” The soul is a sphere which retains the integrity of it’s own form if it does not bulge or contract for anything, does not flare or subside, but keeps the constant light by which it sees the truth of all things and the truth in itself.”

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

At a recent training session in Ayase, I felt that Soke had entered the room with a feeling I had not felt from him before.

 The class started and I quickly felt Soke and his spirit move the whole room to a sence of deathly seriousness.


The intense feeling permeating from Soke quietened down the  large group people attending the training that night.

Paul Masse was standing beside me at an instant after Soke had moved the dojo with his taijutsu.

I turned to Paul and said ” Soke is on fire tonight”, and Paul stated something the same.

Soke  returned to the mat and said that he is pursuing training tonight with a strong sence of espressing “the soul” in everything he does. He said we should express ourselves, or be completely in touch with ourselves in absolutely everything we do. This means %100 – from the fingertips to the toe nails.

Do not get this confused with going 100% in a physical “sporting” sence, but a sence of placing ones complete being or  soul ( tamashii ) into the training.


This reminded me of a drum clinic I attended with a master drummer, Dave Weckl. He stated to the audience of budding hopefulls that everything he played, he played with his soul. And that meant %100 intention and focus.

He went on to say that no matter how light a stroke on the cymbal, or tap of a drum with a stick, he did so with %100 conviction.


 It’s true. In essence, everything is the same.

We in this lifetime have chosen the study of martial arts as the medium to get closer to the essence of all things.

Others have chosen different arts and pursuits. Many people who study from the “soul”, experience similar “moments” as we do as budoka.

This is why Soke admonishes us to interact with people outside of the Bujinkan and martial arts.

Doing this gives us a greater capacity to appreciate and understand more clearly our own path, the path of man itself, and also the world of art.


Soke has recently mentioned that “the controlling or taking of the opponents soul” is extremely important. To do this, one must also know oneself. I think the ability to control the kukan is the crucial catalyst here for developing this ability.

Soke applies extreme pressure to the limbs or face of his uke. As a result, they are completely immobilised and have their fighting spirit taken from them. Many people state that they feel their energy has been drawn from them and their life essence depleted. I believe this is Soke walking the talk – taking the soul.

I have been one of many who have felt this feeling from Soke. It’s definately something very difficult to explain. I always feel that Soke is not physically performing the techniques. There is something greater enveloping you. I feel his superior spirit and soul is the pressure I feel. This is what makes me sweat.

I feel that because we are physcially feeling intense pain, we automatically assume it is pain delivered from a tangible source. This is true, but the source of the depth of pain is not from a physical realm. The physical body is but the medium to induce the force of the spirit. When mastered / unified / connected ( shin gi tai ichi ), the truth can be felt!

Soke made a comment that explained the effectiveness of controlling with just one finger. If we try and grasp an eel or snake firmly, it is often very difficult to hold still or control. The same is with a person. However, if we hold down just one point, we can often manipulate and control the movement of the eel, snake or person to a point that all resistance is  futile. It is quite interesting to experience this from both the perspective of uke and tori.


The animal kingdom has many lessons and answers for people following the way of true budo.

So, with the focus of our inner being or soul, we should endevour to develop the ability to control our environment and adversaries with just the point of a finger.

We can see how pointing with focus can decieve people. I believe Noguichi Shihan gives excellent examples during taijutsu training of using the soul and body together to control people. With just a point of the finger, he takes our soul and wraps us up in his!

Soke is the same. His being is so natural that as soon as he calls on us to be his uke, we can feel our soul being reeled in like a rope. We then become weakened, and as we move closer, Soke looks larger than life! Why? Because our soul has been taken!

We then become bound by Sokes soul like a rope or spider web. From there we cannot move and experience the feeling of Kannashibari.


Since I have lived in Japan and trained, I have come to accept myself much more. From this acceptance, I have been able to pursue training with a feeling of groundedness that has removed any concern of  failure, or lack of knowledge. Now, I view the struggle and confusion we encounter in training as inspiration! Soke wants us all to develop confidence in ourselves and grow. If we cannot, then we will not understand the teachings of Saino Kon Ki and the depth of our very own Soul.

Soke was instructed by Takamatsu Osensei and was left to continue his budo studies of the nine ryuha on his own. Soke apparently went through many trials,doubts and hardships during the period in which he pursued his studies and daily practise after his teachers passing. It was with Sokes own determination, guts,soul, spirit,desire to improve, and the affirmations handed to him from Takamastu that he managed to get to the level of life and budo that we see today. I believe that Soke is infact, teaching us how to prepare for the time when we must pursue the path alone. This is inevitable.

However, Soke stresses the importance of the Bujinkan heart and that of “buyu”. We will never be alone if we develop trust relationships with others on the path of true budo.

Saino Kon Ki is to me about coming to understand ones whole self. Soke often says to us that we are “all very good” and that we should all “have more confidence in ourselves”. I believe this is Soke giving us teachings that are vital for our continuance in the study of budo for the future. In order to lead or pass on the skills of the Buijnkan, we must move with conviction. Saino Kon Ki is about reaching into your soul and developing/trusting the self enough to fulfill your duties with passion and control your life  and other in order to protect the Bujinkan way.

The concept of  Sakizuke ( rank before actual attainment of skill ) is very much alive in the Bujinkan. This is how Soke was taught, and this is how we are taught. Those people that have gone off alone ( while Soke is still teaching ) have misunderstood this teaching. Soke himself didn’t believe in himself as Soke until 15 years after the death of Takamatsu Osensei! So, who are these people that act like masters after only having the 15th rank for 6 months or so?!

Basically, the 15th dans cannot rest on their laurals and become teachers and lazy. When Soke was given the Sokeship, he continued his training harder then ever! So, in my eyes, those who obtain the highest rank in the Bujinkan, should understand that this is a vital time to really train and maintain the right mind for learning. Teaching is learning, but to have the mindset of “only” being a teacher, is not healthy for ones life as a budoka.

Keeping connected to the “soul” of things is the important point here.


Train hard and enjoy every moment you can. Don’t take it for granted. Please remember that without Soke, we would not be living the life we live today. The life of the Bujinkan Warrior.

Gambatte Kudasai!





2 Responses to “Tamashii”

  1. LOVE THE POST!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Keep on rockin’, Duncan, as always, very inspiring!

    Reminds me of how it may be tied in
    ( probably ) with how Soke is always admonishing practitioners to “be zero”.


  2. BTW, you are most definitely spot on about Noguchi-sensei.

    Having been his uke (luckily) a bunch of times, I can definitely attest to what you said about him wrapping him up in his own soul!!

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