“Half-Arsed” approach to training!
The amount of times Nagato sensei would say in training, “Don’t do this half-arsed!” I would hear about as many as times as Hatsumi sensei would say, “This is not a sport!” Both these messages clearly when said, had great importance and were announced at almost every training session. I realised over time when I heard this in training, these messages were relative to all aspects of life and not just ‘budo’ (martial arts). If you haven’t studied for an exam, your results will be poor…if you have practised rehearsing music for a stage performance, things may go wrong or not go so smoothly…if you only practice techniques without intent to properly punch or kick your opponent in training, your movements will not be effective! The list of things is endless and I think you get the big picture here. In regards to sport mentality, Bujinkan teaches you the skills to survive in a life threatening situation so you can win, by any means possible and with sport, you are bound by its set of rules.
When studying this art as ‘a way life’, it’s not just about learning fighting skills and weapons that will maim your attacker, this is high level martial art, which requires more time and effort than a hobby and a different mindset to a sport! A musician artist will always play tunes with their instrument, listen to music notes and sing songs/hum songs in their head any free moment they have, all through love of doing it and to be constantly improving their art so the feeling is in their bones. Studying Budo is no different! If training is a way of life, you don’t stop thinking about scenarios in training, you continue to improve your taijutsu in and out of the dojo and you never stop. Like the four seasons through the year change we remain in “Fudoshin” (immoveable heart/spirit) in training and always keep going. Each person’s spirit (character) is different, however in order to attain a high level of understanding in this martial art it takes guts/courage and determination to ‘keep going’ and ‘never give up!’
Life in general, we are brought up in a society where we are measured by a percentage (out of 100%) that evaluates our ability to be able to do something we have been tested/observed to do. These statistics might be measured by in ways of an examination on a physical, academic or practical level that determines your skill level.
I remember when I attended Shihan Naguchi and Shihan Oguri sensei’s 60th birthday party, there was a secret shihan meeting in the top of the restaurant and Hatsumi sensei spoke with us about many aspects on the philosophy of training and life in general. One topic he spoke about was as follows; (quote)”why is it 100%?” “Why not 200% or 500% or 1000%?” “What is it, that limits us to this frame of mind that we can only achieve 100%?” “Does it mean because it is only 100% we do a lot less than we could possibly do?” “If we don’t limit ourselves by a percentage number out of 100, we can possibly free our mind and do a lot more than we thought we would ever imagine possible in all aspects of our life!”
The more time and effort we put into something we do, the more we get out of it – if we are told we are doing things or something “half-arsed”, it’s a message saying a lot about our character and a sign we can improve beyond the 100% mark!!