For those interested in learning more about the culture of Japan and what it is like to visit Japan, these are two great Youtube channels. The Only in Japan channel has edited videos on specific themes and are very high quality. The Only in Japan Go channel is by the same Youtuber, but all of the videos are live streams from his life in Japan. I highly recommend both channels and enjoy watching the videos myself. The focus is more on Japanese culture, unique things about Japan, and things to do while visiting Japan, rather than martial arts like Karate or Aikido (although, there is a video on a naginata school).
In the Bujinkan we say "Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo" at the beginning and end of each training session.
The word SHIKIN has four dimensions. The first dimension is a merciful heart, expressing love for everything. Second is a sincere heart to follow what is right. Third is a attuned heart in tune with the natural order (balance). Last is a dedicated heart, dedicated to a chosen path.
HARAMITSU is the combination of these four elements and means great wisdom.
Only from great wisdom and a pure heart can one obtain true enlightenment, DAIKOMYO, the goal of all great people. The enlightened person emits a powerful aura that transcends ignorance and shines forever.
There is a warrior verse, one of Japan's oldest known poems, that goes, "Chihayaburu kami no oshie wa tokoshie ni tadashiki kokoro mo mamoruran." Translated it means, if one does not have a pure heart, heaven will never permit pleasurable times. This is said by the instructor before each bowing ceremony in more of a whisper.
For the kids class in our dojo we bow in and out using the phrase Ninpo Ikkan. The Japanese character for Nin consists of two parts or radicals. The upper radical is called yaiba which refers to the cutting edge of a blade. The lower radical can be read either as kokoro or shin, both of which mean heart.
The character Nin is also used to write Nintai, which means perseverance or patience, implying the important thing for a ninja is to be patient under impossible circumstances and persevere when he/she cannot find a way to succeed on a mission. This form of thinking, the spirit of perseverance, is called Budo Seishin. If one receives an insult from another, one must be able to endure it without holding a grudge and then discard such feelings as anger and jealousy.
The essence of Ninpo is a pure heart through endurance. Ikkan means to pursue something with single and lasting purpose/intent. A simple way to translate Ninpo Ikkan then is "The essence of the ninja, to endure, is our primary focus."
During a weekend-long seminar that my Sensei taught for our dojo, he spoke about the Japanese character (kanji) 武 "Bu." 武 Bu is usually translated as war, or martial. He said this is a more modern definition for the word. An older use of the kanji 武 Bu means, "to stop war."
武 Bu is the first kanji in the name of our martial art, 武神館 Bujinkan. The kanji 神 Jin (or Kami) means divine or enlightened, it can even mean God. The kanji 館 Kan means a castle or hall. Typically, the Bujinkan is translated to mean the Hall of the Enlightened Warrior, or Hall of the Divine Warrior. With the understanding of this older meaning of the word 武 Bu, we can translate Bujinkan as: the dojo of stopping war with God.
Now, we can do a bit of word play simply using a comma. If we write the name of the Bujinkan using a comma so it reads: the dojo of stopping war, with God, then it means that with the aid of God we work to stop war. If we write it without the comma, we can interpret it to mean that we are learning to stop warring against God.
There is a high level of martial philosophy called Shin Gi Tai. Often these are referred to as their plain translation of Mind/Heart, Spirit, and Body. However, these can also be referred to as the divine techniques, techniques learned from heaven. If one is to ever reach this level in their training, they must stop fighting against the will of heaven, trust that heaven has better plans than we do, and follow the path of enlightenment. Then the Shin Gi Tai can be made usable in us.
So, no matter how you translate Bujinkan, our studies take us beyond the physical training of martial arts, or war arts. Our Soke of the Bujinkan has said, "I'm not teaching you how to fight. I am teaching you how to control evil." It is possible that the evil we control is not just from others, but also through improving ourselves. This is the essence of our training in the dojo.
Stay tuned, the dojo will be moving to a much larger and nicer facility in the next week. If you are looking for a karate or other martial arts school, consider our dojo. We have great tuition rates, no contracts, a head instructor who has trained regularly in Japan for several years, and some of the best students in the valley!
Japan Day, held September 3rd at the Boise Basque Center, is coming up fast. This is a great event for the whole family with various booths outside and performances inside the Basque Center. Our dojo will be doing a demonstration of Koryu Budo, old style martial arts, at 3:10 pm. Come see our students performing several Kata from actual ninja and samurai traditions, as well as demonstrations in full samurai armor. For more information, visit the Idaho Japanese Association's web page. idahojapaneseassociation.org/events/japan-day/
Performances Time Table
*Schedule subject to change
11:10-11:25 Sangha Taiko
11:45-12:00 Shishimai (Lion Dance)
12:20-12:30 Nihon Buyou (1)
12:30-12:50 -Take a Break-
1:05 - 1:55 Shakuhachi
Koto & Shakuhachi
2:00-2:05 Nihon Buyou (2)
2:05-2:15 -Take a Break-
2:15-2:35 Kawa Taiko
3:10-3:20 LIVING-WARRIOR DOJO
3:25-3:30 Nihon Buyou (3)
Here is a great article about Hatsumi and the Bujinkan, "Hatsumi Masaaki, the World’s Most Famous Ninja, and His Essence of Martial Arts." Some of the things from his history, like teaching Judo at the US military base after WWII, are particularly interesting.
Wow, just found this today. This is a documentary on our Soke, Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi. It was originally filmed by and aired on NHK, Japan's version of the BBC or PBS. It is available free to watch right now on Amazon Prime Video. What are you waiting for, go watch it!!
At the end of last month, Masaaki Hatsumi Soke was presented with an award from the imperial house Higashikuni. This house is special in that it is not controlled by the imperial family (from which he has also received and imperial award) and is separate from government control. This award was first given in 1963 and the winners of the award are chosen by elite scholars in Japan. Picture shared by the Bujinkan Sojobo Dojo: https://www.facebook.com/ninjutsubl/posts/1795145587207710?hc_location=ufi
Ranking in the Bujinkan can be an interesting thing, especially if you are unfamiliar with how the Japanese look at ranking. I am sharing two links below to great articles to read more about this concept. I would like to add one thing, though that might help understand this concept. Soke and the Japanese Shihan often issue rank much like the story in the Bible regarding the master and the talents. To paraphrase, a master gives each of three servants different amounts of money to see how they will use the money. Two of the servants invest the money wisely and increase the amount they return to the master and he rewards them. One servant did nothing with it, he hid it so only he had it. The master was upset with him for this, he took no risk to try and make what he had better. We might be given a rank in order to see what we do with it. Do we keep training and learning, ultimately sharing it with others. Or do we now think we know everything and thus don't need to keep training, and instead want to teach others, proudly posting their rank certificate, but afraid to show their lack of skill, or afraid to admit there is still more to learn. Remember, there is always more to learn, keep training!