Are most Bujinkan dojos Ad Hoc training style?

amishman

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I am just starting and have found the dojo I will be attending from now on. Curious though, as 3 different somewhat local dojos I attended, all Bujinkan based, the training and classes are nothing like I knew back in the early 1980s when I was a teen and took Karate or Kung Fu classes.

By Ad Hoc, I mean, classes seem somewhat "unorganized". I was used to going to class in the 80s, have certian stretching at the beginning, then class broke up and various teachers would continue showing you training for where you are in class, beginner, intermediate, black belt, etc... So organized in a sense you had certain things you needed to learn and you stuck to that training to get things right and then moved on.

So far in Bujinkan, for example my 1st official class at the dojo I am joining this last week, we jumped all over the place. Started out OK bowing in, although I just mimicked what others were doing and not shown what I am doing, saying, and why. Then did some very basic exercise stretching. From that point class was all over. From some rolling to weapons to ichimongi to etc etc etc. So many things I kind of forget what we all did.

It just seemed like we touched ever so quickly on things there was not much time to comprehend the whys and all that. I probably came away with a little on what classes will be like but... Just seemed all over the place and this was the same at all 3 dojos I checked out.

Not saying I did not have fun but it is different. So, I called it "Ad Hoc" training.

Anyone else need "a long" time to get used to this? Did after a time you actually feel like you soaked things in and learned valuable stuff?

tj
 

runnerninja

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I had done some taikwondo. Like you it seemed very structured. When I first joined the Bujinkan I thought it was the same. I think at the time I didnt really know anything about it and we were training outside so I enjoyed it. I guess thats why I kept coming back.

Gradually I started to get an idea of what was happening and what it was all about. After a while I even began to see some structure.

I then moved to a different town and joined a new Bujinkan dojo. It was like going back to square one. I could see many similarities with my old dojo but the emphesis always seemed to be on something different to what I was used to.

Again I started to get used to things.

If you enjoyed it I would say stick at it for a while.

As for not getting everything explained, I wouldnt worry too much. It could be just that the instructor doesnt want to overload you in your first class. I wouldnt worry too much anyway. There is so much to learn that it will take time. For the first while I would just enjoy things until you settle in.

Anyway good luck
Paulo.
 

Chris Parker

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Hi,

The Bujinkan training methods are based far more in skill-development and training principles, rather than going through rigidly defined syllabus'. The concepts of training include the idea of Isshi Soden, which is a method of learning almost by osmosis. The concept is that by training with, near, and around indiviuals who are skilled and experienced in the art and ways of moving, it will start to "rub off" onto you. This is why so many high level and experienced people prefer learning a technique by having it demonstrated on them, being quite thrilled to act as Uke for the teacher. From my understanding it is very similar in Aikido as well.

This obviously has the benefits of gaining skills in movement, flow, and the ability to be aware or sensative enough to adapt freely to changing situations. However, it also has the down side of leading to various levels of skill amongst similarly experienced practitioners, and to each individual school having their own preference as to how those skills and principles are transmitted. Some will actually have a method closer to your experiences from your youth.

As with everything, there are upsides and downsides to any decision made. The most important thing is that you are enjoying it, and it certainly seems that you are. But, yes, you are quite right in that the Bujinkan on the whole is a much looser teaching style than many other arts.
 

Hudson69

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I began my Ninjutsu studies in 1990, in Ogden, Utah at the Shiroi Kage dojo. It was called Ninjutsu then and I was a part time student being an official Kenpo student at the time; my friend was the "ninja" and I would sit in (and participate) on the last hour of class after completing about 90 minutes of Kenpo.

This ninjutsu was very structured and level advancement was set so that everyone knew what to do to advance. The opening of class (which I got to attend once a week) was always the same. 1 hour of warm-ups, randori/sparring and drill and then refresher of the Sanchin and the kihon happo. Then everyone was broken down into their kyus and training went on. I did this for about 18 months before I joined the Air Force.

