This is my first time on the discussion board. I am a long-distance student of Tim's. I have spent a lot of time practicing Tim's Tru Balance Dynamics and "basic power exercises" and learned the fundamentals of the Gao style.
As a child, growing up in the late 70s and early 80s, I was influenced by the ninja media hype. Recently, I have been studying some of the books put out by Stephen Hayes around that time.
From Ninja Vol. 3: (p. 81)
"...total body power...preference for the body mass in motion, rather than mere tensing of the limbs, as the primary source for power...."
and "This method transmits a 'slamming' feel to the hits, instead of a 'stinging' feel."
Sounds like Tim's description of Xing Yi's "shocking" strikes. Also, in a previous discussion about "internal" arts, Tim stated that "Brazilian Jiu Jitsu follows the exact same principles, as do MANY OTHER ARTS. (emphasis added)"
The source of Stephen Hayes' martial knowledge is Masaaki Hatsumi's Bujinkan Dojo. I was wondering, has anybody out there had some experience with the art, and does it follow the principles of the Internal?
I was involved with the Australian Branch of Bujinkan under W Roy in the late 80s.I can tell you there is now considerable politics involved in the teaching of Hatsumis method.There is now 3 groups Bujinkan Genbukan and Jinekan.I have been involved with Roys then Bujinkan direct then Genbukan and can tell you there have been major variations of training over the last 20 years.
Without a doubt I still consider it a internal MA.An expression of "relaxed body weight in fluid motion" was often used to explain movement.
Unfortunatly Aus branches that I have experieinced have become progessivly softer,and without the use of sparing within training.
This is not a judgment of the whole group,as in Japan I experienced a much harder(yet fluid and relaxed)training enviroment.However the emphasis now placed on gradings and the speed at which they happen are not particularly what I am looking for.
That said it is a very complete art, and partical in application for things beyond just psyical movement.
Wow! It sounds like you have a lot of experience with the Bujinkan teachings. Thanks for posting. Do you have any experience with the "orthodox" Chinese Internal arts, so we can compare?
I am particularly interested in the GoDai-five elemental manifestations (earth, water, fire, wind, and source) and the way the various kamae are used. It seems to me that the Chinese Internal arts could be classified as primarily using the fighting strategy of ONE element each-BaGua=wind (evasiveness); XingYi=fire (agressiveness); TaiJi=water (yielding). I suppose, if the practitioner has enough power any of the arts could manifest as earth (stability), and, of course, someone operating from the source level could manifest any of the methods. What do you think?
Also, the kamae are supposed to represent "attitudes" associated with the elements and have a focus at different levels along the center (like chakras) - sounds similar to the static postures held while walking the circle in BaGua.
And speaking of politics, why has Stephen Hayes, the foremost proponent of the system in the 80s, been completley ostracized these days?
Thats a lot to answer but I will give it a go.
Firstly Politics,As far as I know (as I had no contact with SH or his group)he was no longer regonized by Hatsumis group as his organisation was taking a different path then that of Hatsumis intentions.You may of heard of a US based gent called Rob Bussy,who lost regconition due to his religous beleifs(fundamental christian).Wayne Roy has also departed due to conflict on how to run his organisation,and a slience from Hatsumi about WR own ablilities.The other 2 Kans are also Japanese gents who feel the Ryu should be trained differently( there is a lot more to it then that,but in breif).
OK five elements,they can go beyond simple combat applications/state of mind and can be usefull in all aspects of life.I had never thought of it appiled to TJQ BGZ or XYQ in that manor,but in a board sense,I think that is a good asscessment.However particularly XYQ,I feel the more you train within these diciplines the more you find five elements represented within applications and stategy.
My experience in there simularities is the concertration on principles of action.Focus on developing fluid movement with still mind under pressure.I do not state that there power generation are the same but the principles behind are simular.
Well I tried several TJQ styles mainly Yang but was very unsatisfied with the martial training.Went searching for BGZ and tried a few.Now with a group(BGZ) who while I personally cannot verify the lineage( and the fact that I am not worried any more)never the less am happy with because of the ability, personality and integerity of the Teacher.His focus on partner work,soft and hard, fast and light with emphasis on flow and variation.Qigong and body mechanics within standing postures, circle walking and single and double palm change.
