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2012 Budo Resolutions

January 9, 2012

Happy new year, everyone!

This is as good a time as any to set your resolutions, make your plans and get results for your martial arts growth in 2012. But because the world of Bujinkan Taijutsu is so wide, many people have some difficulty even thinking about where to start.

Here’s a little help!

1)      If you haven’t started yet, or have started but lost steam along the way, start afresh! Look carefully at your schedule and ask yourself what changes should you make so that you can attend class weekly. If you can’t commit to weekly training, then commit to being there at least once a fortnight. And let your instructor know, so that he or she can take your attendance and training needs into consideration as he or she creates the lesson plans.

If you have already started, there are three areas you can look at and pay more attention to this year.

a)      Physical conditioning – if your body is weak or stiff, it is very difficult for you to get the basic techniques right. Bujinkan Taijutsu isn’t very strength-intensive, but you will need a basic level of conditioning in order to do sanshin no kata and kihon happo without gross errors. For example, it is very hard to learn hicho no kata if you are unable to stand on one leg for at least 30-60 seconds.

So physical conditioning is important!

And in Singapore, the average person is far more likely to die from a heart attack than from a knife attack. So make sure you spend at least a reasonable amount of time and effort in keeping your body in a decent state of health!

b)      Formal Techniques – if you have already learned ALL the techniques of the Tenchijin Ryaku no Maki (the official Bujinkan syllabus) you will still have the rest of the techniques and combos from the 9 schools of the Bujinkan to keep you busy for the rest of your lifetime. But if you don’t, then you have your work cut out for you!

What are the gaps in your knowledge and training? Think about it, have a 5-10 minute chat about it with your instructor and then start fixing it. Do you need to refine your locks? Your throws? Your strikes? How well do you grasp hanbo (half-stick) and kenjutsu (sword-work)?

If you haven’t attained your black belt yet, a good question to ask your instructor is “What do you want me to work on to attain my next kyu-grade promotion?”

c)       Real-life Application – if you train exclusively in formal Bujinkan techniques but don’t explore them in a modern context, you may not be able to apply the principles in a real-life conflict. Some people can (we call them martial geniuses)but the rest of us need to actually spend time working on modern applications.

Examples: we often practice our throws while wearing gi jackets or something similar. How do we adopt our techniques to a situation when an opponent is not wearing suitable attire? We practice in open spaces. Are we able to adapt when fighting in an enclosed environment (such as a stairwell or lift)?

As you can see, these areas give you a lot of stuff to work on. If you are new to all this, work with your instructor in drawing up a training plan for 2012. And ask your instructor to help. This will not only give you the benefit of his or her experience, understanding and knowledge, it will also make you accountable to someone for your martial growth.

And that is one essential element for actually disciplining yourself and getting results for 2012!

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