Kukishin-ryu Bojutsu – Keiko Sabaki kata – 03 – Sashiai

Disclaimer; this is not necessarily the correct way of doing this technique, it is the way I see how it should be done.

差合 SASHI AI

Technique No 3 from Kukishin-ryu Rokushaku Bôjutsu – Keiko sabaki kata

Bojutsu - Keiko Sabaki kata - 03 - Sashi-ai(A)

1. I assume Chûdan no kamae and plan to make the opponent open up his left side…

Bojutsu - Keiko Sabaki kata - 03 - Sashi-ai(B)

2. I move the left foot forward to the left and enter in to the opponent’s right side. I angle the body in a way to draw the attention to my left hand and hide the right hand sliding back to the end of the staff.

Bojutsu - Keiko Sabaki kata - 03 - Sashi-ai(C)

3. I step forward with the left foot and thrust in chudan-tsuki to the opponent and force him to move. Since I enter on his right side I pretty much force him to move to his left.

Note: If he is not moving I strike through his guard and get him. If he put force into the block it is better for me, but I’m not waiting to feel it (physically) then it would be to late for the next step.

Bojutsu - Keiko Sabaki kata - 03 - Sashi-ai(D)

4. I quickly move the right foot forward and strike his left elbow with dô-uchi.

Bojutsu - Keiko Sabaki kata - 03 - Sashi-ai(E)

5. Then another quick kote-haneage strike from under to his right arm to completely disarm him. The kata officially finish here, but it is easy to keep going and take control of the space and the weapon he just lost.

Bojutsu - Keiko Sabaki kata - 03 - Sashi-ai(F)

6. Then I jump back to Seigan no kamae and assume zanshin (because the next kata starts from here which makes it easier to remember the next kata).

After you and your partner have learned the kata, try to work on a better defense with the sword. Try to be more offensive and gradually make it more difficult to attack with the staff, instead of moving backwards move forwards and be more offensive. The swordsman’s distance is shorter and he need to be on a safe distance or closer where he can get the opponent with the staff quickly. The person with the staff need to be outside the swordsman’s reach or be completely covered. You can practice this technique with more freely distance and timing, but keep the same sequence of attacks (keep to the kata). If you do this I suggest you use safe weapons (padded weapons) and maybe protections, or just be very careful.

There is also kuden; things taught personally from teacher to student, so please find a good teacher and study with him/her.

Happy training!

/Mats

is the third Ninja boom coming?


The first boom was in Japan during the 1960’s, they produced a lot of ninja movies then. The producers asked Takamatsu Sensei and Hatsumi Soke for advice and help. The first “Shinobi no mono” movie had Hatsumi Soke as advicor, it turned out to be really cool movie, they made eight movies between 1962-1968. There was also many other ninja movies.


Then in the beginning of the 1980’s the second Ninja boom cam, and it became really big in the west. The Swedish “Ninja Mission” hit big in the US, it was more popular than the new Clint Eastwood movie at the time. It had Bo Munthe who then was a 4’th Dan in Bujinkan (the highest ranked in Europe at this time), and many of his students did stunt work.

There was also plenty of ninja movies and TV series from Hollywood at the time. People came from everywhere and wanted to study this mysterious art Ninjutsu. In Stockholm the dojo had several hundred meters of people lining up to start training. In other countries which hadn’t so well established Bujinkan dojo’s there was charlatans who saw the opportunity to make money. The choice of American filmproducers how they displayed the art was not in favour for true Ninjutsu practitioners. It was often kung fu, tae kwon do, karate, kendo practitioners who got the stunt cordinator job for these movies, the biggest star of this era was probably Sho Kosugi.

He claims he learned Ninjutsu from a “strange neighbour” when he was 7 years old. I believe the neighbour was strange, but I don’t think he knew much about Ninjutsu. How the film industry portaited the Ninja was not good! I wish they (Hollywood industry) spent more time on research than listen to someone who was taught Ninjutsu by a crazy guy when he was seven years old.

Now 54 years later Kosugi still have too much influence in Hollywood, who apparently decided that there will be a third Ninja boom to cash in money on. They still prove they are too lazy to do proper resarch. The forth coming Ninja Movies (see below) this summer and autumn of 2009 will probably not be as successfull as in the 80’s, but they will certainly enforce the stereotype of what a Ninja and Ninjutsu is, which is not true at all.

Ninja Assassin (2009) by James McTeigue

He previously worked with films such as Matrix, V for Vendetta, and is currently working on the new X-Men to be released in 2011. In this movie the old star Sho Kosugi is playing Lor Ozunu. The main character Raizo in this movie is played by Rain, who is a big pop star in Asia.

