N.J. Bujinkan Keiko-Kai 2008 Review

We had a very special Bujinkan Keiko-Kai event in N.J. this year. We had 7 instructors from various countries and states. Shihan Manolo and Estelle Serrano (Canada), Shihan Oliver Martin (N.Y.), Shihan Jay Zimmerman (Indiana), Shihan Chris Carbonaro (N.J.),  Shihan Karl Koch (N.C.), and Shidoshi Anthony Lucas (N.Y.)

We had people attend from all over the U.S. as well as Mexico. The theme for the training was Kieru Kankaku (The feeling of disapearing). Many of the ideas and themes of this was to move out of your opponents line of sight. On a higher level, he should not be able to feel your presence either. There was no one instructor. We all taught together, and shared different points and themes that we all learned while in Japan this year.

                    “Oliver and Chris”

 We had a total of 50 people show up, and the energy was wonderful. Not only did we ask the Shihan to show techniques, but we also asked the Shidoshi level participants to share something as well. It was great, because you can see how everyone’s taijutsu has grown.

 We tried to keep the seminar very professional, and the instructors recieved a purple seminar t-shirt, and the first 30 people recieved a yellow seminar t-shirt. This was the first time I was a part of an event like this. The interesting thing about the t-shirts, was that it put everyone on the same level. We were all their for the same reason, and that was to TRAIN.

                       “Jay and Karl”

This seminar was also very unique, because all the instructors were training as well as teaching. Also each of the instructors partnered up together, and used each other as uke while sharing techniques. This was very good for all of us, because we were able to learn from each others taijutsu. We were also able to work on our ukemi. Sometimes as instructors, we are not being thrown around unless we go to Japan, or visit our instructors.


                    “Manolo and Chris”

 We started the first day with the Kihon Happo. We had each instructor teach one technique each. This warmed everyone up for the day. This seminar was not about techniques at all, but about the feeling of Soke. Many people use the Bujinkan name, but are not really studying Bujinkan. The Bujinkan is not about the 9 schools, but about Soke. It is Soke’s feeling that is needed to make your training true Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. It is important for Judan’s and above to be able to teach with this feeling. If you are a shidoshi and do not go to Japan often, I strongly suggest for you to make it to seminars were you can be exposed to this feeling.



 One big mistake however, is to ignore the feeling. Many people just study hardcore kata. However, without the Kuden, the Kata is useless. The denshoo are filled with Tsuki (Openings or Holes). Therefore, you need to learn directly from Soke. I often hear people say that they are a master of this school and that school. However, you must ask yourself who taught them. Was it Soke, or did their teachings come from a history book. There is a big difference, between learning from Soke (The feeling), and history books (Techniques). In 2005 I sat down with Soke, and asked him why he changed the name from Togakure Ninpo to Bujinkan. Soke told me that “Anyone can learn the form from the video, but you will need to train with him to learn the feeling.” This is one way to read Menkyokaiden.

This seminar brought Soke’s feeling to light,  that was like no other seminar I have been to before. Both the instructors and the participants were very happy. Everyone was on the same page, not as individuals, but as a whole. A group of people who are studing Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. We also had many vendors selling uniforms, videos, weapons, books, and t-shirts.

 I would like to thank everyone who participated in this event, especially everyone who came from afar. This event will take place once a year. We hope that more instructors as well as participants will join us in this very special event.

We will see everyone next year!


Shihan Chris Carbonaro



New Jersey Bujinkan Keiko-Kai.


WOW!!!!! What a great seminar!


I thought I would write a little review of this weekend and attach a few pictures. I believe that everyone got great information from this weekend, but I thought I would share what I learned and saw. For me the seminar was not about learning new techniques rather it was about seeing, learning and understanding concepts, after all this art is about concepts.


We started the seminar on Saturday with the various Shihan showing some of the Kihon Happo, these are “techniques” that we are all familiar with, however each Shihan showed a slight twist to the movements, the concept was the same but the movement was tailored to each individual. After each Shihan demonstrated the movement, we broke off and tried to copy the movement we had seen. The rest of the seminar was basically each Shihan showing a response to a particular attack. We would then try to copy the movement shown. I have tried to avoid using the word technique as this was not about learning new techniques rather it was about taking a deeper understanding of the concept of the “technique”.




So if this seminar was not about learning “techniques”, rather about understanding concepts …what are these elusive concepts that I saw?

Well, learning how to move the Uke in various directions simultaneously, was one concept. I discovered a deeper understanding of distance, both as Uke but also as Tori. Understanding how to hide a strike and hide oneself from the Uke was another concept we played with.


We train in such a dangerous art, everyone over the weekend trained safely and no one was hurt, however upon leaving the dojo Amir was in a car accident…hit by a driver that apparently failed to stop for a stop sign.

I feel that there is a lesson here, too; however that lesson is for the readers to see.


In closing, seminars such as this are a great opportunity to meet, and learn from others. All the Shihan were so ready to help me understand something, their passion for this art was so clear. No other martial art that I have studied is able to provide such training opportunities. To me Budo is so much more than learning how to fight/defend oneself; it is a way of life.


Life to me is nothing without friends, and here at the seminar I was able to make new connections that will hopefully turn into friendship. Friends that I do not need to talk to every day, week, month however friends that when we see each other at future events in different places and countries will be like running across a long lost old friend. I feel I made several of those friends over the weekend.


Thank you Chris and all the Shihan for making this a great event, and thanks to everyone who I trained with.


Ed “The Englishman”



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