Step by step learning

Like any skill learning Bujinkan can at times be frustrating for new people, for people who have never done any martial art everything can appear to be complicated and difficult, for people who have trained in another martial art the techniques and movements can appear to be counter intuitive especially if your previous training has emphasized something else (grappling or striking in a particular fashion).

I addition Bujinkan does not have a strict linear syllabus as some other martial arts do, instead you may do a variety of techniques, but with a particular emphasis on movement or positioning.

To assist learning a particular technique (especially one I am having difficulty with) I tend to break techniques into a series of steps, based on movement of the body, usually in the following order.

1. Feet

2. Posture

3. Arms/hands

For me I feel that this particular order is important, if your feet are in the wrong place, you are likely to have the wrong posture which means your arms and hands may not be correct for that particular posture.

Often I see new students focusing on what they are trying to do with their hands, forgetting their feet and forgetting their posture, the result is often an ineffective technique, resulting in frustration.

To prevent this I personally try first moving my feet to the appropriate position, after I have done that, adjust my posture and then hands and arms, if necessary I will simply focus on the foot movement several times without doing anything else to ensure my movement is correct, once I am sure I am stepping correctly I consider my posture, once that is correct then my hand and arms.

Jumping to step 3 is likely to ensure that steps 1 and 2 are incorrect and if step 1 is incorrect step 2 will be by default incorrect, repeating a technique incorrectly will not help you learn the technique no matter how many time you do it.

This routine may need to be repeated several times in one technique, for example.

1. Step to the side (feet).

2. Turn body to opponent (posture).

3. Guard (hand/arms)

4. Step in (feet).

5. Rotate hips to generate energy for strike (posture)

6. Strike with hand arms (hand/arms).

This linear step by step approach should not be mistaken as how to do a particular martial art, rather just as a method on how to learn a particular martial art, consider it simply as scaffolding while you build your techniques, eventually your movements should with repetition become more natural and be done without thought (using muscle memory), so that eventually your movements will flow and blend rather than be a series of steps.