守破離 – Shuhari

Last night I mentioned this as we were training through the Kihon Happo. Shuhari is a philosophy that was adopted by Aikido but has been applied to the arts, business and also science.

Below is my attempt to understand the concept and how we can apply it to our training.

守 – shu “obey”, “protect” – The student learns and absorbs the fundamentals, the way, rules, techniques to the letter with discipline and repetition. A single path to mastery.

破 – ha “break”, “detach”, “digress” – The student understands the fundamentals. Through innovation, the teachings/techniques can be adapted or broken where necessary. Rules/processes can be discarded to allow discussion and ultimately improvement of the discipline itself.

離 – ri “separate”, “transcend” – The teachings have been completely assimilated and become second nature. The practitioner becomes the ‘rule’ and can completely depart from the forms.

Essentially, learn the forms, break the forms, transcend the forms.

Although I must point out that in no way suggesting that we should break the rules too early and depart from sound teachings, but merely offering the concept as a guide to help realise your own skill level. From there, I believe that improvement can be made.

Of course, I feel that even if we are able to get to the Ri stage in our lifetime, learning never really stops.

If you have questions on this concept or my understanding please feel free to comment.

Budo – along the path

learn ninjutsu lessons in Glasgow class

One of the best things about having this dojo is watching people grow and change. Even for those considered by society to be “finished” in their development (who have their own children and even grandchildren), it’s a beautiful thing and a privilege to see them opening up, taking in new ideas and different paths for the journey.

The Japanese say “Keep going!” and it is ever true with the Bujinkan. Even if you can’t get to class every week, there is something about the Bujinkan that drives people to personal growth that is hard to define. It’s not just the inspiration we receive from Soke and our wonderful teachers, it’s not just the family aspect of the dojo, it’s not just the physical processes, but it is all these things and more, I think.

Accepting that there is no such thing as a fixed destiny, that you can change your life at any point — it’s incredibly liberating. It helps us journey towards our truest and best selves, at the same time acknowledging that there’s no such thing as perfection, only doing our best.

It might sound pretentious if you haven’t experienced these things, but I want to let you know it really is out there. I’m a pragmatic type, not drawn to the mystical, but to me, this is more than just a martial art. My own experiences and those I’ve observed tell me it is so.

On the other hand, if you want to just train for the sake of fitness and self-defence, that’s an option too. It’s your choice, to make at any point.

Gambatte kudasai.

Humbly, Beth 🙏

Everything is a weapon in the Bujinkan

Random objects

Quite often we say to the students, “In this Martial Art, everything can be a weapon”, and we generally mean “using an everyday object to hand” to help overcome your attacker. But sometimes that statement can be even deeper. Here are some of the ways in which everyday objects or even concepts can be used to in self-defence and survival situations. Continue reading “Everything is a weapon in the Bujinkan”

The hidden cost of martial arts classes

payment for martial arts classes
I was told once that Dr Usui, the originator of one version of the reiki healing technique once admonished his students that every patient must pay for their treatment. This sounds rather hawkish and exploitative on the surface, but his explanation reveals a shocking truth – one that opens up an insight into our human urge to value things based on their price. I’ll be asking you: what price do you think your martial arts class is really worth?
Continue reading “The hidden cost of martial arts classes”