Martial Arts Movement: Looking Behind You

In our training as we work out with our partner, while the practice is one on one, we always assume and want to prepare for multiple attackers in a given situation.

Everything is always one vs. many.

During the past few classes we have been exploring specific points regarding one vs. many in training so once identified we can always keep them in mind and practice them in all our class training movements.

An example from last class, as it relates to movement, posture, and balance:

You and your training partner stand in the middle of a circle surrounded by other training partners. Ahead of time, and unknown to you a second attacker/partner is selected for the drill.

We begin by having the first training partner grab you, and you apply hajutsu (escape methods) to break the hold and free yourself. As soon as that happens the second attacking training partner moves in on you.

Naturally in addition to the unknown they will be moving in on you approaching your blind spot, or behind you, closing very quickly.

In that brief moment you may hear movement, feel a sense of approach, or even see something moving towards you from a blind angle.

The “natural” non martial arts action is to turn you head to see it.

In your day-to-day when you need to see something you turn your head.

With regard to martial arts movement we don’t want to just turn our head- this is not integrated movement, and is not moving the entire body at the same time, facing the threat.

Kamae- postures and ways of moving in the martial arts.

We want to move the body with the head- everything in alignment so not only are we not out of balance, but as soon as we identify (see) our new training partner, we are ready to move and act on them.

Little, tiny, specific points like this are BIG when it comes to one vs. many.

Bujinkan Training Class Notes: July 14, 2017

Class this Saturday focused on the gyaku gi section of training- ways of manipulating the arms to capture the movement of our training partner.

Specifically omote gyaku, ura gyaku, and take ori- ways of twisting the wrist to the outside, inside, and up to capture our training partner and lock them up on the ground so they are controlled and can’t move.

One of the points explored is the question: how do you take control of the hand/arm of your training partner so you can apply the technique (waza)?

Certainly just grabbing it won’t work for a variety of reasons.


Using kamae and how it relates to your training partner so they “give” you the hand and arm to take hold of. In their movement they open up the weak points (kyusho) and give you their arm.

Not taking the arm, but literally having your training partner give them your arm.

Martial Arts Nage Waza: Getting Thrown

Nage waza is the section of our training where we explore ways of projecting our training partner to the ground.

Throws are very dynamic, and each individual throw flows and has things in common with each other, but a good way to start practicing them is like this:

  1. Throws that sweep the legs taking the center of gravity away from your training partner, dumping them on the ground: osoto nage.
  2. Throws where you place your hips against your training partner and toss them over: seoi nage.
  3. Throws where you take hold of your training partner and crash them into the ground: yama arashi.

From the perspective of uke, (the person being thrown) getting thrown can be scary as they tend to happen very quickly, and we are not used to having our feet off the ground, falling through the air.

When that happens, something is tripped in our mind causing a feeling of panic.

The first way to approach receiving a throw is to work and drill ukemi so landing on the ground isn’t scary. Solid ukemi skills takes much of the fear out of being thrown.

Second is to take the throw slowly and remain relaxed as best as possible as you fall.

Working on these points makes being thrown a bit easier in training.

Bujinkan Dojo Shoten Jutsu

Shotenjutsu- the ability to run to heaven is part of our taijutsu skills where one runs up vertical surfaces without stopping. It is part of our ukemi taihenjutsu skill set, ways of changing and adapting the body to the situation.

Before we even start running up things (people also!) the ability to forward, side, and back roll needs to be explored and be made comfortable with.

Sometimes one runs to the top of something, and other times you run up and then fall back down- the ability to take ukemi and roll is KEY.

Once one is comfortable with the rolling part and has some proficiency, heading off to the woods to find rocks and trees to run up is the starting point.

Nothing 100% vertical yet.

Lower angles, not as high off the ground, so there is no difference in changing the movement from running to climbing.

Over time, one increases the elevation and speed, soon being able to run up vertical surfaces.

The first time you see it in action there is a good amount of doubt, but practicing over a season (usually the summer), at the end of the season most can do it.

The key is to not lose momentum in transitioning from running to climbing, and not letting your mind get in the way- your eyes telling you to slow down or else you will crash into that wall, tree, etc.

Now at the mid summer part of training we are going to again start exploring shotenjutsu.

Martial Arts Intuition

The martial arts are physical arts.

Certainly there are spiritual and philosophical lessons and points to explore.

But a good 99% of training is discovering movement on the mat in the dojo.

One of the points that we aim for- a philosophy in motion is the idea of “mushin”- no mind.

We drill the martial arts, teach our bodies how to move (taijutsu), and move when needed, as needed for the correct situation, and without thinking.

The same way an athlete or performer just “does”.

This also help build our intuition- the ability to pick up on small cues and hidden things before the happen so we can respond.

When you get a “feeling” in the martial arts you act on it.

The human mind, even before any martial arts training, processes so much, much more vs. what we can understand.

If you get a feeling to move, move.

If you get a feeling not to be in a certain place, leave.

If something tells you to take the next train, you take the next train.

Don’t debate, don’t reason, just act.

Just move.

Even if you are not a “martial artist”.