What is Ninjutsu?

Discussion in 'Ninjutsu' started by The Force, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. The Force

    The Force Valued Member

    The Bujinkan Ninjutsu

    I've been practicing the art of the Bujinkan Ninjutsu for over 2 months now and I don't understand what Ninjutsu is.

    Seriously what is it about? I have an open minded, realistic thinking sensei, but sometimes when some seniors take over I don't understand what is going on. Without the sensei I would seriously think of walking out of there, because he has a background of other arts and does look at various arts and realistic situations, thus it doesn't feel like he's bullshitting.

    But when he's not there, it seems very illogical, the techniques are... it's so choreographed, I feel it's too preachy.. I am not here to say Ninjutsu is bad, I don't get it and I would like to see if there's anyone here who can explain it to me.

    I heard some dojos have no sparring, luckily we do but it's a rare thing.. so it's still very difficult, imagine with 0 sparring, omg. Those who talk too much about how they can take someone down by doing this twist and holding here and there, how sure are they that they can pull it off in a fast and resisting situations? Sometimes when I see them doing the techniques I feel like ,"man that is ********." And when I see Hatsumi Sensei doing his techniques looking like the untouchable man, it's so annoying, I want to see him fight. Sometimes I feel like fighting with the guys at my dojo out of frustration and see if they can do what they talk about.

    It's funny for someone to say ,"when the punch comes ( the stupid unrealistic punch ) you just evade, and when you have, look.. you see an opening.. grab, step in, and flow from there ( with an example of a technique being applied )."

    And what if you can't evade that punch? Then what? And who on earth would punch from such a distance? Nobody in reality is going to stand so far and do the walk in punch with legs spread wide open trying to reach and hit. I mean before we talk about punch, can't we see the realistic punches? And how we can try to predict which hand is going to make a move, or leg, or anything by understanding the posture and movement of the body?

    Like when I am going to punch, perhaps the other can see the flick of my shoulder before I make a punch, or twist of my waist before I make a kick, or if it's a punch coming from the side at close distance then maybe I can guard my head Muay Thai or Boxing style rather than stepping in and attack before he does. I mean that's not easy, where's the basic understanding? If I ask ,"what to do when the punch comes from the side at close distance?"

    It's funny if he says ,"oh easy, just step in with a punch, he'll miss you." How preachy, where's sparring? Where's sparring for one to learn while being in the situation of a fight? Not knowing what's gonna happen and having to learn oneself on predicting the other's movements and attacks. Where is it? Then how can you know? Any grandma can talk like that.


    There is this middle age man who takes over the class whenever the sensei is unable to turn up or if he's busy teaching the beginners on the basics of breakfalls, rolls etc. He used me to explain a technique to this one guy, he asked me to grab him, I did, and he explained ,"see, if I try to grab his hand and twist, he won't let me, ( he asked me to resist )," then he said ,"but if I grab his elbow with the other hand and twist at the same time, I can twist him ( I didn't resist at this time, but then I wondered, why not, let's resist.. I resisted ). He couldn't do it, he tried and tried but couldn't, it angered him, he grabbed at the back top of my uniform and pulled me down without warning and I fell on my ass. He said ,"I'm just trying to show a technique."

    Well your technique doesn't work mister. And you think in real life the bugger would let you take time to do what you did or to dig your finger into my flesh? What is this? I got up and seriouly felt like beating him, I calmed down and told him ,"sorry, you asked me to resist and so I did, I just wanted to know." And he acted cool, and he started being kind to me.

    So yes, I don't understand what Ninjutsu is. I have started Muay Thai and I am feeling it! simple, direct, straight to the point and really gives you good physical conditioning. Ninjutsu? Where's the physical conditioning? Have you seen any muay thai fighters with pot belly?

    When the illogical walk-in punch comes, it's funny how the attacker just waits in that punching position with his hand stretched out waiting for the other to grab his hand, twist and do all the "untouchable" techniques. Who would punch and just wait with his / her hand stretched out without retracting the punch in a snap?

    And if you ask why the punch is like that, why the kick is only a stomp kick, what's up with the thumb attack below navel, or the three finger thrust to the throat when you can just ****ing punch the guy and knock him out, and the answers we get is ,"oh it's because when they faught in the past, they wore body armours," WHAT?:bang: What has that got to do with today? So I'm going to defence myself against a thug in the street fighting as if he is wearing body armours?

