Teaching Youth Ninja Dive Rolls

Hi, this is Mark Roemke with Ninja Training TV, Pathways Dojo, and Ninjas in Nature.

Today's blog highlights a teaching from our youth ninjutsu training series. It is about hicho kaiten, also known as the "flying bird roll." While you may recognize this technique if you study modern training methods such as parkour, this technique has actually been used in ninjutsu for a very very long time. This lesson will help people, in particular kids, learn how to do a dive roll if they have never done one before. 

There are some important safety tips in this video that you should pay attention to as well. With a dive roll, when you are first learning it, you should bend your knees and get into a squat position so that you are closer to the ground so you don't injure your shoulder at first. You should also use your arms as springs while keeping a little tension in them so they don't collapse as you roll forward. 

If you watched my previous video from our Ninja Training TV series where I explained hicho kaiten for adults, pay close attention to the differences in how I explain this roll to youth. 

I'm going to hand the blog off to Ken Clarkson who directs our Ninjas in Nature program...

Ken here, with a short hicho kaiten story...

After leading the NiN program for several years, occasionally patterns start to emerge, such as- most kids don't know how to light a match. With hicho kaiten, I've seen an emerging pattern that comes second hand usually from parents.

When my kids first learned hicho kaiten from Mark, they were also playing soccer. One day I came to my son's game late. As I approached the sidelines, a parent came up to me and said, "...you should have seen what just happened! Your son got tripped up during a sprint with the ball and did some sort of ninja roll and popped right back up and kept playing!"

I asked my son later and he said, "yeah, I guess did something. I wasn't really thinking about it."

Fast forward a few years and this time I witnessed something similar with my daughter. She was playing defense and was knocked backwards. This time she did a koho kaiten (backwards ninja roll) and popped up again and continued playing. 

After this summer's NiN youth summer camp, a parent emailed me to relate a story of witnessing their child go over their bike handlebars in a wipe out, only to roll out of it. I couldn't help but think of Mark's previous story of his motorcycle accident. 

Another parent told me of their child getting shoved recently and falling forward, only to go into a dive roll.

It's a pattern. Kids learn the roll, then something happens where the roll protects them, and then I hear about it from parents. And, the longer we keep teaching this, the more I expect to continue hearing about. 

When thinking about teaching self defense to kids, a lot of focus is spent on things such as punching, kicking, and blocking. In reality, a kid is much more likely to trip and fall down than need to face an attacker. This is one reason I love learning ninjutsu and teaching it. The techniques are often very practical and are used in real life situations.

Just the other day I went to watch my son at his high school soccer game. A parent whose younger son Alex is in our after school NiN program said, "You should check out what Alex just did. He just did ninja rolls the entire length of the soccer field on the walk here to the bleachers." 

This is an important point. To fully embody this technique requires training, over and over, literally rolling over and over and over. This creates "muscle memory". When an accident is about to happen you don't have time to think "Oh, I'm going to do hicho kaiten." Unfortunately life doesn't work that way. 

So, check out the video. Show it to your kid, then go practice it, over and over and over...if possible, do it with them.

If you child is having trouble getting this technique, try teaching them zenpo kaiten first, which Mark taught in a previous blog.

Of course, we'd love to hear stories down the line if this technique helped you or your child.

Ok back to Mark...

We hope you enjoy this latest video. If you like what you see, you can access the entire Ninja Youth Full Set at Pathwaysdojo.com.

Keep Training,

Sensei Roemke

Teaching Youth Ninja Rolls

Hi, this is Mark Roemke with 
Ninja Training TV, Pathways Dojo, and Ninjas in Nature. I wanted to give you some details about today's blog, which is about how to teach youth zenpo kaiten naname. This is the forward diagonal roll. This video is an excerpt from our youth training series. We have created an adult white to black belt training series as well as youth and kid video training series. These videos are designed for instructors who teach youth groups or for parents who want their kids to train at home. These lessons are designed to compliment what they may also be learning in a martial arts class. These courses are an encyclopedia of ninjutsu techniques that can help any student brush up on techniques. 

As an instructor of our youth programs, one of the things that I think is important is to keep them excited and active while you are teaching them. If you are just standing in front of a room and lecture to them, you will quickly lose their attention, and they will shut down. My approach to teaching youth is to provide a mix of focus skills and drills with high energy activities. For example, I might do some sprint relays or obstacle courses, then go directly into a focus skill, and then return to more high energy activities before doing the next drill. We have a lot of these activities mixed into our training series. This approach keeps the kids happy. When you are happy and learning, you will grasp a skill much faster, and you will excel past most people who are doing more sedentary learning. 

Zenpo kaiten naname is a great skill to start youth down the path of ninjutsu. Kids love to roll, but a lot of kids these days don't get many opportunities to learn how to roll. This is a great way to teach them and get them excited. I hope you really enjoy this one. 

If you like this video you can check out the entire set of youth or kid training at our Pathways Dojo page or our Ninja Training TV adult white to black belt series.

In gratitude,

Sensei Roemke 

How Hicho Kaiten Saved My Life

Hi, this is Mark Roemke with Ninja Training TV, Pathways Dojo, and Ninjas in Nature. This is the second entry in our new ninja blog where I tell stories and share techniques from our training videos and expand on other aspects of the many programs and projects that we are doing with Pathways Dojo. If you haven't already seen it, check out my first blog entry where I talk about What is Ninjutsu?

Todays blog is about a roll called hicho kaiten, the "flying bird" roll. This roll is from Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, or ninjutsu, the "art of the ninja". This particular roll is an amazing roll. It has saved my life on multiple occasions and has prevented me from getting broken bones or worse. Here is a true story of how hicho kaiten saved my life.

I was on my motorcycle, driving at about thirty miles per hour down a street. A woman pulled her car out right in front of me. She didn't see me so I tried to swerve around her at the last instant, but I ultimately hit her. As I realized that I was about to impact her car, I leapt up at the last second as my motorcycle hit the car, launching me about fifteen to twenty feet in the air. I went into a hicho kaiten dive roll as I came back to the ground. I was wearing a helmet and full leather riding gear, so those saved my skin. 

I stood up and walked over to the lady's door and said, "excuse me ma'am, but you just hit me." This roll literally saved my life. I was able to walk away from that accident more or less unscathed thanks to this roll.

One of the things that I tell my students all the time is that the elements of ninjutsu that will save your life just might be the practical, "basic" skills, like how to roll and fall properly. People fall and have accidents all the time in everyday life, but not everyone gets into a fight or self defense situation, unless you are a police officer, in the military, or are a bouncer.

This roll has also saved me more than once when I have gone mountain biking. I love to do some extreme mountain biking here in Santa Cruz. More than once I have gone over my handlebars, and guess what saved me? Hicho kaiten. 

Check out the video below on how to do hicho kaiten. You can practice it on mats, wood floors, cement, rocks, lawns, or out in a forest...anywhere. Once you learn how to safely do this roll it just might help prevent serious injury or possibly save your life one day.

We have much more about hicho kaiten in our white to black belt series at ninjatrainingtv.com for adults or a full white to black belt series for youth at pathwaysdojo.com. 

Keep training!
Sensei Roemke