We just finished our annual spring training event, and to put it short, we had a blast!
There’s nothing quite like a full weekend of exemplary martial arts practice. The ninjutsu community is a wonderful, positive group of people, and I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my weekend any other way.
Buyukai (formerly the Discovery seminar) is a full weekend of training where we get the opportunity to work with instructors from many different schools. This year featured Kevin Levesque, Cindy Boyack, Evan Boyack, Bill Carey, Kyoshi Brett Varnum, and Hanshi John Poliquin. We also got a chance to work with Carmen Goodwin, Michael Stinson, Joe Poliquin, and Troy Dixon for half hour breakout sessions. Each instructor brought their own unique techniques and strategies to the table.
One of the interesting things about our annual seminar is that we do not prepare the instructors beforehand. Each comes with their own techniques, their own way of explaining them, and the only curriculum is their time allotted. Still, we always see a theme form. Ninjutsu features a lot of unity in it’s movements; the scientific use of angles, timing, posture, and strategy always shows in the emergent theme every year. This year happened to see a large emphasis in kamae, or posture. I personally got to benefit from some of Carmen’s work with my posture that helped me add even more stability to my structure during movement.
We had a lot of students getting to experience new teaching styles. Many were impressed with Dr. Cindy Boyack’s “Against the wall” training segment on Sunday, where students were challenged to apply their lessons in kamae in a more challenging environment; shoved up against a wall by a larger, more aggressive opponent. Students had the opportunity to develop techniques on their own while using the unified concepts of movement that were presented throughout the weekend. Students who demonstrated successful methods were asked to come demonstrate to the other students, who all got a chance to try techniques that were successful for their peers.
Another memorable segment was our kusari striking segment taught by Kyoshi Brett Varnum. Mr. Varnum is well known for his DIY weaponry, resourcefulness, and skill in using these instruments. A kusari is a length of rope roughly an arm’s length long. Traditionally they took a lot of forms, but would often be used to flail and/or entangle opponents; now a something like a bike lock, length of chain, or towel can be used. Mr. Varnum worked with students on developing their striking ability with the weapon while avoiding the common dangers of uneducated use (namely, stop hitting yourself!) We trained using kusari striking methods vs. opponents with bats and knives; a very realistic and exciting (if occasionally rattling) training period.
The thing you may not consider on the surface is one of the best parts of our Association: The Community.
We could talk more about all of the training, specifically covering the unique armlock entry methods from Mr. Levesque, the artful exploration of seitou kata from Hanshi, or the simple, experience based kamae exploration of Mr. Evan Boyack, and more, but that would undercut a very important element of this seminar. it’s a powerful thing getting to spend a weekend with a wonderful and lively. There is a certain sense of brotherhood and sisterhood that is shared between martial artists, and the Discovery schools are fantastic examples of this. Whether it was morning breakfast together, evening burgers at Sebago’s, or everyone having a good laugh at the fact that my new satchel resembles a fanny pack, you could see that there was a lot of joy here. In the end of the day, that’s what ninjutsu does, and what all martial arts can do; build more positive people.
If you missed Buyukai this year, well, all is not lost! Mark and I recorded all of the instruction from the seminar and are currently working on editing it together. If you were there, it will be a great review tool, and for students who couldn’t make it, you will get a chance to see a lot of concepts explored by fresh perspectives.
Speaking of new perspectives, I think you might appreciate this if you’ve been wanting to see me get tossed… WARNING: Cheesy sound effects ahead.