Sunday, October 16, 2011

Beyond Ninja training...taking it to the next level

Since I was about 16 I had this dream of training as a ninja. I was enamored with all the ninja movies of the 80's and I bought and read all of Stephen K Hayes's books. They were gold to me and I had plans of one day training with him in Ohio. In the mean time I was training in Mas Oyama's Karate and thought of myself as being able to handle any situation if it came to it. It wasn't until I was 22 and I had moved to Mesa, Arizona when I had my first chance to train in Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu. There were actually two instructors in town, Peter Crocell and another fellow from Australia, Chris Graham. As fate would have it I ended up training with Chris. It was exactly what I had always been looking for, I learned rolling and many of the techniques that I was familiar with from Stephen K Hayes's books. All the Karate I had learned was crap and I found out how easy it was to take out anyone who fights face to face or throws high kicks. I learned to take out opponents within seconds, not sparring for 10-15minutes, in fact, in Ninjutsu we didn't spar as everything was real combat. We just did it slow at first until our skill level improved.

After a year I moved with Chris to Flagstaff, AZ where we started a school at a local park and helped teach for a good 4 years, with me being his top student and Uke (practice dummy). This was real Ninjutsu...I learned to flow, angle to get to the side or behind an opponent, lots of rolling and hitting the ground techniques. We played, yes we called it playing, with swords, staffs, chains, ropes and my favorite, knives and of course anything that was laying around. We trained in the snow, on the ice and in the wilderness. There was night training and obstacle course training on the park benches, boulders and kids playgrounds.

On top of all the Ninjutsu training, Chris was also ex-Australian SAS (Special Air Service), so I was taught and helped teach 4 man maneuvers, survival skills, combat shooting with pistol and rifle, rappelling, sentry take downs, etc.
I was living the life doing what I always wanted to do..then we hit a snag. Chris's business wasn't taking off and I was un-happy with other areas of my life. Even the training had plateaued as Chris wasn't into it anymore. After a bit of an argument we parted ways and I was left without an instructor. At first I took that as a sign that it was time to move teachers and all that, but then came the dissapointment and the reason I am even writing this all out.
I could not find a teacher anywhere who taught like Chris. As we were never part of the Bujinkan dojo culture or mainstream training I wasn't exposed to most of what goes on in that world. Chris always taught flow, natural body movement, etc. We learned that Togakure Ryu was highly effective combat system designed to end a 'situation' within seconds. We didn't do kata's or spar, made us kind of unique in the martial art world. The shock came when I started training with other groups. There total focus as it turns out all Bujinkan groups are that they focus on Kata's...I'm like WTF?

Bujinkan is about natural flowing motion, doing what comes to you as you are in combat, taking what opens up to you first the strike the wrist, oh look that opened the target up to a strike to the gut, then oh look, he is bent over lets take his head. It all flowed..but here are these Bujinkan guys, so called Ninjas, learning set movements and practicing them over and over until you want to puke up Kihon Happo (as the movements are called). Didn't matter where you go and train, that is what is taught now. Soke Hatsumi, Grandmaster of Bujinkan, handed out these movements as if they are the bible of Ninjutsu and it is all anyone does. What the heck happened!!

I challenge any of you to read Stephen K Hayes's books that came out in the 80's volumes 1-5. And the few other books he published. Where is all that training? Why has Ninjutsu been watered down to such an extreme extent? Ninjutsu isn't just un-armed combat with a bit of weapon work. The Art, yes..the ART is so much more. Composed of 16 schools just chock full of techniques, skills, stealth, deception, strategy, etc. Is this training only available to high level practioners now? or is it even taught to them? All I see are thousands of Bujinkan students practicing the same motions over and over, moving like robots for the most part. The flow is gone, the 'ninja' training is gone, all have been scrubbed from modern Bujinkan Ninpo training.

I've given up on finding a Bujinkan school that teaches that way I was taught back in the 90's, I haven't totally given up hope. I'm sure there are some old School teachers out there..probably not affiliated with Bujinkan though. I understand now why Glenn Morris created his own system, while using Bujinkan fighting methods he looked elsewhere to incorporate and flesh out the training.
So, I am following the way and styles of teachers such as Glenn Morris and Timothy Ferriss. I take the path of the 'experimenter'. I pull from any resource I can to create my mind, body and spirit into a warrior. I learn parkour for the movement skills, climbing walks, leaping, etc. Brain mental skills from numerous sources. Energy work taken from Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Chi Kung and various other schools. Combat Skills from SAS and Special Forces teachings. I learn NLP, social skills, strategy skills. Incorporate Kettlebells, Crossfit, Bodyweight training.

I am creating the Warrior Zone training goal is to create an Advanced Human Being. Going beyond just a Ninja. The Ninja of ancient history were on a path to create the perfect human body, mind and spirit. They worked in the shadows to achieve their goals. I wish to bring that spirit alive again within the Warrior Zone. To help make you and everyone else who is interested into a better human being, an advanced human being. With ancient and modern teachings this is very possible today. We all can take ourselves to the next level of Evolution. Use more of that brain capacity, push our body's limits to levels that are usually only reached in highly stressful situations, such as survival. We can all become who we truly are. Being a warrior is so much more than being able to fight. In fact you don't have to know how to fight to be a warrior. Warrior Zone will help everyone and anyone reach their true potential.

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