2 Bujinkan Godan Test Lessons, Plus 1 Secret

Tokyo Tachikawa, Cinema City / CINEMA TWO. photo by Dick Thomas Johnson
If you have taken the Godan test this may sound familiar, if not you have something to look forward to. If you think you know this stuff already, I suggest you consider it again at a deeper level.

These two lessons are: the meaning of training itself and embracing fear. I will explain what the Godan test teaches about these things, but first why do we need to be taught these lessons at all?

The Godan test is an instant in time, but it echoes forward and backward. All the days leading up to that instant and all the training after. Which is longer? These two challenges will continue to confront us before and after. So what has changed?

For the first lesson, let's look at a common problem for both pre and post Godan students:

People lose their passion for training. If you have trained for a long time, you probably have achieved some of the goals you originally set out to achieve. Maybe one of those goals was passing Godan. If you achieve your goals you are left with only questions like:
So now what? Do you keep going to class? What if everything you're being taught feels repetitive or you've already seen it?  Maybe class feels like a chore. Training used to be fun, now it's become boring.
But training hasn't really changed... your dreams have. And your dreams are now too small.

Another serious problem for both pre and post Godan is fear:

Fear leading up to Godan is maybe about the test itself. But actually fear shows up long before that. Fear is a dream killer. It is the silent inner voice that pushes away our passions to seek safety that doesn't exist. Your goals for training are overcome by doubt and you never have the chance to get bored in class because you stop going!

Many people never make it to Godan because they were overcome by fear of this type. 

And after Godan? Well, the same insecurities and doubt may be strengthened by a feeling that test was no big deal or was fake somehow. You forget what really happened in that moment. It is very easy to re-frame an instant in time when you have the rest of your life to reflect on it.

So what does the Godan teach us about these two things? The test is like a mirror. If you don't already know, training is often a good mirror for life… so I can pretend to be your life coach for a moment. Don't worry, I won't take advantage of my self appointed authority.

Leading up to the Godan and right after is a great time to reassess training in general. If your goals are too small, training becomes boring. Why are you training? If you don't know now, you knew why when you started. But the goals you started with are too small. You have grown and changed. You need bigger dreams.

The way to get bigger dreams is to ask again, "Why are you training right NOW? If you don't know, or can't answer…  you can look at your life. What problems in your life does training help you with? What do you think it could help you with?

The Godan contains infinity in that moment. If you can't find big dreams there, then you must revisit that instant.

You can find in that instant of the Godan a new reason to go to class. And your attention in class will change to reflect this new focus. A strange thing will then happen: a blast of new ideas and secrets from training will appear. You will sheepishly realize they were always there, you just could not see them.

Training will be fresh and new again.

Embracing fear is another lesson connected to the Godan. You must shine a light on your fear. Look at it directly. If you don't it feels much bigger. Give fear permission to have it's way with you. (you might want to do this in private). Fear passes quickly when you allow it passage. This is the secret: open yourself to fear.

After it is gone, notice what it did to you. Are you still intact? This is an odd feeling from the Godan test. When it is over you are left only with yourself. For some people this echoes on for a while… If that happens you probably need that time with yourself.

Bonus Secret:

Here is one lesson from the Godan that can take you far beyond Godan: Thoughts have speed; passing the test requires no thoughts.

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