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Ninjutsu Master Interview Part 3

Ninjitsu Training

[Adrian]: Welcome to the third and final part of an exclusive pod cast from the websites of the BBD. In this final part, I started by asking Brian McCarthy, head of the BBD what there Ninjitsu training is like.

[Brian]: We have a very comprehensive syllabus, Adrian , whereby we try to bring our students… we seek to bring our students into an understanding of what's called body movement. Body movement is extremely important. We add to that a whole range of empty hand and weapon techniques. It's very, very physical, very strenuous training, but it's done in the sense of people can train to their own standards, their own levels, their own age group, their own physical fitness. We overview them to try and have them bring themselves forward, make themselves better, faster, stronger. But it's not a regime that is fixed, where people have to perform X amount of technique at any given time. The whole concept of BBD Ninjitsu training is to make the person flow, to make them natural, to make them relaxed and at the same time improve their health, improve their whole outlook and their confidence for themselves as people, as well as martial artists.

[Adrian]: So some people may perceive and presume that this is about making hard-bodied warriors. Would you suggest that this is actually the development of self?

[Brian]: It's a development of self and if you become a hard-bodied warrior in the interim, well then so be it.

[Adrian]: What makes the BBD and Ninjitsu different from the other martial arts?

[Brian]: A number of things in the sense that we don't… inside Ninjitsu … we don't look on Ninjitsu effectively as a martial art. We look at it as an art of strategy that uses martial ways. Martial arts are pigeonholed and so forth as being kick, punch, throw, lock, hold and that's it. Ninjitsu teaches people how to win, how to overcome different aspects of difficulties in their life, be they physical aspects, be they emotional aspects, be they personal aspects… we're trying to build a strong character in the person using the strategies of Ninjitsu . Part of that is yes, using martial art technique. But I mean I can teach you how to knock someone out in an hour so we don't have to spend the rest of 15 years, we're gonna be together doing something else. So Ninjitsu is more than about just kick and punch.

[Adrian]: Do you allow anybody to train?

[Brian]: Do I allow anybody to train? I'll have to say no, I would want to look at who were training. And in the broad sense, yes, anyone ? it is possible anyone can train but we have a strict vetting policy in all our dojos. All the dojos we have are run independently by black belts in the various areas and these are the people that I have a huge amount of faith and confidence in, and they meet with the new students, new prospective students. They'll talk to them, they'll fill out an application form verbatim. Once people meet that criteria, well you know that they're a decent honest person, well then yes. They're welcome to train.

[Adrian]: Do you try and stick to traditional training?

[Brian]: We stick to our traditional training, our traditional values and we improvise, we look to explore, we look to expand because if you're a practicing a martial artist, it's inherent in that you are looking for new strategies. So we cannot always look backwards and say that's all. We can look backwards and say that's what we have in the past and what we have in tradition, but the world is changing, methods of travel are changing, methods of living are changing, methods of transportation are changing. Why not methods of martial arts and ways of doing things?

[Adrian]: Is it true that some grading is done behind closed doors and not for public consumption?

[Brian]: In fact, all gradings are done behind closed doors, not just some of them. All our gradings are done in our dojos or done in sports centers that we would use and when student grading starts there's a possibility that some members of the public would be asked. Generally, those members of the public would be family members and so forth, but all black belt gradings are done in private.

[Adrian]: Why is that?

[Brian]: Because it's not necessary to have the public there. They wouldn't understand what was going on. The people in Ninjitsu , in particular in the BBD, they know exactly what is the requirements of black belts are, and to have anyone else there would be unnecessary. If the particular black belt or the person going for a black belt wanted someone to be present personally there then that's not a problem; that's an invitation, but it's not generally open to the public.

[Adrian]: You know I asked you a question earlier about whether it had ? Ninjitsu had such a relevance to today's society. How do you find today's youth when they join your organization. Is it any different from how it was 20 years ago when you first started the organization?

[Brian]: Twenty years ago, when people joined, when young people joined, they were more susceptible to physical activity I find toay young people are less physical I blame…it's a personal thing I have…I blame the Gameboy-Xbox for that. But having said that, young people today…and I see them all over Europe…there's a fantastic opportunity for us all to develop our young people. And the young people who come to the BBD are some of the most bravest, funniest, wittiest kids I've ever come across. All they need is guidance, all they need is a little bit of tradition, a little bit of physical activity where you can begin to mold them and for them to mold themselves ? into worthwhile human beings.

[Adrian]: Again it's this development of self.

[Brian]: Yes.

[Adrian]: A lot of people within the martial circles, within the martial arts circles, they want to be a black belt, and in some arts that can be done in maybe a couple of years. Is a black belt difficult to achieve in the BBD?

[Brian]: A black belt is pretty difficult to achieve. It takes about 6 years… it's a personal thing…sometimes 7 years, depending on the individual because as I said earlier, Adrian, we would only let a person go as far as they themselves can go. We will not build the person up to something that they are not. We won't fool people. So on average, it will take 6 years to get to be a shodan, to be first dan black belt. It is a long, hard road. The person has to put a lot of work into it.

[Adrian]: Just a little thought that came into my head there, Brian. You as a teacher…I did ask you how do you keep wanting to learn, the hunger to learn. Is it now still your teacher that's the inspiration or is it that your students are your inspiration?

[Brian]: I would say, there are three parts to that answer. Hatsumi Sensei will always be an inspiration to me. On the personal level he will always be an inspiration to me. My students are forever teaching me things, letting me see things in the most unusual ways ? how they oppose things, how they do things. And thirdly, the world as it is, life as it is, is my teacher. So I've got three teachers I figure, Adrian .

[Adrian]: Ok, a couple more questions before we round it up. Is Ninjitsu about the development of self, as I said earlier, or the Hollywood vision of running around in black with a sword stamped to your back?

[Brian]: Certainly the first ? development of the self. We don't wear masks, we don't put swords in our back.

[Adrian]: And if people want to find out more about the BBD and/or Ninjitsu , where can they find it, Brian?