We don’t train in the bujinkan “to win, but not to lose” repeats sensei.
Those who train to win and/or to avoid losing are in fact missing the beauty of Sensei’s teachings. Victory is achieved by rejecting this duality.
This win/lose is inyo. There is no victory in winning and there is no defeat in losing (as long as you are not dead). This concept of “win or lose” is called 伸るか反るか, norukasoruka in Japanese. Funnily it also has the meaning of “sink or swim” or “make or break”. Once again the conceptual schemes attached to a Japanese term are full of wisdom. If you don’t swim you drawn.
But sensei is not following this common dualistic interpretation when he says “we don’t try to win but we try not lose”. As if there would be another way to this inyo porblem. And by saying and teaching that Sensei is closer to what the famous Zen Master Takuan who wrote in “The Unfettered Mind” the following:
“Presumably, as a martial artist, I do not fight for gain or loss, am not concerned with strength or weakness, and neither advance a step nor retreat a step. The enemy does not see me. I do not see the enemy. Penetrating to a place where heaven and earth have not yet divided, where Ying and Yang have not yet arrived, I quickly and necessarily gain in effect”.
This vision of the fight is much stronger than the 伸るか反るか which embodies an opposition. When you are caught in a fight the only thing that matters is how to survive, it is never a question of winning. When you are into “winning” then you lack thefreedom of adapting your movements to the situation. Reacting is the best way to stay alive. When you put all your strength in trying to win, you cut yourself from the natural movement and consequently you create the causes of your downfall.
When we began the study of sanjigen no sekai in 2003, Nagato sensei said that “when you think about the technique, you can be read by your opponent. Do the movements naturally without thinking. This is the spirit of Juppô Sesshô.”
Juppô Sesshô is the real essence of our training and if “you think about a specific technique or about what to do with your weapon, you lose Juppô Sesshô” said Hatsumi sensei. Adding that “if you consider yourself as a tenkan (pivot) then everything around you is the world of Juppô Sesshô.
Being in the middle of everything is being out of the dualistic win/lose concept. By simply trying “not to lose” we have a better chance to survive. Because you don’t lock your brain, and only react according to the attacker, uke cannot read your intentions. Everything revolves around your tenkan and your footwork reveals the answer.
If you cannot understand this then maybe should you stop considering yourself as a warrior. A true warrior does not fight, a true warrior is there only to prevent the fight to begin. The Bujinkan system and philosophy is in reality a peacekeeping martial art. Muscle, force, power are useless to the one who can see the outcome with 九鬼大笑 kuki taishô (bujinkan theme 2007), no fear, like the ninth demon at the north-eastern gate of the temple.
This non fighting attitude where there are no enemy (cf. Takuan) brings 茎 大勝 kukistaishô, the “root for a great victory”.
Victory is yours because you do not try to win