Put Your Heart & Soul into Consistent Training

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In order to master any form of art, whether martial or aesthetic, consistent everyday training is crucial. It is well known that in the world of traditional Japanese Kabuki theater. The actors who portray female characters on stage (there are no actresses in Kabuki; male actors alone take all roles) maintain their feminine mannerisms even in daily life off stage.

What is the appropriate attitude for martial artists concerning consistent training? Bufu-Ikkan, or “consistent warrior living”, is my only advice. Naturally, this is all I can say no matter how the question is put to me – Do not give up. Keep going!


From my earliest years in the world of martial training, it was my goal to be truly good. In striving to attain that goal, I trained in the physical techniques three times as hard as a normal student. I devoted three times the normal mental effort in coming to a living understanding of the martial arts. I invested three times the normal amount of money that most students would spend in order to obtain the insights I needed. I trained fanatically and consistently and I became strong. As I found myself attaining the strength I had sought, however, I curiously enough came to discover a subtle new form of weakness in myself. I searched diligently for the roots of this suspicion of weakness. But I could never seem to get to the bottom of the question. I was truly at a loss. Nonetheless, I firmly believed in the validity of the teachings of the martial tradition behind my art, so I was sure that my continuing consistent training would eventually lead me to the enlightenment I sought. I just kept on training. I kept going.

One day, an invisible insidious enemy attacked, and I found myself struggling against a serious illness that had set in against my body. I knew in my heart that I faced a survival situation so dangerous that the outcome would literally be life or death. Simply standing up straight required a huge amount of energy. At times, my vision failed completely. I struggled to regain my health for five years. Sometimes, the demands were so great that I found myself thinking that death would be a much easier route than living.


In the depths of that dark period, I discovered that my previous strength, the vital and virile martial power that I worked so hard to cultivate, was indeed a false strength. My previous power depended entirely on my being in peak health. When my health began to decline, my power began to vanish with it. Power that is at best conditional or temporary is not true power at all. It is merely the illusion of power.

Despite my weakened condition, I kept going with my training in the warrior arts. I never quit. Slowly, I began to regain my health. Eventually I recovered from the illness that drained me so for five years of my life. Looking back on my period of illness and recovery, I came to realize that I had consistently kept at my training the whole way through, no matter what my condition, no matter how weak or drained I had felt.


From this experience, I learned the value of consistent training – adjusting the methods, pace, and focus to fit my body and mind no matter what the state of my mental and physical health. I now know that there is in consistent training a series of developmental stages appropriate for all the stages of life. There is an appropriate way to train when you are young and vigorous. There is an appropriate way to train as you enter the advanced years of your life. There is an appropriate way to train when you are ill, and there is an appropriate way to train when it seems that no training will fit. Even facing death at the close of life is a form of training; most people get caught between their fear of death and their hopes for immortality. Accepting the inevitability of death as something natural at that moment is a form of training for the warrior. Consistent training, ever fitting the goal to the means at hand, is the only way to cultivate the true strength that transcends all limitations.

Five years of struggling with illness led me to discard any concern with comparative values of what others would conventionally brand as strength as opposed to weakness, speed as opposed to slowness. In the grander scheme of things, from the higher divine levels of vision, the ultimate form of strength is a totally relative concept. I learned the power of “natural and fitting technique” a higher form of strength that transcends the conventional strength of raw physical power or even mental willpower that is so often the only thing taught in conventional martial arts schools.


In your training career, there may come a time when you find yourself frustrated and disgusted with what you feel to be your own dullness. You just can not get the techniques right. Your training just does not seem to go the way you want it to. I consider this slump period to be absolutely necessary for your own growth. Your sense of frustration and constriction leads you to the breakthrough you need for advancement. Like a snake that struggles to shed it’s skin so that it can grow larger, the martial artist too must pass these inevitable stages of molting for growth.

