Living Values Archives


Photo Gallery is here.

Yearly theme essaysfrom past years start below.  The theme for this year is here.


Previous Yearly Themes


New Year's Message

January 1, 2006 

Dear Buyῡ:

Happy New Year!  My warmest regards to allof you around the world who share this Warrior's Path.

Well, it finally happened.  2005 was the theyear that I turned 50.  It's interesting, because when I met Hatsumi SenseiI was 25 and he was 50.  And when Hatsumi Sensei metTakamatsu Sensei, Hatsumi Sensei was 25.  More about that later. Anyway...

As usual, there was plenty of travel for me. I went toSlovenia last Spring.  We had people from Slovenia, of course, but also Serbia, Croatia,Bosnia, Austria and Hungary (hope I didn't miss anyone!); thanks to Andrej Jasencfor inviting me.

I was also in California, Florida, andChicagoland—a couple of times each. As is our tradition, I went to Atlanta to train with Bud Malmstrom.  KurtHaines also invited me to Houston and I really enjoyed seeing everybody downthere, it had been a while.  You guys (and gals) are doing great!

I was in Japan for the Daikomyosai—Hatsumi Sensei's annual training / birthday party. Sensei is more genki than ever.  I know I say this everyyear, but you really should try to get there for training.  Here's how: After reading this, pick a date (I recommendDaikomyosai) and committo going.  No "ifs" allowed (as in: "if" I have thetime, "if" I have the vacation, "if" I have the money,"if" my dog will let me go, etc.).  If you commit, your life willconform to the power of your intention and you'll go.  If you don't, itwon't. Simple as that.  So, what do you say?

This past summer also saw the eighth annual "BuyῡCamp" in San Francisco under the Golden Gate Bridge on the Pacific Ocean. And a second Buyῡ Camp East in New Jersey. Buyῡ Camps are a great way to connect with old friends and get that "continuing education" and inspiration that will help you "keep going" when you get back to your own, local training group. See you there again in 2006! 

Another seminar that has become an annual event is the "Life Values Workshop." This is a seminar where we practice our Budo in the context of Robert L. Humphrey's Life Values teachings. Many people have expressed interest in the STRIKE training that Humphrey devised to help Marines overcome the stress of real combat. If you want to experience it, we'll see you next July in New Jersey.

I also had a lot of fun teaching the  Warrior Values seminar with Joe Lauhere in NewJersey once again.  Joe Lau has really been successful in findingthe philosophical "common ground" among folks interested in TomBrown's Wilderness Survival Skills, Bujinkan Martial Arts, and the late ProfessorRobert Humphrey's Life Values Theory.  Thank you, Joe, for inviting me. Don't forget to check out Joe Lau's website

And, of course, consult the WIN seminar page periodically for detailsof all of our workshops.

Some of the most rewarding work I did in 2005 waswith the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). This is a fine program that covers the martial arts techniques that a Marineneeds to walk the warrior path—both in combat and around town.  But, themost important aspect of the program, in my opinion, is the character developmentpiece.  The program is primarily designed to activate the"protector/defender" value system in the Marine.  The premise isthat ethical Marines are better people—and also better fighters, because theyare committed to do what is needed to be done to protect each other and theinnocent people who live in their operating area—as they take it to the badguys.

I usually end up saying something controversialin these essays, so here goes.  If you are interested in warriorship, whybeat around the bush?  Why the "reality" training, and theultimate fighting and all this?  Why not  join the Marines?  Goto Iraq or Afghanistan. That's reality.  Help others throw offoppression.  Like the guys in the picture above (excluding the old fart whois teaching).  That's a warrior's job.

Ahhh, maybe your real goal is to prove to yourself and/or othersthat you are tough.  OK, that's understandable.  But, be careful, remember what Takamatsu Senseisaid about that:

"The skills of self-protection, which should provide a feeling of inner peace and security for the martial artist, so often develop without a balance in the personality and lead the lesser martial artist into warped realms of unceasing conflict and competition which eventually consume him.

If an expert in the fighting arts sincerely pursues the essence of Ninjutsu, devoid of the influence of the ego's desires, the student will progressively come to realize the ultimate secret for becoming invincible - the attainment of the "mind and eyes of God."  The combatant who would win must be in harmony with the scheme of totality, and must be guided by an intuitive knowledge of the playing out of fate.

In tune with the providence of heaven and the impartial justice of nature, and following a clear and pure heart full of trust in the inevitable, the Ninja captures the insight that will guide him successfully into battle when he must conquer and conceal himself protectively from hostility when he must acquiesce."

By the way, I don't think you have to be a Marine(or soldier or cop) to follow the warrior path.  I just think that fightingfor fun or ego is NOT the way.  There's nothing wrong with it,necessarily.   But it is self-centered.  Warriorship is about defendingothers.  That's my opinion.  You decide.

In 2005 we worked through severalthemes, Hatsumi Sensei taught Gyokko-ryu Kosshijutsu Happobiken—including training inBo-jutsu, Tachi and Taijutsu.  It was surprising to me how the same ryu andwaza that we practiced in previous years looked and felt so different in 2005.  Perhaps it is our ability to see the space and feel the"inryoku"that has improved.

We also had our own Buyῡ theme of"nature."  How did we do withthat?  Did we "train outside,walk the forests, swim the seas.  Hear the wind, talk to the ocean, listento the lessons of Mother Earth?"  In 2005 she continued to speak to uswith soft summer nights, crisp winter mornings--and a few rather intensehurricanes, tornados and earthquakes!  She's still in charge.

I guess that we shouldn't be surprised,therefore, that Hatsumi Sensei's theme for 2006 is...shizen(nature)!  Evidently we will be studying Shinden Fudo Ryu and kenjutsu from the perspective of "nature." It's definitely a great theme and a natural follow on to last year's training.

So why don't we, once again, make Nature our Buyῡtheme for 2006?  Let's enjoy!

Enjoyment of life.  That is what ourtraining offers—if you let it.  We have theluxury of studying warriorship in the relaxed and cooperative atmosphere of thedojo.  Please take advantage of it.  The real world is not the dojo, but the things that we do in thedojo will impact how we move, act, feel in the real world—whether in a hostileof non-hostile situation.  So use your time in the dojo well.  Studysincerely.  Strive for clarity of thought, feeling and movement.  Thatis the true bushin (warrior spirit). 


Hatsumi Sensei's shodo - Bushin

As I said earlier, I turned 50 in 2005. Sensei was 50 when I met him, so I really don't know what he did for the first25 years of his training.  But I have a good feeling for his next 25. After all, I was there and watching very closely.  So were many of you, aswell!  It should give us confidence and a clear direction.  No, our livesaren't and won't be remotely like his.  But we have a wonderful role modelfor that 50 - 75 year old phase of our training.  I feel great!  Howabout you?

Other than that, I really don't have much to saythat hasn't been said.  25 years into my training, all of the talking andphilosophizing has really all come down to this: 

  1. Be a defender of life.

  2. Keep going.

That's it!  So, one of my resolutions for2006 is to talk less about martial arts and just try to set the example. Less explainin' more trainin'.

Finally, I am pleased to announce the good newsthat we recently republished Dr. Humphrey's book "Values For ANew Millennium."  This has been a dream of mine fornearly ten years.  If you are interested in point 1 above, readthe book.  If you are interested in point 2, train.  Warriorship is pretty straight forward—notcomplicated.  And not easy.

Keep going!

Jack Hoban

P.S.  I went for my New Years Day swimtoday.  It was cold.  Again.


New Year's Message

January 1, 2005 

Dear Buyῡ:

Happy New Year!  My best regards to allBuyῡ around the world.  It was my privilege to share this wonderful artof Warriorship with you in 2004.  It has been a full and beautifulyear of training, as well as, the thirty-third anniversary of Takamatsu Sensei'spassing.  A very lucky and auspicious year for all of us.

As usual, there was plenty of travel for me. I went to California, Florida, and Chicagoland-- several times each. I also went to Atlanta to train with Bud Malmstrom.  

I was in Japan twice, including the Daikomyosai--Hatsumi Sensei's annual training / birthday party. It is clear, now, that if you want to train with Sensei, you have to go to Japan. Get there!  No excuse!! 

