Friday, October 9, 2009

Ten Chi Jin

They say the Mind of a True Warrior is different from that of other humans. In fact, some go to the extent of stating that it even differs from the mind of any usual soldier or fighter.
Traditionally a true warrior is free from all worldly attachments. All his possessions are known to be temporary. The beleif is that attachment leads to weakness within the warrior.

After having successfully compelted the Ten Chi Jin Seminar conducted by Arnaud Cousergue - 15th Dan Shihan. (
See Photo of my Certificate here) I can confidently say that the True warrior actually exists within each and every one of us.

Let me explain. The Beauty of the martial Arts that we practice - Ninjutsu - is the emphasis of "returning to zero" and not being bound by conventional, rigid judgments, and preconceived notions. Which is why I think we study movement which is waza based (technique based) as opposed movement in Karate and other forms which is kata based (form based)

Shihan Arnaud and my Shidoshi Shiva teach Ninjutsu as it was transmitted in Japan when they first received it. This includes bowing, using titles and all the formal rituals common to that time and which link us to past traditions of the Art. All the techniques we learnt were from the The Tenchijin Ryaku No Maki (Heaven, Earth and Man Strategy Book). TenChiJin is the basics. It teaches us to empty our minds so that it can fill up with substance. To Fill an empty container is easier - Bigger the Kokuu (Empty Space) the more there is to fill.

If we accept the premise that the purpose of a Martial Art is dealing with confrontation (on all levels from mental to physical) then an appropriate method of study is how others have done it successfully in the past. Theoretically, if I do (act, think, and believe) exactly like someone else, over time, I should get similar results. This is what I would call mentoring or role modeling or being a Guru!. This is the dominant way culture is passed and the basis of much of our learning patterns. If I act, think, and believe like my successful Art tells me, I should be able to duplicate its success for me... shouldnt I?
So to Sum up this Seminar's Learning!
TEN - Deals with learning the footwork and Distance
CHI - Deals with the bio mechanical aspects of the Waza
JIN - Combines the Ten and the Chi levels to acheive Natural Movement

This martial art - Bujinkan Budō Taijutsu- allows us as students to adapt the sequences of a confrontation (with various scenarios) to what speaks to them personally almost immediately.
So where does the question of the True Warrior Come in? After this Seminar, I have come to the conclusion that the true warrior lies within, and he can be your best friend or worst enemy! I am thankful to Shihan Arnaud for being such a fantastic mentor and for having opened out yet another beautiful facet of this form in our lives. It'll be a memory I cherish for a long time.

BUJINKAN INDIA Goal - Looking for the merging of body, mind & spirit to let go of all appearance and develop the being in permanent adequacy with our human and physical environment

"If you understand, things are just as they are.
If you do not understand, things are just as they are"
Zen Maxim

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Here's Some exciting news for all Martial Arts lovers. Bujinkan India is having a fantastic 5 Day seminar covering all the portions of the Ten Chi Jin Syllabus. The seminar is one of a kind opportunity. The seminar will be held in Bangalore, India and will be conducted by Shihan Arnaud Cousergue (From France) (aka Kuma).

I suspect the main theme of the seminar will be on the concept DAT - distance, angles and timing. This training helps one to control space, particularly emphasizing the idea of effective fighting without form.

The seminar is open to even beginners. To watch one of the best Martial Artistes in the world show you the ropes, is a priveldge and opportunity doesnt knock often.

Seminar Details

When : 2,3,4,5 and 6th of October 2009 Seminar starts at 9am and go to approximately 5pm Where : Bujinkan India Dojo (Golf Course Road)
What :
  • Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu
  • Weapons Training
  • Defending Others
Main Instructor : Shihan Arnaud Cousergue (From France)
Note :- Classes are held in a non-competitive atmosphere. You do not have to be an existing student to attend; beginners and new students are welcome.

