Tuesday, October 11, 2011
ROBERT BUSSEY interview
From my personal collection of NINJA magazines, Robert Bussey interview. Back when I was in college, I had a friend from Indonesia taking an Aikido class with me. He use to live in Nebraska, and he trained under Robert Bussey for one year. His ninjutsu background made it easier for him to learn Aikido. He showed me some RBWI moves and an instructional video tape starring Robert Bussey, which we enjoyed immensely. Ah the sweet memories!
NINJA magazine #19 March 1987
THE "BAD" BOY FROM NEBRASKA MAKES GOOD!
By Keith Jones
"Accomplished, versatile, provacative." "Dynamic!" "One of the greatest warrior technicians of our day." "I've never seen faster hands." "The man is simply awesome. He's got some of the best techniques I've ever seen." "His kicks are great. Great flexibility and extension. And speed. I wouldn't want to be on the wrong end of them." "He's bad, man. I mean, he's just baaaad!"
These and many other quotes just like them have been used time and again by those fortunate enough to have seen Robert Bussey work out, either in his dojos (one in Fremont, the other in Omaha Nebraska) or at one of the seminars he infrequently attends outside his own. He may be called "bad" by some, but it's said with affection and respect rather than derision. He is a hard-working, hard-training, God-loving man of the '80s who quietly and independently goes his own way. Because of his independence he often sparks controversy, but he eludes that issue as deftly as he demonstrates his taijutsu: with supreme confidence and exceptional ability. And as each of his endeavors succeed and more people become aware of him, more people seem to follow him.
NINJA: How did you first get involved in the martial arts and how old were you?
BUSSEY: I got started with five of my older brothers and sisters when I was about eleven years old. It was always something that I wanted to do as a child. In fact, my parents enrolled me because I got picked on quite a bit.
NINJA: You got picked on? Who picked fights with you?
BUSSEY: Class bullies. You know - bigger kids. Actually, I was a pretty small child for my age.
NINJA: Did you finally gain confidence in your abilities to defend yourself?
BUSSEY: Oh yes. In fact, nobody bothered me again all though grade school and high school except on a few isolated occasions.
NINJA: Could you detail for us what one or two of those occasions were and how you dealt with them?
BUSSEY: Gosh. I don't want to sound proud of the fact that I got into some fights. But when I look back on them now, I am happy to say that I always acted in self defense. I never once encouraged a fight with a dirty look or a smart remark like many people who look to prove something to themselves. I never had to prove anything to myself in that respect. My friend and I were once attacked in a railroad yard by four large individuals. When they attempted to me, I kicked one of them in the face - lifting him up off his feet and down onto the ground. I knocked the other three silly with a 2x6 board that was lying on the ground next to me. The whole thing was over in a matter of seconds.
NINJA: Can you tell us of any other instances when you used your martial arts as a youngster?
BUSSEY: In high school I had a reputation as a martial artist because I was teaching and giving demonstrations at that time. Most of the people in my home town respected me and didn't give me any problems. However, on one occasion, I was at a carnival in a near by town and was challenged by a huge football player/street fighter who had heard a rumor from someone that I was the toughest guy on the planet. He and nine of his buddies tracked me down and tried to encourage me to fight. I told him that I was not going to fight - that I hated fighting - and that I wasn't tough. I turned around and just walked away. Frightened that they might follow me, I decided to leave the carnival. The ten guys tracked me down before I could get to my car and surrounded me. When they moved in to beat me up, I tore into the big guy with a series of moves that left him looking like a mess. I guess it scared the others because they all took off running. Shortly thereafter, a few of them came back to carry the guy off to the hospital. I felt terrible about the whole thing. Later, the guy told me that he was sorry, that it was all his fault.
NINJA: You mentioned that you were teaching martial arts during your high school years. How old were you when you began instructing people?
BUSSEY: Let's see. I actually began teaching when I was fourteen but it wasn't until I was fifteen that my partner and I opened our first commercial storefront academy. Before that I worked at a gas station in order to save up enough money to help cover the initial costs of the business.
NINJA: Fifteen... That sounds pretty young. How old was your partner?
BUSSEY: He was about twenty-four I guess. I instructed all the adult men and he taught all the women and kids. James Rosenback is now the President of my Fremont Corporation. We're still together after all these years.
NINJA: Did you ever meet any resistance from any of the adult men because of your age?
BUSSEY: Believe it or not, many of my students thought I was older than my partner for some reason. But there were quite a few times that I had to put my skills and reputation on the line to defend my position as the owner and chief instructor. One time a student attempted to beat me up during a class. It was a ten-on-one sparring match against me - just having fun - taking it light and easy with very light contact. This one guy kept losing his temper and getting frustrated. Four or five times other students told him to calm down and relax or he was going to get hurt. I even stopped the match and told him to cool down. He had a real problem with my age and all that. Anyway, a little later in the match he spazzed out and went crazy on me. He jumped in, grabbed me, threw me down on the floor and started to punch my face in. Before the students could stop him, I struck him in the head and popped his eyeball partially out of its socket. My partner put it back in his head; and that student forever respected my skills and age. In fact, he studied with me for many years and became a black belt instructor.
NINJA: Tell us about your martial arts background.
BUSSEY: Well, I started out in Korean tae kwon do and studied under quite a few different people. I attained a third degree black belt in that art before I gave it up for ninjutsu. I trained here in the States and also in Korea.
NINJA: Besides ninjutsu, I understand that you also hold various degrees of black in hapkido and mookido as well as experience in other forms of the martial arts. Is that true?
NINJA: When did you begin ninjutsu training and why?
