I wanted to send you a quick note and let you know how much I have appreciated your Bujinkan instruction. As you know I trained with you for several years before I took my first contracting job in Iraq supporting the US Army. Over the years I've had several jobs to Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar and Kuwait. I can't tell you how much your training has prepared me. Although I was never in a role to participate in direct combat actions I often found myself in places that had heightened security and there were considerable risks. Everything from having good awareness when I entered a room, being aware of good exists, to improvisational weapons classes, I always felt the foundation you gave me was essential. In a very real sense your training is a good part of the reason I made it through all of those tours without getting injured or killed. Most importantly the understanding I received from you about Budo helped me navigate those times when I was in an active war environment. I'm back in Austin now and I wanted to sincerely express to you my thankfulness and gratefulness with your life mission to teach and import such valuable life lessons to your students.
Warm Regards, Michael R.
I received a shoto from Doc that was so rusted you could not recognize as a sword. I polished it, and then told him where and how to authenticate it.
Many thanks to you for the professional care and guardianship of my shoto!! I sent photos to Japan and recede: The inscription says Bungougyo Fujiwara Saneyuki (the maker's name). It dates from around the Kanbun Period (c.1660) and was made in Kyushu. I fondle it daily!
I really enjoy the fellowship of like minded martial artists. I do favors non-gratis as a token of my respect and admiration. Here's a few:
Larry Sanders here. I am more than happy with the "Fabulous" job you did taking the fingerprints and pits out of my sword. You da man! With a huge smile I am thanking you!
Sijo Larry Sanders
Tanemaki Dojo is an oasis for Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu in the central Texas region! Having trained in the Bujinkan for several years I am happy to say that Kendall Kelsoe has become not only my instructor but also my friend, while traveling this path of the warrior way. Kendallís never tiring exploration of Budo Taijutsu, and his generous sharing of this knowledge, has opened my eyes to applications of the art that were hidden from me, blending wit with skill to reveal what was once unknown.
With an almost encyclopedic knowledge of swordsmanship and weaponry I have found a treasure house of information, making any weapon feel right at home in my hands! Kendall brings a levity to the dojo that I have never experienced before, creating a truly relaxing atmosphere where everyone can learn the beauties of this great and effective art.
Kendall is active, inquisitive, honest, tolerant, and accepting, leading a life dedicated to the warrior way. I feel very fortunate to have the ability to train at Tanemaki Dojo with Kendall Kelsoe.
It's me here. I hope everything is going well with you. It sounds like things are pretty good with the dojo.
Sorry the indoor dojo thing didn't work out. I guess it's for the best, since this is the year of Shinden Fudo Ryu.
Maybe the kami are trying to tell us something. Things are all right up here. The training is not anywhere near the level that it is at the Tanemaki dojo, under your tutelage, but that's ok, because it gives me a chance to see why the things you teach are correct. That, and two jujutsu practitioners who have very strong form just joined the training group up here. They like to do everything very forcefully, and they like to breathe very loudly(a form of kiai I guess) everytime they perform an action. A little loud for ninja in my opinion.
The teacher up here likes to REALLY EMPHASIZE forms, which is ok, because I'm interested in learning the official ryu-ha technqiues. However, Sensei is so obsessed with it, that he barely ever follows what is actually happening in the moment. He is always concerned with following the specific form and setting it up precisely how the "form" dictates. He is pretty much always in the "reset button" mentality.
This, in my opinion, is bad for real life fighting. In reality, there is not second chance....you simply have to go with what happens and try to turn it into something for the better. He is 5th degree black belt (in rank), and I have been training with him for about a month now and, I have yet to see him really follow the flow, or nagare, of the moment. In my opinion, this is pretty sad.
I always try to think about what you have told us, that we should try to do things the "correct" way, but if things don't turn out how we expected (I'm finding that many times this is because the uke changes the flow to counter the tori's movements because the uke knows what the tori is going to do) we should change in order to follow the movement. This is also what Soke says repeatedly on ALL the videos I have of him teaching.
