Bugeisha and Saino Kon Ki

While in Tasmania, I recieved a letter from Soke. He reminded me that the theme for the year was Saino Kon Ki. He also mentioned that upon mastering these components, the person can finally call themselves a true bugeisha.

The kanji used by Soke for Kon can be read as Katamari.In a general sence we can understand katamari as meaning a mass, a cluster, group, or crowd.

Saino tranlsates as talent, gift or ability.

Ki translates and reads as Utsuwa. Meaning Vessel, or container.

Maybe we can look at this grouping of kanji by soke to have a meaning far greater than the self. If people of various talents bond and group together in one place, wonderful things may arise.

For example:

Soke has always responded by saying that the Bujinkan is only for high quality people ( Saino ). He has always promoted the importance of Taikai and the development of Buyu throughout the world ( Katamari ). And lastly, soke has always asked that these people maintain the link to the “feeling” by attending the Honbu ( Utsuwa ).


 As with the concept of Shin Gi Tai, we can see that Saino Kon Ki has three components that when understood and unified harmoniously will serve as the base fundamentals required for becoming a true master of the martial arts. Therefore, above all other things we should move toward understanding out true selves in order to become truely proficient in the martial arts and help society. Self realisation can only come about from sincere and strict training. We must learn to be our own teachers and perservere through our own insecurities and weed out our physical, and spiritual weaknesses.

Utsuwa also can imply a person of high caliber or capacity. As in Utsuwatakai. A person may have Saino & Tamashii, but must have the caliber to understand, unify, and use these together in harmony to there full potential. If this is realised, the person can become someone of a very high level and influence ( Utsuwatakai ). 


I cannot help but link this years weapons ( rope and sword ) with the warrior god “fudomyo-o” ( my thoughts only ).

With a sword and rope in either hand, fudomyo-o lives with conviction to destroy evil and protect and serve  martial artists and those on the path of justice.



Fudo is a personification of Dainichi Nyorai, and the best known of the Myo-o, who are venerated especially by the Shingon sect of Japanese Esoteric Buddhism. Fudo converts anger into salvation; has furious, glaring face, as Fudo seeks carries “kurikara” or devil-subduing sword in right hand (representing wisdom cutting through ignorance); holds rope in left hand (to catch and bind up demons); often has third eye in forehead (all-seeing); often seated or standing on rock (because Fudo is “immovable” in his faith). Fudo is also worshipped as a deity who can bring monetary fortune. 
 He is portrayed holding a sword in his right hand and a coiled rope in his left hand. With this sword of wisdom, he cuts through deluded and ignorant minds and with the rope he binds those who are ruled by their violent passions and emotions. He leads them onto the correct path of self control. He is also portrayed surrounded by flames, flames which consume the evil and the defilements of this world. He sits on a flat rock which symbolizes the unshakeable peace and bliss which he bestows to the minds and the bodies of his devotees. Fudomyo’s nature is essentially one of compassion and he has vowed to be of service to all beings for eternity. 
It is for this reason that the figure of he is placed first among the thirteen deities. His vow is to do battle with evil with a powerful mind of compassion and to work for the protection of true happiness. To pray for recovery from illness and for safety while traveling is to rely upon his vow and power to save. He is also the guide for the deceased, to help save them and assist them in becoming buddhas for the first seven days after death.

While observing Saino Kon Ki and training with the rope and sword, may we come closer to understanding the gods of budo? If we do, we ourselves may come to realise our roles more clearly, as protectors of the martial arts with an all seeing middle eye?


Shisei  – life & Death.

In order to understand our path, we must first master ourselves. Soke is giving us a road to travel unlike those before us, so we may see how far we can endure. If we perservere and endure without setting conditions, we may one day stumble upon enlightenment. By purely entering the training with a feeling of bettering onself and purifying our heart and soul, we may finally get a glimpse of Kanjin Kaname ( the mind and eyes of god ). From there, we may possibly see our destiny as protectors of budo for the sake of life. I feel that the Gojo ( five precepts of Budo ) have an integral link here.

Soke has also mentioned “Tamashii”. Most commonly translated as “soul”, we may also acknowledge that in order to understand the duty of fudoumyo, we must accept fully the teachings to understand the soul of bushido. In order to be accepted into heaven, we must cleanse our soul through training by enduring hardship, pain, sweat and tears. I believe soke has mentioned that the sweat from training evaporates into the heavens and we are rewarded by the gods of budo in the form of luck? Therefore, we should not become obstinate, indolent or become complacent in our training. We should learn to talk with the gods of budo through our sweat and determination for understanding the truth of the martial arts.


 Developing the soul of budo is the aim of the true budoka. This is far more important to me than continually learning new skill sets. While training, we will inevitably learn new waza. However, if there is no soul or heart to the movement, there is ultimately nothing, only an empty shell.

