The ‘Kokoro’ of Kihon Happo

ishizuka_iai
Kage No Ittō

When thinking about Kihon Happo, I feel I must start from the time, over 23 years ago when I was allowed to become a student. At the time I was a 17 year old high school student, with a strong interest in Judo, Kendo, Karate, Aikido and Shorinji Kempo. I was training in each of them. One day I dislocated my shoulder in Judo and went toSoke’s seikotsu clinic for treatment. That’s how it all started.

ishizuka_aruki

Hokōjutsu

The training hall at that time was a small room with a plank floor. Whether hot or cold, we would all train together there as friends. There were day’s when someone would stomp through a plank in the floor and we would all stop to repair it before continuing.  From the senior students I learned Ichimonji no Kamae, Hicho no Kamae, Jumonji no Kamae and strange strikes and kicks and blocks that I had never seen before, and which I did not really understand. After some months I learned that these new techniques were Kihon Happo. How I wanted to learn some techniques, but Soke and the senior students applied blocks to me and threw me through the air. They made my body learn ukemi naturally, so my ukemi gradually became better – totally different from those in Aikido or Judo. So I could take my falls without pain on planks, concreate or gravel.

ishizuka_tobi

Tobijutsu

Soke talked to us about Budo both during and after training. Time and time again he told us ‘Ninjutsu is Taijutsu. Taijutsu begins with Kihon Happo and ends with Kihon Happo. If you get stuck for techniques, go back and redo Kihon Happo.’The most essential thing required of a martial artist is to have a Kokoro “heart” that is like the warm beautiful heart of a flower in peace and harmony, or alternatively the warm, beautiful heart of a flower with the upright, flexible character of a bamboo.I was young and often thought ‘Oh no not again,’ but as though reading my mind Soke would say, ‘Takamatsu Sensei used to tell me all of these things in the same way, and I would think ‘Uh oh, here he goes again !’, but later the fact that those words are really important pierced it’s way deep into my chest.’ Hearing these words, I felt them pierce my chest deeply too.

ishizuka_kyoketsu

Kyoketsu Shōge

As timed passed, I sweated through the training, always’s cradled by Soke’s warm heart and got to teach those below me the basic Kihon Happo., like “Te Hodoki” untying the hands, in just the same way as I had been taught in my time. When considering how each of the techniques had been passed down this way for over 900 years, I could but wonder at the mystery of living Martial Arts.Eventually I came to have a dojo of my own, and students of my own and realised more and more how heavy a responsibility I held for my own basics. As you are all aware, many students came from abroad to train in the martial arts, but somehow the techniques lacked ‘bite’, and I realised this must be because they had not truly mastered the basics. I really sensed a need for everyone  to learn from the Shihan how each individual movement of the Kihon Happo gets linked into techniques, and then into Taijutsu, to build a stable form of movement with roots firmly implanted into the earth, combined with sharp biting branches.

ishizuka_shitoken

Shitō Ken

Soke is a genius – as a painter, as an actor, and of course as a martial artist. His movements do not stop at where onlookers see them stop. The techniques flow on and on boundlessly, and so whenever you train yourself, copying the movements of this great flowing river, please watch Soke’s toes, fingertips, torso – in fact watch his whole body. He uses all of the Kihon Happo I have just metioned. If you just try to copy the flow of techniques without seeing this, your techniques will have no ‘bite’.When a baby starts to walk, he often falls over probably because of the unbalence between his head’s weight and the muscles of his body. The martial arts are the same. Just as a parent stretches out a helping hand to a baby, senior students stretch out to help their juniors, and both help and love each other. Love produces new things, raises new life.

ishizuka_soke

Kumiuchi

It is said that Taijustu gives birth to miracles. And the first step of Taijutsu is Kihon Happo! As it was transmitted from Takamatsu Sensei to Hatsumi Sensei, and from Hatsumi Sensei to the Shidoshi throughout the world, with heavy responsibility to bring about world peace and help people to lead enjoyable lives. This responsibility may be heavy, but I feel it is also somehow enjoyable in itself. How about you?

By Tetsuji Ishizuka Sensei, from Tetzusan

 

Hela inlägget är taget från Facebook och Bujinkan Shugyō Dōjō 武神館修行道場 inlägg.
Klicka här för att komma dit.