    Even the ninjas from the past would laugh at that. Sometimes I wonder if they themselves know what Ninjutsu is.. sometimes my sensei criticises Ninjutsu's techniques, so where does that leave Ninjutsu? And when he changes it to something realistic, something simple and direct, where does that leave "Ninjutsu"? And what is it? So I don't understand, enlighten me here.:bang:
  2. garth

    garth Valued Member

    The Force
    I can understand your frustration, and i understand exactly where you are coming from. Before i comment any further however i am going to wait to see what excuses and flak you receive over what appears to be a very honest post.

  3. Hayseed

    Hayseed Thread Killer

    I'll take a crack at it. I've gotta tell you, I feel pretty much the same way. It annoys me to no end when I have to listen to endless dribble about the untouchable abilities granted to those who study Bujinkan.

    I will, however, preface my post here with a few things to keep in mind.

    1. The Bujinkan is a relatively young organization, if you can call it organized.

    2. Soke, by his own admission wasn't ready to be "Soke" until fairly recently, and that's after years of playing around with the different concepts he learned from Takamatsu Sensei, so don't be surprised if he has changed his views a few times.

    3. Senior students aren't instructors. Of course they "should" know what they're talking about before they open they're mouths, but that isn't always the case. Often times, I believe, they get caught up in being looked up to, so it makes it difficult for them to admit when they're wrong, or when they don't know something.

    4. Bujinkan isn't A-B-C=Conflict resolved. It's more of a "this is a possible solution to a problem which has many solutions", so when someone says "it's easy just move here and he misses", what they're really saying, or should be anyway is, "if the timing is right, and you step in using kuzushi, and his target is your face, it will miss" or something like that.

    5. Kata aren't A-B-C=Conflict resolved either. They are an excuse for you and your training partner to practice the physical movements contained therein in a safe and structured fashion, much like practicing guitar scales. So the reason for the lunge punch IMO is for you to practice maintaining spacial control and awareness, bone and muscle alignment, timing, striking, timing with regard to your own body while punching and balance. I know people get wrapped up in deifying Hatsumi Soke's teachings to the point that they forget that he himself, is still learning. So you'll hear all sorts of different reasons why it's San ****an Ken rather that Fudo Ken, but I think the real reason is...at that particular moment, you're practicing San ****an Ken. IRL, use whatever you deem appropriate for the situation, but at least you will have that tool should it fit. And no one can say that you have to practice that particular technique or strike, you are after all the one that's on the line for it so as far as I'm concerned it's your call, however there may be something in the practice of any technique, even the ones that seem silly or outdated that may help you to understand another technique that you may find more useful.

    6. The lunge punch is supposed to be very easy to evade and capitalize on and I think alot of people forget this. IMO, It's meant to represent a frontal attack. This can mean anything from a punch, to a shove, to a grab, to a stab, etc...
    I think the most important thing that it does is gives you an opportunity to find the proper timing for evasion without feeling rushed. That way you can get used to calmly reacting at the right time. No one, IMO, who understands it's purpose regards it as an highly effective attacking technique.

    7. When testing someone on whether or not they can do a technique against your resistance, it's important to keep in mind what has transpired immediately before, because timing and surprise are everything with regard to jutaijutsu. It's equally important to keep people honest while practicing MA, just try not to be too much of a ***** about it, and you'll find most people will be pretty cordial.

    To be continued...
    (I'm at work.)
  4. garth

    garth Valued Member

    Hayseed posted
    Actually if done correctly its very difficult to evade. its just that too many people dont know how to throw it.

  5. garth

    garth Valued Member

    Hayseed posted
    Yes there some truth in this. i often remark to my students that a technique only works once. once the student knows what is coming they can then defend against it

    So in the case that someone has grabbed you wrist, the last thing an attacker is expecting you to do is escape. Of course it would be stupid of an instructor to say that one can always escape when they cant as THE FORCE found out.

    But in reality if i tried to escape and the escape was not working I would do something else.

  6. Arashima

    Arashima Banned Banned

    Fantastic post mate. I've never seen it summarised in one post so comprehensively.

    Most of your questions need to be answered with physical examples not internet forum excuses and I believe you deserve answers, because your observations are difficult to refute.

    The only thing I will say is that we don't expect Soke at his age to fight anyone to prove anything, any more than we demand proof of the existence of the Virgin Mary from the Pope, but there are plenty of people out there who should be able to show you how our art works (as well as many who can't, except for in a compliant environment as you have described).

