Traditional Japanese Martial Arts of the Samurai and the Ninja

Shidoshi Mark "Masayoshi" Norman

Bujinkan Masayoshi Dojo

The Ninja and Bugeisha

Cleansing Statement: I do not ask or expect anyone to agree with my perspectives or perceptions.  I am merely expressing mine.  I only suggest and wish to encourage others that they seek a path of justice for their lives and find the blessings in the virtues of harmony, wisdom, grace, patience, humility, health, peace and personal power.   

Although I am very happy to train others in waza (techniques) that they can use to defend themselves and those who are weaker… moreover, I am a student of a “way of life” or “the warrior way to attainment and enlightenment”.  One, who is committing to becoming a Ninja (secret warrior) or Bugeisha (martial artist), accepts that it is a lifelong determined and committed study like no other!  One becomes not only involved in combat tactics and strategies, but countless other more esoteric arts as well. 

If one were to become convicted to enter such a journey, at times, they will feel discouraged, uncomfortable, confused, frustrated, and possibly even bitter.  The very great propensities of students fail to continue long enough to get any real “understanding”.  What “knowledge” they’ve acquired may assist them in self-defense, but that does not make them a Ninja or Bugeisha!  Some quit due to the non-conformity or stubborness in their spirits, some from feelings of hopelessness, some from modern aversions to what they perceive as pain and some from lack of sincerity.     One becomes a student through determined will, endurance, patience, tenacity, and sheer force of their own personal willpower. Intention to succeed means everything.  I feel it is a calling of kokoro-no-kokoro (the heart within) that brings one onto this pathway!  Only through surrender to the pathway can one attain enlightenment.  Attainment must completely overshadow amusement or curiosity!       

Love is sweet… Devotion is sweeter… Surrender is sweetest…   

Being a student of the way does not in any way mean becoming a fanatic.  It is a way to change your perspectives and awareness which will greatly compliment and assist any endeavors of your choosing.  The Arts have very dynamic and living characteristics which may or may not be fashionable, but they will greatly help you in encountering experiences which others (non-aware beings) could not effectively and efficiently cope with.   

Please allow me to be very clear on this part; putting on a cool oriental training uniform and paying for the next colored belt is not at all the same as entering the Path of Warrior Enlightenment as a Ninja or Bugeisha!  Even in our school which has over 1800 licensed instructors, very few are qualified by my own standards to truly lead others to effective and fulfilled Living as well as the combat arts.  I have been tenaciously and intensely involved in very committed training for over 35 years, teaching as an instructor of over 2200 students over 22 years, and only now am I beginning to feel like I am a Bugeisha.    

CAUTION:  When travelling the True Warrior Path, other shorter or more easily attainable training regimes which may be more attractive and enjoyable to the masses (non-aware beings) will pop up and feel more suitable to most.  Opportunities for quicker rank advancement or shortcuts can be enticing, tempting, and persuasive.  Simply, we all must choose our own courses in life and either reap the rewards or suffer the consequences.  What you attain from the true warrior pathway not only comes from your efforts you put into it, but moreover the correctness of your choices.     

In life, (not speaking of religion), a spiritual anchor helps prevent us from losing our way and following or buying into our own delusions.  Our delusions are primarily developed by our past experiences which evolve into belief systems.  Without an anchor one blindly and futilely stumbles through life (non-aware beings) conflicting with the oneness of everything.  The true path of warrior enlightenment comes from not only what one is taught, but through great personal introspection with an open mind and heart.  This is also augmented through personal initiative and resourcefulness, not only from desire but from your own personal higher self and a close relationship to the divine within and without.  The anchor is our reference point so that we never get lost.  One such anchor is the Warrior Path to Enlightenment or Way of Right Relationships… it is so very much more than ‘cool’.    

Within the school I am a member of, The Bujinkan Dojo, the nine surviving ryūha (families) of Ninja and Bugeisha have melded into one Great House under the spiritual and training leadership of Soke (Grandmaster) Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi of Noda Chi – Chiba Ken – Japan.  His personage is a Japanese National Treasure and my personal Sensei (Leading Teacher).  Only he has led me since 1993 and it is to him I am privileged to be loyal.  He has given one of the greatest gifts ever given to humanity; a way of supreme living and a School of Life!  I will forever remain faithful to him in this life and the next.    

