Bojutsu vs Kenjutsu vs Bojutsu vs Kenjutsu…

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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

Review; Ninjutsu Shinken kata seminar with Dean Rostohar

CIMG1276In September 2009 Bujinkan Kaigōzan dōjō SSIF in Stockholm, Sweden hosted a seminar with Dean Rostohar, Shihan from Bujinkan Croatia.

First I would like to say thanks to Dean Rostohar for coming to us once again, this was the 4’th time we had him over here. Also special thanks to Davor, Hana and Ivica who travelled by car all the way from Croatia just to come here to train and assist their own teacher! Also big thanks to René coming from the Netherlands and Jukka coming from Finland. Also thanks to Tony for helping with transportation and stuff, and Johan for taking pictures and filming the seminar. Finally also thanks to the participants from Kaigozan Dojo, To Nan dojo, Solstaden Karlstad, Eskilstuna Bujinkan, Örebro Kampsportsförening and Berserk MMA.

This was a very good seminar where Dean taught and showed us many, many good and useful techniques and examples from his personal experience. First I felt quite ashamed that I couldn’t get more people interested enough to show up on the seminar. Then I felt pity for the fools that missed the chance to get really good training, what did you do this weekend that was so important? Seriously, I don’t want to hear all bad excuses, let’s leave it at that I’m sure you can convince me you had good reasons ;-).

CIMG1189As always Dean teach from his big heart, you who have been to his trainings know what I mean. The first day he did techniques based on the first technique Ichimonji from Kihon happo kata. But it was different than what he showed before, more realistic and useful. Although he never said that the basics is bad to know or practice, but the basics is basics to teach students a foundation to build up on. When you know the basics well you combine each basic movement to the situation, and it comes alive. You do what you have to do to benefit from the situation. He showed many different taijutsu techniques this weekend.

In the afternoon training Dean and his students from Croatia showed many interesting techniques and team tactics how to work in a group, everything from quickly climbing up over a wall, or in to a window. How to take out a guard and many other examples how to work as a team.

The second day Davor started by showing and teaching his excellent taihenjutsu skills, he did some of the best taihenjutsu moves I have ever seen. He was rolling smoothly and silently like a cat moves, very nice! Then Dean taught more taijutsu techniques from Kihon-happo. Then later on he showed us how to train up the sensitivity, and then he moved on to some sword techniques. Finally he showed and explained to us how to train while blindfolded.

CIMG1049The KGZ BUDO SHOP have many DVD’s with Dean Rostohar. This seminar DVD will be available for order in October 2009, shortly after there will be three more DVD’s with Dean released at KGZ BUDO SHOP. Here is a direct link to the Shinken Kata videos… https://www.budoshop.se/store/videos/dvd-bujinkan-budo-taijutsu/shinken-kata

Happy training!
Mats Hjelm (seminar organizer, dojo-cho at Kaigozan Dojo)

Mats seminar pictures

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