Introduction to Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu

Interested in Learning Japanese martial arts?

We organise regular eight week beginners’ courses. The next start date is Monday, October 5th, 2015

These courses cover all aspects of training in the Bujinkan dojo. No previous experience is necessary as we start from the most basic skills – kicking, punching, locks and throws, how to stretch and drills to teach you how to fall without hurting yourself. The Bujinkan has a very wide weapons syllabus and in the Beginners’ course we look at the basics of hanbo jutsu – fighting using a three foot staff.

Training is held on Monday evenings from 6.30 pm to 7.30pm in our dojo in Molesworth Lane, Dublin 2 (just behind St. Ann’s Church on Dawson St.). Training is open to both men and women over the age of 16.

The cost of the course includes:

– 8 weeks tuition every Monday
– Training manual
– Black training uniform (dogi) with white belt

Cost is €70.
For students and unemployed it’s €50

Places on the course are limited, so book online now:

 

You can book your place directly from this page.

Eventbrite - Introduction to Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu

If you have any questions you can email me (jishindojo@gmail.com) alternatively, you can phone me on 087-2492951.

What Previous Beginners have said:
“A fantastic intro to martial arts in a very friendly environment. Doesn’t take long to learn the basics and it’s super exercise too. Ninjas do it with attitude.”

Sinead McGlynn

“The eight weeks flew by. I loved that technique is more emphasised than strength (meant girls like me actually had a fighting chance) and I liked the titbits of Japanese history and culture thrown in. The atmosphere was more relaxed and female-friendly than some other clubs I’ve been in too”.

Aileen Power

You can also sign up for further details on the course using the sign up form below.

 


QR Code for Bujinkan Beginners' Course Sign up

 

Beginners Application Form

It is recommended that you view a class before starting the beginners’ course if you wish to do this please e-mail, phone or text.

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Kukishinden Ryu Sword Seminar

Just a quick reminder that there is seminar next weekend with Alex Esteve Shihan from Spain. As well as being a very skilled martial artist and a very dedicated student of Hatsumi sensei’s Alex is an absolute gentleman and I’d like to encourage as many of my students as possible to attend. On Friday 30th, there will be training from 7:30pm to 9:30pm focusing on ‘Kukishinden Ryu Bojutsu.’ Participants will need to bring a 6ft staff.

On Saturday 31st, there will be training from 11am to 5:30pm, focusing on ‘Kuki biken no ho’, or the sword skills of the Kukishinden Ryu. Participants will need to bring a bokuto, or wooden sword.

The cost for the Friday night session will be €20, while Saturday will cost €60. If you pay in advance for both sessions online, the combined cost is €70.

Tickets are available here: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/january-2015-training-with-alex-esteve-shihan-tickets-15353566932

Interview with Gillian Booth Shihan (Part 2)

In the second part of our interview with Shihan Gillian Booth, she talks about the experience of being female in the “boys’ club” of Bujinkan and what an all-female taikai can achieve.

Female instructors are in the minority in Bujinkan, and certainly few have risen to the rank of 15th Dan. Having been through plenty of ‘only girl in the room’ moments myself, I wonder how it must feel for someone who has gone through 38 years of it.

“There are probably 5 or 10 women in the world who are amazing practitioners, at the top of their game. Us others are working to keep inspired by that, seeing models of other lone wolves”.

And when lone wolves come together?

“The energy was electrifying,” she says of the all-female Kunoichi Taikai in Germany in 2010.

“All of those one or two women from hundreds of dojos – the black sheep – they all got together. It was a very consolidating time for everybody.”

She explains that Soke wanted women to find their own space within the Bujinkan.

“He felt it was really important that women had that feeling of not being alone. He really wanted them to have the feeling of connectedness and congeniality and consolidation. That they were not just one in every dojo – they were hundreds.”

Instructors reported their female students returning to dojos expanded in “their spirit and their confidence and their attitude.”

She shakes her head. “Even a very supportive teacher can’t inject that to a student.”