Träna budo

Måhända att rubriken inte riktigt överensstämmer med inlägget, men denna gång hittar jag inte nån rubrik på texten. Jag har snott inlägget från Duncan Stewart på Facebook. Nu har inte alla Facebook eller kanske inte läser överallt där.

Nåväl…….

Här är länken till originaltexten: https://www.facebook.com/BujinkanTasmaniaTokuBuRyuSuiDojo/photos/…..

 

The Dojo is not a mere social outlet, nor a place where people can appease their desires and do what they want. Budo is military and thus, the fundamental basis is to listen and learn, and entrust oneself to Mu and the teacher. Taijutsu is the art of the body. We are learning the technical body art of war. This must be remembered and thus the right attitude and spirit developed from the beginning. This is why we have Seishin Teki Kyoyo at the commencement and conclusion of keiko and paramount in every art learning top killing techniques for survival.
People enter the dojo with too much of themselves. The concept of “emptying one cup at the door” is so important. Even those who have trained a long time have yet to relinquish their ego and beliefs. The only way to understand, is to be a bug on the horses tail.
Bad habits come in all guises. Purification of the self is searching deeply and being sincere enough to “feel” ones shortcomings and then have the courage to weed them out through blood,sweat and tears. In other words, Musha Shugyo.
In the old days, the truth of the budding students character was shown through having to endure being uke for a long period. Or, clean the dojo and do errands.
Nowadays, we often see students enter the dojo and are able to practise waza straight away and not have to lift a finger to clean or assist in dojo maintenance. This is the consumer mentality. I feel the modern way of many is a sickness, and it breeds students and teachers who will never come close to understanding the heart of budo, regardless of if they train forever.
For those who truly have budo in their heart, they should not have to be told to help or clean, etc etc. It should be in the soul of the person. The dojo environment will assist in activating this sense of duty, obligation and selflessness. If it doesn`t, than it is nothing but a hall for sports.
The higher ranks have a duty. This duty is to continue to learn and discover their faults. They are then to transmit these life experiences to the juniors to assist in their own development. An example is that the high rank will often be the lower ranks uke. The lower rank will then receive greater ability and knowledge from experiencing the open heart ( shin den ) and open body ( tai den ) of the higher rank.
Unfortunately nowadays, we do not see this, as most teachers believe they cannot show weakness or be thrown by lesser ranks. In good dojos, the teacher will often express the essence of waza from taking the role of uke. The ability to receive is the basis of all learning,development and teaching. If the teacher ceases to take the role of uke, a separation occurs in both mind,body and spirit. This move from the path is felt by both students and the teacher and, marks the beginning of the end for the teacher. This is why Soke admonishes all of us not to become teachers but students. The only way is to keep training with the heart of receiving.
The dojo is a sacred place. In fact, no matter where you are, if you are holding the budo heart, the very place you stand is sacred. Those that have the true budo heart permeate this and, if we are honest, we can feel something very unique about them. I believe it is for that very reason that they hold a just and sincere heart devoted to a good path.
It is this heart that I try to understand in my training.

When you enter the dojo, please enter with the Bujinkan heart.

Things that make you go ‘Hmmmm’…

Då är jag här igen med en intressant text.
Den här är också från Facebook.

Denna gång är författaren Mark Lithgow.
Mark är känd inom Bujinkan och är den person som bott längst i Noda.
Mark är inte så dokumenterad på nätet, så det blir inte så många länkar.

Fråga gärna mig eller Mats i dojon.

Det är en text med en massa kommentarer.
Som jag skre på Fejjan: “Orkar ni inte hela tråden jag delat här, läs Mark Lithgows inlägg”.

Just det, jag kan inte hitta var originaltråden ligger. Det här är kopierat från en dansk Bujinkankille.

Mark Lithgow:

Things that make you go ‘Hmmmm’….

A couple of seminar posters were brought to my attention the last couple of days. Wow! It really looks like people sit down and think about how to word these things as eloquently as possible to justify that they will basically just be ‘making stuff up’!!! People can be so quick to quote Hatsumi sensei on how important it is to be able to move freely… But where were they the many times that he’s said “Don’t teach what you’ve never been taught!” and “Until 15th dan, it’s important to work on getting strong technique!” What I get from that is that if you want to play at the old ‘free-movement dance’, do it among 15th dans. But to teach to lower ranks at seminars, teach them good strong technique as a base for them to build on!

