Understanding the Righteous Heart

A student in class recently asked why I don’t say the entire Tadashi Kokoro no Kaisetsu. The answer was simple: I didn’t know it by heart. I also explained that I would be uncomfortable saying the phrase without knowing what it means. So I decided to find out what the entire poem meant, and to […]

Shikin Haramitsu Daikoumiyo

If you’ve ever taken a Martial Arts class at a Bujinkan Dojo, you’ve heard those three somewhat difficult Japanese words shouted at the beginning and end of class: Shiken Haramitsu Daikoumyo. These words have profound significance – but only if you understand what they mean (much less say them). Here we’re going to translate this Buddhist mantra, and the meaning behind one of the most often used phrases in Bujinkan training.

The Secrets of Koryu Martial Arts

Studying Koryu (lit. “Old School”) arts are more about gaining trust of the teacher rather than developing skill per se. Most of what is in a Koryu art is kept secret from the majority of practitioners, with the most sensitive or secretive information reserved the most dedicated and trusted students. Keeping Koryu Secret Martial Arts […]

The 2 types of Japanese Martial Arts

While there are countless ways to catagorize martial arts in general, Japanese martial arts typically fall within two distinct catagories based on age: Koryu Bujutsu and Gendai Budo. Koryu vs Gendai Literally translating to “Old School”, a Koryu is any martial arts system whose founding predates the Meiji Restoration in 1868. The Meiji Restoration is […]

[RANT] Beware the Ego

Sometimes I’m shocked at the shear ego and hubris of Martial Artists. Especially since letting go of ego is such a huge part of Japanese Budo. But some people, talented or not, are completely wrapped up in themselves. And my recent exchange might take the cake. I’m not here to publicly shame anyone, but rather […]

[RANT] Incompetent Self Defense Instructor

I usually don’t openly criticize other teachers – especially those in the same art. Sure I have my own opinions, but I don’t pretend to be an expert in all things. There might be something someone is showing that I just don’t understand yet. But every once in a while, I run into something so […]

A Gata by Any Other Name

The other day in class we we’re studying a gata in Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu, in the Shizen Shigoku no Kata. The students were able to follow through the mechanics and form of the kata well, but had a comment: “It feels very odd how it’s done”. The answer was in the name of the […]

Best Weapon for Home Self Defense

Dog Best Weapon for Home Self Defense

The other night I was at a get together for a friend’s birthday. While there, one of my long time friends brought up that he was thinking of getting a gun, but was unsure of what to get. I am a gun advocate, and own several. “What do you think? Should I get a revolver […]

Gyokko Ryu Seminar by Mark Franco 10/7-10/8/17

Mark Franco performing Jodan Uke

Todai is honored to welcome Mark Franco for an in depth seminar on Gyokko Ryu Koshijutsu Mark Franco is going to share the secrets and proper technique of Gyokko Ryu Koshijutsu – the foundation for Bujinkan training. [vc_row][vc_column][vc_masonry_media_grid element_width=”3″ item=”mediaGrid_Default” grid_id=”vc_gid:1505365455264-1bb1bcc3-caaa-0″ include=”10075,10080,10079,10078″][/vc_column][/vc_row]   Mark Franco began his training in the Bujinkan in 1989 under Kevin […]

Understanding the Sanshin

I have to confess: I haven’t been the best teacher. I rarely do the Sanshin in class. I figured it was super simple, and takes away the precious time we have in class from the “real training” where techniques are applied. Frankly, I thought it was a little boring and a bit redundant. Then I […]

Fundamentals: Classical vs. Tactical Seminar 8/19-8/20/17

Todai is honored to welcome back our founder, Shihan Matthew Woodard, for an exciting seminar: Fundamentals: Classical vs. Tactical Drawing from his decades of training in Martial Arts and years of experience as a Law Enforcement Officer, Criminal Apprehension Team (C.A.T) member, and Executive Professional Specialist, Matt Woodard (Shihan/Ju-go dan) will be guiding you through […]

April 2017 Koto Ryu Seminar

Learn How to Topple a Tiger We are happy to announce our seminar on Koto Ryu Koppojutsu (“Tiger Topple School of Bone Art”), taught by Shidoshi Cochise Brunet. We are honored to have Shidoshi Brunet visit us and teach us his understanding of Koto Ryu. About Shidoshi Cochise Brunet I was fortunate enough to train […]

Defend Yourself from Hate

Due to the current political climate and what is happening across our nation, we think everyone should start learning self defense. Here we’re going to identify the statistics that make a strong case for a rise in hate speech, our rights of free speech, and how to defend yourself from hate. The Rise of Hate […]

