New to Bujinkan

Maelendiir

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Hey guys!

I'm new to the forums, and Bujinkan full stop. I'm attending my first class on Monday: www.senkidojo.co.uk - properly excited! Does anyone know of this dojo / think it looks okay? The teacher, David Castan, apparently trains with Soke Hatsumi, and there are at least pictures on the website to validate this.

I was just curious - is there anything I should do to prepare for my first lesson? I'm completely new to any kind of MA (besides a brief stint of TKD 8-9 years ago, needless to say I was very young and didn't keep it up)

I'd ideally like to look, beforehand, at the kind of things I'd be taught in the first lesson - the problem being, from reading up, it seems to depend on the individual dojo/instructor. Any tips or links people could be provide that I could have a look at, I'd be most appreciative! (I've seen references to some decent books, but not sure how helpful they'd be when first starting out).

Many thanks for your help, I look forward to becoming a permanent resident here!

Ash
 

Razor

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Hi, I started Bujinkan about a year ago, and I remember that the first things my instructor taught were how to punch and kick properly, as well as evasion (rolls etc) and breakfalls. He then moved on to some of the "Kihon Happo" which are eight basic techniques (although with many variations). That'll probably be the kind of things you are taught at first :) If I might recommend a book that I did on another thread, Ninjutsu: The Secret Art of the Ninja by Simon Yeo is a good one, it has all of the stuff I just mentioned in it, with pictures and things. I think it would be good to have a look at a book when you begin. I often found that after learning a technique, I would go back and wonder about some of the movements, and not be exactly sure how they worked. Although you will go over the same things in class again, I find it helps to have a look at a book and revise a little in your own time as well.
 

Chris Parker

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Hi Ash,

First off, don't get too hung up on "he trains with Hatsumi Soke!", as what that means is that he has attended classes as Hombu and gotten a photo op. That's not a denigration or attack, simply a statement on what it means, and applies equally to pretty much everyone with that claim. Importantly, though, it does show that David is keeping up contact with Japan, from the sounds of things regularly heading over to learn from the instructors there. Most likely he will have a favourite Shihan or two that he attends, as well as the Honbu classes, but it'll be from the Shihan that the more "real" training will come from.

In terms of preparation for your class, as you have noted, exactly what you will go through will vary depending on what the instructor deems appropriate. It may be simply the "building blocks" of Kihon Happo and Sanshin no Gata (Gogyo/Gokei Shoshin no Gata/Goshin no Gata), or even as simple as the fundamental kamae (stances), or you may simply get put in with everyone else and whatever the class is doing. My big advise would be to go in ready to experience something that may be a little uncomfortable or awkward (the first class is always the most uncomfortable, and you feel the most unco-ordinated, mainly because you don't have any previous reference or experience, what with it being your first class after all!), and just have fun. Ask questions if you have them, and enjoy the experience.
 
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Maelendiir

Maelendiir

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Razor,

Many thanks for that - I just wanted a basic overview of what *could* be taught in my first class. Glad to hear that rolls and breakfalls could be included in the first few lessons. I'll also definately take a look into Simon Yeo's book, sounds like a useful point of reference for after sessions!

Chris - Thanks for the quick reply! My reference to him training with Soke Hatsumi was more based around the fact that I've read about a great number of "fake" Bujinkan classes springing up around the place, and this should alleviate my fears of this being one of those, sorry for the confusion! Thanks for the advice also - I know I'll be feeling a little like a fish out of water for a good while at first (brings back distant TKD memories :p) but it's good to have that reassurance, so thanks again!

Here's hoping the first class goes well - and no one gets too frustrated with my lack of.. "experience"..

Cheers

Ash
 

Razor

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Hope it helps a bit. It's a bit different at my dojo because we always get an influx of new people at the same time. I'm sure you'll be taken through the basic bits in your first class though, especially as breakfalls and strikes in particular need to be taught for safety.The book also contains useful training and self defence tips :) Good luck in your first class!
 
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Maelendiir

Maelendiir

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Excellent, many thanks for that! :)

I'll let you know how I get on! I have a feeling it's the beginning of a very long, very rewarding path!

Ash
 

yorkshirelad

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Ash,
Bujinkan doesn't really have any quality control, so there is no way of knowing whether Mr. Castan can give you what you need. Before anyone can give you advise on whether to train with him or not, we have to know what you want out of Martial Arts.
If you want a system that teaches you a practical method of self defense, you're better off training in a combat sport, such as kickboxing or Muay Thai. You'll want something with contact, so you know what it'll feel like to get hit realistically. You may want to then suppliment this training with some type of combat training.
If you want to train in a traditional art with spritual ties, you may want to try Aikido. If you want a classical system that has been passes down through generation, then go for a Koryu art. They're hard to find, and meticulously structured, but if that's what floats your boat.....Now as far as Bujinkan is concerned, when it comes to it being a traditional art, it seems to be pretty much anything the individual instructor wants to teach. It's definitley not koryu and as far as self protection is concerned, you might as well go salsa dancing.
The demo that Mr. Castan put on his website was pitifully poor. I have a few pieces of advise to his attackers.
1) If you're going to attack someone with a big piece of material, make sure it's a dense piece of wood, or preferably metal such as iron or steel, not sponge.
2)Don't attack one at a time, if there's a gang of you, all jump on him at the same time.
3)While your mate is being mangled with some preposterus technique by Mr. Castan, don't wait in a fighting stance for Mr. Castan to finish with your mate, pick up a brick, or some other heavy object and hit him on the head with it while he's busy.
4) When you attack someone do it in a style that is somewhat unpredictable, for instance, don't lunge with a knife on a straight line and then leave the knife out in the air for someone like Mr. Castan can grab your wrist and break your arm. It might also be better if you began your attack a reasonably short distance from your target. It seems that in the Bujinkan, most attacks begin over a distance that you could drive a bus through. The defender could literally see the attack begin, then go and make a cup of tea, drink it with a packet of hob nobs (british bisucuits..uh hum..cookies to all you yanks), wipe the crumbs off his chin, and then be back in time to defend the attack.
 
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Maelendiir

Maelendiir

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Hi Yorkshirelad

Thanks for the reply - I wasn't really basing my opinions of the place on the video, and while I do see your point, I understand that they do need to 'advertise' to encourage people to actually come to the dojo, but I do see your point. I did find the clip a little tacky! I was more wondering on opinions based on the rest of the site. But thanks for giving me the warning :)

My overall take on the class on Monday was very good though (attending again tonight) everyone was very helpful, and it was quite rigorous (still feeling it today!). After warming up/doing various rolls etc, we spent the rest of the lesson going through some of the Kihon Happo (I think that's what it's called - not got my reference book to hand!). It was quite enjoyable and was clearly enough to entice me back!

With regards to why I want to take up the martial art - I'll give you the honest answer: I'm not entirely sure. I love the Japanese culture, history and language and I suppose I feel that this helps add another element to that passion of mine? That's the best I have, I'm afraid!

Cheers

Ash
 

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