I ask for her tips for an injury-free career.

“As a smaller person it’s important to say, ‘you cannot apply these techniques in training with the same force that you would on a big strong fellow’. It’s okay to say ‘that’s too much for me’.”

It reminds me of the advice from Marie-Valerie Saumon at the Kunoichi Taikai: “Don’t think you’re a man. You’re a woman – be proud of it”.

“It’s not a level playing field,” she nods.

“If we try and compete and emulate how much energy or strength it would take to compete with a guy, we end up sending too much energy out and end up robbing our own energy and immune system.”

“Soke talks about ‘take this Taijutsu, take this movement, and make it your own’. And that doesn’t mean trying to do it exactly the same as the person who’s demonstrating it, or exactly as the person who’s 6ft 4 and weighs 100 kilos would do it. It means own it. How do you do it for yourself in a way that’s sustaining for you, not draining for you?”

Before I leave to have ‘sustaining not draining’ printed on twenty black t-shirts, I ask what lessons she is keen to impart to her own students.

“Well Soke talks about this principle of ‘one thousand cuts and no surprises’. What it means is if something happens on a one-off basis, you’re likely to be immobilised or frozen or not quite know what to do. But if in our training we continue to get exposed to variables that we don’t always know the answer to, then eventually everything becomes like a walk in the park.”

The key, she says, is to get exposure to things that we’re not necessarily always in control of, walk through the variables and collect them all.

“I think it is a really important metaphor for not getting our boat rocked in – or out – of the dojo.”

This exposure is why some women get involved in martial arts in the first place, and, indeed, why this author feels every woman should.

Many high-ranking female instructors have had connections with women’s self-defense initiatives. Sheila Haddad and Cathy Lewis are board members on women’s self defense associations, while Frances Haynes is a consultant to governments on interpersonal violence and Natascha Morgan teaches self-defense to womens’ groups.

Gillian is keen to differentiate between budo and self-defense though.

“The basis of women’s self defense is not getting out of strangles and arm bars and kicking people in the groin. It’s actually a spirit and an attitude. Being able to show ‘I’m not going quietly – I’ll fight every inch of the way’. That’s the thing that defuses many attacks in the first place.”

She tells me that if someone approached her and said something leading or offensive, her first response would be put her finger in their face and shout ‘DON’T FUCK WITH ME!’

The words – dripping with intention and aggression – seem to shake the table. It’s a scene I have recounted excitedly to many women since.

“That’s the basis of most women’s self defense: the psychology and not being a pushover. So everyone who can project an attitude of ‘I’m no pushover’ is in a better position to not attract that domination in the first place.

“There’s a lot of evidence that the people who mug, rape and steal are actually shrewd about their victims. The people who they think are not just going to crumble when they’re challenged are less likely to be attacked than the person who is not aware of where they are, or is sort of slumped in their body language.

“I think like many lessons in life, it’s really important to be able to say No, and to be able to say No with a really loud voice. If you haven’t had exposure to standing your ground and saying No, you can actually learn that in a training environment”.

Suddenly the News of the World hack in me comes out and asks whether anyone has ever been stupid enough to try something on her.

“Yes, I met somebody who did karate at a party. He kept wanting to know ‘what I would do if he did this sort of karate kick’, and I said ‘no, no, don’t do that’. And he did that. And in front of a crowd of people, he just ended up flat on his back with my hands around his neck.”

I ask for some final advice for the women of Bujinkan.

“Keep going, but keep going on your own terms. Don’t try and keep going in the terms of the bigger, stronger person.”

Black sheep and lone wolves – we’re all stronger than we look.

Link to Part one of the Interview here

Link to Kunoichi Taikai homepage here

Aileen Power can be found on Twitter @AileenSpeaks

If you are interested in learning more about Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu; beginners’ information can be found here

Interview with Gillian Booth Shihan (Part 1)

With 38 years of martial arts under (several) black belts, Gillian Booth is one of the highest-ranking shidoshi in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. She is also surely one of the most deadly, as a former national champion of Judo and 15th Dan rank in Bujinkan, along with yellow belts in a smattering of other martial arts. This is the woman that Buffy has nightmares about.

