Archive for December, 2009

The Sea

Posted in 1 on December 30, 2009 by Duncan Stewart

Slowing down in your training gives you the ability to gain a wider perception and sensitivity of what is occuring in your environment. We can use juppou sesshou to negotiate our space but also to gain a working knowledge of the type of people that move around us.

We are all learning to swim in the dojo. Some eventually learn to swim enough to stay a float and even ” play ” in the wake of Soke and the Shitenno. But, many also flounder ( or become one ) by those that drown and sink to the bottom.

Even people that get skilled at swimming, it doesn’t mean that they will become enlightened or spiritually awakened. If we cannot cleanse the water we swim in, we will forever be lost in a mist of murky water.

Soke doesn’t dive in and save these people. He watches them. If you have what it takes to become a bugeisha, then you will find the way yourself. Budo is not about being “taught” or “saved”.

At the Daikomyosai, Soke again mentioned a famous story about a Samurai. I can’t recall exactly, but I will do my best to tell it.

There was a baby that fell into a pond. One retainer yelled to help the child. However, the General said to not help the child and just watch what it does. If the child could suvive, then it is worthy of being a great warrior.

The child survived and was raised by the General to be a great Samurai warlord.

Even if you think you can swim well, you better watch out where you swim. The sea changes and is largely affected by the elements surrounding it. The bottom can become hazardous from sharp coral and, the sand can move and change to create rips and under currents that can sweep you away, never to be seen again!

There are many dangerous things in the sea. And, many of these things cannot be seen until it is too late. Sharks attack from below with skillful suprise. We can also be set upon by a school of piranah!

Through our desire to experience new things, we may unknowingly step forward onto a poisonous octopus or with lack of awareness of the environment, become painfully entangled in the tentacles of a box jelly fish!

To remain neutral and aware in the dojo is to remain alive. We are learning how to live. To know how to swim is to know how to live. To know when to not enter the water is, aswell.  However, if we do enter the sea, we must consider the consequences.

The Breaking Wave Off Kanagawa. Also called The Great Wave. Woodblock print from Hokusai’s series Thirty-six Views of Fuji, which are the high point of Japanese prints. The original is at the Hakone Museum in Japan.

Hokusai’s most famous picture and easily Japan’s most famous image is a seascape with Mt. Fuji. The waves form a frame through which we see Mt. Fuji in the distance. Hokusai loved to depict water in motion: the foam of the wave is breaking into claws which grasp for the fishermen. The large wave forms a massive yin to the yang of empty space under it. The impending crash of the wave brings tension into the painting. In the foreground, a small peaked wave forms a miniature Mt. Fuji, which is repeated hundreds of miles away in the enormous Mt. Fuji which shrinks through perspective; the wavelet is larger than the mountain. Instead of shoguns and nobility, we see tiny fishermen huddled into their sleek crafts as they slide down a wave and dive straight into the next wave to get to the other side. The yin violence of Nature is counterbalanced by the yang relaxed confidence of expert fishermen. Although it’s a sea storm, the sun is shining.

If we cannot see both sides of what entering the sea can bring,  than we will be suprised and not be able to endure the hardships that come from unseen places.

” Banpen Fugyo “

To fall prey to your own desires and get captured by your own thoughts and beliefs is to become easy prey. If we do not empty our cups at the door, we will forever enter the dojo with too much of ourselves, and not enough room for true learning. We will be too heavy in our minds, and just sink to the bottom when we dive in. However, it is known that heavy people can float quite effortlessy. But they generally just drift in a direction with no focus.

Soke steps from the sea and observes from the safety of the shore. At times the sea becomes rough and out of control. It becomes dangerous for those training. People start to flounder, and forget the rules and guidelines. They forget the basics. Many start trying the butterfly before they can tread water. And when they eventually get tired, they just dissapear below the surface.  

Soke is like a life guard. But he is a life guard that knows that one person cannot dive in and safe a hundred.

