I have been reading The Special Forces Guide to Escape and Evasion by Will Fowler to kinda formulate a strategy for Intonjutsu in my mind. We study element driven styles of escape and evasion in the club (like Katonjutsu, using fire to mask scent or make a barrier) but I like the forest view once in a while, so I read overview books on contemporary Ninjutsu topics.
I learned something very cool in the Zanson area in the first chapter, though. I like acronyms in emergency situations - when you can't remember much else, you can often remember cool acronyms. Here is one for situations in which Zanson is important: SURVIVAL.
... the situation
... the surroundings
... your physical condition
... your equipment
Use all senses
Remember your location
Act like the natives
Live by your wits
Now, I think that is good anywhere. If you are in the desert being chased by a band of roving Mujahideen or in the mall during a fire, this is a good set of steps to keep yourself on track. The first and most important thing that most people always forget to do in any emergency is to take a second and Size up the situation. Stop. Look around. What is REALLY happening? Where are you specifically AND in general. Can your environment help you? Are you hurt? Are any of your wards hurt? What do you have with you? Would it be better in your hand right now, or stowed?
A better part of Ninjutsu, as I have posted before, is preparedness. While at the time I was talking gear, it is important to be prepared mentally. None of us know how we will respond in an emergency until one happens, so it is a good idea to have a Contingency Plan of Action for most major types of emergencies, and starting with SURVIVAL isn't a bad bet.
I have been reading On Killing by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, and it has me thinking about the reality of the martial arts. War is war, and defeating the enemy is just another word for killing them. Lt. Col. Grossman puts a lot of emphasis on the distance factor (it being a lot easier to kill with bomber than a knife) and it came to me that a lot of Ninjutsu is about killing at VERY close range.
Lets face facts. Ninjutsu is not a movement study. It is about completing an objective, no matter what the odds. If you are training any other way, you might want to ask yourself why you are into Ninjutsu and not Aikido or tai-chi if you like the movement, or judo or karate if you like competition aspect. Nonetheless I have to wonder how many of us could stab an adversary with a knife if the situation warranted. Many of my friends in the club are military and police - they are studying to improve their chances of survival. They might have to complete that thrust we all learn in tantojutsu.
Could you? I don't know if I could.
The psychological aspects of Ninjutsu are shrouded in a combination of the general fear of discussion of Ninjutsu and the "you'll learn that later' part of the art. Fact is, I think a decent psychoanalyst could have a field day with most of us, starting with Hatsumi himself. Studying a combat martial art in this day and age, when you aren't actually planning on any combat is, well, strange.
So why do we? Preparation? Are we getting ready for when martial law is declared? Is it really just self defense? I have no idea. But I have a sneaking suspicion that 1) there is a lot to learn form this art without being consumed with the concept of death and 2) not many of us are gonna find out and that is a good thing.
Read On Killing. It will get you thinking.