This past Saturday we were training on the shovel hook punches. As we refined the technique keeping our elbows in and down floating in gravity and figuring out how to deliver the strike we started moving each other around. Not just like a step back but several steps. Especially after we finally figured out how to hold the pads for these strikes. Honestly that was the hardest part, Dennis had us make several adjustments before we got the pads right.
My training partner who is smaller than me was focused and moving slowly but connecting the punch to pad correctly pushing me back a few steps. My partner doesn’t like to hit and definitely did not want to hurt anyone. (I know her children disagree with that statement.) Which was extremely fortunate for me as if she had put any intent or just a little bit of energy or speed I would have been lifted off the ground. Most likely landing on my butt.
These punches are incredibly effective and powerful when done with the Shinobi formula....
Several years ago at a weekend long training event there was a man asking if there was anyone who came from New England. My training partner and I answered yes. Then he asked if either of us knew or trained with Mark Davis. I responded yes every week.
He told me how Mark had done a post on some drills to practice sword skills without a partner and how helpful it was for him. He was not used to training without a partner but now he was stationed in an area where there were no dojos for him to train at. He said he had asked Mark in the comments to post more and then emailed Mark asking for the same but had not seen or heard anything since.
My first thought was well, why should he give you free information? Mark took responsibility for his own training. He has financially invested tens of thousands of dollars, maybe more, and invested decades of time in training to learn and teach this art. What makes people think that they deserve access to his knowledge without compensating him?
Today I used my training again. Not to save myself from injury while falling, which has happened many times for me and many of our students. Ukemi is a wonderful thing.
I used my training against a dog that came charging out snarling and barking intent on attacking my dog. I heard and saw the dog start it’s charge from the yard on the other side of the street. I quickly pulled Mox to my left side, putting my right forward and extending the leash as much as I could in my right hand.
I started to swing the leash like a kusari fundo. As the dog came at us I just kept swinging at its head and moving so I stayed between the dog and Moxie keeping her shielded. I actually was yelling “get back” at the dog. The owner got the dog, apologized and Mox and I went home unharmed.
In those moments the training really paid off. I just did what was necessary to keep the dog at bay and Mox and I safe. I wasn't afraid, just focused and determined that I would do what was needed for...
It was raw and cold at the park today but we warmed up quickly working on shovel hook punches ala Jack Dempsey. Seventy years ago Dempsey wrote a book about his boxing ideas. We have been exploring them because like our ninpo taijutsu they are powered by gravity.
When you embrace nature and understand its power you can ride along with it to great effect. Today regardless of size all our students whirled within gravity and were able to create force greater than they previously thought possible. Does it matter if we use the hundred year old technology of western boxing or the nine hundred year old technology of the ninja if they both lead to the same place?
Science does not replace nature, it strives to explain it. At Shinobi Science we use it to unlock the lessons of our ninja tradition and any other that leads to the power of nature.
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We look forward to training with you.
I had a short conversation today with a friend of mine who is also a martial artist, dojo owner and businessman. Due to the pandemic we haven’t been able to visit each other this year at any of our martial arts events. We talked about family and friends and made sure everyone on both sides of the conversation was healthy. Normal stuff for this not normal time.
Then we talked about martial arts and business. Only for a few minutes but in that time frame we shared observations of the current situation, talked about the direction we were each going because of it and what our initial plans were to get there.
Change a couple of details from either side of the conversation and you would be hard pressed to tell which story was which. Because we have similar goals, similar training and similar experiences we were able to connect in a very short amount of time and then give each other suggestions and feedback to help out. I got off the phone inspired again to get back to work and move...
This morning Mox and my walk as usual was full of sound. The sound of wildlife birds, squirrels, dogs, cats occasionally deer, foxes, horses and donkeys depending on where we walk. The sound of cars, trucks and busses are present going by us on the road or in the distance if we are in the fields or forest. This morning there was a new sound. It was the percussion of ice and snow falling and hitting the ground.
As those of you that follow Shinobi Science know we had the first Nor'easter this past Saturday. The trees and bushes are covered in ice and snow. They look frosted and crystalized.
Today was the first day above freezing since the storm. The warmth of the day has the snow and ice letting go of their hold on the trees, giving in to gravity and falling to the ground. It creates the beat of pops and smacks as it hits the ground. The sound of percussion filling the day in the fields, forests and roads. The sun and the sound made for a beautiful morning to begin the day with.
Here’s the thing we think our brain is for thinking, well those of us who actually think anyway. However, according to a neuroscientist from Boston, “your brain’s main job is running a budget for your body, the technical term is allostasis, which basically means that your brain's job is to anticipate the needs of your body and meet those needs before they arrive.”
Your brain is a prediction machine and is using your senses to collect data and determine if its predictions are correct and then adjust accordingly. This means the perception we have of perceiving reality and reacting to it is not what is happening. Our brains are making guesses about reality based on our history and then looking for data to verify it. Sounds kind of crazy but it turns out that this prediction and verification is the most metabolically efficient way of dealing with reality.
Think about baseball. When a professional ball player gets to the plate they have between 400 and 500...
I like to snowshoe. I like it because it is another way to get outside in the winter. I especially like it because Ms. Moxie, my dog, can hop in the car with me, go to any forest or field and traipse around without the need to worry about ticks. It is also very beautiful to see nature's way of making a place sparkle and shine. It is so very beautiful.
A few years ago we were working on yoko aruki, sideways walking, in Boston. It became the warm up for Friday nights class. So when winter came and I started snowshoeing, I decided to experiment with yoko aruki.
I started this experiment on flat and gently rolling ground where there were no obstacles. At first because I was worried about tripping my steps were too big and I was swinging my foot out too far. As my yoko aruki smoothed out and became natural I started going on rougher terrain. Places where I had to climb over or around rocks, stumps, logs or running water. I used yoko aruki in different types of snow, hard packed, powder...
The last two days have felt like a week. So much has happened. Saturday driving home in our first Nor’easter was treacherous. It was dark, snowing hard, the roads were in various states of somewhat plowed and not plowed and were very slick and icy. Trying to keep the wheels from sliding, fishtailing or getting caught in the slush and snow and dragged off the road was tiring. So breathed and focused. It was a slow drive home.
I was happy to make it home in time for my weekly zoom call with friends. Forty-five mins later at 6pm my lights go on and off several times then I hear a huge crash, an explosion and power goes out. I grab a flashlight, go to the window, pull up the blind and see a huge tree down. It was lying across the road, it took out the electrical lines and ended in my driveway. Live wires are sparking in my front yard setting the tree on fire and burning along the ground and road.
Fantastic, breathed and focussed, then called 911, the fire department and the...
Yesterday was International Ninja Day, so we took the day off, kind of. Here in New England we got our first Nor’easter of the season with rain, snow and high winds and we still trained outside early Saturday morning. We found a great new location at a local park that has a pavilion. So while the wind whirled gusts or rain and snow around the ballfield next to us we worked on Dempsey’s shoulder whirl power delivery for striking, ninja style.
Then it was off to the dojo to quickly change and go online with Stephen and Rumiko Hayes for the 40th Annual Ninja Festival in Dayton Ohio. Three hours of online training sessions spread out over the day, covering historical and modern weapons along with unarmed self protection examples. I was honored to be part of this and present a short twenty minute training session. We looked at the difference between internal and external focus and intent while training and fighting.
The students that helped us by being uke for my session...