September 23, 2008


On Saturday and Sunday, November 1st and 2nd, 2008, I’ll be hosting our annual Bujinkan Shingitai-Ichi Fall Gasshuku, at Edwards YMCA Camp in East Troy, Wisconsin, about an hour and a half outside Chicago. I’ll be assisted by a variety of instructors and a full plate of subject matter:

Outdoor survival skills
Escape from capture
Stealth and evasion
Team movement
Night training
Night Games
Makko Ho Japanese stretching
Climbing wall and grapple

Camp Edwards is 132 acres of marshlands, pine forests, prairies, and wooded dells, all with easy trail access. We’ll be staying at the Runge Lodge, which has a sunken fireplace, cathedral ceiling and loft balcony just like an old-fashioned ski resort. The lodge sleeps 32 people - six rooms with shared bathrooms and two rooms with private bathrooms, and offers three separate meeting areas, a snack kitchen, an outdoor deck, TV/VCR, a fireplace and even a piano.

We’ll enjoy family style meals in the cafeteria for dinner on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday including a fresh vegetable salad bar, soups, hot and cold foods, and desserts. Coffee and tea will be available all day long in the main lodge.

Registration is $100.00 and includes lodging, meals, and training. For Shidoshi interested in attending, please contact me.

This is a preliminary announcement, specific information will be forthcoming. Save the date and start packing, a gear list will follow soon.


September 15, 2008

Taikai Wrap up

Despite the storm, almost incessant rain, and discomfort, two dozen Budoka accepted the challenge to attend the 2008 Prairie State Taikai. We traveled for miles coming in from Madison, Wisconsin, St. Louis, Missouri, and across Illinois. Representing five different dojos, we gathered on a muddy, rain-soaked field and started training. Very soon, the rain was forgotten, replaced with a steady focus on concepts, techniques, and feeling of the art that binds us together. We left that evening, tabi soaked, gi pants a muddy, sandy mess, but with renewed ties that characterize Buyu.

I wish to sincerely thank all those who supported the Taikai with their attendance as well as those who helped get the word out, but were unable to attend. All proceeds will benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

Let’s do it all again next year!

Buyu Ikkan,


September 3, 2008

Kokoro wo Shinobu

From a student:
"Ukemi is for preventing harm. I suppose this can be expanded. It can mean preventing harm done to yourself physically by reacting/taking movement in the correct way. Mentally, by ensuring you have the right priorities and you are not being led down dangerous situations (politically at work or in religion for example). It can mean preventing harm done to others either by protecting your heart so you don't become dangerous/bad to those around you or protecting other people's feelings/heart. Ukemi is such a vast subject. If you want to take ukemi and protect yourself - you have to train correctly with the right intention and attitude so we are taking 'ukemi' just by showing up to training. I suppose this is related to the kanji for self defence - protecting the heart."

Great hearing from you! You seem to be picking up more and more aspects of training on both a conscious and subconscious level, especially with your recent experiences at carnival. You’re maturing in the art and it’s great to see.

I really like your thoughts on Ukemi, especially the notion that preventing harm goes beyond the conventional aspects of mere physical training. Ukemi as well as concepts like Kamae and Taihenjutsu all overlap at some point. Being able to distinguish each from the other is one way of paying them attention, while we actually put them into practice. The idea of “thinking ahead” and “leading” our opponent is not something to be underestimated. We need to consistently be mindful of those around us, our environment, and our interactions with them, not on the scale of being paranoid, but as much as is necessary. In your experience at carnival, you had just the right feeling while there: you enjoyed yourself, keeping a steady eye out, and when the trouble started, you were already on the way home.

In our dojo, one of our main themes is the idea of living up to the image we each have of our better self, thus becoming the person we all wish we could be. Last week, someone asked me how they could effectively do this, when they were always assuming others were going to attack them, whether at a bar, or out on the town. In their mind, they were trying to “think ahead,” but at the cost of enjoying themselves. Their own mental image was not one of utter vigilance, which put them on edge, but of inner activation with a calm demeanor. They were perplexed about how to attain this.

What I said was not to be concerned about being attacked; that vigilance, alert watchfulness, was not a normal warrior mindset. Instead, I used a metaphor about shopping. You know when you’re out looking for something, a shirt maybe, but you aren’t settled on exactly what you’re looking for? So, you visit a few shops, and you’re looking at the merchandise, but not for anything in particular. You see everything, but only as much as you need to, not focusing on any one thing, until maybe you find what you think “matches.” A warrior’s normal mindset is kind of like this: seeing and experiencing everything, taking it all in, but not focusing on it, unless it demands focus. This is most often described as a kind of radar. Now, whereas most often radar is spoken about as identifying bad stuff, it can also identify good stuff just as well, such as wonderful people we may meet, or poignant situations and circumstances that can hold greater lessons.

So, what we are really speaking about is a level of sensitivity attainable through training. This sensitivity allows us to interpret the world in a clearer, more definable way, which impacts how we then choose to interact with it. Training raw physical protective movement, based on the structure and resiliency of our body, allows us to intuit the phrase, “the body has no corners.” Once this is understood, more formalized Ukemi and Taihenjutsu techniques can be introduced and eventually applied to the student’s feeling for martial posture/positioning - Kamae. Deeper training can be attained hereafter.

The wheel that is Taijutsu looks simple from the top, but viewed from the side, reveals itself to be multi-tiered. Ukemi, as a physical lesson, actually manifests itself in very non-physical ways when we are training correctly, that is, applying techniques beyond mere performance. From what you are saying, it sounds like the care and devotion you have put into your training is paying off - you’ve looked after your training, now your training is looking after you.