You'd think that someone of the 5th degree black belt would listen more closely to the basics of what Soke teaches. I read an article by Nagato Shihan in "Sanmyaku", the bujinkan densho newsletter, in which he states that he form is not what is really important. He goes on to say that the important aspects, at least for combat (isn't that what we are supposed to be training for), are the shinken gata variations and the kyojitsu of the moment. I have to say that I'm glad you are my Sensei, and not my current one.
Sorry about all that raving. It makes me a little off balanced that someone of this person's "high level" doesn't seem to get "it"(by "it", I mean the basics of what Soke teaches. literally, he talks about it in "Kobudo no Kihon", and in "What is Martial Arts").
Or.....perhaps this person just doesn't want to show this level of movement, for fear of ....something.....who knows. It will probably take me a while longer to really figure out what is really going on. Oh well....such is training.
Anyways, the original reason I began writing this email is to ask your permission to go to Honbu dojo during the winter break, to learn from the Shihan and from Soke. I probably won't be able to make Daikomyosai, since it is during the final weeks of class, but I will be able to go during the winter break. Do I have your permission to go?
Also, I would like to send you a dvd I've compiled of a few sparring sessions I had with one of my training partners from Austin, for you to critique. We were using the Actionflex sparring swords. One time we went slowly with bokken, to get the feel of the harder contact. It was very informative. We plan on continuing with this kind of sparring and doing unarmed sparring in the future. It also contains a video or two of me doing stuff with ropes (rope ladder, handcuffs, figure eight knot). Can you please send me your address so I can mail it to you? I plan on coming down in october, either the 9th or the 13th, depending on how things go with classes.
I'm debating whether or not to enter the Sanshou division of the Austin Martial Arts Festival. It's so restrictive that I probably won't, but who knows.....maybe I will just for kicks. Anyways, I'm going to go swimming now. Once again, I hope everything is well with you and the dojo.
Tell Connie I said hello, and tell everyone at the dojo I said hello, and to be VERY thankfull that they train at the Tanemaki dojo.
p.s. I can be a windbag sometimes.
Well, what can I say? My trade in the 1970's and 1980's was that of a professional photographer. I had the great fortune to know and photograph some of the most beautiful women I have ever personally met.
As I am returning to my art, I have gone almost completely digital. Lily has shown deep respect and affection for me. I had so many publications that excluded a photo credit, or mis-spelled my name. Lily understands the relationship of fellow artists. As I work to rebuild my photographic portfolio, I do so with the enormous respect and admiration that Lily has honored me with. She is totally supportive of other artists. I see her as a force of nature.
Her spirit is fierce and free, like the wind.
Dear Mr. Kelsoe,
Just a quick email to thank you, sir, for having us to your training last night (Thursday). We really had a tremendous time - you are every bit as friendly and welcoming as your website suggested you were. We also wanted to let you (and your class) know how much we both appreciated and enjoyed the time you spent just chatting with us.
I felt like we could talk all night if given half a chance. We didn't want to completely monopolize your time, but it was really nice on your part to chat for so long. You also seem to have a great group of people training with you - very friendly amongst themselves and with us, which was also really, REALLY nice. Just a really great group...can't say enough positive.
Anyway, long story short, we will definitely be training with you folks if you'll have us. Can't wait, in fact. Unfortunately, we are crazy busy at the moment with some business projects in an effort to make some more money than we are currently bringing in and to expand what we're doing. We expect that within about a month or so we should be settled enough that we can commit to some regular training. We know you don't demand commitment, but we demand it of ourselves so that we can really invest ourselves in the training - and also with getting to know other people in the group. So thank you again for being so welcoming - your school is truly a rare gem.
On a side note, we found other schools we liked in Austin (a couple of aikido schools), but ninpo training is more where we come from and your students were the nicest and most inviting and the warmest in their interaction with each other. Other schools had some nice people, of course, but they were a little more stoic with less camaraderie. Buj schools - the good ones, anyway - tend to draw very friendly and outgoing types of people (at least that's been our experience, for whatever that counts) and yours certainly stands out. We can't wait to get training with you folks and will keep an eye on the site for any changes. Outside or in an indoor dojo doesn't matter, we still want to train. Good luck, also, with finding a dojo - I know what a bear that can be. In closing, we'll be seeing you all very soon! Until then, keep up the great work (and vote Libertarian!) :)
Best Regards, -Michael M. & Amy F.
