I know, a lot of you probably stay up late at night wondering...Is it truly possible to teach squirrels ninjutsu?
Actually, the more I watch squirrels, the more amazed I am at their acrobatic abilities. They truly are the tree climbing ninjas of the animal world.
But before we get distracted by squirrels, first let’s talk about maps.
If you are just joining us, we recently decided to kick off our Pathways Blog with an origin story.If you didn’t catch the Pathways origin story as told by Dai Shihan Mark Roemke, it’s worth a listen. You can find the start of this tale HERE.
But where do we take the blog from here?
“A review of 25 top designer holiday tabis to wear?”
Probably been done.
“Sensei’s top 5 matte drinks that excite him for class?”
Might cause a run on supplies and then what would Sensei do?
“Sensei’s top 3 surfing spots in Santa Cruz?”
Sorry. I’m sworn to secrecy.
Instead, like the previous origin story, let’s step into the wayback machine...
Once upon a time, I was a backcountry ranger in the Brooks Range of Alaska. Most people haven’t heard of this set of mountains even though they are one of the biggest ranges in the United States. To find them, follow the rocky mountains north, and when you get to Alaska, take a left. That’s the Brooks Range.
The thing about the park where I worked was this- it was vast. 8.5 million acres-vast. And, it was the least visited national park at the time I worked there. In other words, we rarely saw other humans. Plus it had practically no roads or trails. If you looked at a topographic map, most of the mountains showed no name.
We’d go to the headquarter office on Monday mornings and look at the giant topographic map on the wall. I’d point to a random spot on the map and ask,
“Has anyone been there?”
“Nope” was the standard answer.
So we’d go on patrol and see what we could find. No trails, roads, or train tracks. Just vast wilderness, oh and lots of grizzly bears.
And we’d grab our topographic (a.k.a. topo) maps. Without them, we would be more or less lost. Not necessarily a bad thing as the landscape there is unbelievably beautiful. But, if we wanted to find our way out of the wilderness, we had to find the rendezvous point where the bush plane would pick us up.
Sometimes it was easy. Other times, even with the best topo map, I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place or “lost”. Once it almost cost me dearly. More on that in a future entry.
But what does this have to do with Pathways Dojo, ninjutsu, and what we teach?
One thing I’ve learned while studying under Sensei Roemke is how vast the Bujinkan (and the art of ninjutsu) is. Add to this set of skills, the other “pathways” of study at Pathways Dojo, which are healing arts and nature. Each of these additional arts are likewise encyclopedic in the breadth of knowledge they contain.
So how do we cover this “wilderness” of information in a single blog. It’s huge.
To help organize where we are going with this blog, we decided to start with a map. We decided the blog would have 3 pathways.
Each blog that we share will fit into one of these themes: Nature (a.k.a. our Ninjas in Nature) training, Healing Arts (tai chi, qi gong, yoga etc.), and Ninjutsu (including Bujinkan specific topics by Sensei Roemke).
Within each of these paths, we will have additional pathways that branch off, based on specific subjects. For example, in the nature blogs we have stories and techniques based on topics such as shelter, fire, water, food, etc.
For the Ninjutsu Blog Paths we have subjects such as katana, rokushaku bo, instructor techniques, stories of training in Japan, and more.
For the healing paths, we will delve into tai chi, chi gong, yoga, TCM, and more.
You get the idea.
Oh, and we have hundreds of videos recorded that we intend to share with you on all of these topics.
We thought it important to give you this map of where we plan to go, so that you can pick and choose the informational pathway that you want to follow as we build our blog content.
And, like the good ole days when I’d walk to the big map in the headquarters and ask, “What’s over here?,” we would love to hear from you in the comments by asking us…What’s over there? If there is a particular topic that you would like us to cover in any of the three main pathways (Ninjutsu, Healing, or Nature), please let us know.
Ok, I know. I promised squirrels. So here you go.
Some of you may not know that one of Sensei Roemke’s hidden talents is mentoring youth. Below is an excerpt from our Kid Ninja Curriculum (for ages 4-6) where Sensei demonstrates the art of teaching ninjutsu to two young squirrel students.
Searching for squirrels off the trail (with a map),
P.S. Here’s our secret ninja portal if you (or your family of squirrels) would like to train with us in your home.