OC Bujinkan

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How to Work Out for Ninjutsu

Getting in shape for ninjutsu training isn't essential, but can make life a lot easier. Please note: you should consult your physician before starting any exercise regiment, and ensure you're healthy enough for such activity. Here's some information to help you get in shape and keep fit for your training in the Bujinkan:


Junan Taiso - Calisthenics

Junan Undo No Gata
1. Ashi Yabi / Ashi Kubi no Undo

Sitting with the legs crossed and breathing comfortably, begin by turning the toes individually or in pairs, clockwise and then counterclockwise. Move now onto the soles of the feet, turning them upwards and pushing your thumbs deep into the arch of the foot. Then hold the ankle in one hand, the foot in the other, and rotate the ankle in circles, clockwise then counterclockwise. Finally, take the toes in your hands and bend them forward and backwards.
2. Ashi Soko Awase Zenkutsu

Like the butterfly stretch, sit straight with the soles of the feet together. Attempt to bring the knees to the floor using only the muscles of your legs. Occasionally, this  is done aided with two assistants holding the knees down by means of a rokushaku bo across your lap.
3. Ashi Hiroge Zenkutsu
Sitting on the floor, put your legs straight out in front of you. Spread them as wide as possible using only the muscles of your legs and hips, keeping your toes up and curled back. Without bending the knees, lay your chest against the floor.
4. Ashi Narabe Zenkutsu

Sitting on the floor, put your legs straight out in front of you. Perform a sit-and-reach, reaching straight out to touch your toes without bending your knees.
5. Ashi Age Kokutsu

Lay on the floor, face up, with your body straight and palms down against the floor. Bring the legs up to point straight upwards, then curl the back to support your body straight up, resting on your shoulders and arms, as in a “candle” position in yoga. Slowly lower your feet  to place them on the floor above your head. If you find this too difficult, return your legs to an upward pointing direction, keeping control as you move. If you find yourself unable to return to the “candle” position, tilting your head to one shoulder will allow you to execute a backward roll.
6. Sesuji Nobashi

Lay face down now, the body straight. Place both hands palms down on the floor at about the bottom of your ribcage, and push your shoulders up and letting your head fall back all while your hips stay against the ground. Take a moment to stretch the back and neck before pulling up your knees to sit in seiza. Do not move your hands throughout this stretch.
7. Kokutsu

From seiza, spread your feet slightly and sit back against the floor. Keeping your knees bent and against the floor, lower your back to the ground. When you’re able to keep your head and shoulders against the ground without straining your thighs too severely, stretch your arms over your head to elongate the trunk.
8. Shushi Kata Mawashi

While sitting in seiza to stretch the ankles, turn each finger in circles, clockwise and counterclockwise, giving each a few light tugs. Clasp the hands together and turn them in a figure-eight fashion. Roll the shoulders back then forward. Slowly rock the head back and forth, side to side, then gently roll it in first clockwise then counterclockwise directions. Finally, keeping the head still, move the eyes up, down, left, right and on the diagonals before rolling them clockwise and counterclockwise.
9. Hiza Koshi no Kushin

Standing naturally, rock back on the heels to stretch the Achilles’ Tendon, then rock forward on the toes to compress it. Bend the knees and waist a few times, then roll each knee and the waist clockwise and counterclockwise. Then roll the arms clockwise then counterclockwise.
10. Teashi no Furi Mawashi

Standing naturally, swing the arms to and fro. Repeat this action for each leg as well.
Additional Conditioning
These exercises are intended to be done by using tendon strength and the dynamics carried from breathing to help you exceed your capacity. This does not mean that they need not be practiced. These are exercises I learned outside the Bujinkan, but feel directly relate to the soul of the art we study -- the use of the body in the most economical manner.
Effortless Pushups
To perform effortless pushups, take your proper push-up position: feet together, body straight and taught, hands about shoulder width apart. Curl the fingertips down into the ground, then lower yourself down as you inhale, then exhale sharply to launch yourself upward. Do as many as you can consecutively. 
Try different variations on the standard pushup, including military, knuckle, fingertip, and diamond.
Effortless Situps
To perform effortless situps, lay flat on your back, completely relaxing and letting your arms and legs sink straight against the floor. As you inhale, focus your breathing in your midsection and allow your body to rise up into a sitting position, your legs still flat against the ground. Lower yourself back down as you exhale. Do as many as you can in 1 minute.
Once you’re comfortable with the basic form, perform the situps with the legs bent, then turned to the side to work the obliques. If they become too simple, consider adding weighted plates.
Effortless Running
This is a little more difficult to describe: Stand in a natural posture (shizen no kamae if this is your second time through this book), and lean forward. Let your foot come out naturally and reflexively to catch you. Keep your arms down at your sides and let your momentum continue to carry you forward. The process is that of perpetually catching yourself gently in a natural manner. Let your breathing rise and fall naturally, and, when short of breath, change your pattern. In this manner, you can run quickly for greater distances with little effort. Practice to reach 2 miles in the time listed below for your age group.
Planks and Side-Planks
To build core strength, it’s advised that you be able to perform plank and side-plank exercises, holding the positions for one minute. Plank position is similar to a push up position, with the legs straight back and together, but your upper body resting on your forearms, your elbows directly under your shoulders. By pulling in the core muscles (abdominals, obliques, and lower back muscles), you engage the whole girdle, but this position’s greatest focus will be on the abdominals. To target each oblique, you’ll need to do a side-plank.
To perform the side-plank, move into plank position, then lift yourself up on one side, resting still on the elbow, but this time rather than being on the toes, you’ll be resting on the side of the foot, with the other on top. For most people, the side-plank is more difficult, and will demand more effort.



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