I had a break of about 10-11 years before finding, by chance, a school in Colorado Springs. It was now Budo Taijutsu and the curriculum was to a "T" just like you mentioned; like a will of the wisp was setting the schedule and to ask what was needed for advancement would not result in a fixed answer. For someone with a military background it was too much for me since we bounced around so much, the randori/sparring was gone and the things that gave it that "mystique" were missing. I tried another school later in Southern Colorado and it was the same.

I gave up on that and now train with a group of people from a wide background of military, LEO's and MA's. That works for me now but I know what you mean; the name change was more than just a name change it seems.
 

Omar B

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It was now Budo Taijutsu and the curriculum was to a "T" just like you mentioned; like a will of the wisp was setting the schedule and to ask what was needed for advancement would not result in a fixed answer. For someone with a military background it was too much for me since we bounced around so much, the randori/sparring was gone and the things that gave it that "mystique" were missing. I tried another school later in Southern Colorado and it was the same.

I hear you man, I spent much of last year in Bujinkan and this type of relaxed attitude got to me. Either I know what I need to advance or we all train with no belts is the way I see it. After not being able to get a solid answer about curriculum requirements I decided to go back to karate full time.

Maybe Genbukan or Jinekan is more structured?
 

Bruno@MT

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Maybe Genbukan or Jinekan is more structured?

I cannot answer for Jinenkan, but Genbukan is very structured.
Class starts with light warming up, followed by kihon or general attack / defense partner drill, followed by kyu training.

Of course, there is more variation than this, because sometimes there can be weapons training or instead of kihon we start with rolling and breakfalls or whatever, But you get the idea.

The requirements for advancement are fixed. Every grade consists of n techniques that you have to learn and do properly. Whenever the sensei thinks you are ready and the minimum amount of time since your last exam has passed, he can schedule an exam. Exams are public to all grades. Btw, you also have to know the names of all techniques, and be able to explain the basics of whatever it is you are doing (like why is that leg there or why is you arm pointing that way).

When you enter the dan grades (7 to 10 years) things are still the same. You get a sheet with the names of the techniques which you will have to learn. There is no longer a book to help you. To progress in the dan grades, you also need an equivalent dan grade in KJJR jujutsu. For advanced dan grades, there are additional requirements like having certain licenses in the individual ryu that exist within genbukan. All of this is documented in the kyu book and in the membership rules and guidelines which is a fairly hefty document.

Personally, I like this approach, because it assures consistency between schools. Also, the fact that the majority of all BB tests is still done by Tanemura sensei himself at the various taikai enforces a strong degree of quality control and consistency in advanced grading.
 

Chris Parker

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I was about to answer the same when Bruno's post came up...

With regard to Jinenkan, the organisation is well known for a very high emphasis on the basics, and the particular Ryu-ha curriculum being taught in the exact order of the Densho. So, yes, I would say that there is a much more "organised" structure there as well as in the Genbukan.

You will also find more structure in some of the split-off organisations, such as the one I teach in. But as said earlier, the best idea is to find the best fit for yourself. If not the Bujinkan, don't rule out the others. It is, after all, a personal journey.
 

Spartan

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So, Hudson69. How did the ninjutsu training mesh with your kenpo?
 

Cryozombie

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After not being able to get a solid answer about curriculum requirements I decided to go back to karate full time.

Call me Crazy... but IMHO this only matters if you are chasing rank and not trying to learn fighting skills...

Does it really matter if you need to know Kata A, B, C, to get your 1st Dan, and D,E,F to get your 2nd, or is it better to know if you **** up A because your opponent's position in relationship to you that A flows properly into E at that point?
 

Omar B

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Nope, I was not chasing rank man, in fact I'm a huge proponent of doing away with ranks. But as a person who's used to structured way of doing things (including teaching high school literature for a while) I'm used to knowing what you need to know.
 

Newbie

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Hi,

The Bujinkan training methods are based far more in skill-development and training principles, rather than going through rigidly defined syllabus'. The concepts of training include the idea of Isshi Soden, which is a method of learning almost by osmosis. The concept is that by training with, near, and around indiviuals who are skilled and experienced in the art and ways of moving, it will start to "rub off" onto you. This is why so many high level and experienced people prefer learning a technique by having it demonstrated on them, being quite thrilled to act as Uke for the teacher. From my understanding it is very similar in Aikido as well.

