Japanese royal family visit to Toronto

With handshakes from one last group of dignitaries, Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko left Ottawa Wednesday afternoon, concluding their six-day visit in the capital. They boarded their official government 747 bound for Toronto, to continue their 11-day goodwill tour to celebrate the 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Japan.

This is part of an email sent to me by one of my students which I though was an interesting observation and may be of interest to our readers.

“Good Afternoon Sensei,

I just wanted to pass something on to you that I thought may be of interest. I recently had the honour of viewing parts of the Imperial visit of the Emperor and Empress of Japan. I was able to see the Emperor and Empress on a few different occasions such as the Sick Kids Hospital, Queen’s Park, and the Japanese Cultural Center. I wanted to share my thoughts with you about the Emperor and Empress since I believe we may all learn significantly from the Royal Family in terms of their humanitarian efforts, their daily life, and the rich culture and history of Japan of which they are a living expression.

At the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, the Emperor and Empress visited many different areas. I observed them interact with some children in the library reading room of Sick Kids Hospital for about a half an hour. They spent time talking to children that were patients of the hospital. They were genuine and compassionate in their time with these children and they took time to speak to many children. I thought it was wonderful that they took time with these children; some of whom suffer from very tragic physical and mental conditions, and struggle substantially on a daily basis. I felt the Empress was moved by these kids and she sang a song for the children in the reading room. It was a nice and special time for the children and for all of us to share.

At the Japanese Cultural Centre I was able to see and learn much about the Imperial Couple. I was also early and was able to watch a video that was showing on a large screen in the same room where we held our Takai. The room was decorated nicely for the reception of the Emperor and Empress. I was able to watch a video documenting some periods in the life of the Emperor and Empress. I’ll try to break this video down into specific themes.

Based on this brief documentary, it was clear that the Emperor is a highly educated, studious and learned man. The video showed a section of the Emperor’s library housing books on Okinawan history, culture, and traditions of which there were several (roughly forty or so and I’m being conservative in my estimate). The documentary spoke of the Emperor’s desire to learn as much about Okinawa and its people. The documentary spoke of the Japanese military’s campaigns and conduct in Okinawa during WWII and the effect this had on the Okinawan people and their ‘complex’ feelings towards the Emperor. I believe the Emperor understands this very well based on his studies and contact with the people. I believe the Emperor has had a sincere desire to learn of their suffering and I think I remember the Emperor stating in the documentary that he acknowledges the suffering incurred by many people at the hands of the Japanese army in WWII and that he deplores acts of inhumanity. I don’t want to offer many opinions but I do believe the Emperor to be a sincere humanitarian and a man of deep spiritual conviction. I observed him speak openly about the past tragedies inflicted by the Japanese (such as against the Chinese and the Dutch in front of official representatives of both nations), and I believe that he does so freely of his own volition in order to acknowledge and atone for his nation’s past.

I also learned about his spiritual side. There is a time (once a year) where the Emperor performs a ceremony where he must kneel in a temple for several hours (I can’t remember the exact amount). The video stated the Emperor observes this ceremony with the utmost respect and serious consideration; for it is one in which he prays for the well-being of the Japanese people as a whole. I remember the documentary stating that the Emperor’s reverence for the gods causes him to remain completely focused during the hours of his prayer service; and that he prepares for this time throughout the year prior to the occasion.

I also observed the Royal Couple in the natural landscape of their nation. They were able to recognize many different kinds of trees, birds, and flowers by name. I would think that they make time to enjoy the natural beauty of the world and to learn as much as they can about nature. I think that the Emperor and Empress are also no stranger to manual labour, since he and the Empress have a garden in which they grow their own rice, herbs, and vegetables. I was able to see them working in the garden and preparing some of the crops.

hope I was able to pass on something enlightning about such interesting and exceptional people from a part of the world which has offered us the richness of our Art to you Sensei.

Take Care Sensei”

The prince of virtue

Prince Shotoku Taishi(聖徳太子 Shōtoku Taishi?, 573–621), also known as Prince Umayado (厩戸皇子 Umayado no ōji?),太子 = Taishi = Crown Prince or Statesman . Umayado which means “door of stable.” He was given that name because his mother, Empress Anahobeno-hashinohito, gave birth to him in front of the stable door, thus, his name. He was a regent and a politician during the Asuka period in Japan.

