This is the website of Neil McDougall, a musician/blogger/podcaster/bookie from Ayrshire.

My Ninjutsu experience so far…

I thought I’d do something interesting with my latest post, and what better than to look back on how my first couple of months of Ninpo have gone?

So, yeah, I’m training at the Bujinkan Tao Dojo in Glasgow, Scotland under a 5th Dan by the name of James Gough, a pretty easy-going English dude who also practices Amatsu (the medicinal side of Ninjutsu, for those who don’t know). The class itself is a decent bunch of folk, ranging from 16 to, by my estimation of the folk I know so far, mid 30s. All relatively low-ranked; I think the highest-ranked regular students are only 7th or 6th Kyu due to the group only having been up and running for just over a year or so, and there was a hiatus for some reason over the winter, I gather. Maybe James was in Japan or something.

Anyway, I started a couple of months ago, stumbled along during the classes every Sunday night (beginner’s for an hour then the non-beginner’s class afterwards for about an hour and a half – there’s a class on Wednesdays too, but I haven’t been able to get up for that yet), and felt like I was learning more than I did during the short time I did Shotokan Karate as a kid. Covered a number of different things…striking, joint locks, weapons etc,. All good 🙂

Anyway, Sunday there we had a six hour course type thing from 11AM to 5PM, then the regular classes in the evening. The course was primarily covering Ninpo Kenjutsu (sword work, basically), but first we did some board breaking, which was surprisingly easy. James set it up as a sort of visualisation and motivation thing, thinking of the board as a representation of barriers in our lives and that sort of psychological mumbo jumbo. 🙂

Anyhoo, I snapped the inch-thick pine board dead easy, and a few folk went on to do two at a time. I have no illusions about its ability to make me a better combatant, unless a pine board rises from the ranks to lead his or her people to rebellion, causing a need for people experienced in the destruction of slabs of wood. Then I’d be t3h d34dl3y. Brazilian Jujutsu is all well and good, but you can’t make a pine board tap out with an armbar, can you? 😀

Anyway, after we all laid the smack down on some defenceless vegetation, we got our bokken out and did some kenjutsu. Starting off with using the sword as a weapon before it even leaves the scabbard, i.e. someone comes at you and you push the sword, saya and all out of your belt to whack them in the face, or someone attempts to grab the sword and you move in with them and manipulate the situation so that, if all goes well, the rascal attempting to half-inch your katana is in a nasty hon gyaku wrist/elbow lock. ^_^

Then there was sword drawing, sword kamae (stances), sword cutting (just one cutting technique, dai-jodan I think it was…), sword evasion and other such unarmed vs. sword techniques, and a bit of sword vs. sword.

After the sword stuff was finished, James realised he was supposed to be grading people as well, so we all sat in a circle and the folk that were getting graded (basically anyone who didn’t grade at the last course that was done some months ago, before I started) went up and did some stuff, starting with things we’d learned in the course, then some general unarmed stuff. One guy, a 4th Kyu, who visited the dojo for the course graded as well, as he apparently trained somewhat infrequently and he hadn’t graded for about seven months, and due to his stage, he had to do a bit more (demonstrated the Kihon Happo and did some hanbo (3ft staff) stuff).

Anyway, my turn came up, and for the first part, I chose to do unarmed vs. sword. Vertical cut comes in, I step to the inside, strike to the outside arm to loosen the sword and hook omote gyaku (outside wristlock) on the inside arm, resulting in Martin (the uke (or human punchbag in this case) for everyone in the grading – poor guy ^_^) going down with the sword on his neck. Hurrah!

Next was basic unarmed. Nothing fancy; dodge the punch, counterpunch to the jaw and hook musha dori (a form of shoulder lock). Ta-da! throw yer white belt away, Neil, you’re a 9th Kyu!

So, after that, I went and got some grub and came back for the regular class, where we covered the last five techniques in the Kihon Happo, and I seemed to get somewhat past my cluelessness when it came to joint locks, even though there’s a dude in the group I can’t seem to get musha dori on for love or money. o_O

Oh, and there was a bit of a discussion about chi energy. I’m not a believer in the concept as it was presented by James (energy field that exists in all living things, yadda yadda. I almost felt like busting out my Obi-Wan Kenobi impresion for giggles, but decided against it), but he did do something I’m at a loss to explain. James told me to hold my arm out by my side and resist as hard as I could as he attempted to push the arm down, which I just about managed. He then ran his hand down my arm from shoulder to elbow and got me to repeat the resistance, and found I couldn’t resist as effectively. I assume there’s some scientific reason for this happening, probably to do with the nerves or something (or maybe he just pushed harder the second time :-P), but it was an interesting little trick nonetheless. Might need to try it on someone at a party or something. 😀

There’s parts of my technique (hah!) where I feel like I’m lacking so far…throwing is still a puzzle for me, and I’m still iffy about getting thrown as (a) there’s no mats where we train and (b) I haven’t been properly shown to to really breakfall yet. There was a falling technique that was shown that involves basically going down on one leg to a sitting position, but my knees just don’t want to do it.

Anyway, my dodgy knees and non-existent throwing technique aside, I’m thoroughly enjoying myself so far and hope to continue this indefinitely.

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on August 26, 2004 at 10:41 pm, filed under Uncategorized. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.