"I often give seminars around the world, but the quality of the depth of the commitment I encountered here, was really refreshing to me. And I want to thank you all for this as it is the promise of a successful future for the Bujinkan community of India" - Quoted from Arnaud Cousergue’s Bujinkan weblog after the 2008 Seminar.

Drop me a line if your coming by, will book a slot for you.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Number "9"

Number 9 – “The Just before” Factor
Some numbers have an effect on you. I find the number "9" very fascinating. Today being the 9th day of the 9th month of the 9th year in this decade (yes its 9/9/9), this post declaring my captivation with this number seemed appropriate. I think this number has an inherent beauty of deception in it.
The number 9 underplays its importance. Besides its mathematical importance of being the highest single-digit number and the first composite lucky number, It is first odd non-unitary square. (3squared). The number 9 is also a Motzkin number.
Here is a number which has been cunning and deceiving about its true value. The number 9 is the number of the Ninja. Let me explain why.

9 is a deceiving number because It’s the “just before” number. To me Life is all about the “just before” factor.
Just before” sleep is the best moment every, “Just before” dawn is when the world stands still, “Just before” sunset is when the sky looks most magnificent, “Just before” you bit into that juicy burger is when you lust it the most, “Just before” an orgasm is true bliss!!
In Ninjutsu too – “Just before” the attack – not earlier not later – is the best time to act, Just before the punch touches your body, is the best time to evade. To sense the intention is the highest form of this martial art. And that is why the number 9 is truly the number of a Ninja!
And here's a sweet photo of 9 Ninja's .

Number 9 Connections
There are many associations you can make with the beautiful number 9.
My life has been filled with instances of 9. My First Salary was 900 Rupees. My old radio Show started at 9pm. I’ve had 9 ex girlfriends (serious relationships). I came back to India in my 9th Standard. All my bike and car number (for some strange Hindu reason which my parents didn’t have an explanation for) have totaled to the “lucky” number 9. I also very fondly remember the Sho Kosugi movie - 9 Deaths of the Ninja where he plays Spike Shinobi!! :)

You can find many connections in Ninjitsu too. The most apparent one is that there are 9 systems of martial arts (Ryuha) in the Bujinkan – the school that I study in. One has to pass the 9 kyu’s before they receive their black belt! There are 9 possible directions of attack (considering up + down as 1 direction). It took me 9 classes to get my 9th Kyu Grade (read about it here) A perfect training space is 9 blocks of training mats. And I joined ninjutsu in “09”. The connections can be endless if one gets creative.

In life too one can find many connections with this fascinating number. A human pregnancy normally lasts nine months. We all know legend of cats having nine lives. In the christian angelic hierarchy there are 9 choirs of angels. Nine, as the highest single-digit number symbolizes completeness in the Baha'i Faith. Ramadan, the month of fasting and prayer, is the ninth month of the Islamic calender. Important Buddhist rituals usually involve nine monks.

Hindu's worship the Navagrahas - or 9 Planets. Before 2006 (when Pluto was officially designated as a nonplanet), there were nine planets in the solar. The number 9 is revered in Hinduism and considered a complete, perfected and divine number because it represents the end of a cycle. (maybe thats because the decimal system originated from the Indian subcontinent way before 3000 BC). And there were 9 Avatars of Vishnu till now - We're still awaiting the 10th - Kalki. And 9 is the last digit card that will help you total to 21 in Blackjack! :)

I also found this fascinating website – talking about the Magic of number 9 <- Check it out. I remember our trip to Hongkong staying at Kowloon which literally means nine. I also remember the beatles hit "Revolution 9", and its main line repetadly saying - "Number nine...number nine...number nine..."
BTW has anyone played the video game Ninety Nine Ninjas?

The story of Kuki – Nine Demons
In the history of the Bujinkan, there’s a story of a nija and expert in different bujutsu called Yasushimaru Kurando. During a nightly escape rescue mission the blade of his naginata (spear) was cut off by his adversary.
Kurando defeated his foe using the secret bojutsu technique of Gyaku Juji. Thus was invented the “Bo”. The learning in this story is in the understanding of the situation and the adaptation skills of a ninja. Kurando was able to save the emperor he was rescuing by using the very essence of Ninjutsu. The emperor then gave him the name of “Kuki for he fought like the nine demons!

