The Iaido Journal  Jan 2005
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Nodan Budo: A Review

copyright © 2005 Paul Schweer, all rights reserved

Just prior to our Monday night class, my teacher handed me a copy of Centering In The Martial Arts:  The Power Of The Way.  It had arrived, unsolicited, in the dojo mail.  From reading the blurbs on the DVD cover, I gathered he was wondering if it was for real.  And curious, but too cowardly to view it for himself, he asked me to watch it for him.  

Since I figure this must be some sort of perverse right of passage, I am not bitter.  Thank you, may I have another.

Centering In The Martial Arts is a forty-two minute demonstration of board breaking, self-defense forms and techniques, and an exploration of the "one-two" principle.  From what I can surmise, the one-two principle consists of leading the upper body's movement with a preceding turn of one's hips, instead of turning the hips and upper body as one unit.  I would try to explain more in depth, but I think that is pretty much as deep as it gets.

The instructor/narrator/demonstrator (and, if I had to guess, also the producer, director, cameraman, lighting man, soundman and gofer) is a fellow who calls himself Nodan.  The presentation begins with four disclaimers of danger and liability, but omits Nodan's background and qualifications.  And fails to provide his full name.

Nodan describes himself as an old man "twenty years past his prime."  He wears big black spectacles, as seen in Bugs Bunny Nips The Nips.  He speaks in accented, sometimes broken English, and refers to himself in the third person: "Nodan will use bent wrist strike."  (Nodan hurt wrist, but bow anyway.)  He repeats phrases such as "appearances can be deceiving" and "picture worth a thousand words."

After a particularly difficult break of no fewer than five boards, Nodan tells a cautionary tale: "Now listen carefully please.  Nodan is using only his own natural strength to do these breaking demonstrations.  But beware.  It is possible through occult practices to channel other spiritual powers, which by comparison make Nodan's breaking mere child's play. "

In conclusion, just prior to the "Final Slow Motion Review", Nodan summarizes:  "The wise man learns to fight so he will not have to fight."  

Following the conclusion and final review...  Nodan demonstrates, with the assistance of Yakov (The Hammer), centered stance.  Yakov is "big and very powerful".  And appears to be wearing an eye patch.  And a floppy toupee.  Yakov grunts, but cannot "push an old man over".    

Nodan then does a solo form to demonstrate "moving in center".  

Then brutalizes Yakov in a series of techniques against machete and knife.  Followed by a slow motion review.

Then another solo form.

Then a postscript, that begins "For Nodan, Centering In The Martial Arts was a natural outgrowth of his training in aikido...."  The postscript includes Nodan's description of his own enlightenment:

          Into the void
          he blindly goes,
          the outer darkness
          now he knows...

          in second death
          he will repose....

A fitting postscript, I suppose.

[Ed. note: We believe this video was intended as a parody. ]

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TIN Jan 2005