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My thoughts to help beginners
Honorary Villager
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Since my method of training involves making all of the mistakes and then taking days to months fixing them, I'm going to offer my advice to new to mid ranking kyu grade students.

Of course, the quality of kyu ranking students varies but I'm sure this advice will be useful to those whom know they need it. My approach is to the complete newbie, although I expect (and hope) that these principles are touched upon in your classes.

1. Use your WHOLE BODY for ALL of your movements. Behind an effective punch is not the arm muscles, but the entire weight of your body.

When you throw someone, you don't just yank on their arm and hope for the best. Rotate your whole body, if throwing over your shoulder get right into their space, stick your butt out and fling them over the top.

A good example is the oni-kudaki. Once you have 'engaged' the hand position, you can't just rotate the arm around and hope for the best. Drop your weight to bring the arm down, then bring your weight back up again to apply the rotation. Drop your weight again as you continue the rotation with your uke's elbow coming above his shoulder.

You should not at ANY point be wrestling or muscling your opponent. If what you're doing isn't effective, then change it, or soften the opponent with a strike to manipulate their body into a position which will allow you to move correctly.


2. Consider your elements and move through them where necessary. You don't have to lock into one element per technique. Your elements should adapt just like your posture adapts to the situation. You may start out working with wind, but need to change it to fire in order to be effective.


3. Think about the angles you're taking, the angles you're striking out, what sort of strike you're using, what you're targeting, whether you're creating impact with your strike, pushing through or both.

There are many different ways to approach things. A good example I use when training with new students is when working through the Hicho movements is to experiment with kicking into and below the ribs, groin crease, armpit and upper arm. Working with 'impacting' strikes, and pushing through with strikes to achieve different effects to develop an understanding of what you can do.


4. Choose your target and hit it!! My wife has bad knees, and a careless strike from someone took her out of training for a year. Apart from this, if you're targeting something you should be hitting it. If you don't hit the right target, quite often you'll get the wrong or an inappropriate effect.


5. Remember to breathe. You should not at any point be holding your breath. If you're striking you should be inhaling or exhaling depend on the element and the feel. Breathing forces you to relax. Relaxing is a cornerstone of Bujinkan training. You cannot relax if you hold your breath.


6. When you're uke, your strikes need to be effective and realistic. This means that if you throw a punch, or a kick, you need to be throwing that punch or kick the same way you would in a real life situation, but the SPEED needs to be scaled to be appropriate for training. Train with correct body motion at all times. Also, don't just fall over because your tori expects you to. Try and emulate reality as best as you can. If your tori is not training correctly, they need to be finding that the mistakes are preventing them from being effective, not that they're butchering things and getting away with it.


7. Forget about your rank. Don't even think about it. Rank is supposed to be an indicator to OTHER students about what they should expecting to receive from you in regards to quality of training. You should be more interested in learning and your own ability than about the colour of your belt. I struggle with this myself, but I am still completely aware of the fact that I am more interested in learning and improving than anything else.


8. Avoid training on mats as much as you can. Mats provide unrealistic training due to their composition. Train on grass or carpet if you need a soft surface. Hard floors are the best for developing your ukemi, but softer surfaces can be used when training with more aggressive throws, etc. Chances are, if you're out on the street and are confronted, you're walking on pavement - not a mat from the gym. You need to be competent in your environment. Put simply, harden up. Rain, hail, concrete, gravel, it shouldn't bother you. I train on some weekends at home with sticks and ants all over the lawn. You shouldn't let these things bother you. Don't be afraid of hard surfaces. I can dive roll from 3 feet onto a hard surface. The key is to start with baby steps, and I know that I've still got a lot more in me.


9. Don't go to the dojo to train if you feel like crap. You'll bring the energy level down and make the experience less effective for the other students. If you are keen to train, then fix your attitude and your energy. Stay positive and you won't have this problem. Make sure that when you attend the dojo you are making a positive contribution to the atmosphere, not bringing it down.


10. Stay guarded from your opponent. I make a habit of smacking my tori in the face when he's not guarded and taking me down. There is always a way to remain protected, whether it's with an angle, distance, an elbow, shoulder, knee, thigh, limb control, pain, etc. If I am ineffective when I'm training I expect to be hit as a reminder. I don't get hit very often anymore ;).


11. Don't stand still! Your postures are there to be MOVED THROUGH, not remain static! It is better for you to be moving in ultra slow motion than to stop and start at a moderate speed. The ultra slow motion continuous movement is more realistic than stopping and starting at full speed in the dojo. The ultra slow motion when translate to full speed continuous movement, whereas stopping and starting will only ever translate to stopping and starting.