Kendall has proven to be a true buyu. He and his students are all good humans and well versed martial artists. Kendall's knowledge of the sword is unsurpassed. Kendall has been very supportive with everything our dojo has been involved in and for that myself and my students are forever in his debt. If you have the chance to meet and train with my friend Kendall then take it! You won't be sorry.
George Russell Sensei
Saturday, July 28, 2001
Thursday night I went to view a class taught by Mr. Kendall Kelsoe.
Due to the traffic, I was 10 minutes late. (Oh well, I am my father's daughter.)
His students were courteous and greeted me accordingly.
Mr. Kelsoe was very professional and I could immediately tell that the man knew what he was talking about.
Unlike some martial art instructors I have known in the past, I have found this man not to be full of himself or full of hot air. His personality is genuine and his knowledge of martial arts is vast.
I made it a point to sit in an area outside of where the class was going to take place and yet still close enough so that his students would have to watch what they were doing for fear of hitting me. I only moved twice, simply because his students had to retrieve some of their equipment. Other than that, I stayed put. His students showed remarkable self-control, I was very impressed.
Some of his students caught my attention, Aaron, Alex and a white belt whose name (for the life of me) I can't remember. They all had many strengths in their personal styles. I hope to learn much from these gentlemen.
For those of you wondering, there are women in Mr. Kelsoe's class, not just men.
I couldn't attend if it were just men (religious stuff).
Therefore, I have decided to begin my training with Mr. Kelsoe on Monday night (if I can get my uniform in time). I can only hope that in time I will be as skilled as his other students :) We'll have to wait and see. Talk to everyone soon!
After my friends and I watched your class we couldn't stop talking about it. We are very excited that there is someone out there that is teaching authentic taijutsu without all the "ninja assasin" junk.
OK, sounds good. I'll talk to you in a couple weeks, it will be great to see what your art is all about. Thanks again!
well, I wanted to let you know how much appreciated you responding to my inquiry. About the halberds, I need ot know as much as you can tell me. Some general background (as in, years they were used) strengths and weaknesses, basic fighting techniques with them, using them against swords, etc. Basically whatever you can tell me. If you know of some sort of book i can read on the subject, that would be just as simple. Oh, and caring for them as well, if possible. also, what sort of weapons were popular during the same time period?
Thank you again for all your time and information,
I have visited your site and is very informative. I am very interested in japenese swords. And I am willing to buy one. Can u tell me some good places to get one. What is the difference b/w katana and shinken? I bought and Iaito from Nosyuiaido they also make custom shinkens. There site is: Maybe u can help me.
Thank you for your prompt and informative reply. I am writing you from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I can only assume that you are based in the United States, and so, unfortunately I am unable to benefit from your wisdom and skills in the art of swordplay first hand. Although, belive me, I wish I could do so. Perhaps I should clarify the weapon of which I speak, this particular weapon stands slightly over five feet in length from bladetip to pommel, and was hand-forged by a very good Bladesmith(and friend) of mine. His name is Randal Graham and he is the founder of Dragon Fist Forge (located in Medicine Hat, Alberta). You can view the weapon of which I speak at his website, since he used my blade for the photos. I have viewed the weapon (Museum Replicas) of which you spoke, or at least a close facsimile, from visiting their website, and I compliment you on a fine choice of weapons. Since owning my own I have come to appreciate the Claymore more and more, and it has fast become my weapon of choice. I have just stated my collection of blades (primarily Scottish) and will be having a Scottish "Basket hilt" sword (Circa 1700) made by the same bladesmith, to compliment my greatsword. I look forward, to hearing from you, and if fate is kind, perhaps, meet with you in person. Again sir, thank you for the information.
Sincerely - J.B.
