“15th Dan’s have a huge responsibility” Soke said, “They must not only be a strong and just example of the Bujinkan, but they must also live and lead a balanced life, striving and succeeding in things outside of the Dojo”. Although Budo can be seen to encompass many things in life, there is a balance that must be sought, according to Soke. Maybe a simple example of this can be BunBu Ryodo (文武両道), or the parallel of martial and the arts. In easy words-to seek out the artistic side, expressing the simple beauty of things in separation (yet duality of war -my interpretation).

A leader of the Bujinkan must be a leader of life and must become a concrete example of how to live life to its fullest-just and balanced inside and outside of the Dojo. Just to pursue excellence in Budo will not result in excellence in life.  According to Soke the well known and popular Budoka of the Edo period where not true warriors, but businessmen. Furthermore, as another example of this, Soke mentioned the purveying reason for not permitting the 5th Dan test to be performed without his presence is based on the fact that it is critical for the giver of the test to perceive the condition of the taker in order to preserve life. Soke clearly stated that you must understand the basics of medicine when giving the test in order to fully understand the condition of the taker. At the 15th Dan level, giving life is much more crucial than taking life. Recently, it seems that Soke has felt that this is a responsibility that some can now accept, as from time to time he is giving explicit permission to perform the test without his presence-BASED ON SPECIAL CONDITIONS ONLY.

Taking this to the level of Taijutsu, Soke has repeatedly reminded me on several occasions this year that the use of the tachi is a unique and often overlooked critical view of martial arts and therefore the reason for our focus on the tachi this year. The tachi is a medium to view the real fighting capability of the Budoka in the sense that there is no form, nor are there kamae associated with tachi. The tachi was a warring states period weapon used as a secondary weapon of proximity. Little need for technique exists in this case, and the level of the heart or fighting spirit is more critical. Emphasizing the ability to control the space and survive the battle in order to live or fight another day. Looking at this from the perspective of the 15th Dan, technique is not crucial, as by now, this must be fully internalized. What really matters is the degree of heart. The matter of the heart is the heart of the matter for a 15th Dan and according to Soke, the leaders for the future of the Bujinkan, or “the next one” in his exact terms are the 15th Dan.

Regardless of this huge responsibility, I tend to think that the time as yet to come for too much “out of the box” or unique interpretation. Still what is important is the teachings of our Soke and what inspiration he can provide for the matters of the heart.

Maybe the aspect of Shu-Ri-Ha is overly popular.

Bufu Ikkan