Prince Shotoku’s Great Uncle Umako Soga was devoted to Paekche (Kudara) Buddhism. Therefore, it is believed that Prince Umayato was influenced by his Great Uncle and started to learn about Buddhism. However, Prince Umayato was devoted to Koguryo (Koukuri) Buddhism. According to researchers, he learned about Buddhism under two Buddhist priests from Koguryo and Paekche.

Sushun, who was the Uncle of Umayato and a brother of Emperor Youmei and Suiko, took over the throne after Emperor Youmei passed away. Since he did not like Umako’s despotic behavior, he was assassinated by Umako, who was his uncle. Prince Umayato’s aunt became Empress Suiko in 592 A.D. after a competition for the throne between the Soga family and the Mononobe family was settled.

Umayato started to work as a regent and conduct the affairs of state under Empress Suiko. His Great Uncle was Umako Soga, a minister of state. Umako was also Empress Suiko’s uncle. Prince Umayato got married to Tojikono-iturame, who was the daughter of Umako. (**In this period, men tended to have more than one wife.**) She gave birth to a son whose name was Prince Yamashiro. However, in 643 A.D., Yamashiro was killed by Iruka Soga, who was a cousin of Yamashiro and a grandson of Umako. An assassination of relatives for the throne was not a rare occurrence in this period.
Prince Shotoku sent the first envoy to Sui Dynasty in China, he established an official rank and a constitution and spread Buddhism. He built two famous temples in Japan, the Shitenno-ji in 593 A.D. and Horyu-ji in 607 A.D. He achieved many things before his death from illness in 622 A.D.

(He was born of emperor Youmei and one of his wive’s, Empress Anahobe-hashinohito. He had 4 brothers and one sister. Since successive emperors could have more than one wife in ancient times, the oldest brother of Prince Umayato had a different mother. However, his younger brothers and sister had a different father, who was the oldest brother of Prince Umayato.)

The Seventeen-article constitution (十七条憲法 jūshichijō kenpō?) is, according to Nihon Shoki published in 720, a document authored by Prince Shōtoku in 602. It was adopted in the reign of Empress Suiko. The emphasis of the document is not so much on the basic laws by which the state was to be governed, such as one may expect from a modern constitution, but rather it was a highly Buddhist document that focused on the morals and virtues that were to be expected of government officials and the emperor’s subjects to ensure a smooth running of the state, where the emperor was to be regarded as the highest authority. It is one of the earliest moral dictatorial documents in history.

I. Harmony is to be valued, and an avoidance of wanton opposition to be honored. All men are influenced by class-feelings, and there are few who are intelligent. Hence there are some who disobey their lords and fathers, or who maintain feuds with the neighboring villages. But when those above are harmonious and those below are friendly, and there is concord in the discussion of business, right views of things spontaneously gain acceptance. Then what is there which cannot be accomplished!

II. Sincerely reverence the three treasures. The three treasures, Buddha, the Law and the Priesthood, are the final refuge of the four generated beings, and are the supreme objects of faith in all countries. What man in what age can fail to reverence this law? Few men are utterly bad. They may be taught to follow it. But if they do not betake them to the three treasures, how shall their crookedness be made straight ?

III. When you receive the Imperial commands, fail not to obey them scrupulously. The lord is Heaven, the vassal is Earth. Heaven overspreads, and Earth bears up. When this is so, the four seasons follow their due course, and the powers of Nature obtain their efficacy. If the Earth attempted to overspread, Heaven would simply fall in ruin. Therefore when the lord speaks, the vassal listens; when the superior acts, the inferior complies. Consequently when you receive the Imperial commands, fail not to carry them out scrupulously. Let there be a want of care in this matter and ruin is the natural consequence.

IV. The Ministers and functionaries should make decorous behavior their leading principle, for the leading principle of the government of the people consists in decorous behavior. If the superiors do not behave with decorum, the inferiors are disorderly: if inferiors are wanting in proper behavior, there must necessarily be offences. Therefore it is that when lord and vassal behave with propriety, the distinctions of rank are not confused: when the people behave with propriety, the Government of the Commonwealth proceeds of itself.

V. Ceasing from gluttony and abandoning covetous desires, deal impartially with the suits which are submitted to you. Of complaints brought by the people there are a thousand in one day. If in one day there are so many, how many will there be in a series of years? If the man who is to decide suits at law makes gain his ordinary motive, and hears causes with a view to receiving bribes, then will the suits of the rich man be like a stone flung into water while the complaints of the poor will resemble water cast upon a stone. Under these circumstances the poor man will not know where to take their complaints. Here too there is a deficiency in the duty of the Minister.

