2014 Year in review & Welcome 2015!

Posted: January 6, 2015 in New Years Letter and Theme, Uncategorized

January 6, 2015

Dear BUYU,

I hope this finds everyone well. It sure seems like folks in my life are already doing some inspiring things this year.

As some of you know, since I started officially teaching the Bujinkan martial arts I’ve tried to follow the role modeling of my teachers Masaaki Hatsumi and Jack Hoban by sharing some highlights about our training last year and thoughts about the year coming up. The Bujinkan also has the tradition of naming a “theme” for the new year, based loosely off of what we accomplished the previous year, and what might be a good direction for the new one. Though we continue to work on “everything”, themes help us focus our “everything” through a specific lens or angle.

As you train you will also develop your own personal themes or “want to work ons”. This seems to be natural for most folks. Just remember what you WANT to work on may not necessarily be what you SHOULD be working on. A strategy I’d advise is to look to those things in (an out of) the dojo that you try to avoid the most, put your big-person warrior pants on, and get to it!

I can’t help but remember fondly the days when our dojo was in the “Sig O”,  a wonderful space to have class. Then we moved to the Humble Be Yoga Studio, which for several reasons didn’t last very long. Lately we’ve been training in a basement. Not the most inspiring surroundings but we still have some committed Buyu and that is most important.

I didn’t get to Japan last year but had some good training none-the-less. I had the opportunity to teach at the midwest Tai Kai, which is always a blast and I think I still have the carpet burns to prove it! I also started to train more solo outdoors which I think has improved my “walking” and balance a bit. Training solo is just as important as training with others. It helps your imagination and gives you the chance to steer your own training; to be your own teacher. Very important.

Since we had less college-age students in class this year I thought quite a bit about and wrote an article for those thinking about the merits of starting training in the martial arts when they are older. Getting older is always a theme, but it seems that so long as I keep training I can keep doing what I’ve always done, for the most part. Martial arts training is a fantastic way to keep strong and practice courage.

Our dojo theme of last year was mentioned in class a few times, but really was not apparent unless you trained regularly. I wanted us to explore “Multiple Attackers” and this morphed in to “Multiple attacks” in several different forms. How do we handle a situation where there are several potential threats? How do we apply multiple strikes and flow to one-punch or kick traditional waza? Where is the safest tactical space when faced with multiple opponents? And I’m still on my soapbox about keeping our attacks realistic, un-training the “Bujinkan lunge punch” whenever we can.

I suppose that brings us to 2015!  For me the choosing of a new theme is a mix between being inspired by something new, a new take on the art perhaps, and a feeling. In our art we refer to this feeling as Bufu, or “martial wind”. For this year I’d like our group to work on the theme of “putting ourselves out there”. This may mean trying something new, taking a risk you might not normally take, attempt a new way of thought, learn a new instrument, be more helpful to others, etc. For our martial arts practice I think this could play out more specifically:

  • Explore the openings in our kamae and work on our defense. (bring your mouth guards)
  • Continue our work on “multiples” via multiple attackers including multiple attacks with weapons. (Leave your ego at home)
  • Invite more people to training such as youth and other local training groups. This may include looking for a new and better space!
  • Outdoor trainings
  • Get to Japan (Sensei is not getting younger)

And who knows what else. I look forward to exploring this concept more and invite your thoughts. Gambatte!



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