Rank tests, ninjas and sticks

So yesterday was our last workshop for the year. It was a full day’s worth of rank testing, ninja biken, shuriken and eda koppojutsu. We had lots of fun and the traning was great.

We started the day by going through the basic ideas of Togakure Ryu Ninja Biken. For someone who does not train in our arts, and does not know Japanese, this phrase might look strange. But, translated it simply means something like ”the secret ninja sword [methods] of the Togakure school”. What it entails is the usage of the short bladed katana that was used traditionally by practioners of this ryu-ha (school). When using a shorter blade, you get both advantages and disadvantages, as we could see and experience during training. It forces you to use more of your taijutsu skills, instead of simply relying on a long sharp sword. We managed to cover a variety of kata (this workshop was more focused on giving a taste of the contents of the ryu-ha than covering every kata in detail):

  • Hiryu no ken (of course, since our dojo is called Hiryu Dojo 😀 )
  • Issen ken
  • Raiko no ken
  • Metsubushi
  • Ninja Iai
  • Kage no itto
  • Te no uchi (two variations)

I believe that all participants found it interesting, especially as we started to counter the counters!

Next up, after a nice Chinese lunch, was Shuriken (throwing blades) practice. In the Jinenkan, we learn two different versions of Shuriken:

  • Bo shuriken (straight sharp spikes)
  • Senban (flat, four sided blades ”ninja stars”)

Both of these are from the Togakure Ryu that we practice. Naturally, these tools exist in other ryu-ha that we practice as well, but what has been taught through to us is the Togakure Ryu way, and there is no use for claiming other ryu-ha has these too, it is enough with one!

Most participants found the Senban to be the easier one of those, of course, while the Bo shuriken was a tad bit more difficult. We learned a number of different ways of throwing and I believe it was a good introduction to self-practice, which definately is needed with these weapons!

We moved on for the last hour with some Eda Koppojutsu, which essentially is the usage of a small short wooden (or metal) stick to enhance your taijutsu. This weapon is dealt with in the Togakure Ryu under the section on Shinobi no buki (weapons of the ninja). There are no kata/techniques per se written in the densho, it only mentions the useage of the stick. So, we looked at basic ways of holding and using the stick, utilizing the Kihon Happo and some hajutsu techinques to illustrate the usage. I doubt the practioners will think of short sticks in the same way in the future!

We wrapped the day up with some rank tests, and Daniel (Yonkyu) and Albin (Nikyu) both passed their tests beautifully. Omedeto gozaimashita!

Happy holidays!


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