“The problem with this country is that a man can live his entire life without knowing whether or not he is a coward” – Berryman.
In case you never thought about it, life is difficult. Once you become an adult, there is no one to hand-hold you or to protect you from lif’e problems. In fact, unless you take responsibility for yourself, and deal with life head-on, you will most likely get run over. On the other hand, living in this affluent society, you can get by and survive without ever having to get out of first-gear. Thus many in out society live just above the “survival” line, getting run over with life’s problems, but never sinking so low that they have to “work” to survive.
In case you never thought about it, war is difficult. Samurai would continually work on ways to improve their skills. There was no such thing as complacency or “getting by”, because simply “getting by” as a samurai meant death on the battlefield. The Samurai would relentlessly train themselves to prepare for battle. They understood the maxim “tomorrow’s battle is won during today’s practice”.
One of the ways a Martial Artist trains himself is throught the practice of Shugyo. “Shugyo” means austere or severe training. The warrior will drive himself far past his physical and emotional limits to harden his spirit, and prepare him for the unknown and unforseen. For the modern Martial Artist, this experience is both grueling and frightening , but allows him/her to emerge with a new perception, a new readiness to win “tomorrows battle”. He/She is prepared.
It is necessary in today’s modern society to seek out the challenges which were once part of a Samurai’s daily life. Shugyo should not be performed routinely, but I bet every Martial Artist who has gone through Shugyo will remember it vividly. It changes your life. It prepares you for all the battles in life that you will need to win to become successful. Employ “Shugyo” in your life. Tomorrow’s battle (in life) is won during today’s practice.
While demonstrating a technique the other night, a new student said to me ” I am nervous about doing that technique, Sensei. I am afraid I might hurt my partner”. I replied ” You should worry about all your techniques causing injury. You are studying combat arts.” While I am happy that the students are concerned with the safety of their partners, and I try to instill concern for their true attackers, sometimes the student must sit back and realize that what we do is not a game. This is a school of combat. This is serious.
Although many educated people might catagorize differently, Martial Arts schools could be categorized into 2 broad classifications; schools who teach Bujutsu (Martial Tactics), and those who teach Budo (Martial Way). Schools of Bujutsu emphasize one thing; victory on the battlefield. They learn tactics and techniques for the goal of disposing of enemy personnel . Budo, on the other hand, teaches combat techniques for the goal of self-development, of becoming something “more”. Most modern Martial Arts schools have chosen the Budo-type of school, as it applies to most people better. Both schools can offer excellent training and significant mental and physical benefits to their students. Some schools of Budo start to focus only on the self-development aspect, and consequently lose something in their training.
Here is the secret that those schools of Budo miss. In order to become a better person mentallly-physically-spiritually, you must train with deadly seriousness – you must train as if you are on the battlefield – you must train with Bujutsu – you must train for “life or death”. Only then will you push yourself beyond your own boundries. Only then will you push your physical and emotional limits. Only then can you become something “more”. If you make it “life or death”, you will bring your training to a whole new level.
Now, training with deadly seriousness doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun and enjoy yourself. It is OK to laugh with your partner at your mistakes, and enjoy the fellowship of the dojo. But you also must be able to switch back into “training mode” quickly and train seriously.
So, go to your next class at the Dojo, and have fun. And train with deadly seriousness.
The Gambatte Dojo at Aikido of Nebraska has been going through many changes over the last few months. The student population is continuing to grow both in numbers, and in their on-going self-development. Many new students have passed their preliminary tests and are progressing through the ranks.
Aikido of Nebraska recently had an Open-House, and had 41 participants over the 2-day event.
Several of these participants went on to become students, but all enjoyed good sushi, good training, and an eventful afternoon.
We invite all those interested to partake of our next Open-House in the Fall of 2010. Can’t wait that long? OK then , please come into Aikido of Nebraska at your earliest convenience, and see what it is all about.