Training From Inside a Bujinkan Dojo Membership Program

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Michael

What can you learn from the Rojodojo membership program?

or, Why start an online membership?

I have been training all of my life. Started in 1985. Around that same time, I also got into film and video production. So when I began teaching Bujinkan and started my own dojo, It seemed like a natural thing to make training videos.

I assumed I would put them out as DVDs. I even made some with chapters, extras (remember those?) and gave them out. But, this was the era of Netflix and streaming video. Many people were abandoning DVDs and VHS was already a dinosaur.

Then my next thought was how can I stream these training videos? I put a few on youtube, a few on amazon, and I quickly realized it was a full time job. Between the teaching of classes, the video production, post production, streaming setup… And the equipment wasn’t free either.

I knew I had a few friends from my mailing list and from social media who might be interested. So I set up the streaming on my new website Rojodojo.com and I began to tell everyone about it:

Here was the #1 post Introducing Rojodojo

What were the Initial Results?

I was very nervous about the launch. I am not a natural salesperson. I just love to train, and to share that. But I felt weird charging for it. Even though my students pay me for my classes, and I pay my own teachers for their classes. I was not good about asking for money.

So Rojodojo started out kind of weak. I only got a few signups. Not even enough to cover the web hosting bill.

I even received a bunch of blow back from my current followers. People unsubscribed or unfollowed me. Some even wrote me to complain that who did I think I was to charge for videos?

Should I quit? Or Double Down?

I decided to focus on the trailblazers who did sign up. Instead of 1,000 true fans, maybe I had 10… But I was so thankful.

I immediately wrote some amateur Japanese calligraphy to mail to them. And then I got to work. Training, writing, and making videos.

Then, every month, more people came on board. And they kept their memberships going month after month. That means if I get 2 people in one month paying $30 each, and 3 people sign up the next month, now I have $150 every month.

It's not a lot, but it arrives every month... like rocket fuel to share and teach everything I have learned about the Bujinkan during my 35+ years of training.

I was surprised at how we grew. New members continued to join even though I am terrible about offering memberships to people. Did I mention I was a bad salesperson? 

You can see the growth has been up and down, but steady. I removed the Y-axis numbers because of my tendency towards privacy. That way no one will criticize the amount of support.

A few years into this I wonder why I ever doubted myself. Because a few things became real:

Memberships give me permission to do things I wouldn’t otherwise do on my own

Membership allows me to run experiments and explore. I can focus on very small details like the meaning one of our Kuji, Bujinkan Kuden: 妙剣 Myōken and 突き構え Tsukigamae Which is a fringe topic that only hard-core Bujinkan students would care about.

Or, I can run multi-part series like the 12 episodes of 義鑑流 Gikan-Ryū as taught by Noguchi Sensei. This project was very membership driven. It would never have happened without members supporting it.

Now people from everywhere in the world can study with me. Video classes reach many more students than I ever could in my home dojo. My own students even get recognized whenever they go to Japan or attend seminars (they are the real stars of my videos).

When the pandemic happened and our dojo had to close for a year and a half (California wasn’t playing), I was lucky that my members stayed on. They supported me even when I only made improvised videos and explored odd topics for solo training.

My current pledge for members of Rojodojo

I create for the whole Bujinkan community. My goal for Rojodojo is a continuous and rigorous production of training projects. Because I want to share the martial art I love so much.

Some may not want my approach, or some may be too busy building their own empires to learn from me. But there are many strong students and teachers who have the curiosity and drive to learn.

I will share for them. In every way possible. For the true Ninjas.

If you want in, then join us: Rojodojo Invitation



How to Practice the Fake Kick of 指拍 Shihaku

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Michael

How to Practice the Fake Kick of 指拍 Shihaku
Real or fake kick?
The other night in my dojo we were practicing fake kicks during the kata 指拍 Shihaku. It is a challenge to practice a fake kick. Here I will give you a method to make your fakes seem real.

How do you trick someone into believing something that isn’t real? You act as if it is real. Or even better, make it real.

This is how I often explain kyojitsu to my students. 虚 kyo means fake, and 実 jitsu means reality. For kyojitsu to work it has to be both real and fake at the same time.

Shihaku has a kick that is kyojitsu. But remember kyojitsu only works if it can be either 虚 kyo or 実 jitsu. Too many people only practice the kyo part of kyojitsu. 

Their fake fails because no one would fall for it. So it must be real. Just not necessarily delivered.

This means that if the opponent doesn’t react to your fake, then make it real. And you kick him hard! If he’s not buying what you’re selling, then kick his ass with it.

