How much have you changed, in what you teach?

Bujingodai

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OK so moons ago when we or I anyway started in the Bujinkan/Ninjutsu. We were taught technique that at the time seemed archaic and some of it downright silly for todays application and world.

How many of you abandoned any of that, not bothering to show your own students

My technique name may be off. I am think for example Kani Hruki/crab run. If I did or do show it, it was more a right of passage for the student to know it. But taught more of, this is what they did and why but we can more just have a chuckle at you doing it now. Together of course
 
In general. I lean towards teaching potentially less effective but safer techniques so that spazzy noobs are not tearing each other's arms and legs off.

Then if they want to hard charge with the hard chargers. They can adapt that to suit those guys.
 
Also some things were poorly translated for a NA market maybe. I believe Doron Navon did the Ten Chi Jin, I've heard that or Sven Eric Bogstater. Either way, too literal. Like I have actually seen Hoko no Kamae taught like you are holding your hands up during a stick up or a defending bear. It looks ludicrous and no mind of practical application of it or it's purpose IMO. Other than some reference material my TCJ is in my old filing cabinet. Mind you I am not Bujinkan any longer, so I am speaking out of my backside.

But it was the basis, of my foundation.
 
I think anybody that teaches for a long time changes what they teach. A teacher is always a student first, they should be far more knowledgeable than they were twenty years prior.

I also think anybody that teaches for a long time changes HOW they teach. Theyll be far more experienced in how different people learn different things.
 
I don't change what I teach, but I've changed how I teach. With kids especially, I've learned over time to realize when repetition of kata is making them worse, not better. Time to get them doing something else for awhile.
 
Also some things were poorly translated for a NA market maybe. I believe Doron Navon did the Ten Chi Jin, I've heard that or Sven Eric Bogstater. Either way, too literal. Like I have actually seen Hoko no Kamae taught like you are holding your hands up during a stick up or a defending bear. It looks ludicrous and no mind of practical application of it or it's purpose IMO. Other than some reference material my TCJ is in my old filing cabinet. Mind you I am not Bujinkan any longer, so I am speaking out of my backside.

But it was the basis, of my foundation.
I also see nothing wrong with teaching what works for you rather than/ as well as teaching the syllabus

People are built differently and will adopt their own games.
 
Hey Dave,

Not too sure anyone paid attention to where you were posting this, ha!

OK so moons ago when we or I anyway started in the Bujinkan/Ninjutsu. We were taught technique that at the time seemed archaic and some of it downright silly for todays application and world.

How many of you abandoned any of that, not bothering to show your own students

My technique name may be off. I am think for example Kani Hruki/crab run. If I did or do show it, it was more a right of passage for the student to know it. But taught more of, this is what they did and why but we can more just have a chuckle at you doing it now. Together of course

Hmm... haven't come across anything called Kani Aruki (Kana Basami, yeah...), but from a look around, it's an alternate name for Yoko Aruki/Juji Aruki, or a few other names, with minimal technical difference. That said, my basic rule has always been to seek to understand the context (which, let's be very, very clear on, is absolutely not "today's application and world", and to make the assumption that it is is to fundamentally misunderstand the technical material), and to teach it from there.

There are any number of actions/techniques that require an understanding of the context and reasoning. The classic form of Yoko Aruki, where you cross and uncross your arms and legs (alternating) is one of them... it allows for relatively fast movement along a flat surface without tripping or allowing your body to move too far from the surface itself, as well as acting to help break up the silhouette (easily recognisable to a human eye/brain) by altering the shape, and so on. From a biomechanical perspective, it helps the student to become more aware of the line of their hips in relation to their movement, so can aid in body control and awareness. Is it the most usable walking method? No, not at all. But it has reasons... and, as long as those reasons are understood, it has value. Just doing if for the sake of "well, it's in the book, yeah?" isn't a good enough reason, to my mind.

Also some things were poorly translated for a NA market maybe. I believe Doron Navon did the Ten Chi Jin, I've heard that or Sven Eric Bogstater. Either way, too literal.