Ninja (2009) by Isaac Florentine

The film stars Scott Adkins as a westerner named Casey, who is studying Ninjutsu in Japan when he’s asked by the Sensei to return to New York to protect the legendary Yoroi Bitsu, an armored chest that contains the weapons of the last Koga Ninja. Somehow, cops, the mob, and a rival ninja enter the picture. Much death, sword slashing, and ninja ass kicking ensue.

The Warrior’s Way (2009) previously The Laundry Warrior

G.I. Joe Rise of Cobra by Stephen Sommers

Not exactly a ninja movie, but there will be ninjas in it.

Kamui gaiden (2009) by Yoichi Sai

A Japanese Ninja movie, the ninja movie boom never really went away in Japan.

Recommended reading

If you as an practitioner or teacher in Bujinkan Dojo is getting interviewed by journalists, this article “Ninjutsu and the media” by Mike Hennessy is really good.

For people who doesn’t know much about Ninjas and Ninjutsu apart from what is portrayed on movies, comic books, and games, there is a few things you should know.

There was a Ninja master who died in the 60’s, his name was Seiko Fujita. He wrote books about Ninjutsu (only available in Japanese, and if you are lucky). There is many people who claims that they was taught by him. As far as I know they are all lying. Fujita died without a successor. Basically everyone that claims to teach from the Koga-ryu are all fakes, so please be careful about who to trust.

There was another Ninja master called Takamatsu Toshitsugu had many students in his life time, but at the end when he died in 1972 he only had one true student, and this was Hatsumi Masaaki. Before the first Ninja boom in the early 1960’s there was no other known master of Ninjutsu other than Seiko Fujita (who died without a successor), Takamatsu Toshitsugu and his student Hatsumi Masaaki (Yoshiaki at the time).

Hatsumi Soke is still alive today, he has many, many students all over the world. Hatsumi Soke is the last true Ninja…

Hatsumi Soke had two older students that only once met Takamatsu Sensei that broke off and formed their own organizations, namely Genbukan and Jinenkan. Hatsumi Soke still have students that still trains with him weekly in Honbu Dojo that also meet Takamatsu sensei on the same occasion. Anyone else living than Hatsumi Soke claiming to have been a direct student to Takamatsu Sensei is not telling the truth at all. Unfortunately there is people claiming this.

Organisations that is more or less still teaching Ninjutsu is the following…
Bujinkan Dojo (headed by Hatsumi Masaaki)
Genbukan (headed by mr. Tanemura Shoto formerly student of Hatsumi Soke)
Jinenkan (headed by mr. Manaka Unsui, formerly student of Hatsumi Soke)
Toshindo (headed by mr. Stephen Hayes, formerly student of Hatsumi Soke)

Unfortunately there is bad examples everywhere, so please don’t judge a whole martial art based on a few rotten apples. Keep an open mind.

There is also a few Japanese Ninja Museum’s, some of them also have coreographed demonstrations (rarely with no authentic Ninjutsu training at all). Please keep in mind these are Museums, and they are not Martial Artists!

才能魂器 sainou tamashi utsuwa

This years theme is taijutsu with the feeling of rope, and also a little sword. It is still early to tell how the year will continue, I was there the first two weeks and it will of course change. It is stupid to think you can get the whole thing in just two weeks. As soke so often says, “nothing is decided.” We should go along with what is given by the gods or spirits, not steal techniques or take something that is not given. If you train slowly and correct you should be able to sense what uke is giving you, if you go to fast your ego is directing you and you will not be able to see and use what is given to you.

Enlightenment can be found in three places. Under your feet, up in the space (heaven), and written on your eyelids. It is as simple as that. In our case that study Bujinkan it is as simple as Soke says. Go to japan and train with him, and train with those that do to keep yourself on the right path. So simple!

To become a master you need three things. Ability (what you are born with), soul (how much you put into the training), and openness (being open enough to take in all that is taught). There is also other words that can explain the kanji in other words, maybe even different. Look them up in a dictionary and read what others already explained on blogs and forums.

I wrote this in January already and just discovered it waiting to be posted. Sorry, but better late than never.

Join the Bujinkan SETI team!

Almost 10 years ago I joined the SETI by installing the “screensaver”. I discovered that you could create teams and work together. It was fun and exciting to see how we did together, then somehow I forgot about it until now. I went back to see if our team was active and to my surprise it still was! My account was still there, so I had to log in, download the new program and fire it up again and contribute to the Bujinkan SETI team.

