We are not training to fight, nor engage in combat. Rather we are training to survive!

We had a very interesting class yesterday. After training, I then went toe to toe with each one of my students. There were six of them that day. We started by putting our hands up like a boxer, and started to spar each other. We went through a free spar, and some of us ended up with punches and fingers to the face, to being choked to near unconciousness. I was choked to the point that the blood vessels in my face were broken, and I have a couple of scratches on my face as well as my neck and shoulders as well. Once we finished this training, I told everyone that there is no reason to have to put your hands up like a boxer, because we do not box, wrestle or spar. Almost every student that I trained with, forgot everything they ever learned, and reverted back to wrestling, or boxing, or even BjJ type actions. I explained to everyone that it is important to defend exactly as we train in the dojo. After sparring like this, I then showed everyone how to use Ninjutsu to difuse a real situation, and that being light on your feet is probably the most important thing you could learn. All of us were changed into our street clothes at this point, so we were all in jeans and t-shirts.

At this point, I then asked Craig to attack me with a double leg take down. We did not do this like a technique, but as if I had to really defend myself. We both felt our adrenaline rushing, and the idea of survival kicked in. We were circling each other, and I was constantly asking Craig to stop, let’s talk about this, and what do you want. I used a series of leaps both zig zag as well as back and forth to keep distance. Once he saw an opportunity to come in, I leaped in the air and struck the side of his head with a Shako ken, nearly knocking him out. At this point, the threat was neutralized. This is what we are training for, not sport, or a fight to simply feed our ego’s. Most people in the world today, do not fight (spar) for life and death. Rather it is more to humiliate, or show someone that you are better than them. This is not what we are training for, and we should never find ourselves accepting these challenges or threats. Rather we should difuse the situation by talking, and trying to handle the situation without violence. Doug Wilson wrote in his blog that we do not train to fight, and this is very true. We train, so that we do not find ourselves in these types of situations. We should never put ourselves in these situations, and we should never look to test our skills, strengths or anything else. We train, so that our everyday lives are fruitful and full of happiness, nothing more, and nothing less.

I realized so much about our art after having undergone this type of training. There are two main points I would like to share with you. The first point is the idea of the Tori. When you are Tori, you need to move without any openings, so that you do not become subjected to these types of attacks. That is why it is so important to keep moving. We often here Soke and Nagato Shihan tell us to keep moving. This is one of the reasons for this. Also when you are Tori, it is important to make sure that your Dakentaijutsu as well as Jutaijutsu are on point. Everyone should be able to train with at least 40 or 50 percent of strength and power. By doing so, you then get your mind and body prepared for a real situation. When you are faced with a situation, you should be able to utilize your strikes and locks so that they are effective. This is why you need to be serious in your training. If not, when you are faced with a real situation, human nature will take over, and you may go into a survival mode. This could actually get you killed, or even if you survive, it may make you kill someone, and now you are in jail for life. There are many bad people out there, and they are not looking to go toe to toe with you. These people will strike silently and swiftly. This is what we are training for. So please, when you are Tori, train to have no openings, and make sure that your distance, timing, and angeling are on point. Also be sure to be able to change (Henka) when necessary.

The second idea is that of Uke. As Uke, you should have the mind set to attack with good intention as well as power, speed, timing, etc. This is where you are devolping how to strike, and how to use your body well. All strikes, or attacks should be done as if it was for real. Again you should do this with about 40 or 50 percent of power, because we are training, and not really fighting. By doing this, you train your mind to attack well. Also as Uke, even though the technique is set, and you will die (in the technique), you need to attack as if it was for real. Also when you are being kicked and punched, and thrown down, by Tori, this is also helping you to learn how to take a hit, and survive. We need to be kicked and punched to know how it feels. This goes for being thrown, choked, and joint locks as well. The part of Uke teaches our bodies to deal with these attacks, so if we are attacked in the streets, we can deal it. We do not want to train only to be surprised when we are really kicked, punched, stabbed, shot, etc. As Uke, you are training your mind and body to deal with these situations, and when you need to react you will be able to do so naturally.

When you go back to your dojo’s please impliment this mindset. You can see this especially in Nagato Shihan’s training. Nagato Shihan is never off guard, and is very serious with his techniques. Nagato Shihan believes that simple is better and more effective. Do not worry about trying to make your technique look cool, or be the best technique. Simply train as if your life is on the line everytime. If you are not at the right angle, you can be killed. If you do not strike your Uke correctly, you will be stabbed. You have to think and train in this matter. That is why talking should be kept to a minimum, and you should be in the right mindset to train. This is why we bow in and bow out.


Chris Carbonaro

Bujinkan Shihan


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