Speaking about Society, René Char wrote that: “Our heritage is not preceded by any testament”. We know where we are coming from but not where we are heading to”. I can see here quite a strong similarity with the Bujinkan.
Hatsumi sensei transmits a fantastic tool to understand human nature and Nature in general but we are not given the way to use it correctly. In fact each one of us is developing his own truth depending on his or her understanding of what he or she has received. Nothing is wrong and nothing is good, everything is open.
Society has evolved in a strange manner over the last 50 years. Today we are more interested or attracted by our own personal interests but we lost “common sense”. I am not speaking of the “common sense” that Sensei presented to be lethal in a fight; but as the “common sense” to understand as the sense of community.
For a few years now, Hatsumi sensei has asked us to work together and to develop a buyu community. Only through this true community of friendship are we going to take the Bujinkan to the next step of its evolution. Even though if sensei is now speaking about gan shi nankotsu or shinden fudô ryû sword as being the technical theme of this year. The philosophical theme decided by him in Jan is still “kihon happô” or a new beginning and the start of a new cycle.
But are we listening to what he’s trying to teach us?
Even though social networks are overflowing us with those nice & friendly thoughts, and full of “peace and love” seminar pictures, I am startled not to see there the deep and true friendship that should prevail. This is only “omote friendship” geared by ego.
To move to the next cycle of evolution, the bujinkan has still to develop an “ura friendship” like the one we have developed 20 years ago with the “Yûro shi tenno” (Sven, Peter, Pedro, Arnaud).
The sakki test is now allowed, under certain conditions, to be given by 3 Jûgodan when they are together in a seminar. This logical evolution of the system was to be expected at some point but I can see the negative side effects to the general technical level. In a few months, “Jûgodan buyu” will run “sakki test seminars” together in order to get more people to their seminars. So I expect some people might attend those seminars only to get the precious sakki test. I see here a major risk for the survival of the bujinkan in the near future.
I am known to say what I think and not to be very “politically correct” when it comes to the bujinkan and how to be a true practitioner. Through the last ten years (at least) I went through different phases. Funnily, I recently discovered that I went through the 5 stages of grief depicted by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.
For years I felt angry at the bujinkan people not able to see the “magic” in sensei’s budô and in his teachings. Then I denied any other approach to the bujinkan than mine (a common attitude towards high ranks even today). They were wrong and I was right! That was an illusion.
Then I began to bargain and hoped that by giving all I could give to the students during my seminars I would “save” the bujinkan in some way. That was an illusion.
After a while, the uselessness of this was so obvious that I felt depressed as no one can understand sensei’s bujinkan if he or she is not “acting” in his or her budô life. Training is useless if it stays only at the physical level, the bujinkan is teaching Life as it is the mix between body and mind that makes it shine. That was an illusion.
Today I finally entered the stage of acceptance as I understood that my actions will not change anything except if the receivers are looking actively and willingly for a change in their own life. This acceptance came last year when many high rank instructors have left my dôjô. Those who have been training with me for the last 20 years have begun to live their own budô life; making their own choices (good or bad) and this helped me understood, and reminded me of one thing that sensei told me once. We were sharing a coffee at his place and were speaking of the bujinkan was over 100 000 members (that was long time ago and today the bujinkan has doubled).
At one point during this discussion I told him that I didn’t have many students, to my surprise he looked at me in the eyes and said: “me neither”…
Today I have finally accepted that the bujinkan will continue to evolve naturally because our “heritage does not come with a testament”. What will be, will be. As sensei said last April: “Our art has survived for over 2000 years, so it will survive again”. As Peter Sloterdjik the philosopher said: “Westerners have forgotten what religion (legere, religere) meant, Cicero gave a perfect translation for it: “studying the protocol defining communication with superior beings”. I see Hatsumi sensei as a “superior being” and the bujinkan as a true spiritual path which is why I am sometimes too harsh in my way of expressing myself. But like a good soldier I will remain “pia fidelis” (loyal and faithful) to sensei until the end of my life.
So if my words and actions over the past 20 years have troubled you, bothered you, or if you have felt insulted in some way, I am asking here for your forgiveness. Each one follows the budô path the way he understands it. There is not one truth but many, this is how I understand the “kihon happô” of this year. One flower give birth to many flowers.