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Don't be Dekunobō  木偶の坊, Have Shinbo 辛抱 Instead.

photo by roy costello
One night I was training in Hombu dojo with Hatsumi Sensei. It wasn't very crowded and he had us working with the bo which is definitely rare in the Hombu nowadays. He did a technique that left a very odd impression on his uke and those of us watching. It was as if he released the bo in the kukan, and the bo acted as his agent, throwing the attacker and tying him up. Wow. That was odd.

Soke seemed to notice the confused looks around the room, because he explained to us that this was Shinbo. The translator looked confused as well, so Soke pointed up above the kamidana to the picture of Takamatsu Sensei holding the bo. Sensei explained that was why he wrote Shinbo beneath that picture.

So what did Soke mean by Shinbo?  I am probably more lost than the translator, but Soke has referenced that idea before.

There is a related concept called 花情竹性 "Kajo Chikusei where we strive to be as gentle as a flower, and as straight, or straightforward, as bamboo. In this idea, the heart of a warrior means having a sincere heart. Sensei says Ninjutsu is a great warrior's path open only to those whose heart is in the right place.

There is this interplay between being soft, gentle, and warm hearted or strong, brazen, and bold. Both qualities in balance. Soke says "It is not always the case that big techniques beat everything; it is a fact that sometimes small techniques can beat big ones."

Hatsumi Sensei encourages us to live upright like a bo. Honest and straightforward in heart. But this doesn't mean being naive. If you know how to use a bo, you know the tricks and deception possible with it's use. Meaning in your stance of being a straightforward person, you are ready for people who are not, and who may use deception against you.

Sensei says that when a young man appears to be a dekunobō 木偶の坊 or でくの坊 (wooden doll or useless stick), if he endures long enough he can become a strong man someday. This endurance can be seen as 辛抱一貫 Shinbo Ikkan.

As for the astonishing and inexplicable technique Hatsumi Sensei showed us that night, he says:
"Few people have been taught the Kasumi no Den ("message of the mist") known as Shinbo ("true, enduring stick"). You project a shadow image of yourself into the void.

Hmmm. One of me is too many. I'll have to make room for my shadow...

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