This moulting period can be a dangerous time for the unwary, however. Because of the frustration experienced in working through your current training barrier, no matter what it is, you can become an easy victim to the seductive allure of all the other martial technique systems that suddenly seem to appear to be so much more desirable or more glamorous than your own system. Just as one child is always more impressed with the toys of another child, it is a common weakness for students of our art to reach a point of “tough going” and then suddenly look to the other martial arts as a form of distraction. Anything and everything else suddenly looks so good.


Use your commitment to consistency to work through these difficult periods. Keep going. On the other hand, however, it is of course necessary to realize that not everyone is destined to be a master of this art. You have to know the difference between working through a difficult period as part of the growth process, and struggling pointlessly with a hopeless goal. If your feelings of frustration and constriction stretch out for ten years, it is perhaps wise to re-evaluate your commitments. Perhaps this is not the art for you after all.

Train from the beginning with a sincere heart directed by proper motivation. It is pointless to work at the martial arts with the mere intention of collecting as many techniques as possible. This form of consistent concentration of course lacks the counter balance of the power of observation. Training for experience without awareness will only produce a martial arts scholar – one who is no more than a walking technique catalog with no real heart.

By Masaaki Hatsumi Sensei

(Contributed by Shidoshi Mats Hjelm, Sweden for Ura & Omote Newsletter,  September 1995)

Grading Concepts

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Grading Concepts


Here are some of my views about ranking within the Bujinkan on a cold,windy and rainy winters day.

Soke is beyond the trivial concept of ranks. He has spoken about ranking in regards to sports and budo many times over the years.

In the Bujinkan, we have a concept called “Sakizuke”. This is the way Soke received his ranks from Takamatsu Sensei. It is my personal opinion that he respected Takamatsu and the Arts so much, that he clearly understood what was required of him and thus trained three times harder then anyone else. The problem with the new generation ( and mainly the gaijin ) is that we do not understand the concept to our bones and soul. We shy away from accepting a role model, teacher, and also becoming students, disciples etc. We fear we will loose our identity and individualism or, we look at this teacher/student dogma as cultish and refuse to accept anyone as a long term teacher. Being a true budo student is complicated yet very simple. Thus, we see very few out there with the balance of body,mind and spirit to enter the dojo under the tutelage of a teacher. Peoples egos are too big. We live in an era of “entitlement”. It is an era where trust is rare and people find it difficult to be told what to do.

Takamatsu Sensei apparently taught whoever showed an interest in his budo. It was important for the continuance of his budo to spread it throughout the land in a hope that one day, someone will make something of it. He was lucky, as Hatsumi Sensei came along and became his deshi. I believe Soke is doing the same. He is passing on his knowledge to anyone who shows an interest in his budo. He has mentioned that it is his hope that one day, some masters from all the thousands will emerge. The more it is spread, the more chance the art has of surviving and ensuring the health and protection of the people of the world.

The Bujinkan is more like an organism than an organization. Soke spreads the seeds and some die, some grow into weeds and die sooner than later or become a nuisance, some grow into small trees,shrubs,beautiful flowers, and large trees. Each inhabit a space for a period of time. Some longer than others. Some learn well and have the right heart to endure the hardships and teach what they have learned or spread more seeds for the future. Some just hibernate, some just die and wither away. This is nature. This is the Bujinkan.

The Bujinkan and nature is the same.

I believe Soke does not try to control mother nature, he rather accepts it and flows with it ( Shizen Gyoun Ryu Sui ). This is a far more powerful way of leadership – becoming one with mother nature. Soke allows what will be, to be. Of course, there must be intervention from man on occasions as we live in the realm of man. Yet, I believe Soke truly is attuned to the balance of Ten Chi Jin and lives in neither realm, but within the space of all three. Thus, he can rise above the trivial concept of ranking that his less than enlighten students ( us ) can comprehend. He leave us to fight and be concerned about these things for our own training,learning and life lessons. If we don`t understand, that is fine. Maybe we will when we are his age? Therefore, just look after your health and train to one day allow the teachings mature where the concept of “grades” is nothing more than “sowing the seeds”.