VI. Chastise that which is evil and encourage that which is good. This was the excellent rule of antiquity. Conceal not, therefore, the good qualities of others, and fail not to correct that which is wrong when you see it. Flatterers and deceivers are a sharp weapon for the overthrow of the State, and a pointed sword for the destruction of the people. Sycophants are also fond, when they meet, of dilating to their superiors on the errors of their inferiors; to their inferiors, they censure the faults of their superiors. Men of this kind are all wanting in fidelity to their lord and in benevolence towards the people. From such an origin great civil disturbances arise.

VII. Let every man have his own charge and let not the spheres of duty be confused. When wise men are entrusted with office, the sound of praise arises. If unprincipled men hold office, disasters and tumults are multiplied. In this world, few are born with knowledge: wisdom is the product of earnest meditation. In all things, whether great or small, find the right man, and they will surely be well managed. On all occasions, be they urgent or the reverse, meet but with a wise man, and they will of themselves be amenable. In this way will the State be lasting and the Temples of the Earth and of Grain will be free from danger. Therefore, did the wise sovereigns of antiquity seek the man to fill the office, and not the office for the sake of the man.

VIII. Let the Ministers and functionaries attend the Court early in the morning and retire late. The business of the state does not admit of remissness and the whole day is hardly enough for its accomplishment. If, therefore, the attendance at Court is late, emergencies cannot be met. If officials retire soon, the work cannot be completed.

IX. Good faith is the foundation of right. In everything let there be good faith, for in it there surely consists the good and the bad, success and failure. If the lord and the vassal observe good faith one with another, what is there which cannot be accomplished? If the lord and the vassal do not observe good faith towards one another, everything without exception ends in failure.

X. Let us cease from wrath and refrain from angry looks. Nor let us be resentful when others differ from us. For all men have hearts, and each heart has its own leanings. Their right is our wrong, and our right is their wrong. We are not unquestionably sages, nor are they unquestionably fools. Both of us are simply ordinary men. How can any one lay down a rule by which to distinguish right from wrong? For we are all, one with another, wise and foolish, like a ring which has no end. Therefore, although others give way to anger, let us on the contrary dread our own faults, and though we alone may be in the right, let us follow the multitude and act like them.

XI. Give clear appreciation to merit and demerit and deal out to each its sure reward or punishment. In these days, reward does not attend upon merit nor punishment upon crime. All you high functionaries who have charge of public affairs, let it be your task to make clear rewards and punishments.

XII. Let not the provincial authorities or the Kuni no Miyakko levy exactions on the people. In a country there are not two lords; the people cannot have two masters. The sovereign is the master of the people of the whole country. The officials to whom he gives charge are all his vassals. How can they, as well as the Government, presume to levy taxes on the people?

XIII. Let all persons entrusted with office attend equally to their functions. Owing to their illness or to their being sent on missions, their work may sometimes be neglected. But whenever they become able to attend to business, let them be as accommodating as if they had cognizance of it from before, and not hinder public affairs on the score of their not having had to do with them.

XIV. All you ministers and functionaries! Be not envious. For if we envy others, they in turn will envy us. The evils of envy know no limit. If others excel us in intelligence, it gives us no pleasure; if they surpass us in ability, we are envious. Therefore, it is not until after a lapse of five hundred years that we at last meet with a wise man, and even in a thousand years we hardly obtain one sage. But if we do not find wise men and sages, how shall the country be governed?

XV. To turn away from that which is private, and to set our faces towards that which is public – this is the path of a Minister. Now if a man is influenced by private motives, he will surely feel resentments, and if he is influenced by resentful feelings, he will surely fail to act harmoniously with others. If he fails to act harmoniously with others, he will surely sacrifice the public interests to his private feelings. When resentment arises, it interferes with order, and is subversive of law. Therefore, in the first clause it was said that superiors and inferiors should agree together. The purpose of that first clause is the same as this.

XVI. Let the people be employed (in forced labor) at seasonable times. This is an ancient and excellent rule. Let them be employed, therefore, in the winter months, when they are at leisure. But from Spring to Autumn, when they are engaged in agriculture or with the mulberry trees, the people should not be so employed. For if they do not attend to agriculture, what will they have to eat? If they do not attend to the mulberry trees, what will they do for clothing?