The Progression of Bujinkan Training

As we mention in our article Shuhari, there is a Japanese philosophy to studying a craft. However, this philosophy describes the process of learning, but not necessarily gives direction. In this article we are going to tackle our opinion on progressing through Bujinkan Training. Building a Foundation in Bujinkan Training with Kata In the beginning […]

A History of Grappling

sumo ceremony

There is no shortage of Martial Arts from across the world that deal with throwing and maneuvering a person. While we will touch upon a variety of arts, we will be focusing on Japanese Grappling Arts in particular (it’s kind of our thing). The Oldest Form of Combat The art of grappling as a sport […]

Shihan Joel Everett Seminar 10/1 – 10/2

Shihan Joel Everett returns to Todai to share the latest secrets from his recent 6 weeks of training in Japan! The theme of the seminar will be “Connection and Space”. Make sure to take advantage of one of the most proficient practitioners in the country at this special event! Time Saturday, October 1st: 10:00 am […]

May Japan Trip 2016 | Closing Thoughts

Closing Thoughts This has been one of my best training trips ever, full of profound insight and realization. As always, it connects to the teachers here and Soke himself. Here is a few closing thoughts on the teachers, Soke and the art itself. The Teachers I’ll begin by saying that I think all the teachers […]

May Japan Trip 2016 | Day 12

Today was quite a new experience. For a moment, I felt like I was part of the inner circle. Although I’m sure it’s not the case, it was a rare glimpse at the human side of the Sensei of Japan. Foreign Correspondence Enbu As I mentioned yesterday, Steve’s demo partner had to cancel at the […]

May Japan Trip 2016 | Day 11

All this training is both catching up with me, and helping my movement. Although my legs are dying, I have a full day today. Shiraishi Sensei I had a bit of a light bulb in class today as I got a deeper understanding on Shiraishi Sensei’s method of foot work, spine work, hand work. As […]

May Japan Trip 2016 | Day 10

Today is both Nagato and Soke. NHK is also filming so it should be quite a day. Nagato Sensei  I was able to keep up with class and could replicate Nagato movement fairly well. Nagato gave us a little insight into what he was looking for in class. He came over and said “don’t do […]

May Japan Trip 2016 | Day 9 “Hell Day”

Today was a beast of a day. I decided to call it “Hell Day” like “Hell Week” in the military. It was one of the most technical and exhausting training days I’ve ever had. But as much of a challenge it was it was also maybe the most rewarding. Ishizuka Sensei Based on multiple recommendations […]

May Japan Trip 2016 | Day 8

More than half way through the trip and my brain is very full. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop. After all every class is a huge opportunity to learn more. Noguchi Sensei Class flew by. Noguchi Sensei worked us on the Gyokko Ryu Joryaku no Maki. I am very familiar with this scroll, […]

May Japan Trip 2016 | Day 7

Today I got a late start. After celebrating Pablo’s promotion a late night business emergency kept me awake later than I wanted. So I ended up missing Furuta. I was pretty bummed but “shoganai na” (it can’t be helped). Nagato Sensei Third class and I really am finding a groove. There’s small details that make […]

May Japan Trip 2016 | Day 6

Today was an exhausting but rewarding day, with several break through and realizations. Today was also a bit confusing. I have had conversations about “picking a teacher” with a couple of the students that have come here quite a bit. Brian Tritico said he was told he had to pick. Others have said they weren’t […]

May Japan Trip 2016 | Day 5

Today is typically only a Soke class day, but I decided to try out a class from Rob Renner, a resident here, before going to Soke’s. I was mainly interested in it from working with Dan Hildebrand in Nagato Sensei’s class, and was impressed with his movement. He suggested I try a class at Rob’s. […]

May Japan Trip 2016 | Day 3

Day 3 offered a huge treat in Soke’s Class, but first we had Noguchi Sensei on the rotation. Noguchi Sensei Class revolved around Shinden Fudo Ryu, Shizenshogoku no Kata. With each technique, Noguchi Sensei did the usual of breaking techniques into peices through henka, emphasizing something here or there. I’m begin to notice some real […]

May Japan Trip 2016 | Day 2

Saturday brings us to Day 2 on our training trip, and is typically the longest training day. Seno Sensei First up was Seno Sensei. Since he has the fewest classes at Hombu, he has always been an enigma. However, I’m starting to get a feel for him this time around. What is incredibly impressive is […]

There’s no such thing as Women’s Self Defense

Say whaa? Yeah – I said it. There’s no such thing as Women’s Self Defense. There is only Self Defense. Why would I make such a statement – someone who teaches women (and men) self defense? Some one who has advertisements that specifically target women to learn self defense? The answer is because it’s true. […]

Why Japanese is Tough

The other day we had a guest in class who happened to be Japanese. He spends lots of time with his family in Japan and so is fluent. I always like to talk with native speakers since it helps me improve my Japanese which is…well…less than perfect. But I try to incorporate as much Japanese […]

