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.