Some Trivia about the Number 9 (thanx to Wikipedia)
A polygon with nine sides is called a nonagon or enneagon.[2] A group of nine of anything is called an ennead.
Casting out nines is a quick way of testing the calculations of sums, differences, products, and quotients of integers, known as long ago as the 12th Century.[4]
The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art is a Chinese mathematics book, composed by scholars between the 10th century BC, and the 1st century AD; it is the one of the earliest surviving mathematical text from China.
Nine is the binary complement of number six:
Nine is the atomic number of fluorine.
Nine ball is the standard professional pocket billiards variant played in the United States.

Nine is strongly associated with the Chinese dragon, a symbol of magic and power. There are nine forms of the dragon, it is described in terms of nine attributes, and it has nine children It has 9×13 scales, 9×9 being yang (masculine, or bad influence) and 9×4 being yin (feminine, or good influence).[7]
The dragon often symbolizes the Emperor, and the number nine can be found in many ornaments in the Forbidden City.
Nine (九 pinyin jiǔ) is considered a good number in Chinese culture because it sounds the same as the word "longlasting" ( pinyin jiǔ)[citation needed].
The circular altar platform (Earthly Mount) of the Temple of Heaven has one circular marble plate in the center, surrounded by a ring of nine plates, then by a ring of 18 plates, and so on, for a total of nine rings, with the outermost having 81=9×9 plates.
The nine-rank system was a civil service nomination system used during certain Chinese dynasties.
Nine, as the highest single-digit number (in base ten), symbolizes completeness in the Bahá'í Faith. In addition, the word Bahá' in the Abjad notation has a value of 9, and a 9-pointed star is used to symbolize the religion.
The number 9 is revered in Hinduism and considered a complete, perfected and divine number because it represents the end of a cycle in the decimal system, which originated from the Indian subcontinent as early as 3000 BC.
Important Buddhist rituals usually involve nine monks.
The first nine days of the Hebrew month of Av are collectively known as "The Nine Days" (Tisha HaYamim), and are a period of semi-mourning leading up to Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of Av on which both Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed.
Nine is a significant number in Norse Mythology. Odin hung himself on an ash tree for nine days to learn the runes.
The Fourth Way Enneagram is one system of knowledge which shows the correspondence between the 9 integers and the circle.

Its 9 o clock somewhere in the world right now. I hope they know the importance of this magnificant number and are celebrating it!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Seminar!

Away in a monastry of 'chimon', way up in the mountains lived a prophet and ninja master of unmatched talents. His name is Shiva Subramanium. He saw the future of mankind and knew the actions to take at specific times in future places, but had no way to propel himself to the time where mankind needed him most. But in a town far over the deepest river lived a mystic ninja sensei with powers only told over dark camp sites in hushed tones, and some that were unspeakable. His name was Shihan Arnaud Cousergue.

On the darkest of most evil days, a day when locals said the devils from below had concorded the heavens and killed the sun, the two omint beings sat together at a bar "Gyokuro" n the localised valley town of "BooGodai" and a plan was hatched to save mankind. With the blessings of their supreme lord and grandmaster - Masaaki Hatsumi they proceeded to initiate some more beings into their way of life.

The "kuma" as the mystic ninja was fondly called used his powers to stir together a potion of the most delicious and addictive mixture for saving mankind. They decided to hold a seminar to partake of their deadly knowledge of the flesh, mind and spirit. With each swift lessen the they helped make men out of mice!!

