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4th Dan Musings

December 1, 2010

I was promoted to 4th Dan about a month ago.

This was one of the most conflicted promotions I ever had. Why? Because of my journey so far. As I mentioned before in a previous post, I am working on making my techniques usable for sparring. It first it was just a fun thing (since I am supposed to have a friendly sparring match next Jan). Later on, however, I got more and more serious about it as I realized that combat scenarios can take the following forms:

1)      I attack, the other guy is taken by surprise. Ambush, ninja-style. Cool.

2)      I attack, the other guy is ready for it. This is more a sparring situation, I realize my initial combination of attacks didn’t work and he’s ready to give as good as he gets.

3)      He attacks, I am surprised. All the taijutsu is supposed to kick in as I am freaked out into a mushin, no-mind state. Hopefully…

4)      He attacks, I am ready for it and the sparring situation arises again.

So that means sparring type skill will be needed in 50% of the possible outcomes. If I choose to neglect that I am being very foolish.

Because of that, I have added two techniques to my repertoire, the roundhouse kick to the legs and what I call the Philip Tan Bitch Slap (a backfist type of attack that easily transitions into some nasty options). After I put in a lot of work into them I am more confident in my skills, that I can hold my own in a sparring situation. That’s cool, right?

But I have neglected proper Bujinkan training in the meantime. Being 4th dan (the last grade I can get outside of Japan and based on my Sensei’s personal decision) means that I am supposed to be a pretty good embodiment of Taijustu skill.  And I know I am not.

Not being humble here, I don’t believe in that. Here’s my rough and ready guide to evaluating my own skill level: if I am a 5th Dan (full-fledged teacher), what would I expect from any student of mine whom I award 4th Dan? Well, I don’t live up to that. Heck, I don’t even live up to my standard of 3rd Dan either (huge gaps in my knowledge of the Bujinkan syllabus) . But that didn’t bother me much because I always thought I had more time to learn those later on. When I get 4th Dan, maybe.

Well, 4th Dan’s already here. No point putting it off.

So looking ahead at 2011, I foresee a lot of hard work coming up. I am drawing up a list of the techniques I need to learn in the meantime and working on those that I have no clue about. I’ll start in force after Jan (when the match is over) and then work like nuts to get better at both the techniques I already know (so I can use and teach them better) and those I don’t (so I can look out for anything that would help me understand and use them).

That’s the budo journey for me! More details later…

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From → bujinkan

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