Archive for September, 2007

Why I left the boards….

Monday, September 24th, 2007

I have been asked privately why it is that I have left the online boards (i.e., Martial Arts Planet, MartialTalk, and Budoseek) after so many years of participation.

It may sound strange, but I have always viewed my participation in the boards as “service” to the Bujinkan community. By and large, there are very few “informed” participants in the online boards. (Remember: rank has nothing to do with “being informed.”) After listening to people who do not know what they were talking about speaking as if they did, I decided to step in and try to best direct the conversation toward the teachings of Hatsumi-sensei.

From this perspective, even when I was “arguing” with someone about something on the boards, I generally was not directing my commentary toward the individual on the other side of the debate. Instead, I was speaking to a larger audience, many of whom are merely lurking, trying to gain an understanding of where to go next and what to do once they got there.

In short, I have always viewed myself as a “social commentator” of the Bujinkan, which also happens to be one of the largest and most eclectic martial arts organizations in the world. Much like wine critics, movie critics, financial analysts act as an “informed intermediary” between “the masses” and the object of interest (i.e., wine, movies, and firms), I reasoned that I could do a lot more “good” if I withdraw from arguing publicly about “which wine is better” and instead focus on merely providing guidance about “the wines that I feel are best.” People do not have to agree with my assessments, just as I do not have to agree with Roger Ebert’s movie reviews, but at least I know where Mr. Ebert stands on a topic.

As anyone who is online knows, staying involved with the boards takes a *TON* of time. If I had been drawing an hourly wage for all the time I put into my posts in the past, I would be a very wealthy man today. 🙂 LOL! In an online world, if one takes a few days away, then people can interpret it as anything. As an example, Dale Seago recently had a very intense work schedule that took him away from Martial Arts Planet for about two weeks. When his absence became conspicuous, the rumor-mongers started claiming that Dale had “run away from MAP” or “was avoiding the tough questions.”

Huh?!?

The reality, of course, is that Dale wasn’t even around to see the questions; he wasn’t even sleeping due to work! Still, people who do not necessarily have a “right” to demand immediate answers demanded them anyways, and then started framing Dale’s non-response as something that it was not.

For me, the lack of time to be constantly monitoring conversations and engaging in them with alacrity is a key consideration in my departure. With my blog, I can post when I have time to post…and can address issues that I would like to address on my schedule…not on someone else’s.

A second consideration in my decision is that I honestly have grown bored with the repetition of the same conversations over and over and over again.

In particularly, the last two years online have been dominated by “religious arguments” concerning “traditional Bujinkan methods” and “hybrid methods incorporating so-called ‘alive’ training).” Frankly, I am completely uninterested in arguing about whose “religion” is better.

I honestly could care less whether some person (1) who I have never met, (2) who does not train my art, and (3) who has no interest in learning my art *THINKS* that his delivery system is “better” than the Bujinkan delivery system.

I HONESTLY DO NOT CARE!!!

I have zero interest in convincing him that the Bujinkan delivery system is “better” than his system.

It is simply *NOT* a debate that I feel is fruitful.

If people train in Aikido, or Tai Chi Chuan, or Gracie Jiujutsu, or Silat….good for them! Go for it! I love *ALL* martial arts…though some more than others. 🙂

My job has never been to convince the skeptical audience start training in the Bujinkan.

The Bujinkan has more than enough people already.

A better use of my time is providing guidance to people who (1) already train in the system, and (2) honestly want to know how best to come to understand that system.

Thus, I have decided to use my blog as a vehicle for communicating advice and commentary…on my time.

I hope that clarifies!

-ben

Hidden Gems of the Bujinkan

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

As a service to the online Bujinkan community, I have decided to provide a list of the “hidden gems” of the Bujinkan. These individuals are, in general, relatively or completely unknown to the larger Bujinkan community. Some individuals that I thought everyone would know got me blank stares when I mentioned their names in conversations. Thus the list….

Despite their lack of “brand name,” they hold some of the largest pieces of the Bujinkan puzzle within them, in my opinion.

Note: This list *ONLY* contains individuals whose budo I, bencole, *PERSONALLY* have assessed. I shall continue to add names to the list as I come across individuals who bring something special to the table. This list most certainly is incomplete, but it will only include the “best of the best.”

This list will never become “politicized”; it will remain blunt and honest. As evidence, I have even included a few people who I personally do not like. Whether I like them or not does not change the fact that their budo is good, and that they understand Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu as Hatsumi-sensei teaches.

I highly recommend that people seek these individuals out, either by visiting their dojo or by inviting them out for a seminar.

HIDDEN GEMS OF THE BUJINKAN
compiled by Benjamin Cole

UNITED STATES
• Michael Asuncion – Michigan – Moves identically to Nagase-sensei. Best timing that I’ve ever seen!
• Bill Atkins – Northern California – Frighteningly good!
• Chris Carbonaro – New Jersey – Started his training in Japan with Kamioka-sensei, then went on to train with Nagato-sensei and Hatsumi-sensei. Very solid movement.
• Dale Seago – Northern California – Spooky movement! His job is to keep others alive, not just himself.
• Aric Keith – Washington/Oregon border– Solid, solid Budo.
• Oliver Martin – New York City – Moves identically to Nagato-sensei. Uncanny!!! Solid budo.
• Luke Molitor – Texas – The only Shidoshi qualified to teach Bujinkan sword in the U.S., in my opinion. Personal student of three Shihan : Nagato-sensei, Nagase-sensei, and Someya-sensei.
• Jeff Mueller – Maryland – Hands down, best ukemi in the United States! Wow!
• Daniel Weidman – Southern California – Solid Budo and a superb athlete!

JAPAN-BASED
• Bruce Appleby – Japan/UK – Small and light, but very solid Budo. Extensive translation experience at Hombu.
• Robin Doenicke – Japan/Australia – Tall, but light. Great footwork/legwork!
• Shawn Gray – Japan/Canada – Movement looking more and more like Shiraishi-sensei every day.
• Larry Hamilton – Japan/US – Deep knowledge of both Budo and Japanese.
• Rod Hodgkins – Japan/Australia – Big as a bear; light as a feather.
• Paul Masse – Japan/US – Wow!!! Best foreigner in Japan, imo.
• Craig Olson – Japan/Canada – Solid budo. Extensive translation experience at Hombu.
• Rob Renner – Japan/US – Really unique insights not normally explored by other instructors.
• Doug Wilson – Japan/US – Solid budo. Extensive translation experience at Hombu.
• Pete Reynolds – Japan/US – Everyone should take Pete’s basics seminar. Terrific insights into Soke’s movement.

EUROPE
• Andrew Young – Scandinavia somewhere – “If it is frustrating, it is because you are learning something new.” Extensive translation experience at Hombu.
• Renan Perpina – Spain – Light as a feather, but packs a big punch!
• Sveneric Bogsater – Sweden – Frighteningly good!
• Arnaud Cousergue – France – Frighteningly good!
• Lubos Pokorny – Czech Republic – Frighteningly good!

OCEANIA
• Greg Alcorn – Australia – Solid Budo.
• Tim Bathurst – Australia – Solid Budo. Extensive translation experience at Hombu.
• Ed Lomax – Australia – Solid Budo.

LATIN AMERICA
• Rafael Franco – Venezuela – One of the best practitioners in the world, imo. Wonderful combination of creativity and “realness” without introducing holes into his movement.

You would be wise to train with any of these individuals…and then *PRACTICE* what they teach you, rather than going back to what you do normally.