Not quite sure what you're saying here... are you saying that Doron or Sven Eric were the translators for the TCJ? And that they translated things too literally, and therefore missed some culturally loaded terminology or other aspects for the North American practitioners to grasp what was intended/meant by the book?

If so, I don't think I'd put the translating credit there... Charles Daniel was using his own translated form from around 1984... we were using a copy that Nagato gave Wayne Roy in 1980... neither Doron nor Sven Eric were involved in translating anything there... not sure where the English versions came from originally, though... they were likely done in-house, though.

Secondly, I don't know that I'd say the translations were done overly literally in the first place... we'll look at that in a moment with your example.

Like I have actually seen Hoko no Kamae taught like you are holding your hands up during a stick up or a defending bear.

While Hoko no Kamae is often "translated" as "Bear Posture", that's really not accurate at all (for one thing, that would be Kuma no Shisei, not Hoko no Kamae). Leaving off the much more difficult translation issues of "kamae = posture", as it doesn't, the term "hoko" actually means "embracing/hugging surroundings" (勗). The nickname of "bear" comes from the similarities to a reared up bear, with the "paws" held up above/beside the head... personally, I see that as more of a mnemonic device than anything else, but I don't teach that as a translation (just a note that you'll see it a lot online, so my students don't get confused if they find that translation)... so, how do I teach it?

Simply, it goes back to the idea of understanding the context. Hoko no Kamae is a position used to give tactical and psychological control to the situation... in a real way, by being "on top" of the threat (hands up above). This allows you to drop down on top of any attacking action, smothering it (the real meaning of the "embrace/hug" aspect). It's really not all that different to a classic low wrestling position, where the aim is to move in and smother the opponent.

It looks ludicrous and no mind of practical application of it or it's purpose IMO.

If done without any real grasp of it's meaning (which sounds like the examples you cite), then, yeah... of course, that doesn't mean that the actual kamae itself is without value or application... just that it's not really understood or taught in a way that is valuable. There's also the issue of incorrect assumptions being made about a variety of kamae as well, that have been passed down in a variety of forms regardless of the veracity of the statements.

Hayes, for example, got Ichimonji and Jumonji no Kamae exactly backwards... he described Ichimonji no Kamae as a defensive position, as the way he understood it, the weight was back on the rear leg, the lead hand was extended creating a barrier, and so on. He would describe Jumonji no Kamae as an offensive position, with the weight shifted forward onto the lead leg, and the hands held in fists in front of your body. Thing is, that's exactly the opposite of what they are... Ichimonji no Kamae has your weight held evenly (as does Jumonji, for the record), with one leg in front, the other behind, and the lead hand used as a range-finder (Gyokko Ryu starts with the hand extending, then move back into kamae for distancing), and is pretty much the only kamae used for attacks within the school, making it a position of attack. Jumonji, on the other hand, has the feet even (not one in front of the other), weight even, and the hands creating a barrier in front. It is not found in an attacking form at all in the scroll, but is instead used as a defensive/protective position... but Hayes thought it looked like a boxers guard, so used that to define his version of it. My own Chief Instructor made what I consider similar errors... Bobi no Kamae was often used as an attackers position, when the name literally means "protective/defensive kamae"...

Other than some reference material my TCJ is in my old filing cabinet. Mind you I am not Bujinkan any longer, so I am speaking out of my backside.

But it was the basis, of my foundation.

Personally, I consider the Ten Chi Jin one of the best training manuals around, especially for Bujinkan material... but it needs to be approached with an understanding of what it is, and how to utilise it. How I use it is as the grading requirements up to Shodan, as well as the material used for my Tuesday (Kihon) classes... in fact, I cover the entire text (with a few additions) over the course of 2 years, so that any student who attends every single Tuesday class for two years has covered every grading requirement up to Shodan with me.