Just a couple of days ago at the Honbu Dojo, Sensei said “Ato wa renshû dayo!” (Now it’s just a case of practicing it!). Why aren’t comments about ‘practicing’ ever quoted, but quotes that justify making stuff up ARE? I know a little about Japanese martial history too, and seeing some of the ‘history’ on some of these seminar posters is embarrassing! As I said… Hmmmm!!!!

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Du, Sveneric Bogsäter, Elias Krzywacki, Oliver Piskurek og 77 andre synes godt om dette.
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Billy Ristuccia Like, Like, Like, Like, Like… oh sorry just hitting the Like button a few hundred times!

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Nick Armsworthy Well said Mark, well said.

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Stu Klemm Well said Mark, I am sorely tempted to attempt some joke about some esoteric something that we are studying this week. But, I’m sorry, we’re just practicing ukemi gata taihenjutsu and kihon happou, with a bit of zan shin thrown in for good measure… “Yawn….” Aren’t we wonderful? Our excellence is only exceeded by our humility. LOL

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Paul Richardson Brilliant post

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Jan Peter Tanja *applause*

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Rich Maloof Thank you.

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Steve Delaney (スティーブン・デレイーニ) Kihon, kihon, kihon!

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Roger Andersson in general I’m guessing people want to ‘be good’… ‘becoming skilled’ takes too much time and study… but I’m just guessing here

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Norman Victor Meldrew Smithers Or partly because they believe they are as good as the grade they have?, as Steve said, Kihon, Kihon, Kihon.

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Billy Ristuccia I suddenly feel the need to cancel all my Gikan Ryu seminars. ;p

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Ashley Curtis Egos and the Bujinkan go hand in hand unfortunately.

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Norman Victor Meldrew Smithers These egos are sometimes fed from those in Japan unfortunately

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Steven Hesterman very well put

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Martin Faulks Question for Mark Lithgow and Michael Pearce. Where did the whole “make your own martial arts” idea come from in ninjutsu ?

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Mark Lithgow Maybe that’s a good test of character Norman…. Having your ego fed, but keeping your feet on the ground!

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Norman Victor Meldrew Smithers Totally agree Mark

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Mark Lithgow: That’s an interesting question Martin. When I first came to Japan, we simply did basic techniques. We’d line up in the dojo and march up and down like in a karate dojo, punches, blocks, shutô, kicks, etc. We’d work on having strong movement and strong technique… on having a strong structure to our body. THAT’S what we used to call ‘Taijutsu’. Then we’d run through the Sanshin no Kata, and then we’d work a lot on Kihon Happô, with no henka. After that the teacher would go to the Tenchijin Ryaku no Maki and we’d work on a few techniques from there. We’d work on the ‘textbook version’, and maybe a couple of ‘henka’. The henka would often be textbook henka too… working from a different side, or from a different attack… but usually closely based on the original kata. Over the years, Hatsumi sensei and some of the others got bored teaching the basics, assuming that people who came here for a couple of weeks a year were spending the other 50 weeks of the year at home practicing the basics and practicing what they’d learned over here the time before. Little by little they started stressing the henka more and more. Stressing the importance of being able to adapt to the situation. Unfortunately, people took that the wrong way. When they were here, they saw Sensei doing henka… making stuff up… and they felt that they should just go with that, and felt that they were qualified to make their own stuff up too. The 50 weeks a year that they are not in Japan, rather than working on their own technical base as Sensei intends them to be, I think many (though, of course, not all!) are just taking the easy way out by making their own stuff. As far as seminars go, I think that it probably comes from this idea that many people have that ‘people attend seminars to be impressed’ attitude (Personally I don’t agree! I think they go there to LEARN! …To take something home that will add to their own training!). They want to show students things that they’ve never seen before. There are so many seminars these days that many teachers feel that they have to outdo others by showing ‘new’ things. To show new things, they feel the need to make stuff up.

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Jeff Christian Thanks for the history, Mark.

