Divine lesson

Life is full of moments. Through training and life experience we aim to come to accept the constant changes and view everything as gifts or lessons to help us become stronger.

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With my son at Russell Falls, National Park in Tasmania.

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Richmond Bridge in Tasmania. The oldest bridge in Australia.

My family and I travelled to Tasmania to enjoy a summer Christmas and New Year with the Stewart Clan. It was exciting for everyone, as many of the family had yet to meet my wife and son. We managed to see some of the east coast of Tasmania and it’s beaches, temperate southern rainforests and waterfalls, historic sites, and world heritage forest areas.

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The East Coast of Tasmania and one of it’s many beautiful beaches.

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Port Arthur historic site and convict settlement.

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The Tahune valley. World Heritage Area.

Many a days were spent shopping, sipping great coffee with friends and eating Tasmanian seafood, meats and other produce at the vast array of restaurants and cafes in and around Hobart. We were enjoying out time with relaxed vigor with the fresh air on our faces.

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Peppermint Bay Cruise

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The Point Revolving Restaurant

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The Taste of Tasmania. A festival of local produce and arts.

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Lunch in Richmond Historic Village

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A Tasmanian Devil at the “Devil park”.

On the 3rd day of January my buyu from the Tasmania Shin Gi Tai Ichi Dojo came together to train in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu. I found that the morning naturally evolved as I was helping students appreciate the principles of taijutsu in order to feel the kukan and it’s connection and immeasurable necessity in regards to using the Happo Biken.

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Happo Bikenjutsu

My aim was to help everyone “feel” and come to understand that training is indeed Shinken Gata, and that having a sporting frame of mind and approach to training is to have no understanding of the cutting truth of real budo. I also aimed to help people see why we train the way we do. Showing that by practising slowly, correctly, and concentrating on the principles of taijtusu that create the kukan, we can learn naturally the secrets of Happo Biken and Ninpo. There are no short cuts to learning this art. I am forever training, regardless of my circumstance. After all, the most important point is to “keep going”.

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Shin Gi Tai Ichi Tasmania Dojo Seminar participants.

I addressed the training as such and endevoured to make everyone aware that the responsibility lies with each and everyone of us in regards to attaining true, proficient skills and, being authentic ambassadors of this wonderful art for the future.

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Josh & Grace have been studying for nearly 8 years!

In an unfortunate accident just before our lunch break, a student during training was thrown into the side of my right knee. At that moment, I was in the process of assisting another training member. I took natural ukemi and fell away.  As a result, I incurred an injury that stopped me from weight-baring completely on the affected leg. I knew I had obtained debilitating damage to my body. The pain was quite strong. However, I quickly turned from my own immediate problem and focused my intention and concern to my students. I didn’t want to affect the day. I became aware of many things during the break before the afternoon session commenced. My attitude for one. I released myself from myself, knowing that the class must continue. This was now a different type of training for me and for my buyu.

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Tasmanian Buyu: Elio, Nigel, Erwyn, David, Kirk.

I continued to train and teach on only one leg, often propped on a rokushaku bo. This continued for four hours. I learned  alot about myself and my attitude toward budo.  I trained that afternoon with the desire to “hide” my weakpoints. As a result of not being able to move, I relinquished my footwork and moved with a sense of  “hicho”, while ” becoming small” or “disapearing” using the feeling of moguri gata. Through adapting and continuing with my training, I came to be aware of more subtle areas and felt a heightened sensation of awareness in regards to protecting my weakened body. We also practised kenjutsu and bojutsu kamae, nage nawa and tantojutsu. At all times I practised to disguise my frailty and always aimed not  to deviate in my spirit and focus. Fudoushin, Banpen Fugyo and Nintai came to me as elements vital for the budoka. I felt that having “guts” in the moment of adversity ( as soke has mentioned ) is of utmost importance. The spirit/heart of the martial artist is truly tested during times of injury I believe.

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Kumidachi

I also feel that the connection you have with others is of the utmost importance in order to heal and survive. Can I say, a sense of give and return? By this I mean that new lessons were bestowed upon me from being given an injury by my students. Upon accepting this injury as a learning experience, I was able to return what was given in a positive way by perservering with the training and displaying what is often talked about, but never actually realised. Soke has often  said that if you become injured, sick, or are dying, there is always a way to train. After twenty years of training, I had finally come to experience and appreciate these words of Soke.

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Zanshin

I’d like to thank everyone who trained at the seminar and other sessions for having an open mind and heart and attempting to truly understand Bujinkan Budo with their heart, mind and body. This year we have been told to master three principles in harmony to become a true bugeisha. I think we all did our best to encourage thought around this topic and naturally in time, translate it into action to hopefully gain results. Good luck everyone!

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 Nagato Sensei at the Bujinden

 

 The Shin Gi Tai Ichi Dojo is the only dojo in Tasmania. The express aim of all the instructors and students is to preserve the traditions as handed down by Soke and his shihan while accepting the rules and guidelines as set by the Bujinden Honbu.

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Saino Kon Ki – unifying our Ability, Soul, and Environment to master ourselves and enter the world of the Bugeisha. 

 Upon completion of the seminar, I went to the Emergency room and found through an MRI scan that I had in fact completely torn my medial meniscus and cracked my medial condyal of the femur. I’d also torn some  muscle surrounding it.

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Taking it easy

My good buyu David was shocked upon hearing that I had infact coninued training for as long as I had after learning of my injury. He also mentioned that regardless of the obvious accident and physical injury, the students showed no less enthusiasm about continuing with training. I believe that as I had not let it affect me,  this rubbed off on the people present that day. I sincerely continued to truly practise what is preached, and train regardless of being sick, or injured. Some people would say this is foolish, but they are not budoka. If you listen to your body and adapt and move as required. There is no foolishness in that, just training and discovery.