They Say A teacher affects eternity:he can never tell where his influence stops. Many people would absorb the above story at many levels. To every person who reads this, the above story might have a different meaning. This is how I saw the story of our seminar with Arnaud Cousergue (in the above photo) fold out. I feel what we learnt on the day of the seminar cannot be given a value, and cannot be quantified. This form is truly mystical and grounded at the same time.
The seminar had 30+ attendance. We even had our very own custom made Kuma Tshirts! :)
We realised that A master can tell you what he expects of you. A teacher, though, awakens your own expectations. We found out sometimes this was the best motto - "Do One Brave thing today and then Run like hell!" :) . We played, we laughed, we ate, we cried, we sweat, we fell, we jumped, we learnt to go back to 'chi', we kicked and we grew. At the end of the session you realise that you cannot plough a field by turning it over in your mind. You have to put the ox to the field and sweat it out in the sun.
Nine-tenths of education is encouragement and "Kuma" has been the most encouraging teacher I have seen till now. This seminar will be an important and memorable event in our quest to be deadlier Ninjas and better humans! :)

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember.I do and I understand. - Chinese Proverb

Friday, July 3, 2009

Women - The Superior Race

It is a universally accepted truth that men and women have different wavelengths in communication. Both genders develop their intimacy, relationships and emotional + spiritual connections differently.

It is Man's eternal need and necessity to understand women. The smart ones have figured out that we never will. After sharing almost 3decades with the other sex I have concluded that a true, deep, infallible understanding of how their mind works is still a long way off. Being able to understand them completely is true understanding of a woman. Their complexity actually lies in their simplicity. I'm sure men from all walks of life will agree with me on this.

This blog is actually part of a "book idea" on how to understand women - my feeble attempt to create an ode for this fantastic kind created to keep man company (read in control). You will have to settle for the sneak preview of the book (ive written 4 pages out of 365).

In the practice of Ninjustu by the Bujinkan, a female ninja is called a Kunoichi.

As days go by I realise that a lot of my personal beliefs are echoed in this class. One of them is that women are the more powerful than men and they are a superior Race. Women also make better Ninja's. It is an accepted fact that women are more sensitive. There are scientific and spiritual reasons for this. Some of them include -
  • They are natural givers and know how to give.
  • They have built in intuition and a sixth sense.
  • They actually train (to be intuitive) daily through life instances and situations *(when they walk on the road, enter a pub, hug a guy.. etc etc)
  • They take in more energy from the cosmos as they have an extra orifice.
  • And according to a recent study women averaged 34 nerve fibers per square centimeter of facial skin while men only averaged 17 nerve fibers. Despite psychosocial expectations for men to be tougher than women when feeling pain, these findings illustrate that women's lower pain tolerance and threshold are physical.

In our DOJO - we DONT hit Girls. We know they already feel the pain. They dont have to be physically exposed to it to understand it. I think this is a fantastic thought! (But just becuase we cant hit them, doesnt mean they cant hit us... Ouch!). And if you meet a Female Ninja - Beware!! You dont want to mess with her!

The essence of all Marital Arts and military strategies is self protection and the prevention of danger. Women excel in this aspect as they naturally have the ability to protect and prevent.
The threshold of pain that women can reach cannot even be fathomed by men. From their monthly defrosting, to childbirth, to the pain of their son moving out - Women really know how to face pain. Hats off to them.

This blog also is inspired by extraordinary women I had the pleasure to give company to - a 2 evenings ago at the Daughters day Celebrations organised by PRCI.
There were discussions of empowerment and gender bias - and I was asked if I beleive its a biased world. And I Said "Yes, I believe theres disparity - Women aren't weak, they're just more 'important' than men. Ive always believed women are more powerful & I'll stand by it any day!"

I am looking forward to this weekend because Shihan Arnaud Cousergue is coming down to Bangalore. Feelings of excitement, anticipation and curiosity rush through me as I share this with you. Arnaud is a 15th dan in Budô Taijutsu. He also has a couple Menkyo Kaiden's - the highest level of license that exists, and the highest rank achievable.

