Dayton Seminar August 2009
Accompanied by my wife and son, we flew to Ohio State from San Diego. It was at Dayton Airport that we met Jeff Ochester from the Bujinkan Dayton Dojo. The humidity in the air reminded me of Japan. We were definately in for a hot three days of training.
The Dayton Dojo is a beautiful and professionally run dojo with the Bujinkan heart. If you are ever in the area, I suggest you train there. The dojo also keeps close ties with Japan by inviting residents from Japan on a regular basis to hold classes and seminars, while also travelling to Japan yearly to study with Soke and Shitenno.
The seminar began on Friday night. The temperture was in the mid 70s. Knowing that the weekend was going to be hotter with a forecast of high 80s, I took a moment to explain my thoughts on the way we would train. There were Shidoshi present from surrounding States as far as New Jersey. We all trained together as friends. Thank you.
I believe it is my job at seminars to pass on my experiences and to give a feeling of the training felt in Japan. This is of course quite difficult to do. But, you can only do your best! As a result, I explained that the theme of Saino Kon Ki & Nawa no Kankaku is ” Sokes Theme”.
To my knowledge, no Japanese Shihan has been teaching this concept in their own classes. These are Sokes teachings. Therefore, I was not going to teach it. How can you teach what you don’t know or haven’t achieved yet!” What we can do is but pass on what we have heard, experienced and felt from Soke and keep training. This is transmitting. Not teaching. This is what we are to do!
I also remember hearing Nagato Sensei say that when doing seminars, everyone should teach only what they know. I have listened to this, but have come to the conclusion - what do I really know?! There is nothing more uncertain than ones own knowledge! Everyone, just do your best!
I’d also like to say that there are people around the world using the rope because Soke has been talking about Nawa no Kankaku. This is not wrong but, Soke hasn’t used the rope physically to explain Nawa no Kankaku from memory when at his classes. He has in my view picked up the rope during training only as a natural progression of the class.The concept of Nawa no Kankaku is of far deeper ( or simpler ) significance. Please see my page on Nawa no Kankaku for some more thoughts on the matter ( it may help /may not ).
It was hot, so I said that we must take responsibility for ourselves and keep hydrated and train accordingly. If not, noone would survive the three days. I also mentioned that I would structure the class around what I’m used to in Japan. Therefore, I asked people at intervals to demonstrate some taijutsu and from there we would all work on refining the movements and learn how to incorporate weapons freely.
I also asked that people attempt to mimic my movements as well as possible. In the initial stages of learning, this ability is of the upmost importance. If you cannot grasp the ability to mimic, then you cannot learn. People come with their own habits, good and bad. It is vital that for true learning that people develop within themselves the capacity to empty their cup at the door. They can then directly absorb and physically reiterate the movements that the teacher provides for improvement .
I also believe that in the initial stages of ones development under a teacher, that the best form of respect is to actually move like them. If you truly concentrate and want to learn from a teacher, then you should naturally start to develop movement and habits like them. This is the ultimate form of martial flatery ( if you like ). As a teacher, we can appreciate the Sensei having a personal picture / vision of what they have done. They then stand back and look for those that can emulate that picture as closely as possible. This tells the Sensei the student has talent, ability, and the capacity or inner confidence to let go of the self and pursue something from within the void.
We studied taijutsu based on the principles. I asked the students to remove themselves from feeling like combatants when training. I asked people to slow down. This was also important for everyones health. People were often training too fast, and this was not going to allow them to concentrate and physically last the distance of the three day seminar. At times the dojo reached 92 degrees! Budo training is about learning how to look after yourself. Everyone did very well.
We naturally moved forward freely and used ken, knife, rope, hanbo, and the bo. There is no particular school being studied this year, so I took this seminar as a learning experience to see how much my taijutsu had developed without relying on a set waza to commence the training. Well, I have a long way to go! lol. But, this is the training. We must put ourselves out there and see what comes. I feel this is so important for maintaining a balanced frame of mind.
The participants throughout the three days were of all wonderful and interesting characters and backgrounds. Everyone trained intensely and with conviction. Everyone was there at the seminar to learn. It could be felt from the posture, eye contact and also the comments I recieved during the three days. The heat made it difficult at times, but everyone looked after themselves and finished the three days still standing and with big smiles . Congratulations everyone!!
The hospitality of Jeff, Pam and Marty Dunsky was overwhelming for us and we felt very lucky to have met and be given the time to get to know them, their family, and friends. Thank you so much for a wonderful week and supporting my family in a way to make us feel right at home and one of the clan. I’d like to also say thank you to everyone at the Dayton dojo who assisted and also the participants ( 56 in total ) who travelled far and wide in the heat to train.
Bujinkan Buyu !
Thank you, and we hope to see everyone again in Japan or back in Dayton soon.
Duncan, Minako and Kai