Today was a pretty major.

I saw Darren Sensei was teaching a class. Darren is huge; he something like 6’5″ and is built like the terminator. He is also super friendly and helped me get the class schedule. He lives in Japan, and I’ve seen him almost every trip here. So when I saw him teaching at Hombu I decided to try it out. Maybe one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Essentially Darren explained quite concisely what Soke is doing, or rather teaching, in class. He also explained the  core idea behind Bujinkan – to understand the natural world. To do that, you have to understand paradoxes, and also that when something is the opposite it is essentially the same. Interestingly, this coincides with many ideas in physics. The key is to exist somewhere in the middle. There was so much in his class I got that I can’t put it all here, but I am definately happy I gave his class a try.

Next was Noguchi Sensei. This class was Shinden Fudo Ryu, Ten no Kata. It’s interesting as he demonstrated Henka that I started to see a pattern as they began to bleed into the Henka from other classes. It made me realize that although the school and waza appear quite different, there is much more in common then meets the eye. I got to uke a few more times for him in this class. One technique I thought my elbow would explode, yet when released there was no injury. He also clocked me a couple times – not hard but enough to know his fingers feel like they’re made of steel.

Also at 73, Noguchi can do a planking push up. He showed Shihan Johnson from Las Vegas before class. Holy crap that is scary.

The night ended with the man himself – Soke. I got to see alot of familiar faces, and was able to finally see Shiraishi Sensei. I got his schedule so I could fit more classes in with him.

Soke taught much of what Darren went over in his class – even a few of the techniques showed up. I felt like I started to understand (conceptually) what Soke was teaching. The techniques he shows aren’t meant to be replicated exactly; they’re organic and simply show a concept. However, to understand the feeling of them, you need to replicate it – paradox. The reality of doing this is very hard though. You pretty much have to shut your brain off. I felt like I was doing better closer to the end of class. He also emphasized controlling the opponent with one finger as you move from technique to technique. Everything should be done naturally.

Day 3 had many lightbulbs. It was a good day. Day 4 will include Someya and Sakasai. Onward we go…

Shidoshi Hamilton

Scott Hamilton is an 8th degree black belt in the Bujinkan, and travels regularly to Japan to train. In addition to being the owner and head instructor of Todai Dojo, Scott is also the CEO of a national manufacturing company. He has also received training in other martial arts, and in-depth modern weapons training.

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