Taking it easy today so I can spend some time with friends in Tokyo. How often can you hang out with friends 3000 miles away from home?

As I boarded the train I ran into Saito on his way to Shiraishi Sensei’s class. We got to talk about the different training, and what we like about the different teachers – especially of course Shiraishi. We parted ways at Atago and I feel like I’ve made another connection in the Bujinkan and look forward to training with him again.

Someya’s class was small and I got to work with Anton again. He is incredibly helpful as a training partner and his technique is fantastic. On the agenda was Gyokko Ryu and Shinden Fudo Ryu Jutaijutsu. While the Gyokko Ryu was familiar, the Shinden Fudo Jutaijutsu is not.

Watching Someya move made me realize how clean and precise his technique and form is. Watching Anton maintain this level of discipline in his movement made me concentrate on maintaining this standard. The class was fantastic and Someya talked about how it’s better to master Jutaijutsu before attempting to understand striking; the Jutaijutsu reinforces things like ukemi, balance, posture, etc.

Steve came up to me at the end of class and said “you were asking about how to teach curriculum, so there you go.” We talked more about how to reinforce the basics and he even took a minute to give me some points when doing ukemi and doing the technique – how both are working on something for their level. I realized this is something Shihan Woodard had drilled in us, but I needed to be reminded.

Also, watching Steve move just reinforces the importance of proper technique as a foundation. Everyone here moves extremely well.

As we talked more on the train back, I started to see a picture of how all the different teachers fit together:

Someya forms the base, preserving the technique so that the foundation is there. Noguchi distills the principles into different chunks. Seno then gives the proper angle of attack where each principle is at its optimum. Nagato gives the distance and movement to keep safe when entering a technique. Shiraishi gives the body mechanics to make any technique work with the least amount of effort.

While it may sound like that’s a hierarchy – I don’t mean it that way. Rather, each teacher will actually reinforce the concepts of the other. Each is working on a different piece of the puzzle; without having the technique right (Someya), you can’t understand the principles (Noguchi) nor the impact of angling (Seno) or distance and how to enter (Nagato) or keeping and taking balance (Shiraishi). If you could master all of these, you would master the art (Soke Hatsumi).

And while each teacher doesn’t necessarily like the other, and most naturally gravitate to one over another, they are all important. And all help to understand Soke. Now that I think about it, I’ve seen an element of each teacher in each of Soke’s classes.

Each teacher holds a piece of the puzzle – all you have to do is look for it.

One day to 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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