When we look at the techniques of Ninjutsu, we can observe that the methods are of escape. Now, these methods are often very deadly yet, it is the mind behind the techniques that removes the concept of ” fighting” from our hearts. This is the NIN. We see the sword over the heart. We must preserve the heart even when faced with the oppressive blade. The heart must keep beating. We must learn how to utilise the heart as it beats faster in times of adversity. When the heart beats, it tells us we are alive. It sends blood to our limbs so we can fight or fly. We learn the techniques of Budo and Ninpo to preserve our lives. This is the essence of the martial arts, is it not?
Within the dojo, we attempt to help people realise the reality of the training through various methods. I often practise striking with Shuto and then throw shuriken or a knife in the same motion to help them understand it`s variety of purposes/usages and devastating effectiveness. Yet, some people will never understand. They have their mind already made up. To them, real fighting is punching and kicking it out, one on one. They will see only what they want to see and believe in, even if it eventually kills them.
The last resort is to apply the movement with vigor and physically teach them. But, this could cause problems nowadays. Teaching is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. We cannot just go around and Hit people hard all the time to make them understand. Soke reminds people travelling and teaching of the potential issues that may arise. There are people who can cause problems for the Bujinkan. We must deal with these people well. Soke is teaching us how to conduct ourselves and stay alive. Foolishness is all around us. It is in these times that we as martial artists can learn how to deal with such behaviour for our own training to grow, stay safe, and survive.
The following day, Lance took me to Temecula Wine country and we spent the day tasting from various wineries.
It was such a wonderful time enjoying the ambience of the wineries and relaxing while learning about wines.
However, I don`t know how much I remember after our last stop! lol.
We enjoyed a lovely lunch and finished the day watching the sunset outside Lance`s home and finally catching up with Coni.
Thursday I was taken to Perris by Matt and Clarke. these guys are devoted students and support the Anaguma Dojo and Bujinkan training with great committment. Great guys too!
They had arranged for us to go skydiving in a wind tunnel. We arrived, had a brief lecture, and geared up. The amount of time we spent in the tunnel was equivelant to three jumps at a 120mph. What a sensation. I had never been skydiving before, and this was a great way to learn how. You really have to concentrate on your body posture and control of movement.
After we had finished, our instructor entered the tunnel and moved as if he was Spiderman! It was incredible to view his complete control and understanding of the body and, the dynamics required to move freely within the kukan.
I`m hooked, and will definately make every attempt to return at a later date. Thanks guys.
That afternoon, Lance I ventured downtown and dropped our luggage off at the Embassy Suites. With a great view of the bay, we ventured out for an evening meal before returning to sit on the balcony overlooking the Coronado Bridge with a glass of red.
Ten Chi Jin
Prior to returning to the hotel, we watched a man making a living form balancing rocks from the foreshore. He held a good audience as he picked up random rocks of various shapes and sizes and created towers with them. His ability to sense the moment of balance and correct position was incredible. not once did his rocks fall went he released them. There was no trickery involved. How amazing is it to do and use something so natural, but with a super-natural ability to create art for the eyes, mind and heart.
The next day we walked through the Gaslamp district, had lunch, and then rented some Wave runners. We returned extremely wet, yet enjoyed every moment. The weather and water was warm and it was a great way to finish the afternoon before we ventured on our evening cruise.
That evening we boarded the ” Hornblower ” for a luxury cruise around the bay. We enjoyed a three course meal and enjoyable conversation together with Coni. The cruise allowed us to view the city lights and the wonderful sunset.
The music was great. The lead singer sung renditions of popular tunes with great feeling. A great voice. A thoroughly enjoyable evening was had. It was topped off by taking a “Cycle Taxi ” with a suprising soundtrack that had us laughing all the way back to the hotel!
The Saturday was the first day of the Bushinden Kai at the Anaguma Dojo. People from San Fransisco, Arizona and Las Vegas attended.
The day began with a look at the Gogyo no Kata and the usage of the Tachi within each of the five waza. To do so, is to help us understand the history and movements of the tachi during the warring states period when warriors wore Yoroi into battle.
