What is Bujinkan?
Bujinkan is the name given to the study of 9 traditional schools of martial arts taught by Soke Masaaki Hatsumi from Japan. Being traditional martial arts schools, the focus for the schools is not on winning in competition or aesthetics, but on teaching principles to a warrior on how to defeat an enemy with minimal effort. Due to this historical context, the schools are complete systems that includes strikes, locks and holds, throws and weapons, and are designed to give the warrior tools in which to explore principles of combat that were required to survive.
What does training involve?
A typical training session involves the following:
- Ukemi and taihenjutsu: Body movement and injury avoidance
- Sanshin no Kata/Kihon Happo: Practice of fundamental techniques with a partner
- Waza: Practice of technique from schools and exploration of principles
- Weapons: Paired weapon practice
Training does involve physical interaction with a partner and can be as hard or soft as desired between training partners. The method of training is similar to what is conducted in Japan, where a technique is shown and students practice and are guided by the instructor.
The focus at Shoshin dojo is on the study of movement and exploration of principles within the technique to enable efficient and effective movement. The Bujinkan is taught very openly in Japan and therefore different instructors have different emphases in their training. If you are after something in particular from training, please contact us and we can discuss how training could meet your needs, or if other instructors nearby could assist you.
Who can train?
Training is open to all people aged 16 and over of any fitness level. We occasionally take on people younger but only if they show a keen interest and willingness to learn. It is noted that this art is unlike modern sports and whilst the initial movements are simple, they are quite subtle and complex when you explore deeper. Students that are patient and willing to explore and learn independently with guidance provided by the instructor will get the most out of training.
How do I start training?
Please contact us or just turn up to a class. Please turn up 5-10 minutes before starting so that we can discuss what you are after from training and any injuries etc. Please wear comfortable, modest clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty/damaged.
Within a few months of starting you will be required to pick up some standard equipment. The standard uniform is a black karate gi and a white belt which can be picked up from martial arts supply stores or online. We use many different weapons during training but picking up a bokken (wooden sword), hanbo (3 foot stick) and rockushaku bo (6 foot stick) will cover you during the majority of training.
What is Shoshin
Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism Budo/Warrior Arts that refers to the ‘Beginners Mind’. It denotes having an attitude of openness and willingness to learn and question without preconceptions even when studying at an advanced level. The beginners mind is open and empty and free from preconceptions, the expert can be clouded by his beliefs on what he thinks is true.
Even when you do a technique 10,000 times, whilst they may be similar, no two times will be exactly the same. Therefore everytime you do a technique you are a beginner at that particular technique, so this Beginners mind is an important aspect of training.
We have taken the name Shoshin for our dojo to denote our emphasis on continuing to learn and grow in the martial arts from anyone that will share with us.
I am looking to get fit….
The main focus of training is learning the principles of combat tactics. Doing this will give some incidental fitness (i.e. getting down and getting back up, physical movement, rolling etc.) if your main reason for training is getting fit I would recommend you start doing weights, walking, running, join a sport etc. Doing a few hours a week of martial arts probably won’t change your fitness much.
However, starting martial arts can give you the kick to start changing your lifestyle that can result in getting fit. If this is something that is important to you we can discuss further at you first class.
How long will it take to get my black belt/be effective?
The timeframe varies depending on your dedication and focus. Generally, it takes between 3-5 years of consistent training to reach blackbelt. In Japanese the 1st black belt grade is called shodan, which means beginners grade symbolising that getting a black belt is only the beginning step of training.
How long it takes to be effective depends on what your definition of effective is. If being effective is winning MMA fights then you would be better off practicing at an MMA gym. There are some parallels between MMA fights and violence but also some differences. Recommended reading is “Meditations on Violence” by Sgt Rory Miller which discusses violence and fighting much better than what could be done here. Bujinkan training can give you some good tools and principles to use in MMA if this is what you are after.
If you idea of being effective is being able to defend yourself against violence then this can be done relatively quickly, however you must train with this as your focus. Refining your ability and exploring deeper into the movement can then take a considerable time as there is always more to refine and learn. Our main focus at Shoshin dojo is on the study of movement. This process takes time and patience and has parallels with “effectiveness” but only if your focus is correct.
If you have a particular need to be able to defend yourself against violence regularly; 1. I suggest you change your lifestyle, 2. contact us and we can either put you into contact with Instructors that would suit your needs or bring that element to the forefront during training.