That being said, sometimes it is appropriate when training to pause while you assess what targets you have available and to assess your posture, angle, distance, etc.



I'm sure there's more I could add, but this is the most significant stuff I could think up right now. There is always a LOT going on and there's a lot to work on.

Also, I know not everyone agrees with me about training on hard surfaces. I am aware some people have injuries which prevent them taking heavy falls, etc., and I'm also aware of people who have been injured by training on hard surfaces. This is due to carelessness or unfortunate circumstances. It is not the rule of thumb. I have taken many hard falls to the floor from various heights at all kinds of different angles as uke and got back up straight away to start again. Learn to roll and fall properly and it's likely you'll never have any problems. You should be practising rolling and falling on hard surfaces regardless, inside or outside of the dojo. They're not much use to you if you can only do them on grass or carpet, you should be 'graduating' yourself to wood, then concrete and gravel as soon as you're able to do so safely.

Posted on: 2009/4/17 11:47
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Re: My thoughts to help beginners
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I think this is pretty good. I only disagree with number 9. I think you SHOULD train when you are tired, slightly injured (injury depending and providing your training partner is conscientious of it). In a real situation, we might be tired or injured or what have you. We need to learn how to fight in a way that works around such challenges.

The exception is of course that if we have a cold or a flu or something contagious we shouldn't be passing it on to others!

Posted on: 2009/4/18 5:55
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Re: My thoughts to help beginners
Honorary Villager
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I guess I wasn't able to express my thoughts correctly.

I agree with where you're coming from, but I think there are also circumstances where you're in a frame of mind where it would negatively affect training.

I think it's more of an extreme circumstance though, on a more spiritual level which I'm not at yet.

Obviously though, it's not a good idea to train when you're sick with something contagious for the sake of the health of others. Unless they're all hardcore and don't care about being sick ;).

Posted on: 2009/4/20 12:46
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Re: My thoughts to help beginners
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What are the elements that are mentioned a couple of times, leaves thos points kinda baffling....?

Posted on: 2009/4/20 14:49
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Re: My thoughts to help beginners
Village Old Timer
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I agree with Ryan. I'd add that when you're in a not-so-good space emotionally, the support of your buyu thumping on you can help immeasurably.

Quote:

Sir Donsalot wrote:
2. Consider your elements and move through them where necessary. You don't have to lock into one element per technique. Your elements should adapt just like your posture adapts to the situation. You may start out working with wind, but need to change it to fire in order to be effective.


Um. . .what does this have to do with Bujinkan training?

Posted on: 2009/4/20 22:54
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Dale Seago
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Re: My thoughts to help beginners
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Going to keiko when you are not feeling up to it, has happened to me many times and continues to happen on occasion. The end of a long work day, and the long drive ahead to the dojo, can impede one’s path. Every time though, after practice I say to myself, how did I even contemplate not going? As Dale said, “support of your buyu thumping on you can help immeasurably.” True words my friend.

Ganbatte.

Posted on: 2009/4/20 23:54
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Re: My thoughts to help beginners
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Regular training or practising in the dojo adds quality to my life which I would never get from my work.

That's one my personal reason for "keep going".

Posted on: 2009/4/21 0:14
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Re: My thoughts to help beginners
Village Old Timer
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I witnessed that whenever I am tired or kind of sick I go to keiko and come healthy out from the Dojo. Another thing is, during the class I somehow show more energetic techniques.

Posted on: 2009/4/21 1:11
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Re: My thoughts to help beginners
Permanent Village Fixture
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It sure sounds that Sirdonsalot is talking about another art other than the Bujinkan. Or he hasn,t trained in our art at all and just read some old books.. I hope not. We all must keep looking to the source, Soke.
Barry

Posted on: 2009/4/21 4:25
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Can you strike the wind?
Caressed by the wind I talk with it.
Can you throw the earth?
Nourished by the earth, I cultivate it.
Can you grapple with the fire?
Warmed by the fire I feed it.
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Re: My thoughts to help beginners
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I've been training in the Bujinkan for 6 years.

In regards to the elements - have you not read History and Tradition? Soke himself explains the use of the elements in that particular book (which is unfortunately the only one I've read) although that being said it's been a while and I can't remember to what extent.

For some very generalised examples, moving through Ichimonji carries a water feel, Jumonji has an earth feel and I tend to associate Hicho with water.

I also realised, after thinking some more that I have not personally missed a training session except for once when I was so tired I could barely think, and that is the only class I have missed in about 3 years. So I suppose that particular point isn't really valid, I don't know what I was thinking about when I wrote it so let's just dismiss that one ;).

Posted on: 2009/4/24 8:00
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