Soke is like a farmer, trying to nurture his crop so it can grow and then assist others in growth and finding a life. However, he is at the mercy of mother nature and as a result, some parts of the crop don`t survive or grow well. We are but rice, scattered by the martial wind to test our resolve as budding martial artists.

Some will get it, some won`t. Within this space is where we discover ourselves and what we need to learn to grow and survive.

The Bujinkan grades are based on heart. This heart is the heart of “keeping going”. Just talent or technique is not enough. We must have all three ( Sainou Kon KI ) to reach enlightenment ( Rokkon Shojou ). Therefore, I believe that grades are given to those that have shown perseverance and endurance over the years, even if they are not skilled. If they keep going, it is Sokes wish that ( maybe ) one day they will become skilled.

Really, we are just children. Here is one way I view some ranks/awards. You can also view from the perspective of Shu Ha Ri.

Mu kyu – yet to be thought of by your parents.Lol.

Shodan – sperm

Godan – born

Judan – puberty

Jugodan – 15yr old child ( in samurai culture considered a young adult free to enter life on his/her own ).

Shin Gi Tai Bufu Ikkan – Understands the unity of spirit/technique/Body through enduring years of hard training.

Yushuu – Adult ( in the midst of living, experiencing life, assisting others. )

Dai Shihan – Matured Adult ( experienced lifes trials and survived, leading through example in ShinGiTai, having lived a long life ).

Soke – Mu ( Zero or nothingness )

Just as with mother nature, there are problems,permutations,mutations,diseases,etc. We have this within the Bujinkan as well. Things do not always make sense and work out the way WE believe they should. There is something greater at work. If we believe we are in control, than we are sadly mistaken. Welcome to the workings of mother nature. Just when we think we know, we haven`t. Maybe this Gokui can help:

“If you think there is something, there isn`t. If you think there is nothing, there is”.

The world and those inhabiting it is forever changing and evolving in a tempering process that is infinite, beyond our life time of understanding. Therefore, it is important we try to develop a larger capacity ( utsuwa ) to accept or tolerate these times. I believe Soke has a huge capacity and therefore expresses it by calling himself a UFO. He rises above it all and on occasions, lands to fix things and/or take people for a ride of inspiration to a dimension showing what can be achieved with correct training in heart,body and soul.

Soke has said the Dojo is like a swimming pool and the students are learning to swim. He is the life saver but, he cannot dive in to save everyone, if he did, he would drown too. He therefore stands back and assists those who have the qualities of a budoka that can endure and stay afloat. It sounds harsh, but when you look at mother nature, she is harsh too. But, the training is fun isn`t it, even if we are drowning! So, it is also a lesson to live in the moment, learn to accept death, and die well. Lol. There are always two sides 😉

Those that rise in rank sooner than others, well… it is a test for everyone. It is a test for those that cannot accept it, and also for those who received the ranks. If both parties view ranking superficially and in a materialistic sense, no true understanding will evolve. They may continue training but, the depth of understanding of what they are doing may only ever reach skin or ego depth. They have succumb to desire, lack of maturity, and the unfortunate state of thinking in this modern world. The only way is to live in the Kukan ( space of life ).

We must also acknowledge that Soke respects those with “real world” experiences. These people are often ranked quickly out of respect, regardless of their actual dojo ability. Soke says that if these people have seen battle and survived, they understand budo. We have to remember that Soke never saw battle. According to Nagato Sensei, Soke felt for many years that he could not successfully pass on the feeling of Takamatsu Sensei as he had never killed anyone. Therefore, I believe Soke admires and respects those with similar qualities and gives them ranks/awards/status from sincere respect ( among other things ).

As a result, we see a wide variety of skill sets in the Bujinkan. Those that cannot or did not accept this manner of ranking have left the Bujinkan or cause problems. These people have their own strong ideas of what ranking should be like and cannot see beyond to Sokes teachings. If you are one of these people, it might be better that you leave the Bujinkan or, just shut up and train.

