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

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