Munchen 2006

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Whenever a Ninja of feudal Japan went on a Mission and returned safely, it was customary for him to make a report to the elders of the tribe so that they might evaluate what he had learned and gather intelligence about things outside the tribal domain. Many times this was done by reciting the events in one long verbal de-briefing session. Either to a designated Chunin, or middle level agent. Or, to the Grand Mute. This was usually a statue where a sentry would be positioned behind or nearby to overhear the report spoken to the stone face. Or, a masked figure who did not speak, so that no one knew for sure to whom the report was made. This was part of the security of the clans so that the real leaders of the Ninja were not known even to their most loyal followers. That way they could not be betrayed even under torture.

The following activity report was made verbally to the Grand Mute upon Kim-Sensei’s return from Munich and was de-classified on 9 September 2006 for publication and distribution among our martial arts fellowship.

1045– 31 August-Thursday

Sensei Andreas Leffler stepped lightly forward from the crowd awaiting friends and family at Johann Strauss International Airport. We knew each other from previous meetings and training, so no recognition code or device was necessary. He is a tall man. About twenty hands at the shoulder, thirteen or so stone in weight. [Secret Ninja measurement system used to confuse the enemy– one hand equals 4 inches, or 10.16 centimeters; one stone equals fourteen pounds avoirdupois] Short, light brown, curly hair, with high cheekbones and a quick, friendly smile. We shook hands and headed for his transport, travelling with no checked luggage. Sensei is the Grandmaster of the Honbu Dojo, Germany and well known martial arts book publisher in Bavaria. He is the only sanctioned distributor of the DOJO Press catalog and my humble literary efforts in Europe. He briefed me on the weather. Had been the coldest August on record for 250 years. Suddenly cleared and became quite warm and sunny upon my arrival. Average 23 degrees Celsius, or about 80 Fahrenhiet. Munich was bright and shiny as we drove into the city.


The city was founded next to an already existing settlement of monks called Munichen by the Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria. The village grew around St.Peter church next to a bridge, that Henry initially built over the river Isar to force traders to use his bridge and, of course charge them for doing so, he destroyed a nearby bridge owned by bishop Otto von Freising. The bishop and Henry quarreled about the city before the emperor at a Imperial Diet held in Augsburg in 1158. Henry's toll collection scheme was finally sanctioned by paying a yearly compensation to the bishop. Munich's trading and currency rights were confirmed by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. Almost two decades later in 1175 Munich was granted city status and fortified.

In 1180, with the trial of Henry the Lion, Otto I Wittelsbach became Duke of Bavaria and Munich was handed over to the bishop of Freising. Otto's heirs, the Wittelsbach dynasty would rule Bavaria until 1918. In 1240 Munich itself was transferred to Otto II Wittelsbach and in 1255, when the dukedom of Bavaria was split in two, Munich became the ducal residence of Upper Bavaria.

Duke Louis IV was elected German king in 1314 and crowned as Holy Roman Emperor in 1328, Munich was his residence. He strengthened her position by granting the city the salt monopoly, thus assuring her of additional income. In 1327 most of the city was destroyed by a fire but was rebuilt, extended and protected with a new fortification some years later. Since the citizenry several times revolted against the dukes a new castle was built close to the fortification from 1385 onwards. In the late 15th century Munich went to a time of revival of gothic arts, the Old Town Hall was enlarged and a new Frauenkirche constructed from 1468 onwards within only twenty years, the cathedral has become a symbol for the city with its two brick onion topped towers.

When Bavaria was reunited in 1506 Munich became capital of the whole of Bavaria. The arts and the policy were more and more dominated by the court. During the 16th century Munich was a center of German counter reformation but also of renaissance arts. Duke Wilhelm V created the Hofbräuhaus for brewing brown beer in 1589.

Munich was the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics, during which Israeli athletes were assassinated by Palestinian terrorists. Gunmen from the Palestinian "Black September" group took hostage members of the Israeli Olympic team. A rescue attempt by the West German government was unsuccessful and resulted in the deaths of the Israeli hostages, five of the terrorists and one German police officer.