BUSSEY: When I was seventeen I met a Japanese foreign exchange student who invited me to come to Japan and live in his home as a guest. At that time I had seen a lot of politics in the martial arts circles, and I felt very limited. I had read as much as I could on ninjutsu, and had made up my mind to go after it. So, I saved my money from teaching and took off for Japan to find Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi when I was eighteen years old. Although my foreign exchange friend knew nothing about ninjutsu at that time, he helped me find Dr. Hatsumi, and translated during our conversation. I spent the next two months training under Toshiro Nagato, one of Hatsumi Sensei's top people. My friend was so impressed that he began training and eventually became a nidan in the art. During my first trip I practiced thirteen solid hours per day, trying to take in as much as I possibly could in a short time. At first the training was difficult because I couldn't loosen up. I tried to force all my my techniques, snapping every movement. But after long hours of training - and a real desire to learn - I was able to grasp the feeling and essence of ninjutsu.
NINJA: How many trips have you made to Japan since your first visit?
BUSSEY: I have traveled to Japan five times in the past six years. My last visit was in July of '85. I was chosen to be a personal student of Dr. Hatsumi, and I trained with him and many of his high level students. It was very interesting. I took one of my top students, Daniel Clark, with me.
NINJA: What was it like working with Dr. Hatsumi again?
BUSSEY: It was fun. He is an unusual person. We were able to spend quite a bit of time together talking about various issues and concepts of fighting. He was also very open to what I had to say about the Lord. At the end of the trip he promoted me again, which was encouraging - not in a sense of attaining rank or piece of paper, but in a sense of mutual respect for each other.
NINJA: In the past several years there has been much controversy surrounding the differences between you and other ninjutsu instructors in this country. Would you care to shed some light on this issue?
BUSSEY: Well, actually, I am not associated with anyone except myself and my people. I do not believe that any one man has a monopoly on ninjutsu in this country. It is up to the consumer to carefully choose the best instructor and dojo for them. There are all kinds of phony as well as legitimate ninja teachers out there; many of them don't have any real skill, and only play the game of being a ninja or warrior. I speak for my abilities and the abilities of my students. I cannot play pattycake with my taijutsu skills. It has to be real for me - and that's the way I train and teach.
NINJA: Tell us about your academies?
BUSSEY: This year marks our ten-year anniversary. The Lord has really blessed us in the past decade. The Omaha dojo has been a dream of mine for many, many years. We've got almost ten thousand and square feet of room, complete with Nautilus, saunas, whirlpool, traditional training equipment - the whole nine yards. It has fourteen-foot high mirrors that run the entire length of the dojo. It's beautiful. Ninjutsu is practiced six days a week - Monday through Saturday. We've got a lot of strong students. Guys come and train there from all over the country.
NINJA: Are most of your students from the Nebraska area?
BUSSEY: Yes. A majority of them are from the Omaha area. We have women and men from all different trades and backgrounds. For instance, we've got high school students, police officers, doctors, factory workers, military personel, children and so on. It's exciting.
NINJA: As a Christian, what are your views and beliefs toward the Eastern mystical aspects of the martial arts and ninjutsu?
BUSSEY: That's a great question and I could fill a book with the answer. I receive hundreds of letters from people who are just like me, Christians who want to develop skills in the martial arts and personal defense without all of the Eastern philosophy or mysticism. I used to study all kinds of mind control, energy channeling, meditation and so on. I used to think that there were many different ways to reach God. But after I received a personal relationship with Jesus and began to study the Bible, I soon realized that those techniques were not of God and that there is only one way. The techniques that I thought were bringing me peace were only an imitation and perversion of the true gifts and love that God has for His believers. God and the universe are not one in the same. God created the universe. You cannot search deep inside yourself to find God, you must invite Him in. Man has very little ability to change his ways - the Lord has the power to change the insides of a man and is the source of all authority. If you don't believe me, ask God. He will prove it to your heart and your mind. It's not a case of religion or dogma, it's a personal relationship with God - one-on-one. That's the way it is with me and millions of others. That's why I cannot compromise for any art, man or idol.
NINJA: Is your style in keeping with what was originally taught, or have you expanded or broadened its scope in any way?
BUSSEY: What I teach is not the same as what is taught in Japan. I approach the art in what I feel is a more realistic way. Although the techniques are fundamentally the same, I have expanded on its foundation to accommodate the attitudes and skills of the American martial artist. My approach has been criticized by a few folks, but that's okay - the proof is in the pudding. The controversy only makes people take a harder look at what I am doing. If people are given a choice and they see the difference, they will pick the best that they can get. That is one reason why my dojos and camps are such a success.
NINJA: What do you feel the future holds for ninjutsu?
BUSSEY: I do not practice fortune telling so I cannot say. But seriously, I feel that the ninja art is still growing out of its infancy stage. There are very few good people teaching in this country. As the art grows, we will need more and more qualified instructors to accommodate the interest. People write and call all the time asking if I have a teacher in their area. But we just don't have enough to go around, so we get them involved with one and two day seminars, or we get them into one of our dojos in Nebraska.
NINJA: How old are you now?
BUSSEY: I was twenty-five in August.
NINJA: You have accomplished more in your life so far than most do in a lifetime. You have appeared on the cover of magazines, authored a book and have built a successful business. What's next for you?
BUSSEY: Whatever the Lord has planned for me. I recently invested in a Christian Book Co. that is doing extremely well. I'm also working on a couple of new books. We'll just have to wait and see.
NINJA: Thanks for granting us this interview.
BUSSEY: Oh, thank you. God bless.