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About Training

By Robert L. Humphrey

1923 -1997

Wherever I walk,
everyone is a little bit safer because I am there.

Wherever I am,
anyone in need has a friend.

Whenever I return home,
everyone is happy I am there.

"It's a better life!"

Jack Hoban says it best:

"Our philosophy is simple:  Protect Life Live according to nature and the natural law.  All people's lives are equal (even if their behavior isn't) and must be respected, and if possible, protected.

Those that agree with this philosophy will be instructed in the skills needed to support that philosophy, regardless of age, health, gender, or cultural distinction. On the other hand, we are not an "obedience school." If you cannot summon up the personal discipline to train with a friendly and courteous demeanor, you will probably feel out of place and quit the training. People who are looking for a competitive, aggressive atmosphere will probably be disappointed and quit as well.
Make no mistake, however, the training is challenging."

More about training

How that philosophy plays out in real life:

A close friend (and somebody I have trained with for many years) witnessed a man with a golf club chasing an unarmed man down.  He was able to intervene and safely disarm the "attacker" and keep the "victim" safe, but under control also.  It turned out that the attacker was a store keeper who had just been robbed, and was about to make a very big mistake by chasing down and beating the robber in back of head with a golf club in anger.  He could have lost everything in a law suit (or worse) if he had succeeded; regardless of whether the robber had deserved it or not.  If my friend had jumped in and beat down the "attacker" until he dropped the golf club, or worse yet, shot him to protect the "victim", he would have done the wrong thing, even though it seemed right at the time.  Can you imagine having to live with yourself after a mistake like that?  That is why (to quote Mr. Hoban again) "The training was designed to help us develop as protectors of life.  Whose life?  Self and others.  Which others?  All others, if possible."  In the end, the real bad guy was restrained, the police showed up and arrested the robber, and the real good guys stayed safe.

I encourage you to read the "Sheepdogs and Wolves" article and the books found in the Helpful Links section.

How we train:
We train indoors and outdoors, unarmed and armed. We train with traditional and modern weapons. We punch, kick, grapple, ground fight, cut, shoot, etc., focusing on the similarities between armed and unarmed tactics.  Our training method has a very strong emphasis on understanding the ethical, tactical and combative aspects of a fight.  We are different from other systems because while we strive to keep real, practical "combatives" training at the forefront, I also like to spend some time on the "art" of martial arts, such as classical Japanese techniques with sword, spear, staff  and empty hands.  It just keeps it fun and interesting.  We are not a traditional Bujinkan Dojo in the strictest sense, but Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu is the core of what we study, and the Bujinkan training method is very effective, when done correctly.

Emotional training:  Students are coached through verbal attacks.  This minimizes freezing or panic in a real attack, and tends to induce an adrenaline response.  If you can overcome this, then you already have the advantage if things get physical.

Psychological training: Skills for de-escalation are learned and practiced.  It is safest not to fight if it can be avoided.  The student learns to recognize the signs that the situation will unavoidably become physical, and how to ethically make the change from talking to fighting.

The physical training moves through four levels:

1) Theory: We start out slow, controlled, obvious and easy as we learn what to do.
2) Flow: The skills must be repeated smoothly and correctly against a scripted, but realistic series of attacks in order to ingrain them into our reflexive actions.
3) Variation: We increase the intensity, reality and unpredictability of the attacks.
4) Free flow / Pressure Testing: Unscripted attacks and scenarios with unscripted solutions. This includes adrenaline inducing force-on-force scenarios that require situational awareness, and verbal skills.

Cross Training

We try to get together with other training groups from the Bujinkan and other martial arts as well to expand our horizons.

Several times a year, there are opportunities to travel to seminars to study the art in greater depth, with people who are among the very best in the world.  All students should attend these whenever possible.

As you develop your skills and your confidence begins to grow, it is vitally important to keep stepping out of your comfort zone.  This will keep you from building artificial limitations to your learning.  I encourage training with other martial artists, particularly those in "sports arts" such as Wrestling, Judo, MMA, Fencing, etc.  Although sport arts have limited practical self defense value, training at high intensity against a resisting opponent in an unfamiliar art is vital to staying grounded in reality.

In pursuit of that ideal, we have been occasionally cross training with a local Escrima club.   We infrequently train with some western martial arts enthusiasts from the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA)as well, which has been a very rewarding and educational experience.  It is an opportunity for full speed, full intensity armored combat.  It is an opportunity to learn breathing and adrenaline control and to weed out some bad movement habits.  It also reinforces the fact that you do not need to be bigger and stronger to be better.    Not only did we learn some valuable lessons, we made some more friends in the martial arts (BuYu).  We will continue to do this whenever possible.

Some final thoughts:

I recently spoke with an old friend and training partner that I have not seen in many years.  He had studied our martial art for several years when I was beginning in this art, and he was one of my early instructors.  Prior to that he was a successful competition fighter and has studied several forms of karate and other similar arts.  His law-enforcement job eventually got so busy that he was not able to continue training in our art, but during his career, he was one of they guys that they called in when a fight was imminent.  In addition, he was an undercover police officer, taught the police academy hand to hand class, and was on the SWAT team.  One of the many fascinating things I learned from our conversation was that according to the official police records, he had been in over 3,000 fights in his long career as an officer.  I asked him what he thought of the martial arts from the perspective of that experience, and he replied that out of all of the arts he studied ours was the most realistic, and was the most useful.  He also went on to give me some critiques of training methods he had experienced, and suggestions of some things that martial artists should be doing to keep their art effective.  I was pleased that we already were doing most of those, but there were one or two that we were not and have since added to our training.