We then moved forward and practised ways to utilise the Gogyo no kata with the tachi in a more neutral manner while considering Japanese armour and it`s weak points. This is where we consider the aspect of Chuto Hampa to gain a greater feeling for natural change as dictated by the opponent. The tachi is more of a hitting and thrusting tool rather than a cutting sword like the katana. In fact, many movements relate more to Hanbojutsu. It is therefore a good idea to train in hanbo to gain a better appreciation of the tachi and it`s usage within Kumiuchi.
At times during the class I mentioned important concepts. I truly believed these concepts to be crucial to training and learning correctly as a martial artist. Later in the day, Lance passed me a copy of the Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki. As I was going through this particular translation, I came upon a section that commented on important points to consider when practising. I was happy to see that what I had been teaching was in fact a part of the Ten Chi Jin.
These moments are wonderful, and also help you to see your direction and focus as a martial artist. This is why it is important to read and re-read Sokes books. Through his books, we come to see over the years our personal progression and understanding ( or lack of ) of his art. Also, if we deviate from the path, his books will enlighten us to our errors and give us a chance at returning to correct thought and training. This is the same with his DVDs.
The last day of the seminar began with a warm up using the Gogyo no Kata. We then studied ways to increase our understanding of the Koshi Kihon Sanpo until it becomes embedded into our spine. We simply broke down the gross motor movements to gain more self awareness, balance, flexibility, strength, and body control.
It is important to develop strong skills ( the best that you can ) in the movements that comprise these three kata. There is so much to be learned.
It is very important for us all to never become lazy in our training. Seek a balance in your training and be honest with your actual ability level. Please look at the way you train and ask yourself, ” will the way I train be effective outside of the dojo?” If we do not consider this with a healthy form of self-criticism, then we may begin to develop into a martial artist with illusions of grandeur and have less than effective skills for the real world.
To ” keep it real ” doesn`t require you to train hard and fast with power. It does mean that we should be present with a mind deeply set in survival. In fact,allowing yourself to feel fear, is very important. Fear keeps you aware of humility and your mortality. Being Uke teaches you about mortality. If you come to accept being uke as a means for self discovery, then you are beginning to learn the ” art of giving ” and sutemi.
If you cannot throw yourself away, then you will forever be heavy and not transcend the ego. I feel sutemi is a crucial lesson to be learned from being uke. In fact, an important point written in a densho states ” being uke often has more lessons than that of being tori “.
It is almost a manner of being re-institutionalised. The teacher constantly performs movements on his uke that ensure that uke always is on the loosing side of the battle. He will never win. The uke must never give up and always attack knowing he is entering certain defeat. This is sutemi.
The uke comes to the point where he forgets himself. It`s a transcendance into the kukan. Within the kukan, he is thrown and struck, yet he always survives. He is nurtured ( the budo way ) by the teacher and develops the spirit of the warrior. This is the beginning of the real training.
” Your Ukemi is getting better…. You are starting to understand the martial arts now. “
I believe that Takamatsu Osensei said something like this to Soke ( as written in one of his books. )
We then moved forward and looked at the Torite Goho and various Gyaku waza as found within the Gyokko Ryu.
I think it is very important to continually work at gaining a better understanding of the Kihon Happou. If you neglect it`s importance, or feel you are beyond the Kihon, then I urge you to think again. Noguchi Sensei is making an attempt to ” up the ability ” of students with his basics classes at Hombu. Why? Because most of us around the world have no real understanding or skill in them!
We also moved on and practised with a feeling of Tachi Kumiuchi while contemplating wearing yoroi. We also looked at incorporating the Yari and Yoroi Doshi and entering into the weakpoints of the armour to control the opponent.
We considered the lack of visibility when wearing a Kabuto and looked at how to take advantage of this. To do this, we had to train slowly so the mind can move with the body to create technique Shin Gi Tai Ichi.
Hicho no Kata Henka
The day finished well and everyone trained hard. Thank you to everyone who travelled and attended the two days. I hope you enjoyed the training and will take something back to your dojos worth working on. Good luck.
Thanks again to Lance. You are a real mate. Cheers!
I look forward to seeing you both again sometime soon.