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...
I was driving to get coffee, big surprise, and I noticed the car in front of me swerving back and forth. I looked through the window and as I suspected the driver was on their phone. I slowed and gave them some room thinking to myself about people’s inability to focus on what they’re doing.
No matter what you may believe your brain does not multitask. According to a Picower professor of neuroscience at MIT, people can't multitask very well, and when people say they can, they're deluding themselves. And, he says the brain is very good at deluding itself.
We see this all the time in training. I will give a very specific set of experiment steps and as soon as I let people go to try it, I see them working on pretty much everything other than what I told them. The problem is that most weren’t listening to me when I gave the instructions. They were listening to themselves recap what they thought I was saying adding in all the other things they had in mind.
This morning was the third class in the science of boxing in Ninja Lab. The boxing we’re looking at is from Jack Dempsey during the first half of the 1900s. Particularly how he used gravity to create aggressive knock out power.
The week before I had taught a few classes on the kunoichi kamae and taijutsu movement. It seemed to me there would be little to nothing in common between the two but was I wrong. What has surprised me is how similar the kamae and mindset are between the two.
One description of kamae I learned from a Japanese senior teacher is that it’s a fence that you can leave open to let people in or close it to protect what is inside. In the kunoichi kamae the fence is closed. Usually with one foot forward, the knees come forward and toward each other creating a teardrop shape keeping the opponent at bay and protecting a concave shape of space in front.
The boxing kamae can actually be morphed into from the kunoichi kamae strangely enough. From...
There’s a video online of an interview with a young Mike Tyson talking about his love of Jack Dempsey, The Manassa Mauler. Jack Dempsey, weighing 180 pounds, won the heavyweight championship in 1919 from 6’ 6” 245 pound Jess Willard. Dempsey did so much damage to Willard there was even a controversy about the possibility of his gloves being loaded. However the films of the fight show Willard walking over before the match and examining Dempsey’s hands.
How did he do it?
Thirty-one years later Jack Dempsey wrote a book on how to fight. In it he talked about the examination of all of his training over the years and the research he did with other fighters and trainers that led to a 385 page volume of notes about everything he learned. Which he then culled down to a book about boxing because he believed that the science of punching was being lost.
There are some great details about boxing in his book but the thing that makes it special can be boiled down to...
Happy December all!
Today as I was walking I was thinking about Dennis' article and where I am in training. Sounds like a simple enough question to answer but like everything in ninpo it is not. Why is that? Well it depends on my intent and the situation.
In developing our women’s program LIVE the intent was on evading and escaping the attack. The focus is not on defeating the attacker but about riding and redirecting the energy to take advantage of open spaces and get away. It is more a reactionary prey response to a predator by being in the energy of the attack at that moment and using it to escape.
I have trained the most with this intent and focus. I am naturally inclined to this mind set. It made the most sense to me. In these situations with this focus I move most of the time in the 5th dimension allowing the attacker to believe they are winning while constantly evaluating our relationship in the 3rd and 4th dimensions.
I have played sports and had...
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to humans. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of human fears and the summit of human knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Ninja Zone.
I took some liberties with the opening narrative from season one of the Twilight Zone and I’m going to take some liberties with the scientific definition of dimensions as we journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. From my imagination came a dimensional analogy to help understand the different levels of training I believe are necessary to understand ninpo taijutsu. Each level is an essential part of a journey you take to understand and each also represents a cul de sac that you could get stuck in if you don’t stay on the path.
One dimensional training represents knowing the...