Don’t think!

Recently, Yabunaka San entered a short conversation with Soke at the Dojo about his lifestyle. He thought Soke must be a very busy man and that he must take his free time seriously and think deeply about things.


Soke replied by saying that ” he didn’t.” He maintained his casual state of mind and pursued his interests from a natural state. It is within this natural state that his mind is free to wander and tune into the moment. If he stopped to think about things, he would lose what is truly important. Through this manner of living, he is capable of coming to understand the important things, free from intellectual pressure.

Soke has once said that we do not need to meditate on things. We are not all priests!  Taijutsu is a moving meditation. If we maintain this sence of freedom and henka in our daily life, then we are in fact using the lessons from the dojo. The better our taijutsu becomes, the better our life should become. If however, you believe that training stays in the dojo,  you will never grow.

Soke actually practises what he preaches. He lives the art. As a result, he has obtained a life free from restrictions by ( I assume ) naturally integrating the lessons of Takamatsu Osensei into his life with complete trust and conviction.

While moving without restrictions, he is able to listen and tap into the truth from the subconcious and the universe. I suppose we could call this a ” moving meditation “. As a result, he is able to produce books and works of art that come from the Soul. The true heart. The ninja heart.

For those that teach and help others and yourself continue on the path, we often find ourselves moving and then speaking our thoughts out loud. In many circumstances, I have literally had to snap myself back to the moment after losing myself to my self. Within this moment I feel that I have actually spoken my truth, but am often unaware of what I had actually said. This is the same when practising Taijutsu isn’t it. Often we move without knowing why or how. Why? Because the body knows. Maybe it’s a moment of feeling Shin Gi Tai Ichi? But, if you believe this, then maybe you haven’t truly understood.Lol.

Hombu with Soke

What comes to you freely and naturally, is the truth. To sit and contemplate too much, or strictly study something to the point of fanatasism, will only create stress and will not result in a balanced or true grasp of what one wishes to understand. We must be able to breath and move inbetween the breath to allow it to fully circulate around us. From there, our body can absorb through the sences the space that holds the true knowledge.

The kukan is the space that enables one to “see” with the whole body ones true position in the environment. Therefore, we have to develop ourselves so we can come to a working understanding of this ” life space ” that envelopes us in every single moment. The crucial element is ( through training ) learning how to manipulate the space to maintain life. This is the most important  point to understand in ones martial studies.

Training in ALL the waza and blindly just performing the set movements with just the feeling of training being a physical excercise, is useless. The practitioner will just become a technique catalogue or technician. In order to truly grasp the full concept of a martial art, one must have spirit. This spirit is the nin, of ninpo. You must also have ” Guts “. The spirit that is devoted sincerely with a mind clear and thoughtful, is the only way to maintain the right path as a budoka.

Soke has also comment that it is no good just to train. Those that just train are fools!

We must broaden our horizons and understand that training is infact trying to open ourselves to more. In this way, we come to develop a larger capacity and working knowledge of the self.  This is hard to do. We are all bound  by schedules based on family and work committments. Finding enough time in the day to increase our experiences is difficult.

But, where there’s a will, there’s a way! This is why Soke asks us to develop an overpowering will to live and develop ourselves further in this lifetime. By having an overpowering will, we are able to move freely and without fear. We can start to actually live our life.

The problems occur when we try to intellectualise things and teach budo based on knowledge gained from low level study. Eg: books and videos. If we allow ourselves to trust our taijutsu and let our minds go, we may be lucky to enter a state of mushin. Through this state we move without lies. If we enter this realm, we cannot lie. We cannot fabricate anything. We are naked on a stage for all to see. This is the honesty, the sincerity that the study of taijutsu brings. We have therefore gained a unification of the self that enables us to live in the now. If you are in the  “now” or ” zero point “, you have transcended your ego.


If we cannot let go of our minds, ego, concern for being good or bad, wrong or right etc, we can never experience these truthful moments as a budoka. This helps us also understand why Soke admonishes us to ” play ” with a heart of a child and be happy. With happiness we can can enjoy blissfull moments. These moments are felt and are allowed to change freely. We do not try to stop, grasp or take control, we just adapt and maintain the flow. Just like a good conversation at a party. Everyone drinking feels happy and the jokes just roll and roll until someone goes that little bit too far. The heart of a warrior is that of Wa, or ” harmony” . We must learn the art of  ” reading the air ” to maintain harmony around us. This is important to avoid conflict and ensure the development of trust relationships. Of course, there is always a reverse side to things, and the disruption of the ” wa ” may be a strategy or ” kyojutsu ” for a greater cause.

This focus on maintaining harmony or keeping the connection, can be felt through  music. When playing jazz, we allow each other to freely show our true selves using the instruments as tools to do so. We aim to communicate with each other, harmonize with each other and compliment musically what each other is doing. We are trying to develop and experience the human connection.

Soke also recently stated that the concept of this years theme can be found in music. The connection we are trying to gain an appreciation for is by using the medium of rope. A rope can be likened to that of the musical lines on a sheet of music. These lines connect the notes to create music. 


So, firstly ( like in every art form ) we must perservere with the rudiments and scales etc. We must understand the structure of things. When we come together after a working knowledge of these forms, we can show our true face and develop further into the depth of humanity by working together to play music. If people have truly mastered their trade, they exude a strong sence of emotion or spirit in everything they do. These people turn heads when they walk into the room, and when they perform, move people to tears. They have made a connection with their fellow beings through the medium of art.

This is Nawa no Kankaku.

We have to have a sence of artistry when practising budo. But we must never forget what budo is. This is extremely important. I feel that some people have taken this ” feeling of artistry ” a little to literally. They have lost the seriousness of what they do. They have lost the reality behind the martial arts. They top it off with clapping at the end of a class that has instructed everyone how to ” kill to survive.”


Budo training is not a show. It’s an art form based on the need to protect ones life. It is important for all of us to review this in our minds every now and then so we can call ourselves bugeisha with a sence of integrity.

I’d like to finish by saying these words: 

Many words I write are thoughts produced by allowing my mind to be free. I voice out loud my thoughts in the way of words in a hope that one day I will live these ideals and truly come to understand the ways of Budo. I do not profess to live by or even understand the depth of the words written. I can but voice my truth and perservere in the training like everyone else, while mainting a true desire for real universal knowledge.

Bufu Ikkan




5 Responses to “Don’t think!”

  1. the truth of these words resonate with the beauty of their honesty. They vibrate with the energy of passion and playfulness. To be able to create something that brings tears of joy to others is a wonderful gift honed through the journey of our experiences and dedication to learn. Yet somewhere down that track we have to realise that the well spring comes through us from beyond our concious state and at that moment of realisation we truly become the bearers of a truth that needs to be shared with all living things. To create a feeling of peace with all we come in contact with. The Bujinkan set me on the path and music has widened the lanes.

  2. Duncan thank you for sharing apart of you. I to can relate to the voice that echo through the mind from the soul. As a jazz musician I can also relate to the connection, harmony and freedom to solo (improvise/adapt) in life which is the mirror of budo and vice verse in my opinion.

  3. Duncan,

    This is such an amazing set of ideas about the parallels of life and Budo, about the seriousness of our art, and about the art itself. Thank you so much for this great posting

    Luis Rodriguez

  4. Great post Duncan..Thanks for sharing your experienced moments.

  5. The truth is out there! You “speak my language” Duncan.

    Best wishes from Goettingen,

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