Tanuki Bujinkan Dojo 武神伝会 2009

I arrived to be met by a very suave looking Chris Carbonaro at the arrival gates of Newark Airport. We travelled to his home and relaxed briefly before heading to the Tanuki Bujinkan Dojo in New Jersey.
I was impressed by the dojo layout and it definately had a wonderful feeling attached to it. This was a dojo that captured the feeling of Japan very well. Not only in it’s decore, but in the attitudes of the students and instructors.

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This was going to be a challenging few days of training. My spirit was tired and I was feeling the effects of jetlag.

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Nagato Sensei was also obliging to paint a Kakejiku for Chris. I wished to get Chris a gift from Sensei for his support. Needless to say, he was very happy! Nagato Sensei ( as you can see ) is quite skilled at wielding the brush.

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I commenced training with a feeling of lethagy. I moved toward using this feeling to my advantage and move within the space and try to harness the power of my uke against him. I would like to think of this as whipping his power back at him. By this I mean moving fluidly and then cracking back like a bull whip!

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The training evolved naturally. I found myself experimenting freely with henka and changing techniques quickly. I moved without thinking. I was moving and putting everything on the line. I moved with no concern for if I failed or not.
My training definately was connected to the feeling of entering different time zones and the affects on my body. At times I felt eratic. But, I felt this was excellent training and perservered knowing that a true fight has this feeling.

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Saturday was a good day of training. I moved as my body desired. I moved without attempting to make something work. I was happy to know that I had moved to a space where I could experiment and move safely during training without the concern of failing- Even infront of students at a seminar.

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As a result, I moved to places that were even a little bit foreign to me. I entered in areas with a sence of ” research ” & ” experimentation “.

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From time to time, I would comment about things that I felt were very important in budo training. Of course, these comments have been greatly influenced by my teachers, but also my own experiences in searching for the correct way to train.

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For me, the correct way is to follow the ways of the masters of Japan. If we decide to follow our own way, then we are bascially implying that we know better than a collection of arts that have survived for thousands of years. We need to trust the arts, develop buyu, and train together. That’s all we need.

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If Shidoshi cannot do this, than these people should stop using the Bujinkan name and stop using Sokes name to get students. I feel that this is the case in many places around the world. What is it that you are learning if you do not listen to your teacher? Chris is a person who listens to his teacher. We read a letter that Nagato Sensei has written for him. I could tell that he was not dismissing anything and absorbing it with a real desire to understand. We need to really want the teachings. We need to look deeply and try to really live this art. The art of life.

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Life is painful at times. Budo is too. In fact, budo helps us understand and endure the many facets of life. We experience during our shugyo many things. Life is the same. We need to make use of the lessons, experiences and pain that we recieve in the dojo and translate the teachings outside in our life. Firstly, we should learn to not differentiate training from real life. They are one in the same. The way we are in the dojo should be manifested in our lives. Kyojutsu is therefore something that we really need to study well in the dojo.

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I would like to believe that I associate with buyu who share the same path as I. That is, we accept the role of students completely, and follow the way of the Bujinkan as honestly and sincerely as we can.

 I decided not to touch directly ( with words ) on the themes of this year. I felt it was important to ” shut up and train ” and work at developing real skills to actually help us truly understand the words of Soke. Sainou Kon Ki and Nawa no Kankaku are concepts ( in all honesty ) only truly grasped and made ones own from focused, diligent and correct training. Action speaks louder than words. I moved with this in my heart and attempted to gain a deeper understanding myself of what it means to be a bugeisha.

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I have known Chris Carbonaro for a few years now. He is definately passionate about budo and training. He tries hard to learn the way of ” Japan style training ” and maintain close ties with the manner in which the Bujinkan is taught in Japan by Soke, Nagato Shihan and other Sensei.
Sometimes our own enthusiasm to do the right thing is met with resistance. Everything we do or say is misinterpreted or misunderstood. As a result, issues arise that can cause people to show their true faces and insecurites.
These are the very things that Soke wants us to try and move beyond, or grow beyond. He wishes the 15th dans to take the position of adults and pursue budo and teaching it’s ways as such. It’s about distance and understanding the other principles of budo.

The Bujinkan code ends with the ultimate wisdom of ” knowing that the foundation of taijutsu is peace.” So, what is this foundation? Is it the principles?
I believe so. The principles are the kihon of taijutsu.
In saying this, I’d like everyone to take the time to look at themselves and see if they are truly moving forward as a budoka, or are just turning in circles.