This past summer also saw the seventh "BuyῡCamp" in San Francisco under the Golden Gate Bridge on the Pacific Ocean. And for the first time, there was a Buyῡ Camp East in New Jersey. Buyῡ Camps are a great way to connect with old friends and get that "continuing education" and inspiration that will help you "keep going" when you get back to your own, local training group. See you there in 2005! 

Another seminar that has become an annual event is the "Life Values Workshop." This is a seminar where we practice our Budo in the context of Robert L. Humphrey's Life Values teachings. Many people have expressed interest in the STRIKE training that Humphrey devised to help Marines overcome the stress of real combat. If you want to experience it, we'll see you next July in New Jersey.

I also had a lot of fun teaching the  Warrior Values seminar with Joe Lau at Tom Brown's Tracker School here in NewJersey once again in 2004.  Joe Lau has really been successful in findingthe philosophical "common ground" among folks interested inTom's Wilderness Survival Skills, Bujinkan Martial Arts, and the late ProfessorRobert Humphrey's Life Values Theory.  Attendance in 2004  was roughlytwice what it was last year.  The word is really spreading aboutthis wonderful course.  Thank you, Joe, for inviting me; and thanks, Tom, for making the "Farm" available. I think this will be an annual event.  Keep an eye on Joe Lau's website for details. 

And, of course, check the WIN seminar page periodically for detailsof all of our workshops.

In 2004 we studied the concept of Roppou-Kuji-noBiken (六法九字之秘剣). I am not sure that any of us really were able to grasp the total essence of thisconcept (six methods kuji of the secret (hidden) sword).  I have spent timespeaking with Sensei and contemplating it, and think of it this way (this isonly my personal interpretation):  Roppou-Kuji-noBiken admonishes us to see things clearly, as they really are so that we canbecome mū--movingwith the timing of the kukan and using the secret"sword."   

Maybe this helps you; I hope so.  But asSensei said in a letter to me in May of 2004: "Itis important to know that Ninjutsu is not only sneaking into enemy lines, butalso allowing mysterious lessons to sneak into your own mind.  This is thetop secret of Ninjutsu."

As I said, this is a concept that may beimpossible to describe intellectually, but we certainly had many opportunitiesto see it in action, including plenty of swordwork.  As I said, I was able tovisit Japan twice this year and learned a lot.  Just as interesting to meas the swordwork, was Sensei's emphasis on training in armor.   It justso happens that I spent some time training in armor and protective gear with theMarines this year.  It is very different from flitting around on a tatamiin a gi!

 

Hatsumi Sensei in yoroi in the honbu dojo

Jack Hoban (left) participating in mock bayonet training with the
Marine Corps Martial Arts Program

And we do tend to spend a lot of time training inthe dojo.  And with our friends.  And as a result, we risk losing asense of what combat is really like.  And that is why I feel that Senseispent so much time training in armor and talking about martial arts as they werepracticed in real war.  

Yet, if we concentrate too much on the mechanics ofkilling, we run another risk: the risk of losing a sense of what Warriorship isreally for.  Though our skills may, on occasion,be used to take life,their primary purpose is to protect life.  And this we must not forgeteither.  Again, I am reminded of the story that my late mentor, Robert Humphrey, told me aboutbeing a Marine on IwoJima. 

On the sixth day of the battle for Iwo Jima, I took command of the only six (teenage) American Marines who were still left in a front-line rifle platoon that had more than 40 original members [Company F/2/28].  After losing his closest friends during those first six days, the evening that I took command, this young Marine named Mercer [George Mercer WIA then later KIA during the last days of the fight when his hospital tent was overrun] told me, skeptically, that I was their sixth lieutenant in those six days.  Then, as he “dug in” for the night, he suddenly started denouncing the top cultural values that had been instilled in us Marines during that age of high patriotism.  “F*ck the Marine Corps!”  He shouted.  “F*ck democracy, and f*ck this war! I don’t volunteer for nothing.  I DON’T VOLUNTEER FOR NOTHING!”  Four of the other five Marines took up that chant.  “Right,” they yelled, “I don’t volunteer for nothing! I don’t volunteer for nothing.”  As their new leader, I knew I had been warned.  (I was just 22-years-old myself.)

The first thing next morning, an order came in for me to send a "volunteer” straight out front on an almost certain-death reconnaissance mission.  Thinking about that chant, and feeling fresh, compared to those exhausted, young combat-veterans who had already shot their way across the base and up to the top of Mt. Suribachi (during the patrol before the famous flag-raising), I decided to go myself rather than appoint an enlisted “volunteer.”  As I started to crawl forward in the detestable black sand, Mercer, knowing that it was foolish leadership for me, the officer, to go, crawled over into my face, blocking my path, and said, authoritatively: “My turn, Lieutenant.”

Stunned, I realized that Mercer was saying, “My turn to die, Lieutenant—not yours.”

The irreducible facts of human survival are clear:  THE BEST MEN VOLUNTARILY DO THE DYING, IF NECESSARY, TO SAVE THE GROUP WHOSE MEMBERS ARE LESS MORALLY/PHYSICALLY FIT.  So much for Social Darwinism! 

Human nature as I saw it on Iwo Jima is not such that everyone acts heroically.  But human nature is such that the best of us humans do act heroically to save the group.  It is even more sophisticated than that:  When “the best” is killed while trying to protect a group, the next best fighters tend to recognize that they are now “the most capable.” Sometimes this assumption of leadership continues right on down the line to those who are the weakest, and they too will step forward toward that horror of possible death when other lives in their “in-groups” are threatened.  That “in-group” feeling is the trigger, but I found that this “in-group” feeling is not hard to expand even across the historic barriers of ethnic hatreds spawned from bloodletting.

Wow.  And I have it on first-hand authoritythat the same kind of heroic, self-sacrificing activity occurred inIraq-especially in Fallujah.  Many Americans risked—and lost—theirlives by taking extraordinary personal risks, rather than allowing innocentcivilians to be killed unnecessarily.   

So now I am going to say something prettyharsh.  These days we all hear a lot of (frankly) BS in the martial artsabout ranks, and who deserves theirs and who doesn't, and who is tougher, orstronger, or which art is better, or more complete, or more realistic, or blah,blah, blah.  It is all said with the pseudo-authoritarian air that isdesigned to sound like helpful instruction, but really just strokes the ego ofthe speaker (writer, emailer, poster).  Translated it says: I am stronger,I train tougher, I have a better martial art, I know more than you, I, I, I!  Is this thetalk of a warrior?  I don't think so.  Warriorship is not about you,you, you.  It is about becoming "zero" so that we can see thingsas they "really are," and be at the right place with the right timingso that we can protect others, even at the risk of our own lives. If you think you are practicing martial arts, but you are unhappy, orinsecure, or worried, or jealous, or any of those niggling things, then youmight want to think about that Iwo Jima story and see if there is a lesson inthere for you.

Warriorship is about others.  Not aboutyou!  Enough said.

Now let's talk about the training for 2005. As most of you know, Hatsumi Sensei has been giving us a theme to work with these past years. Thisyear it appears to be Gyokko-ryu Kosshijutsu Happobiken—including training inBo-jutsu, Tachi and Taijutsu.  Hatsumi painted the picture of a waterfallbelow for me.  Most of the kanji (on the left side) is a famous Japanese poemthat says: "Water falls down to a hollow but that is thebeginning of rising."  However, on the right it says Jumonji (as inJumonji no kamae from Gyokko Ryu) Shim Pen Kyojitsu.  You probably knowmost of these words, but "Shim," means "God; and "Pen"means "changes."

 

Yes, God does change (move) in mysteriousways.  This is a great reminder for us to be mindful of the "waythings really are;" and a wonderful way to extend the concepts from lastyear into an exciting new year of training.

To be truthful, there is probably a little humorin the painting as well.  The painting is of a waterfall, as I said(although, you never know with Sensei!  Does it look absolutely likea waterfall to you?).  Anyway, I had an interesting experience with awaterfall once and Hatsumi Sensei had an unexpected response to it that I willshare with you.