So when does does the fake become real? Where does that change occur? Hatsumi Sensei demonstrated this on me when he called it 虚実皮膜 kyojitsu himaku.

The way I learned this kick from Hatsumi Sensei was quite interesting. He took it to that in between place of kyojitsu by making the kick 探り saguri geri. Here The kick becomes more of a searching, feeling out, or testing the waters.

But Soke is really probing the opponent’s state of mind. Will he fall for it? Think of a calm mind like the surface of a quiet lake. Then look for the ripples caused by your (fake) kick.

It is like dipping your toe into a pool to see if the water is cold. Is that a kick? The water surface may be broken and disturbed. Our opponent's kamae is also broken and disturbed this way by saguri geri.

I love this in practice because I can often make my opponents fall over without even hitting them. It is because I am striking their mind and spirit. If that fails for some reason, I have the backup of a real kick to the balls and a punch to the gut. I am happy with either outcome!

If you want more of these training tips from me, then please join my newsletter here: Rojodojo

Is Magic, Really Magic?

From Shiro Kuma by kumablog

Last Friday, we continued the study of the Tenchijin. We trained some basic Gyaku waza movements. After two years of pandemics, our dōjō is still trying to survive. Our training group is so small that it feels like beginning a new dōjō. We might rename the Kuma dōjō the dōjō of the phoenix! 

I teach beginners, intermediates, and advanced all at once. Teaching various levels is difficult as each student must learn a form matching their level. If you don’t do that, you lose your high ranks or beginners. Never forget that. In a multilevel class, beginners are also exposed to advanced forms. And they enjoy it.

I recently taught the “step by step” beginners’ form of Musō Dori. Then I moved the level up for the two Jūgodan and the Dai Shihan attending the class that night. After teaching the basic moves, I went up the technical ladder. I offered a more profound vision of Musō Dori to the group. This time I controlled Uke without force. And threw him onto the ground using his body reactions instead of my muscles. 

Then I heard “wow, it’s magic!” coming from the beginners’ side of the group.

Disclaimer: This post is about “magic” but there is no magic in Budō. There are only refined basics. Micro-movements are invisible to young practitioners. Locks and throws without grabbing always seem strange or magic to neophytes. This is “Kuki nage”, the Budō concept for “air throw.” (1)

It looks magic to the untrained eyes because the correct ability to see is not developed yet. Practitioners see it, but their interpretations and feelings come in the way. Emotions make them blind to reality. They can’t see the movement. It is invisible from their limited experience. A student of Budō needs years of practice to develop this capacity. Until he gets enough experience, Budō is a “mienai waza”, a technique that you cannot possibly see. (2) 

Reality is invisible to young students, who don’t have the level to see what is happening in front of them. That is why they call it “magic!” In fact, you should see a waza as being like an unpolished diamond. The gem’s value resides in the long polishing hours demanded to get the shiny stone. If you find a raw diamond on the ground today, you won’t recognize it, and only a trained geologist would know. Budō is the same.

“Magic” is the name you give to a movement before the long polishing work. When I went to Japan for the first time, each class was a “magical” show to me. Today this “magic” is gone because I learned to do what the Japanese do. It takes time. Magic is Genyō in Japanese. (3) 

Genyō is “an enchanting illusion” for beginners. But it is an “original life” (genyo) for the advanced student. (4)(5) Magic (Genyō) changes our perception of life. It turns this “alternative reality” (genyo) (6) into a “dream” (gensō). (7)

Magic doesn’t exist, and we call it “magic” to adjust the perception of reality to our limited understanding. 

Stop dreaming and go back to your basics if you want to become a magician one day!

_________________________________

1 見えない技, mienai waza: a technique that cannot be possible seen
2 空気, Kūki: air; atmosphere​; mood; situation​; someone with no presence; someone who doesn’t stand out at all​
3 幻妖, Genyō: magic
4 幻, Gen: phantom; vision; illusion; an apparition​; mythical thing; a scarce thing
5 妖, Yō (aya): mysterious; bewitching; alluring; enticing; enchanting
6 原原, Gen+yo: original; primitive; primary; fundamental. Raw​ + world; society; public​; life; lifetime; period; generation​; the times​
7 幻想, gensō: fantasy; illusion; vision; dream

Check http://www.koimartialart.com the Bujinkan streaming platform
160 Gb of videos covering all waza and weapons of the Bujinkan 

SHORT SWORD FIGHTING TECHNIQUES

From Budoshop.se by BUDOSHOP.SE

SHORT SWORD FIGHTING techniques with MATS HJELM. During March and April of 2022, we at Kaigozan Dojo studied the “short sword techniques” within our Bujinkan Dojo system transmitted from Masaaki Hatsumi Sōke to Mats Hjelm.