From the shore, he can also see those that are listening to the sea, or respecting it. He can see them taking the time to feel the currents, and move according to the winds. These are the people that are absorbing the nutrients of the sea. Soaking in the vitamins and minerals that have created and continue to sustain life as we know it for millions of years.

There are people that take from the sea, but don’t give anything in return. There are also people that pollute the sea with their own desires and lack of appreciation for the wonderful treasure that they are allowed to be a part of.

But again, Soke cannot dive in and cleanse the sea. It’s too large. He has therefore entrusted those that ” can swim freely ” to swim together in a school of their own and minimise this pollution.

The responsibility is great. The sea is big, but so are the hearts of the Bujinkan Budoka around the globe. Together we can help Soke treasure this art and keep it pure and clean for the generations to come.

Good luck at your swimming lessons!

Bufu Ikkan

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Shimenawa

Posted in 1 on December 27, 2009 by Duncan Stewart

This is a quick offer to those who would like a new Shimenawa ( purification rope ) for the Kamidana at home or the dojo.

 

The Shimenawa in Japan are generally only available during this period prior to the New Year. So be quick to order if you want one!

Shimenawa ropes and are a common sight at Shinto shrines hanging from the torii shrine gate and above the entrance to the altar. These special ropes are also used with kamidana home altars. Shimenawa are made of rice straw which is twisted and braided before being bound with string. A wood or wire insert is often used to cause the shimenawa to preserve its shape. Japanese will commonly replace old shimenawa at the start of each year (shogatsu) and new shimenawa will normally be decorated with specially cut paper inserts. Shimenawa were in the past produced in the home by farmers using left over straw from the rice harvest.

 

Shimenawa (標縄・注連縄・七五三縄 , lit. “enclosing rope”) are lengths of braided rice straw rope used for ritual purification in the Shinto religion. They are often seen festooned with shide. A space bound by shimenawa often indicates a sacred or pure space, such as that of a shrine.

Shimenawa are said to act as a ward against evil spirits and are often set up at a ground-breaking ceremony before construction begins on a new building. Shimenawa may be found at Shinto shrines, torii gates, and sacred landmarks. They are also used to mark trees that are believed to be inhabited by spirits called Kodama. Cutting down these trees is thought to bring misfortune.

The Shimenawa are available in three ( 3 ) sizes from department stores. Small,medium and large. Large sizes are approximately 1 metre in length.

If you would like to order a shimenawa, please email me for details at slamdunc742004@yahoo.com

This offer will only last briefly. I have none in stock, and will only purchase shimenawa upon receiving a direct order/payment.

Ninja Kids Eikaiwa

Posted in 1 on December 23, 2009 by Duncan Stewart

Ninja Kids in Japan is a combination of teaching English and Ninja skills!

The Children love being able to dress up and ” play ninja ” while also being challenged at English. I always want to keep them enthused about the training, so I always change the games and routines. We learn to roll from various kamae, pick up tools for self defence, jump away from flying shuriken balls and foam samurai swords. We also play with blindfolds and practise our ninja walking and running. I sometimes do juggling to enhance hand/eye coordination. I emphasize taihenjutsu greatly. It is very important for them to be not afraid of the ground.

The parents love me when you tell them that the ninja were very quiet and noone could ever hear them! The parents want me to keep telling their children this. Lol. I think this is the same for most parents around the world eh!

Recently I graded my students ( ages 4-10 ) to 9th kyu. They are getting a firm grasp of ukemi,kaiten,shi ho tobi and kamae.

They also receive certification for their efforts in learning English each year.

Soke and the Shihan used to teach children. Soke mentioned that it was very important to do so. We also learn many lessons ourselves. For me, it helps me maintain the lightness of heart and the feeling of “playing”. When watching the kids practise, they do so earnestly, but with a sence of real enjoyment. They pick things up and advance into new techniques on their own without my instruction. Because they love it, they “play” and naturally progress through the correct attitude. They are free and happy!

Teaching children is challenging but fun. Good luck!

