Are You A Paddle Or An Anchor?

japanese-river-boat-arishayama-600Your Karatedo or Budo life is similar to that of a boat on the open water. The boat floats across the water moving across the sea or down the river. On the sea it may encounter calm weather or turbulent waves. On the river the going might be smooth or you might hit rapids or rocks.

On every boat there is a Captain and that position is similar to the position of the Sensei. The Captain tries to steer the boat across the sea or down the river as safely as possible so that his crew may arrive at their destination without harm. The crew listens to the experience of the Captain who typically has many years of service behind him. Similarly, the Sensei in the dojo tries to instruct his students so that they may arrive farther down the way of development without too much harm. The students recognizing the experience of the Sensei act diligently in following his orders.

However, in this boat of life we have some who act more as an anchor on the boat than that of an oarsman. In order to have the boat arrive at its destination the Captain must rely on all to contribute to the good functioning of the ship. Similarly, in order to provide the lessons within the dojo the Sensei must rely on all students to contribute to the proper functioning of the dojo.

Knowing that we are a member of this ship we know implicitly whether or not we are contributing or detracting from the well-fair of the crew. We know whether we are adding value or if we require undue attention. Requiring undue attention means that we take extra resources away from the mission of the ship and from our shipmates. It ends up being self-serving and selfish behavior. We act as an anchor dragging and slowing down the ship.

Though the above example of a lazy crew member in a boat or ship is easily understood by everyone, it seems that many students come to the dojo and are happy to be an anchor. They show up with lazy intent. They do not listen to the Sensei. They fool around and are not attentive to the lessons of the day. Moreover, they do not contribute in a positive fashion to moving everyone forward in the dojo. The student acts as an anchor and drag on the mission of the dojo.

What every ship, and every dojo, requires is for everyone to be contributing and moving the group forward. Each member of the ship or dojo should be an active oarsman putting needed strength behind the levers that help to move the dojo forward through collective energy.

So it is important to look at your effort and to see honestly if you are contributing or if your are detracting from the mission. Are you a paddle adding extra energy or are you an anchor dragging down the forward momentum. It is important for every member of the dojo to understand that similar to the environment of a ship a lazy member not only provides little effort they actually take energy away from the crew, the same as if there was an anchor dragging behind the boat.

In the boat of life do not be an anchor. Choose to be a paddle: a strong oarsman who adds value with your effort. Move your shipmates forward. Add benefit to your Captain. If you focus on this basic principle your voyage in the martial arts will see more calm waters than turbulent seas.

First Spiritual Training

This is a cross post from the permanent page found at: Home / Bubishido Monks / Spiritual Training

First Spiritual Teaching: 12 Day Routine – Gratitude

The 12 day routine consist of kata practice for 12 days in a row each morning repeating the same kata 12 times. It is important that the same kata is practiced each day throughout the routine in order to open the door for insight and gratitude. Non-karate practitioners can replace the typical karate kata with other forms. This routine takes approximately 45 – 60 minutes to complete depending on the length of the kata chosen. Many Sensei teach younger students that when practicing kata the student should complete the kata at least 12 times in order for learning to take place. It is in this spirit that the First Teaching is designed. Any less than this and the student will not consolidate even the basic elements of the kata teaching thereby preventing the cultivation of spiritual understanding. This level is considered the beginner or entry level teaching and is simply meant to move the student towards a sustained practice manageable to all. A sense of gratitude for having been provided with the essential teaching that enables one to improve the physical, mental and spiritual natures should be contemplated. As with all the training illustrated herein, it should be started before dawn so that the body can feel the energy of the new day. This training is available to all practitioners.

  • Preparation: Wake-up before dawn;
  • Meal Preparation: Eat a very light snack: light soup or yogurt;
  • Entrance: Enter the Dojo and bow to Shomen.
  • Spiritual Preparation: Complete Candle Meditation for 5 minutes as spiritual warm-up. Practitioners should meditate on the importance of maintaining appreciation and gratitude for their study and for the teachings being made available to them;
  • Physical Preparation: Bubishido Yoga Sun Salutations, circumambulations of the dojo or other routine;
  • Integration: Kata Practice – Same Kata repeated 12 times each day;
  • Completion: Candle Meditation and/or Corpse Pose for 5 minutes;
  • Exit: Bow to Shomen 3 times in gratitude and exit the Dojo.

Summer-2016 Training In Japan

In July and August 2016 Shihan Henderson and Sempai Migneault visited Japan for 35 days. Over 50 training sessions were completed along with visiting lots of important sites. Kyoto, Tokyo and Nigata were on the schedule. We wish to thank Hanshi Hisataka and Shihan Masamitsu Hisataka for their generosity during the visit. It was a wonderful experience and we hope to visit again soon.

You May See Over 600 Photos At This Album Link


Visiting A Sword Exhibition

Visiting The Kenkokan Hombu Dojo


Visiting The Golden Temple In Kyoto Once Again


Beautiful Architecture Everywhere


Final Class With Hanshi Hisataka And Shihan Masamitsu Hisataka. Shihan Henderson Being Presented The Rokudan Certificate in Koshiki. The children were always wonderful, we will miss everyone very much !