It's working well for me at the moment.
Hope that wasn't too much waffle
what is with all the politics in Hatsumis system. Also, out of curiosity, what different paths are the various groups taking? Why is SH no longer part of Hatsumi's group? Robert Bussy? I am not a religion man myself but why kick him out?
On a side note, I had a similar experience with a yang teacher. He spoke a great method of self defence, straegy and tactics but we never did anything against resiting opponents or unrehearsed ie sparring( as it would be too dangerous!!!!). So I moved on, yet I still retain a fantasitc interest in the IMA
Forgive me for sounding know it all,nor are my statements meant to respresent any of the Kans.Just personal opinions formed through experiences.Your questions are best answered by other people, I would recommend www.e-budo.com .In relation to SH I beleive you can find his web site under Toshindo, Bussey under Warrior International.
The politics I refer too is the bickering and infighting that befalls most organisations when top students a.realise their Teacher is human
b.become better then their teacher
c. become more egotiscal then their teacher
subsitute which ever you believe.William Cheung's Wing Chun organisation is one that springs to mind with simular problems.
Hope thats a bit clearer
In relation to Yang style,please don't think I am making a judgement on TJQ,just that where I live I have not found any overly impressive teachers.As you say they talk the talk but fail to walk at all.
thanks for the info. I was not of the opinion that you were forming a judgement about TJQ but as I and you have said in relation to experiences of the people in our respective locations.
I posted my observation that the emphasis on
whole body power in Taijutsu sounds just like
that of Taijiquan on the Cyberkwoon board. Of
course nobody bothered to respond because few
people are open minded enough to know much about
both Chinese _and_ Japanese arts...it's one or the other!
My question is, how does one go about gaining
this sort of coordinated movement (in
Taijutsu)? Just by doing movements over and
over? Maybe, but it would take a particularly
diligent and inventive person to glean the sort
of dantian connection required to have well-knit
movements where the whole body moves together as
The main method in taijutsu is the use of Henka or variation,which in its primary form requires partner work.One partner attacks in a designated form,the other will respond by copying the form of the teacher.When performing the orginal action the first movement will usually be the same however the rest (finish)will vary according to how the person(and how the opponent is responding) would like to finish it.If some technique isn't working then you are encourage to distract(strike/annoy in general)and move on to another,or perhaps even remove your self form the situation.I should point out that most of the actions are about closeing with an opponent and taking him down and locking him up.Rather then a blasting away of an opponent it is seen as perferable to have him close at hand.Focus on flow and tranistion of movement over intense power concentration.
I appreciate the information, Doug.
I'd like to hear more. Don't worry about sounding like a know it all. Compared to me, you are. I haven't had any direct experience with Bujinkan. Besides, that's what discussion boards are for, right?
How would you compare the mehtods of Taijutsu and XingYi or BaGua?
Good posts, Doug. I would just like to point out to one of the posters here that Robert Bussy was never "kicked out" of anything as one would have to be a part of something in the 1st place for that to happen. Religious views are unimportant in Ninpo. One of its philosophies seems to be that in the long run, we create our own limitations. Doug, what did you hear that SH was doing to be disassociated, if you don't mind giving your opinion?
Comparing Ninpo Tai-Jutsu, Ba-Gua Zhang, & Xing-Yi Quan. That's a big order.
I chose Tai-Jutsu as my main art prior to meeting Tim; I've dabbled in the Chinese Internal Systems as a means (primarily -- but with one exception) to improve & understand my Tai-Jutsu better.
Because of this, my main focus was on the simularities between the Chinese Internal schools & Ninpo Tai-Jutsu -- not the differences. So, here goes...
Xing-Yi primarily uses linear movements;
Ba-Gua primarily uses circular movements;
Tai-Jutsu uses both (either equally, or favoring a particular
instructor's preference -- my main instructor favored the
Xing-Yi primarily strikes from rooted postures;
Ba-Gua primarily strikes while on the move;
Tai-Jutsu uses both methods (my GUESS is because
Soke Takamatsu -- Soke Hatsumi's
instructor -- spent ten years in China
studying Chinese martial arts before he
taught his version of Ninpo Tai-Jutsu);
again an instructor's preferences &
knowledge come into play (some are
better at certain aspects than others).
