Shinken, shinyû, shinri

Yesterday I had the chance to get a quick lunch with sensei after the “memorial day”. In the past these opportunities were not rare but today I consider it a luxury to be able to speak with him directly with only the two of us. 

During a recent class we trained some mutô dori technique and sensei explained that in this situation you have to move forward the cut with your guts. 

Courage is one thing we learn in the bujinkan. When you a re facing a naked blade, a 真剣 (shinken) one needs 大勇 real courage (taiyû) or 雄武 bravery (yûbu) to move forward. But as he said if you trust yourself then nothing will happen. It is the same thing we experience in taijutsu. If you are ready to get hit, somehow you will never be hit. The same happened against the sword, but you have to have good basics in order to survive. 
Sensei explained that when dashing forward bravely against the sword (yûshin 勇進), you should never watch or consider the blade itself but the position of the attacker’s hands. As I often tell my students concerning weapon traiing. A weapon has no intention so if you want the weapon to be harmless you have to deal with its brain i.e. the opponent. When you visualize the trajectory of the hands in the air you can determine where to go, the timing of your action, and the position of the body. But this is more a yûgen thinkg than a proper thinking process. You have to get the intuition and move with a yûshin attitude. Then nothing bad will happen.
Recently I read in some forum comments speaking about the sword techniques of the bujinkan ryûha. This surprised me as I thought that only the kukishin ryû and the togakure ryû had sword techniques in their densho, so I asked sensei over lunch. 

In life I believe that if you want to improve your knowledge and know the truth 真理 (shinri) you should always go to the source. The source concerning the bujinkan is Hatsumi sensei so the truth of the sword in the bujinkan comes from the sôke (my Japanese abilities being very “light” to say the least, the whole conversation was done in Japanese but mainly in English and was translated to me by Shiraishi sensei). 
So here is the shinri, the truth you have to know:
  • Shinri is, that there are no other densho about the sword in the bujinkan densho apart from those of the kukishin ryû and the togakure ryû.
  • Shinri is, that we train juppô sesshô since 2003 and that we must use any weapon with the feeling (kankaku) of any of t he nine bujinkan schools.
  • Shinri is, that whatever we do today it is always a mix of the nine schools. They add to one another in our body and mind and this is true also for the sword too.

Last year in 2011, the secondary theme for the year was the shinden fudô ryû sword. During my three stays in Japan, sensei taught many sword concepts related to the shinden fudô ryû. There were no techniques but the interpretation on how to use the sword with a shinden fudô feeling.

The internet is full of these wrong interpretations and instead of spreading them it is always better to ask directly to sensei. For many years this is what I have done and I invite you in the future to ask him before spreading any wrong or unverified information. 

As I wrote in another previous article, the bujinkan is shindô a true path. This shindô exists in every move we make in and out of the dôjô. In mutôdori training the shinken is dealt with shinyû in order to find the shinri.

Bujinkan is shindô, shinken, shinyû, shinri.

Remember that the internet is not shinri. The internet is shinshaku 新釈, a new interpretation often wrong by people not connected to the source. I invite you to spread this around you so that fake comments on the bujinkan sword are not believed anymore.
Shinri exists only in training.

Shindô, The True Path


The recent days have brought their amount of new experiences. Yesterday going to the Takamatsu memorial with sensei was a nice moment that I always cherish, and it is was a true moment of budô shared with sensei, Oguri senei’s family and a group of shihan from all over the world. I am always thankful to sensei for these rare opportunties unveiling another true aspect of his budô.

This is the proof, if needed to, that the bujinkan is a Shindô – 真道, a true path of Life. 

We stayed in Tsukuba for a few hours and burnt incense sticks in memory of Takamatsu sensei and Oguri sensei. After we finished sensei asked us to rebuild a statue that fell and broke into pieces after a recent earthquake. Nagato sensei, Moti, Darren and a few others repaired it and put it back standing up on its piedestal. It is a statue of a woman pouring water like the zodiac symbol of the Aquarius.

For me, it was a symbolic lesson concerning life and hope. This “aquarius” woman lying on the ground and destroyed was suddenly raising again and standing up for a better future. In budô, we often fall (ego, illusions, self pity) but each time we rebuild ourselves and stand up again. This is what perseverance is about. The fact that we are at the end of the era of the Aquarius adds even more meaning to the scene as if telling us that untill the end there is always a need to be living in the present. Too many people are heading towards a potential future and do not take the time to enjoy the present moment. In the techniques this is obvious as uke is already moving in his future and is not able to react correctly in the present.

I began to see the links with sensei’s past teachings coming together in a single space and time.The concepts of nakaima (the center of now), henka (the begining and the end of change), and juppô sesshô were dancing together and melting in my brain. This was indeed a very special day. I understood suddenly that all the teachings I had received in the past 28 years were summing up into one single idea: being one with oneself to live happily in a permanent present.

Then, back to Noda I met with sensei at his home. Shiraishi sensei was struggling with the many orders received recently, and the floor was covered with enveloppes, papers, diplomas, patches and membership cards. The bujinkan has become a big organization today but as sensei wants to keep it human, it is not run like a business. I want to take this opportunity to thank Shiraishi sensei for his hard (and unrecognized work) in dealing with hundreds of orders during his free time. 

I also want the bujinkan community to understand the huge amount of work it requires from both Hatsumi sensei and Shiraishi sensei. The bujinkan office receives about 15000 orders per year (my guess). These orders concerns: membership cards, patches, shidôshi hô menkyô, shidôshi menkyô, kyû ranks, dan ranks up to 4th dan, and shidôshi ranks from 5th dan to 15th dan. Shiraishi sensei has to control every order in the bujinkan logs and prepare the various orders until fourth dan. All menkyô diplomas and shidôshi ranks are done by sensei. Sensei told us last week that there were now over 3200 shidôshi in the bujinkan!

If you consider that an average order takes 5 minutes you get an impressive total of 1250 hours of work.

Shiraishi sensei is helping sensei around 20 hours per week to do this, so I hope that you now understand why it takes so long between the day you send your order and the day you receive it. An average of 8 to10 months is therefore logical. Even though those “papers” might have some importance, remember that what you are learning is not on this piece of paper with your rank on it, it is on what you do with yourself and that will take more then 8 to 10 months to achieve your mission in budô.

Time is an illusion and the path is long, and this shindô will transform you more than you think. But you will understand this only after training 30 or 40 years of real training.


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