The structure is pretty simple, really. The Ten Ryaku no Maki forms the 10th-5th Kyu (White and Green Belt) requirements, as this section deals with kamae, ukemi break falls and rolls, striking fists, Sanshin, Kihon Happo, and fundamental weapon evasion. In other words, it's all about learning how to control and structure your body, learning angles and footwork, how to stand in balance, and fall safely. The Chi Ryaku no Maki is used for 4th-1st Kyu ranks (Brown Belt for us), as this deals with joint locks, throws, controls/pins, chokes, and methods of breaking an opponents structure or grip (Te Hodoki, Hajutsu Kyuho), and so on. In other words, it's all about how to affect the opponent's balance, structure, and so on. I then use the Jin Ryaku no Maki as the requirements for Shodan, which teach the tactical application of the technical methods learnt in the earlier grades. At Black Belt, my aim is that the student is now able to not only control their own body, and the opponents, but is now thinking in a way that allows them to control the situation (how and when an opponent is able to attack, what openings are given, control of distancing, and so on).

Here's the thing, though... I don't consider this the study of a martial art at this point. It's more pre-martial art study. It's just learning to be in control enough of your body and its effect on another person that you can begin to study a martial art... which we do after Shodan with students then being able to work on individual ryu-ha and weaponry (ryu-ha) to further their development. To achieve this, I have completely re-designed each school as a new lineage (referred to as Jukuren-den), with almost all schools completely rebuilt from the ground up. In fact, other than Togakure Ryu, not one of the schools is even close to how I was originally taught them, or how they're done in the Bujinkan. Frankly, were you (or anyone else familiar with the Bujinkan way of doing these arts) to come along to my classes, you wouldn't recognise it as the same art(s), other than the Tuesday TCJ material.

So, to take it back to your original question of "how much have I changed?", well, almost everything. To the point that it's difficult to list how much has been altered, because it's almost been taken all the way back to a blank page to begin with. Even with the TCJ material, we never really did Sanshin or Kihon Happo back in the day, but I've given them a much bigger prominence again... and, as stated, my take on the kamae are rather different to that of my own instructors. And all of that comes from my aim of looking deeply at what the material actually states, and following the logical progression from there. The result of which is a much more authentic feel to the various ryu-ha and buki, as well as a defined set of reasonings for the TCJ material, rather than just going through a checklist of techniques.
 
I've had no experience at all with ninja training. But basically I agree with what drop bear said.

A teacher learns from teaching, adapts activities to be as safe as possible yet reserves some nasty stuff for those advanced and ready/willing/needed. I got better at teaching while I was teaching. My students who teach get better as well.
 
Hey Dave,

Not too sure anyone paid attention to where you were posting this, ha!



Hmm... haven't come across anything called Kani Aruki (Kana Basami, yeah...), but from a look around, it's an alternate name for Yoko Aruki/Juji Aruki, or a few other names, with minimal technical difference. That said, my basic rule has always been to seek to understand the context (which, let's be very, very clear on, is absolutely not "today's application and world", and to make the assumption that it is is to fundamentally misunderstand the technical material), and to teach it from there.

There are any number of actions/techniques that require an understanding of the context and reasoning. The classic form of Yoko Aruki, where you cross and uncross your arms and legs (alternating) is one of them... it allows for relatively fast movement along a flat surface without tripping or allowing your body to move too far from the surface itself, as well as acting to help break up the silhouette (easily recognisable to a human eye/brain) by altering the shape, and so on. From a biomechanical perspective, it helps the student to become more aware of the line of their hips in relation to their movement, so can aid in body control and awareness. Is it the most usable walking method? No, not at all. But it has reasons... and, as long as those reasons are understood, it has value. Just doing if for the sake of "well, it's in the book, yeah?" isn't a good enough reason, to my mind.



Not quite sure what you're saying here... are you saying that Doron or Sven Eric were the translators for the TCJ? And that they translated things too literally, and therefore missed some culturally loaded terminology or other aspects for the North American practitioners to grasp what was intended/meant by the book?

