How Can You Learn Shinobi Secrets?

Photo by Son of Groucho
Do you think you have a grasp on this art?  Have you done all the kata in the Tenchijin Ryaku no Maki?  Maybe you have memorized all the (known) kata from our 9 Bujinkan ryuha.  Maybe you have even mastered the Togakure-ryu Juhakkei - the 18 forms of the shinobi (is that even possible in the modern era?).  How long have you been training?  3 years? 10?  how about 20? Do I hear 30?  I know someone with over 40 years in this art and he is still learning new material.

Don't miss the train by not showing up.

Recently, I was at a seminar with my teacher, Peter Crocoll.  I was considering leaving early because I had a 9 hour drive back home.  I brought this up to him, and he said, "you can leave if you want, but what I'm about to show has never been shown in North America."  I stayed.  And it was worth it.

I almost missed training with Peter again this month.  It literally was a coin flip whether I made the trip.  Somehow I pulled it together.  And guess what?  He showed material I had never seen before.

Soke says that he intends to live by the words he heard from his teacher Takamatsu Sensei, "However much I study, it is never enough."

I started training in this art in 1988 (officially).  In all these years, there have been many occasions where I was shown something very interesting and important, and then I never saw it again.  Never in Japan, never at a seminar, never in regular classes, and never in a book or on video. 

Our art runs deep.  Many of the skills in our training could be a lifetime of study all by themselves.  It took many lifetimes and the lives of many warriors to develop this art.  So it is unwise for me to think that my 22 years mean very much.

I was training at one of Hatsumi Sensei's Tai Kai, and Oguri Sensei was there.  Soke showed something and Oguri got a funny look on his face.  Hatsumi Sensei noticed this and asked Oguri to share his thoughts.  Oguri said that he had been training over 40 years and this was the first time he had ever experienced this.

This makes me wonder what I miss when I don't make it to class.  Anytime I start to think about missing a trip to Japan, or going to a seminar, I think to myself, "what if I miss that hidden secret in our art that will make a big difference in my own training?"  And then I am very motivated to go to class.  The simple truth is, I am always happy when I go to class, and missing class just feels empty.

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