Shinden Helsinki Dojo Bushinden Kai 2010
As I flew over the frozen water and forests of Finland, I was captivated by it’s beauty. The country seemed to be blanketed completely by a thick covering of snow.
As I was leaving for the airport in Japan, I felt that that this trip was going to be special for me.
It made for a wonderful beginning to my short stay with my friend Lauri Jokinen of the Shinden Dojo in Helsinki.
Driving from the airport, the roads were fortified by heights of snow that at times were the height of a one story building. It was cold.
In fact, I was told that it was the coldest winter for 60 years. It was already at the end of March and into spring. The snow was showing no sign of retreat.
That evening, we trained at the New Bujinkan Shinden Dojo in Helsinki.
Lauri had spent many hours working on preparing the dojo. It is a beautiful feeling dojo with real tatami mats. A rarity for dojos nowadays, even in Japan.
I was surprised to see no less than 50 people lining up for the commencement of class.
Feeling surprisingly refreshed and energized after the flight, I was looking forward to training.
Naturally, we commenced training. In the moment ( shunkan ) we explored areas as they spontaneously arose. I didn’t have a plan, however, things naturally unfolded that eventually moved us towards the themes of the year.
I was pleased to become aware of this.
From training, paying no attention, and not having a plan to teach the themes ( which ultimately cannot be taught ), we naturally found ourselves entering moments where the themes exposed themselves to us.
Taijutsu is the catalyst for moving forward and developing an awareness in all areas. The body teaches us what is important. Taijutsu training helps us to see what is real. It allows us to free our mind and become more open to the essence of budo – the gokui.
Lauri showed me many historical areas and offered me general information about Helsinki. We ate delicious Finnish food and he ensured a very relaxing and enjoyable time.
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the southern part of Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, by the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is 583,484 (31 December 2009), making it the most populous municipality in Finland by a wide margin. Helsinki is located some 400 kilometers east of Stockholm, Sweden, 300 kilometers west of St. Petersburg, Russia and 80 kilometers north of Tallinn, Estonia. Helsinki has close connections with these three cities.
The municipality of Helsinki forms the heart of the Helsinki metropolitan area and Greater Helsinki area. Over one million people live in the Helsinki metropolitan area, which includes the city of Helsinki and three other cities. Two of these cities, Espoo and Vantaa, immediately border Helsinki to the west and north. Kauniainen, the third city, is an enclave within the city of Espoo. The Helsinki metropolitan area is the northernmost urban area on Earth with a population of over 1 million people, and the city is the northernmost capital of an EU member state. Altogether 1.3 million people live in the Greater Helsinki area, which includes the aforementiond cities and 9 suburban satellite towns. Approximately 1 in 4 Finns live in the Greater Helsinki area.
Helsinki is Finland’s major political, educational, financial, cultural and research center. Helsinki is also an important regional city on the Baltic Sea and northern Europe. Greater Helsinki has eight universities and six technology parks. Approximately 70% of foreign companies operating in Finland have settled in the Helsinki region.
Finnish and Swedish are the official languages of the municipality of Helsinki. The majority, or 84,3% of the population, speak Finnish as their native language. A minority, at 6,1%, speak Finland Swedish. Those that speak a native language other than Finnish or Swedish stand at around 9,6% of the population.
On the last day of my stay, we went on a little adventure. With Lauri and three members of the dojo, we drove to his hideaway cabin by the sea. Near to the cabin was a Sauna. I believe this is an excursion that has been made by many visiting friends.
We prepared for the Sauna and the various traditions that go along with this.
From the car, we trudged, fell, and tripped through knee-high snow. It was wet and cold, but we all laughed at ourselves as we struggled to find our footing through the forest. I was just glad we didn’t come across a hungry bear coming out of hibernation!
Eventually we made it. It was a spectacular view. Everyone was relieved to have made it. We were all soaked through and looking forward to the Sauna.
The Sauna was a very relaxing experience. I enjoyed the heat ( when it wasn’t burning my ears ) and seeing the coldness of outside through the window. Leaving the sauna, we ate sausages and chicken barbecued to perfection. We would then return to the sauna when we felt cold again.
Making our way back to the car, the impacted snow from our previous footsteps made life easier. The sun was beginning to set and began to create a piercing orange through the trees. We had left the forest with good timing and followed the setting sun back to the dojo for my last class.
Everyone was exhausted from the adventure through the snow, but our energy returned ( slightly ) for the last training session.
The last class was great for me. I was extremely relaxed and moved as dictated by my lethargy. I found that my mind was in a space free from conflict, instruction, desire to perform, etc.
It was in this class that I felt truly free from thought and desire for an outcome. Even Lauri said that he thought it was my best class of the three days.
Each of the three nights training progressed in a way I cannot explain. It was like we were exploring Shu Ha Ri.
Naturally we entered moments of training where we tried to become more aware and advance our understanding of Yoyuu, Tsunagaru, Tachi Kumiuchi, Shizen na Ugoku, Ukemi, Kihon, Shu Ha Ri, and Kyojutsu.
Looking back, I realized that I didn’t refer to Rokkon Shojo at all. It is my current belief that such a theme is relative to Souke. It is his theme.
No Japanese Shitenno teaches it!! So, do you think you can!!?
From naturally living life and gaining life experience, we will come to an understanding of this concept. It is in fact better to forget the theme. As a result, we may actually experience the theme directly. Do you understand?
Often we try to intellectually make sence of things. In fact, the more we stew over things, we add ours thoughts, preconceptions, and past learning to infect the truth. We therefore often become further from the essence of what really IS.
We are weighted down by the themes, and cannot see beyond what we want to see. We make the themes into what we want them to be. I feel it’s better to wait and receive the true teachings naturally by observing the virtue of patience.
Why do people feel the need to profess their believed knowledge so quickly? Maybe they want to impress on their students to maintain a reputation or business?
Everyone wants to understand Now! Please remember ( and I’m included ) that the first code of the dojo is patience ( shinobu/nin ). If you cannot endure with this concept, then you cannot learn budo.
I had many wonderful conversations with Lauri and felt very relaxed with all members of the dojo and the people who travelled from other areas.
The training in Finland is of a high quality. People are sensitive and are open to improvement. The Finnish seemed reserved in nature, but held a quiet confidence. They trained with passion and a true desire to better themselves. I sensed strong traits of loyalty and conviction as well.
The New Shinden Dojo is a wonderful venue. I suggest that those in the Helsinki area visit the dojo for training when you can. Lauri is very selfless and works hard at understanding the budo of our Souke. He is humble and is an instructor that has many students from his sincerity and skill.
His students are extremely loyal and helpful. Everyone shows great dedication to the dojo and following the way of the Bujinkan through Lauri’s humble leadership and sincerity.
Many highly ranked and respected teachers of the Bujinkan have visited the Shinden Dojo. I think this is an example of the type of feeling that permeates from that country. This can only be an example of the fantastic job that Lauri is doing. He is to be congratulated.
Overall, I left Helsinki with a very satisfying feeling. I thoroughly enjoyed my brief stay and the hospitality I received. I thank Lauri and all those that helped him make my trip a reality and so very comfortable.
I look forward to returning in the future and spending more time with Lauri and the Bujinkan family at the Shinden Dojo in Helsinki.