Any issue that arises is not Sokes problem. It is ours. If we cannot accept it, then we have to change it to appease our egos. If we were true students, we would learn to accept the teachings of our Soke. His life is testament to his teachings. Therefore, don`t follow your own way, follow the way laid by 2000 years of Budo transmission. Just as Soke has.

I hope that one day enough of us will mature to continue following Sokes transmissions in tune with the path of nature.

The tradition of the Bujinkan recognizes nature and the universality of all human life, and is aware of that which flows naturally between the two parts:

“The secret principle of Taijutsu is to know the foundations of peace.To study is the path to the immovable heart (fudoshin).”

To know that patience comes first.
To know that the path of Man comes from justice.
To renounce avarice, indolence, and obstinacy.
To recognize sadness and worry as natural,
and to seek the immovable heart.
To not stray from the path of loyalty,
and with a balance between the pen and the sword,
always delve deeper into the heart of Budo.

To follow this code is part of the dojo’ guidelines.

Meiji 23 (1890) Spring, Toda Shinryuken Masamitsu
Showa 33 (1958) March, Takamatsu Toshitsugu Uou
Hatsumi Masaaki Byakuryu


Regler i Hombu Dojo

Mark Lithgow fick i uppdrag att berätta lite om etikett för dojos i allmänhet, men Hombu Dojo i synnerhet.
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Länken till Facebook där detta är kopierat:



“To all my Bujinkan friends:

I had a chat with Soke at his house last week regarding ‘dojo manners’, and he said that these things were important to pass on to all Bujinkan Dojo members. Today (Sunday May 10th, 2015), he had me stand up in front of the class to pass them on to the people present.

Dojo etiquette can vary from school to school, and even from dojo to dojo within one school such as the Bujinkan. It is often learned by simply watching other people who know better. Unfortunately, these days we have so many people coming through the new Honbu Dojo, and because most people are new to the place, they don’t have many good examples to watch in order to know how things should be done. I myself have often felt the need to intervene, and play ‘manners police’. I sometimes feel a little bad doing it, but on the other hand, this my home dojo. I am a member of this dojo, not a visitor, and I have been now for close to 3 decades. It is actually my ‘duty’ to instruct visitors in how to behave in my dojo.

When discussing this with Sensei, it soon became evident that he feels very strongly about etiquette. He may seem easy-going, but on the inside, he expects it and respects people that have good manners. He righty feels that it is not his place to teach or enforce etiquette. As the Soke, he should be able to just turn up at his dojo, teach, and leave. The general running of the dojo and the cleaning and maintenance should be done by others. That goes for things such as correct etiquette too. He said that the ’Shihan should handle this, and that because of my experience with dojo of other arts, I know how dojo SHOULD be treated’. Apparently, for that reason, I am the ‘perfect person to transmit it’. Smiley smile Something he said today, incidentally, when I went back to his house after training, was “How can we expect to be taken seriously by the Japanese martial arts world if our basic dojo etiquette is so lax?”

I spoke about three points in the dojo today on Soke’s request. More will probably come up, but I think that this is a good start. I also feel that I may have to repeat the announcement once in a while, until it reaches the point where there are enough examples for new visitors to learn from, and so that it grows into a real part of our dojo culture. They may seem very basic…. Indeed, they are common sense to many people. But from what I have seen in the dojo recently, they are not known by everyone, and they need to be addressed.