XVII. Decisions on important matters should not be made by one person alone. They should be discussed with many. But small matters are of less consequence. It is unnecessary to consult a number of people. It is only in the case of the discussion of weighty affairs, when there is a suspicion that they may miscarry, that one should arrange matters in concert with others, so as to arrive at the right conclusion.”

The qualities of Budo

Hardness, Softness, Strength, Weakness, could all be thought of as moods. If we try to fit the mood, there is a danger that we will fail to do henka (change). Having the ability to do proper henka is rooted in a proper study of the different moods available (InYo). Walking the right path is a having the ability to differentiate and adapt to the situation at hand, this is true Ninpo. According to the old Densho one can’t claim to have studied and understood the Gokui (essence) of Gangaku (martial strategy) without understanding the principles of Ten Chi Jin.

The Densho states regarding the matter that Ten can be associated with Yo and Chi associated with In and Jin is the person in between who use Ten Chi accordingly. Associated to Ten is the sun, understanding the qualities of the sun can lead to good strategy. To understand the sun one has to master “Shin Tai Seiden Mata Nichi Ri Taisei”. If you lose this momentum you will be out of synch with nature and unable to win. These matters are the foundation of all budo and humanity. One can clearly see the depth and beauty of our Budo from these old teachings.

The principles of Ten Chi In Yo and the Goki (5 elements) are the foundation strategy of all budo from the beginning of time. Drawn from Chinese Confucianism and influenced by the famous book of Sonshi (Sun Tszu the art of war). All military and arts ancient or modern are governed by these universal principles.

All living creatures possess unique combative instincts. Nature granted most animals with natural weapons . Throughout centuries humans had to catch animals for sustenance. The tools they used for hunting were then applied as tools of war, this is the anthropology of Budo.

“There may be many paths to the foot of the mountain,
but all leads to the same view of the moon as its distant summit”

The Purpose of Budo

In Ninpo there is an important teaching in a form of a poem called Ninniku Seishin. This poem sets the tone for the state of mind and character required to endure as a Ninja. The poem explains that the ultimate goal is peace and happiness. It is ironic looking at the state of martial arts and humanity in the world today how far it is from that goal.

Nevertheless it’s important at times to bring this topic to light and put things in perspective of what is truly important in Budo and life. In the Densho there is a description of Shoden, Chuden, Okuden etc….. in that order my students practice the waza one by one. I often remind them not to fool themselves when studying the higher levels thinking one has mastered a skill. Its better to think that when you studied all the waza you really finished Shoden. Then when you become truly skilled you reach Chuden anything above that is real life and the ability to cope with it while finding a balanced medium. The concept of lateral growth is not limited to Budo, in society we are taught to graduate things by degrees. This notion divides life, study and obscures the focus on infinite study .So in essence one may view mastery as an illusion of infinite study.

True freedom is not born of winning and losing, how can you understand Budo with only the concepts of give and take? You must rid yourself of your personal desire then you can begin to understand morals and the way of living. This is Ten Ryaku Ucho Gassho.

I think for myself budo has always been about that and is the reason why I continuously strive to improve in it. To better understand this point let’s look at Fudoza no Kamae (sitting on ones leg with the other folded in). In order to achieve good kamae it’s important to straighten the spine and breath through the belly. You start understanding patience when you develop the ability to sit in a prolong duration without moving. This is the notion of Ninpo Ikkan (single minded perseverance).

Takagi Oriemon was defeated by Yagyu Tajime in a match. Determine for a rematch Takagi went to the mountain and asked Sounryu’s advice. Soounryu replied “forget everything else and just keep training”. He later managed to draw a tie in a rematch with Yagyu as neither could pass each other swift intention. Later in his life he understood the futile purpose of winning and wrote plenty on the subject.

Don’t be caught in the trivial aspects of life and pursue, Budo with a balanced heart while nurturing family and society for a stronger future.


The art of the sword saints (剣聖)

This year Sensei asked us to spend some time and polish our sword skills so its only appropriate that I would write on the subject to stimulate students of the art to polish their physical and spiritual swords until it shine (renshu).

Takamatsu Sensei once said “Even if some are called masters, how many other masters were there?” The demeanor of the true master has a beauty that resembles nature itself. It is therefore that many of the true masters were never recorded in the history books rather their achievements and knowledge passed by word of mouth from master to disciple.