As a younger and bolder fellow I went once to aShugenja training facility in the mountains because I wanted to sit under awaterfall and feel what it was like.  Well, as I approached the area,several attendants came out to shoo me away.  I insisted that I wasn'tthere to bother anybody; I just wanted to sit under the waterfall.  Well,then they got pissed!  "How dare you, an unsanctified foreigner, comehere thinking you can just sit under this sacred waterfall?  Go away! Now!!"  All hostile and everything.  Well, I was a little pissedby then, too, but what could I do?  Be an Ugly American?  So I wentaway without sitting under their stupid waterfall.

When I got back to Noda, I mentioned the incidentto Hatsumi Sensei.  He questioned me on all the details, and Itold him everything.  Finally, he said: "Bakayaro!" ("Thoseidiots!").  Then he said: "Well, Jack, just go back to your hotel, getinto the shower, and turn the water on cold.  It's the same thing!"

Ha!  The dojo is anywhere! Everywhere!!

Yes, the dojo doesn't necessarily have to bewhere you think it is.  In fact, sometimes our dojo—the place with the tatamis(or mats) and gis are—is not necessarily the best place to train. So why do we do it?  Well, it's easy and sensible, that's why.  Butthat brings us to our Buyῡ theme of the year.  As you may know, in additionto Hatsumi Sensei's theme, we also have traditionally selected our own, Buyῡ Dojo, theme everyyear.  Last year, if you recall, our theme was the year of Shinobu. How did we do?  Were we patient?  Aware?  Persistent?  Werewe able to look beyond the purely technical and tactical aspects of our training? Were we vigilant against threats that we couldn't see nor understand.  And,most importantly, did we open our hearts to the way of the benevolent warrior—protecting whenwe could, hiding when we had to?  Using our skills only as a last resort?  Difficult, wasn't it?  But that is the natural way of the Warrior. And that brings us to this year's theme.  The theme is: Nature.

Recall Takamatsu Sensei's words:

"In tune with the providence of heaven and the impartial justice of nature, and following a clear and pure heart full of trust in the inevitable, the Ninja captures the insight that will guide him successfully into battle when he must conquer and conceal himself protectively from hostility when he must acquiesce."

Well, how do we learn that?!  In this age ofcell phones and computers (I, myself, work in the Internet business) how do welearn the laws of Nature?  Certainly not in front of a computer (althoughwe can learn a lot about the new "laws" of man that way, and that isimportant, too).  No, we need to get out into Nature.  Train outside,walk the forests, swim the seas.  Hear the wind, talk to the ocean, listento the lessons of Mother Earth.  She is speaking to us.  Remember thehurricanes, the earthquakes, the tsunamis.  She still has control. And something to teach us.  As Ninja, as warriors, let us listen veryattentively in 2005.  

Keep going!

Jack Hoban

P.S.  To set the example, I decided to gofor an ocean swim today, New Years Day.  It was cold.


New Year's Message

January 1, 2004 

Dear Buyῡ: 

I wish for you all a Happy New Year filled with good health and love. Thank you for helping me to "keep going" for yet another wonderful year! 

The years pass quickly, don't they? I clearly remember sitting here, last year about this time, and it seems like just a moment ago. Hatsumi Sensei says to me often: "Life is just a series of moments."

There were many beautiful "moments" in 2003 as we studied the concept ofjuppo-sessho and Buyῡ (courageous warrior). 

Indeed, the concept of juppo-sessho spawned many ideas for our training. We began to look at the physical encounter from many new perspectives.  We enhanced our ability to use the space around the opponent. "Ju," as we learned, means "ten" and "ho" means "direction," so"Juppo" means "the ten directions."  The ten directions are east, west, south, north, northeast, southeast, southwest, northwest, and upward and downward. These represent all directions, the whole of space (kukan), or the whole world. Sensei talked often, this year, about using three dimensions in our training. Very enlightening!

The root of "Sessho" is Setsu (or koro su) which refers to the act of killing. Sho means living thing. This term sessho is often used in Buddhism in the context of an admonition to avoid killing (including animals), particularly in a thoughtless or cruel way. For me, this is a very powerful concept.  It speaks to the "awarenessof life" that we all must maintain in our training, and what martial artsare really all about. It is a warning to never forget that the vocation of the warrior deals necessarily with the concept of life and death. Our skills are for protecting life, but may, on occasion, need to be used to take life. I am reminded of the story that my mentor, Robert Humphrey, told me about an incident that happened to him as a Marine on IwoJima. 

As many of you know, Iwo Jima was the first native Japanese soil invaded by Americans inWWII. Approximately 60,000 Americans and 20,000 Japanese participated in the battle. Iwo Jima was approximately 2 miles wide, 4 miles long; that's 8 square miles. In that tiny area, death--horrible, mutilating death--became a commonplace occurrence. Almost 7,000 Americans were killed in action on Iwo Jima; there were more than 20,000 American casualties. Approximately one-third of all Marines killed in action in World War II were killed on Iwo Jima, making Iwo Jima the battle with the highest number of casualties in Marine Corps history. Virtually ALL of theJapanese soldiers on Iwo were killed.

The incident to which I am referring took place while Humphrey and his platoon were clearing a cave. It was usual for the Japanese soldiers to fight to the death, so clearing caves--often by burning the soldiers alive with flamethrowers--was a dangerous and soul-withering job. In this one instance, however, a solitary Japanese soldier emerged from the cave to surrender. By this time in the battle both sides had adopted a "take no prisoners" attitude. The Japanese were killing any American who tried to surrender, even if they were too wounded to fight back; so we began to kill their soldiers, too. It seemed normal, therefore, when one of Humphrey's men lifted a rifle to shoot the surrendering Japanese. Like I said, according to Humphrey, shooting the boy would not have been unusual. Actually, it would have been unusual under the circumstances NOT to shoot him. After all, he might have booby-trapped himself [which was common] and was just trying to get close enough to take a couple of Marines with him when he went.

For some reason, however, Humphrey felt that he should stop his Marine from killing this Japanese boy. When Humphrey ordered the Marine to lower his weapon, there was a real moment of tension between them. The Marine couldn't understand why Humphrey was protecting the enemy.  No one would see it; no one ever would know. Both sides were doing it.  It would be just one more death among thousands. 

At the time, Humphrey didn't really know why he didn't want to kill the boy, either. He just had a feeling about it.  Due to Humphrey's forceful insistence, the Marine reluctantly put his weapon down. The Japanese soldier did surrender and was taken prisoner without a problem. Humphrey recalls that the Japanese may have even provided some worthwhile intelligence. But it took Humphrey many years before he understood the REAL reason why he had protected that enemy soldier.

Humphrey told me that there was so much UNAVOIDABLE killing on Iwo Jima that when he had that one chance to NOT kill, he felt that he must take it. For the sake of his own humanity.  To the day he died, the act of saving his enemy was Humphrey's proudest life moment. 

And that, to me, is the essence of Juppo Sessho. Protect life when you can, kill only when you must. 

Training with Hatsumi Sensei in Juppo Sessho was very special. Sensei came to New Jersey in 2003 for the last TaiKai outside of Japan.  It was a beautiful TaiKai at an oceanside resort in New Jersey. With the sound of the waves outside, I had the privilege of just relaxing with Sensei and talking with him for hours a day for the better part of a week. I don't remember even a fraction of what we talked about.  It was all just a "beautiful moment." Maybe some of the things that he said are now seeds in my subconscious that will bloom again at the right time. I do remember him speaking of his sense that the Bujinkan was strong enough to "keep going." He said that we have many good people who understand the important lessons of Takamatsu Sensei and all the past GrandMasters of our art. Sensei wasn't sad about the changes that are coming inevitably; rather, he was happy and was facing the future withoptimism. He is a very wise man. And an inspiration.

As usual, there was plenty of travel for me. I went to California, Florida, and Chicagoland--actually, several times each. I also went to Atlanta to train with Bud Malmstrom.  I am wondering about my resolution totravel less....

Actually, it is flattering, and a privilege, to be invited to share our art with Buyῡ everywhere. I thank all of you who participated.

I also was in Japan with many of you for the Daikomyosai and Hatsumi Sensei's annual training / birthday party. It is clear, now, that if you want to train with Sensei, you will have to go to Japan. Fortunately, it looks like there will be an additional three day seminar in April, so there may be two significant training opportunities in Japan in 2004. Get there!  No excuse!! 

