This article was written by René vanAmersfoort Sensei as an answer on the thanks from İtaly after exams in Modena in May 2015
I want to say thank you all for the nice words and the precious feeling those words gaveme. But actually I shouldn’t say this, because in training Japanese Budo (iaido, jodo, kendo) humbleness is an important value.
Once at the Summer seminar in Eindhoven (NL), Ishido Sensei explained us about theimportance in Japanese Budo connecting to the folds in our hakama (5 at thefront and 2 at the rearside).
JIN (Sympathy and Benevolence)
GI (Duty and Obligation or Righteousness)
REI (Courtesy or proper form and knowledge of tradition and manners)
KO (Filialpiety, Devotion)
We should devote ourselves to livr our lives according to the above mentioned virtues,which is of course very difficult. Japanese Budo is not only about training(KEIKO). The more one get involved into Japanese Budo the more the emphasis should lie also on learning about Japanese culture and system. Also in this case JI RI ITCHI is in force.
During my visits to Japan I learned many things and by now I know learning will never finish until we die. My learning started more seriously when I became a student of Louis Vitalis Sensei. I still remember my first Japan visit together with Vitalis Sensei in 1998. Also I learned many things about Japan from Jock Hopson Sensei during several stays together in Japan. Thanks to these European teachers many of us received the necessary knowledge about traditional customs in Japan in most cases related to Japanese Budo. By now I also start to realize how difficult it is, to pass this knowledge to new students travelling to Japan.
When entering the dojo it already start. Put of your shoes in the GENKAN (mudroom oren trance foyer) because shoes are not worn inside. The GENKAN is lower than the dojo floor. The dojo floor mustn’t be stained by soil, sand or dust that may be attached to the soles. Consequence for foreigners: balancing not to touch the GENKAN with the socks! After turning your shoes with the nose to the outside world.
Another very important thing is that harmonious relationships between people is reflected much in Japanese behaviour. There is great emphasis on politeness and personal responsibility and on working together for the universal rather than the individual good. Working in harmony is crucial for working productively.
Through years of Budo training but also because we get older, we should get milder and therefore developing more empathy which can result in more understanding about people’s behaviours and the way of thinking. Also through the years one should become more able to express one’s own way of thinking. In this way during our(Budo) lives it will be always a balancing between for example knowledge,empathy, self-confidence and cultural identity.
With this background I am grateful that the harmonious way we travel together leads to productivity and results. But standing still at results is going backwards and will reduce development. After reaching a certain level training already starts towards a new level. It’s a never ending story. Keeping your level is even harder! The most important is KEIKO and COPY and PROTECT what is learned in the ISHIDO Sensei lineage! Domo arigato gozaimasu! Gambatte kudasai!
Last but not least I want to remind you about NIJIRIGUCHİ or crawling-in entrance when entering a Japanese Teahouse. This entrance is used by guests and bending toget in as a symbol that inside during the tea ceremony all guests are equal regardless of their social status! And in Japanese Budo we have to be loyal to our Sensei.
(Remark from publishers: The article was written as an answer on the thanks from İtaly after exams in Modena in May 2015)