October 17, 2009

Gasshuku 2009 Schedule

Here is the schedule for this year's Gasshuku. We've quite a weekend planned. We'll have several instructors on hand as well as other folks offering their knowledge and skills in the small group sessions on Sunday morning. We'll also tackle the 40-foot climbing wall then.

I've been hosting Gasshuku for almost 10 years now, and every time is a new experience. It's a great chance to get outside and apply our training to skills we sometimes don't get to practice in the dojo, like stealth and stalking, camouflage, climbing, natural skills like firestarting, as well as taking Taijutsu off the mats and into the woods.

Each year, I try to keep the costs down - all training, meals on Saturday and Sunday, as well as lodging is included for $150. We only do Gasshuku once a year and it's a great time to come together with like-minded folks for an extended weekend of training and camaraderie in a beautiful setting, during what I think is the nicest time of year.

Please contact me if you plan on joining us.


SGTIDojo Gasshuku
October 30-Nov 1, 2009

Friday, October 30

Check in
16:00 – 18:00 Participants to grab bunks in Runge Lodge
18:00 – 20:00 Sanshin and Kihon Happo with all instructors
Dinner in East Troy on Friday night

Saturday, October 31

08:00 – 09:30 Micklewright Lodge dining hall
09:30 – 12:00 Taijutsu with James, “Nawa no kukan”
12:00 – 13:30 Micklewright Lodge dining hall
13:30 – 16:30 Instructor break-out sessions
17:00 – 18:30 Micklewright Lodge dining hall
19:00 – 20:30 Stealth, awareness, and camouflage
20:30 - ??:?? Night Games

Sunday, November 1

08:00 – 09:30 Micklewright Lodge dining hall
09:30 – 12:00 Small-group sessions & climbing wall
12:00 – 13:30 Micklewright Lodge dining hall
13:30 – 16:00 Instructor break-out sessions
16:00 – 17:00 Bodyguarding/defending others, all instructors

October 9, 2009

Buyu Camp East 2009

Tomo and I just returned from a trip into the heart of New Jersey (and no, New Jersey is not all about fat guys in jogging suits with six cell phones, who sit around in pizzerias answering those cell phones - paging Mr. Soprano). The "Garden State" is really nice. Tomo and I joined many others for Buyu Camp East and we loved it.

Buyu Camp is held at the Kateri Environmental Center, about a 40-minute drive south of Newark. Kateri was a Native American woman, baptised some 300 years ago into the Catholic religion.

Hosted by Jack Hoban, Buyu camps are a chance for folks to come together, train, and share ideas. This year's turnout was the biggest yet, with around 80 people showing up.

I haven't been to a Buyu Camp in some time, but I recognized a few faces including Mark Hodel, Ed Martin, Steffan Frohlich, and Joe Lau. Buyu East is also matched by its bigger brother, Buyu West, held annually just outside San Francisco.

Friday night began with Sanshin no kata and Jack's thoughts on three-dimensional movement, capturing the right "space," and his trifecta of sanshin: technique, tactic, and ethic, or body, mind, and spirit. Creating an opening (technique), we maneuvered into a better position than our opponent (tactic), and then let them decide whether the fight continued at their disadvantage (ethic). Very cool.

Saturday and Sunday saw extended sessions with Jack and break-out sessions with various teachers, including yours truly. Teachers offered instruction in groundfighting, Koto Ryu movement, Ukemi, defending others, and even primitive fire starting with Joe Lau, a former instructor at Tom Brown's world famous Tracker School. My session covered "connection" and connectivity, more or less the Bujinkan's theme of the year.

We met some great folks and had good fun with everybody. In fact, we're already planning a return trip.

October 2, 2009

Remember the time we accidentally climbed that mountain?

"Light hiking." That's what it was supposed to be. Light. I guess I was up for some "light" hiking. I was up for all kinds of light activity the day before leaving Japan: Light shopping. Light snacking. Light napping, even. But what we got was not light. It was damn serious. I just wish we had known we were going to do it.

It's not like Tomo's friend didn't tell us. She did. The Shugenja Trail. A trail made by the Shugenja. Got it. We just had no clue what that meant. Turns out, she didn't either - she had been invited by a mutual friend, who was a semi-professional climber. This was 'light' for her.

The mountain, Homan-zan, is a well known 'power spot,' and has been for centuries. The shrine at the top was originally built during the Tenmu era, 673-686 AD. One of the shrines at the base was to the founder of Shindo Muso Ryu, Muso Gonnosuke. This guy was serious. He fights Miyamoto Musashi, loses, and comes to Homan-zan to pray and meditate on his loss. In fact, he meditates in one of the mountain's caves, 'Fuchi no Kutsu,' to realize why. The story goes, he prayed and meditated until he got a 'divine stick,' and came up with Jodo - the way of the stick (Shindo Muso Ryu, for short).

Now, granted, I should have known better, I mean it is called the Shugenja Trail, right? It isn't called the Hello Kitty Trail, Totoro's Trail, or the Super Floppy Sock High School Action Trail, it's called the Shugenja Trail. And it is called this for one reason alone: the Shugenja were nuts. And at no time during this hike do you ever forget that.

You see, the trail is, in fact, built out of rocks. Rocks that make steps. Big ones. Big rock steps up the side of a mountain. An 830 meter high mountain (2723 feet or a little more than half a mile straight up). But the trail winds more than 2 kilometers (about a mile and half) up the side of said mountain. It took us three hours to summit. An hour and 45 to make it down.

And remember, we had no idea we were going to do this. We were completely unprepared. Tomo's wearing her tiny Puma shoes, we've half a bottle of water between us, the rocks are slippery and steps steep. Any slip would have made for a very bad ending to a great trip. By the time we realized where we were and what we were doing, it was just too late to turn back.

All in all, it was a fine day. It's nice to know we can climb a mountain at the drop of a hat, even if there was a little gnashing of teeth (okay, my teeth). But, hell, no one got injured. And when we came down, the girls drank purple Shiso drinks. I had a coconut-mango smoothie. It was awful.

Oh, and we heard from Tomo's friend. She couldn't walk for two days.