• A Better Person
    By Anna Kravchenko


    Anna KravchenkoA being that humbly strives to make the world a better place.

    When I began studying this particular martial art, this was not the definition I thought of when I heard the word ninja.

    Before I had even heard of Newbury Park Martial Arts Center, all I wanted was to learn how to become strong enough to protect myself from bullies. I had never even considered that I would gain another family. One that was an essential part of how I grew up to be a better person, and how I created a better life for those around me.

    There are many fundamentals within the art of Ninjutsu, as well as the nine lineages, that we are fortunate enough to study.

    The most basic fundamental is kamae, which we are constantly reminded on. Bend your knees, keep your back straight, put your armor up; simple enough but not always easy.

    Another, is learning how to identify and use energy, both through our actions and our words. And although some may disagree, I personally believe that the largest underlying theme of this art is learning to use it outside the dojo family bubble.

    Instead of creating an escape from your world, create a life you want to live in. Within this art we are given tools and we are taught how to use them, but what is the point of having these tools and knowledge if you never use them.

    There are many practical and simple ways to use his art outside of the the dojo. One of the very first things we learn to do is how to roll, and as a very clumsy girl having this ability become almost instinctual when I trip is very useful. I have also noticed over the years is that my reflexes and coordination has improved greatly. I could accidentally knock over a cup and catch it before I even realize either had happened. I am ambidextrous, and a ninja, so having those reflexes develop on both sides makes a huge difference in my everyday life.

    Because of constantly using my taijutsu, my balance has also greatly developed. I have found that learning the points of balance that different people have before they fall makes it easier to recognize those same tipping points in inanimate objects.

    There is also the “dojo walk” as I like to call it. After a certain amount of time everyone develops varying degrees of walking in kamae; relaxed, with your hips underneath, back straight, shoulders down, knees apart and slightly bent, and some even begin to shift their full weight onto one leg before placing the next one down in a walking imitation of hi-cho.

    Some walk as though they are always in kamae and others will just be walking with just their back straight, but either way your walk has been altered.

    I’ve also noticed that people’s awareness changes as well.

    More than once I have caught myself avoiding certain places at certain times because I sense that something is off. I have realized that I have begun to use my peripheral vision almost constantly, which is very convenient when babysitting. I have also begun to notice that I could sense another person’s intent towards me much more clearly than before. Being able to study and understand how energy works changes a lot of things as well.

    I can finally make a bubble around myself that forces the sea of other people to part in front of me. This is especially useful during passing period and large crowds. I am still working on being able to pull my energy, rather than constantly pushing, and to control the strength of my intent.

    As much as this art physically changes us, it also changes our perspective and our choices. We are not the same people as we were when we first began training. We have become more rational, biding our time and choosing our battles. We also begin to notice the way we treat others, and how others treat us.

    We begin to direct our lives, whether consciously or subconsciously, for the better. More often than not, having a safe haven prevents people from facing the world and all its struggles. When in reality, it should be doing the opposite: giving support to help the person overcome their struggles.

    In the dojo, we are constantly encouraged to do better and to be better people. We are encouraged to follow through with our promises and reach our goals no matter how difficult the road may seem.

    This constant support from people we begin to think of as a second family helps us grow into the people we are today.