This obviously has the benefits of gaining skills in movement, flow, and the ability to be aware or sensative enough to adapt freely to changing situations. However, it also has the down side of leading to various levels of skill amongst similarly experienced practitioners, and to each individual school having their own preference as to how those skills and principles are transmitted. Some will actually have a method closer to your experiences from your youth.

As with everything, there are upsides and downsides to any decision made. The most important thing is that you are enjoying it, and it certainly seems that you are. But, yes, you are quite right in that the Bujinkan on the whole is a much looser teaching style than many other arts.

I noticed this as a breath of fresh air when i started training in Ninjutsu, other arts i'd trained in were very rigid and different grades used different parts of the hall and certian techniques were kept specifically for higher grades etc...however in our class now, everyone joins in and we all do exactly the same techniques regardless of whether you are 9th kyu or 4th Dan etc...everyone does the same thing (whatever the instructor has decided we are doing that day) obviously those higher up can read what they are doing on a different level and us beginners take what we can from what we're being shown, but the class is certainly not broken up into "you're black belt so you can do this", "you're new, so stand over there and practice your kamae no kata"

nothing is hidden or kept back from us, apart from what we don't actually see or understand ourselves if that makes sense
 

Bruno@MT

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Yes, but otoh learning things in a specific order is beneficial as well. It's no good to learn techniques if you don't know the basic taisabaki. It's not good learning taihen jutsu if you can't even roll properly, and it's no good learning blackbelt level techniques if you can't even break your fall properly.

I like the fact that the general training in our dojo (Genbukan) is the same for all grades. But I also think it is a good idea that kata / weapon techniques / throws etc are taught in a grade specific manner that insures that if you start learning a technique or kata, you are guaranteed to know the required basics so that you can perform the correct taisabaki or breakfall without injuring yourself or taking shortcuts because some things are unfamaliar.
 

ElfTengu

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I am just starting and have found the dojo I will be attending from now on. Curious though, as 3 different somewhat local dojos I attended, all Bujinkan based, the training and classes are nothing like I knew back in the early 1980s when I was a teen and took Karate or Kung Fu classes.

By Ad Hoc, I mean, classes seem somewhat "unorganized". I was used to going to class in the 80s, have certian stretching at the beginning, then class broke up and various teachers would continue showing you training for where you are in class, beginner, intermediate, black belt, etc... So organized in a sense you had certain things you needed to learn and you stuck to that training to get things right and then moved on.

So far in Bujinkan, for example my 1st official class at the dojo I am joining this last week, we jumped all over the place. Started out OK bowing in, although I just mimicked what others were doing and not shown what I am doing, saying, and why. Then did some very basic exercise stretching. From that point class was all over. From some rolling to weapons to ichimongi to etc etc etc. So many things I kind of forget what we all did.

It just seemed like we touched ever so quickly on things there was not much time to comprehend the whys and all that. I probably came away with a little on what classes will be like but... Just seemed all over the place and this was the same at all 3 dojos I checked out.

Not saying I did not have fun but it is different. So, I called it "Ad Hoc" training.

Anyone else need "a long" time to get used to this? Did after a time you actually feel like you soaked things in and learned valuable stuff?

tj

yes
 

martin-bujinkan

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after a 12 year Hiatus going back into martial arts I also found this very strange..

from the age of 13 until 20 I was doing Jiu j[i/u]tsu and everything was really structured I was handed a syllabus, I could study it learn the Japanese terms and I knew what was required for each grading, everything was structured and during training there was normally an advanced group and beginners.. now 12 years later I started up in Bujinkan ninjutsu in a different country and a new language..

and as a beginner i'm training next to 5th dan people! and I must say I love it as everyone is very friendly and welcoming and more often then not i'm paired up with the dan+ guys and they help me a lot.