If so, I don't think I'd put the translating credit there... Charles Daniel was using his own translated form from around 1984... we were using a copy that Nagato gave Wayne Roy in 1980... neither Doron nor Sven Eric were involved in translating anything there... not sure where the English versions came from originally, though... they were likely done in-house, though.

Secondly, I don't know that I'd say the translations were done overly literally in the first place... we'll look at that in a moment with your example.



While Hoko no Kamae is often "translated" as "Bear Posture", that's really not accurate at all (for one thing, that would be Kuma no Shisei, not Hoko no Kamae). Leaving off the much more difficult translation issues of "kamae = posture", as it doesn't, the term "hoko" actually means "embracing/hugging surroundings" (勗). The nickname of "bear" comes from the similarities to a reared up bear, with the "paws" held up above/beside the head... personally, I see that as more of a mnemonic device than anything else, but I don't teach that as a translation (just a note that you'll see it a lot online, so my students don't get confused if they find that translation)... so, how do I teach it?

Simply, it goes back to the idea of understanding the context. Hoko no Kamae is a position used to give tactical and psychological control to the situation... in a real way, by being "on top" of the threat (hands up above). This allows you to drop down on top of any attacking action, smothering it (the real meaning of the "embrace/hug" aspect). It's really not all that different to a classic low wrestling position, where the aim is to move in and smother the opponent.



If done without any real grasp of it's meaning (which sounds like the examples you cite), then, yeah... of course, that doesn't mean that the actual kamae itself is without value or application... just that it's not really understood or taught in a way that is valuable. There's also the issue of incorrect assumptions being made about a variety of kamae as well, that have been passed down in a variety of forms regardless of the veracity of the statements.

Hayes, for example, got Ichimonji and Jumonji no Kamae exactly backwards... he described Ichimonji no Kamae as a defensive position, as the way he understood it, the weight was back on the rear leg, the lead hand was extended creating a barrier, and so on. He would describe Jumonji no Kamae as an offensive position, with the weight shifted forward onto the lead leg, and the hands held in fists in front of your body. Thing is, that's exactly the opposite of what they are... Ichimonji no Kamae has your weight held evenly (as does Jumonji, for the record), with one leg in front, the other behind, and the lead hand used as a range-finder (Gyokko Ryu starts with the hand extending, then move back into kamae for distancing), and is pretty much the only kamae used for attacks within the school, making it a position of attack. Jumonji, on the other hand, has the feet even (not one in front of the other), weight even, and the hands creating a barrier in front. It is not found in an attacking form at all in the scroll, but is instead used as a defensive/protective position... but Hayes thought it looked like a boxers guard, so used that to define his version of it. My own Chief Instructor made what I consider similar errors... Bobi no Kamae was often used as an attackers position, when the name literally means "protective/defensive kamae"...



Personally, I consider the Ten Chi Jin one of the best training manuals around, especially for Bujinkan material... but it needs to be approached with an understanding of what it is, and how to utilise it. How I use it is as the grading requirements up to Shodan, as well as the material used for my Tuesday (Kihon) classes... in fact, I cover the entire text (with a few additions) over the course of 2 years, so that any student who attends every single Tuesday class for two years has covered every grading requirement up to Shodan with me.

The structure is pretty simple, really. The Ten Ryaku no Maki forms the 10th-5th Kyu (White and Green Belt) requirements, as this section deals with kamae, ukemi break falls and rolls, striking fists, Sanshin, Kihon Happo, and fundamental weapon evasion. In other words, it's all about learning how to control and structure your body, learning angles and footwork, how to stand in balance, and fall safely. The Chi Ryaku no Maki is used for 4th-1st Kyu ranks (Brown Belt for us), as this deals with joint locks, throws, controls/pins, chokes, and methods of breaking an opponents structure or grip (Te Hodoki, Hajutsu Kyuho), and so on. In other words, it's all about how to affect the opponent's balance, structure, and so on. I then use the Jin Ryaku no Maki as the requirements for Shodan, which teach the tactical application of the technical methods learnt in the earlier grades. At Black Belt, my aim is that the student is now able to not only control their own body, and the opponents, but is now thinking in a way that allows them to control the situation (how and when an opponent is able to attack, what openings are given, control of distancing, and so on).

