Gems of the Bujinkan - A Farewell Message from bencole

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu' started by bencole, Sep 18, 2007.

  1. bencole

    bencole Green Belt

    Oct 22, 2004
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    Effective today, I am leaving all online communities, including Martial Arts Planet, Martial Talk, and BudoSeek.

    This past weekend, I had the pleasure of joining Chris Carbonaro, Oliver Martin and Anthony Lucas for the opening of the new Tanuki Dojo in Long Branch, New Jersey. I was *VERY* impressed with what Chris and Oliver have managed to create since returning from Japan. (Note: Both have 3+ years in Japan learning the basics, speaking with Soke and the Shihan in their native tongue, grasping the “feeling”, and building a solid toolbox of Taijutsu.)

    The feeling of the dojo was *EXACTLY* the same feeling as being in Japan, and I wondered why more dojo did not feel this way?

    The answer is simple: Too few instructors with sufficient exposure to Japan are teaching, and they are unwilling to admit that they don’t know what the hell they are doing.

    This explains the various “identity crises” that seem to pop up every five years or so.

    In the mid 1980s, a whole bunch of Shidoshi were convinced that Shoto Tanemura was teaching “the true way” and jumped ship from the Bujinkan to the Genbukan.

    Then, in the mid 1990s, a whole bunch of Shidoshi were convinced that Fumio Manaka was teaching “the true way” and jumped ship from the Bujinkan to the Jinenkan.

    Now, in the mid 2000s, a whole bunch of Shidoshi are convinced that Kacem Zoughari (under Tetsuji Ishizuka) is teaching “the true way.” It is only a matter of time until these two individuals also leave the Bujinkan, I predict….

    The cycle will continue, and in the mid-2010s, we shall see same thing happen again. It’s only natural; this is the teaching of Shinden Fudo Ryu….

    The reason for these departures (in all cases) is simple: Each of these teachers is telling people that he is teaching “the true way” and not enough people out there understand Hatsumi-sensei’s budo well enough to know that these claims are simply not true.

    They look at Hatsumi-sensei’s budo and all they see is “mush.” Then they figure that they can just do mush and things will work out.

    They do not see the control and basics that lay at the heart of Soke’s movement.

    So when they do mush, and things do not work out, they blame Hatsumi-sensei or “the Bujinkan” rather than blame themselves.

    If you train correctly, as Soke instructs, then your budo will not suck!!!

    It’s a very simple solution to a generation-old problem.

    The fact is that there are tremendously talented people in the Bujinkan who are grounded in the basics of the Bujinkan, but sadly, the people who need guidance the most do not know who these instructors are. As a result, those who need guidance become attracted to anything that glitters. And, to date, everything that had glittered has oxidized when exposed to the world outside of Soke.

    As a service to the online Bujinkan community, I have decided to provide a list of the “hidden gems” of the Bujinkan. These individuals are, in general, relatively or completely unknown to the larger Bujinkan community. Some individuals that I thought everyone would know got me blank stares when I mentioned their names in conversations. Thus the list….

    Despite their lack of “brand name,” they hold some of the largest pieces of the Bujinkan puzzle within them, in my opinion.

    Note: This list *ONLY* contains individuals whose budo I, bencole, *PERSONALLY* have assessed. I shall continue to add names to the list as I come across individuals who bring something special to the table. This list most certainly is incomplete, but it will only include the “best of the best.”

    This list will never become “politicized”; it will remain blunt and honest. As evidence, I have even included a few people who I personally do not like. :p Whether I like them or not does not change the fact that their budo is good, and that they understand Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu as Hatsumi-sensei teaches.

    I highly recommend that people seek these individuals out, either by visiting their dojo or by inviting them out for a seminar.

    compiled by Benjamin Cole

    Michael Asuncion – Michigan – Moves identically to Nagase-sensei. Best timing that I’ve ever seen!

    Bill Atkins – Northern California – Frighteningly good!

    Chris Carbonaro – New Jersey – Started his training in Japan with Kamioka-sensei, then went on to train with Nagato-sensei and Hatsumi-sensei. Very solid movement.

    Dale Seago – Northern California – Spooky movement! His job is to keep others alive, not just himself.

    Aric Keith – Washington/Oregon border– Solid, solid Budo.

    Oliver Martin – New York City – Moves identically to Nagato-sensei. Uncanny!!! Solid budo.

    Luke Molitor – Texas – The only Shidoshi qualified to teach Bujinkan sword in the U.S., in my opinion. Personal student of three Shihan : Nagato-sensei, Nagase-sensei, and Someya-sensei.

    Jeff Mueller – Maryland – Hands down, best ukemi in the United States! Wow!

    Daniel Weidman – Southern California – Solid Budo and a superb athlete!

    Bruce Appleby – Japan/UK – Small and light, but very solid Budo. Extensive translation experience at Hombu.

    Robin Doenicke – Japan/Australia – Tall, but light. Great footwork/legwork!

    Shawn Gray – Japan/Canada – Movement looking more and more like Shiraishi-sensei every day.

    Larry Hamilton – Japan/US – Deep knowledge of both Budo and Japanese.

    Rod Hodgkins – Japan/Australia – Big as a bear; light as a feather.

    Paul Masse – Japan/US – Wow!!! Best foreigner in Japan, imo.

    Craig Olson – Japan/Canada – Solid budo. Extensive translation experience at Hombu.

    Doug Wilson – Japan/US – Solid budo. Extensive translation experience at Hombu.

    Andrew Young – Scandinavia somewhere – “If it is frustrating, it is because you are learning something new.” :) Extensive translation experience at Hombu.

    Renan Perpina – Spain – Light as a feather, but packs a big punch!

