Umu 有無: Something From Nothing

涅槃 photo by Aeternitas.
I train outdoors all year. Traditionally ninja, and many of the founders of the Bujinkan ryuha, all found their inspiration for training in nature. Lately, in every class I am annoyed with mosquitoes. But I also observe the nest of some Cassin's Kingbirds and how they teach their fledgelings to catch those same insects out of the air.

This kind of direct insight is very valuable. Hatsumi Sensei says,
"Training in nature, where there is not only a lack of footing but one is attacked by the wind and rain, is greatly different from training in a dojo with wooden floors or mats, and with air conditioning installed."
He says that to develop higher powers of perception we must train in nature. This is how we develop the ability to produce something from nothing in combat.
必要な無から有を生み出す勘生という知恵を授かったのであろう。
So every class, I start with only the open air, the sky and the earth. Then we bow in.  

This lonely path of the warrior is self reliant. Sensei says it is like the Buddha, who at his birth pointed to the heavens and the earth and said, 天上天下唯我独尊 I alone am exalted in heaven and on earth. In Japan there is an annual ceremony on April 8 to commemorate this moment, it is called 潅仏会 kanbutsu-e.

People think that saying "唯我独尊, Yuiga Dokuson" or, I alone am exalted, means you are conceited or arrogant. But the true meaning of this phrase suggests there is no separation between you and the world. It is all about positioning. In a fight, if you could see things from the position of your enemy, see through his eyes, he would be very easy to defeat. In fact, by walking in the other's shoes, the enemy disappears.

When you retreat, or separate yourself from your enemy, he will only chase you. And you may stumble. When you realize the enemy is yourself, then you have nothing to fear.

Before training outside in nature, nature was outside and you were inside. Before your enemy was separate from you and you could not control him. Take away the enemy's power.  When you realize your enemy is you, you empower yourself.

As a warrior, you must take responsibility for your own victory. So train in nature because you ARE nature. Defeat your enemy, because he is you.

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