Istanbul seminar 2011

Haburamu dojo

I think this was my 7’th or 8’th time I’ve been invited by Ercan and the Bujinkan Haburamu Dojo in Istanbul. I feel honored to be invited back so many times, I must be doing something right. The organizer hadn’t asked for any special theme so I joked and asked if they wanted chaotic training. And they said yes. Well if you know me I like to have a special theme to go by so I thought I would do the Gyaku-gi from Chi-ryaku no maki, but I would do them all both omote and ura.

Ura oni-kudaki
裏鬼砕 Ura oni-kudaki


  1. 竹折 Take-ori
  2. 表逆 Omote-gyaku
  3. 裏逆 Ura-gyaku
  4. 本逆 Hon-gyaku
  5. 表鬼砕 Omote oni-kudaki
  6. 裏鬼砕 Ura oni-kudaki
  7. 武者捕 Musha-dori
  8. 武双捕 Musō-dori
  9. 大逆 Ō-gyaku

It is said that when you take the opponent on his back you will let him live, you give him the gift of life. And if you take him down on his face you will take his life. When a samurai died on the battle field and was found dead lying with his face down they would say that he died with honor. If they found him dead on his back they would say he died without honor. So if you take the opponent on his back you should let him live and not die in shame.

At the seminar I showed all the above techniques as they should be done (my way!). I did henka, I did them omote and also ura. For example, most of you know that with omote-gyaku and musha-dori you take him backwards. But I also showed how to take him forwards with these techniques. This was the theme I had in mind when starting the seminar, doing an ura technique but taking him omote and the other way.


I started with the take-ori technique and did many variations, I got lost in time and when it was lunch I realized I had spent half the day on one technique and there was eight more techniques. After lunch I asked what they wanted to do, and someone had asked about musha-dori. So we spent most of the afternoon doing musha-dori, and ended with a simple sword technique.

Istanbul SwordNext day I kept doing the other seven techniques, and later finished with some more simple sword techniques and also hanbo-jutsu. I always enjoyed going to Istanbul for seminars because the students at the Haburamu dojo are so eager and willing to train.

Oh I got a new nick name, “the Bujinkan engineer” from Ercan and his students :-D. Because they said I show so many details in each movement. Well, that is how I look at my own training. I believe this is very important, to look at everything and study it in detail. I’m not satisfied looking at something from only the outside, I want o see how it looks from the inside, under, above, I want to feel the weight, texture, smell, taste, how it sounds and everything else I can think of. Just doing a technique without thinking about it and hope that I someday will understand is just not me.

Of course I can just show 1000 henka on a seminar and let people have fun and maybe not learning anything except moving around, I can do this to, but not too much. Trying to teach like Soke is impossible for me, I’m not technically ready yet. And I’m not doing anyone favors by trying to teach like Soke. But I’m geting there, I like to believe and hope that. I constantly jump between the shu-ha-ri levels; to keep moving, polishing my basics, and also moving freely and let the techniques come naturally. The last part is good for beginners to know about, but they must understand that this can not come easy until the basics have been perfected.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Besides from the training I had a good time. On Friday Ercan took me to the Basilica Cistern, this is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul (formerly Constantinople). After this we went to the Topkapı Palace which was the official and primary residence in the city of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years (1465-1856) of their 624-year reign. We also passed the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Ercan told me this story; when the Sultan ordered the Mosque to be built he asked for gold minarets, in Turkish language gold is altın. But the architect heard altı which means six. Hence the six minarets of the Blue Mosque. After the sightseeing we had dinner and then the boat back home to prepare for the extra training later this evening.

The food in Turkey is excellent, I especially like Adana Kebab and Şalgam. I was a little disappointed about the pubs, the one that was supposed to be the best had recently closed, “The English Pub” did not even have English beer (not even Guine55 or Ki11kenny), the brewpub turned out to be a loud disco with only one bad pilsener on tap and one slightly better on bottle. But the company of old and new friends was very nice and that is much more important.

After all I had a good time, and look forward coming back soon.

I’d like to say thank you to Ercan for organizing everything! And also to all the people attending the seminar which made all this possible.

See more pictures from this trip, click here.

Ercan filmed the seminar, and he also got film from my camera. Contact him if you are interested in a DVD of this seminar.

Sample video clip

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Riga seminar in February 2011

The past weekend I was invited by Juris from Bujinkan Kurokawa Dojo in Riga to teach a seminar on Sanshin no kata and Juttejutsu.