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Michael Pearce Don’t get me started. Great post. I remember those days. God they were hard but great.

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Christopher Davy Thanks Mark! Great post!

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Martin Faulks So basically people who should be learning scales are trying free form jazz because the the teacher does that in his performances.

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Mark Lithgow LOL…. Exactly Martin!

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Martin Faulks So thats my all the notes are wrong!

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Phillip Legare: Very well put Mark Lithgow. I think you’ve identified the problems exactly. People don’t practice building that strong base 50 weeks a year anymore. We just all want to imitate Soke. I recall not all that long ago Soke calling out a gaijin to demo the first kata from the go gyo and he did the kihon instead. Soke turned to some of the Japanese and said we don’t know our basics. For the next year he told the Japanese to just teach the basics. At the next year’s DKMYS the same result happened and Soke said basically the same thing. Noguchi Sensei then taught the Tenchijin for the next couple of years, in fact he was still teaching from his notes last November. The bottom line is we just don’t practice building our base enough. I think it’s great that whenever you or Mike teach a seminar here you ground everything on building a strong base. I recall Mike even being ordered to teach basics at least on two of his trips over too. So obviously this is something that is extremely important yet we all seem to have missed it over here. The other issue on seminars, well don’t get me started as Mike said. Suffice it to say there are too many seminars being offered way too frequently everywhere. In order to get a big turn out you have to teach sizzle. Or at least that is what many think they need to do to sell the seminar. Who wants to pay $175 for 2 days of basics and hearing, you suck, anymore? Funny thing is, people WILL attend if the instruction is good, reasonably priced and spaced out/coordinated so as not to overburden the students. But that would mean coordinating teaching events amongst the dojo leaders and limiting who and how often people come over. Coordinate between dojos? The horror of it all !! Back to the ego again. Last note. There are many gaijin who live in Japan now who never had the old line drill experiences you both have had. They may only train with Soke and may only know henka. Some of these guys are teaching seminars on the only thing they know and have zero base to support them. These guys , in my opinion, are continuing the false perception that this is what we should train on the most (and not our base). And they probably think they are doing a great job imitating Soke and giving us just what we pay for!! Okay sorry for high jacking your post Mark. I am off for a coffee!

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Martin Faulks Is it that flashing or exotic things get people to come to seminars ?

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Phillip Legare Sizzle = sexy.

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Phillip Legare Sexy = sales.

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Martin Faulks The irony is the sales are not that good for most events

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Phillip Legare Same here, but I have been lucky in these last few years after moving back. I do try to coordinate my seminars, I only have a few big name instructors come in each year (like Mark one year, Dean the next) and I have some really talented senior instructors living within a 4-5 hour drive to draw from. Our recent black belt seminar was very well attended. Karl Koch, Morten B. Østenstad, Don Schmidt, Steven Schmidt were some of the instructors. Funny, I can’t remember when the last time was that I did my own seminar here at my own dojo !! I am enjoying bringing people in like Mark Lithgow, Michael Pearce, Dean Rostohar so I can continue to learn and grow too. To me, that is the secrets to having a successful seminar. Coordinate, dont over saturate, pick great instructors that you yourself want to learn from.

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Brent Earlewine: “Quality Control” either starts from the top, or it has to be self imposed. If the top of an organization does not establish and then enforce/re-enforce baseline structure and methodology, then it falls to the individual to do so. Unfortunately, human nature finds the illusion of self importance and “look at me” too alluring to make self imposed quality control work consistently as a method for decent standards. When you add the ego trap of martial arts into this discussion, it magnifies the problem. We in the Bujinkan are our own worst enemy. By design or by accident, Soke essentially leaves us to our own devices. Senior instructors around the globe offer what they think students want. As Phil-San states – sexy/sizzle sells and each tries to outdo the other. This dynamic would stop almost instantly if each instructor that wanted to offer a seminar had to ask permission to teach it, AND had to prove they knew the subject well enough to even offer it! And to paraphrase Michael and Phil – don’t get me started on the issue of over saturation of seminars within the Bujinkan… In the meantime, my students and I are doing a several month step by step review of Kyu level material. Again. See you on the mat

