|Fighting Cock 闘鶏 toukei by Hatsumi Sensei|
I was attacked by mosquitoes earlier that day. It was my own fault because I had gone into a deep meditation in the woods next to a statue of 不動明王 Fudō Myō-ō. I didn’t notice the mosquitoes. But it was very hot and I was sweaty after my long climb, so they definitely noticed me! The next day, I discovered at least 30 very itchy bites.
This year I am 年男 toshiotoko, or “man of the year” since it is my sign. This can be unlucky, but I am protected. 不動明王 Fudō Myō-ō is the protector of people born in the year of the rooster.
The hour of the rooster is at sunset in the zodiac. And the direction of both the rooster and Fudō Myō-ō is west. In fact, there are still Shinto shrines where the monkey and the rooster guard the entrance gates.
I will lead the training in my dojo this year while heeding the expression, 鶏口牛後 keikougyuugo, “It is better to be the beak of a rooster than the rump of a bull.” For me, this means it is better to guide a small group of students who really care about training, instead of a crowd of people who train for the wrong reasons.
I wasn’t there, but reportedly Hatsumi Sensei first met Takamatsu in 酉年 toridoshi, the year of the rooster. I feel lucky to have this connection back to Takamatsu and the previous generations of our art through my studies with Hatsumi Sensei. The Bujinkan is a living art, and the spirits of the warriors of the past are kept alive in our current training.
I will spend some time this year focusing on the 妙音術 Myō-on jutsu that I have experienced from Soke. Since Fudō Myō-ō protects me this year, I will work to cut through my ignorance. Here is the Fudō mantra if you also want to say it while cutting through ignorance with your sword:
なーまくさーまんだーば さらなんかんDon't ask me how to pronounce it, I think I need more training.