    Garth makes a good point about you being able to resist something you were expecting (you may not have been able to if he had not told you exactly what he was going to do first), but the instructor who demonstrated on you should have been good enough at taijutsu not to digresss to something as completely different as pulling you on your ass or should have pointed out what was happening rather than you having to rely on Garth on a forum to do so. A minor adjustment should have been all that was required, not a parlour trick of pulling the carpet out from under you (which I should point out worked because you weren't expecting it, unlike the preceding technique).

    I think many of us need to ask why other arts provide answers without excuses and flannel, and make sure that as individuals we can answer questions such as yours with our bodies, rather than with endless strings of hypotheses and mystical looking down noses.
  7. garth

    garth Valued Member

    arashima posted
    Well actually we should.

    If someone wants to state such a claim as a Virgin birth, then the onus of proof is on them, so yes even the pope should be asked for proof of his claim.

  8. Arashima

    Arashima Banned Banned

    You'll be wanting photographs of the fairies at the bottom of my garden next!
  9. Hayseed

    Hayseed Thread Killer

    When done correctly, it's much more hidden. When you're practicing kata and uke begins in Ichimonji, not so much.

    To be clear, with this statement I'm speaking of the Kihon version, rather that shinken gata.

    With regard to the older gentleman who had trouble doing said technique, it's entirely likely that he just did it wrong. Happens to the best of us at one time or another.(usually when you're up in front of the class.)

    8. Regarding boshiken to the point just below the navel and similar techniques, I believe them to be more focused on taking space. When done correctly, the opponent collapses his/her midsection inward, moving center of balance backwards, which then makes it easier to take their space and/or balance.

    Now, to your original question of "What is Ninjutsu". I personally believe that it's heart lies in constant creative and hidden adaptation in the midst of combat.(I hope that doesn't sound too mystical mumbo jumbo-ish, but I'm having trouble articulating it well.)

    I think that the biggest problem in the Bujinkan today is that so many people don't really have experience in other MA's. I think that it's extremely important to "cut teeth" before coming into this art, if for no other reason than to be able to accurately assess whether or not it's for you. I see people all the time that lack the basic ability to move in a dynamic fashion, so they lumber around the dojo. To be fair, they're doing their best, but I think they're best would be better if they studied an art that's less complex and more well grounded. So many of the concepts that we work with aren't terribly easy to express in an upfront omote fashion.

    In closing, I'm sorry to hear about the experience you had, and unfortunately, it's all too common. I'm glad to hear, however, that you've found something that you not only enjoy, but receive a sense of accomplishment from.

    Bear in mind though, that although I studied several other MA's, none for any serious length of time mind you(2 yrs give or take), techniques that I had thrown away as ludicrous before, I ended up developing a much more sound understanding of the principles involved in them. So hey, give it few years, and maybe try again. We're not all toss-pots after all.(except me of course.:hat:)

    P.S. Great post.
  10. stephenk

    stephenk Valued Member

    It's a fine question. However, here's a few comments:

    1. Variations of this question have been asked many times. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't ask or people shouldn't discuss. It just means that there's unlikely to be an answer simple enough that everyone just says, 'Oh, alrighty then!'

    2. Ultimately (this is sort of a corollary to 1) the answer is 'Keep training'.

    This answer is, of course, greatly unsatisfactory. There is, however, a way around it: Train with someone you trust. -> However you define that 'trust' for yourself <- Then give that teacher time at some proportion of how much you trust them.

    If you don't trust your teacher, then it's important that you find one that you do trust. Don't worry about the system, worry about your teacher.

    It will take more than 2 months - so you probably need to weigh that against the immediacy of your concerns.

    If you find you can't wait, then maybe the Bujinkan is not for you; this won't be the last time someone says 'just keep training'.

    I mean all of this in a completely honest, non-confrontational way. Football's a fantastic sport filled with wonderful athletes, it's just not for me - and that's okay.

    It's funny, my teacher (who's in town at the moment) was answering a question that was similiar to this last night. He gave some answers, but, for me, the answer was in how he moved. The fact is that he was always able to be 12 steps ahead of me no matter how much I tried to 'sneak in a cheeky punch' (which I do quite often).

    I don't want to go into repeating what he said, but I will say that one thing that stuck out to me is that techniques don't work in a 'dead' enviroment. If you just stand there and grab my wrist and do nothing else, no technique is going to work because there's no longer any threat.
  11. garth

    garth Valued Member

    Arashima posted

    If your claiming there are fairies at the bottom of your garden, yes i do.

    Or dont have the experience in being in real combat against a real attacker intent on hurting them.

