Interview with Shihan Eduard Divantman
I. Sensei Divantman, thank you for taking time of your busy schedule to allowFor this interview. My first question is what drew you into Budo initially.
E. You are most welcome… I always find time for individuals who take genuine interest in what I do. In regards to your question I started training at a very young age. Initially it was for the purpose of self defence, but looking back I think it was much deeper then that.
I. Can you elaborate on that?
E. As a child I never liked fighting and was always trying to avoid conflict as much as I could. When someone insulted me I just persevered and moved on. So in essence I was naturally practicing Ninpo before I even knew what it was. So there was an innate relationship that gravitated me towards the art.
What was your initial training like?
initially I trained in modern Budo (Karate and Judo). They all served a purpose and taught me many important skills. After all both originated from old systems. However because of the socioeconomic and political influences at the start of the century they were forced to change so I felt that something was missing. When I first tried Ninpo I knew that I finally found what I was looking for.
What was your transition like?
There was an excitement that is very deep and profound…. The minute I stepped on the mat I was hooked and never looked back. I trained 6 days a week up to 4 hours daily. I trained diligently and never missed a class. These habits remain with me today.
What ranks and titles do you hold?
This is a common question Im asked a lot. I’ve achieved the highest Dan grade in the Bujinkan system (my source for Ninpo and Jujutsu training) directly from Masaaki Hatsumi, Grand Master of 9 systems that form the Bujinkan. I also hold 6th Dan Shihan Dai in Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu from Kancho Michio Takase the sole inheritor of Maeda and Matsuda line. I have also received grades in modern Budo and Chogoku Kenpo. Having said that I refer to mastery as a “journey” not an end goal. The certificate, even the highest, is a recognition of your potential and dedication. A kind of an encouragement to keep going and grow into the responsibility your masters have bestowed on you. So aside of being motivated to train harder and hoping one day to live up to the responsibility bestowed on me the grades and titles serve as a reminder that practice never ends. Not everyone sees it that way of course but if you we’re properly educated you are never satisfied so to speak.
I. That is very deep, I often hear people who reach black belt quit having reached their goal. What are your thoughts on that.?
E. First of all we have a saying when you quit you severe the link so it is if you never trained at all. This is very sad.
I. How so?
E. People spend a lot of time, money and effort to reach a black belt only to quit. A black belt means you have achieved a certain proficiency in the basics and are ready to embark on more advanced training. So in essence it’s like getting a promotion at work after working so hard for several years to only turn around and resign. Does that makes sense?
I. No it doesn’t, hence why I raise my eyebrows when I hear these statements.
E. Yes that is very odd, there are all kinds of people with funny ideas about grades… in most cases it’s a sign of their maturity or lack off. What we teach at my Dojo is different…. it’s not something that can be grasped in words.. It has to be experienced through sweat and tears. For example the common phrase for practicing Budo in Japanese is keiko (稽古). However Keiko does not translates as practice instead it translates, to consider the old in order to acquire knowledge. In this lies a fundamental difference that can not be ignored.
I. Very interesting, are you referring to the practice being something deeper the the mere physical aspect?
E. Yes, you can even take this a step further…. for example I spoke about Keiko which is a common term and denotes one level of practice. However in Ninpo we often user the term Renshu (練習) instead of Keiko. Renshu means to polish, specifically to polish ones character through rigour training. Imagine a diamond as an analogy, when it’s first mined it looks very similar to a regular stone. It is then taken to a polisher who polishes the diamond until it shines and becomes the final product. Because of its uniqueness It then becomes precious and highly sought after. Just ask my wife LOL. The same holds true for human beings. By practicing correctly you work towards shining like a diamond. So as you improve physically you naturally improve mentally and spiritually. This is Ninpo. This is the difference between Budo and pure violence.
I. Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful answer. Can you talk about form?
E. Firstly form is very important, it can be viewed as incapsulated lessons of past masters. First you need to have a qualified teacher teach it to you. Then, you need to have the capacity and emotional intelligence to absorb what you’ve been taught . And, eventually to have the ability to master it, understand how to apply it and transmit it onward.Secondly, you need to be able to adapt the form to the circumstances, times, culture you live in. Otherwise it becomes only a historical practice something that is not alive. True form is alive and is constantly adaptive. This is something that needs to be discovered through practice.
I. Can you talk about your Dojo name and what it means?
E. My school name is Heiho Canada which focus is on improving human lives through the practice and experience of Japanese and Chinese martial arts and culture. Heiho in general referred to as military strategy however it can also be referred to as life strategy. The Martial arts section of our system is formally called Shinbukan Dojo（神武館道場）. The name represent the cumulative martial arts knowledge that I acquired in coherent systemic way for growth and development.
I.very interesting, it appears to be very unique and different then the average martial school. I find it to be profound in some way. Can you please elaborate more.
E. Absolutely, Shinbu (Japanese: 神武) is a Japanese phrase, meaning “warrior might”. The term consists of the characters shin/kami (神), meaning “something divine”, and bu (武), denoting warrior. The idea of shinbu embraces physical, spiritual and ethical issues and denotes the condition when all basic principles of martial art are applied simultaneously and in balance. It is my unique way to share the knowLedge to the next generation.
I. You’ve mentioned earlier that you’ve learned several styles. Is your school kinda like an MMA school.
E. No, at our Dojo we don’t mix knowledge. In other words I teach each system independently to preserve its authenticity. We have a curriculum for Ninpo and Jujutsu as well Aikijujutsu and Chugoku Kenpo. Students can choose to study one or multiple systems.
I. Finally what are your thoughts about the situation around the world today and what advice do you have for people.
E. I think there is a lot of uncertainty which leads to fear. When people are in a state of confusion and fear it’s difficult to make good choices. Life is like a wave, you have highes and Lowes, nothing lasts forever. Also the greater the obstacle the greater opportunity for growth. If you understand that then you will know that the current situation will pass and as a result we will have an opportunity to adapt, overcome and grow stronger. So please persevere and have faith. Respect one another and don’t be quick to make choices. I wish that more people can study Budo so they can have the courage and wisdom to understand these points.
I. Thank you for taking the time and patience.
E. You are most welcome.