Monday, May 24, 2010

The Art of story telling!

We just finished an intensive 2 day "Bo Jutsu" (Stick Fighting) seminar.
We were extremely happy to have 15dan Shihan Shihan Arnaud Cousergue come down to Bangalore dojo to hold another seminar - and this time on one of the most important weapons of Buki Waza (weapon training)

To me the last two days were an intensive course in "Story Telling".
Ninjutsu's main teaching can be summarized as the ability to convince your opponent that he has lost. Now this happens only if the practitioner himself has the conviction that he is victorious. Winning is a relative term, and so is Loss. Once you understand there is actually no victory or loss you have conquered the fight! Its only about surviving! And the best way to survive is to tell stories.

Takamatsu Sensei with the Bo

The traditional definition of Storytelling is an ability of events, thoughts with improvisation or embellishment. The medium differs from person to person. For me Ninjutsu helps tell stories and the Bo is the perfect medium for the narrative.

The seminar taught us to tell stories. To use the bo as a sheild, as a rope, as a sword, as a spear and even as a bo itself. The seminar covered some elemental, fundamental points of the bo staff.

Historically the Staff was the one of the most important weapons in the ninja's arsenal. It is generally around 6 feet long, made of hard wood or bamboo. In most cases it was hollow. The reason for the hollow was another trick of the ninja trade. By flicking the bow with great speed, the ninja could launch a poison tipped dart or small knife out of the open end of the staff, often catching the opponent off guard.

The great thing about the bo is that it CAN be found in real life, taking on the guise of various everyday implements. You can find it in brooms, pool cues, thin branches, mops, etc.

Although the bo staff is a versatile and commonly found weapon, let’s face it – it’s a big stick. You can paint it, and sprinkle it with kanji-adorned mystisism, but it’s still a big stick. And even this weapon - being a big stick has its basic Principles (Kotsu)

  • Use the maximum distance of the bo (hold the ends)
  • Keep at least one elbow close to the body
  • hold the bo lightly so it can slide
  • When holding in hira no kamae - ur hands are on ur thighs - hold it with a smaller grip so u can get
  • Always keep hands closer to the centre so its well balanced
  • Always strike (tsuki) with the tip of the bo - not the sides.
  • Remember angles of the bo and use it to maximum impact
Bo staff spinning (Bofuri) was one of the first things we learnt when studying bo staff, personally it’s certainly one of the more impressive techniques. Its also called Long Staff Rolling Shield - and Like with all elements of Bo Jutsu, you’ve got to start off slow and practice hard.

At this juncture I’d like to remind you that you have to mentally separate the acrobatic and tricking aspects of the bo from the applicable and self defense aspects.

The spins and tosses get pushed to the wayside exceptionally quick when trying to use the Bo as a weapon rather than a tool for entertainment.

This seminar taught me that , if one can master distancing and timing along with simple thrusts, pokes, and quick strikes, you’ll be on your way to learning the traditional nature of the weapon!

And remember no matter how much you read about martial arts online There is also kuden; things taught personally from teacher to student, so please find a good teacher and study with him/her.

Happy Storytelling! :)

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