Disruptor: Michael Jones
Michael Jones has trained in the Bujinkan for 19 years. He has traveled all over the world including Japan numerous times, having been fortunate enough to gain valuable insight into martial arts from some of the world's leading practitioners. He’s also been fortunate enough to be able to cross train through Muay Thai and Systema which has also added to his understanding of body movement.
He and his partner Randa Richards run Kunoichi/Shinobi Dojo, Cardiff Martial Arts Academy in South Wales, U.K.
Find out why he prefers Ninjutsu as a life-long practice.
Rank: Judan (10th Dan)
Style: Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu (Ninjutsu)
Where he teaches: Kunoichi/Shinobi Dojo, Cardiff Martial Arts Academy, South Wales, U.K.
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*Due to editorial limitations, parts of this interview may have been abbreviated.
Black Belt+: Who or what inspired you to take the path of Ninjustu?
Michael: I happened across Ninjutsu by chance. An extended family member took it up and quickly sold me on its application. I hadn’t heard of it before and I was excited to give it a try. Within a few months I was hooked and although I have cross trained in other martial arts, I always stayed loyal to Ninjutsu above all others as it is the best fit for myself. My extended family member didn’t train for much longer but I continued to diligently turn up three times a week to try and improve my skill set.
Black Belt+: Tell us about the art form you teach?
Michael: Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu was created by Hatsumi Sensei with the approval of his sensei before him, Takamatsu Sensei. Hatsumi Sensei wanted to bring Ninjutsu into the 20th Century and expand so it was no longer transmitted through family lines. He then created the Bujinkan from a set of 9 Ninjutsu and Jujutsu schools. He would then begin accepting Western students, who would introduce the art to the rest of the world.
Although it is steeped in tradition and was originally designed for combat in Japan, it can easily be adapted to modern conflict. The art itself teaches a mixture of hand to hand techniques as well as using an array of weapons from the Staff, Sword and bo shuriken to name a few.
With heavy emphasis on movement, distance and timing, Ninjutsu aims to confound an opponent with a mixture of skill and strategy. It's not just about being able to hit hard for us, but also knowing when to hit and where to hit. Choosing to manipulate what we can control to most effectively overcome what we can’t control.
Black Belt+: Tell us about your master?
Michael: Although I frequently train abroad with various practitioners from across Europe, most of my training is transmitted to me by Sensei Ryan Hobbs who I train with twice a week. He initially had a background in sporting martial arts but chose to follow a different path when he found the Bujinkan. He is an unassuming man with little interest in recognition of any kind. He has a keen attention to detail which makes him a very conscientious teacher with a wealth of knowledge to impart. As well as Sensei Ryan Hobbs I also train every couple of months with Sensei Marc Moor. He is a particularly dynamic teacher who has a wealth of real world experience whilst working close protection.
Black Belt+: Describe the training in Japan?
Michael: The training in Japan is vastly different to what we do back home. It is of a much higher level and I would also say that the training is generally less physical. The basics are expected to have been mastered in your own time and training so that they can concentrate more on subtlety and the feeling of a technique. All the hard training and conditioning tends to happen in the earlier phases of our martial arts education. In Japan you are more likely to be put on the floor without quite realising how it happened or find yourself distracted by a technique that you think is being applied only to find it was another technique altogether. The Japanese rarely feel the need to knock you to the floor (although they can with astonishing force) but prefer to capture your balance and then let you believe you have regained your balance before taking it again.