Here's the thing, though... I don't consider this the study of a martial art at this point. It's more pre-martial art study. It's just learning to be in control enough of your body and its effect on another person that you can begin to study a martial art... which we do after Shodan with students then being able to work on individual ryu-ha and weaponry (ryu-ha) to further their development. To achieve this, I have completely re-designed each school as a new lineage (referred to as Jukuren-den), with almost all schools completely rebuilt from the ground up. In fact, other than Togakure Ryu, not one of the schools is even close to how I was originally taught them, or how they're done in the Bujinkan. Frankly, were you (or anyone else familiar with the Bujinkan way of doing these arts) to come along to my classes, you wouldn't recognise it as the same art(s), other than the Tuesday TCJ material.

So, to take it back to your original question of "how much have I changed?", well, almost everything. To the point that it's difficult to list how much has been altered, because it's almost been taken all the way back to a blank page to begin with. Even with the TCJ material, we never really did Sanshin or Kihon Happo back in the day, but I've given them a much bigger prominence again... and, as stated, my take on the kamae are rather different to that of my own instructors. And all of that comes from my aim of looking deeply at what the material actually states, and following the logical progression from there. The result of which is a much more authentic feel to the various ryu-ha and buki, as well as a defined set of reasonings for the TCJ material, rather than just going through a checklist of techniques.
Great breakdown Chris I appreciate it
As for the copy I learned from. Who taught me etc. I was always told it was Doron that did the translation. Which is incorrect, def shows that my teacher was misinformed. The pictograms used as reference were obviously grossly mis translated. I learned that way, and in years following learned a more accurate way more akin to the way you are describing.
I just wonder how many people were taught literally from the book, and still do it verbatim. I'd wonder now, since Hatusmi being gone, and what I would imagine are many more "sect" of schools. The difference.

I run my class much the same way with the kyus. 8 kyu ranks each a more difficult stage and in body progression
 
OK so moons ago when we or I anyway started in the Bujinkan/Ninjutsu. We were taught technique that at the time seemed archaic and some of it downright silly for todays application and world.

How many of you abandoned any of that, not bothering to show your own students

My technique name may be off. I am think for example Kani Hruki/crab run. If I did or do show it, it was more a right of passage for the student to know it. But taught more of, this is what they did and why but we can more just have a chuckle at you doing it now. Together of course
Initially my focus was to learn the techniques of the ryuha, their henka and place within the curriculum of the school as precisely as possible
This was a huge undertaking for me as it became clear to me very early on that >90% of the folks outside of Japan were mostly working off notes, half arsed "chinese whispers" transmission &/or having seen a technique once in Japan and trying to recreate it. Gaps in knowledge were either ignored or filled with untested & unverified movements or explanations
The only way to access this knowledge was to go to Japan (a few times every year) and train with the small number of shihan who would teach this in their home dojos

So for the first 20 years or so of my training I changed the way I performed (& taught) the curriculum enormously

After that my focus shifted to "How do we make sure that it works not only against beginners, but also against skilled fighters?". I discovered that there were big gaps in my skillset and so I spent the last 15 years or so learning how to deal with modern fighters

Now I teach a combination of the traditional forms, modern fighting techniques and how to use the traditional techniques in a modern context

Going forward I'm primarily interested in developing a blend of the above that is tried and tested under pressure against experienced fighters and can be used for modern self defence. And I want to do this without losing the incredible lessons we've learnt from our traditions
 
I've had no experience at all with ninja training. But basically I agree with what drop bear said.

A teacher learns from teaching, adapts activities to be as safe as possible yet reserves some nasty stuff for those advanced and ready/willing/needed. I got better at teaching while I was teaching. My students who teach get better as well.
We also do a lot more throwing than we do falling. And just kind of hope they figure it out on the way down.