1) Bowing in and out of the dojo.
Bowing in and out of any dojo in Japan is just ‘common sense’. You’ll even see the custom practiced outside the dojo, in such places as supermarkets and department stores. Staff members, as they leave the shop floor on break or at the end of their shift, at the ‘staff only’ door, will often turn around and bow to the shop before walking through the door. I have to admit that I myself sometimes became a little lazy in the old Honbu Dojo, sometimes neglecting to bow. With the new dojo under construction, I mentioned this to Soke, telling him that although I had sometimes been lazy, I had made it a new rule for myself after the new dojo was opened. We had a long discussion about it then, which continued last week. For him, bowing as you enter the dojo is essential to showing respect to the dojo. To Sensei, even bowing twice would not be bad: once at the entrance to the building, and once more when walking into the dojo proper… onto the mats. After some discussion, however, he conceded that the main entrance one is optional, but bowing as one enters the main training area is essential. As you cross over the threshold, stop, pause, bow, pause again… then walk into the dojo. At that moment, you are leaving the outside world behind you, and getting into ‘training mode’. The same when leaving.. Stop and bow. Take a moment to reflect on the fact that you came out of there safely, and are about to go back out into the real world.

It is only necessary to do this once when entering and once when leaving. If you have to go out to your bag, or to use the restroom, you don’t need to bow each time. Just when switching between training mode and outside mode.

2) Shoes in the doorway.
This is based on a simple idea that ‘Inside is inside and outside is outside… and those two places are kept seperate’. When we are training in the dojo, we are wearing indoor footwear… usually tabi. Indoor tabi can have cloth or leather soles. Rubber-soled tabi, known as ‘jika tabi’ are for outdoor wear, and should never be worn in the dojo! Indoor footwear is for indoors, and outdoor footwear is for outdoors ONLY. The border is the wooden boards on the floor on the ‘genkan’ (entrance). The wooden boards are INDOORS. A few weeks ago, I arrived to find a bunch of shoes actually ON the boards! If you are wearing (indoor) tabi, don’t dirty the soles by going outside, and then tread that dirt back inside. If you want to sneak outside for a quick smoke, please put your shoes on! Again, once your tabi have been outside, please do not tread the dirt back in the dojo! And don’t step out of your shoes onto the (outside) floor, then step up. Step up directly from your shoes! The doorway in the new dojo is a little small, and sometimes you might have no choice but to take one step on the outside floor. It can’t be helped sometimes, but please try your best to avoid it.

3) The Shômen wall
The shômen (front) wall of the dojo contains the ‘kamiza’. The kamiza is regarded as a sacred part of the dojo and should be treated with respect. It is not a place for putting any personal effects. Nothing except the things that actually belong on it should be placed on the shelf. Under the kamiza in the new dojo is a kind of wooden-floored alcove. It is used as a little display area for statues etc., but it should be treated in the same way as the actual shelf on which the shrine sits. It is not a place for bags, drinks… and certainly not for people to walk, stand or sit in. Actually, the entire front wall is treated in the same way. In the new dojo, apart from the areas mentioned above, the remainder of the shômen wall is actually taken up with the training weapon storage closets, but even in the old dojo, where there was some space either side, the rule was that no personal effects should rest against the front wall. The side walls OK, but not on the front wall, which is regarded as an extension of the kamiza itself.

The above points were the ones mentioned today, but I would like to add a couple more – some things that I noticed today, which I feel warrant a mention.

Firstly, when a technique is being shown in the middle of the dojo, please be aware of your surroundings, and show some consideration to others who are also trying to see what is being shown. If you are right by the wall or there is nobody behind you, by all means remain standing. But if you take a little look over your shoulder and realise that people behind you may not be able to see properly, please duck down a little or kneel so they can see over you. Today, I was translating, so I usually try to get a little closer to Sensei. I am never standing at the back, but am usually kneeling at the front. Even so, I still had people standing right in front of me. A little consideration, please!

Secondly, if you’ve used dojo training weapons during training; rokushakubo, hanbo/fukuro shinai etc., please put them back where you got them after training. Someone always vacuums the floor after training (any volunteers to do that are always appreciated, by the way!). It is not their job but put away your weapons after training!

Anyway… I just wanted to let Facebook-land know the details of what was said in the Honbu Dojo today. Hopefully this also will help general etiquette awareness to people who may be visiting the Dojo in the future.”