September Japan Trip 2015: Recap

Unlike my May trip, I decided not to do daily posts about everything going on; it’s time consuming, and quite difficult – especially considering how many classes we did this trip. Rather, I’ll just do a quick recap, and share the juicy tidbits of what went on. Familiar Faces On this trip I got to […]

Theory becomes Reality: A Student’s Self Defense Story

To study a combative art is often a paradox; we hope that our training will never be needed. This is akin to the saying that “soldiers pray for peace, but hope for war.” And while we hope that we will be able to rise to the challenge of a self defense situation, we often pray […]

May Japan Trip 2015: Day 10

After another long night in Tokyo I hope the train home and prepare for class. Unfortunately I miss Shihan Darren’s class since the tank is running a bit on empty. It’s unfortunate since I really loved his class. So my first training is with Noguchi Sensei. It’s a small class which means even more hands […]

May Japan Trip 2015: Day 9

Today was very enlightening – and painful. Again today started with Nagato’s class. On the way I run into Daishihan Arnaud. We walk together and talk about training, and he asked what Nagato went over. Class time comes and he asks if I would like to train with him. “I would be honored.” He then […]

May Japan Trip 2015: Day 8

The day did not start off as planned. I wasn’t pleasantly surprised by my friends at my hotel in the morning. They had rented a Nissan GTR R34. If you’re into cars, especially tuning cars – that’s a big deal. Also, it’s a bit scary to drive a high performance car in a country that […]

May Japan Trip 2015: Day 6

Another great day of training with great people. Went to training with Nagato Sensei. My training partner proved to be a fountain of knowledge: Dan was invaluable in helping me understand the depth of the techniques. I started off struggling with what Nagato was showing, but by the end of class I was starting to […]

May Japan Trip 2015: Day 3

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 […]

May Japan Trip 2015: Day 2

I’ve now had my second day of training in Japan, and my brain is already full. Like yesterday, the classes were Nagato and Noguchi. I kind of hit the wall in Nagato’s class and recovered in Noguchi. Nagato went over a technique from Takagi Yoshin Ryu. The technique itself is pretty straight forward, but as […]

May Japan Trip 2015: Day 1

So my first day of training is in the books. It’s interesting coming back to Japan as some things that were once so foreign become somewhat familiar. Due to some confusion I started the day by missing Shiraishi Sensei’s class – which was a real bummer. But I was able to attend both Nagato and […]

MMA is not new

Martial Arts Traditions

MMA is Older than You Think Many consider MMA as a revolution in Martial Arts – the concept of studying different things simultaneously. And while MMA as a Sport is a recent development, the mixing of Arts is much older. As units of Ninja and Samurai worked along side each other, certain ideas and concepts […]

Class Notes 6/19/14

First thanks for our guests who came by, and congratulations to our newest member Gindora Reeves on joining the Todai Clan! Here is a break down on what we worked on today: Haibu Yori “Attacks from Behind” Yubi Kudaki “Finger Break” The important part of this technique is moving with the grab offline and striking […]

Defending your Castle

This was inspired by a post on Quora where someone posted the following: My friend was at a house with three other individuals.  They were partying and apparently they had entered the house without the owner’s permission. The owner showed up and told them to get out. My friend said they refused and they might […]

Masaaki Hatsumi: Teach only 50%

I heard a quote of Soke Masaaki Hatsumi saying “teach only 50% of what you know.” Without context, this might be viewed in a negative, as if something is being withheld to the detriment of the student. However, the reality is that in Japanese culture, it is to the benefit of the student. 50% Creates Strong […]

Shihan Matthew Woodard April Seminar

Shihan Woodard is coming to teach another awesome seminar! If you don’t know the founder of Todai Bujinkan Dojo, Shihan Matthew Woodard is one of the foremost practitioners of our art with the rank of Judan Kugyo (10th dan – 5th level; highest rank attainable), and real-world experience as a police officer and executive protection […]

Martial Arts Contracts


The Potential Dangers of Martial Arts Contracts The other day, my neighbor was asking about my Martial Arts School, and during that conversation came up the subject of contracts. Turns out, she used to sell gym contracts, and said she never liked to sell them. “I would say how much money it would save them, […]

The Importance of Kanji in Japanese Martial Arts

Japanese Martial Arts and Kanji: Gaining a Deeper Understanding of the Technique Japanese language can be confusing – it’s different than the English we speak in many ways. This means understanding certain things can be challenging and ambiguous when studying a Japanese Martial Art. Ambiguity and Context The English language is a very difficult language […]