This past summer also saw the sixth "BuyῡCamp" in San Francisco under the Golden Gate Bridge on the Pacific Ocean. As in past years, many martial artists from around the country and the world met as Buyῡ. The Buyῡ Camp has really become a fun and international event.  See you there in 2004! It is also gratifying to see that other "Buyῡ Camps" are springing up around the country and the world. Buyῡ Camps are a great way to connect with old friends and get that "continuing education" and inspiration that will help you "keep going" when you get back to your own, local training group.

Another seminar that has become an annual event is the "Life Values Workshop." This is a seminar where we practice our Budo in the context of Robert L. Humphrey's Life Values teachings. Many people have expressed interest in the STRIKE training that Humphrey devised to help Marines overcome the stress of real combat. If you want to experience it, we'll see you next July in New Jersey.

I also had a lot of fun teaching a Warrior Values seminar with Joe Lau at Tom Brown's Tracker School here in New Jersey. Thank you, Joe, for inviting me; and thanks, Tom, for making the "Farm" available. I think there will be another in 2004.  Keep an eye on Joe Lau's website for details. 

And, of course, check the WIN seminar page periodically for details for all of our workshops.

Now let's talk about the training for 2004. As most of you know, Hatsumi Sensei has been giving us a theme to work with these past several years. In 2004 it is DaiSho Jutaijutsu.  I assume that this means that we will delve deeper into ways of using and moving with the sword. I am really looking forward to it.

[Note: After this essay was originally published,Hatsumi Sensei clarified the theme and now uses the term Roppou-Kuji-noBiken (六法九字之秘剣)to characterize the focus of the 2004 training.] 

I have to say, it is uncanny how Sensei selects his themes. Those of you who train with us regularly in New Jersey know that, back in the Fall of 2003, we began to get the feeling that we should start re-examining the concept of proper distancing. The best way to do that, we felt, was to break out the swords.  So that's what we did--we started working on our swordwork. Then, BINGO!  Two months later we go to Japan and Hatsumi Sensei announces that his theme for 2004 is...swordwork! Weird!!  How does he do it?

We also have traditionally selected our own, Buyῡ Dojo, theme every year, and this year is no different. The theme is inspired by reflection on the reason that many of us came to this martial art in the first place. Let's face it: We wanted to be Ninja.  At the time, aside from some obscure references in an old James Bond book, we didn't really even know what a Ninja was. But something about the mystique of the Ninja drew us in.  I remember encountering Stephen Hayes, first in a magazine and later in person, and his stories of this real Ninja in Noda, Japan. I was hooked!

Well, most of us have been through the Ninja craze, and the Ninja boom, anda lot of silliness in that regard.  And we mostly use the term "Bujinkan" when we talk about our training these days. But, I recall when I first met Hatsumi Sensei.  There WAS no Bujinkan! We were training in Togakure Ryu Ninpo.  And in my heart, I still am. But, what I realize now, after more than 20 years, is that this art--by whatever name you choose to call it--adapts to the age: the age we are in, the age in years thatwe are, the age of man. 

It could be said that, now, we are in an age of terror--a mindless,inadvertent stumble on the way to clearer human vision.  So, again, our art must change. You can be killed anytime, anywhere, by a person who does not know you nor care who you are. You can be killed with common weapons, or with weapons that are new and different. You can be killed by invisible weapons.  Those that would kill you don't want your money or your possessions. They want your death.  Their reasons are hard to understand, so protecting yourself from them (as opposed, say, to protecting yourself from a thief) is not easy. It takes awareness and patience. In other words: shinobu.

Shinobu is patience with a purpose. Shinobu is positive. It is not meanthere in a defensive or paranoid way. There is a cosmic purpose for your patience:Life. Yours and anyone else's life that you can protect with your skills. 

The religious philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) spoke of an Omega Point to which life is destined to evolve. The Omega Point is supreme enlightenment (or self awareness). I like that concept because it suggests an encompassing "reason for itall."  The journey to the Omega Point is not really a "progression," but rather, a"becoming."  It is true understanding and total consciousness, amanifestation of a perfection that already exists.  But we must change and adapt until we attain it (or it attains us). The Omega Point is ahead, but it is also here.  Most importantly, for us to realize this Omega Point, for us to become our full potential, we must live. We must "keep going."

This is a subtle point that I have struggled with: How do you become something that you already are? Perhaps, you must "keep going" until your perspective changes. Hatsumi Sensei said to me once that "progress is an illusion, but change is necessary."  I guess it is his way of saying that there is really nothing new under the sun. But a Ninja, necessarily, must change with the times.  Consider TakamatsuSensei's words in this regard: "The vast universe, beautiful in its coldly impersonal totality, contains all that we call good or bad, all the answers for all the paradoxes we see around us. By opening his eyes and his mind, the Ninja can responsively follow the subtle seasons and reasons of heaven, changing just as change is necessary, adapting always...."

It is so difficult to be patient in this fast moving world. It is easy to get the feeling we will be left behind, somehow, if we wait. But how can we be left behind when we are already there? 

So let's call this the year of Shinobu. Be patient, be aware, be persistent.  Look beyond the technical, and even tactical, aspects of your training. Imbue your training with a special awareness.  Seek to understand the un-understandable.  Be vigilant against threats that you can't see and can't understand.  Open your heart to the way of the benevolent warrior--protecting whenwe can, hiding when we must, using our skills as a last resort.  Reaching for our full potential.

Keep going!

Jack Hoban


New Year's Message

January 1, 2003

Dear Buyῡ:

Thank you all for helping me to "keepgoing" for another great year! 

I sit here on New Years Eve, as I have done forquite a few years now, and reflect on the year that has gone past.  I havethat "good-tired" feeling that you get after a nice, long day oftraining.  It's a special feeling, and I bet you know just what Imean.  But, the REALLY special times are when we have just had that tough day atwork, and we think we'll just skip training for the night.  Yet we changeour mind at the last minute and drag ourselves to the dojo.  And likemagic, an hour or two later we are re-energized.  I call those the"keep going" nights.  It's amazing the kinds of insights you geton those exceptional nights.  Don't you think?

The year 2002 has been another year of greattraining (I think I say that every year!).  We studied Takagi YoshinRyu Jutaijutsu and Dai Sho Sabaki.  We continued our studyof  the concepts of"space," "perspective," "kukan," andfighting in "three dimensions."   We started to look at theconflict in terms of terrain and tactics, rather than just from the perspectiveof the technique.  We spent a lot of time on our knees, and we became"Men In Black...Dresses" (women, too, of course) as we trained inhakama.

Training with Hatsumi Sensei in 2002 was alsovery special.  He seems to have grown more joyous, more spirituallypowerful, and his energy is unflagging.  What an inspiration!

As usual, there was plenty of travel for me. I went to California three times.  Florida twice.  Imade another trip to Chicagoland to train with Mark Hodel and Buyῡ there.  I went to Atlanta to train with Bud Malmstrom. I went to the Norway TaiKai and theSt. Louis TaiKai, aswell.

I also was in Japan with many of you for the Daikomyosai andHatsumi Sensei's birthday.  Great training, great party.  You reallyhave to hear Noguchi Shihan sing his annual version of "Ginza Monogatari"(Tokyo Love Story).  Plan to go to Japan this year if at all possible!     

This summer also saw the fifth "Buyῡ Camp" in San Francisco under the Golden GateBridge on the Pacific Ocean.  Again this year, many highly regarded Bujinkan martial artists fromaround the country and the world were in attendance to share theirinsights and gather the views of their fellow Buyῡ.   The Buyῡ Camp has really become a fun and international event.  See you there in 2003! 

Last year Ihad a chance to teach with several friends and Buyῡ who came to New Jersey.  There was Steffen Fröhlich from Germany, Bud Malmstrom from Georgia, and Dick Severence from Florida.  These Shidoshi seminars are really fun and a great chance to meet people from around the nation and world who share our love of Bujinkan training!  Look for visits from Bud again this year.  Also, maybe a surprise guest or two.   

