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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Are you getting your students killed?

Do you play dungeons and dragons? Magik, world of warcraft or other role playing games where the consequences of your actions are based in fantasy?

Now the important question… Do you go to the dojo and teach things that are based in fantasy to your students because its fun to play Ninja? It’s the ultimate game of ninja and samurai where you are the master and the students are the players learning your game of fantasy and imagination. The only problem is in this game the players trust you and your information to keep them safe but in this game their well being and possibly lives are on the line.. For real!

Unfortunately this is happening all over the world. People teaching nieve students that want to learn how to protect themselves and instructors teaching techniques that are not based in reality. So why do they teach it? More importantly, do they know they are teaching fantasy? I would have to say No!

But why don’t they know? More then likely they were taught by someone and they took it as gospel and never bothered to see if it was true or effective. This is more common then you think. Even people who go to Japan come back with information that could be potentially fatal to a student if tried for real.

Am I saying not to trust your teacher… ummm yes and no. It is our job as student to do our due diligence to make sure the information passed on to us is accurate, but there is always an ura and omote. The other side of this is the teacher should contsently checking and validating the information he is teaching. Just because you were taught something in the 80’s or 90,s and feel that you have a handle on this teaching due to the time you have had to practice it does not mean the original teaching was correct! It means it is possible you have been wasting 10 to 20 years on something that was not the truth, but rather a fragment of the truth to help you move on to the truth once you were ready. Waza and Kihon Happo is a way of teaching you principles and what's possible. It is not the answer to the problem rather a tool to help you figure out how to get the answer. Another thing you must do is consider the source of where the information comes from. Did it come from Soke? ask yourself “have I ever seen Soke teach or do that”? If the answer is no…THEN WHY THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IT? There are people running around acting like experts in what the densho says. They believe just because they can read the densho that they have some special understanding or knowledge. Well let me tell you tell you this mentality is so dangerous. Simply knowing the Japanese characters are not enough, you have to have the experience to understand it. This is why Soke says that it does not matter if the makimono (scrolls) are stolen. He also has been saying a lot lately that this is why historians will die in real combat. When in doubt trust Soke. He is the living Densho.
Now with that said here is a simple way to check to see if what you’re doing is based in truth. Just find out if the information, (if youre not getting it yourself) is from Soke Hatsumi (and not information he gave out 10 years ago, but rather what he teaches currently) or from the shitenou (Seno, Oguri, Noguchi, Nagato). If it is not directly from them, I personally will question the information. And to be completely honest anything I learn from the shitenou, I cross check with Soke. Sometimes their personal feeling or ideas will slip into the teachings and I need to weed that out so my Taijutsu doesn’t get stylized. I do not want to do Nagato or Noguchi style, not because they are not amazing, they are! But because I want to do Soke Hatsumis’ style! This is his art and so I wish to do it like him. But this tangent for another time.
Now I will make what seems to be a bold statement, but in reality not really. Not everything Soke shows is effective in combat! What?! How dare I say such a thing?! Lol. Well you have to understand the teacher if you wish to understand his art. Soke is not teaching, he is training and because he is training he will always only do what is necessary in the moment. So if all he has to do is move a little and touch the uke with his pinky and the guy goes flying, then that’s all he will do. If the uke wants to over commit to a strike and fall down easy then Soke will let him do so. Now here is our job as Ninja to do our Cho Ho. (information gathering) we have to recognize that what Sokes just preformed will be dangerous against a real fighter. It was effective in the moment but only in the moment and had the attack been different the response from Soke would be as well. We have to have the eyes to see these things and know whats real. Soke is always using Kyojutsu. He is like a magician putting on a show. But only other magicians can understand how he does the magic. Its not enough to just see the magic, you have to have the eyes to see it, then understand it and practice it!

If you are a teacher it is your responsibility to your students and Sokes’ art to continually educate yourself. Just because you have been training for 10, 20 or even 30 years in this art doesn’t mean you know it, have it or can share it. As teachers we can’t be complacent with our skill and understanding. We must constantly question and refine what it is we think we know. We must do this not only for our own sake but also for the sake of the ones who call us their teacher. It is their lives we put at risk with our teachings. Can you look in the mirror and honestly say you train and study as much as you could? If after every class you knew your student were going to be in a life and death situation could you sleep at night satisfied with the information you just taught? Luckily most of us are not in this position, but you never know what can happen.

Think about what you are teaching. If you were held personably responsible for the injury or death of a student would you still teach the same material? Would you still teach at all?

The point of this writing is to act like the mirror on the kamidana. For us to reflect on ourselves and our training and teaching.

My advice to be more secure in your teaching is.
1. stop making fucking excuses and go to Japan (more if you already go)
2. Don’t go to Japan to be seen, go to learn!
3. Forget what you were taught 2, 5, 10, 25 years ago. It’s a trap that keeps your utsuwa small! Prior teaching was only a tool to get you here to the present, ready for the teachings now.
4. Train in some way everyday.
5. Ask yourself WWSD? (what would Soke do)

I am sure there is much more, but that is a good start. So get to soul searching and stop doing things that will get your students killed. I am sure Soke would appreciate it!