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Thread: Harsh Training: The Early Example of the Masters

  1. #1
    MindBlade Guest

    Post Harsh Training: The Early Example of the Masters

    I have been doing some research on the early training of the current Kancho's. Much of what I have read about the early training of Hatsumi Sensei, Tanemura Sensei and Manaka Sensei is startlingly different than the training that I witness when visiting several dojo in my area.

    For example, from what Hatsumi has written, training with Takamatsu Sensei was rough, rigorous, painful, and even scary at times. Tanemura Sensei's writing about his early days of training speaks of the same kind of harsh and exacting experience. Also, Shihan Doron Navon has written about training in the early days of the Bujinkan (when all the current Kancho's were still with Hatsumi Sensei). Shihan Navon describes Bujinkan training during these early days as rough and serious. There are many other accounts of this type, not to mention the vicious conditioning regime evidenced in many pictures from these days. Well, things seem to have changed. At my last dojo, the training was extremely low speed, low pain, low force, low pressure and low detail. It felt so watered down.

    It appears that, in their own early training, the Master's built a base of rough, rigorous, hard core and detailed training. At some point, while being carefully guided through this “fire” there seems to have be a burst of intuitive fluidity and creativity. After this, the Masters SEEM to find little need for the earlier harshness in the training regimen.

    What I am wondering about is this. Isn't this first phase of going through the "fire" essential if one really wants to aim at developing the amazing skills of the Masters? I don't believe that one can somehow skip over this phase of training and go directly to the limitless creativity that we witness from the Masters.

    So, should a very serious kyu level student seek out some semblance of the harsh and exacting training that the Masters endured in their early days? I have a teacher who is providing me with this now privately, but I wonder, is this generally available?

    Taharka Mena
    Last edited by Oni; 6th December 2002 at 20:32.

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    Default

    This interview with Sean Askew makes mention of this old way of training. Hope it helps
    David Gadoury

  3. #3
    MindBlade Guest

    Smile Few Examples

    I thought that it might help to add some examples of what I have read.

    Tanemura Sensei wrote that he trained outside for hours barefoot in the snow under exacting conditions. He has written that as a youngster many times in training he was knocked out cold only to be immediately revived with icy water and thrown right back into training. Gambatte for sure.

    Hatsumi Sensei wrote that often when visting Takamatsu Sensei he would be viciously attacked without warning. That they would engage in harsh outdoor training with no warm up.

    In earlier writings, we see pictures of Manaka Sensei, Tanemura Sensei and other Shihan toughening fingers and foreheads by striking boulders. Of this time period Navon Shihan wrote that injuries were commonplace.

    Given just these few examples, God only know what Takamatsu must have endured under his teachers!!!

    It would seem that the ability to ignore mental distractions such as pain, fear, and confusion while focusing on the exacting and subtle requirements of training is a key transition point on to the path of true warriorship. Of course, I am in no way suggesting that this type of thing is practical for most dojo in most cities in the US. And I am not suggesting throwing common sense safety out the door. But practical or not, it some how seems like an essential ingredient in the developement of all these Masters.

    Taharka Mena
    Last edited by MindBlade; 6th December 2002 at 21:10.

  4. #4
    Elijah Guest

    Default Link..

    Geosync,

    Would you mind reposting the link. I am interested in reading the article.

    Thanks in advance!

    Elijah McCaughen

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    Default hard training

    When I first started Bujinkan training in 1996, I trained hard and sometimes dangerously, because my teachers were products of another sensei from the time of hard training. I e-mailed Bo Munthe about 4 years ago and asked him how training was conducted in those days, and he told me it was very hard. So it was with my sensei and his teachers before him. Roughness and brutality equaled skill progress, or so they believed.

    I believe that without actual contact, actual intensity, and actual realism, one cannot hope to progress. One must know how to take a blow as well as give one. I think, IMO, some people join a dojo wanting instant skill and not brave the fire, to use a word from earlier posts. They believe rank is a sign of skill, (though it should be, it isn't always). I also believe that hard style training, or realistic training shows who is serious and who isn't. It weeds out those who are really just there for the rank and those who want the skill.

    I am not saying that one should train like this all the time, but it helps. I started training in the Genbukan because my dojo over time lost the instensity and realism of the training, and began to just rehash what they had already learned. It became repetitive, a bad sign of budo. It seemed I had learned all I could, and decided to move on. Training now seems to have moved to a whole new level, as the intensity has returned.

    I'm glad for the training I recieved, and am recieving. Though sometimes the pain in my knees or wrists are sore reminders of the price I have paid for my training. But it paid off last year when I got jumped, because I could deal with blows coming at me and move as needed.

    However you wish to train is up to you, just remember there are some schools which are harder than others. You need to find what you want, and go for it. God Bless.

    In Christ,
    Randall Engle
    Gallant, AL
    Genbukan Ninpo Bugei

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    Default multi-tasking pebcak error

    David Gadoury

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    Smile Slow and steady wins the race, but only with a great teacher to show you how.

    For Everyone,

    Again Mr. Mena has asked a very important question....How hard should our training be? -- Let me use the example of Tanemura Sensei, because I know him the best.

    The first guy who knocked Grandmaster Tanemura out was his father. The next teacher who did it was also a relative, and so was Mr. Hatsumi for that matter. In addition, Tanemura Sensei regarded and took care of until death all of his other masters (as he would his own father).