On Saturday I showed and explained the way I feel is the base for Sanshin no kata. First we did the traditional warm-up routine; doing the first technique five times on the right side, and then five times on the left side, and finally ten times alternately on right and left side. Then the same with all the other four techniques. Sanshin no kata consists of five simple techniques…

Sanshin no kata


地 CHI (earth)
水 SUI (water)
火 KA (fire)
風 FŪ (wind)
空 KŪ (void)

In the early 1980’s there was a “guy” that had only been training a couple of years and interpreted these techniques with Buddhism and created his own philosophy around these techniques. He wrote many books on the subject, and almost everyone copied his idea. It was a very nice idea, but it was not the Sanshin no kata that Hatsumi Soke taught as many people believed at the time (and unfortunately still believes). Do not think of the elements too much. Just simply look at them as a way of counting, nothing else.

Some people talk about three different ways of doing these techniques and they also have a name (shoshin, gogyo, goshin). I have never been taught this by Hatsumi Soke or any one else of the Japanese Shihan, and I have never seen the source for this. So I’m not teaching this, but I think this also is a good idea. I think it is important to always look at things from three perspectives. For example left, right and middle. The way I taught on the seminar was the following.

The principle of capturing, strike and quickly capture again

Solo training, try to get the form correct and understand all movements, angles, timing, distance, technique, kamae and everything else. I heard that even the Japanese Shihan who have been training for 30-40 years still do this every day. So there is no reason for you to think that you have already learned it. I to still discover many things when doing the forms.

With a partner you will understand the the solo training forms better. The forms you do in solo training will never bee exactly the same when done with a partner, you need to adjust according the way your partner attacks. We did the base (as I see it!) with five different blocks and five different strikes, then moved on to applications and more direct response from natural posture.

Using weapons will increase the understanding even more. If you use a weapon try to keep to the ideas we learn from the forms. But small adjustments are done according the characteristics of the weapons used.

This 45 minute video from the seminar is available for instant download at BUDOSHOP.SE


the JutteThe jutte or jitte (十手), literally meaning “ten-hand” (i.e., the weapon with the power of ten hands), is a specialized weapon. In Edo period Japan the jutte was a substitute for a badge and represented someone on official business and was carried by all levels of police officers including high ranking samurai police officials and low-rank samurai law enforcement officers (called okappiki or doshin). Other high ranking samurai officials carried a jutte as a badge of office, “aratame” or official inspectors including hotel, rice and grain inspectors carried a jutte.

On Sunday we did the six techniques from the old Hanbo, Tessen and Jutte book published by Hatsumi Soke in 1984 ca. It has six basic techniques, we did them all. In 2003 the Bujinkan theme was Kunai and Hatsumi Soke taught five of these techniques using a Kunai. The weapons are different so adjustments need to be made according the characteristics of these weapons.

落花 Rakka technique

We studied the following techniques with Jutte in mind (not Kunai), first the basic form and then variations and applications.

桐之一葉 KIRI NO HITOHA – falling paulowina leaf (arrival of autumn)
落花 RAKKA – falling blossoms
水鳥 MIZU-DORI – water bird / 五輪碎 GORIN KUDAKI – five rings crush
雷閃 RAI-SEN – flash of lightning
竜下 TATSUGE – inferior dragon
廻捕 MAWARIDORI – revolve and capture

The training both days seemed to be successful and everyone seemed happy about it. I sure had a good time both in the dojo and outside before, between and after the trainings. The first time I was in Latvia in 2002? I asked about traditional masks but I didn’t know so much about them that they understood what I meant. So after the training Juris surprised me with a mask I asked about nearly ten years ago.

The arrival of masked visitors

This practise is variously referred to as budēļi, čigāni “gypsies, going gypsying”, kaladnieki, ķekatas, maski “masks, going masking”, nabagi “the poor ones”, etc. Although this practise could occur at any time of the winter (between Mārtiņi and Meteņi ), it was particularly common on Christmas eve. It is strongly reminiscent of the tradition of mummers and mummering in Great Britain and Newfoundland.

Latvian “mummers” might dress up as animals (bears, horses, cranes) or as Death. They would go from house to house and were warmly greeted, as they were assumed to drive away evil spirits. They would arrive in groups in front of the house, and sing songs and dance. Then they would be invited in and fed with bacon buns (pīrāgi), butter, sausages, and given ale to drink. They made a special effort to disguise their voices and mannerisms, so that no one would be able to guess who each one was, but if a mummer was correctly identified, he or she would have to “unveil”, i.e. remove the cloth which was covering their face.

It is still common for children to be required to recite an appropriate verse before receipt of their presents (there are many).

Vai, lielie ziemas svētki,
Puiši trekni, zirgi vāji;
Puišiem alus, brandavīns
Zirgiem tukšas redelītes.

Oh my, Christmas time
The lads are fat, the horses lean;
The lads get beer and whiskey
But the hay racks are empty.

I’m happy about the whole seminar, and especially happy that people also came from the neighboring countries Estonia and Lithuania. I was asked to come back after summer, maybe in August. I’m already looking forward to it.

Thank you Juris and everyone who attended and made the seminar possible.

Happy training!

Click here for more pictures from the seminar.