I’m just back from a 2-week visit to Japan, where 6 days of that were spent training. Long-time readers will know that I’ve been a student of the Bujinkan for the last 8-10 years, although while training with the best in Japan I felt like I’d only just started.
After one such difficult and discouraging training session, I asked a new friend for advice on the train home, who confided that he had also felt the same way. Now, this was someone who had trained for near 20 years and was pretty highly ranked (and I had the bruises from training with him to prove it) so I was more than a little surprised.
“That’s the beauty of this art,” he shared. “There’s no end to how much you can still learn. But that’s also why people stop training — they can’t take that feeling of becoming a beginner again and again.”
I know that feeling well. In these last 8-10 years of training, there were days which went well and days that seemed like I couldn’t do anything right. It’s the ability to keep going in your training despite the sucking that probably characterizes the Bujinkan’s most oft-repeated mantra: ‘keep going’.
I suppose that’s why the Japanese character for nin, or ‘perseverance’, has the heart under the knife; no matter how many wounds you take to the heart, just keep persevering.
After one of our classes, a Japanese senior instructor probably saw the same discouraged look on a lot of us students, and he said that it was okay if we didn’t get everything he had taught that day.
“The most important point is to keep going.”