Another seminar that has become an annual event, is the "Life Values Workshop." This is a seminar where we practice our Budo in the context of RobertL. Humphrey's Life Values teachings.  We even do the STRIKE training,which Humphrey devised to help Marines overcome the stress of real combat.  

And we added a seminar that will be ourannual remembrance for the September 11th attack.  My friend Joe Tenaglia (retired NavyCommander, EOD commando, and Anti-Terrorist expert) gave a brief onthe terrorist threat.  We followed up the "classroom" portionwith a session that covered what you could do if you were ever involved in aterrorist incident.  The training included a section on "weapons ofopportunity."  It's amazing the damage you can do with a chapstick!

Check the WIN seminar page periodically for details and join us for these interesting workshops.

Now let's talk about the training for 2003. As most of you know, Hatsumi Sensei has beengiving us a theme to work with these past several years.  Thisyear it is juppo-sessho (possibly from the perspective of Shinden FudoRyu).  There has not been talk of studying the waza of any specific ryuha (at leastthus far).  We'll be working with some classic Japanese weapons, as well,including Kunai, Tessen, Kyoketsushoge, etc.  Great!  We can work on any waza we want.

The kanji forjuppo-sesshois probably 十法 殺生 (although you can never tell what kanji Hatsumi Sensei will use to illustratedifferent iterations of the sound).   Ju means "ten" and"ho" means "direction," so Juppo means "the tendirections."  We all know the word happo (eight directions orways).  The ten directions are east, west, south, north,northeast, southeast, southwest, northwest, and upward and downward.  Theserepresent all directions, the whole of space, or the whole world. (Threedimensions?  Where have we heard that before?)  In Buddhistphilosophy the meaning of space is frequently discussed.  In these discussions,the word juppo is often used to describe space (kukan?).  Veryinteresting, neh?

Setsu (koro su) means killing. Shomeans living thing.  This term is often used in Buddhism in the context ofan admonition to avoid killing (including animals), particularly in athoughtless or cruel way.  I can only speculate on where we will go with thisconcept--but I have already started!

One of the most exciting things that is happeningthis year is that the TaiKai will be in New Jersey!  What a privilege forus to be able to host it in 2003.  Who knows how many more Sensei will beable to do.  Don't miss it!  Info is here

Hatsumi Sensei drew three kanji for me this yearthat I thought were very interesting.  I have put them below for your study.

I am sure you recognize the one on theleft.  It is "Buyῡ - warrior friend."  This has a different feelthan the one we usually use for our Buyῡ Dojo, but it is wonderful, don't youthink?  The one in the middle is "Buyῡ - courageous warrior." I like that one so much you may see it on the TaiKai T-shirt.  The third"Buyῡ?"  It just means "male."  But it looks cool,doesn't it?  

And that brings us to our Buyῡ theme of theyear.  It is...Buyῡ.  We will study the art of war (bu) thisyear, andexplore the courage (yu) it requires to act in times of crisis.  And maybe evenwhat it means to be a real man and wo-man.  And what it means to have andbe a warrior friend (Buyῡ).  This is a good time to have Buyῡ. I believe the world has been at war since September11, 2001.  For many, war is an obscure concept, especially a war like this. It doesn't reallytouch them.  And for the most part, that is a good thing.  Most peopleare too lucky to have the capacity to live consciously with war on a day to daybasis.  It has touched me, though, and I know it has touched many ofyou.  Our warrior art is really about how to deal with and survivewar.   And preserve life ifpossible.  It is not about techniques, or ranks, or politics.  Ororganizations.

I was asked this question in an interview this year: Howshould we behave and train in the Bujinkan? My answer was this:  We should behave likehuman beings, like warriors.  We should follow the example that has been set for us. Listen to our teachers.  Trust them.  That doesn’t mean that we are robots, or members of a cult, or that wemust change our personalities, it only means that we should follow theprinciples as they have been shown to us.  Whatare they?  Look at Sensei, he is following them, too.  He is following them, as we all must. The principles certainly have the flavor of his personality, but they arethe principles passed down from the previous Sokes of the arts that make up theBujinkan.  They are principles thatare immutable, although the manifestations may change.  

Many people worry about thefuture of the Bujinkan.  Don’teven think about it.  The futurewill come in its time.  We shouldface it using the principles we have been taught or discovered on our ownthrough training.  Why think about the future?  Why even ask about it? It is like asking, “What is the future of tides?”  Well, as long as there is a moon, there will be tides. What is there to think about?  Onmore human terms, consider the concept of motherhood.  Is it a technique? Anorganization?  A cult of someone’spersonality?  No.  It is a fundamental of human existence.  And so is warriorship. Theprinciples that are represented by the art we call “Bujinkan” arefundamental to the human experience and have a life of their own.  They are the laws of the warrior.  They will endure as long as there isone true warrior in the world.  Let's explore THAT important line ofthinking.  With courage, as true men and women.  With our friends. Of course there will be plentyof fun in the dojo, too!  Train hard.  Get in shape.  Pay attention tothe environment.

Keep going!

Jack Hoban


New Year's Message

January 1, 2002

Dear Buyῡ:

Thank you all for another great year oftraining.  It has been an amazing one!  

Think back, if you will, on all that hashappened.  Give thanks for what we have—our family, friends and fellowBuyῡ.  Pray for those who have been touched by terrorism.  

We live,truly, in challenging times.  Warrior times.  The events of this pastyear have given our shared vocation more relevance than ever.

The year was full of training.  We studiedGyokkoRyu Kosshitjutsu and DaiSho.  We explored the concepts of"space," "perspective," "kukan," "ura"and "omote," "in" and "yo,"and especially "kyojitsu."  It was very exciting.  We learned that the word kosshi has some very interesting connotations inthe Japanese language.  Kosshi, it seems, can refer to certain bonesof the spine.  And since the spine is the center or "core" of thebody, kosshi can be used  when speaking of the essence of something—theheart of the matter, if you will.  Of course that kosshi, althoughsounding the same, uses a different kanji.  Layers within layers....

And do you recall how vital and happy HatsumiSensei was this year in the training?  He remains such an inspiration. Keep going, Sensei!

As usual, there was a lot of travel for me. I went to California three times.  Florida twice.  Imade another trip to Chicagoland to train with Mark Hodel and Buyῡ there.  I went to Atlanta to train with BudMalmstrom. I even got to visit myroots by going to Dublin to train with my friend Steve Byrne and many Irish Buyῡ. As I do whenever possible, I told the WarriorCreed story and the HuntingStory, getting the usual, very positive, emotional reactions. Thestuff still works—allover the world!

I went to the Madrid TaiKai (gracias toJesus Equia for treating me so graciously) and the Washington DC TaiKai, aswell. 

I also was in Japan for the Daikomyosai andHatsumi Sensei's 70th birthday.  The training was wonderful, as was theparty.  People from all over the world turned out to share this greatoccasion.  

This summer also saw the fourth "Buyῡ Camp" in San Francisco under the Golden GateBridge on the Pacific Ocean.  Once again, many highly regarded Bujinkan martial artists fromaround the country and the world were in attendance to share theirinsights and gather the views of their Buyῡ warrior friends included my friend SteffenFröhlich from Germany.  Newly promoted 10th dan, Sheila Toribio taught her first workshop and it was very well received.  We plan to make women part of the instructor cadre from now on!   The Buyῡ Camp isreally turning into a fun and international event.  See you there in 2002! 

Last year Ihad a chance to teach with several friends and Buyῡ who came to New Jersey.  There was André Trudel from Montreal, Bud Malmstrom from Georgia, and Ed Martin from Pennsylvania.  These Shidoshi seminars are really fun and a great chance to meet people from around the nation and world who share our love of Bujinkan training!  Look for visits from Bud again this year.  Also, Dick Severence in December.   Steve Byrne is coming over from Ireland in February, and SteffenFröhlich will be visiting from Germany in June.  

Another seminar that has become an annual event, is the "Life Values Workshop."  This is a seminar where we practice our Budo in the context of RobertL. Humphrey's Life Values teachings.  We even do the STRIKE training,which Humphrey devised to help Marines overcome the stress of real combat.  Last year Bob's sons, Jess and Rob, both former active duty Marine Officers,shared the teaching.  Don't miss it! 

Check the WIN seminar page periodically for details and join us for these interesting workshops.