The ‘Kokoro’ of Kihon Happo

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.



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.



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.


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.


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.



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


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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.


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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.

“Sanningen” om gogyo no kata

Det finns många som tycker och tänker om alla möjliga saker på den fina webben.
Jag kommer fortsätta slänga upp saker som jag anser vara relevanta för oss inom Bujinkan.

Läs följande blog från en kille i Colorado.
Den handlar om gogyo no kata (san shin no kata) och den elementsanknytning som fanns en gång i tiden.

Intressant för alla, men kanske mest för oss som började träna “way back in the day”. 🙂

Här finns bloggen: http://www.coloradospringsninjutsu.com/Blog/Entries/2014/3/12_The_Truth_About_the_Godai.html


So, is this a fire technique?”

The guy was serious. I looked over at “P” who trained with Stephen Hayes and loves to needle me about such things to see if he set it up. If so, he was doing a great job of acting surprised with a bit of, “Oh boy, this is going to be good!” thrown into his expression. The guy honestly wanted to know if the move I just showed was part of the Godai system.

Sigh….. Looks like a lot of people still have not gotten the message.

I was around when the ninja first really hit the media. It was revolutionary in it’s outlook. The ninja were marketed by Hayes as a group of oppressed jedi nights (BTW- Greedo never got off a shot in case you didn’t know) with an outlook that appealed to many. One of these was the godai system of outlook and fighting. The system went from Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Void. In Japanese they are called “chi-sui-ka-fu- ku.” The techniques we saw were explained in terms of these five methods. Earth would be centered and standing your ground, while fire would be aggressive, etc.

The problem was, it is not part of actual ninjutsu. You would never know it reading about it in English as the following example shows.


In the article by Hayes, there is no mention of the fact that Hayes created all the ideas about the godai as a system for combat. Today, many people still believe that it is part of the traditions taught by Masaaki Hatsumi, as my recent experience shows.

This of course has caused a lot of confusion as people go to Japan and ask questions about it, sometimes only getting blank looks, sometimes worse. When I translated for a certain Japanese teacher and someone asked the question, I knew I was in for at least 20 minutes of him going on not only about how Hayes created something and tried to pass it off as Bujinkan, but all the other sins that the Japanese could not forgive him for.

Sean Askew had at least one similar experience when talking to Hatsumi directly as the following shows,


The exchange went like this,

“Recently I asked Hatsumi Sensei to talk a little about the inner meanings of the San Shin kata. I wanted to know how important is the “Five Elements Mandala Kata” and is it a necessary part of Taijutsu?

Usually Sensei does not give a straight answer, but for some reason this time he gave it to me on a silver platter. “Oh that’s Mikkyo, religion!”

OK, and how does this relate to Taijutsu? “It doesn’t!”

Evidently, exchanges like this and the tales from people coming back from Japan about blank looks and rants from the Japanese caused Hayes to finally clarify things in public. In a March 1996 e-zine called Ura and Omote he finally detailed how he came to create the godai system he was teaching. His experience in the Bujinkan in Japan with the concept was limited to this,

“Everyone else at the dojo assured me that the five elements were just a device for counting as far as they were concerned. Convinced that there had to be more, I continued my cultural detective work. I sought out descendants of the monks and mountain priests allied with the roots of ninjutsu who referred to the five elements in the form of mandala graphics that described like blueprints the human psyche.”


This point can’t be stressed enough. All the native speakers of Japanese who were learning Bujinkan alongside him were telling Hayes that it was just a system of counting. Can we be more clear that it is not part of what Hatsumi is/was teaching going by Hayes’ own words? And yet, we still have people in Bujinkan dojos using the system. And he admits that the source for his creating the system came from other sources other than the Bujinkan. He went instead to people that were involved in religion and got the older, religious version rather than what everyone else in Japan was using. As Hatsumi stated, it was mikkyo and had no relation to taijutsu.

