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 on training. I have the privilege of training with Anton, who is a Judan and someone I’ve wanted to train with for a while. His technique is truly pristine, and Noguchi often uses him as his uke. Today’s class was Togakure Ryu Tonso no Kata – which is awesome.

My big realization during class was that Noguchi is not teaching just other techniques with all his henka – he’s teaching the basics and the components of each written technique. He’s actually breaking it down and reassembling. It made understanding things a bit easier – plus having Anton as a guide was priceless.

I had a couple pick me ups too with training, where I actually did something right; Anton confirmed he showed me the next step because I got the first one. Then he had Anton demonstrate the proper way to do things and even all the ukemi (in which he did awesome). Then I did something right and Noguchi had everybody watch; then I’m pretty sure I did it wrong when everyone was watching. Oh well I still had a moment of spotlight, and I feel better about my progress.

Next was Soke’s class. It turned out alot of groups recently left so it was smaller than usual. Soke began with some movement that was a bit reminiscent of something Nagato was showing earlier in the week. My training partner was Dirk, and we attempted to capture the spirit of the technique as much as possible. Because there was more space, we moved on to kenjutsu. Soke was moving very lively as we did draw countering. Soon the concept of kenjutsu moved into bo then naginata. Soke took a rare moment to correct us on how to use the long weapon; “use the back hand for leverage”. Dirk and I were asked to go up and demonstrate, and we both I think did a decent job. Darren actually said “good job guys”. I was estatic that I got something right, and Dirk was great to train with.

There was a short break, and I brought a scroll for Soke to do his calligraphy. I asked for Todai Dojo. It’s interesting how he wrote it, in an older style and with the kanji reversed – “Dai to Dojo”.

I wonder what meaning, or rather, the artist’s thoughts were when he wrote it. Kacem acknowledged that there was no historical meaning behind it, but it was what Soke felt in the moment. “Sometimes I don’t even know why he does what he does – it’s just artist interpretation.”

All in all, a great day.

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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