Now let's talk about the training for 2002. As most of you know, Hatsumi Sensei has beengiving us a theme to work with these past several years.  This year itlooks like we will be studying budo from the perspective of Takagi Yoshin RyuJutaijutsu.  We are even being told that we should prepare a pair of hakamaand a set of soft training Daisho!  Sensei is full of surprises, isn'the?  I am always so curious to see what he will do next.  In that way,Sensei helps me to "keep going."

At the Madrid TaiKai I spoke with Hatsumi Senseiabout the events of September 11, 2001.  In light of what had justhappened, the Marines had asked me to step up my participation in their newMartial Arts program.  I was soon headed back to Quantico, Virginia to helpas best as I could.  During the course of our conversation, Sensei said:"We have now passed the era of 'in.'  It is now the era of 'yo.' Goodness will prevail, but to win, we will have to be more terrible than theterrorists.  Gambatte!"

Our talk made me think of what a luxury we havehad these last years—studying,"playing" with this martial art in the relative safety of our dojos. Had we been lulled into a sense of complacency?  Seeing our budo as a"hobby?"  Were any of us ready to use our Martial Art for real?

Sensei made me think that there comes a time whenthe true Martial Artist must leave the comfort of the dojo and use his skills inthe outside world.  But how?

That is for us to discover this year.  Ioften say that a Martial Artist's job is not necessarily to lurk around a gasstation waiting for it to be robbed so that he can save the day.  We arenot vigilantes.  We are warriors.

Yet most of us (thank God) will never be in areal war.  So what do we do?

Perhaps you, the reader, are awarrior in your heart.  Perhaps,like me, you struggle with your understanding of what being a warrior trulymeans—and the commitment it takes to be one.

Whatis a warrior?  To me a warrioris a protector of life—his own and others’.  Fora Warrior, there is no difference between the physical and the moral.  They are the same. Themoral is that which sustains life.  Warriorshipis a life of moral action.

Ibelieve that the primary responsibility of a warrior is to understand thisunique perspective: the perspective of the physical-moral.

I often hear or read things like: "people are not as moral as they used to be."  Or that there is a "crisis of morality in our society."  I disagree.  I think people are as moral as they ever were.  After all, how can you change human nature in a generation or two?  No.  There is no crisis in morality.  Rather, I believe that there may be a crisis in physicality.  People still know the difference between that which is good, that which sustains life, and that which does not.  They just don't speak up the way they used to when they see something that they know is wrong.  They are afraid.

There is an old saying that goes something like this: The only thing it takes for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.  It is time to stop doing nothing.

But what form does this "doingsomething" take?  Again, it isn't  running around in the middleof the night dressed in black looking for bad guys.   In reality, itis a very  simple thing.  When we see or hear something that we knowis wrong, speak up.  Say something, do something.  Ninety-nine percentof the time this does not mean getting in a fight, or even putting yourself atrisk of physical harm.  But the truth is, that it is still sometimes damnhard to be moral if you don't have the skills to back it up—justin case.  The moral requires the physical.  I think that theyare inseparable for most people.  After all, are you really moral if youdon't speak up when you see something wrong?

For we martial artists it means taking the morality that wepractice in the dojo and using it in the real world.  The physical skillsare merely a back up—seldomif ever to be used.  The skills are only for courage—asin moral courage.  Are we up to it?  As Robert L. Humphrey used tosay: "It is a better life."

When I returned home from Japan this year, Ireceived a package in the mail from Hatsumi Sensei.  One of the items inthe packet really surprised me.  Like so many times in our relationshipover the years I had to ask myself: "Can this man read minds!?"  Here is a copy of the painting Hatsumi Sensei sent me.

The kanji says: "Man Ben Fu Kyo"(Countless changes, no surprise).

To me this is an admonition to observe and knowthe real world—the world "outside."  Know that there is good and evil. Do not become complacent about thisdynamic.  It is as natural as night and day, cold and hot, "in"and "yo."  It is such relevant advice for the warrior wholives in the real world.

Of course, there will still be plenty of trainingin the dojo.  In keeping with the spirit of "yo" in 2002 Iwould also like to continue exploring the concepts of "space" and"perspective."  My work with the Marines has re-awoken my feelfor battlefield strategy.  Unlike the sterile environment of the dojo, thereal battlefield is a place where things like weather and terrain play acritical factor.  He who best understands these factors has anadvantage.  Have you ever thought about the space as terrain?  Withsafe spots and danger zones?  Defilades and natural cover, camouflage andplaces of concealment?  And understanding this, can it lead to a broaderawareness of strategy?  Can the lessons learned in defeating one enemy beused to defeat ten thousand?  Takamatsu Sensei said something to thateffect.  So did Sun Tzu.  What does this mean for us?  Let's tryand find out.

So, the "Year ofYo" it is. Let us try to live our lives with moral courage.  Live our lives so thateach small warrior moment has the potential of changing the world somehow. And let us live with Takamatsu Sensei's admonition in our heart:  "Fora Ninja, there are no surprises."  Buyῡ, let's have another great year!

Keep going!

Jack Hoban


New Year's Message

January 1, 2001

Dear Buyῡ:

I want to thank you all, once again, for a greatyear of training!   As time goes by I realize, more and more, howimportant our relationship is.  You truly help me “keep going.”  This concept of an informal, yet very real, Buyῡ community really has become apowerful force throughout the world.  I think back to when I wasyounger.  I had the romantic (and adolescent) view that my life would bebest as that of the “lone warrior.”  I sure am glad I grew out of that! This is a much better life.

It has been another wonderful year oftravel.  I went to California three times.  Florida twice.  Imade another trip to Chicagoland to train with Mark Hodel and Buyῡ there.  I went to Atlanta, Quebec, and Germany. Here's an interesting one: I wasinvited to be a guest instructor at the American Judo & Jujitsu FederationConvention held, this year, in Boise, Idaho.  What a great group offolks!  And very competent, too.  This presented somewhat of achallenge.  What was I going to present to these dedicated martial artiststhat would be valuable to them?  A couple of wrist-twist techniques justwasn't going to do it.  So, rather than going over the usual one-on-one fight scenariostuff, I decided to try something different.  We broke up into groups ofthrees and practiced protecting the person next to us.  It was great funand I got a lot of positive feedback.  My mentor, the late Dr. Robert L.Humphrey used to say that selfpreservation was a human being's strongest inclination, except, for theinclination to protect loved ones.  This is such a universal sentiment, butit is often overlooked in our day to day training.  Even though they worewhite and I wore black, I thinkthat the Buyῡ feeling and the "protecting others" training helped to bringus all together. When I told the WarriorCreed story and the HuntingStory, I got the usual, very positive, emotional reactions. Thestuff still works!

I went to Taikais in Holland and Atlanta.  Atlanta was great; as always, Bud and Bonnie Malmstrom did a wonderful job. I also had quite a time in Holland.  When I arrivedat the convention center near Amsterdam where everyone was staying and where the training wasto be held I was surprised to discover that there was no room for me!  Iwas to stay at another hotel about 5 kilometers away.  I wondered howI could get back and forth several times a day from my hotel to the traininghall.  "Oh well," I thought, "just make the best ofit."  I took a taxi to the other hotel and decided to have anap.  I woke up several hours later, hungry, and decided to go down to therestaurant for something to eat.  As I entered the dining room I heard afamiliar voice calling: "Jack, Jack, come here!"  It was HatsumiSensei.  It turned out that he, too, was staying at this other hotel. Needless to say I was able to get back and forth quite easily by tagging alongwith Sensei.  I also had many priceless hours of eating (and drinking) andwonderful conversation.  I must have gotten a little carried away withmyself, too.  For those of us who trained together last year,you are aware of our theme for 2000--relationships--and my obsession with theconcept of kukan, or "space."  I was anxious to tellSensei all I had learned over the year about "space."   I launched intosomething ridiculous like this:  "Before I understood the importanceof kukan, I was like a blind man entering a forest with an ax.  Every timeI came to an obstruction, I would have to chop it down before I couldproceed.  But, now it's like I can see a secret pathway through thewoods.  All I have to do is follow the invisible path to my goal ofvictory."  You can imagine what Sensei must have thought of thatpreposterous proclamation.  He blinked, sighed, and said:  "Yes,but what you must be able to do is move effortlessly to the middle of the woods,unerringly find the largest tree, and climb to the top.  Only then will yoube able to look down and see the kukan.  He finished by saying,softly and kindly: "Jack, there is always more, always more."