Att fortsätta träna

Bland det roligaste som finns som instruktör är när det kommer elever som fortsätter träna, vad som än händer. Och bland det tråkigaste är när duktiga elever slutar träna. Och slutar, det gör de vid tre olika tillfällen (för det mesta); 1. efter nio kyu. Jag har aldrig förstått meningen med att träna hårt tills det gröna bältet för att sedan aldrig mer komma tillbaka. Graderingen är deras sista pass i dojon. 2. Efter sho-dan (1:a dan). Svart bälte, det är nästa svåra punkt att ta sig igenom. 3. Go-dan, avklarad sakki-test tycks vara ett magiskt datum för många.
Själv har jag har aldrig satt några mål med min träning, förutom att hela tiden bli bättre. Med den inställningen går det inte att lägga av med sin träning. För det går hela tiden att bli bättre. Shodan eller Godan är bara stationer på vägen.

I Tetsu dojo har vi haft tre unga män som visat stor talang och stort engagemang. De har inte missat en träning, de har tagit hand om vår barngrupp m.m.. Det var fram till julen -01. Då fick två av dem svart bälte. Efter det har de synts till i dojon lika många gånger som jag har fingrar på min högra hand. Det är så trist att glöden dör, att de inte finner mödan att träna vidare.

Vad är det då som är fel? Vi som är instruktörer har tränat i mer än femton år vardera och det verkar inte finnas några tecken på att sluta hos någon av oss. Varför brinner vår låga. Ett svar kan vara (för min del) att det inte finns på världskartan att inte åka och träna varje tisdag och torsdag. Det är inte en fråga om lust eller en fråga om ett måste. Det bara är så att jag ska åka och träna. Det är en del av livet. Simple as that!

Vad har jag som instruktör gjort fel som inte lyckats få dessa unga män att vilja fortsätta sin träning? Något måste det vara eftersom de lagt av. Jag har hela tiden försökt göra träningspassen innehållsrika, roliga och omväxlande för att eleverna ska känna att det är skoj att gå till dojon. Att de ska känna att om de missar en träning så missar de någonting roligt och samtidigt något nytt de inte sett tidigare. Men det verkar inte hjälpa.

Att träna Bujinkan är svårt. Det tar tid att lära sig, det tar tid att bli bra. Och det måste få ta tid. I dagens snabba samhälle där allt ska gå på nanosekunder känns det skönt att få träna något som man aldrig kommer att bli fullärd i. Dessutom är det så ofantligt kul att få träffa sin kompisar.

Till sist vill jag bara säga till alla ni som slutat med Bujinkan, ni är alla hjärtligt välkomna tillbaka. Men tänk på att ju längre tid det tar innan ni hänger på er gin, desto svårare blir det att komma igång igen. Jag hoppas jag ser er igen. I dojon!

Mats Brickman
Bujinkan Shidoshi, 10 Dan

[Ursprungligen upplagd: 12:e oktober, 2002 ]

Keiko no Kokoro

Jag hittade en text på Facebook.
Den var så pass intressant att jag postar den här.

Texten är skriven av Duncan Stewart från Tasmanien.
Länk till texten på Fejjan: Keiko No Kokoro

Vill ni veta mer om vem Duncan är, surfa nätet eller fråga mig.

Här är några länkar:
Duncans dojo
På Facebook
Duncans blog
På Youtube

 

There are many reasons people enter the martial arts dojo. Some, because they want to achieve a particular rank or status, others for physical, mental and spiritual self development. Regardless of why one enters the dojo, in order to pursue their chosen martial art, one has to relinquish thy self to the philosophy or conditions presented. The dojo is not a democracy and you ( as a novice ) don`t decide what you do and do not want to do, or participate in. If the reason is medical, than this in my eyes is an obvious exception. However, those who wish to pursue martial arts, need to exercise some restraint, and understand that they will have to endure times of discomfort, or at first, non acceptance and resistance when coping with the different culture of a traditional martial arts dojo. This may seem harsh to many. But I urge you to understand that martial arts is the arts of war. Not, just a means of self enjoyment or appeasing ones desires. The martial arts is a life way. Soke once threw me to the ground and said, ” There is no escaping the Bujinkan!” 🙂

Now, if the person enters the dojo with too much ego, the need to maintain their image or, maintain their firm beliefs in the way ” things should be for them”, then it will be difficult.

