Brian Vaughan, Jinenkan Sandan.
Both words, with a minimum of verbiage, epitomize how I have led my life and my approach to martial arts. The first, Shoshin, a beginners heart…to maintain a simplicity of vision, clarity and openness. To al ways possess that enthusiasm you first upon taking that initial step into the learning of anything worth while. As you all know, we are always trying to evolve and seek perfection in our technique, but we are also aware the more we learn the more elusive that goal seems to be. Perfection is an ever moving target that we can barely touch, and the universal truth is our grasp is never as far as our reach. Shoshin is the reason and joy in why we keep trying.
If I was looking for a euphemism for “gut check” the word would be Nintai. As Manaka Unsui Sensei explained it to Adam Mitchell Sensei, its original meaning is “to bare the pain, deal with it.” As one gets older, injuries take longer to heal and old injuries come back to haunt you. No one escapes and no one is immune to this reality, it is the result of nature and what we do..deal with it. To this end, treat each birthday like chronological event and not as a tether preventing you from progressing in life and the attainment of your goals. Your body will tell you what you can and can not do..not the calendar!
The Jinenkan has a rich curriculum that tests one on both a cerebral and physical level, and by the very meaning of its name “school of natural movement”, it lets one adapt should their range of motion change during a lifetime of training. Embrace such changes as an opportunity to grow, not the reason to stagnate. Nintai will keep you on the mat and training hard today. Shoshin will bring you back tomorrow. Aging does no bother me, its part of the natural order of things and everyone has to walk down that road. What does put a stone in my shoe though is negativity. I have neither the time or the patience for its messenger. Pessimism us akin to self fulfilling prophecy and pessimists are a life sucking entity, both should be avoided at all costs.
My views are just that…mine! they are unapologetically harsh at times but tempered by experience and based on reality. Time is the most precious commodity you’ll ever have, don’t waste it. Begin that surrounding yourself with people that enrich your life with their wit and wisdom. If it is solace that you seek, start a garden, mother earth can be quite comforting. Engage in activities that test your heart, mind and body. Fortunately if you are reading this you’ve accomplished two out of three simply by your involvement in the Jinenkan. Now get out there and start digging.
We have members in the military that are stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan that observe crisis which are streamed through the internet. As a combat wounded veteran of two tours of Vietnam, I was asked if there was anything that could be passed on to these members at it applies to our training and their situation. The more I thought about it, the more I realized, that except for the advancements in weaponry, basic battle strategies have changes much in the last two thousand years.
Complacency and a lack of attention to detail are the twin precursors to tragedy…so focus!
To all these fine, brave men and women, I’d like to say good luck and thank you for your service and commitment. I hope to see you all on the mat one day soon. I’ll be the grey haired comely gentleman with a slight hitch in his gate complaining about rabbits in his garden.
Director of the Jinenkan Kosei Gogi Dojo, and personal student of Manaka Unsui.