Xing-Yi Five Elements Style teaches 5 basic body
motions (from which
all else is rooted/derived);
Ba-Gua uses 10 forms to teach basic movements &
most techniques are variations of
movements found in these forms (as only
a few techniques look exactly like a
large segment of form);
Tai-Jutsu uses 5 basic short forms (usually but
not always done solo) to teach the most
basic body motions (the root of all
Tai-Jutsu), & it usually uses 8 basic
techniques in 2-man application to
teach fundamental "feels" (encompasing
a wide range of martial concepts...
found also in Xing-Yi & Ba-Gua
training... things like sensitivity,
distancing, timing, etc.). Note:
there's not always 8 techniques, &
those techniques chosen for this
purpose (each year) aren't always the
same techniques -- except for three
Chinese techniques / forms which
started much of it... they remain
constant (please also note that
Tai-Jutsu training is annual in nature
due to its root philosophy... all three
arts discussed here have some
philosophical influences which shape
them to some extent); like Ba-Gua,
Tai-Jutsu encourages variations in
technique provided that the principles
learned with the base techniques are
maintained (& of course some
instructors are better at understanding
this than others).
Xing-Yi is based in the mind (intent); but that
in turn is based in the heart;
Tai-Jutsu is based in the heart (intent &
sometimes even emotions are "played"
with in practice & can be utilized in
Xing-Yi is combat art based;
Ba-Gua is combat / body-guard art based;
Tai-Jutsu is combat / body-guard art based.
Is this the type of comparison you wanted? If not, then please be more specific (or ask for specific comparisons one at a time -- please).
The Bujikan organization has been like an area of water that is filled with sharks in a feeding frenzy: sometimes one shark bites another without much thought. It has already splintered into three organizations in its short existence. It's best to stay out of its politics -- in the end, the art is important, the politics aren't.
SORRY I DIDN'T GET THE FORMATTING I WAS EXPECTING (so it's more difficult to read than I had intended). Such is life, eh?
I wrote that Xing-Yi primarily uses linear movements. Upon re-examining the base movements (5 Elements) I would say that most moves are primarily arcing in their nature (as splitting & drilling are most definitely so; pounding & crossing also show some evidence of arcing motion; the smashing exercise I practice has some arc to it, but in the one combat application I've seen so far it appears to me to be a very linear move, not having to arc due to the footwork involved... footwork which is absent in the exercise).
If & when I get more Xing-Yi (& Tai-Jutsu) experience(s), then I'll be able to answer this broad question even better. Also, I'll not try to answer deep questions when I'm tired next time. Sorry for any inconvenience.
Check out this website and let me know what you think. Sorry, I don't know how to set it up as a link. mbdojo.com It's the local 'Budo Taijutsu' instructor's site.
Man From Missouri,
I quickly looked the site over & these are my initial observations:
1) Ken Harding was trained in Soke Hatsumi's Bujinkan (Budo Tai-Jutsu) organization (but it appears/seems that he no longer is part of that organization*). Also, he apparently started before the Bujinkan organization existed (as did my main instructor; but my instructor never was in the Bujinkan). 9th-degree black-belt is up there (at one time there were only 10 degrees, until Hatsumi added 5 more which he claims was always part of the system), but in the Bujinkan (where rank is often given away), rank doesn't always equate to skill.
2) The dude's rich! I've never seen an instructor with such a nice dojo & Samurai armor. I've never seen any practice done in such armor either. Frankly, if one's into Japanese nostalgia/history & wants to suit up this way, then perhaps he's an instructor worth training with. Some people do in fact seek out such training (for whatever purposes).
My advice is to check out how much his Tai-Jutsu training costs; if it's reasonable, then -- being from Missouri -- ask him to show you some; if impressed by his skill, then study with him (& see how he is as a teacher).
