Demo: The Intelligence Of However

The waves keep crashing on the shore, they change to adapt, but they are all the same. Water flows on what it finds on its path.

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change,” said Stephen Hawking. That is what we learn in the Bujinkan.
A friend in Japan noted that Sensei always finished his sentences by “Demo” (however). Sensei leaves all his answers unfinished. (1)It reminds me of the concept of Chūtō Hanpa, (2) where you do NOT finish the technique.
It is easy to understand it in a fight where many right solutions are possible. There are many ways to adapt to a given attack. But it seems more difficult to apply it on a daily basis. Our problem is that we are too judgmental. We always an opinion about everything. Sensei doesn’t have any firm position. He never closes the door, and never get things fixed permanently.
His answers are flows of possibility fitting the moment. All through these last thirty years, I often saw it. One day Sensei would answer a specific question. Two years later, he would give a different answer to the same problem. The first time, I thought my memory was defective. But when the same occurred many times, I began to believe that he is only adapting his answer to the moment. There is no truth, the only possible course of action is to adapt.
In life, as in technique, there is no right or wrong answer. There is only a flow of opportunities leading into one direction or another, both being good. In one of his book, he wrote: “[…] you must know when to bend with the wind, and know that there is no need to bend when there is no wind.” Later he adds “[…] If you ask if there is truly such a thing as the fundamental techniques of ninjutsu, we will have to say “no.” If you ask if you are doing the fundamentals correctly, we will tell you that there is no right or wrong way. These movements we call the fundamentals are only a means for the attainment of the natural-appropriate responsive movement that comes with personal enlightenment.”
Strangely in the text above he keeps letting things open, one moment there are no fundamentals, the next sentences he says there are no right or wrong to do these fundamentals! This the “Demo” attitude that is so characteristic of Sensei’s personality.
The Bujinkan is not about learning hundreds of Waza, it is about being able to adapt, to not be judgmental, and to be happy, Demo…
1.Demo: でも, but; however; though; nevertheless; still; yet; even so; also; as well
2. Chūtō Hanpa: 中途, in the middle; half-way + 半端, fragment; fraction; halfway

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Cincinatti, Ohio January 2018


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