小太刀術 Kodachi-jutsu (Short Sword Techniques). There is three fundamental sword techniques from the Kukishin-ryū, school in the Bujinkan Dojo. Then we also have the Sanshin no Kata from Gyokko-ryu which all the weapons is connected to.

The Kodachi has been neglected by most Budō-ka and masters since it was a weapon carried by the higher ranked officials.

Masaaki Hatsumi

Download SHORT SWORD FIGHTING techniques with MATS HJELM

On this video Mats show all 5 Sword techniques from the Gyokko-ryu and the 3 techniques from the Kukishin-ryu in the Bujinkan system. We studied the basic forms with variations. We also studied Muto-dori and Tanto (knife fighting).

小太刀術 KODACHI-JUTSU

SHORT SWORD FIGHTING techniques with MATS HJELM. Each technique is demonstrated and explained from different camera angles. The instructions are in Swedish.

Gyokko-ryu

  1. 地 CHI
  2. 水 SUI
  3. 火 KA
  4. 風 FU
  5. 空 KU

Kukishin-ryu

  1. 飛鳥の剣 HICHŌ NO KEN
  2. 獅子撃 SHISHI GEKI
  3. 十字剣 JUJI-KEN

Click on the button above to buy the 32 minute video download

HD1280x720, MP4, QuickTime Text, AAC, H.264. Download size 823Mb

This video is from a Seminar in 2022. Recorded in Sundbyberg, Stockholm in April 9’th 2022. The seminar was organised by Bujinkan Kaigozan Dojo.

About the instructor

Mats Hjelm started training in Bujinkan for the first time around 1983. It wasn’t until 1986 when he had the opportunity to start training more seriously under a Shidōshi. He has taught at numerous seminars all around the world, gone to Japan 3-5 times every year. After he started training he never had a training break. He takes his budo training very seriously! If you want to sponsor a seminar or course, please don’t hesitate to contact him. For more information see his web site kesshi.com or come and train with him at Kaigozan Dojo.

NINJA SWORD FIGHTING TECHNIQUES

From Budoshop.se by BUDOSHOP.SE

NINJA SWORD FIGHTING techniques with MATS HJELM. During the first two months of 2022, we at Kaigozan Dojo studied the “hidden secret sword techniques” within our Bujinkan Dojo system transmitted from Masaaki Hatsumi Sōke to Mats Hjelm.

秘剣術 Bikenjutsu (Hidden Sword Techniques). There is six fundamental sword techniques from the Togakure-ryū Ninpō-taijutsu school in the Bujinkan Dojo.

Happō-biken, eight directional secret sword means: generating an infinite secret sword from the posture of divine mind – divine eyes (心身心眼 SHIN SHIN SHIN GAN).

Masaaki Hatsumi

Download NINJA SWORD FIGHTING techniques with MATS HJELM

On this video Mats show all 6 Sword techniques from the Togakure-ryū in the Bujinkan system. The basic form, many variations and very important concepts in sword fighting was covered. These are the eight postures.

忍者秘剣術 NINJA BIKENJUTSU

NINJA SWORD FIGHTING techniques with MATS HJELM. Each technique is demonstrated and explained from different camera angles. The instructions are in English.

  1. 飛龍之剣 HIRYŪ NO KEN
  2. 霞之剣 KASUMI NO KEN
  3. 無想之剣 MUSŌ NO KEN
  4. 打扣之剣 DATŌ NO KEN
  5. 一閃之剣 ISSEN NO KEN
  6. 雷光之剣 RAIKŌ NO KEN
NINJA SWORD FIGHTING TECHNIQUES

Click on the button above to buy the 32 minute video download

HD1280x720, MP4, QuickTime Text, AAC, H.264. Download size 845Mb

This video is from a Seminar in 2022. Recorded in Sundbyberg, Stockholm in February 12’th 2022. The seminar was organised by Bujinkan Kaigozan Dojo.

About the instructor

Mats Hjelm started training in Bujinkan for the first time around 1983. It wasn’t until 1986 when he had the opportunity to start training more seriously under a Shidōshi. He has taught at numerous seminars all around the world, gone to Japan 3-5 times every year. After he started training he never had a training break. He takes his budo training very seriously! If you want to sponsor a seminar or course, please don’t hesitate to contact him. For more information see his web site kesshi.com or come and train with him at Kaigozan Dojo.