* = Dr. Hatsumi structured his organization so that $ keep pouring into him; some have broken away due to this.
I am interested in everything about Ninjutsu EXCEPT the actual fighting techniques, particularly the esoteric methods of Seishin Teki Kyoyo (spiritual refinement or personal clarity). Maybe it would be more appropriate to use the term Nin-po?
Most of my information comes from the published works of Stephen K. Hayes. The concepts of mysticism, such as the Go-Dai (five major elemental manifestations), provide an interesting model of the universe that can be used to interpret many things, including fighting methods, of course. This is similar to the Bagua, but less complicated in my opinion. Also, the Mikkyo ('secret knowledge') teachings, which include the use of mandala, mantra, and mudra, interest me as a means of achieving mental clarity. According to Hayes, both are derived from Himalayan tantric teachings and have been formalized in the modern Tendai and Shingon sects of Buddhism. Do you practice any of these methods?
Also, the philosophy of In-Yo (Yin and Yang) and the various interpretations of the Chinese character for Nin (shinobi) are inspiring to me.
However, isn't it ironic that the sole inheritor (Hatsumi) of a system that is supposed to enable its practitioners to achieve total enlightenment seems to be so greedy and political?
P.S. I find it interesting that the name Bujinkan is written with the same Chinese characters as Tim's Shen Wu (in reverse order).
Man From MO.,
Wow, I hadn't noticed the Japanese kanji for Bujinkan & the Chinese characters for Shen Wu were the-same-but-in-reverse-order (that's interesting). I'll check that out later (thanks).
Ninpo is the "higher order" of Ninjutsu. Ninpo is a lifelong & all-encompassing application of principles found within Ninjutsu; Ninjutsu is the mere mechanics/techniques of the martial art (the combat portion of Ninpo) -- in general... I don't fully understand all of the philosophy yet -- I'm still working on getting the body mechanics straight & discovering the principles of movement as not too many instructors are willing to spoon feed their students in this art.
In contrast to your interests, combat application of Ninpo/Ninjutsu is important to me (it's my first priority), so I'm currently trying to get rid of some improper movement habits & replace them with proper movement (recently I did get some spoon feeding & I finally recognized & understood a basic movement concept which had alluded me for years).
So, no, I haven't made a study of the esoteric (mental/spiritual) aspects of Ninpo/Ninjutsu -- yet. I may get into these more esoteric parts some time next year (now that I'm getting on the right track physically). I'm also particularly interested in learning about tantric Buddhism (the sexual stuff) some day... but gotta first find me a cute honey (one that doesn't mind my being poor).
Nevertheless, I've had limited exposure to some of these esoteric parts. The five elements are essentially strategies/feelings. The hand positions are a means of focusing, used much in the same way as some people use a clasping of their hands together during prayer & they serve as reminders of a particular strategy/feeling. I had forgotten about in-yo (thanks for the reminder -- I have trouble remembering them-thar furin words); lately I've just been thinking of ura & omote (which are opposites much like Yin & Yang -- repectively).
While studying the meanings of "nin," I did noticed that the ancient, common-usage Greek word for "perseverance" (one of the meanings of "nin" also had the elements of sword-over-heart (a very interesting concept). Later.
P.S.: If & when I learn more about mikkyo, mantras & mudras, I'll try to remember to pass along the info (unless my instructor objects, of course).
Man From Mo.,
For what it's worth, you mentioned S. Hayes' books. There seems to be concern in the (Bujinkan) Ninpo/Ninjutsu community over his books. Suppossedly his book "Ninja & Their Secret Fighting Art" is his best work (filled with some good stuff -- as he wrote it without trying to teach anything; some aren't impressed with his teaching, which apparently he does in his other works). Later.
Man From MO.,
Just checked out the schools' symbols; your right about the reversal of order, but the lower part of Shen Wu doesn't match the upper part of Bujinkan.
Thanks for your comments. Here's my understanding of the Chinese characters:
WU = 'military, martial'
SHEN = 'spirit, god, God'
BU is the Japanese pronunciation of WU
SHIN or JIN is the Japanese pronunciation of SHEN
KAN = '(large) building, hall' in Japanese
I'm pretty sure the first two characters in Bujinkan are the same as Shen Wu, only in reverse order. Of course, I'm no expert.