Shihan Henderson Awarded 5th Dan In Kenkokan

Shihan Dr. Henderson was recently awarded 5th Dan, Kengo, in Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo by Hanshi Hisataka along with the Koshiki Teaching License by Shihan Masamitsu Kudaka. Shihan Henderson wishes to give special thanks to Hanshi Hisataka and Shihan Masamitsu Kudaka for all their help in his training and continual progress. Also, a very special thank you to Shihan Paul Jackman for his continued support of Dr. Henderson’s efforts. The videos below show Hanshi Masayuki Hisataka (Kudaka) and Shihan Masamitsu Kudaka presenting Shihan Dr. Henderson at the Hombu dojo in Tokyo, Japan.


Namekata Presentation

Shihan Namekata, Chairman of the Board of Examiners, presents Dr. Henderson with the Go-dan certificate.


Shihan Namekata prepares the Sake !


The Easy Part !


Sensei Michael Coleman Participates In The Celebration !

Women’s Self-Defense From The Past (1933)

The video below is a nice reminder that we all must not take our own personal safety for granted. Our grandparents knew this as well. Keep in mind that when you practice your martial arts you are following in a long line of people who share(d) the same thoughts and feelings.

View A Women’s Self-defense Video From 1947 Here


Amenimo Makezu

Kenji Miyazawa

Unbeaten by the rain
Unbeaten by the wind
Bested by neither snow nor summer heat
Strong of body
Free of desire
Never angry
Always smiling quietly
Dining daily on four cups of brown rice
Some miso and a few vegetables
Observing all things
With dispassion
But remembering well
Living in a small, thatched-roof house
In the meadow beneath a canopy of pines
Going east to nurse the sick child
Going west to bear sheaves of rice for the weary mother
Going south to tell the dying man there is no cause for fear
Going north to tell those who fight to put aside their trifles
Shedding tears in time of drought
Wandering at a loss during the cold summer
Called useless by all
Neither praised
Nor a bother
Such is the person
I wish to be

by: Kenji Miyazawa

VIDEO: For The Love Of Japanese Swords

An interesting video by the BBC and Discovery Canada discussing the important aspects of sword polishing and the years it takes to master the art.


Shihan Henderson Visits Sempai Bornstein

Dojo-Photo-2Shihan Henderson recently visited Sempai Mikhael Bornstein the weekend of December 4th, 2015 at the Naka Ima Aikido dojo in Toronto for Dai Kuu Ryu training. Two days of training covered basic sword technique, Iaido and Itto training. The time was well spent and passed quickly. Shihan Henderson looks forward to returning soon to continue training with Sempai Bornstein.

Interview With Sensei Tetsutaka Sugawara

An interesting interview concerning Budo with Sensei Tetsutaka Sugawara from Katori Shinto Ryu.

He was born in Hokkaido in 1941. In 1960, he began Aikido at the Hombu Dojo, Tokyo, under O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido. In 1961, he became uchideshi under O-Sensei at the Ibaraki Dojo.

In 1964, he returned to Tokyo and entered Chuo University. In 1973, he established Minato Research and Publishing Co. (currently Sugawara Martial Arts Institute, Inc.) In 1975, he entered the Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu receiving the ‘kyoshi’ instructor’s license in 1986.

April 1992, introduced Aikido to Shanghai Institute of Physical Education, Beijing University of Medical Science. November 1992, received Kyoshi-license of Okinawan Goju-ryu Karatedo by Yasuichi Miyagi. June 1993, introduced Aikido to Wuhan Institute of Physical Education, Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medical Science in China. May 1995, received Aikido 7th Dan by Kisshomaru Ueshiba. Introduced Aikido to Chengdu Institute of Physical Education in China. Received the Lecturer’s License of Shanghai Institute of P.E. He is currently visiting 12 countries teaching Aikido and Katori Shinto Ryu.

Zen Kata

Finding Your Inner Master – Kigatsuku

By Shihan Henderson

ZenCircleFor many students the practice of Kata, or forms, is very frustrating and elusive. Though they may practice and master the techniques and series of movements, deeper spiritual mastery is often out of reach. This may be due to a number of reasons. This paper is meant to identify some of those underlying reasons and to help avoid a crisis in training by bridging the gap of understanding for the martial arts student by comparing some of the similar aspects of both Kata training and traditional training of the Zen meditation student.

Through the years, Kata has been held in the highest regard by many of the most influential Sensei and has been considered the main training form in many martial arts. Its influence on Budo is apparent as most Budo styles and schools incorporate Kata forms as a primary learning methodology. However, Kata often remains simply that – a method used to teach technique (waza), whereas it can and should be much more. That is, Kata should be the door that the student opens to lead himself onto a life long Zen journey.

When comparing the technical aspects of Kata against its spiritual aspects, it should be noted that technical mastery of the basic and advanced movements within the martial arts can be obtained within a relatively short period of time by any student of average capacity who shows a desire to learn and study. For arguments sake, and from personal experience in teaching, let us assume that this process takes somewhere from five to ten years of general martial arts training. Otherwise stated, the average Karatedo student will have mastered his physical technical training somewhere around the second to fourth dan (level) black belt. After this technical mastery has been achieved, new Kata forms will not provide the student with any further benefit unless he or she is willing to view them in a new light. That is, to see them as a spiritual exercise that can bring them closer to a fuller understanding of the nature of reality and their own true nature.

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