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 explains something my teacher also told me – here he’s just a student. And class begins – as does the pain.

Every technique he does is excruciating – but very controlled and not injurous. And I think I have decent ukemi, but my body is confused on how to fall. Then comes my turn to do the techniques, and every effort proves ineffective. I start to compensate and am quickly countered. I begin to realize how many openings I have, and how few he does.

That might sound bad, but it’s actually good; he didn’t fall for the sake of falling – he only moved if the technique was done properly. He remained silent as I struggled, then later gave a few tidbits that made everything much easier and actually work. I realized how little I actually understood.

But thankfully I’m a bit of a masochist; every time I would feel the excruciating pain I giggled – every time I was taken in a surprising way I chuckled. I would look at Arnaud and he would be smirking.

I got a couple things right – well sort of – where I wasn’t counter attacked. I’m sure it was frustrating for him to work with someone on my level, but he kept a good sense of humor. At one point I asked him at one point where he feels I should take his balance. He replied:

“I feel you’re going to die soon.” I laughed, but the kind of laugh where you HOPE they’re kidding.

The class ended and I thanked him for the beating. I asked him what he feels are my major weaknesses: “too much strength in the hands and not enough footwork.” We talk more about the Bujinkan and training in general and part ways. I’m very glad he’s on our side.

Next is Shiraishi class again. I work with Saito again as we build on the techniques of the previous class. Shiraishi starts to turn it up on us slightly and I suddenly can start to see the gap close between the fundamentals of his movement and the things Soke does. While they do move differently, there is huge overlap. Shiraishi talks about being the uke for Soke and shows us some of the nasty bruises Soke left him from previous class. He further explains his training idea, and how he watches and feels how Soke moves. I agree that you can learn much more being the uke and feeling a technique vs just watching it. A few times in class he says I’m getting it, and getting better. I had been working on this movement alot in class, so it seems to be paying off. There’s still a long way to go tho.

He also gives me a gift, a new Fukuro Hanbo! I also see Josh again and we all hitch a ride to the station.

Another exhausting but rewarding day. And tomorrow is Soke’s class. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Shidoshi Hamilton

<p>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.</p>

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