Several games of the 1974 World Cup were held in the city. It was the stage of the German triumph against the Netherlands in a legendary final. In 2006 it was again host to several games, including the opening match of the FIFA 2006 World Cup Soccer. Germany faced italy in the final and lost the match despite widespread popular support.

The current Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising on June 29, 1951. Ratzinger served as Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.

As Europe's largest economy and most populous nation, Germany remains a key member of the continent's economic, political, and defense organizations. European power struggles immersed Germany in two devastating World Wars in the first half of the 20th century and left the country occupied by the victorious Allied powers of the US, UK, France, and the Soviet Union in 1945. With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949: the western Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the eastern German Democratic Republic (GDR). The democratic FRG embedded itself in key Western economic and security organizations, the EC, which became the EU, and NATO, while the Communist GDR was on the front line of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. The decline of the USSR and the end of the Cold War allowed for German unification in 1990. Since then, Germany has expended considerable funds to bring Eastern productivity and wages up to Western standards. In January 1999, Germany and 10 other EU countries introduced a common European exchange currency, the euro.

We arrived at Sensei Leffler's apartment and cleaned up from the flight and had a quick meal before heading to his Dojo for the evening class where we met with Head Sempai Marco Walbrecker and was privileged to participate in the graduation and testing of student Andre Fiedler to 5th Kyu in Kurokumo Bushido.

The test began with physical stress. Calesthenics not just to "warm up." That had already been done with the entire class. No, this was to bring the student almost to exhaustion, thus testing both his physical and mental concentration. Then the demonstration of stances and Taijitsu, followed by basic techniques, solo to demonstrate balance and against the pads and bags to demonstrate impact and focus. By now he was breathing quite heavily, but moved on without pause to the formal exercises of Ippon Kumite and Kata. Lastly came Randori, free sparring against the senior instructor. At this level the emphasis is on evasion and avoidance rather than counter-attacking, although some responses are allowed. At last it was over and he gratefully accepted the congratulations of the class and the certificate of Promotion.

After class we returned to town and had a fine meal of seafood and pasta coutesy of Red Belt Martina Grandl. Then, a long chat into the night about the upcoming event.

0900– 1 September-Friday

The Dojo was located nearby. We met with the students who planned to attend the weekend seminar. They had come from all over, Bavaria, Austria, Holland, even Russia.

The class was called to order by the muted striking of a large Dragon Gong in the northeast corner window. Sensei Leffler welcomed the assembled martial artists and introduced me most graciously.

We began with meditation. Practicing Hsi Men Jitsu, the Way of the Mind Gate, we circled our arms to summon the Qi and regulated the breath to harmonize our spirits. Kuji Kiri, the Nine Gates Method to elevate the Qi up the spine was discussed and performed to reach a deeper level of mind and concentration. There we found the Magic Mirror and explored the Inner Sanctum and practiced the Six Healing Breaths.

Awakening from the relaxation exercise we stretched and let the blood flow back into our legs by doing some of the Eight Pieces of Brocade movements, then stood for a short break.

Next we began study of the Five Element Fist. This included direction of movement, specific breathing exercises for each, fist/slide-step/block for each element, tactical application of angles and strikes, as well as how the elements interact to neutralize and enhance each other in accordance with the Laws of Acupuncture. Solo practice drills, then with partners until the movements were smooth and efficient.

After lunch we moved on to the Eight Trigrams Method. This is another symbolic exercise that that teaches many subliminal lessons of balance and leverage. The primary practice of which is "walking the circle" in order to develop proper execution of the classic Ninja Cross Step, the fundamental technique of the art of Ninjitsu.

As the final technique of the day we worked on the Vertical Fist. A short, dynamic punch that can be used at close range to stun an opponent or break his nose using only four ounces of pressure.

After class we adjourned to a nearby beer garden for ribs, fries, and, of course, beer!