I think though the sensei is a bit different then many others in Bujinkan, he is not big on the whole japanese stuff he is more concerned about being effective in what you do and modern life application. I never heard a japanesse word spoken to describe something. He breaks down everything he shows explaining each step and why it works. he is very much into fluidity and do not like to tell us to do it a specific way as long as the essense of what he wants us to do is done. as he puts it you can not plan what to do in the future you must do what you must do now. meaning that planning to execute a punch followed by unbalancing followed by throw/takedown followed by a lock all these different things depended on the situation you are in and drilling in a specific response is not good because it might not always work. This i find very refreshing and now that I'm a bit older it make a lot of sense. He also lets us work on it each thing for some time, and often will halt the class and show us something we might have missed or ask some student to step up and show how they are doing it. quite often he also says "now do this in x number of different ways" so that we do not become locked into one response.

I have witnessed a few gradings and its very different from what I am used to. Sensei basically observe the person to be graded for a while in training then all are asked to step back he then have other people attack the person up for grading most of the time up to 3 attackers at the same time, to show that the person is developing instincts on how to avoid being cornered, avoid getting hurt and keep up to three attackers at bay, followed by some mat work to demonstrate ability to put what learned into practice, locking/controlling. If Sensei feels that he showed enough skill/instinct he will be promoted accordingly.. the person being graded never know when this will happen its entirely up to sensei when he feels it is time. As far as I have seen there has been no check if the person knows certain technics etc but I assume sensei knows this stuff since he has been observing the person in question for the last year several hours a week.. and let me tell you 3 green belts attacking a single person can get really intense and normally it uses the space of the whole dojo for the person to remain standing up.

I know from what I'm saying some people might start thinking that this is some type of fake guy etc.. but I have seen many pictures of this sensie with soke Hatasumi and they go to japan at least every year with a fairly large group and talking to the guys that have gone to japan they know what they are doing..

anyway I find it pretty refreshing and I'm enjoying it a lot :) so will look forward to enjoying the ride :)

but it is very different from my more "classical" background..
 

DuskB4Dawn

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i like the idea of doing the basic drills in the beginning of class. and the repetition gives you time to learn. and its good to have some variety aswell. i guess its all up to the teacher how the class is structured. if you are fortunate to find a good sensei. and are learning proper ninjutsu. not made up stuff.
than you are lucky indeed.

It is to hard to learn japanese words if you do not speak japanese. I dont like the idea of having to know all these things for grading.

perhaps another thing that effects your training is the idea size of the class. the peaple you train with. and how they sensei expains things to each student.

i would like to do more sparring or freeform. just un scripted to a certain degree. so that i can see how well i can put it all together under pressure.
 

Bruno@MT

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It is to hard to learn japanese words if you do not speak japanese. I dont like the idea of having to know all these things for grading.

It depends on what the class is about. Teaching the art, or is he teaching self defense?
For self defense, I agree it doesn't matter that much whether you know the names or not.
For learning the art, you cannot skip learning the names. They're part of it. Because if you are discussing a certain technique, you either know the name, or you have to start explaining 'you know the thing with the leg where you do this while moving that way' :)

Tanemura soke teaches to preserve the arts. He mentions it explicitly in the foreword of the Jujutsu curriculum. That is why in Genbukan, we have to know all the names for grading.

Btw learning the names is not that hard even if you don't know Japanese. The trick is to always use them during practice instead of waiting until the grading to learn them. After a couple of times you won't forget them anymore.
 

ElfTengu

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after a 12 year Hiatus going back into martial arts I also found this very strange..

from the age of 13 until 20 I was doing Jiu j[i/u]tsu and everything was really structured I was handed a syllabus, I could study it learn the Japanese terms and I knew what was required for each grading, everything was structured and during training there was normally an advanced group and beginners.. now 12 years later I started up in Bujinkan ninjutsu in a different country and a new language..

and as a beginner i'm training next to 5th dan people! and I must say I love it as everyone is very friendly and welcoming and more often then not i'm paired up with the dan+ guys and they help me a lot.

