This past week was my 33rd training anniversary in ninpo taijutsu. Back in June of 1988 I went to the YMCA in Roxbury, Boston to meet a guy who was teaching ninjutsu. I had been reading books by Stephen Hayes since 1986 and had visited two or three others claiming to teach ninjutsu but I had been disappointed by what they were doing compared to what I had read. But on that night I walked in and met Mark Davis.
Mark’s physical presence can be intimidating but when he speaks he makes you feel welcome and safe. So I asked questions and we talked. Then Mark told me to hit him with a punch so he could demonstrate for me.
I snapped a karate-like punch that stopped at the tip of his nose. I said to him “you didn’t move” he smiled and said “you didn’t hit me.” So I sent another one at him an inch closer. At the time I didn’t perceive any movement by Mark and once again my punch stopped at the tip of his nose. Once again I said, “you didn’t move” and Mark repeated, “you didn’t hit me.”
I was twenty-five at the time, had been a bouncer for about seven years, had played college football and was known to have a bit of a temper. So I wound up and threw a full speed punch with the intention of knocking this guy off his feet. The next thing I’m aware of is that I’m on one knee, my face up against the wall, my wrist is exploding in pain from a lock Mark has on me and he’s smiling. My first thought is I’m dead.
Then I started to focus a little and realized Mark was smiling and explaining to me how gravity and my loss of balance is keeping me locked in this position. That was it, my ego came crashing down and I realized that this man was so good he was gently explaining to me how he had controlled me like I had never been controlled before. I was hooked!
And for more than three decades I have been lucky enough to be able to go and train with Mark and have him lock me up completely whenever I start thinking I know more than I do. Now with the pandemic coming under control I look forward to seeing him soon. How many practitioners can still go see their teacher after more than three decades? I am a lucky Ninja.
We look forward to sharing our interpretation of Mark’s lessons with you at Shinobi Science.
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