Many people nowadays enter the dojo with a consumer mentality. That is, they believe that the teacher is a service provider and as they have paid money, the teacher has to give them what they want or answer the questions they ask. Well, I laugh at this. But, it is an unfortunate state of society and in some cases creates Mc Dojos that have agreed to cater to these mentalities for pure business.

In the case of studying the classical martial arts, it is important to enter the dojo with an open mind and heart. Most people who enter a dojo, really do not have an understanding of what they are in for or to expect. Therefore, it is only with time, that the student will slowly develop the spirit of studying the martial arts if, this is their destiny. Regardless, if a person with a balanced perspective and openness to change internally and externally can continue, they will enjoy and grow from their training.

Takamatsu Osensei apparently told Hatsumi Soke that ” There are many real people in the world who are not budoka.” I think this is something very important to understand.

In regards to being an uke, we have to understand the current manner of training as experienced in Japan. In order to appreciate or come closer to understanding the level of subtlety and skill, we must be able to let go of our preconceptions of what martial training should be like. We have to be able to put ourselves aside and step into an empty sponge and soak in the truth. Quite a task!

Understanding the role of uke is a stepping stone here to really understanding the many messages and secrets of budo. In order to develop oneself, one has to thoroughly practice to enter the moment of nothingness and strike in the space while being nothing yourself. This is moving with the feeling of Mu and can be seen as Mu Taijutsu with the heart of fudoushin.

Allowing oneself to experience pain,discomfort and the feeling of not being in control, is the role of uke. The initial attack is about control, however, the role is to then to allow oneself to feel the opposite. If one has an healthy ego, one can allow their partner/teacher to administer these lessons.

And, this is exactly what this is all about, the ability to receive lessons!!

There are 15th dan that receive painful fingertip lessons to their face and bodies from Soke. To receive from Soke is an honor!! You need to accept it, no matter how painful! This is a lesson of the highest and also gives the receiver and understanding into their own psyche and coping mechanisms.

Soke uses the 15th dan to explain and transmit these painful experiences. However, many try to brush his hands away with their own, as he does. Soke just puts it on harder. Well, no one likes pain, but, this experience has many lessons, and if you understand these lessons, you will relinquish yourself and trust Soke. People obviously still haven`t learned that the more you struggle, the worse it becomes for you.

Sensei is giving you the experience of human fragility and also the feeling of complete loss of control and helplessness. This is important to experience to maintain a humble and compassionate heart. Especially for the jugodan. Experiencing this is also about trust. I will not go into my many experiences with this with Soke but, he clearly stated this on many occasions in class.

If one attempts to escape or fight back from sokes painful lessons, it clearly shows that the individual is not ready for the lessons, does not trust, understand, or even want the lessons.

Budo is about understanding ones frailty as a human. with this comes greater respect for others. However, people nowadays are sheltered and have not experienced pain and discomfort. People are growing weak they say. The dojo is a place where one can develop internal and external training in a safe environment. The teachers who administer these lessons with the correct heart are doing so with the desire to help the students develop and be able to cope with life and it`s challenges outside of the dojo.

Often we can look at budo training as ” being cruel to be kind.” To the outsider, martial arts training can seem just mindless strength and pain tolerance training. These words come from those who have never trained. Soke has said that people may view you as cold hearted or the like, but it is important to maintain your ground in the knowing that it is the true way of budo.

Budo teaches life. And, as we all know, life is not often observed as fair or always plain sailing, enjoyable, pain or sorrow free. This is what budo training reminds us. It conditions us to be able to cope better so we may endure and preserve right to the end. as happily as we can.

If we look at the dojo kun ( dojo code ) we can see they are 5 precepts that are essential for living life and not just budo.

Budo and life are the same.

To receive lessons both physically,mentally and spiritually, one has to trust. And with trust, one looses fear. Fear is the base emotion that hold most martial artists from transcending and growing in all realms.

The first stage is to trust. With solid kihon training, one develops skill and confidence and the abilities to control oneself. With this, comes eventual trust of the self. In connection to this stage, the student is developing a trust and relationship with ones teacher and peers in the dojo. Together, everyone builds confidence and trust in each others abilities. When this reaches a healthy stage, then training in the dojo can become highly stimulating and spirited.