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 David Papadimitrio. True friend and Buyu.

I am now healing.  Life doesn’t stop, but it changes. This is our training. Acceptance of this constant, and also maintaining the warriors heart that carries one through difficult times and can always see the light, no matter how far away it seems. My injury is by no means life threatening, yet serious to the point that change and introspection is required to move forward. The injury could have been much worse and have ended my taijutsu training as I know it. I’m sure anyone who values the life of a budoka as much, will understand what I’m trying to say. Our legs are very important. Please take care.

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Sunset over southern tasmania. Photo taken from my home.

Nagato Sensei said that it was an important time for me and to learn the art of observation during my recovery period. This I feel is not only learning to observe external situations, but observe everything. Both spiritually, physically, and psychologically. It’s a time to observe myself and my life around me.

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Continuing to enjoy our time while recovering.

I recieved some email from buyu living in Japan. They kindly relayed what was said by Soke and Nagato Sensei about my recent mishap. Nagato Sensei mentioned that it was in fact a “divine lesson” . Soke said that it is much better to be injured than to give an injury to your students. Soke also mentioned that these times are important to  improve in budo. In a letter from Soke, he mentioned that he to had once recieved an injury at a Taikai from a training partner. He said that he had also continued to teach the three day Taikai upon recieving the injury. I think there is definately something to learn from this.

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Sensei

I have taken my experience all in stride and with the sense that it has been all training. As a result, I have recovered quickly and my doctor is extremely suprised to see me walking with no discomfort and assistance after such a short period of time. I of course have listened to his suggestions, but have used them as a guide only. I used the teachings of Sokes budo to aid me in a more rapid recovery. These are things I cannot write about, as what we do for our body is unique and personal, and by no means appropriate for others. I have but listened to myself, my body, and with knowing the direction of my heart towards learning the truth of budo, I moved with a positive focus on attaining a full recovery.

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This Wallaby hides in my parents front garden every morning awaiting breakfast.

I have truly come to believe that this has been a “blessing in disguise” for me. I have now had the time to experience Tasmania with my wife and child and also connect further with my family and friends. My lifes timing has changed, and I can now no longer run from my wife! I have thus been given many more jobs of responsibility! Needless to say, I’m taking my rehabilitation very seriously so I can run again!!

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Minako & Kai having fun with the Tazzie Devils!

Slowing life down enables you to experience and appreciate what’s around you more. I have come to really see how beautiful my homeland is and the freshness of air that surrounds us everytime I hobble to see the Tasmanian forests, beaches, and mountains. I always keep my camera close incase I spot the mysterious Tasmanian Tiger too!

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In Swansea at Kate’s Berry Farm. Great Waffles & Icecream.

I’m now preparing for returning to Japan. My time in Tasmania has given me a wonderful chance to feel and sense for where my life and my families life is heading while experiencing the trials of injury.

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At Mount Field National Park.

Something very interesting happened to us. As we drove through the forests or bushland we had an Echidnea walk infront of us. This happened not just once, but four times in a row during different trips to various regions of southern and eastern Tasmania. Apparently coming across an animal four times ( whether dreaming or real life ) has spiritual significance. It causes one to reflect on things more deeply. I cannot help but feel that this time in Tasmania was a time for me to consider aspects of life that I have neglected recently. It may sound strange, but I did feel I would injure myself upon visiting Tasmania. I’m sure that the brief hardship I encountered was necessary for the further growth for me as a person, father, husband and martial artist.

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One of the Echidneas we managed to take a snapshot of at Mount Field National Park.

I’d like to express my deepest thanks and appreciation to Soke, Nagato Shihan, my wife, my son Kai, parents, and all my buyu in Japan,Tasmania and around the globe who have supported me and helped me recover quickly with their positive connection.

Bufu Ikkan.

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6 Responses to “Divine lesson”

  1. Edward Laity Says:

    Hello there, im Ed 21 from the UK originally, but recently moved to NZ in the last year, and with no martial arts background or experience, have started training in budo bujinkan taijutsu since sept 08 under Simon Gaunt. I just stumbled over this site and having read this last article have become somewhat inspired, thank you for your wealth of knowledge, a great read!

  2. Duncan:

    Thank you for the pics! Coni and I really enjoyed them. Kai is sure getting big. What a little ripper..

    Thank you for my English to Aussie dictionary.

    All the best and a speedy recovery.

    Lance

  3. William Boesen Says:

    Hi Duncan,

    In my opinion this is the best and most motivating story I have read in Bujinkan. The true and hidden meaning of give and take is fantastic.

    All the best and I wish you a very speedy recovery. Odaiji ni.
    See you at training

    William

  4. I never heard about your injury but I am happy to hear that you have recovered. I see this kind of injury all the time with my work and many of these patients never fully recover to be able to do the things that we do in our training.

    Keep going!

  5. I feel your pain on the knee injury. I myself was injured in such a way back in 2000 at the dojo of my former instructor. I had to continue with class and yes, it hurt badly but I didn’t let it stop me. The instructor threw me and did it right, I used ukemi wrong. Knee was twisted on the mats. However, even though there are times to even this day it hurts I never let it stop me from doing anything, and have rehabbed it quite successfully as well.

    Good post, and I look forward to seeing you all in March on my first trip over.

  6. Duncan Shihan,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I also sustained a similar injury while in the military. I was training at the Austin, TX dojo and tore my miniscus. Although I was on crutches and in alot of pain, I continued to train but became very aware of my body. Your story has related directly to my lesson learned in that this art is about being a warrior. Unlike sports, you never have a “break” or a chance to sit out when your life is on the line;thus, you must keep going to survive. Look forward to seeing you again in Japan! Till then, bufu ikkan.

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