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© Mahoutsukai Dojo 2016

Learn Walk Before You Run (Apr 1986)

Mahoutsukai DOJO

By Masaaki Hatsumi

Translated by Tom Checchi Supervised by Yoshiteru Otani, Headmaster Jigenryu School
Before discussing further techniques, I would like to point out that when one decides to study ninjutsu one must also realize that the true study involves many, many aspects, including tradition and history. It is not enough to concentrate on just the physical techniques or the weapons. There are so many misconceptions about the ninja; especially in the West where they are characterized in sensational movies, television shows and books as little more than ruthless assassins and spies for hire. They are portrayed as black-clad magicians with supernatural powers who can appear and disappear at will; who can fly like a bird or swim like a fish; who can walk on water or predict the future. There are, of course, those ninja who can execute their craft so well that they give the appearance of being able to perform these super-human feats; but appearances, as you must know, can be deceiving. Ninpo is a science, not black magic. As for the ninja being depicted as mere mercenaries, this is an unfortunate magnification of isolated cases. Certainly there were “rogue” ninja, as there were rogue samurai or rogue soldiers or sail-ors or anyone who went awry of the code of justice they had sworn to. But these were minor compared to the whole. Those of you who have read my book, NINJUTSU: HISTORY AND TRADITION, will probably recall that portion dealing with this aspect. Rather than seeing themselves as mercenaries or thugs, the (ninja) “considered themselves to be merely practitioners of political, religious and military strategies that were cultural opposites of the conventional out-looks of the times. Ninjutsu developed as a highly illegal counter culture to the ruling samurai elite, and for this reason alone, the origins of the art were shrouded by centuries of mystery, concealment and deliberate confusion of history.” The history of ninpo, in fact, is marked by a strong code of moral and just behavior that applies not only to the fighting or military as-pects, but to the everyday life of the ninja. And learning to attain sei shin (or right mind) is essential to becoming a ninja. Some facets of the moral code Loyalty, bravery and trustworthiness. He must be fair-minded; exposed to the different ways of thinking and the customs of different types of people. He must also be a man of virtue and commitment, willing to defend justice with selflessness and without fear of death. He must not engage in petty arguments or have double standards. Then there is the understanding of the spirit of Budo, the samurai, the perfect gentleman — kind-hearted, understanding and devoted to his training. Being called a ninja is a great honor, like being called a great samurai. One who seeks peace and enlightenment, not violence. •
VARIATIONS ON A THEME Dr. Hatsumi stands composed while being held by two would-be assailants (1). He then quickly and unexpectedly drops straight down (2) and backward, breaking their holds while at the same time grasping their wrists (3). From this basic position Dr Hatsumi can kick to either side, striking his opponents at the neck or head (4). Or, if Dr. Hatsumi prefers, he can continue his backward roll (5) maintaining his wrist holds to force them into submission (6).
1 2 3 4 5 6
CONDITIONED REFLEXES To be able to perform the many twisting, turning leaps and rolls, the student must be certain to condition himself, to exercise and stretch properly. Flexibility of the hip joints is an absolute essential to insure mobility. Good, supple muscle tone and resilience are key factors for avoiding injury. At times the ninja must elevate quickly without warning, or dive headlong at the ground, or sideways out of a sword’s slashing path; always the ninja must have the presence of mind to act with control and understanding of the situation so that shuriken, blinding powder or a handful of dirt can be brought into instant play as an added measure of defense. So you see, there is no “magic" in being a ninja. There is, instead, quite a lot of hard, intelligent work involved.
THE FLYING BIRD ALSO TUMBLES Hicho kaiten is a very special, secret technique with many variations. In real life birds not only fly, they land and walk and run in particular ways. So, too, must the ninja learn not only how to leap, jump and elevate himself. but how to land from various heights in various positions; how to blanket' his fallen opponent or elude the night-stalking sword-bearer and his cohorts. This is just one of the countless reasons why the study of nature is so important when learning ninjutsu.
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Learn Walk Before You

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