I made this interview with shihan Ed Martin Papa San during his seminar in Macedonia (17/18.05.2008)
I. Dovezenski: In the Bujinkan world you are known as Papa-san. Can you
tell us how you got that nickname?
Ed Martin: On my first trip to train in Japan
in 1988, I took my three daughters along to also train. In the first
class with Dr. Hatsumi he looked at me and my daughters and said
“Papa-san”. Well it stuck and Ive been called that in Japan ever since
and others have copied them.
I. Dovezenski: When did you start practicing ninjutsu and who was your first teacher?
Ed Martin: When my oldest daughter became 16 years old
and got her drivers license, I sought martial art training for them. I
never wanted them to be victims. We started in Shorin ryu karate under
Ken Serfass. That would
have been in 1982. I trained along with my daughters. After about a year
training in karate our instructor went to a ninjutsu seminar and brought
back what he had seen. It was so much better then what we were doing
that the whole school switched to ninjutsu. Then it was trying to get
training as that was not readily available. Even information was very
hard to come by. Learning by trial and error is very hard on ones body!
I. Dovezenski: Can you explain the difference between ninjutsu in the past and nowdays?
Ed Martin: In the early 80s it was almost impossible
to get good information. Today it is readily available and there are
both good written and
excellent video information if you are willing to seek it out. There are
also many qualified and excellent instructors now. When I started we
could not even find out what the “Kihon Happo” was or what techniques
were included in it. We know this Kihon Happo today as a major way to
train the basics.
I. Dovezenski: In some old martial art magazines where
there are photos of you, I can see that your kamai was very deep and
kihon. Today, such as Soke Hatsumi, with almost every technique, you
are in shizen no kamai. Is
this because of experience in the Bujinkan —- or some other reason?
Ed Martin: When we were first learning ninjutsu
stances were enlarged. This had two purposes in my opinion. One was to
give a degree of physical
conditioning which is common in most martial art training. Try standing
in a “horse stance” for 10 minutes and you will see what I mean.
The other reason was to teach us the movements we needed to learn, to
see something clearly you expand it and so understand it better. These
were ways of learning not doing. Today only those who didnt understand
still keep those expanded movements. Shizen is a normal posture, it
gives no information on your skills to a potential attacker. You NEVER
want to give any information to your attacker, never give him a
“learning curve” on your skills. He makes his attack and you end it
immediately, he never gets another chance. The shizen no kamae allows
you the most options of movement with the least given away.
I. Dovezenski: You are in your eighth decade of your life and you are still
traveling and teaching around the world. Is this not hard on you physically to do this?
Ed Martin: One of the most valuable lessons Dr Hatsumi
has taught us is “keep going”. If you stop moving soon you wont be
able to move. It is like
the old adage, “use it or lose it”. Sure some of the long flights are
tiring, especially those to Australia from the US, but one must always
know what is important to yourself. For me I want to see many more
people in this world with these skills as I see this art as a way to
make our world much more peaceful and courteous. Those who attack
others do not think they will be hurt. If pain comes from their actions
learn not to repeat those actions. How many of you touched a hot stove
when you were a child? Did you touch it again? You probably learned from
the first experience. If we can provide the appropriate experience for
the act we help a person to learn. The appropriate experience for
someone seeking to cause another pain is to feel that pain themselves.
That way they learn not to hurt another. The appropriate feedback must
be immediate, to delay it means the lesson is not learned. I want to
help make that change in our world and so I continue to do what I can.
I. Dovezenski: Where do you see the Bujinkan in the
future, can the next Soke be able to meet the challenges that are
facing him in the 21st century?
Ed Martin: First the future of the Bujinkan is up to all of us. If we work
together to help students learn. If we use our skills to aid in the
improvement of society, then that vision I hold for the potential of the
Bujinkan can happen — a better world. If we splinter because of stupid
egotistic attitudes it will never come close to its potential. About
the “next Soke”, we dont know even IF Dr Hatsumi will choose one, and
certainly not how that person will respond to the challenges that will
be faced. This we do know from the history of the Ninja, they were very
creative. The ninja found very creative answers to their problems. In
short adaptability was a central characteristic for the ninja. I would
expect any new Soke to be capable of adapting to whatever challenge
came his way. This adaptability is central to what we do. I expect to
see the Bujinkan skills to expand to a vast portion of our world
population and as a result a lot of the wrongs that now still
persist will be corrected by the people themselves.