    Last edited: Nov 12, 2008
  12. Terrior

    Terrior Valued Member

    The Force,

    I think stephenk, Hayseed and Arashima have done a good job at answering your questions.
    One thing I would like to add is this is one big reason why we are all encouraged to go train with Soke and the Japanese Shihan because then we can see for ourselves if what is going on at home measures up.

    When watching people like Soke and the Japanese Shihan move please remember that looks can be deceiving...its even more deceiving in real life when its done to you directly. They have a habit of making people who normally look good, look and feel pretty silly.
  13. Kagete

    Kagete Banned Banned

    Then I'll tell you. Ninjutsu in and of itself is a small, specialized body of knowledge mainly concerned with the gathering and usage of information. This is not something you really need to concern yourself with, as I'm assuming you joined the Bujinkan in order to learn Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu - and if you didn't, well, that's your problem.

    I'm not going to blame this on poor comprehension on your part, as it's not altogether impossible that you've ended up at one of the martial arts equivalents of Jesus Camp. I will say this though - you have to start somewhere.

    You can start sparring when you've gotten fairly good at taijutsu and have understood the difference between give-and-take and establishing control.

    Go to Japan and try to take his head off. It would solve everyone's problems just for you to attempt it.

    I suggest you tell them before you do so.

    What you should be asking is this - "if I can't evade the punch, what have I done wrong?"

    Depends. Note that I'm not saying it's common.

    I don't think we're going to be able to agree on the definition of a "realistic" punch anytime soon. But suffice to say, most people in the real world don't jab.

    In Japanese budo I believe this concept is known as mikiri.

    You have to begin somewhere.

    Not here, that's for sure...

    I suggest you wait until the session's over to ask those kinds of questions.

    See above. Also note that a fight is not the same as self defense.

    I think it's to be found somewhere in the future.

    I'm feeling you on that one.

    I think this is what Hock Hochheim likes to refer to as "the myth of the first event".

    Good question.

    You have to start somewhere.

    Then the answer is wrong, and the question is based on faulty premises.
  14. Banpen Fugyo

    Banpen Fugyo 10000 Changes No Surprise

    First off, if you are only two months in, you shouldnt be worrying about this stuff.

    Secondly, if you want to know how to evade attacks, get someone to grab a shinai after class (wooden training sword) and tell him to have at it. Practice your ukemi and timing. After a few months (yes months) you might have a basic understanding of evasion.

    Thirdly, when you are being used as uke for the whole class, dont be a dick and resist the instructor in front of everyone. That is what the training is for afterwards. I hate when newbies do that. You go what you deserved (some nails digging into your flesh and thrown on your ass)

    Fourthly, if you want to practice these techniques full resistance or against something other than a lunge punch, ask to do so after class if they dont do it during.

    Fifthly, I can almost guarantee you arent anywhere near capable enough to try these techniques with enough competence against a lunge punch full speed, let alone boxing style attacks.

    Lastly, the Bujinkan isnt for everyone, and if you dont like it, then leave.
  15. Banpen Fugyo

    Banpen Fugyo 10000 Changes No Surprise

    Also the techniques to the throat and the attacks to the navel are part of the system. If you want to go punch people in the face with a hook then go do that in your Muay Thai class.

    This is a different system of martial arts with different mindsets and philosophies and bound by different ideas.

    If you want to get all sweaty, bounce around and throw jabs and crosses at people who are doing the same to you, then this is obviously not the right art for you.

    Your post is so full of preconceived notions and stereotypical arguments against the Bujinkan, I'm almost compelled to think that its either:

    A: A troll job
    B: You are just spitting out stuff you read
    C: You heard about all of these things before you started training
  16. Banpen Fugyo

    Banpen Fugyo 10000 Changes No Surprise

    Oh yeah, one more thing:

    If you just happen to be honest, and just happen to be in one of those Booj dojo that just sit around and do sanshin kata and wrist throws all day.... then I feel very sorry for you and suggest you leave as soon as possible.
  17. Hissatsu

    Hissatsu End of the Road: Moved On

    Wait a second. Full stop.

    You have a good instructor - and then go on to post about the rest of the Senior class. What?

    Ask your instructor. By your own account - he seems to have his head on his shoulders.

    The rest of your post is a waste of time.


    PS. Enjoy Muay Thai. We won't miss you if you need to go.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2008
  18. The Force

    The Force Valued Member

    Wow talk about flaming. Be outside of the box, when I ask these questions out of honesty, if I am correct, say I am, if I am wrong, then teach me, but don't act like I just attacked your religion and you feel the need to defend it. Or say things like ,"we won't miss you," etc that's just plain immature.

