Posts from May 2007

What can Ninjutsu learn from Emmanuel Augustus and Roy Jones Jr.?

Here are two of Oded’s favorite boxers (one that he did not even know he liked).

These guys are Emmanuel Augustus and Roy Jones Jr. , two boxing legends . When  I look at their stuff I’m amazed by two similarities: first the flow of the Tai sabaki, and by that I mean the control these boxers have over distance, stepping and evasive body movement, wow!

Then there is the more subtle but very visible control of the flow (Nagare in japanese) and tempo (Tempo in Japanese, ha). The effect that controlling the tempo of the fight is so obvious that we guys, doing traditional Ninjutsu / Taijutsu should watch and learn from.

Integrating traditional system with modern day demands and insights is a complicated job, and we try to do this every time we’re at the dojo, but these clips are so great they kind of  take the weight of day to day training.


Shin Gan – the special vision

By Yossi Sheriff

“(Yigal) Amir returned towards the gray transport vehicle and secretly released the safety-catch. He went back to sit on the concrete flower pot and noticed two guards by these service vehicles, as well as many police officers, attendants and drivers. No-one noticed his presence, since he was blended into the background and appeared as authorized personnel. He continued looking towards the stairs and noticed several ministers walk down.

(4) As he was sitting on the flower pot a citizen noticed him – who was not a part of the security force – named Benyamin Avershomi. He approached one of the police officers, pointed in the direction of Amir and asked that he be removed from the area. The officer approached another man by mistake, who was on his way out of the parking lot in any case. The officer then returned to Avershomi who pointed him again in the direction of the assassin. This time the officer walked straight to Amir, didn’t ask him what he was doing there, but asked that he go westwards towards “his car”. Amir got up and walked a few steps to the west, but two minutes later went back to sit on the flower pot undisturbed and no-one remarked…”

From the statement of the inquiry committee on the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, page 27 paragraphs (3) (4)
Jerusalem 1996

Reading the passage above always makes me shiver. I remember the evening when Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated, and the intense feelings I had for many days following the event. When I read about key events such as these, junctions in history, I find it hard not to think what could have been if only…

On November 4th 1995, there was at least one man who felt, and did not keep it to himself, but rather acted on his feeling: he asked a police officer to check Yigal Amir. I believe he did this because he really knew. This is not a common every day act. Avershomi insisted that something was not right with Yigal Amir. Tens of people were standing or sitting in the fenced piazza behind Rabin Square, and Avershomi, who was standing outside, sees only the assassin. Police officers who walked by Amir “mistook him for an undercover officer” (page 27 paragraph (3)), but Avershomi, as if receiving personal information, sees only him.

Of the principal traits in my view, the main one is this: the ability to identify danger in advance, and its derivative, seeing beyond the personality displayed by people into their essence. In Japanese this is referred to as Shin Gan.

Shin Gan, in Japanese: super-human eye (or insight).

I don’t think that it’s possible to practice for something of this sort, on the contrary, I think it shouldn’t be practiced. However, I think that in the background one should always be very sensitive, balanced and attentive; one should believe everything that is going on. Things happen to us all too often, much more tangible than a premonition regarding a suspicious man, and we don’t believe they are happening. Many times people who are involved in a serious car accident do not believe it is really happening. I have seen this occur twice. In this state of severance and distance from the immediate experiences of life, there is no sense in speaking of Shin Gan.


Gatka – a weapon based martial art

Gatka is a Sikh martial art that has a unique and efficient use of weapons. Gatka warriors practice randori, shiai and the instructors practice too. Many places in India host the Gatka dojo in the Sikh temple grounds.

For us in AKBAN the background upon which the system rose is not the main issue. The main issue here is the superb method. Martial arts that originated in the Indian sub-continent have been poorly researched in comparison with their Chinese and Japanese counterparts. We begin to remedy this with a special section in our martial arts encyclopedia, the AKBAN-wiki.

In the video Ran mixed we can notice some interesting points:

  1. A perfect Tai sabaki for rough surfaces.
  2. Control and techniques using many weapons, just like in our school
  3. Working against many opponents, special use of vision and flow
  4. Amazing techniques that don’t necessitate a cooperating training partner

We at AKBAN can not adopt all the Randori methods because it diverts a bit from our safety protocol. But we will continue analyzing the video footage Y. has photographed in India to incorporate it into the AKBAN-wiki and our weekly syllabus.


Awareness Through the Body – Part 3

By Michael Lisak

What is the connection between the body, feelings and the atmosphere around us?

After understanding the importance of paying attention to the body as well as where to focus that attention to, we can investigate further and try to understand the connection between the body and emotions we experience. On the topic of emotions there are many elaborations, we know they are with us at all times, they are not always controllable – as a matter of fact, and they control us. But where are they? How, in fact, do our emotions control us? How can we make use of them?

We are all familiar with different types of emotional pain (loss, bitterness, despair, anxiousness, etc.), these emotions are usually experienced as a jammed situation in life that can either come to pass, appear alternately or accompany us all the time. What is the meaning of “jammed”? Where is it jammed? If we exchange the word “situation” with the word “movement” it will be possible to understand that these emotions are a jammed movement in the body, a strong reaction that resulted from a significant emotional experience. The intensity of the movement (the emotional experience) scared us, and became jammed in the body like a wave frozen while in motion – it is not in its initial state (meaning, something occurred that cannot be ignored) and yet it has not been concluded (there is no acceptance of the experience). The movement/emotion/wave is being held in mid-motion, a process that requires much energy. In time, the body tires of holding the “wave”, and so it weakens and physical symptoms begin to appear.