On Wednesday November 19’th 2008 it was 2 active members, at top team no 3548,  723 recent credits (with a total of 424,647 credits) and ranked as 7,562. If you click on the links above you will see that we are climbing up rapidly.

I think it would be fun if you also joined the Bujinkan SETI team in search for extra terrestrial life. If you think this is silly, there is several other organisations you can help by lending your CPU when not in use to.

Click here for the official Bujinkan SETI web site http://kesshi.com/seti/

Please spread the word!

The long path to budo enlightenment

Fudoza, note the kodachi!
Jodan-uke, this very simple basic technique is really easy, right?

Most beginners in Bujinkan learn how to step to the side from a punch to the nose and do the circular movement with the arm and knock the opponents arm to the side and take his balance. Then you just step in and finish him off with a kiten-ken to the neck. This is one of the first techniques you learn in Bujinkan, the technique is called Ichimonji and it is from the Kihon-happo.

But the basic way of blocking can be found in many, many techniques in Bujinkan. Last year or was it the year before I saw one of the Shihan in Japan doing blocking in honbu dojo as a warm up before the training. I noticed he did it kind of different than I’ve seen it before so I put it away for the future.

And then maybe 4-5 months ago I started experimenting on this idea, but only a little and then I forgot it again. I didn’t think it was that important. Then I picked it up again last week and practiced some more, I also started to introduce it to my students a little (without to much explaining).

Then at the training yesterday I was testing the students Sanshin no kata and Kihon happo, I didn’t say anything, I was not happy. And sorry to say I got a little pissed off to (some of the students must have noticed). So I had to do something about it, we had to go back to the basics, the very very basic way of blocking without opening yourself up, without loosing the kamae. This might sound easy, and maybe it is.

This might sound strange, but after almost 25 years since I did this “simple” movement the first time and all the following years hard work it struck me… that the way I have done this simple movement for years and years until yesterday was really quite crappy! I had just discovered a “new way” of doing the very basic Jodan-uke, it felt so right and I was so happy coming to this insight.

I’m sure I haven’t discovered anything new, someone have probably done this “new way of blocking” for a long time, well actually I said before I saw it in honbu so it can’t be new, but it is new for me. I realize it must be quite discouraging for a beginner in the Bujinkan to hear someone that have been training so long just discover something so simple after 25 years of training. It really takes special persons to stick with a Martial Art like Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. This might be why so many people quit training after 5 or 10 years, they are not that kind of person that have the patience that is required.

I think you can learn BBT in 5-10 years and have a very basic and good understanding of the art, but if you keep searching you will find more. Soke once was asked what the highest level was, and he said he didn’t know, because there is always something after the highest level. It’s not necessarily a higher level, but it is another level you have to pass to get to the next level. For example if you think there is something that is perfect it isn’t really, it can always be refined and even more perfect, but there is nothing that is perfect, there is always the next level. My point is never give up and think you know the perfect way of doing even the most simple basic technique, you can always polish your techniques (Masai) to become better.

Sorry for the spin off!

the mirror on the kamizaAnother thing that may contribute to my recent discovery is after a discussion last month after training in honbu. I went out with some local friends that have trained Bujinkan for a very long time, but they have also trained other koryu sword arts. One of them said something really interesting things about limbs of the arm going in separate directions when drawing the sword. That in combination with the jodan uke became a very different feeling, and it is that which makes this (jodan-uke) so special I think.

Yesterday we spent some time on the fifth* technique, the omote ken sabaki technique, some call it omotegyaku tsuki, the name is not important. But it was when I demonstrated this technique that I realized I found something important.

When I just wrote fifth technique above I remember I asked one of the students to pick a number between 3 and 8, he picked 4, so this was the kihon happo we would spend time on. But I meant a number between 4 and 8, I did not intend to spend time on Juumonji because we had already done enough jumonji for this training. But the number 4 is just the omotegyaku without the punch. So if I would have picked number 4 I would not have made this discovery and this article would not have been written. When things like this happens I strongly feel there is someone/something guiding me.

I’ve been struggling with how to end this article, but I think I can say that I have just explained why I still keep practicing BBT. I do get “intellectual rewards” like this quite often, maybe this was one of the biggest in a long time, but it is things like this that makes me keep going.

So in conclusion I’d like to thank everyone who helped me, from Hatsumi Soke to the little guy that said “number 4” yesterday. Bujinkan is a wonderful art and I wish you all had the patience to keep on going, that is the most important thing of all, if you do you will understand more and more, even after 25 years of training. My last words seems just perfect, and it really says it all…

Ganbatte kudasai!