Anyway, I would like to see your comparison of the basic Taijutsu punch vs. Beng Quan of Xing Yi. Just from viewing the video clip of Ken Harding on the website, I notice several apparent similarties. As a matter of fact, the punch looks indentical to Beng Quan, except that the technique is completed with the weight on the forward leg and the torso is tilted forward in line with the rear leg, instead of maintaining an upright posture. Nose, lead hand, and lead foot all on a line. Relaxed, whole-body power coming from the center out. Hand and foot arriving at the same time. What do you think?
If I may interject here... I saw the clip. I was curious. I studied Bujinkan some time ago, so I wanted to see how this guy moves. Actually if you look closely itís not the same as Hsing-I body mechanics. He steps first and then delivers his punch. Even thought he doesnít stop/lock his punch like karate people, his centerline is still moving forward, his foot and hand do not arrive at the same time. This is typical for Japanese arts, well, most of them. There is nothing wrong with it, there are different ways of punching, different ways of timing, all depending on circumstances, but simply from fighting point of view this kind of punch is very easy to neutralize or overextend because youíre telegraphing your intention with your body movement. (And I am not talking about full stepping, I realize this is just a formal exercise, even if you do this with a short half step itís still gonna be too obvious and less effective.) It is the same principle used in fencing. If you want to lunge forward you have to lead with your weapon otherwise itís by by. Providing your opponent is not a beginner.
Man From MO.,
Ah, I had misunderstood about the number & order of characters (I'll learn to count some day... maybe).
Concerning the ninjutsu strike: sounds about right. Mr. Drasnar is correct about the foot stopping first though -- it's much like a whipping effect (as found in Xing-Yi & Ba-Gua).
Tai-Jitsu done properly is much like Sun-style Ba-Gua Zhang & Xing-Yi Quan (but not exactly like 'em, of course). Many (& perhaps most) of the principles are exactly the same (I don't yet know them all; I'm still trying to figure out some). I've only recently learned some key concepts of Tai-Jutsu movement that had alluded me for years (my instructor told me I wasn't always moving right & he demonstrated in his Zen-like way, but I still didn't get it until about a week ago after someone spoon-fed me the knowledge), so now I have to look at everything afresh. This is probably why Meynard was disgusted at my pathetic punch when trying "to punch like a ninja." I was trying -- but I wasn't doing it properly.
Tilting one's torso does have some practical usages. You'll find this tilt in both Ba-Gua & in Xing-Yi as well (it's even prominent in Gao-style Ba-Gua forms & exercises -- from what I've seen). While found in these other arts in varying degrees, I believe that Tai-Jutsu just utilizes it a bit more than some. It's important to know when & where to use it, plus when & where not to use it. It's often used with an "immovable arm" leading (as in Aikido & Ba-Gua). Here are some usages: (1) to perform the ever-popular shoulder stroke; (2) to briefly offer a show of force-on-force before yielding (a popular concept in Judo/Ju-Jitsu & many Chinese Kung-Fu styles); & (3) to appropriately place weight into or upon an opponent.
Note that the Bujinkan organization teaches nine different schools. Tai-Jutsu is a common thread thru eight of these nine, but the Tai-Jutsu for one of these eight might not be exactly the same as for another within this group. Some have narrower postures (foot-wise) & thus are more upright & less extended than others. I prefer this narrow-type posture as it fits in with Ba-Gua & Xing-Yi quite well. Of course there are some differences in application/method, but again, many of the principles are the same.
Please check out Meynard's "Virtual Academy." You'll see Tim use his back in-line with his rear leg (but he doesn't hold it long -- just long enough to issue power -- so if you blink, then take another look).
He sure looks like he's stepping and punching at the same time. Your eyes must be better than mine. I don't actually practice Xing Yi, but I am sure the mechanics are the same as Gao style Ba Gua. According to Tim, there is a 'pulse' that causes the hand to continue moving forward slightly, after the forward foot has been planted. He compared this effect to the way your head moves forward after putting the brakes on in a car. That's what it looks like to me.