Of course a teacher and a school is embodied and empowered by the quality of initiates, seekers, and students.  Therefore it is imperative that we congregate with a sense of family, tolerance, and love.  After all these are the very things the teachings were founded upon.  In my experience those becoming family were destined to do so which promotes harmony and fulfillment.     

As well as having a wonderful teacher and fellow students, a school should teach efficiency and effectiveness, discarding expenditures of energy that are unnecessary.  There are very little true martial arts training available today which has stood the test of centuries of conflict upon the battlefield and in warfare.  Training in true Bugei (Martial Arts) as a hobby or as entertainment without complete conviction and commitment creates imbalances which should be avoided.  A Ninja or Bugeisha is not what you see in popular movies and videogames, nor is it a cult that self imposes restrictions upon others.  Denshi (students), Shidoshi (instructors), Shihan (masters), and Sensei (teacher) alike live normal or abnormal lives by their own dictates and are fully in the world, but not of the world.    

Actualization of enlightenment comes from the realization that all things are sacred, all things are one, and from actually living with this meditative contemplation throughout one’s life and training.  Trying to become enlightened just blocks the process from developing.  The harder you try, the further you get from attainment.  The more attachments you have, which includes thoughts, words, and deeds, the more impossible the design.  You must banish the unnatural in your life and become one with all, inside of yourself, with others, and with nature and spirit.  An evolution of perceptions and awareness or the way of the wizard, has no limitations, not even space and time.  I suggest contemplating “Is”, “Neutral”, “Potential”, and “Now” as well as the “Sacred Bardo” ( the instant between then and now, between now and then) or “Totality”.  Return to Zero.     

One, who realizes attainments, develops Kuji; a way to see that which cannot be seen, hear that which cannot be heard, and know that which cannot be known… is well on the path to finding “The Way”.      I certainly do not wish for anyone to enter into anything that they are not led to from within with great sincerity, conviction, and commitment.  For with great knowledge comes the potential for great sorrows and great responsibilities.  Ultimately, there is no “end”, no more of training than of living.     

Thought creates energy, energy creates matter, matter creates awareness, and awareness creates thought.  Anything less than a loving thought brings toxicity to the self, body, mind, and spirit.  Everything is made up of the Sacred Bardo.      Freedom to choose is the most divine universal law; any attempt to try to influence the free will of another is an endless and futile conflict.  Getting down the basis of foundation, I have realized that the purest expression of love is surrender.  This is not like surrendering in battle, but of surrender to a course of action, decision, or lifeway. 

The Mikkyo Realm (Japanese form of Esoteric Buddhism) contains the ShoShinSha or GoDai no Kata (Five elemental manifestations): Chi (Earth), Sui (Water), Ka (Fire), Fu (Wind), and Ku (Void)… one might relate their perspective to the Five Spirits found within us all.  Most unaware beings only ever utilize one or two of these spirits within and do not realize that they have other choices in decision making, thought processes, speech, and actions.  This tool alone may bring about marvelous life-changing progress, happiness, and fulfillment!     

The graphic Kanji (Chinese and old Japanese writing) symbol for “Nin” (pronounced as “neen”) of Ninja, Ninjutsu, or Ninpo, represents an essence rather than an object or technique.  It means the essence of perseverance and endurance.  It is also connotes the ability to control and overcome one’s self physically, mentally, and spiritually.  It infers stealth, secretness, concealment, and other aspects of this essence.  The upper portion of the character is a character in and of itself which is “Yaiba” (sharp edge of a blade).  The lower portion of the character is also a character in and of itself which is “Kokoro” (heart).  Many uninitiated people who think they are martial artists believe that Nin means: “we hold the blade in higher esteem than the heart”.   In truth this is a grave misconception.  The general explanation most Ninja and Bugeisha hold true is:  “although the enemy menacingly holds his blade above my heart, I will endure and eventually prevail”.  What I have discovered by epiphany was not transmitted to me by written or oral tradition, but by wonderful examples of my seniors, especially the Soke.  To me, Nin means “love”.  It is an essence of correct or incorrect perceptions.  What “Is” Love?  Is it not willingly placing your own heart in someone else’s hands?  Is it not about faith and trust?  Truly surrendering one’s heart under the blade of another is the most profound expression in the Cosmos and beyond all beyonds.          Mark “Masayoshi” Norman