    To be a good dad (or teacher) takes both WISDOM and a firm hand. An abusive father is not necessarily more EFFECTIVE than an understanding one. By the same token, a laid back father is not always more intuitive than a stern one. -- I believe that a good master (or dad) should use just the right amount of force needed to persuade the student (or child) to do the "right thing."

    I have a son (a teen-ager), and I know that, even though I try, I don't always get the balance correct. I also know bad parents that don't listen to their kids. They end up making blanket statements and exercise vindictive abuse, without considering their child as a complete person. -- Students (even grandmasters, who were once white belts) are the same. They need to be looked at as individuals, each with different needs.

    The stories you repeated represent only a small part of what it meant to be a student in the "old days." The guys who were made the next generation masters had to possess patience, honor and loyalty. Their dedication made them great, not simply the fact that they got hit. -- But of course, as I have personally experienced, all martial artists periodically have to be wacked in the head by our teachers to remind us to show these great qualities.

    Hard training is sometimes good, but only when lead by a competent Sensei. Soft training is also good, but it too can be abused. -- Their is no short path to mastering kobudo (ancient martial arts), but the most direct road is to find a good teacher and TRAIN.


    Sincerely,


    Michael Coleman
    Kyoshi

    Shibu-cho

    Genbukan,KJJR,
    Koryu Karate &
    Amatsu Tatara
    Senior US Student
    of Grand Master
    Shoto Tanemura

    mcoleman@futendojo.com

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    Default Hard Training

    I agree with Mr. Coleman. I think you should have some hard training sometimes, however when I look at my own training, and stack up some of the injuries I have from it, it makes me wonder was it worth it sometimes?

    In one way yes, because as I said one should be able to take a punch as well as give one. But there is a limit. I grew up in an abusive home, and though my father did tell me he was sorry for it before his passing, the damage had seperated us. The same can be for someone who trains under a sensei. A sensei, a good one, should have a personal relationship with the students he teaches. This helps the students become better at their art, as well as grow with the sensei. An abusive sensei, needless to say, drives them out the door.

    Training should be intense, hard, and realistic, but enjoyable and learning. When I say hard, I mean physically, as in keeping in shape, and also trying to use focus in your training. Intensity keeps it challenging. And realism prepares a student for the harsh world. Of course, this is my own opinion and reflects my own training. So some of you may not agree. I hope I have answered good enough. God Bless Ya'll.

    In Christ,
    Randall Engle
    Genbukan Ninpo Bugei
    Gallant, Alabama

  9. #9
    MindBlade Guest

    Lightbulb Arigato

    Thank you very much for your insight Coleman Sensei.


    Taharka Mena

  10. #10
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    Default since I'm feeling feisty anyway...

    My own two cents within the limited scope of the topic:

    Hard/harsh training with regards to randori/advanced training isn't worth a damn until you've had some semblance of basic (let's say for the sake of this argument low-dan or high-kyu experience) fundamentals down.

    Otherwise, bad habits and holes and the correcting of bad habits and holes will be a major part of your training experience for the next few years/decades.

    Brutality and whatever comes later after you've got movement and muscle memory down.

    This is not necessarily from a T-den point of view but from my own experience in other arts as well.
    Last edited by kirigirisu; 7th December 2002 at 11:35.
    William Tai

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    I'm not quite sure what qualifies as "full force", but at my school many various techniques are done with intent. The idea of force doesn´t really play into things. (That sort of teaches you to get out of the way.) Some kyusho get hit, but you do learn where they are, and there is a purpose, and it's only every once in awhile.

    At the same time, going home with a bunch of bruises just because you can seems kind of silly to me. Why not just slam you head into a brick wall a few times? You can do that too, but where's the point?

    What exactly constitutes rough? Trying to roll on a wood floor when you've only had tatami up to that point? It sure does correct bad habits that you develop.

    J. Vlach, Amsterdam

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    as a youngster many times in training he was knocked out cold only to be immediately revived with icy water and thrown right back into training.
    Not to be a nitpicky S.O.B., but this story is about Takamatsu, in his uncle's Shindenfudo ryu dojo...

    That is unless it did happen to Tanemura sensei as well...if so, then we just had a nice review of our history today.

    Jon Gillespie
    Jon Gillespie

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    Originally posted by Jon G.
    That is unless it did happen to Tanemura sensei as well...if so, then we just had a nice review of our history today.
    This did happen to Tanemura sensei. Don't know if this happened to Takamatsu sensei as well.
    George Kohler

    Genbukan Kusakage dojo
    Dojo-cho

  14. #14
    Tamdhu Guest

    Default

    Harsh training is good now and then for a wake-up call, discovering weak points and bad habits.

    You have to go slowly, though, for the most part to be able to move yourself and target things correctly. How will you know if you are stable throughout your movement if you are puffing up your chest and 'battling' your way through practice? How will you know if you really are controlling your uke's balance, when he or she may simply be 'giving in' to your ferocious, realistic BattleField(TM) level of intensity simply to avoid injury?

    Charging through our training can be very satisfying to the ego, as we all bask in the adrenalin after-glow and nurse our bruises with a few brewskies.

    Why not just do boxing or play volleyball?

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