How to Train in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu
A glass of water is made up of two things: the glass, and the water. Without the water, the glass would be just an empty glass. Without the glass, the water would just be a pool of water, or clouds in the sky or drops of rain on the window. We need the glass' structural quality to hold the water, so that we can drink it, share it, and store it for future generations.
When we drink from the glass we take in the water. First it becomes part of our blood, then it penetrates the cells of our body, and finally it becomes part of complex molecules that form our very being. As we drink more of the water, the glass becomes empty and we need to refill it. For this we need a good clean source of pure water, not tainted and polluted by others. Some people find dirty water to drink and wonder why they get ill. Others find very pure water and live a long and healthy life. Other people pollute their own water and share it with others, polluting not only their very being, but also the core of others.
To me budo is the same as the glass of water, it consists of two things: the kata, and the essence. Without the kata the essence could be anywhere in any form; we need the structural qualities of the kata to hold the essence so that we can drink it and take it into our being, internalising it, making it a part of us. Furthermore we need to keep drinking this essence to grow and mature our budo. We need to find a good pure source of this essence so that we can refill our glass. Thus the water needs to be a pure unpolluted source which comes either directly form the pure original source, or has been transported unpolluted from the source.
It is very easy in our training to forget to drink from the glass, especially if it is a very pretty glass. We can get lost in ‘admiring the glass’, and making up stories about how good a glass it is, and how it looks more pretty than anyone else’s glass. Furthermore it is also easy to think that the glass is budo and spend our lives practicing being the glass, and not drinking the essence. Sometimes we have no choice but to do this when we are taught by people who have never received the pure unpolluted transmission. This is why in my view it is important to find a good teacher who is true to the source. Additionally, I feel it important to visit the source from time-to-time, firstly to drink where the water is purest, and secondly, to know what pure water tastes like, so that when some-one tries to give us polluted water, we know it as such.
As with water, we need to keep drinking the teachings until the day we die. This way we will always grow, develop, and be well hydrated with budo.
Next Article: Sanshin no Mushin, the Three Spirits of No-Mind.