    Sveneric Bogsater – Sweden – Frighteningly good!

    Arnaud Cousergue – France – Frighteningly good!

    Lubos Pokorny – Czech Republic – Frighteningly good!


    Greg Alcorn – Australia – Solid Budo.

    Tim Bathurst – Australia – Solid Budo. Extensive translation experience at Hombu.

    Ed Lomax – Australia – Solid Budo.

    You would be wise to train with any of these individuals…and then *PRACTICE* what they teach you, rather than going back to what you do normally.

    *THIS* is the single largest problem with the current state of affairs in the Bujinkan, imo: PEOPLE DON’T PRACTICE WHAT THEY ARE TAUGHT!!!

    And this has resulted in craptastic movement throughout the world, and waves of insecurity that manifest with a “new messiah” every five years.
    If you train correctly, there will be no need for new messiahs….

    Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu is an “integrated body system” (much like Systema) and *NOT* a “technique-based art” (like most Koryu).

    People are confused by this because, on the surface, the Bujinkan has “techniques” like Koryu schools, so people naturally believe that it is a “technique-based art.”

    This is not the case at all.

    The techniques exist to teach an integrated body system.

    *THIS* is the focus of Hatsumi-sensei’s teachings, so *THIS* is what we need to train to understand.

    I would like to wrap up with the following anecdote from training at Nagato Dojo in Japan.

    One day during training, Nagato-sensei said to me, “Ben. Your foot is in the wrong place. Move it over there.”

    I slid my foot. “Here?” I asked.

    “No. There.” Nagato answered.

    I moved my foot the place Nagato pointed, then asked, “Why here?”
    Nagato answered, “Because that’s where your foot should be.”
    I nodded and continued training.

    About two months later, Nagato-sensei again told me to move my foot to a different location. I did, and then I (dumbly) asked, “Why?” again.
    Nagato-sensei again said, “Because that’s where your foot should be.”

    Over time, I came to understand that was where my foot should be, and I didn’t need to ask why. It was evident in the progress of my budo.

    My teacher told me what I should do, and I did it. And my budo began to improve as a result.

    The Bujinkan would benefit at large from more people doing what “good” instructors tell them to do, rather than nodding their heads during the seminar, and the reverting back to the same poor practices with which they’ve diseased themselves….

    With the individuals on this list, there is no longer a reason to have crap Taijutsu anymore.

    Any one of them can cure you of your “crap Taijutsu disease,” if you will allow them to treat you as a patient.

    I shall continue to contribute to, and will do my best to post thoughts to my blog (

    People interested in the budo of Hatsumi-sensei can contact me at the email listed on my BujinMag articles or via my blog.

    Best of luck with your training!

  2. Grey Eyed Bandit

    Grey Eyed Bandit Master of Arts

    Mar 14, 2004
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    MAP Hell
    From personal experience, I just want to say this - do not train with Lubos with the prospect of improving your basics.
  3. Grey Eyed Bandit

    Grey Eyed Bandit Master of Arts

    Mar 14, 2004
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    A few more things...I thought about commenting on this the first time around, but then I figured it to be unfitting, in that bencole probably won't be in the position to retort. But after further consideration, I've no choice but to speak my mind on a few points.

    Remember everyone that these words are coming from a man who has been propagating a theory of explanation of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu of which he himself is the sole advocate. I'm only saying this to offer a piece of perspective, and not to discredit bencole - his book UGP remains, in my opinion, the best one ever written about the Bujinkan.

    It's not a simple solution, mainly due to the way Soke instructs. These days. And that isn't, and shouldn't be, his concern.
  4. Shicomm

    Shicomm Purple Belt

    Jan 8, 2007
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    The Netherlands
    I hear a very, very wise man complaining in a rather frustrated way...

    What surprises me most is that it seems a trend of all yudansha to say loud and proud "Please do get spoon fed! Don't ever go smart on yourself!"

    What's the problem on people getting 'smart' ?
    If they fall , then so what ? They chose to broaden up their horizon so they can handle it themselves pretty well.

    For the past 5 years my teacher encouraged me to look with others and learn from it and then pass it on to the group so that we all can learn from it.
    It's fun , it's educating and it feels very good knowing that there is the freedom to 'have a look around'

    I still feel sorry for all those buyu around the world that are stuck because of 'protective' teachers and #censored!# politics ....

    In the end every student will get the teacher that he/she deserves but also every teacher gets the student that he/she deserves...
  5. tshadowchaser

    tshadowchaser Sr. Grandmaster

    • MartialTalk Mentor
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    Aug 29, 2001
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    Athol, Ma. USA
    I would like to thank bencole for the list and for his thoughts on this matter.
    I may not practice this art but there seem to be many who do and maybe they will use this list to learn more.
  6. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 9, 2004
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    Las Vegas, Nevada
    It is a good list as the ones that I have trained with on it are quite good. Still it is just a narrow, very tiny list based on Ben's own small experience in the Bujinkan. In that I think you have to take it that it is just one persons experience in the Bujinkan and that they have not met even a tenth of the instructors out there.

    Ben we will miss your knack for debate. Good luck to you and I wish you the very best. [​IMG]
  7. Bigshadow

    Bigshadow Senior Master

    • Martial Talk Alumni
    Apr 13, 2005
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    Saint Cloud, Florida
    Thank you Ben! You are going to be missed! :)
  8. newtothe dark

    newtothe dark Purple Belt

    Aug 15, 2007
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    Thanks Ben good luck and thanks for the list I will be looking some of those names up very soon again thanks for the list
  9. Bujingodai

    Bujingodai Brown Belt

    May 24, 2002
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    Ontario, Canada
    Thanks Ben, and a great post that points to a lot of discussion.123

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