0900– 2 September-Saturday

DAY TWO began with a short review of the first day's material and meditation. Then we spoke about the history fo the Ninja and how their mystic art was developed. From there we worked on some of the Vanishing Methods. Such as the Duck-Under-Go-Behind, Kasumi and Metsubishi-Ko to make the opponent blink so an escape or strike can be made, Mi Lu Pivot to get behind the enemy and "ride the tiger" by remaining out of sight and reach of his strikes, armlocks, wristlocks, throws, takedowns and escapes were shown and practiced so that all had a chance to develop the basic skills of Ninja invisibiity based on the principles of the previous drills and symbolic references.

After lunch we practiced Leg Breaking. First by pressure of your own knee against the opponent's. Then by striking with the fist or foot. Then by using the Spinning Back Leg Sweep to suddeny drop out of sight (vanish) and knock the enemy's legs out from under him so you can escape. And, the Forward Leg Sweep, using a low Roundhouse Kick to kick the enemy's knee, ankle, or shin, drop him to his knees and disable. As well as the Drop Toe Hold or Leg Scissors Technique as a follow-up or stand alone method of bringing the enemy to the mat face down so he can neither see you (vanish) nor strike back.

That night, we had a wonderful dinner in the garden of Martina's parent's home in Munich. The architecture and furnishings were quite lovely. Hardwood floors, spiral staircase, beautiful paintings on the walls, and the craftsmanship of construction that showed both excellence and quality. It was a merry time, chatting, discussing martial arts, philosophy, movies, politics. Nor could the food have been better. Had never tasted "real" German potato salad before. But found it to be excellent. There was bread, cheese, salad, chicken, chocolate and tarts, wine and beer. We talked long into the night. And parted eager for another day of training together.

0900– 3 September-Sunday

We greeted each other as friends that Sunday morning, glad to be once more assembled, but a little sad at the thought of parting when the day was over.

Once more we calmed our minds and began the Great Work.

DAY THREE we were familiar with the Relaxation Ritual. We reviewed what had gone before, discussed some lingering questions, and opened the floor to suggestions. We decided to practice the Hidden Dagger Form from Cloak and Dagger. Everyone was equipped with a bokken, shinai, wooden tanto or hanbo to practice a drill that teaches how to conceal the knife for self defense advance and retreat, how to slash every major vein and artery of the head, neck and limbs, and impale the enemy should he dare to rush forward.

A short break for lunch and we moved on to the stealth techniques. Serpent Step, the Dragon and Rushing Steps, the means and methods of creeping up on a Sentry and unbalancing him from behind or capturing him with a Sleeper Hold or Sentry Removal Technique. All were explained and practiced by those assembled. Ninjitsu, you see, is not just about fighting or living a long and healthy life. It is also a way of acting invisibly. And that, is what makes martial artists of any style or system natural leaders. For, not only are we capable of acting in self defense, we are also willing and able to intervene and restore balance when required. And these skills will be needed in the coming days. Thus, the mood of the warrior is waiting. Waiting for the enemy to appear. Then, it will be our time to shine. Until then, we train, we practice to perfect our skills and abilities, so that we may set a good example for all. This is the Silent Way, neither bragging, nor taking credit. Merely doing what must be done. If not us, who? If not now, when?

We adjourned and took some pictures together to remember the event and all we had said and done. There was some good natured joking as I did a short Bo Staff drill and balanced on the pole like the Monkey King. When all was said and done, we bid Auf Wiedersehen and parted to our seperate ways.

Some of the guys from Holland joined Sensei Leffler, Martina and I for a drive to Lundsberg, a nearby 500 year old village favored by tourists and Bavarians alike for a walking tour of the ancient walls and towers. This is, of course, one of the great joys of traveling. Seeing these sites of antiquity and history. Marveling at the skill mit must have taken to construct them with primitive tools, picturing them as they must have been in olden days. Truly a joy to behold.

Flying out of Johann Strauss International Airport the next morning we bid a fond farewell to all our friends in Germany. May you live long and prosper and may the Force be with you. Till next we meet... Danke Schoen!

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Ashida Kim
American Representative
DOJO-Academy of Martial Arts

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