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Battlefield Strategies From Ancient Times Promise a Better Life Today

by chuck cory and max carr

enturies ago, the art of ninjutsu was born YOU CANNOT CONTROL YOUR

C into a world enveloped in war. That one fact

makes it vastly different from styles like
aikido and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which were
founded during peacetime. Because of its violent
childhood, ninjutsu matured into a system that fo-
At the foundation of ninjutsu lies the basic under-
standing that you have little to no control over your
attackers. Whether they're physical, psychological
cused on fighting methods that worked on the bat- or emotional sources of stress, to waste time fret-
tlefield, behind enemy lines and against multiple ting, panicking or denying the truth of the circum-
attackers. The art grew to encompass principles stances is to invite frustration. Or failure.
for psychological self-defense that enabled its ad- The inhabitants of the ninja villages in Japan's
herents to live out their lives on their own terms, Iga province were attacked almost daily. Instead
free from fear. of wallowing in their misery, they prepped them-
Those same principles are now used by military selves to function in fearful or stressful environ-
personnel around the world-even though they ments. Accounts abound of training sessions in
probably don't know where the teachings came which students ran through dark forests while
from. Because we all face adversity-granted, their partners waited for an opportunity to effect
it may not be as severe as that experienced by a surprise attack. By mastering their breathing,
a black-clad warrior 500 years ago or an Army their senses and their awareness, they were able
Ranger today-ninja wisdom is just as valuable in to function. What's more, they' learned how to re-
the 21st century as it ever was. main relaxed under stress.

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These days, sources of stress take on many forms. Daily it during their next one. They never allowed their egos to
challenges may not become real psychological or emotional get in the way of revisiting that vital first stage of learning.
threats until they start'to snowball. "It's not an expensive car Thomas Edison outlined this principle well: "I have not
repair," you might say. "It's just that I need the car to pick up my failed 700 times, I have not failed once. I have succeeded
cousin at the airport tomorrow. It wouldn't be a big deal, but in proving that those 700 ways will not work."
with my reduced hours at work .....
Just like the ninja of old, we can't control our environment, CONDITIONING YOURSELF WILL HELP YOU
but we can control ourselves. Remember to keep breathing, SUCCEED IN STRESSFUL ENVIRONMENTS.
smile and never lose your 360 degrees of awareness. You've The third principle is one that separates martial artists
no doubt read countless articles that explain the concept of from sports competitors, and it lies at the heart of nin-
"tunnel vision." Frustration, fear and anger can narrow your jutsu. Bruce Lee reminded us that the best training for
awareness to the origin of those emotions (your attacker). As a the event is the event. Separating excellent training from
result, you're exposed to the possibility of multiple assailants. mediocre training can be challenging because we nor-
This principle applies psychologically, too. Spend your time mally can't participate in the event we're training for. As
frustrated or angry over your circumstances, and you're liable explained above, however; the ninja were able to combine.
to miss out on opportunities that are dangling just outside your the actual event with their training, and they worked out
peripheral vision. Opportunity is present in every stressful sit- a system for learning from each attack.
uation. Recall how persecution and warfare helped transform A complete martial art trains you to remain comfort-
the ninja not only into survivors but also into legends.
able in stressful or dangerous environments. To do this, it
must push the boundaries of your comfort zone periodi-
THERE'S SOMETHING TO BE LEARNED FROM EVERY- cally to condition you to succeed under pressure. Modern
practitioners of the art accomplish this in many ways:
The ninja referred to this principle as shikin harimitsu dai- training with the lights off, defending themselves while
komyo, which roughly translates as "every moment holds the
wearing blindfolds or handcuffs, fending off multiple at-
potential for enlightenment." The ninja's enemies enjoyed su-
tackers, overcoming environmental obstacles and defus-
periority in numbers, weapons and supplies. The ninja, how- ing verbal attacks.
ever, realized there was one thing their enemies could not take _
Remember that the goal isn't to eliminate fear. It's to re-
away: their ability to learn something new from each encoun-
main comfortable in the face of fear and not be paralyzed
ter, This principle was embraced and eventually woven into by it. )0(
the fabric of ninjutsu.
The beauty of historical ninjutsu is that training and living About the author
were the same. The only thing that separated failure from A martial artist for 39 years, Chuck Cory has taught the FBI, DEA and
lesson learned was the mindset of the person involved. They regional law-enforcement agencies in the United States. Europe. Central
America, South America and Asia.
strived to take something new from each encounter and apply

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