Today I turn 38. I have always dreaded accepting the approach to 40 since it almost seems like a negative transition away from youth. However, I forced myself to stop being negative and ask myself…
“What would Soke say?”
This simple question allowed me to apply Budo thinking instantly and begin to think and see differently. The birth day is an opportunity (as in every day really) to start again. The beauty is that you can continue to start over at any time until passing on, which in its own sense is the ultimate rebirth.
This thinking can also be attributed to the training lifestyle of the Budoka. Training is that, a chance to start over when you don’t get it right. Perfection is a myth and the point is the process, hence training is a lifetime endeavor. Only you can know, as it is a lonely path.
Thinking about starting over brings the concept of “ichi” to mind, or “ichimind”. While in Ireland and the UK, this was a major point of study in the trainings that I had the honor of leading. Zero is the balance point or the equilibrium, and action must begin with one. Therefore the “ichi” and the nature of the outcome depends on properly executed “ichi” which can only be derived from proper consistent training in the basics of Distance, Angles and Timing.
Listening to the voice in my head when I ask the question “What would Soke say”, I hear that “you must get the “ichi” right and the rest will follow”. Very easy to say, but difficult to master. That is the challenge. It is easy to talk about, but who really can execute it? The reality and proper Saino Konki comes from the ability to execute. Too many are the master of the mouth and not the space. This might be the dividing line between those that have Saino Konki and those that don’t. To use the cliché, action speaks louder than words, Soke has been saying recently that “there are many 15th Dans in the world today, train with a good one”.
Furthermore, Soke recently said that he purposely changed the theme to Saino Konki replacing the character of shin with kon or tamashi in Saino Shinki to emphasis the aspect of Tamashi or soul or spirit. The body houses the soul only temporarily and moves on. Often you can feel the soul or spirit of others enter your body or those close to you. Soke often feels that the spirit of Takamatsu Sensei
Back to Ichi no kamae… To apply Soke’s thinking I was able to interpret the following. If today I’m 38 years old then 3+8 is 11 or one and one or 1 and -1 therefore the balance or zero. And Ichi no kamae is infinite and can be in any direction. Taking action to 1 or -1 is the critical point and proper distance to deliver proper reaction is ever so critical in Budo, and can be called the kanjinkaname. Distancing yourself from need to take action can also often be the difference between success or failure, but then again Soke would say that failure is success. One must think like a Ninja.
So the lesson here is that no matter how much you train or apply your training, there is always a chance to lose track of the lesson. The mind and emotions are powerful forces that control the body and mind often driving us away from the Budo lesson and keeping the Budoka from being able to go back to zero on a regular basis. However once back to Zero you can then take the first step to “ichi” and start over.
I do this now by asking myself a simple question… “What would Soke say?”