Last year at Festival 41, we emphasized training in a very advanced ninja style combat called Santo Tonko no Kata, or “Method of the escaping rat”. This was a unique form of combat especially suitable for intelligence gatherers. If a spy had his cover blown and had to make an escape, he might have been blocked by the target’s samurai. The Santo Tonko no Kata shows principles for almost passively defeating an attack, permitting the ninja to escape. We win by going with any move the adversary throws, confusing and confounding him and allowing us to get out of there.
I made the comment that with today’s tendencies in courts of law, where nobody can predict what the judge will allow the trouble maker to get away with, and everybody making phone recordings of any unusual action, it might be a good idea to passively defeat an adversary and make a quick escape.
This year, at Festival 42, we will reverse the subtle emphasis. Let’s focus on direct mechanical tricks to better employ basic ninja taijutsu in ways that better guarantee our win. There is “ho-hum” mediocre ninja taijutsu that you can see on so many YouTube videos, where a teacher has not studied long enough to grasp the deeper secrets and just shows crude move-to-move technique. We are so beyond that. We want to give you actual tips on how to better use your timing, leverage, moving your center, and confounding your attacker’s expectations so that you will be more likely to win a direct conflict.
So which is better to use? Super subtle Santo Tonko no Kata from last year, or mechanically straightforward techniques from this coming Festival? The key is in perfecting both, so that your taijutsu develops in true ninja fashion where you are better able to prevail in any sort of self defense situation. You can rely on any of the lessons you have gone through and apply them reliably to the specific situation at hand.