Keep calm and ninja on

Students partner up to practice protection techniques. (Photo by Jack at Bujinkan Dojo)

On Tuesday, June 25, 17 women attended California Bujinkan Dojo’s Women’s Self Defense class. These women learned how to stay safe in situations where size and strength were not a determining factor and how to use space and natural body dynamics for personal protection.

“I really like this class and feel more prepared now if something unexpected happens,” said one student. “If might makes right, I may not win, but this isn’t about that at all. It’s about using your brain, not brawn, your space and awareness of techniques that let you get away from the bad guy, and get away without physically fighting.”

The class is continuous and held on the last Tuesday of each month from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. It’s free of charge, a generous outreach to the community by the dojo (a Japanese word to describe a room or school where martial arts are practiced) to promote safety. Taught in a fun, relaxed atmosphere, students learn how to maintain their safety and that of others, while building confidence, self-esteem, coordination, agility, and awareness.

“Anybody has the ability to make everyone safer,” said Shihan Jeff Sterling, judan and senior instructor, as he addressed the group. “Everyone has built-in abilities. This just adds more tools to the toolbox. We’re not responding to violence with violence, but have an understanding of space and control it to be safe. A community that’s safe makes a safe community.”

Using natural body and space dynamics, instructors demonstrated hypothetical situations and how to stay safe. Standing in a wide circle on mats, students intently observed as a “victim,” with a few easy moves, was able to peacefully free themselves from an attempted invasion of space or attack. Students were encouraged to ask questions, and then practiced techniques with a partner. Instructors moved about the room to observe and make suggestions.

“This is like a dance!” said one participant as she made the movements to dislodge the hands of an ‘assailant.’”

The dojo follows the philosophy of Ninja Master, Ed “Papa-san” Martin, and shihan, one of the founding fathers of the Bujinkan in the United States. In future classes, women will learn how to protect themselves and others from a variety of weapons.

If you missed the first class, never fear, there are more opportunities to learn a peaceful exit from physical conflict. The next class is on Tuesday, July 30. Workout wear is suggested; mat work is done barefoot or while wearing socks.

California Bujinkan Dojo has an assortment of programs that accommodate young children to adults:

Ninja Kids: ages 3-7 learn a variety of ninja skills on Saturdays, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Toshishita Ninjutsu Training: ages 8-14 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:00-7:00 p.m. Class size is limited.

Ninjutsu: men and women learn self-defense and protection of others on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 6:30-8:00 p.m.

California Bujinkan Dojo is located at 1044 San Jose Ave., Suite 101, Clovis, CA. For more information, visit or call 559 978-0829.