    If I go to a BJJ class, I am going to be learning BJJ, if I go to a Muay Thai class, I am going to be learning Muay Thai, but Ninjutsu.. I don't get it. How can one call itself a martial art and have 0 sparring? If Ninjutsu was so good and that the problem is with the teachers and students, then it must be the one with the biggest known problem. When we talk about Taekwando, it already says what it is, we can see it for what it is, what it lacks and what it advances in, but Ninjutsu is where you feel like you need to go to college and have some courses before you get it.

    And always this ,"too deadly to spar," come on. If it's so damn good why can't have a simple idea to promote sparring with some rules? I'm sure that would still teach something.The thrust punch if standing in a normal position and thrusting forward in a snap like Bruce Lee, I get it.. I understand the devastating power that goes through, it's obvious. But Ninjutsu's walk in punch? If done in full speed it's impossible to evade? Lol, you seem to categorize it as "Ninjutsu" too much rather than simply saying it depends on the speed of each practitioner, which varies. It's all about who's faster, stronger and able to judge.. timing.

    About my sensei, he is good because I said he has a background of other martial arts which makes him look outside of the box, he will point out what is ******** and not, eventhough it's Ninjutsu itself which he has done, and so I asked when my sensei criticises some Ninjutsu techniques, where does that leave Ninjutsu? And when he changes it to something simple and direct, where does that leave 'Ninjutsu'? No sparring, nothing, all about collecting katas and applying techniques never knowing if it will ever work, only accepted as ,"well it worked in the past ( we think it did ) so it must work and we must follow." Sure Hatsumi can sound so wise and cool when he said ,"if you miss then you lose, simple.." duh.

    It has to be science which it is, not an art and preachy philosophy stuff. If Wing Chun was perfect Bruce Lee wouldn't have changed it and edited and opened himself to all other martial arts before he created Jeet Kune Do. He said ,"the human being, is always more important than any established style or system." Because he understood the clear fact that things grow, hence we must adapt to it by growing together, updating instead of staying rigid idiolizing a created image out of desire. Hence Bruce Lee said something like,"Any style that becomes an influence, a desire that makes us attach ourselves to becomes our limitation." And he also said ," do not pick any successful image or character and try to be it, instead try to be your ownself by cultivating what is within you."

    There, because he understood that if not it would make one rigid never truly knowing one's own capability. I don't mean everything Bruce Lee said was final or that he was the best fighter ever, but he sure was wise and he was right. It has to work, and a true martial art should be about making things work. Sure nothing is perfect, but that's what it is driving towards instead of ,"oh because back in the days they wore armours.." they were smart in the past because they sticked to their present situations and logics, but what's going on today? So much of 'sensei ass kissing', so much about ninja wannabe when nobody truly was there to see it as it was and what truly happened. So much about rules, bow here, bow there, bow everywhere. Here:

    [ame="http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=UkXc9rDilBk&feature=related"]YouTube - Masaaki Hatsumi - Takagiyoshin Ryu[/ame]

    How preachy, how unrealistic. It's not alive. It is as dead as Ninjutsu.


    To those who respected my post and cared enough to explain, thank you so much, I will read them again. I really am asking from my own observation, I am listening to and following nobody. And I wasn't being a dick by restisting the old man's technique, he asked me to resist, and it was his stupidity that made him feel I knocked his ego. I am not trying to show my ego or anything. How annoying...
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2008
  19. Kikaku

    Kikaku Gakorai Tosha Akuma Fudo

    Why not? I think it's a perfectly legitimate observation, which doesn't magically go away with time or logistics.

    And how do you know that he hasn't already experienced this kind of ukemi training?

    If you hadn't been so quick to jump on your high horse and if you'd actually read his post, you'd see that he didn't resist at first. It was only during the second attempt that he included force and resistence and surprise surprise, Tori wasn't able to apply his technique. That speaks volumes and is reflective of The Force's frustration.

    But you are?
  20. Kikaku

    Kikaku Gakorai Tosha Akuma Fudo

    Perhaps this reoccurring theme of critiques are based on something legitimate. I find it comical how as soon as somebody brings up a valid argument, no matter how stereotypical it is, we’re always quick to throw our toys out of the pram and pull the troll card. It’s elitist BS! What is the actual purpose of this forum anyway?

    Arguments in this forum, with certain individuals is just like arguing with Tom Cruise (i.e. you just can't win regardless).
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2008

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