Throw like a Judoka 1/25/14


Judo Seminar 1-25-14 Join us for a special Judo Seminar, taught by 6th Dan Chris Blanton Sensei. A portion of our art deals with performing similar throws and countering them – so there’s no better way to hone your skills than learning from those who specialize in this type of movement. And there’s no one […]

The Truth Behind Gun Control


In our second article on the Second Amendment, we will be looking at the efficacy (or lack thereof) of gun control. If you read our first article on the history behind our Second Amendment right to bare arms, you’ll know that it was formed by compromise between a means for defending the country against invasion, […]

Why I teach self defense

I have been touched by moments in my short time teaching self defense at Todai. I have seen students take leap and bounds in growth through their sheer determination and enthusiasm. I have scratched at the walls of my limitations as I’ve stumbled through the dark of finding new identity. I have seen a community […]

The Truth Behind the Second Amendment

Second Amendment

Here is our two-part discussion on the Second Amendment – as it relates to our rights as Americans and it’s implications for self defense. The Second Amendment is one of the more controversial Amendments in our Bill of Rights. Opposition to the right to bear arms argue that gun violence is inherently a product of […]

The Martial Arts Intructors of Japan

Soke hatsumi with Noguchi Oguri Sensei

Nothing can replicate training in Japan; the immersion in the Japanese culture, the amount of training one squeezes into a trip, the practitioners your surrounded by – a few days changes your movement forever. The most important part of training in Japan is the opportunity to train under the best instructors in the world and […]

What it means to be a Martial Arts Instructor

Nagato Sensei

It still feels odd to consider myself a Martial Arts Instructor or to be referred to as a Sensei. It feels…undeserved. I consider myself a student first, since there is so much I need to learn. But the events of the past year have thrust me into this position, and have forced me to learn […]

The Rules of Self Defense

We often talk about our martial art not being a sporting art, since there are “no rules to self-defense” or “no refs in a street-fight”. However, that is not entirely correct. In fact, there are quite a few rules regarding self-defense and impacts that extend beyond a physicality of the encounter.

Passing the Godan

Few events are as a mind blowing, mystical, and life changing in Ninjutsu training as when the time comes for a student to pass the Sakki test to achieve Godan. It’s a rite of passage that culminates after a decade of studying our art. I came to a realization about the science about such a meta-physical type of event after passing mine in September of 2012.

But what is the Sakki test, and how does it work?

The Martial Art of Tennis?

Now normally, when we think of sports as being related to martial arts, Tennis is not the first to leap to mind. Yet the other day, I had the opportunity to take a lesson from my uncle, Dick Wagner, who is a former Tennis pro. Pretty soon into the lesson, I started noticing similarities between things my uncle Dick said, and things that Soke talks about when we train in Japan, as well as aspects of learning tennis itself. And by taking a Tennis lesson, I was able to gain some insight into our martial arts training. So here are some thoughts on the connection between two seemingly unrelated activities.

Finding the Kukan

If you have ever trained in Japan, you have heard Soke talk quite a bit about the Kukan. Kukan roughly means “space” or “opening”. This can (and is) often be interpreted in a number of different ways. I find it easiest to think about it as “an opening where your opponent is vulnerable”. As simple as that sounds, it can be difficult to find that opening since it is so fluid.

St. Jude Fundraiser – Learn “Ukemi”

Help St. Jude Research Hospital – and Learn “Ukemi” Todai Dojo is hosting a fundraising event to benefit St. Jude Children Hospital. All proceeds will go towards fighting childhood illness. THIS EVENT IS OPEN TO ALL AGES. In martial arts, there is what’s called “ukemi”. This simply means how to “recieve the ground” to protect […]

Taking Martial Arts Classes

The format of Martial Arts Classes can vary quite dramatically depending on the Martial Art, and the teacher. Depending on what you’re looking for, you may find one class format suits your goals better than another. As a traditional dojo, our martial arts classes follow the format you would normally see while training in Japan. […]

Defining Martial Arts

What exactly makes a Martial Art? There are thousand of different styles of Martial Arts – some studied for hundreds of years, and some being created right now. So what qualifies as a Martial Art and what do they have to offer? Defining Martial Arts The term Martial Art doesn’t come from the east, but […]

The Price of Ego

In my last trip to Japan, Soke Hatsumi talked about the concept of “letting go”. He was specifically referencing when to let go of a technique when it has fulfilled it’s usefulness, or when the situation changes. He said that it was important to remain free to let go in order to succeed. But like so many of his lessons, it applies to much more than martial arts.

Reminders From Connecticut

Connecticut School Shooting

…life is uncertain and frequently unfair. We often reassure ourselves that as long as we are good people, good things will happen to us. And if something bad happens, then there has to be some reason for it. Even though concepts like fairness and karma sound good and provide comfort, the harsh reality is that sometimes terrible things happen to good people – innocent people.

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