We are closely reaching the Daikomyosai here in Japan and there are several thoughts that have been running through my head regarding this year’s training and the state of the Bujinkan.  Soke has been ever so inspirational to me this year and I have attempted to put many of these things into practice and use in everyday life.

First of all, as stated many times before, this martial art that we are studying or in this case maybe better to call it a “Life Strategy” is a lifelong process that can never be mastered.  This is often overlooked and even more so when we label ourselves masters.  Master of what? This Martial Art? Well, how can this be possible if it is never masterable?  Soke is the first to admit this, and this is the essence of Bufu Ikkan. Yet, we use so freely the title of master.

What have we mastered? Well, may I be so bold and say “ego”.  Generally speaking, how many of us can really execute what we have learned in the dojo?  (And I’m not necessarily speaking about technique) How many of those claiming to be master teachers (Bujinkan and non Bujinkan) really have the life experience or the real incident experience so deeply ingrained that we can be truly be consistent in our actions and reactions?  Aside from the elite few in the Bujinkan who actually experience conflict on a daily basis, what are the rest of us doing to utilize what Soke is teaching us in our lives? What difference have we made, what is the positive impact of our training?

Looking at the history of martial arts “masters” what is it that they all have in common?  Is it ability? Is it the knowledge? Is it the power?  I would tend to think that it is the experience of training a lifetime-and simply that.

Furthermore, ability, talent, knowledge, strength-all these things mean nothing if you cannot execute.  What we are learning here is a life strategy and self defense and survival are the basics of this, but in the present world where only a few of us actually face danger, what are we doing to improve our lives and the lives of the people around us.  This is the big space.  Are we controlling this for the greater good or for our own good and gain?  I ask these questions, because I ask myself on a daily basis.  Attempting to keep it real.

I believe there is a cliché,” The only mistake is the one that is made again”.  After training in this art for more than 25 years, I keep making the same mistakes.  Finally, I have come to realize, that this is only natural and we earn through Budo that mistakes cannot be avoided, and what we CAN control (eventually) is how we choose to react.

Ninpo and the Bujinkan is a life strategy and not some all powerful physical technique form as some would believe us to think.  We are not studying a simple physical combat method. A true warrior does not choose to enter into combat or a potential life threatening situation.  The goal is to avoid it at all costs, and unless it is your job or duty and you must act, we do not endeavor to attract violence.  True warriors or Bugeisha fight for truth, justice, honor and self protection, only engaging on a physical level as a last resort.  It is not the warrior who chooses to step into a physical situation to satisfy the ego driven by material gain such as money, fame, and showmanship.  Those who choose to fight for the basis of material gain, are not martial artists, and are not Bugeisha.  Bugeisha do not follow the ego, Bugeisha follow peace.  The space of peace exists on several planes-San Shin or Shingitai.

Masters?  Let’s keep it real.  As many of the readers of this blog, or those that I have had the honor of training with in the dojo, know that I tend to like the term “keep it real”.  This has been my motto for the last year based on putting into practice what Soke has inspired as well as the personal commitment to being honest with myself and my peers about what we are doing here.

Keeping it real then on a physical level, how many of us are 100% in the moment in our training.  How many of us are aware if our training partners attack is real?  How many of us are honest with ourselves about our own abilities?

In the future, when our Soke is no longer available for training what will happen?  Will there be a world full of masters?

Masters of what?

Bufu Ikkan