Here is the thing about the historic godai system. It is indeed a counting system and it was indeed originally based on some aspects of Buddhist thought. In the same way, the days of the week were originally named after the Norse gods. For example, Thursday used to be called Thor’s day. Hayes seems to have made the same type of mistake as someone that believes that anyone in the modern age that schedules an event on Thursday must be wanting to channel the power of the god of storms. Hayes went a little bit too far in seeking things out, hampered as he was by his limited experience, knowledge and Japanese ability. He was not satisfied with the boring reality of a simple counting system and instead sought out a more mystic and exciting way of looking at things. From his point of view, it would be very natural to wonder why the Japanese just didn’t use numbers to count instead of something that he could find on old Buddhist sculptures called the Gorinto (see below). It is a hell of a lot more exciting to think of things this way, but it isn’t what is being taught in the Bujinkan.

In the actual Bujinkan as I learned it in Japan, the five elements are used as a counter for what we sometimes call the san shin. These five techniques are solo moves meant to build up habits. They are not combat techniques per se, rather they are supposed to build up default settings for the way movement is done. Once you get in the habit of moving your body in a certain way constantly, then learning a new kata is a lot easier since you don’t have to worry about some things just as you don’t have to worry anymore about the proper way to change gears on a car while driving a dangerous road. There is no mental aspect to doing the san shin. I know this from all the people who constantly used me as a translator to ask time and time again.

In the same article from the e-zine, he claims that the kihon happo was created in the 80s. This is not correct. I have read quotes from Takamatsu Toshitsugu talking about the kihon happo, and he died in the early 70s. When I told some Japanese teachers what Hayes wrote about the Kihon Happo’s creation, they just laughed. I believe that Hayes just was not able to follow many things because of the language barrier. Teaching in Japan is often just someone showing a move and everyone does it with no real talk about the name of the move or it’s place in the system. You see it, you do it- end of story. So it is not surprising that Hayes could have seen the same techniques over and over again and yet have no knowledge of it’s importance.

However, when Hatsumi started stressing the importance of the kihon happo, Hayes refused to follow his lead. As Hayes explains it, he had too much invested in the system of his creation already and decided to present the art of Hatsumi using his method rather than the method his teacher wanted his students to use. I believe this is one of the things that started the path to the eventual banning of Hayes from training in Japan.

Interestingly enough, some very partisan supporters of Hayes have tried to say that it was always acknowledged that this was a creation of Hayes and the folks like the guy at the beginning of this story are just not very bright for not realizing it. But since the first time I heard that defense of Hayes used, I have been trying to find a source prior to the 1996 e-zine that states it openly. So far, I can’t find anything.

Since the godai method of attitude is not part of the Bujinkan as taught by Hatsumi, it should not be presented as such. Many Bujinkan dojos still cling to it and pass it along as being Bujinkan material. This is wrong and unethical.

As a system, it is interesting. Back when I started reading about it I was really attracted to it. In the early 80s, snarling and such was about the only things you could find in martial arts magazines. The idea of a wind technique, that you could use with a relative you loved but had a bit too much to drink, was a totally different way of looking at things. As a concept, it might be a good tool to start some thinking.

However, as a system it is not only NOT part of the Bujinkan, but also not really tested by centuries of experience in combat. Inside the Bujinkan, you can find concepts such as mushin, fudoshin and zanshin. These are recognized not only in the Bujinkan but in other classical Japanese arts as well. If you want to do Bujinkan, these are the types of things you should be exploring.

It has been nearly a decade since Hayes has been allowed to train with Hatsumi in Japan. He now teaches his own creation of Toshindo and with it his version of the godai. He has his path, and the Bujinkan has another. People need to decide which path they want to walk down and then turn their back on the other. If you claim to teach Bujinkan, you need to turn your back on the godai and start looking into the actual mental models being taught in Japan.

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.

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

Keiko no Kokoro

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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.