In the first part of an interview with Aileen Power, she spoke about her training career in Judo and Bujinkan, what inspires her, and why we should use the force – but not too much.

Gillian is not the first instructor to find Bujinkan via a career in Judo. She may be one of the most interesting though.

Her martial arts career began with the sport martial art – and almost finished with it. She admits it’s “a very harsh sport”.

“It’s a bit like rugby – only you can’t run away with the ball. You just have to keep holding on – tackling each other, trying to throw each other. I mean, how many 35-year old professional rugby players are there? You’ll find few people very active in Judo in their thirties. Most are a bit broken and injured and can’t continue to train.”

After fifteen years and two serious injuries, she found herself in the “bit broken” category and retired from Judo. Her addiction to the feeling of flow and nagare – “the battle of wits and minds and bodies” kept her flirting with martial arts, picking up grades in Hapkido, Kung Fu, and Aikido.

By the time her partner recommended she try Ninjutsu, she was almost ready to hang up all the belts.

“I said ‘no no, I’m a mature woman now, I’m over my adolescent martial arts phase’. But I went along, and sure enough I loved it.”

She found a lot of parallels between Bujinkan and Judo.

“There was a lot of similar feelings; a lot of similar angles and timing and distance and rolling and ukemi. Bujinkan gave me the opportunity to use everything I had ever learned in Judo, but to also have a curriculum that was inexhaustible. There was so much to learn.”

The was also a stark difference at training level:

“In Bujinkan there was a little bit of discomfort and inconvenience and injury risk, but it wasn’t like being run over by a bus every time you went to training”.

The physical impact on the body came down to the different use of power and force. “The striving we have in our art is to always look for that sweet spot using the least amount of power – it’s not how you can force the sweet spot with a lot of power.”

It’s the sweet spot that explains how those with less traditional strength can be so powerful at Bujinkan.

“There are people still training who are 70 or 80, and women training, who’ve been able to find their way in the dojo by using less energy, less power and being smarter about how they move.”

It’s encouraging talk for anyone who is not 22, 50% muscle mass and able to bench press twice their weight. In fact, employing your natural strength could ultimately be counterproductive, she says.

“Whenever you’re training and you feel like you have to use power to affect something – try use less instead of more. Think ‘how can I cut back the power and get this to work instead of trying harder?’ Or ‘how can I manoeuvre my body or manipulate the timing or the distance so that I use less power?’”

Her simple advice is “don’t try meet force with force, or strength with strength. Redirect that force, and if you can get that mental mindset and adapt that to your body movement, not only will your skill level sky-rocket, your longevity will also increase.”

There is no higher example than 81-year old grand master Hatsumi Sensei, who she describes as an “amazingly inspiration” along with his senior teachers.

“They’re very inspirational, not just because they’re great at budō, but because they are creative human beings and old men who are still very active and still enjoying what they do. They’ve still got that sense of childlike fun in what they do.”

As she enthralled her audience of students at the Dublin seminar, kyu grades and 15th Dans among them, it’s clear she is still enjoying herself too. After 38 years of the male-dominated, injury-prone and challenging world of martial arts, she still manages to stay inspired and in turn be inspirational.

Those who she used as uke at the seminar told me they barely felt pressure from her fingers as she twisted and threw them into submission. She told us that, on a 1 to 10 table of force, her teachers in Japan seem to work at a zero. She considers herself only able to manage one or two.

With her ‘use the force – but not too much’ mantra, it’s clear she does practise what she preaches. Let’s hope she continues to do so for another 20 years.

 

 

 

 

 

Hatsu-Keiko

The first training of the year will take place on Monday, 7th of January at 8.30. There will also be dojo soji (dojo cleaning). The first training of the year is an important event and I expect all students to attend. If you are interested in the rituals and traditions associated with New Year’s training in traditional dojos in Japan there is a nice article here.