So I try to be especially careful

And I can't run through a takedown with a room full of people sparring. I would take out like 10 guys
 
Initially my focus was to learn the techniques of the ryuha, their henka and place within the curriculum of the school as precisely as possible
This was a huge undertaking for me as it became clear to me very early on that >90% of the folks outside of Japan were mostly working off notes, half arsed "chinese whispers" transmission &/or having seen a technique once in Japan and trying to recreate it. Gaps in knowledge were either ignored or filled with untested & unverified movements or explanations
The only way to access this knowledge was to go to Japan (a few times every year) and train with the small number of shihan who would teach this in their home dojos

So for the first 20 years or so of my training I changed the way I performed (& taught) the curriculum enormously

After that my focus shifted to "How do we make sure that it works not only against beginners, but also against skilled fighters?". I discovered that there were big gaps in my skillset and so I spent the last 15 years or so learning how to deal with modern fighters

Now I teach a combination of the traditional forms, modern fighting techniques and how to use the traditional techniques in a modern context

Going forward I'm primarily interested in developing a blend of the above that is tried and tested under pressure against experienced fighters and can be used for modern self defence. And I want to do this without losing the incredible lessons we've learnt from our traditions

Because you need a whole lot of back of house knowledge to make any technique work.

And I imagine there is not a lot of time spent on that generally.

(As a side note I am trying to get arm wrenches in grappling at the moment. Speaking of needing to set things up)

 
I was good at teaching karate pretty much from the start, by accepted standards. My main skill was being able to spot areas needing improvement, analyze the problem and communicating the adjustments to easily correct the problem. I was pretty much a stickler for form and execution and had pride in my students' performance. But that was 45 years ago.

The more I came to understand the true nature of my art, my priorities changed. I no longer put much emphasis on form as far as looking good, and now only stress form as it facilitates execution (They are sometimes the same, but many times not). In other words, pragmatic form rather than artistic form. Slight deviations from the "ideal" as one might see in a textbook are now fine with me. Just because the book or curriculum, or kata judge says, "the feet must be at this exact angle"", or "the hand must be held just so" is unimportant to me now, as long as it doesn't affect the technique's effectiveness.

In sparring, I no longer spend much time on long distance fighting, now concentrating on moving in and close-range techniques including leg checks, breaking kuzushi (structure) and immobilizations. In drills, techniques are almost exclusively done going forward or to forward at an angle. Going backwards is not for getting away, only for special tactical execution.

I would not say my teaching (and my karate) have evolved. It's more accurate to say it has "devolved," casting away the "fluff" and regimentation it has taken on over the decades and returning to a purer form of the art.
 
I was good at teaching karate pretty much from the start, by accepted standards. My main skill was being able to spot areas needing improvement, analyze the problem and communicating the adjustments to easily correct the problem. I was pretty much a stickler for form and execution and had pride in my students' performance. But that was 45 years ago.

The more I came to understand the true nature of my art, my priorities changed. I no longer put much emphasis on form as far as looking good, and now only stress form as it facilitates execution (They are sometimes the same, but many times not). In other words, pragmatic form rather than artistic form. Slight deviations from the "ideal" as one might see in a textbook are now fine with me. Just because the book or curriculum, or kata judge says, "the feet must be at this exact angle"", or "the hand must be held just so" is unimportant to me now, as long as it doesn't affect the technique's effectiveness.

In sparring, I no longer spend much time on long distance fighting, now concentrating on moving in and close-range techniques including leg checks, breaking kuzushi (structure) and immobilizations. In drills, techniques are almost exclusively done going forward or to forward at an angle. Going backwards is not for getting away, only for special tactical execution.

I would not say my teaching (and my karate) have evolved. It's more accurate to say it has "devolved," casting away the "fluff" and regimentation it has taken on over the decades and returning to a purer form of the art.
That is a perfect breakdown. I'd like to hope this is the same thing I have done over time.
 

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