“Training is the most important thing” Soke stated this recently at an Ayase class. He also said that ” talking about things, or thinking about things will not get you far”. The only way to understand this budo is to train the body well and hard.

Soke also mentioned that breathing is something that we forget. It is something so natural that we are sometimes not aware that we are doing it. This is the level of taijutsu we want to achieve. The level of awareness of literally non awareness. We have to reach a heightened state where we move instinctively, free from thought and concern of right or wrong technique. Our taijutsu has to become one with our body ( shin gi tai ichi ) and appear and disappear as quickly as a breath of air. This is an aspect of living in the kuukan, but also an important point regarding the concept of kieru no kankaku, or invisible movement. We can appreciate now that the more natural our movement is, the less likely it can be seen and read by the opponent. This is Ninpo Taijutsu.

This reminds me of a period in my life when I was employed as a plain clothed store detective. I had observed a male select and conceal on his person over $700 of designer label clothing. He left the store and I approached him to make an arrest. We were located on the corner of two CBD streets on a busy Saturday morning.  The male refused to return and proceeded to remove the garments and drop them to the sidewalk. I asked him to pick them up, but at that time he lunged at me with a right punch. I rocked back into natural kamae and felt his punch fly over my head. I sensed the next strike and I rocked in naturally without stepping, and struck his suigetsu with my left elbow as he was in full swing with his left fist. Needless to say, he flew back into a shop window. At this moment, my work collegue was walking to work and had witnessed the commotion. He was concerned about my well being as he had viewed the male striking wildly at me. I was more than ok, but later I thought about why bystanders and my work collegue acted so concerned. They also could not understand why he fell back away from me with such force. From replaying the incident, my movement of defence was extremely natural and fitting with the attacks. In no way did I come across as fighting aggressively or moving like a martial artist. At no time did I raise my hands or legs to strike. My body had just lowered, rockered to and forth and my arms were held with elbows out at chest height. As a result, people automatically thought that I was the victim and was in trouble. People automatically were drawn to the shoplifters larger, faster, and more aggressive movements. To onlookers, my dropping low and lack of overt movement would have looked like a sign of being overwhelmed. To me, this helped me gain a better appreciation of knowing the basics of budo and also that the natural movement of Bujinkan Taijutsu is infact the way to understanding kyojutsu, and moving invisibly.

Basics will save your life. Good footwork is what is necessary to survive. When the flight or fight responce kicks in, the legs are extremely important and utilised by the body to remove oneself from danger. The better we learn correct taijutsu and ashi sabaki, the greater chance we have of moving unconciously to the right places and surviving. The body takes over in times of crisis, not the mind. Therefore, I’d like to stress the importance of what Soke said the other night:

“The most important thing is the training. You won’t get better by talking about it or thinking about it.”

Soke is teaching us Shinken Gata. It is important to draw on experiences out of the dojo to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of his teachings. “It is only the people that have experienced it that will understand.” says Soke.  This is why he gives people the chance in the safety of the dojo to feel shinken gata. We are encouraged to develop this feeling outside of the dojo in our own lives to enhance our awareness of reality and the importance of living in the void to survive.

Next year we will apparently train with the feeling of going beyond the kuukan and practising with a sense of continuance, as in ING.

If this is so, we must learn to release ourselves from ourselves and allow the air from our lungs and blood from our veins teach us the truth so we can move into a new stage of life and training.

 Ninpo Ikkan


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