Only by emptying our cup at the dojo door, and stepping with sincerity ( magakoro ) can we hope to gain true lessons from those masters that teach physically and spiritually from both realms. I truly believe that “forgetting yourself” while having  a playfull mind and the ability to absorb the teachings directly is essential. A character free from intellectual, preconcieved, and intervention based on desires, is the only way to learn this budo. As we have heard before, if we aim to create business, fame, and fortune from this art, we will ultimately fail. We may see some immediate gains from those with these desires. Their path may be tempting for a moment. However, If  we take another step,we will also be able to see their shortcomings and that failure is inevitable. You can see this at the Honbu on occassions. I must congratulate Soke and the Shihan for tolerating the many that exploit the Bujinkan name for their own personal satisfaction. But as Nagato Sensei has said, “budo is not that trivial”. These things are natural in humans and is a part of our training. Experiencing these people are chances for you also to see yourself and where you stand in the scheme of things. If they act as a mirror, than maybe you have some work to do on your own character. It’s all training.

We must relinquish ourselves to the fact that we may never know or master budo. This is the cutting truth. However, if we can accept this, and acknowledge our frail and uncertain knowledge, we may be actually able to learn something. But this something will only be real learning if our heart and soul is in the right place.


Pain. An indicator that you are still alive!

Training with sincerity and trust is all we need. Soke has said that a zen wind is blowing within the martial arts. We have to catch that wind of peace. If you love something fully, great things can happen. But with love ( as we know ) comes times of difficulty, despair, and confusion.  This is just like life isn’t it. Doesn’t soke say he is teaching life?  I have chosen to follow with my heart and believe in something that I see as being beneficial to me and the people around me. The more I train with soke and the shihan, the more I believe this. From belief comes connection. Soke sends the teachings of budo through radio waves across the world to those who have the ability and desire or luck, to tune into them. It is our job to maintain and keep these frequencies open and heard to ensure peace in society.

I feel that this years theme requires people to search their soul ( tamashii ) and acknowledge the truth of their abilities ( Saino / nouryoku ) and become acutely aware of  where they stand in life ( utsuwa ). If we can master ourselves, than maybe we can eventually be called a bugeisha and come to understand that grimace on the face of Fudomyo-o –  Destroyer of evil ways and the protector of life.


Gambatte Kudasai!

11 Responses to “Bugeisha and Saino Kon Ki”

  1. Thank you Doug for those clearcut words, they ring a bell (temple bell?) in my heart. That understanding makes it the toughest theme so far, doesn´t it? It truly is a Budo of Life, with many layers to explore. I will go to work immediately. Keep writing hints from time to time to us abroad.
    may Fudo take good care of you and yours

  2. Big T (from Says:

    Thanks Doug, the bells of glory also rings (temple bells indeed) true for me. I look forward to meditating on the subject with my students.

  3. Duncan Stewart Says:

    A few weeks ago, Soke mentioned that the buki theme for this year ( sword & rope ) was definately related to Fudomyo-o.

  4. WOW, I have been training nearly 30years the last 9 years in the Bujinkan, molding myself in the warrior arts, I can hear the Heike bells ring as the…..remember always training like life is realtive. Gambette

  5. Wow! This is a really overwhelming and inspiring post. Thank you, Duncan!

  6. Duncan, Thank you for this post. I read everything you write here, but this post among some others really speaks to something in me and forces me to take a look at myself, my training, and my life and ask: what can I improve upon? What can I do better? Is this all that I can do?

    Once again, thank you for you blog…

  7. Duncan – I have now read this post a third time and every time I find more and more in it. Truly an inspirational piece of writing – thanks for making it available for all to learn from.

  8. The information on your site is inspirational, this weekend is the yearly Buyu camp in San Francisco, my home town. I am in Los Angeles, and can not be there, because of life responsibilities, but my heart is there with them. I attended the event in 2007, and it was also my first return to my city where I grew up and began my Bujinkan training, since 1998. It was a wonderful time seeing all the martial friends of my past and seeing that we are all still going forward in the art. It was also great to see and meet new people on the path. This Bujinkan network has grown incredibly since I read Hatsumi and Hayes books back in 1983 & began dojo practice in 1990. The next phase of my development is to make it to Japan. It is the network of Bujinkan warriors that will help me on this next leg of my journey along this never ending path. Thank you for keeping us informed. I hope we meet in the spirit of warrior friends.

  9. Hi Duncan hope the familys well,we are our own worst enemy and unless i seek out a mirror i.ll be none the wiser ,through your page i came to see my 3year old mirror right in front of me she is but one of my links to sainokonki….thank you for the mind shift….glen.

  10. You are an excellent writer or should I say you express yourself well. It is heartfelt , warm and inspiring. There is also a feeling of confidence. A confidence that comes from experiencing things directly. This can only come by devotion and effort. Devotion is the key to receiving blessings from our masters and the lineage.
    I don’t train in the bujinkan but I have always been interested. I am buddhist and I have often thought that the path of budo is a path to enlightenment. The more I read of your posts the more I see the true meaning of budo. take care.

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