In training, we must understand that it is not only about physical techniques, but about testing the character. We all make mistakes and do things that can be seen as non sensical. I feel the training is to become more connected as a person and be able to see our own shortcomings and mistakes and make them as fertilzer for our growth.

If we can do this, then we will develop a groundedness in ourselves that allows us to have a self confidence and righteousness so we can move in life with conviction. When we do so, we often have people try to be-little us or pull us down. Some people don’t like that we move with conviction and a sense of belief that does not include them. We can not fall for these people. Of course, if we are wrong, then one day we will have the chance to see the error of our ways. From there we must fix them and start again.

Soke once said ( and I believe I read this on Joji Ohashi’s website ) that we need to become big enough to generate bad publicity from people. For me, I feel this gives us the opportunity to grow and see for ourselves both sides of life. We also get to see who our true friends are.

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The third day of the seminar was spent trying to understand distance and  moving naturally. Moving naturally ( or neutrally ) also enables one to use kyojutsu more freely. Desiring an outcome, or having a plan can often give away your intentions. A skilled person will read you and will counter these intentions, in many cases, well before you have been able to physically apply them!

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I used the fact that I was tired and jetlagged to truly move as dictated by my uke. I found myself to be moving freely, but also in a way that I myself didn’t understand. I tried not to enter my own confusion too much. I hope that I didn’t confuse the students too much aswell!

Mastering natural movement is in fact mastering the art of invisibility in my eyes. In saying this, I’d like you to know that I am nowhere near this ability!
We often hear that the ninja wore black, but he mostly mingled within society disguised within the classes to gain information. If you take a Loss Prevention plained clothed operative as an example, the operative would mingle with shoppers, overhear plots for thieving and also witness illegeal behaviour without being noticed. The operative can then dissapear from the situation or make themselves known and suprise the individuals concerned.

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I had many good talks with Chris, Manolo, and Doug Tweedy. I found that we all integrated well with each other and could talk openly and freely. I thank you for your sincerity and making me feel that I have definately made some good friends for life. Thank you also to Oliver and Joe for supporting the seminar. I hope it wasn’t a waste of your time.The Tanuki Dojo members such as Amir, Chris, and Craig were very supportive in many ways and are very good students. Chris, you are very lucky to have such determined and committed people by your side. I truly feel that these people want to train and see the truth. They have accompanied Chris to Japan and have seen through the classes he attends and the repor he has with Soke and the Shihan, that he is real and offers the chance to train as closely as possible to the way they do in Japan.

On the last day a small group of us travelled to New York City and took in the sights, tastes,smells and sounds of the Big Apple.

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We saw the Statue of Liberty, Ground zero and Wall street.


We munched on some great burgers from the Shake Shack!

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We viewed the tremendous sights of the city from the heights of the famous Empire State Building.


We also went to Time  Square.

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I don’t know how we did it? Same hats!

I’d like to say thank you for a wonderful experience. Chris and Nao were fantastic and let me stay in their home for my trips duration. They are a wonderful couple and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

To anyone in the New Jersey area, I would like to say that if you want to maintain a close connection with Japan, then please visit and train with Chris at the Tanuki Dojo.


He is supporting his and everyones training by consistently having residents of Japan who train with Soke and the Shihan to teach seminars at his dojo. The next seminars are with Paul Masse and Pete Reynolds. Please see the Tanuki website for details.

I ended my wirlwind trip by understanding deeply that I’m but just a student and still know nothing. Every time I teach a seminar, I end up feeling this way. I’m glad I do. As a result, I always look forward to returning to Japan for more training!


New York Pizza and Stewart’s Root Beer!

4 Responses to “Tanuki Bujinkan Dojo 武神伝会 2009”

  1. Doug Tweedy Says:

    Duncan, training was fantastic, as well as the fellowship! We look forward to seeing you in Japan!

  2. George Hagelauer Says:

    Duncan, the seminar was amazing. You are an inspiration and I too hope to see you in Japan next spring.

  3. Thanks for making the trip to NY and for leading an excellent seminar. I came away confused, but with plenty to work on in the coming months and years!

  4. great review!
    it seems was a very special seminar.
    Ninpo Ikkan!

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