I think the forward tilting torso has something to do with bearing the weight on the front leg. Also, I understand that Taijutsu utilizes fairly low stances. A lower stance requires a forward tilt of the torso to compensate. Both of these conditions occur in the Gao style Hou Tian forms, as practiced by the Zhang Jun Feng lineage. Attempting these movements, while maintaining an upright posture, tends to strain the lower back area, at least for me.
I am curious about many different styles. But, I think the fighting techniques that really work are basically the same (a foot sweep, a hip throw, a straight punch, etc.) And, real fighting never looks like forms. These are just the various training methods that have evolved to instill effective principles of body use and application. I don't like to get hung up on the details. In the end, everyone has his own 'personal' style, anyway. That's my two cents. I know it won't buy you much.
Man From MO.,
Forward tilt comes from falling & shifting weight: the front foot brakes; the rear foot (which had just driven, sprung, or levered the torso forward, now) keeps the body's structure rooted to the ground (to absorb into the ground any opposing force). If one remains perfectly upright while applying forward force, then one pushes himself away (& it's all upper-body mechanics). In order to use one's whole-body in such a movement one must lean one's weight forward with the push (or strike) -- as this is the most efficient way to issue (or pulse) such force. The shoulders are kept square until the last moment when a winding-type of motion occurs which then propels the arms forward (so instead of the head whipping forward as when a car stops with your back straight, the back is already tilted forward in-line with where the head is going to end up anyway & the momentum is transferred by the winding motion to the striking arm/hand). It's like walking (because it is walking). Sun-style Ba-Gua Zhang, Xing-Yi Quan, & Tai-Jutsu are so much alike in principle because they seek out what proficient, natural, relaxed movement is & then apply it as appropriate.
As for real fights NEVER looking like form: not so. But all too often many fights are fought by those who don't practice proper form with understanding; so such form is abandoned quickly or not used at all (and this is appropriate; it's ludicrous to do a form without understanding merely for the sake of form when your life's on the line).
Man From MO. & Mr. Drasnar,
The "forward tilt" is often practiced wrong in the Bujinkan (not all Bujinkan practice it incorrectly). Few Bujinkan instructors & students understand & practice it appropriately (I just recently learned to correct this bad habit of mine from a very knowledgeable Bujinkan instructor).
Done properly, the "forward tilt" is as done by a good wrestler: the hips & shoulders are in line. If the butt sticks out (because the hips are out of line with the shoulders) then one continues to go forward (the brake doesn't work which means you're over-extended & going down -- agghhhh!).
I've studied toshindo (Stephen Hayes' current adaptation of ninjutsu). Here are some observations. Whole body movements do seem very similar. Hatsumi was no doubt influenced by Chinese arts (what kind is anyone's guess). However, at least for this branch of these arts, applications come first. This means anyone (kid to 60 year old) can learn some "self defense" immediately - simple things like escapes/counters to grabs. Hayes has done a great job creating / adapting a modern curriculum based on an ancient art.
The 5 elements in toshindo are much more interesting to me (more of the tibetan 5 elements - not the Chinese ones): earth, water, fire, wind, void, in terms of both applications and philosophy. Read Stephen Hayes' books to learn about these concepts.
Principles are arrived at inductively through doing repeated applications (two person set attack/defenses). Internal chinese arts otoh, START with principles. Applications don't come until later, when the principles have systematically been learned (hopefully internalized!). My gross generalization would be that in toshindo and most martial arts, one can be effective at basic defenses faster, but true mastery (the natural movement and spontaneous "void" one seeks in toshindo and all arts) comes much slower b/c learning the principles requires trial and error instead of learning principles and correct movement first. Ultimately all of the traditional jiu-jitsu based arts seem to want to end up at the same ultimate destination. So far, it seems to me the Internal Chinese art training methods are better for principles (assuming one has enough experience to "get it" first). This must be partly why some top Chinese martial artists (Sun Lu Tang probably being most famous) and many students of "hard" arts end up finding these arts to be much more profound.