|師恩 Shion on the wall in Soke’s house. photo by Michael Glenn|
I want to give you a clue for how to study in the Bujinkan. This clue I will share below comes directly from Hatsumi Sensei. But first, let me tell you why your teacher may not even know this.
Some teachers follow the teachings of Hatsumi Sensei, but many do not. Many have their own ideas about how the Bujinkan should be taught or transmitted. This is a mistake that many who claim to follow Soke will make without even knowing it.
They develop their own curriculum and make their students learn and study in ways that have never been part of the Bujinkan. This includes many lost people who think they can recreate the early training of the old days. If you weren’t there, then you don’t know. But I guess you can make stuff up.
Bujinkan arts are taught very differently from other martial arts and that is quite intentional. It is a natural strategy that Hatsumi Sensei has chosen. And if you don’t understand it, there is a reason for that as well.
Hatsumi Sensei is an artist. How do artists learn from one another? Primarily by inspiration. If you have ever been inspired, think about the energy that put into your mind, your heart, or your body. This energy moves you to act.
Hatsumi Sensei says that beyond even heart to heart transmission is 絵心伝心 eshin (egokoro) denshin. This is artistic inspiration passed from one artist to another. This happens instinctively for artists, but it cannot be put in any training manual.
Like many things Soke tells us, this is a play on words relating artistic inspiration to 以心伝心 ishindenshin which is a mutual and natural understanding between people that borders on telepathy. This is when you can give somebody a glance and they know exactly what you mean.
This artistic inspiration and mutual understanding guided me to Hatsumi Sensei’s dojo in the first place. We didn’t know each other and had never spoke. But our hearts communicated across time, culture, and distance to bring us together.
Soke says that this is the path of Budo. Nothing needs to be explained or said. By training with and being in the presence of such a teacher, you just get it.
This is how I study Bujinkan. I use 画心 gashin or an artistic instinct that I have developed and received from many years of being inspired by my teachers. And I repay their 師恩 shion (a teacher’s grace and kindness) with gratitude by sharing this inspiration with my students.