A New Beginning and a New Bujinkan Shodan in My Dojo

The Belt Exchange, Michael Glenn promotes Jesse to Shodan
Yesterday a new 初段 shodan was born in my dojo. My student Jesse proved that he has what it takes both with technique and heart. But he also showed something more which proves his understanding of what it means to be a Bujinkan Shodan.

I don’t give out rank easily. As the day grew closer for Jesse’s initiation, I checked my records to see when he started training. I was very surprised to see that he began exactly 5 years ago! I hadn’t planned for his black belt to fall on that anniversary, but sometimes everything lines up just right.

Jesse doesn’t know yet what it means to be a black belt in the Bujinkan. And of course everyone’s experience is different. I wrote an entire series about the black belt ranks that begins here: Bujinkan Shodan 初段: Searching for the Bull

For me personally, It was a new beginning. It took me a lot longer than five years to get my black belt. Getting there symbolized a re-dedication to the passion I had for Bujinkan training that began in my youth. But also a more mature relationship with training and how it fit into my life.

I have watched some of the same things happen for Jesse. But in ways unique to him. The kind of training we do means that Jesse has had to grow as a person to improve with the martial art.

This is because there is an invisible barrier in the Bujinkan. It is found in your own heart. If you don’t find it and discard it, learning (and often training itself) comes to a stop.

I watched Jesse struggle over the past five years to find that and discard it. It was clear when he did. And his training improved. Now he is a strong example for the younger students. He is also a great reflection to remind the senior students where they’ve been and what training is all about.

Shodan means beginner level. As Jesse’s teacher I personally guarantee that Jesse has well begun! Thank you Jesse and Ganbatte!


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