Our sword system is called Bikenjutsu (secret sword art). It is said that in the Heian Era (1141), the system founder Izumo Kanja Yoshiteru was not satisfied with his skill and committed himself to 3 years intense training in a mountain cave called Inome Dokutsu. During this time he developed special sword techniques and named his style Kukishin Ryu Happo Hikenjutsu. Happo refers to eight categories of martial arts (Taijutsu, Bojutsu, Yarijutsu etc….) and Hikenjutsu refers to special sword techniques. This combined with the Togakure Ryu Bikenjutsu, Koto Ryu Bikenjutsu and Shinden Fudo Ryu Iai Goshi provides a comprehensive sword system.

There many types of sword techniques such as Tanto Jutsu (knife), Kodachi Jutsu (short sword), Daito Jutsu (long sword), Nito Jutsu (two sword techniques), Tachi Jutsu (very long sword) & Ninja To (special Ninja sword).

The true understanding sword techniques must be combined with a good foundation in Taijutsu (body arts), Bojutsu (staff arts), Shinjusu (spiritual and mental arts).
According to history the first swords imported from China had a straight, double-edged blade. The curvature of the Katana as we know it today developed with the advancements in metallurgy and improved forging and tempering process. During the- Muromachi period (1336-1573) swords began to resemble the form that is most recognizable today. It was during this time that the custom of wearing two swords became popular.

I will expand further on the subject at the upcoming Canadian Taikai and at the 2009 Ninja Camp

The current State of Affairs

Most people are aware of our global financial downturn. Yet many would be unaware that this downturn is a symptom of deepening and declining moral and spiritual practices. In Ninpo we undertake the practice Bumon (martial arts) and Shumon (spiritual arts) thus working toward a balanced whole. My master states that the physical training is the path for spiritual growth, and spiritual growth is the ultimate secret of Budo. In our teachings we learn that when a person feels fear, anger, greed and distress the heart becomes unbalanced. It is therefore crucial for a Ninja to take great care of the heart by practicing balanced living. In olden days (600 years ago) if a Ninja was sent to a mission where the success or failure depended on people lives, if the heart faltered even for an instant it could result in the mission failure.

There are 10 qualities a ninja should strive to develop in order to achieve balanced living: compassion, kindness, loyalty, wisdom, mannerism, obedience, humility, courage, grace, truth. In order to achieve these qualities one has to undergo proper training in the arts under the watchful eye of a competent teacher. In addition one has to learn to persevere through the ups and downs of life.

There is a common saying “Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves”. There is a great deal of wisdom in this statement. If you neglect the little things they will soon compound into big things. It is no different in training, tasks, financial details and emotional imbalances can easily escalate into major conflicts. Hence when we neglect family values, personal growth and friendship and focus on monetary gains and worldly desires we are creating for ourselves a bottomless pit to fall into. One therefore does not have to look far and see that most problems which affects the world today are closely related to these fundamental principals or lack of thereof.

One of the major benefits of Ninpo is to use the Dojo as “laboratory” in which to wrestle with life’s problems and find proper solutions for which to act upon. Student often resent the fact the mentors see more of their faults then they really want them to. But this is the only way for a student to mature in life.

Animals live only day by day driven by instinct and reaction to their environment. Only humans have the freedom to choose, the ability to discover their destiny, to learn principles by which to live and strive for a better way of living despite the ups and downs. Those who have neither hope nor ideals to live by are living only on the level of brute reaction. The first step in rising above this primitive existence is to establish a strong conviction which will form the basis for an enriched rewarding life and give you spiritual stamina to endure its hardship and trials.

A person of high ideals and character appreciates the laws of nature and fundamental laws and morals of his society.

Understanding the Bujinkan Way

What is the Bujinkan? What does it stands for? These are some of the questions asked by many answered by few. Although I know as much as I don’t know I thought it would be refreshing to attempt to put things in perspective.

The Bujinkan was established by my Sensei, Masaaki Hatsumi Grandmaster of the

9 Ryu Ha passed down to him by his teacher Grandmaster Toshitsugu Takamatsu. One of the reasons for its establishment amongst others was to bring together the vast amount of knowledge passed down by the former under one umbrella.