I think though the sensei is a bit different then many others in Bujinkan, he is not big on the whole japanese stuff he is more concerned about being effective in what you do and modern life application. I never heard a japanesse word spoken to describe something. He breaks down everything he shows explaining each step and why it works. he is very much into fluidity and do not like to tell us to do it a specific way as long as the essense of what he wants us to do is done. as he puts it you can not plan what to do in the future you must do what you must do now. meaning that planning to execute a punch followed by unbalancing followed by throw/takedown followed by a lock all these different things depended on the situation you are in and drilling in a specific response is not good because it might not always work. This i find very refreshing and now that I'm a bit older it make a lot of sense. He also lets us work on it each thing for some time, and often will halt the class and show us something we might have missed or ask some student to step up and show how they are doing it. quite often he also says "now do this in x number of different ways" so that we do not become locked into one response.

I have witnessed a few gradings and its very different from what I am used to. Sensei basically observe the person to be graded for a while in training then all are asked to step back he then have other people attack the person up for grading most of the time up to 3 attackers at the same time, to show that the person is developing instincts on how to avoid being cornered, avoid getting hurt and keep up to three attackers at bay, followed by some mat work to demonstrate ability to put what learned into practice, locking/controlling. If Sensei feels that he showed enough skill/instinct he will be promoted accordingly.. the person being graded never know when this will happen its entirely up to sensei when he feels it is time. As far as I have seen there has been no check if the person knows certain technics etc but I assume sensei knows this stuff since he has been observing the person in question for the last year several hours a week.. and let me tell you 3 green belts attacking a single person can get really intense and normally it uses the space of the whole dojo for the person to remain standing up.

I know from what I'm saying some people might start thinking that this is some type of fake guy etc.. but I have seen many pictures of this sensie with soke Hatasumi and they go to japan at least every year with a fairly large group and talking to the guys that have gone to japan they know what they are doing..

anyway I find it pretty refreshing and I'm enjoying it a lot :) so will look forward to enjoying the ride :)

but it is very different from my more "classical" background..

Sounds fairly typical to me, enjoy the ride!
 

DuskB4Dawn

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I have been fortunate to study jyuku tatsu ninjutsu with criss parker for a few months now.
he has explained everything in japanese and I even get emails about what im doing in the traditional ryu ha studies as well as modern self defence and what weapon we are working on a weekly basis as well as monthly handouts. all of this has the proper names in japanese. so I have no excuse.
I just find it so hard to remember.
I am only a 10 kyo so at the moment i am just focus on learning the basics. and learn the names later.
 

Sanke

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I have been fortunate to study jyuku tatsu ninjutsu with criss parker for a few months now.
he has explained everything in japanese and I even get emails about what im doing in the traditional ryu ha studies as well as modern self defence and what weapon we are working on a weekly basis as well as monthly handouts. all of this has the proper names in japanese. so I have no excuse.
I just find it so hard to remember.
I am only a 10 kyo so at the moment i am just focus on learning the basics. and learn the names later.

I think you mean 8th Kyu, as I understand it 10th Kyu doesn't really exist (neither does 10th Kyo for that matter), as that would be a white belt rank before any gradings. I say 8th, because, seeing as we train together, and we're the same rank, I should certainly hope I'm not 10th Kyu :p

Also you may want to double check how you spell Chris's name, considering you're learning from him ;)
 

Supra Vijai

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I think you mean 8th Kyu, as I understand it 10th Kyu doesn't really exist (neither does 10th Kyo for that matter), as that would be a white belt rank before any gradings. I say 8th, because, seeing as we train together, and we're the same rank, I should certainly hope I'm not 10th Kyu :p

Also you may want to double check how you spell Chris's name, considering you're learning from him ;)

Technically 10th Kyu does exist (I know because I train the organisation as well and that's where I started lol). 10Kyo on the other hand is new to me :p The fact is that there are no gradings to get to 10th Kyu because that is the starting rank but it is a rank nonetheless.

I was going to say the same thing about the name...
 
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