Beginning Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu

As we have a new beginners’ course starting soon I asked one of our more recent students to write a post about starting training in the dojo. Many thanks to Aileen Power for doing this.

Enter the Dojo: Beginning Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu

There’d probably be something wrong with you if you weren’t intimidated waiting outside your first beginners’ class. God help me, mine was on a wet February night when the silhouettes of regular students outside the door seemed even bulkier and more menacing in shadow. I stood silently recounting the website’s words, ‘strikes’, ‘punches’, ‘locks’, ‘throws’, with rising panic.

The good news is that it was the only uncomfortable five minutes I ever had in Bujinkan.

I’m three months and one just-out-of-the-wrapper belt into Bujinkan now. Along with five others, I’ve transformed from nervously awkward beginner to awkwardly enthused student.

Those menacing shadows turned out to be friendly, welcoming, even sweet – but more willing to impart said throws and punches than I feared outside. The difference is the easy, smiling camaraderie threaded throughout. It makes sense – you can’t stand there and be bruised and bent and struck by someone you don’t like and who doesn’t like you. A couple of weeks ago another student bit my arm and all I could do is laugh. He shrugged. We moved on.

Way before the, eh, biting though, there are the basics. We started with the fundamentals everything else is built on: form (kamae), rolling (ukemi) and break falls. Grasp them, practise them; rinse, repeat.

Potential beginners should know, and Tom won’t be pleased at me saying it, but you don’t have to be at your ‘ideal’ fitness level to start this. It’s too easy to put these things off until you can run the four-minute mile, or bench 40kg again, or the kids go to college so you can put in a gym.

Do. Not. Wait.

Bujinkan is the activity that will inspire you to get fit, not the other way around. I get pangs of thinking ‘if only I started this when I was 20 – what an inky black belt I’d have now and such wicked party tricks’.

Start now. And if you are 20, expect me to take out some of my frustration on you.

About six weeks in, it transpired that there is a whole Bujinkan world outside the dojo window. Ireland is spoilt, and Dublin in particular, with clubs packed with experience and talent. Seminars and workshops pop up often. Go. The new words and moves you (literally) throw around after are very gratifying. One very senior female instructor I saw at a seminar moved with such deadly grace I was almost inspired to practice 12 hours a day in a basement, Old Boy style.

Which brings me to an important point for all the ladies out there. Bujinkan is not a testosterone-fuelled boys club. You are not born at a disadvantage to it. Bring your built-in agility, flexibility, and ego-free mindset and you’re off to a good start. The experience of being able to throw a man, twice your weight and three times your strength, over your shoulder is incredible. I mean, ridiculously enjoyable. You’re going to want to do it again immediately. Which of course, you can.

I haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly why this is so fun yet. Why I wince and gasp in pain through laughter. Why I leave the pub early for it, stay up late reading about it, and am itching to write about it.

Maybe there is a little something wrong with me after all.

Meh. At least I’m fitting in.”

 

New Training DVD

The Bujinkan Meehan Dojo has released a new training DVD – Tenchi Ryaku no Maki which covers techniques from the first two books of the Bujinkan training syllabus Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki (The Book of Strategies of Heaven, Earth and Man). The DVD was produced with Duncan Stewart Shihan who is Japan resident Jugodan. It is an excellent resource and I’d thoroughly recommend it to all Bujinkan practitioners. It is available as a DVD or digital download here

Beginners’ Course

The beginners’ course starts tomorrow. There are still some places left so if you are interested please get in touch. Those of you who have already signed up will be receiving an a email later today with some details of the course.

Stretching

A really interesting post by Jon Haas on the subject of stretching. It provoked a lot of discussion at training on Thursday. Interestingly although the Japanese shihan are really flexible none of us could ever remember a class in Japan which started with stretching exercises. Find the article here