Bojutsu vs Kenjutsu vs Bojutsu vs Kenjutsu…

20130710-170506.jpg
Cutting against his arm

This summer like most summers we train a lot more with long weapons since the dojo is too small to really use long weapons properly. This summer we train Bojutsu against Kenjutsu (long staff against sword). I think I teach and train a little different than most Bujinkan teachers out there, but I can’t really say maybe there is those who approach the training like I do. Let me explain.

Kote haneage followed by Haneage
Kote haneage followed by Haneage

First of all you learn how to use the staff, spinning and striking etc, this is mostly solo-training. Then you learn the Keiko Sabaki Kata (movement practice techniques) in my dojo we only practice one technique for the whole two hour class. Some students really have problems with coordination, others capture it quicker. In this first step I don’t mention distance, timing or anything except which strikes and blocks to make. This can also be solo-training and done alone against an imagined opponent.

Second I take the sword and we focus on how to handle the situation the best way with a sword. If he is attacking me with the staff I immediately counter him by stepping forward. I’m not gonna step backwards defending myself all the time, when he steps in to strike me in his preferred distance out of my reach; I boldly step in at the same time and block the staff and get even closer into my preferred distance so I can cut him with the sword. As I see it this is the only chance I have against a longer weapon, there is no point of running backwards.

Catching the staff and Tsuki
Catching the staff and Tsuki

Thirdly I take the staff again. I attack the kenjutsu-ka fully (not really, but almost) and make sure he does a good block, and as he block I don’t stay frozen or try to push harder on him. As I strike I’m already prepared for the next movement when he comes in and try to cut me, I move out to my distance and do the next strike.

Then I take the sword again and try to avoid being hit from this point in the technique, by blocking and countering again. I’m not really gonna give up or run away. If I can cut I will cut.

Then again I take the staff and try to deal with this really difficult opponent, I avoid his cut and counter him until the end of the technique where I make it impossible for him to do anything. Then the technique is finished without changing the sequences of the strikes, the only thing that is flexible is the distance and the timing. And this is where the true training comes in.

Then at the end of the class we record a short demo to video which will be available for download later. This is how we spend our two hour trainings at Kaigozan Dojo this summer.

No henka, no variations, true to the technique.

Kote haneage as he try to cut my left arm
Kote haneage as he try to cut my left arm

I always thought quality is better than quantity. It is amazing how cleverly these techniques is made up, it is so much more than executing the strikes rapidly against a rather passive opponent. If the opponent (sword-guy) is good and understand how to use the sword there is really not many options to change the technique and do something different, the possibility for henka becomes very narrow, what you can change is very small details. For me this is what henka means, you failed your initial technique and need to adapt because of miscalculation.

I know there are those out there only doing henka-training, but how do you do henka training only, henka of what? If you try to train yourself into intuition without basic foundation you are doing something I don’t understand. You weren’t born out from nowhere, someone did something very basic with someone and you was born. How do you henka anything into existence?

Victory ending of the technique
Victory ending of the technique

If anyone is interesting I’m doing three more one day Bojutsu mini-seminars this summer.

Happy Training!

/Mats

Masaaki Hatsumi: Dojo Art (Kickstarter Project)

Masaaki Hatsumi: Dojo Art will be a professionally designed book of paintings and calligraphy by Bujinkan Soke, Masaaki Hatsumi.

This is a book in the planning by Steve Olsen, he is looking for people backing his book on Kickstarter. If he gets enough backers he will make the book, if not it won’t be a book. It is up to you if there will be one.

BACKGROUND

During break in his martial arts classes at the Bujinkan Hombu Dojo in Noda City, Japan, Hatsumi-Sensei paints for his students. He paints calligraphy and pictures. His art contains advice to his students and historical influence from the nine Japanese martial traditions he is the head instructor of

BOOK DESIGN

7504d495979ea290e9e6588215adb469_largeOur designer, Dan Saal, is a real pro. He’s an award-winning art book designer and he knows how to design beautiful books that bring the essence of topics to life. Dan’s sample layouts already look great and I look forward to working with him to finish the project.

For an idea of the quality you can expect, take a look at some of Dan’s work here:
http://www.studiosaal.com
http://www.studiosaal.com/awards.html

Support the project here… http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1780878098/masaaki-hatsumi-dojo-art

Shoninki books

20121030-125323.jpg

I got a question today about these books, if they are important for Bujinkan practitioners.
http://www.coloradospringsninjutsu.com/Shoninki.html
http://www.shoninki.com/home/Welcome.html
For what it’s worth here is my answer.

Hello. I don’t think it is very important today, but probably very interesting in historical view. I know Don lived in Japan for many years and probably discussed the book with the Shihan when he run into problems in translation. I don’t know who the other person is, he might be better in Japanese, but if he haven’t been training he might have missed some things. Both books probably have errors, why not get both?
But I don’t believe it is that important, the knowledge is old. There is better modern books about survival skills, medicine, tools etc today.

Thanks for the links, I didn’t know Don also had a translation.

Happy training!

Mats