Today, I’ve been itching to study more. Mostly it’s been a desire to learn more in the way of the Martial Arts. I’ve studied a little Karate, and some Tai Chi; but my main choice has been Bujinkan Taijutsu.
I didn’t like Karate, it seems a little wooden and forced – if that makes sense. If I can use an analogy: Imagine you have to walk through a stream. You need a style that will allow you to pass through the ebb and flow with very little effort. This will require a very fluid style; which, in my opinion, Karate is not.
Tai Chi is a lot more fluid. But I’ve found that it can be very VERY difficult and daunting for the beginner. Especially if the beginner isn’t in perfect shape. Lot’s of slow movements (to begin with) combined with having stay in stances for a very long time do build up muscle tone very quickly, but there is very little variation from lesson to lesson (again, in my opinion).
Bujinkan Taijustu, however, seems to have all that I’m looking for in fluidity with the added bonus of being really simple to pick up AND (as I’m a nerd who is into these things) steeped in Japanese history and culture. That and you don’t have to be in any kind of shape: Bonus! As a friend has once put it, ‘we Ninja don’t go running up mountains and climbing trees to train our muscles.’
Plus, Bujinkan seems to go hand in hand more with spirituality. It seems that ideas behind the original styles that Hatsumi sensei has brought together are all built on Buddhist precepts. Allowing one to fulfil their spiritual and martial needs in one art form. That, and for it to be bloody brutal, too. Which, after all, is a very Japanese thing indeed.
When Buddhism was first introduced into Japan via China, Japan was seeking to be very much like China. The Japanese court system was a carbon copy of the Chinese empirical system, and the lifestyles of the powerful Japanese were based on those of their Chinese contemporaries. Even the written characters are the same (or, at least very similar to modern simplified Chinese); in fact the Japanese word ‘Kanji’ means ‘Chinese Characters‘
This meant that, when it came to war, the Japanese warriors and Samurai started to look for a way to achieve high levels of spirituality while still having the ability to kill their enemies without being hypocritical (“Thou shalt not kill,’ for instance). Anyone who has had the pleasure of witnessing the Tea ceremony or a New Year Dream ceremony will attest to this.
Buddhism allowed them to do this, a lot easier than Shinto did at least. In Buddhism you accept that there is a circle of life (sound familiar?), and that for certain species to survive, others have to die. In doing so, however, great respect is paid to the creature(s) that gave it’s life. This is not the way in Shinto, as it is more like nature worship.
Thus, lessons in Bujinkan start and end with meditation, along with a special mantra which means ‘Through all experience, we can achieve Enlightenment’. This helps to focus the mind on the learning and practising at hand. This is handy for me, as I’m beginning my journey into Buddhism. A journey that will take a long time to complete, and will probably never be finished; not in a fatalistic sense, anyway.