All my Budokas(Friends in martial arts - training partners) are all ecstatic about Arnauds arrival. And since we're on the topic - my Budoka Teja tweeted me and told me the difference between Sensei, Shidoshi and Shihan.
Heere's His tweet.
"@AnjaanRJ I've not heard the term sensei used (in the Bujinkan context) except for Soke and Takamatsu Sensei. Shidoshi is used for teacher. Shidoshi is 5th dan and above, which Shihan is 10th dan and above."

I guess everyone makes mistakes and learns from them right? Afterall it is about learning new things everyday isnt it? But, if I was a woman I wouldnt have made this mistake! Men will never be perfect will they?

After reading this, go buy some gifts for your Mom, Sister, Wife, Daughter, Best friend, or any lady you know - because you now know she's more powerful, so you might as well start sucking up to her! *grin*

And pssst - dont be Fooled by her innocent looks - She has the most lethal weapon in the world!!! She has the superior weapon called Tears! :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

The "Black Belt" Sydnrome

I got a grade yesterday. *yay* When the Sensei Shiva announced “9th Kyu”, (after a display of what I thought was a foolish but heart felt improvisation to a technique) the depth of what had happened hadn’t hit me. In fact way before I could absorb what he meant, the entire class started clapping. I did read that the school of Bujinkan had 9 levels before a black belt but I didn’t even know they were called the 9kyu’s. I had to ask people and read up on it to actually find out the various grades and the syllabus for grading (yes just like any school we have a curriculum too). Kyū ranks progress from the larger number to smaller. It starts from the 9th kyū and goes all the way up to the 1st kyū before you reach the black belt.

The episode got me thinking. It made me wonder if getting a rank or a grade was that important. I remember when I was younger; the children in my friend circle would be excited at the thought of a “black belt”. As kids we would only wear black belts with our “Gi” or costume for functions and even fancy dress competitions! I also remember commercial schools often used to put up advertisements saying, “get your black-belt,” as a sign up feature. I’ve heard it even ‘ups’ your bargaining power when applying for a job and increases your market value during marriage! Hehehe ! *grin*

The fascination to get a grade or a black belt is something which every martial artiste has. But to what extent that influences your actions is something to be thought about. I firmly believe that one should train because you love the art and want to improve, not because you want a black belt. Getting a black belt should not be an eventuality of martial arts training. One should do it for love of the art and the want to learn self defense. Just showing up in class doesn’t make one deserve a rank.
A story I’ve heard is that in ancient times students received the white-belt, and that was the only belt they ever received. It had turned frayed and became a black belt because of repeated use and handling over many years.
The disservice the colored rank system does to some students (in many other schools and dojos) is that it gives them the impression that with each rank they are gradually becoming more skilled. It makes them believe they are gaining expertise regardless of how much they may or may not have trained while the truth may be far away.

This Reminds me of a Sanskrit Sloka - “Karmanye Va Adhikarasthe, Maa Phaleshu Kathachana"U have the right only to the action, and not for the fruit."
And that does not mean one should stay idle. One has to do what he has to do - and not wait for the results. When the rain clouds gather, rain will fall automatically. I guess a lesson learnt is that one has to keep going from one action to another, from one activity of activity, from one moment to another without wishing for the result or trying to control the outcome.

Maybe I feel this way because I truly don’t know the value of the 9thKyu. And sometimes when you don’t know the value of something it comes to you easily. When you know the value, you end up wanting it, and then you don’t get it that easily. Maybe the trick is to know its value and at the same time not want it?

I don’t know why I was granted a grade so quickly into my joining the school. Maybe someday ill find out. I personally believe I was way better on the day I started than I am today, because I knew less than and accepted more openly. Lol
For now I’m just going to enjoy the feeling of being a “green belt”. And since all enjoyment is momentary, I’ll leave you with a line my sensei left me with and it still resonates in my being.
“Congrats Anjaan, you have been graded the 9thKyu, now you have to deserve it!!”


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The First Class

Have you ever had a moment in your life where you knew nothing will ever be the same again, a moment in your life where you realized, discovered, learned, or became something new? Everyone has one of these moments, for some more unique than others. One doesn’t know when these moments will happen and therefore will never know how to react.

