My thoughts on training.
For me, the Bujinkan training has always been about survival. Survival and the protection of those I love. My drive for this art has nothing to do with being the baddest dude on the block. I have no desire to prove myself in the ring. I know that there is always going to be someone stronger and/or better trained than me.
I believe that some people have a distorted view of our training. And I believe that a lot of the misconceptions come from the whole “ninja” fantasy. Growing up, all of the ninja movie showed dudes who were completely indestructible, no single person could beat them, no ten people could beat them. This is a fantasy.
I have said for years that ones fighting spirit is more important than the techniques you know. Too many people believe that after a few years training in this art they will be indestructible. And unfortunately I’ve met some people who have trained for decades in the Bujinkan and do believe that they are indestructible.
Now after 27 years of training, I believe that I have a better chance than the average person, of surviving a lethal attack. But I also understand that there are many, many people who maybe don’t train in anything, that could take me in a fight. The true beauty of this art is the ability to recognize the threat and not engage when survival chances are slim.
For example: I have trained two to three times a week since I started, but I will not get in the ring with someone half my age who trains 6 hours a day five days a week in some form of MMA. That would just be stupid. But the chances of someone like this attacking me out of the blue are very slim.
I’ve also had very limited training in traditional boxing, but there is no way in hell that I’m going to get in the ring and put on gloves and try to box with someone who’s had even a years worth of training. That’s not what I do. If I have to fight someone better trained than me, it will be on my terms, and will probably involve the use of large heavy objects like my truck running them over. I believe in overkill when it comes to my survival and the protection of my loved ones.
My teacher told me very early on, “never try to box a boxer, never try to wrestle a wrestler.” This is good training.
But, I have traveled off the subject a bit. Most of the techniques in the Bujinkan are based on “battlefield” combat strategies. They are designed to be done in armor. If you want to learn an art that is rich in history, and is a combat strategy art, then this is the art for you. If you want to be a bad ass, go join an MMA club. But remember the MMA scene is a young mans game, and if you live long enough you will have injuries that you will wish you didn’t have.
Now don’t take me wrong there are some serious bad asses in the Bujinkan, but typically they have either trained for 20-30 years straight OR they have actual combat experience (military, police, etc) to enhance their training. And the techniques taught are very effective, and they do work, but they take years to master. But once the techniques are yours, they will spring to your aid when you need them. But you must make them yours, but that is a subject for another blog post.
If you are in the military or law enforcement, I do believe that the Bujinkan training will be seriously good for you in the long term, but I also believe that you should supplement your training with as much defensive tactics, ground fighting of some sort, and boxing, as you can get, at the very least so you know what to expect on the street.
The Bujinkan is a fantastic source of knowledge, Soke and the Japanese Shihan are just incredible to train with. Their movements have been honed over the course of up to 80 years (in the case of Soke). At my stage, 27 years of training, there is no way I can really comprehend what Soke is doing after his life long journey in the martial arts. But that is why I keep going back to Japan, if I get to the point where I understand what Soke and the Shihan are doing, I’ll probably stop going. But I don’t see that happening any time soon.
I guess my main point here is, for me, the Bujinkan is about survival, and knowledge, and about expanding my abilities over the long haul. If I were going to war next week, my training would be much different. If I were training my students for combat in six weeks, their training would be different.
My desire is to grow as a human, Soke has been quoted as saying he is training people to be better humans. This is very good training.
The Bujinkan, like any organization of more than three people, has it’s share of people who are foolish, arrogant, and just plain bad at what they do. BUT, it also has some of the greatest people I have ever met. It’s your job to figure out the difference.
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