It is a combination of skills which came to be known as Ninja Sanjurokei (36 categories of Ninpo arts) But more so the Bujinkan provides the ability to break through the boundaries of the art taking it to new levels, hence the Name Budo Taijutsu. As well as the ability to incorporate All the necessary tools for complete victory this is Happo Biken

It is multifaceted, colourful, and diverse much like the world we live in today. This can be a good thing and/or a challenging thing depending on which path you take. Mannerism, etiquettes and tradition are all part of training and for those who seek it can find it.

Although the Bujinkan is not the art, but rather a place where people cultivate the spirit of the art and gather with a common interest. It is a way to understand nature’s way, finding happiness through the eyes and heart of the divine.

To be a Student and achieve competence one needs a good teacher. A teacher is essential for nearly anything one wish to learn. Find a good teacher, trust him completely and he will take you to the same level he is.

Strive to know your Rank, Rank is a honour to those who train as well as a source of inspiration. It’s a symbol of learning and is heavily dependant on the content of the holder. Experience, dedication and hard work with an honest heart will lead to true development of Body, mind and spirit. This can never be obtained with money. Strive to polish your skills and hold high standards for yourself. In this way you can shine like a diamond.

Tamakatsu Sensei dream was for all his students to gather and grow together into the new millennium I believe the Bujinkan provides this forum. In Canada we started in 2008 with the Shihan Taikai which was a great success and will continue in the future to come. This is in line with Sensei vision of:

“Bushin Wa wo Totoshi to nasu“ – the warriors heart holds harmony sacred.

Purpose in life


Ninpo is the way of nature, realizing ones purpose and achieving happiness. In nature all things have a purpose and each living organism has a function contributing to a proper living environment. For example a tree’s purpose among others is to clean the air, enrich the soil, and provide shelter and food. The sun provides warmth, light and energy indiscriminately. None of these examples questions its purpose; this is all part of Ten Chi In Yo. However in the human realm we are given emotions and ability to comprehend things thus adding another dimension.

As one looks in the mirror and sees one’s flaws so as to correct them. Similarly, the mind sees what has passed and corrects its future conduct. Thus, beasts do not evolve; they are still, in the same state they were created in. The mirror by which to see how to correct things and gradually evolve.. Man develops day-by-day until his merit is secured and sensed.

Some important skills to consider:

1) Sainou 才能 (Ability/talent) – to realize understand and devise a plan
2) Kokoro 心 (Heart) – to put life into the purpose
3) Utsuwa 器 (Capacity) – The capacity to realize on ones purpose

We all want to live a meaningful and purposeful life. We always see that those who find their purpose and pursue it are those who find true happiness. Great people are aware of a great life purpose. They are clear about their mission in life. What they think, say, and do is aligned with their essential values. This is why their thoughts, words, and actions create a great person.

Finding your life purpose and your deepest life intentions can help you to move with greater focus and clarity every day of your life.

As practitioners of Ninpo we are given the opportunity to learn the necessary skills to discover our own purpose. This however depends on our ability to empty our cup and immerse ourselves in the given knowledge.


Give hard training a new meaning,

Sensei writes in his book Ninpo Wisdom for Life “the first step of Shugyo is to endure the pain your teacher assigns you”, I would like to expend on this point. Today there is a tendency to be over protective so people often try to avoid hardship. This type of attitude or approach prevents one from growing. It is sad to see so many young people looking for the easy way and give Shigoki (hard training) a bad name. This concept is not only important in becoming a good martial artist but also developing in to a good person. Sensei always taught me that the harder the hardship the greater the growth forthcoming. You just need patience and endurance (Shinobu) and the rest will follow naturally. According to the teachings written in the scrolls of Ryusen no Maki “A hardship serves as an omen of future growth if one learns to ride the wave of life”.

During my years of training I experienced Shigoki on many levels but never let myself neglect my training. I don’t think of it as a great achievement or even my own rather then my ability to “empty my cup” and let Sensei fill it in every opportunity I get. In other words I do my best to endure the pain that Sensei assigns me with humility and compassion. The words “I am teaching you to teach yourself” still echo in my mind everyday. For this reason I teach my students in the same manner so they may capture the essence that I am trying to teach so one day they may stand on their own two feet.

10 years have passed since the Dojo opened its doors to the public and through endurance and growth is starting to bear fruit. It is very encouraging to see a good number of students who are starting to understand what I am teaching. All of whom have been with me for a while now and have being going through their own Shigoki. Rudy was tested for his Godan this past trip and passed successfully. He was tested on many levels, and I know he will represent the Dojo well.