I would like to think of myself as a student for life, learning from each experience I encounter along the way. I firmly believe that anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. It is shocking to find how many people do not believe they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult. Learning can sometimes be finding out something you’ve known all your life and realizing it that maybe you actually don’t know it at all!

I know I sound profound but... that has a reason. I’ve just been through one of the most profound experiences – life changing if you may – of my life! (I mean its fuelled me to start a new blog at least right – lol)

I Started training in the martial art form of Ninjutsu today. I cannot remember exactly how many years it’s been since I stopped training in martial arts, but today (er… yesterday …heh… can’t sleep) was the first time in quite some time. I have had some basic training in Shitō-ryū and in the Shaolin form of Kung-Fu (or its diluted Indian version at least - lol). But its best I forget those classes and start afresh. As promised, here’s a recount – not just because I promised but also because I need to unwind my brain.

Many people feel that training in martial arts is worthless in the modern day and age. Even though there are many forms of training and exercise that are just as effective as martial arts for improving physical fitness, there is no training which requires physical confrontation with another human being. There is something different about “martial arts”, there are the mental and spiritual aspects which take them out of the realm of mere physical fitness. It transforms the marital way into a total way of life and living.

There are people who accidentally achieve the mental focus of a martial artiste when engaged in other sports, but the beauty of martial arts is that they are designed to bring out the Zen mind by individual effort.

True martial arts begin by trying to achieve the mental state of Mushin, which translates 'no mind', and refers to the mental state of nondiscrimination. No preconceived ideas exist in this state, thus a person learns to see life as it truly is, rather than as their preconceptions would lead them to believe. This is so that the right decisions can be made, in self defense, but more importantly in life.

I grew up captivated by Ninja movies. My first martial arts posters were of Bruce Lee and Ninja movie star Sho Kosugi. I had a poster of Sho Kosugi clad in black Ninja Gi performing a flying kick with two swords reading something like, "Mystery is a line in the Ninjas Sword, cold steel cloaked in the black of night."
Of course along the way there influences ranging from
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to Jackie Chan and even Akshay Kumar! *Grin*

Like any student, the first class is the one you are "most lost". My dojo trains in the Bujinkan way. The system taught by this group, called Bujinkan Budō Taijutsu, consists of nine martial arts traditions. The sensei (even though he detests being called that and insists he is only my friend who shows the path) Shiva Subramanium is a 5th Dan Black Belt in the form. He also holds 3 other black belts *(yes you have to meet him to believe him). The key to the success of any programme is the instructor and I personally think I'm extremely lucky to have found the right one for my wish to train in Ninjutsu.

There is always moments in life which make you look at things in a totally new way. His worlds still ring loud in my head “This class will change your life” and I’m sure as I go by I’ll understand this statement more and more.

I learnt today that the martial form of Nunjitsu is truly an “
Art”. It evolves with each student and adapts person to person. This form teaches one to fight in an actual battlefield with actual opponents. It’s a martial form which helps the warrior conserve energy. Its helps one last longer in a real-life scenario. It keeps you aware of circumstances and your environment. It develops an overall awareness of the self and your surroundings.

My first class was also special – because it felt as if everything the sensei said was specifically for me. The simple zen logic of how “every power is within you”, and it is more important to “feel” than “think” not only encompasses how a marital artiste in this form thinks, but also reflect how one should be approaching life.

I’ve always believed that the cosmos and the universe has found a way to give me whatever I want till now. Today I learnt that lesson again. I was brought to this class for a reason. I joined this
dojo for a reason. Someday soon hopefully I’ll know what that is. Or maybe I wont! Or maybe knowing it will make me understand that I truly don’t know!

For now I’m going to try not to think too much cuz either way I’m gonna get my A** kicked! And someday soon I’ll be able to say with complete calmness –
I wont hit you – because I know I can”!