As you can see, the Ten Chi Jin or fundamental training and repetitive movement, initially by oneself, is essential to mastering ones body , mind and spirt.

Being uke is learning how to survive with out having to fight back. It is learning the lessons of how not fighting and allowing nature to take it`s course can keep one alive. If your training is just about learning how to “fight back”, then at a time when this is futile, you have not developed the capacity to accept and the lack of control you face.

After all, fighting back is about trying to maintain control. The importance of being uke and receiving is to develop the capacity to understand there a times when fighting back could get you or your family killed or placed in a worse situation.

Being uke is learning about staying alive at times when one cannot fight back. In fact, taking ukemi is about staying alive and is in a sense kyojutsu. Fighting to stay alive without actually fighting.

Takamatsu Osensei once said to Soke that his understanding of budo was getting better as his ukemi was improving. Now, this art is about survival and ukemi and the art of being uke is about just that.

Their are martial arts that only teach how to be the tiger. They only teach how to fight back. If one is set upon by a dozen people and some with weapons, do you fight back like the movies? There are obviously times when there is no other choice, but unless you are very lucky, you may not survive.

This is where we have to understand the difference between fighting and surviving. And, this is the difference between Ninjutsu and other budo. Ninjutsu is a holistic art teaching self preservation through understanding the fragility of our own existence. This is also a lesson one receives from being uke.

Ninjutsu encompasses ways to hide,run,jump,climb,distract,roll and fall to maintain ones life. These are methods of removing oneself from danger as skillfully and as quickly as possible. These techniques were devised by people almost always outnumbered. Lessons to take to heart.

I once heard a foreign shihan say that he felt the Santo Tonko no Kata was a waste of time. Well, all I can say here is, it is true that the rank does not explain ones true level of budo. Look at the form and see through to the secrets or lessons. Here are a few simple ones:

1. Men,woman and children are grabbed every day for various reasons in these ways and abducted,raped,and murdered.

2. Stepping three times is just a “formal way” of learning to regain composure and balance.

3. Throwing something is a very natural method of self defense for mankind and even apes.

4. Hiding is also an instinctual method of self defense for humans and animals alike.

From there, the student can view abductions and also what people do when being pulled. Often people develop a “tug o war” mentality and physically when being dragged. And, they use their free hand to grasp on to something to maintain their position or to reach for something to use in defense. Hence, we have natural applications based from Hachimonji no kamae! If you just look at the kamae without using your brain, it will look useless and ” a waste of time” 😉

These are very simple examples to show that all kata in the Bujinkan are real and have real life applications if you have the correct mind, heart and training to see. This is why I laugh when people, even those that claim to practise the Bujinkan arts, state that the training is not realistic and not applicable for todays society. I care not for these people that obviously do not see the pragmatism and naturalness found in all waza. It goes to show that these people have a mind set in the way they believe martial arts training should be, rather than give some time and space in their heads to discover that 2000 years of techniques handed down in blood,sweat and tears may actually have something worth learning from.

Also, people often try to adapt the waza or “improve” on them before they have even practiced or studied them long enough to “see” and understand the depth and reasoning for such a technique. People are too trapped in the form and just see in a superficial manner. This is low level training in the martial arts. Some people have even said they would not perform sword kata like written and try to improve on it. Firstly, the people that wrote these waza most likely used the waza to stay alive. The kata is literally signed in blood. I find it incredible that instructors who have never been on a battlefield sword fighting or experienced a one on one dual with another expert swordsman can have the audacity to improve on it. These people need to be cut down in my eyes.

Training is about breaking down your habits and searching for your weak points. Writing and expressing yourself helps you to do this. But, this takes courage. Often speaking your mind can disturb a harmony yet, this harmony is often only disturbed due to the receivers inability to accept but, not necessarily agree. Training for me is learning about where I am in the moment. From there, you move freely and live as your environment dictates. If we listen to our elders, we learn that ” k sera sera ” is very important. It is about allowing the world to be as it is and, accept everything for what is, going with the flow like flowing water and drifting clouds.

Water and clouds have naturally been free for an eternity. There is much to learn from nature.

Shizen Gyoun Ryu Sui.

Duncan.