Shihan Michael Asuncion was in Huntsville for the third consecutive year to share his insights into the study of Budo Taijutsu. This third year was the best attended thus far, with folks from Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Conneticut.
Training started Friday evening with a review of Kihon Happo (the fundamental techniques of our art). Shihan Asuncion had two of his Shidoshi level students demonstrate all of the Kihon Happo as a single set, then had us pair off to train. Next he had his students demonstrate each technique one by one starting with Omote-gyaku (a wrist locking technique). Asuncion-sensei also had me demonstrate the same technique (I took that as a personal compliment). He then began to teach some fine details and important points for each of the Kihon Happo. I always get great points for futher study as these seminars.
After Friday night’s budo training, several of the students stayed behind for a class on how to build fukuro shinai (a padded training sword) for use the rest of the weekend. I was humbled to teach that class. Thanks to all that attended – and be sure to have fun beating each other with your shinai 😉
Saturday began with taihenjutsu (body movement skill) training. We warmed up with ukemi (rolling & breakfalls). Shihan Asuncion then taught some of the finer points of taihenjutsu. Many of the drills we went through, most of us had seen before, but were being taken for granted. Asuncion-sensei taught us the key points for making the drills realistic and practical on a level most of us had not yet acheived. Once again our eyes had been opened by what he shared with us.
We then moved into Kihon Happo, focusing only on a couple of techniques, but with many variations. He focused on finer points of efficient body movement and details about kyusho (weak points). We then moved on to kenjutsu (sword skills). Fine points Asuncion-sensei went into were the importance of not forgetting the taijutsu when using a weapon. Too often, when we have a weapon in hand, we get fixated on the weapon and forget to move properly within the space. He also spoke about when to do certain types of cuts (small vs. large) with the sword. That concluded Saturday’s training.
On Sunday, we once again warmed up by going through all the Kihon Happo. And once again we focused on one specific technique with multiple variations, both in taijutsu and sword. Asuncion-sensei also talked about the use of shuriken and using totoku hyoshi no kamae (a sword posture) to defend against shuriken being thrown at you. He then showed a really cool way to throw the shuriken to defeat the countering posture.
I think one of the most important points Shihan Asuncion spoke about was the kind of heart required for the study of budo. Budo training is not easy, nor should it be. Afterall, we are training for self defense; we are training for combat; we are training for life itself. Each of these are incredibly difficult experiences and you only get once chance to get it right. Hatsumi-sensei has said that he is at such a high level because he has put in three times as much money, time, and effort as anyone else in the Bujinkan. We should take his example to heart.
Shihan Asuncion talked about how sometimes training should be more of a burden than a fun activity. The days we really don’t feel like training are probably the most important days that we should train. Doing hard things will polish the heart and make it strong – fudoshin (the immovable heart). Some students over the years have complained about how much expense is involved in attending seminars. Afterall, you have to pay for gas, hotels, food, etc. in addition to the training fee for the seminar. So before you complain, ask yourself, “How much is my life worth?”
The ones who make excuses or complain often wash themselves out after a while. They didn’t have the heart necessary for the study of Budo. That said, the ones that do have that heart, the ones that enjoy the challange, usually stay for many years and become excellent martial artists.
All in all, it was a fantastic seminar as usual. Thank you to Shidoshi Dr. Leland Cseke and the Bujinkan Huntsville Dojo for hosting the seminar. Thank you to Shihan Michael Asuncion for once again coming to the deep South to share your insights in this wonderful art. I’ll see you again next time!