Talking to you yesterday was great. I am looking forward to a great relationship as instructor/student and friend/friend. It seems rare to me at this time in the modern world to find a person as "real" as yourself. I was really impressed by your convictions as far as becoming the best teacher you could be. I am sure just by speaking to you that you are a great teacher already your knowledge of the history and ways of ancient times lets me in on a brief glimpse of the depth of knowledge and research you have gained. Also, the humility you possess is reminiscent of the true Masters of old. To put it in American terms, Very Cool Man. The only thing I could really think about about yesterday at my In-Laws was"This is going to be a lot of fun" The coincidences concerning certain aspects of thought and lives is rather staggering and I think there will probably be more coincidences that come up later.
Thank you Sir for all the great information. I am back at work and on the computer. I really enjoyed coming to Austin to train. I think that you have a great Dojo and Great Students who are all very good at thier art. Please let them know how much I appreciated thier patience and help. I think that I have met Brett before, but I have no clue where. I remember the necklace. Of course I may be mistaken. I am planning on ordering some of the hatsumi videos from the ABD catalogue. My Wife really freaked out on the gas money I spent on the way to and fro. This is my plan. I am going to purchse some tapes through the ABD and learn as much as I can, and then periodically come to your Dojo to work out with your students and make sure I have a grasp of what I am doing on a real UKE and not my wife. I am not going to share any info with my Straight forward TKD students at this time, or use them as uke`s. They are all quite happy in thier own world, so reality check time is not correct for them. I wish that I could have spent more time there with you guys It is fun to be thrown around.(Sadistic but it helps my balance and lets me know the way a wasza should feel) Thanks again
Thank you for the honor. I know I won't disappoint.
Oh, Happy Birthday.
See you soon
Thank you for your kind comments. My one year stint in Wyoming opened my eyes to a different way of life and thinking. I experienced many things and met many people that were different from myself. Rock climbing, in particular, reintroduced me to the value of teamwork, trust, and tenacity. The "old" me would've been talking more than listening. I would've missed an important bit of information that was meant to keep me safe. At any rate, thanks again for the opportunity to continue attending your class. I find it both fascinating and fun. See you there!
I am located in the Dallas area but I wish to study the bujinkin taijitsu system. I am considering ordering the tapes from Shihan Van Donk, and would like your opinion on the tapes, the ranking system and if there are any opportunities to train in my area. I have studied Various martial arts since I was five, I am 25 now and teach seminars and private lesson in General Self Defense, and Tae Kwon Do. I have decided that the lack of a complete art and spiritual aspect has mad me look to different arts for these things, basically something that I can train in for the rest of my life without limitations. I would appreciate any comments. thank you for your time.
Anyway, yes, it was very nice to finally meet you. (You should sign, "A Very Tall Guy" as your signature on e-mail so people you haven't met yet will know how to picture you!)
Thanks again for having me, I really enjoyed my visit. I regret the fact that there are no classes for younger persons. I realize the reason for this being the very nature of the disipline as not a baby-sitter but as a true way of life. Your expaination of ninjitsu and bujinkan was very enlighting. I found it most facinating. I think in ninjitsu I have found more of the philosophy that is lacking in other martial arts(tai kwan do:) to name one). I would love to come again and observe, if time permits.
Thanks for watching my show in spite of the extreme rebellion that you're receiving.
-----------Space Ghost, Host of "Space Ghost, Coast to Coast".
Thank you, Sensei!
Thank you for answering my questions. There's still so much I haven't about this art. Seems like now my prayers are being answered. July 19, 2000 made 10 years for me. Not a steady 10 years, to say the least. I guess you could call it 10 years worth of "familiarity" with the Bujinkan. There were periods of sickness, poverty, laziness, lack of transportation and blindness that kept me away at times. But I'm still hangin' tough. In my past 10 years, I can tell you, Dr. Sones (Shihan) is the best teacher I've ever had. He cleared up a lot of misconceptions that had been passed on to me by some of (omitted) students before (I lived in Georgia during my first year of training). Thank you, Ken san, for allowing me to continue my training at the Tanemaki Dojo. When I trained at your dojo last time, I felt that "closeness" within the group that I felt when I first started training with Shihan Sones' group years ago. I really began to miss that and it almost made me quit when I trained at other dojos that lacked that "closeness". Thanks again, Sensei Ken!! Hope to see you all soon.
Sincerely, R. C.