I'll leave you to puzzle over that one, as I have.  But it was a great lesson and a great year with Sensei.  I thank my friends Sveneric Bogsäter and  Mariette van der Vliet for their hospitality and the opportunity to share their beautiful TaiKai.   

I also was in Japan for the Daikomyosai (no talk of forests and trees, thank heavens, just good training) where I had the opportunity to sing "Happy Birthday" to Hatsumi Sensei with Buyῡ from all over the world.   Check out a picture of the birthday party by clicking here.

This summer also saw the third "Buyῡ Camp" in San Francisco under the Golden GateBridge on the Pacific Ocean.  Once again, many highly regarded Bujinkan martial artists fromaround the country and the world were in attendance to share theirinsights and gather the views of their Buyῡ warrior friends.  Highlights were workshops taught by SteffenFröhlich from Germany and Paco Bellmonte from Spain.  The Buyῡ Camp isreally turning into an important international event.  See you there in 2001! 

Last year Ihad a chance to teach with these friends and Buyῡ who came to New Jersey: Sveneric Bogsäter from Holland, Pedro Fleitas from the Canary Islands, as well as Jeff Prather, Dale Seago and Bud Malmstrom from the USA.  These Shidoshi seminars are really fun and a great chance to meet people from around the nation and world who share our love of Bujinkan training!  Look for visits from Bud again this year.  Also, Ed Martin in December.  My friend André Trudel is scheduled for June.  He is quite a character.  Remember the situation under Carter's presidency when the American Embassy in Tehran was overrun and the embassy employees were held hostage?  Well, not all of them were trapped.  You may also recall the story of the Canadian Special Forces Officer that spirited some Americans out of the area during the confusion and hid them in the Canadian Embassy.  That was André!  He went on to become head of the Canadian Secret Service detail that guarded Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.  He is also a fine martial artist who is especially known for his pressure point techniques.  Check the WIN seminar page periodically for details and join us for this interesting workshop with a truly cool guy.

Another seminar we had last year, and one that wewant to make an annual event, is the "Life Values Workshop."  This is a seminar where we practice our Budo in the context of RobertL. Humphrey's Life Values teachings.  We even do the STRIKE training,which Humphrey devised to help Marines overcome the stress of real combat. Last year Bob's son Jess, himself a former active duty Marine Infantry Officer,and his widow, Mrs. Peggy Humphrey, joined us for the weekend.  This yearwe are trying to get even more Humphreys to come.  Don't miss thisone. 

Now let's talk about the training for 2001. As most of you know, Hatsumi Sensei has beengiving us a theme to work with these past several years.  In 2000 we worked on the  Koppojutsu ofGyokushin Ryu Ninjutsu, Gikkan ryu, and Koto Ryu.  This concept of Koppowas an interesting one.  I think we all started out the year thinking kopporeferred to the bone-attacking methods of the Koto Ryu.  Ha!  Senseitaught us a deeper meaning.  The higher level of koppo, he said,refers to a "complete facility" with the martial arts.  It is theability to immediately adapt to any situation (and use any weapon) withoutthinking and with complete ease.  It is like getting "the knack"of martial arts in a fundamental sense--far beyond the mere performance oftechniques.  It is becoming, personifying, the martial arts.

I am not sure that we are quite ready to movebeyond that concept yet, but Sensei loves to keep moving usforward.  This year it looks like Gyokko Ryu Kosshitjutsu and DaiSho are onthe agenda.  I am excited, as I know you must be, to take that next stepdown the warrior path.

And, as always, I also like to pick a Buyῡ theme for the year.  Last year was the Year of Relationships.  This led us to a greater (but not final--I heard you, Sensei) understanding of kukan.  So what is the next step?  I have been thinking about this a lot.  Are you ready?  OK, take a deep breathe and let's go!

I'd like to re-explore the concept ofkyojitsu,or the juxtaposition of truth and falsehood, in light of what we learned last year.

It will take some consideration to move from where we are to where I think we can go.  The first step requires a discussion of the concepts of in and yo.  In and yo are like metaphysical polarities.  Yo is usually thought of as the open, in, the closed.  Yo the light, in the dark.  Yo the positive, in the negative.  Yo, the full, in the empty.  Etc.  Well, how about, yo as the opponent and in as the kukan? 

I think most martial artists would consider the opponent, the physical opponent, to be the yo manifestation, wouldn't you?  The place where the opponent is not, therefore, might be called the in.  It is our first inclination to deal with the physical opponent.  But what if we juxtaposed that?  What if we considered the space the yo and the opponent the in?  

This is not really such a bizarre concept in Japanese culture.  For example, if you consider the art of Sho-Dô (calligraphy), the yo element, the actual drawn character itself, is not light, but dark--the black ink.  The white rice paper on which the character is drawn is seen as subordinate.  But a true appreciation of Sho-Dô requires that one sees the painting as a whole.  Therefore, the white space--where the ink is not--is just as important a place as where the ink is.  This is really a type of kyojitsu, isn't it?

There is a discussion about in and yo that applies directly to warfare.  In warfare, one might ask, which is the predominant element?  In or Yo?  Is it control of  the in (space or, more precisely, the key terrain)?  Or is it control (or killing) of the enemy that is the yo?  One could argue that you need control of both.  But what is the best approach?  Is it the "body count," or is it "control of the most territory with the least amount of killing?"  Don't be too quick to answer.  Generals have argued about this for centuries.  

Closer to the subject of our own training, it is clear (to me at least) that you must control both.  Yet, our amateurish  application of martial arts "techniques" seems to be designed to deal mostly with the yo, or the physical element, which is the physical opponent.  What if we made it our goal, however, to control the space as opposed to the person?  Well, we began to deal with that last year.  But let's go a step further.  Let's consider the space to be the yo and the opponent to be the in.  Let's use the concept of kyojitsu to juxtapose our very perception of a "fight" to be one of treating space as solid and solid as space.  What would this "switcheroo" do to our opponent who, obviously, would expect us to deal with him?  (Or her--sorry about that!).

One last thing about this "Year ofKyojitsu."  Kyojitsu is not just some kind of trick.  It is as natural as nightis to day, as cold is to hot.  It is necessary.  We just have not beenseeing it for what it can be.  Rather than being a negative concept, it isjust an indispensable part of the whole.  And I believe it is a part that wemust understand and accept before we can progress as martial artists--and humanbeings!

In a letter Hatsumi Sensei wrote to me in 1995 hesaid:

Although many people consider kyojitsu as tricks, there are many examples of kyojitsu in our life.  Starting from the body: there are two kinds of blood carriers, artery and vein.  Breathe has two kinds, inhale and exhale, and when you inhale you consume oxygen, and when you exhale you expel carbon dioxide.

The nervous system also has two types: the autonomic nerves and the sympathetic and subsympathetic nerves.  These nerves contol the balance of the body condition.

Bright and dark, day and night are also kyojitsu.

Kyojitsu makes the life form alive without us knowing it.  Since kyojitsu is the power of natural life, it is not necessary to study it deeply.  Essentially, we should understand kyojitsu in this way. 

After years of thinking about it, I amjust beginning to understand.

There are lessons here for our lives outside ofthe dojo, as well.  We are confronted with challenges there too, ofcourse.  It is so difficult not to be bothered by those everyday things (orpeople) that would upset us, or even attack us.  We want to deal with problemsin such a way that we crush them.  Or avoid the problems altogether inhopes that they will just go away.  Rarely do either of these methodswork satisfactorily.  This year, let's challenge ourselves to accept thefact that there is really so much more space in which to move than we allow ourselves to see. There are places from which wecan gain a betterperspective on life's trials and tribulations: places at the top of theforest where we can look down and see the natural path toward happiness andserenity.

So, the "Year of Kyojitsu" it is. Let's live it resolutely, with joy, and as complete human beings.  Buyῡ, let's have another great year!

Keep going!

