4 years ago
John Thottungal

Students learn unarmed, defensive skills

Ever Monday at 8 p.m., a group of students move in a line quietly in the Galaxy Rooms as they come to a mat, and with a quick chant of the specific move they are executing, each person flings onto the mat, landing effortlessly in a roll and is back up as if gravity wasn’t an issue. Learning to break a fall by rolling and getting up quickly into a defensive stance is just one of the basic steps taught in the Ninpo Taijutsu Club.
The club, which was founded in 2009, aims to teach the UTD community the sacred Japanese martial arts of Ninpo according to the teachings of Grandmaster Shoto Tanemura of the Genbukan Ninpo Bugei Federation in Japan. The word “Ninpo” in Japanese means “the way of perseverance,” an ideal that attracts members such as biochemistry freshman Brynfor Morris to this more-than-just-physical activity.
“It’s discipline; it also promotes strength of character. I enjoy the hand-to-hand combat techniques taught here,” he said.
Members are taught not only to avoid the blade — which comes in the form of a Japanese wooden training sword known as bokken for the meetings — but also to defend against it through a series of defensive postures, said political science graduate student Calin Scoggins.
“Ninpo is a traditional martial art; we call it Ninpo-Taijutsu because we focus on the unarmed combat and self-defense techniques,” he said.
Scoggins said Ninpo-Taijutsu sticks to its true Japanese roots that date back to the early 11th century and is unlike other mixed martial arts that incorporate tournament fighting and sports events.
Greg Caplinger, a teacher at the Richardson Genbukan studio, instructs for free at the club meetings. He said that the practice can be beneficial to students in everyday life.
“I notice a lot of students who look at the ground when they walk, often in their own world and not aware of the environment around them, which can lead to dangerous situations,” he said.
The club is open to all students regardless of skill level, and any student who wishes to train seriously can pay a nominal yearly fee to be an official member of the Genbukan Federation.