This Friday (9.11.2012) at 16:00, I finished the most difficult and excruciating training session I have ever done. It was a present I gave myself towards my approaching 50th birtday – I have finished a brilliant 24 hour – nonstop sparring. It was extreme, at times it was close to impossible, it was beautiful.
The AKBAN “24” starts at 16:00, continues through the night, with no sleep or rest, and concludes at next day’s sunset, at 16:00. Only few minutes are allowed every hour and these are devoted to streching and replenishing callories. After these five minutes we change partners and continue sparring (striking, kicking, throws and ground work) for another hour. AKBAN Academy members were documented for the Guiness book of records in 2003 (Hebrew link), then, because of a rare October heat wave, we were stopped by the resident M.D. required by Guiness because many were becoming dehidrated. The AKBAN fitness routine prepares us well – We have done Marathons and Ultras, but this “24” is the toughest, most difficult thing we do.
I would like to commend all those veterans who came, and for some reason, could not stand on their feet and had to stop, this time. Coming for a “24”, with the severe weather we had, is an corageous thing, and giving the sparring all you got is the goal itself. It is no secret that at the 2003 and 2004 “24” I had to stop and rest. The way you gave this session your best inspires me – thank you!
For many reasons (mainly because we had a severe weather warning) I cancelled all the TV crews and photographers that were comming to document our stragle. It was for the best. With no worries, no social scene to take care of, I was free for the first time in many years to fight this one myself, and fight I did because of the star veterans team I had with me on the mountain this year.
In a stark contrast to the 2004 freak hail storm (Hebrew link) we had, the mountain’s Kami hugged us with the most spectacular lightning storm we have ever seen. For hours, the western horizon, sometimes as close as the near Summits, was lit by the dangerous and illuminating lightning strikes. On both sides of the mountain it rained, but we felt only few drops and enjoyd the benevolence of a daytime protective cloud cover that cleared, on demand, at sunset.
I am full of gratitude and respect to AKBAN instructors who were my amazing sparring partners: Navot Tamari headmaster of Pardes Hana AKBAN dojo, Elad Nagar headmaster of Haifa dojo, Assaf Hochman headmaster of Modiin Reut dojo, Lior Katz headmaster of Rehovot dojo. Also big hugs and thanks to the black belts I fought with through the long night: Yuval, Guy, Carmel, Ran, Raam. Thank you all, my friends, may God bless you. See you next year at the AKBAN “24”.
A refreshing article describes training outside in Karate as a necessary part of the student’s regime.
The writer of the article, who practices old school Chibana Chosin Shorin Ryu and Ryukyu Kobudo, writes about old school karate groups that used to go out in Okinawa and practice in the dark of night.
I enjoyed reading about other martial arts and schools that like us, in Akban, use the benefits and the real advantage of training outside.
There is absolutely no substitute to outside training, a person who learned stepping only inside a dojo will be missing an important aspect of combat and will also have many other deficits that will inhibit his growth in martial arts. This is especially important in these modern times when everything that surrounds us is urban and man made. link to the Karate article
The AKBAN way of doing martial art is intricately connected with training outside. Martial arts training, whether it is Ninjutsu or other Koryu from other parts of the world, took place outside. This background was so clear and obvious that it was not spoken of, just as we do not speak about going and opening a tap to take a shower. But there was a time, not long ago in the lifespan of our species that the Dojo was the outside, not a mattress in a training hall.
In our core martial art, Budo Ninjutsu, one cannot understand many techniques and moves without training and validating the system in the setting it was designed in. This is so well understood that the instructors and veterans in our martial school have this as a rare consensus; one cannot be qualified in AKBAN without spending time outside.
Ancient systems (Ryu) that went into the Bujinkan and other Takamazu-den schools were created in a natural outside setting and not in a dojo or even urban environment (some techniques in Takagi, Koto and Gyokko Ryu might be an exception).
We know this not only from researching old Japanese manuscripts but from watching and doing reverse Kata analysis on the existing curriculum we practice.
Many things that once were obvious, like walking from one place to another, necessitate an extra effort today. Being outside, moving through the terrain out there was not so long ago one of the prerequisites that surrounded the warriors and other people, people lived with less protection and padding from the outside. Today, we control our water with a twist of the tap; we set the temperatures of our protecting cube and light up our nights with the flick of a switch. This is news, people used to go to the river or well, isolate themselves with garments, not air-conditioning and move – a warrior that wanted to train with an instructor had to walk there, a warrior going to battle had to actually go, and everybody had to sleep outside every once in a while.
The outside abilities we resurrected in our school were once the common and very important background for every human being, warriors included.
Urban outside and forests
In some martial arts and systems the practitioner learns how to conduct himself in society, in a conflict happening with other people. In Budo Ninjutsu we try to teach the imperative human confrontation but we never forget the nights, the clouds and the outdoors.
In Israel we have many things different from current day Japan; the people are different, the animals, the sun, many things; but we take what we learned from the essence of our martial art, we might adapt the ingredients but not the essence. So we will drink water from springs, make tea in an old wabi sabi kettle, eat some biscuits, carry our weapons according to our walking style, eat more dust in one day then the whole Iga prefecture village might eat in a year, put on a big brim hat or Kaffiya. We adapt the details to the surrounding, but not the essence – the outside is not for the romantically inclined – it’s too tough, the outside is for everyone willing to pay the price of feeling free, the price of hard work.
I grew up in my teacher’s Dojo. I was only thirteen.
We started training in Doron Navon’s old house, he used to live in Afeka. After a year we moved to an old henhouse, cleaned the rubbish, painted and Doron planted a bamboo, dark green and lovely. Everything taking place in such a fitting address: Number 3, Flowers St. between vast empty fields and Kiryat Shaul, the cemetery of Tel Aviv.
Many things happened since, the old hen house is now an interiour design shop and I became a nomad, a travelling Ninjutsu instructor in many Dojo: At the bomb shelter in Jerusalem where every winter we waded to our knees in sewage, at the school corridor in Tel Aviv and at the baby gimbory place in Ramat Hasharon, practicing underneath huge pink elephants- funny. Just like an old indian would say:”Many winters…” and for me many years, many training mats to lift, many toilets to clean.
I do not need a Dojo, I do not need a special training apparel every morning when I practice, most of the times I just do my morning duties in my pajamas. The real estate Dojo is not important, It is temporary, but it is still the place to meet veteran friends and to exchange insights. My Dojo has been Mount Eitan, repeating an old Katori kata for the thousand time, or even this web site and the hidden part of it, the vast AKBAN database where I can talk and learn.
The real Dojo is now an interior decorating shop but my hidden Dojo will never be a shop, it existes under the power of friendship, and passion for martial arts. I tell myself: If we can understand this we can relax. It is easy.
In Japan, a stay in the field went without saying in ancient times. A warrior would pass through the field on his way to battle or his teacher. A warrior would sleep in the field during this stay. There were people who mastered the art of being in the Japanese terrain: the mountains, the valleys and forests, which changed them. These were the Yamabushi, those who â€œsleep outsideâ€.
A martial art can exist very nicely without spending any time outdoors. But some of us think of such an art as a weak new creation and synthetic. In the martial art we practice the old paths play an important role. This connection to old ways is an option, not a necessity, much like the practice of the sword is a very old path, one which not all veterans choose to take.
I try to walk both new and old paths. The newer ones because of their comfort, the excitement, for entertainment or just because itâ€™s necessary. The old paths I walk for the benefit of my soul.