For example, an emotional experience or trauma such as humiliation or insult can make us afraid – this is a paralyzing fear, not a moving fear. In order to cope with the fear, we acquire certain habits and reactions in order not to feel and not experience the emotional trauma. There is no acceptance of the ordeal and no letting go of it. The experience is jammed in the stomach, because the most terrifying thing is giving it ample space. The body tires of the effort of holding it back and at some point stomach aches and digestive problems begin to surface. In a different situation, the feeling of anger is not given room because there is a fear of its manifestations. This individual will adapt a series of habits that enable him to not experience the intense anger, and so it builds up in the diaphragm or the stomach, breathing takes on a frozen motion, and the shoulders and neck become stiff, which creates a setting for migraines.

What can be done with jammed and frozen movements/emotions?

We can search for them in the body. The body can be a very simple working tool in dealing with aspects in our life towards which we have developed a long list of beliefs and justifications that restrict the course of our lives. Sometimes, the movement/experience is not completely frozen, sometimes something moves if breathed into, sometimes the area is painful of uncomfortable – this is where we divert attention to.

After paying attention there are two options: going with it or going against it.
When the movement is jammed, we breathe, pay attention and then feel how the tone becomes clearer. The physical feeling is spiced up: something angry, sad or perhaps exciting? Then it is possible to play, investigate and look into it. If you want to go along with the movement, then you must overplay it, exaggerate it and give it all the space that the fear of accepting it did not enable. For example, if a serious person notices a feeling of excitement, then he must start breathing fast short breaths and give excitement room it never received before, enabling it to get out of control, this is thawing the frozen state without knowing where it’s headed. The jammed movement will complete its course and the emotional experience will be exhausted.

It is also possible to go against the movement, jam the frozen movement even more. For example, when noticing anger assimilated in the jammed movement (for example in the diaphragm), you close onto it even further and not allow it the room it requires in the body. You contract the diaphragm so that the “spring” in the middle of it wanting to open, is closed even further until it can no longer be contracted. Then you let go and allow the body to do what it desires, allow the frozen movement to continue in its natural path. The fear, which up until that point closed in on the anger, is dissolved around the frozen movement, begins to flow and turns from paralyzing energy to moving energy. The movement that was jammed in the body unwinds like a spring and is released with force; there is no way to tell in which direction or manner the spring will bounce, perhaps the anger will turn into crying. When you let go, the body can surpass its own boundaries: we may feel flow, tremor, crying, yawning, sweating, etc. On the path opened up by the body, we can follow: surpassing our boundaries as well.

The emotional-physical processes mentioned here can be understood from learning through the body. This includes, among other things, sharpening attention to the body and learning basic physical qualities such as: quiet, contraction, resistance, letting go and more.

The thoughts brought forth here are a product of understandings from working with people through the body by the Grinberg method and inspired by the book “Fear, Pain and some other Friends” by Avi Grinberg.


An Early 20th Century Jewish Poet Writes About Do

By Yossi Sheriff

In Avraham Ben Yitzhak’s poem there are lines of great insight:

“Blessed are they who sow and do not reap

They shall wander afar”

Few lines afterwards he adds:

” Blessed are they who know

Their hearts will call out from the desert

And calm will blossom from their lips

Blessed are these

For they shall be gathered into the heart of the world

Wrapped in the Abaia of emptiness

No words will tell their endless destinies.

So beautifully written by a poet who was born in 1883 in Poland, and who probably never practiced martial arts.



By: Guy Renan

In Japan, Kami is regarded as a type of force that exists in nature. Sometimes it can take form, and be conceived as a real entity. But in essence Kami is not really defined and is without form.

The word god is not a suitable translation of Kami, but in Hebrew, as well as in English, there is no exact word for Kami, therefore, in many places Kami is translated as a god. It is said that Japan has eight million Kami; this is to say that Kami can be found in many places and phenomena. Certain places, objects or natural occurrences that have a certain presence or relay a certain feeling, can be Kami.

At times, Kami can exist even in animals and humans. Often people with special powers become Kami when they die. Some of the founders of different schools of martial arts in Japan are considered Kami. Kami is always related to nature, it is the epiphany of nature. The movie “Princess Mononoke” describes extremely well some of the concepts of Kami. One can get a better understanding from observing this film.

Kami is neither good nor evil, it has nothing to do with ethics, and it just is what it is. It can be beneficial and also harmful. The relationship between Kami and man depends on man’s conception and behavior. However, it does not require human attention in order to be, it exists even where there are no living beings. It may actually be much stronger in places where man is not prevalent.

As well as some of the veterans in AKBAN I envisage Kami as a sort of presence or power in certain places in nature. In Israel there are many places where you can feel it, especially in the barren relatively empty south of the country. When arriving in a place and feeling something different, something not sensed before, when seeing something or standing somewhere that arises certain feelings, these are signs of Kami. Some places create a certain atmosphere or feeling, while other places create a different feeling altogether. One must be very sensitive since our culture, the way we live our daily lives, have numbed our abilities to feel.

We’re not speaking of a being, but about nature that usually affect us in gentle and subtle ways, and sometimes in bursts of power. This power is always present, even when we do not sense it.