The following post has been inspired by several recent conversations with Soke. Often, it is the man to man conversations with Soke that exist in the ura kukan of training that are of the greatest value to me and very often hold more wisdom than I can remember, or even fathom. Soke is truly energetic, creative and inspirational and recently I have also felt that he truly desires to listen. To me, he is even more approachable and even grandfather like in many ways. This is a natural change, and I thank him for his wisdom and inspiration and deep openness.
Part of me feels a loss when I cannot grasp or remember everything that is conveyed to me, but I’m thankful for at least the time I have been able to be in that moment. Soke truly speaks in a creative Budo way, and without consistent training it would be extremely hard, if not impossible, to grasp his concepts. For this reason alone, it drives a deeper hunger to train and reminds me of Soke’s statement about how he chose to overcome inheriting the tremendous responsibility from Takamatsu Sensei. The only way to assume this level of responsibility is to train, train, and train more.
In this particular discussion, Soke further emphasized that just “Dojo” training is not enough and can send you down a weak path. You must facilitate your training and practice of Budo outside the Dojo and it is those that live a balanced life in and out of the Dojo that are true Budoka. You must find an opportunity for execution in life outside of the Dojo, and this is not in reference to violence or conflict but to that of peace and prosperity. As Soke often reminds us, it was Toda Sensei who stated that Budo Taijutsu is the foundation of peace and due to this mindset, the tradition of the Bujinkan lives on.
I have further come to realize that to possess Budo skill (or any skill for that matter) has little value if you cannot execute or utilize this skill. One can go to school or training for several years, but can one actually use that skill or utilize it to become effective in life? On the ura of this concept, there will be others who never really trained or learned a skill may be able to execute without effort. This is what Soke refers to as talent or “Saino” in Japanese. There will be some that will possess Saino for Budo and will gain skill based progress without much effort. And there will exist others who simply must work for many years to develop skill. However, it is often experience that overcomes skill in a living situation and what I believe as the aspect of having the wisdom to not execute, which is the secret to martial arts. Be aware of those that teach skill, as this is not a method of inspiration to facilitate personal experience.
Therefore, the true goal of training must not be the pursuit of skill, but to gain experience which leads to wisdom. Not knowledge. To have knowledge or skill goes no deeper than the head. Budo of the head is not true Budo. No matter how much knowledge one possesses there is no method to pass this to the heart. The self is always an obstacle. Developing true wisdom is a slow and grueling process (shugyo) and there is no shortcut. Experience is the key to developing wisdom and not knowledge or skill. This can only be achieved by allowing the martial wind to flow and is an aspect of Kuden and nothing more.
To deeper understand this question of Saino, I gained the courage to ask Soke about “Saino” in a recent training session. Soke replied by saying “You must get to the point of training where Saino becomes irrelevant”. One must seek to transcend ability or Saino. Those who show exceptional talent or ability will only tend to rely on that talent or ability and it will ultimately become a weakness in the end.
The study of Budo teaches us to not rely or assume, because at the time of failure we must be present with the mind of fudoshin and not attachment.
Saino or ability can be a false and dangerous aspect in the pursuit of wisdom.