Noda Junior High School Embu 2006

Posted in 1 on December 23, 2009 by Duncan Stewart

Photo taken by Urban Grundstrom

This Embu was on a sunday.  It was on the playing field of a Junior High School in Noda. The ground was very unstable and the vibrations from the Mompa ( battle hammer ) when it hit the ground was felt from everyone sitting about 10 metres away!

The following day was National Sports Day and the annual Ayase Budokan Embu. Many of the same particpants from the Noda High School Embu performed for this important Bujinkan Embu aswell.

 Photos of both Embu can be seen at http://www.tetsu.se/pics.php .

Thanks to Bujinkan Tetsu Dojo in Sweden.

Buyu

Posted in 1 on December 23, 2009 by Duncan Stewart

Nagato Sensei, Steve, Oliver, Dimitri, Daniel, Myself.

Shugyo January Clips

Posted in 1 on December 16, 2009 by Duncan Stewart

For those interested in joining the Shugyo training for the first time, or renewing their previous subscription, we would like to let you know about the up and coming January clips for download.

www.tenguweapons.com/shugyo

Training in Japan with Soke and the Shihan will finish by the end of the month. As a result, there will be a rest period for approximately two weeks.

We have a special offer for those subscribing for January!

During the break period, we will offer 6 previously unreleased clips for download!

If you subscribe for three or six months ( starting in January ), you will receive the 6 bonus ( holiday special clips ) plus 4 clips based on training and philosophy from the  first classes of the New Year with Soke and the Shitenno!!

This is a total of 10 clips for the month of January!!

The first class for Soke begins on the 5th of January. We will record on Sunday 1oth after his third class. The first clip of the New Year will be then available that week!

If you want to know the theme and what happened at Sokes first classes of the New Year, subscribing is a must!

Please note, This offer does not apply to 1 month subscribers.

Details will be available soon through

www.tenguweapons.com/shugyo

I’d also like to reiterate the following:

The Shugyo Clips are to predominantly give a visual interpretation of the Budo Taijutsu currently practised with Soke and the Japanese Shihan. The clips are not intended to thoroughly pass on philosophy,details on technique,densho, and themes, etc. These points will be raised, but only in a general sence.

If you wish to hear or know more, please read my blog and follow the latest entries that will hopefully compliment the Shugyo clips.

This service is not intended to replace training in Japan or with the jugodan around the world. It is but another resource for students who wish to develop a broader knowledge through the eyes of a foreigner residing and studying at the Bujinkan Dojo in Japan.

Also, a more user friendly download system will be operating very soon. We thank you for your patience and understanding.

www.tenguweapons.com/shugyo

Duncan & Craig

Hot & Cold

Posted in 1 on December 12, 2009 by Duncan Stewart

 

It’s now winter in the northern hemisphere. Those aches and pains are now making there way to the surface and reminding me ( again ) that taking care of the body is so important.

Many Zen monks take hot bathes and cold bathes alternatively.  In the bathroom, there are two tubs, one with hot water and another with cold water.  They dip in the hot one for awhile and then slowly dip in the cold one for as long as they can.  Then, they repeat this cycle four to six times.

Nagato Sensei suggested this to me in regards to strengthening the immune system. However, it is not necessary to completely submerge the whole body in a tub of water. Foot baths are just as good and obviously more convenient. We can also perform this process to any other parts of our body that has been prone to stress, injury, or is just overworked.

The alternating of hot-and-cold bathes is apparently far more effective in building a stronger body. It seems to increase immune resistance, improve circulation, enhance tolerance against very hot or very cold weather, and loosens muscle tensions.

This is fascinating because this ‘hot and cold” process is used to create strong, durable, and beautiful Japanese swords.  A sword maker first heats a block of iron in very high temperature oven.  Then, he will “strike while the iron is hot.”  Next, he will put the semi-shaped iron block into cold water to chill it.  He repeats this hot and cold process until the iron block is perfectly shaped and strengthened as a steel sword. 

The “stress” of this alternating “hot and cold” processes seems to enhance our physical as well as mental durability and strength.

Karada Odaijini Kudasai.