Epic Showdown - The art of overcoming fear through mindless repetition in training.




This is a photo from a Bujinak Budo Taijutsu seminar I attended back in 2011. This picture was from a demonstration of sword against a hanbo (3 ft wooden staff). I am in a face off with my sensei who is wearing samurai armor from the Tokugawa Shogunate, this armor suit specifically would have been worn by a general in the Daku Akuma army.


Even in a controlled environment, staring into the face of someone wearing this suit is a very intimidating experience. The Japanese were masters of using fear techniques and mental warfare as a tool in their arsenal.


In training it is imperative that one learns to master techniques by drilling them in training 1000's of times in an effort to remove the "mind" from the technique. We train to develop muscle memory in an attempt to have the body go into "auto pilot" in a conflict situation.


This is the only way. In a true conflict, especially a life or death scenario, thinking is too slow. You can not take time to analyze your next move, you can not rely on analyzing your opponents movement, instead you must train your body to move fluidly and simply react to the situation using techniques that just "manifest" themselves out of nothing. In doing this it improves your reaction time, as well as it eliminates fear and intimidation techniques from the enemy.


Often times in a dojo situation black belts and advance students scoff at the idea of going over low level techniques. Everyone wants to get in there and work through advanced techniques, grappling, throwing, and high level weapon techniques. No one wants to spend an entire class on going over and perfecting balance and foot placement in ichimunji no kame, or spend an entire class working on blocking or san shin movements. There should never come a point in your journey that you believe you have "mastered" any technique. There is never a point that you have evolved to not needing the basics.


This is why it is so important to stress test your training. When you introduce full randori (sparring) into training with a non-compliant opponent, you will quickly see that the techniques you have flowed through that look movie quality in your training will break down in actual combat. You have to drill and drill and drill until your body utilizes muscle memory to do technique without any thought at all. Make no mistake in actual combat your technique is still going to turn sloppy, however it will hold up better the more you train the basics.


The more you study combat, the more you come to realize that the basics will keep you alive. The more time you spend doing those mindless drills that everyone hates, the better the outcome will be if and when you ever have to use it.


As the old proverb goes "it is better to be a warrior in a garden, than a gardener in the war". This speaks volumes as it perfectly explains that we should prepare for war each and every day, while praying for peace with every breath we take. This will help you to prepare yourself in the event that you ever need to use it.


~nimpo ikkan! and until next time.

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