An Authentic 妙法 Myouhou: Transcendence Disguised as Injury

砲台~十八羅漢~猴子( 全身是傷 ) photo by houliuken
If you are athletic, or train hard like I do, you will face the problem of being injured at some point. At first this feels like, why me? Why now?

But then if you are like me, you get to work finding a way to move forward, overcome this obstacle and to heal. You can solve this problem. And maybe, if you approach this problem properly, you will encounter the same wonderful mystery I have. Let me explain.

I train when I'm injured. I do this because the nature of life means there will always be encumbrances to peak performance. I want to be able to adapt when I encounter those obstacles.

But there is another, better reason I have discovered. The kind of discovery that may only occur while training injured. While I was in pain and feeling gimpy one night, I had a flash of inspiration:
Constraints on free movement can open up infinity.
This is an authentic 妙法 myouhou, or mysterious law in life, art, and training. The greatest lives are lived through obstacles. The best art burns through boundaries on expression. And the freest training can be discovered and enjoyed through constraint, injury, disability, or impediments.

If you have experienced this directly, you may know what I mean even though it is difficult to describe. It's like that by adapting, overcoming, or training through the injury will open up new horizons and possibilities you did not know were there before. Without the injury, you would not be forced to find this new path, so it wouldn't even exist for you.

And your world would be smaller. And your training would be stuck on the same path as it usually is.

On this night my struggle was a knee injury. And it forced me to hop about and pivot on one leg. I had to capture my opponent's balance and throw him without great strength or control over my own balance.

Then I remembered something mysterious I had seen from Hatsumi Sensei. He seemed to be throwing his partners around not with physical effort on his part, but by disturbing their psyche or spirit. I held this image in my mind of watching Hatsumi Sensei throw someone using only the smallest gesture of his hand.

Then I began to discover a whole new world of control by playing with how my uke reacted to my strange movement. It began as simple playful distractions. But over time this exploration has led to defeating my opponents through 繋がり tsunagari. And even by a broader connection to the kukan itself.

You see, there was an infinity in training that I discovered hidden behind and through my injury. My knee has healed. A couple of years have gone by, and I still am unwinding discoveries that arose from that night and that constraint that changed the way I train.

In my blog post, Kihon: The Heart of an Infinite Circle, I wrote about this concept. Hatsumi Sensei says that kihon is like thrusting your sword into a point about which there is an Enso or limitless circle (happo) and existing in the space is the kukan.

Do not forget this mystery. Embrace it. Find teachers who embrace it rather than putting training in a box.
Here's a hint: Teachers with VERY  strong opinions about the right and wrong way to train are trapped in a box.
The best Bujinkan training adapts to you. You should not have to adapt to the training. The world doesn't need another Bujinkan teacher. We already have great ones! What the world needs is training that shows people how to truly bring their own authentic self and demonstrate that value in our art.

This is achieved through a depth of self awareness that you may only discover under adverse conditions.

This is the transcendent mystery of overcoming your own limitations.

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