I am often thinking about how to learn bujutsu productively. The efficiency of body and mind is vital in the classical arts that I study and teach. It is hard work to make ourselves better people, but making ourselves better is the only way to move forward in bujutsu and in life. I work on myself regularly and think about how my mind works, as much as I work on the techniques of my school. Whether you want to learn sword arts or even hobbies unrelated to martial arts it is important to keep these seven points in mind.
The Magic Bean & The Beanstalk
Growth is essential in life. That might seem silly even to say, however, it seems that people tend to forget about moving forward. Trying to learn a skill, whether in your backyard or the dojo we need to grow. People involved in Koryū are also susceptible to this problem. Growth isn't magical though. It is important that we strive every day to grow intellectually and spiritually. We all get to certain stages and think we have learned enough and do not engage ourselves to learn more. Closing ourselves off to sources of information ensures that we will atrophy and never gain skill properly. It is therefore important to keep growing both in the physical skill of your particular school and gaining wisdom and spiritual power.
Right into the danger zone.
Keeping yourself in your comfort zone is detrimental to your growth as a human being. If you are someone wanting to learn a skill if you do not venture out from the familiar, then you are unlikely to gain any in-depth knowledge and always be in the realm of playing. As a martial artist, it is also dangerous to stay within your own bubble and network.
Seeking support for your bad behavior and vices from your inner circle is very damaging and promotes stagnation in mental, physical and spiritual development. If you want to learn you have to shed the anchors and safety of your backyard fences.
In the film Mr. Mom, Jack (Michael Keaton) was driving the wrong way at the school to drop off his kids, Jack said, 'this is the jack butler method.' Then Annette at the curb told Jack he was doing it wrong. While amusing in the movie, it is indeed not helpful in our very un-Hollywood everyday lives.
Ignoring the opinions of those further down the stream than us is not healthy. Many people want to exclaim that it's their damn right to listen to who they want to. That attitude limits where you get information from and in turn restricts the amount of information you can learn.
Keeping a closed mind does just that, closes your mind and prevents you from learning correctly. It becomes an even more significant problem when you are adding in martial arts and weapons to the mix.
Being proud to ignore someone.
I had senpai who were real problems that went beyond just slightly rough treatment. Rumors of them not liking people of their own race were circulating and it certainly showed. I was treated very poorly by them, but I never said anything to them or complained to others within the dojo. I watched and learned from them. I practiced with them and never avoided practice with them. I even offered them water after practice and on occasion brought them a boxed lunch. It wasn't easy for me to do that. Being treated in such a way is not pleasant at all. I relate this, not to sound like a living Buddha but to illustrate that it benefits us to listen to people who we don't like. They often have something useful we can learn from. The epitome of stupidity is proudly proclaiming that we ignore those who have more knowledge than we do.
If I were proud to ignore those types of people, I would not have learned a lot of things within Bujutsu and about myself.
Do not be jealous of others
This is a tricky problem for many of us. We often have feelings of anger or hatred towards people. Jealousy can often be misidentified as hatred. It is important not to feel jealous or envious of others. We should make our own situations and do our best without coveting the positions or skills of others. Everyone has their own way, and we shouldn't hold the feelings of jealousy towards any of them. If someone is successful, it does not diminish the chances of you succeeding at all. Just do your best.
Groundhog Day in the Dojo
Recurring blunders is an issue. It is damaging to make the same mistakes many times over. If we can not correct the issues ourselves, then we must seek help from our teachers or others who are qualified to help. It can be techniques within the dojo or our lives outside. When we are repeating the same mistake more than three times we should be thinking deeply about what the problem is.
Jeeves won't ring your doorbell.
If we want to learn, we must go out and get it. Waiting for information to be served to you on a platter is a problem. Attitudes of, 'it must be served to me' just are not realistic. We miss opportunities to gain more knowledge with that attitude of waiting for it to be served. If we want to learn we need to seek out the instruction. And the instruction we seek out should be proper instruction.
Saneteru Radzikowski is the head sword instructor of Shinkan-ryū Kenpō. He lives and teaches Iaijutsu and Kenjutsu from Nara, Japan.