Jack Hoban


New Year's Message

January 1, 2000

Dear Buyῡ:

Happy New Year everyone.  I sit here tonight sighing in relief that theY2K bug didn't really bite the planet Earth too badly.  As for me and myhouse in particular...we have lots of food on hand.  Anyone hungry?  Anybody need a water purifier? Anybody...disappointed?

But its been a great year.  I think I broke my travel record. Let's see.  I went to California three times.  Florida twice.  Imade my first (probably not last) trip to Chicagoland to help kick off MarkHodel's new training group in that area.  I was in St. Louis.  I wentto Washington DC.  And Germany...twice.  Holland and Spain.  I was alsoteaching a seminar in Slovenia the day the bombs started to drop onYugoslavia.   There were participants from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia,Serbia and Austria. There were, therefore, strong undercurrents of feelings, asyou can imagine. Perfectly understandable due to the circumstances, but I thinkthat the Buyῡ feeling helped to bring people together. When I told the WarriorCreed story and the HuntingStory, I got very positive, emotional reactions. Thestuff works, folks!

I went to Taikais in Germany and Tucson and the Daikomyosai in Japan withabout 30 Buyῡ; 23 of us actually traveled together up to Togakushi (Togakure Mountain--homeof Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu) on a bus.  Whew!  I'm very close to being persona non grata at myday job.

I even had the opportunity to teach at the Hombu Dojo in Noda. Youbetter believe that that was a highlight of my martial arts"career."

This summer also saw the second "Bujinkan Camp" in San Francisco under the Golden GateBridge on the Pacific Ocean.  Once again, many highly regarded Bujinkan martial artists fromaround the country and the world were in attendance to share theirinsights and gather the insights of their Buyῡ warrior friends.  It isreally turning into an important event.  What is the purpose of the BujinkanCamp?  The reality is that whenHatsumi Sensei comes to America to do a TaiKai, 600 or 700 people willparticipate.  But without Senseihere, it is very hard to bring people together.  It’s the same in Europe and everywhere. So what about the future?  Shouldwe resign ourselves to the possibility that all the Bujinkan members will splitup and go their own way someday?  

The TaiKai is always a fun time and a time to learn and share many things. We are looking for ways to continue the true feeling of theBujinkan that we get when we are all together.  It is a matter of forgetting the ego a little bit and daring to cooperatetogether with some natural leaders showing the way, but without a “Boss.” We have nick-named the Bujinkan Camp "The Hoop" after itssimilarity to the great tribal hoops of the American Indian tradition.  In the summer many small Indian tribes would come together to hunt andtell stories and share experiences.  Theywould set up in a big circle called “the hoop.”  There was no requirement to come, but most all the tribes would comebecause it was fun and you could learn many things.  The important thing was that no one was really "Boss,” and at theend of the gathering, all the small tribes would go back to their separateterritories for the winter.  Eachsummer, most would return again to join the “hoop.”  Hopefully next year there will be more people who will“join thehoop;” and more good people will help teach, too.  We will see. It’snot the only way, but it may be one way that could work.

This year Ihad a chance to teach with these other friends and Buyῡ, as well: Mariette vander Vliet from Holland, SteffenFröhlich from Germany, Pedro Flietas from Spain, Peter King fromEngland, and BudMalmstrom from Georgia, USA.  Next year Pedro and I will teach together in NewJersey, as well as JeffPrather and Bud Malmstrom.  Mariette and SvenericBogsater will visit us, too, for some training.  Everyone is invited.  These Shidoshi seminars are really great!

And finally, I am really grateful to Hatsumi Sensei for all that he has givenme over the years, because, as bad as a student as I am, I think the training is finallystarting to pay off for me.  I had some insights this year that have trulyallowed the budo to become even more inspiring and useful (and fun).  And Iam very happy that Hatsumi Sensei has cared enough to bear with me for solong.  I have been thinking a lotabout how he has been teaching us and realize that I haven’t been listeningvery well.  Now I know what hemeans about a dojo being a place for penance.  Itisnot only to ask forgiveness for the bad things we have done in general, but toask for forgiveness, specifically, of our teacher to whom we never listen towell enough.

The bottom line is thatthis year Ihave had to change my entire view about taijutsu from one of “technique” toone of “distance and interval.”  Butof course this secret was before my eyes all the time.  Hatsumi Sensei even named the Quest video series “The Art ofDistance.”  But I didn’t listen. But I am starting to.  Truly, technique, the thing many of us worry the most about in martial arts,is really not supremely important.  At least in this sense:  you canhave perfect technique, but if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, you still mightfail.  Yet, even with less than perfect technique, a person with gooddistance can succeed.  

And doesn't thisprinciple seem to apply in other aspects of life, as well?  Aren't therepeople who you should be closer to than you are?  And, isn't it possible tobe too close to someone?  Actually there is such a thing,depending on the person and situation, as the "right" distance--nottoo close, not to far.  But it's hard to measure, it's not a"technique;" it's a "feeling."  

I think it can bea "three-dimensional" thing as well.  It isn't right to act toofar "above" somebody, or be treated too far "below" someoneelse.  We talk aboutthe fellow who is "too good to be true."  He says and does theright thing, dresses right, has the right job, car and everything.  Yet hedoesn't seem "authentic" somehow.  We all have encountered thatkind of person, haven't we?  And then there is the guy who might not do everythingquite right, but people like and respect him.  Why?  Because his"heart is in the right place."  Could that be the secret ofmartial arts?  Having your heart in the right place.  Think about it.

And proper distancing is also a process--avery DYNAMIC process (always changing).  Actually, I have started to use the word"relationship." (Even though people who have known me a long time arestarting to giggle and point at me). But relationships, marriages, for example,are VERY dynamic. They are always changing and adjusting.  Rarely is itsmooth going for very long without the need for realignment--or maybe evencatastrophic change!  Can anybody think of a better word than"relationship" to describe this?  People are thinking that I'm turninginto a marriage counselor.

Last year was the year of "commitment." This year, let's makea commitment to work on our "relationships" so that the"distances" between us are "just right."  Let's callthis year, the Year of Relationships.  Let's concentrate,particularly, on the relationships between us, those ones that we are put onEarth to defend, and those who would do harm.  But, let's also reconsiderall of our relationships.  Boy, we're going to get some weird looks.  Oh, well. People will just have to get over it.

One last thing about the training.  Last year we worked on KukishindenRyu.  This year it looks like we will be studying the  Koppojutsu ofGyokushin Ryu Ninjutsu, Gikkan ryu, and Koto Ryu.  But let's not forget therelationship between these ryu and the Bujinkan.  They are merely ingredientsof the martial art that is now Bujinkan.  It is important torealize that in this era, the whole is quite more than the sum of theparts.  We are all enrolled in a "doctorate program" in martialarts under a true Master.  Now is the time for us to start thinking liketrue professionals.  We must live the art, evolve with it. This is our destiny; and it is our good fortune to be born at this time and havethe privilege to train under this teacher--Hatsumi.

By the way, many of you know that my mentor, Dr. Humphrey received aposthumous 10th dan in the Bujinkan.  His name and grade are written on alittle plaque of wood that hangs on the rank board in the Hombu Dojo in Noda. Humphrey's Life ValuesTheory and "Warrior Creed" are also officially authorized for inclusion inBujinkan instruction.  When I was at the Hombu Dojo in December, I noticedthat somehow my little plaque of wood got moved so that it hangs directlybeneath Dr. Humphrey's.  I am very comfortable with thatrelationship.  If you are not familiar with Dr. Humphrey, you might want tocheck out the Life ValuesInstitute Home Page and the Warrior Creed.

Well, Buyῡ, let's have another great year, or should I say, century!

Keep going!

Jack Hoban


New Year's Message

January 1, 1999

Dear Buyῡ:

Happy New Year everyone.  I hope 1998 was a wonderful year full of friendship andplenty of training for all of you.  I must say,  it was for me!

In addition to the TaiKai in Tennessee, I was able to attend the TaiKai in Italy, aswell as, the Daikomyosai in Japan.  Hatsumi Sensei was in great spirits for hisbirthday training/celebration and the final party at the Hombu dojo after the training wastruly unforgettable.

I also had the opportunity to teach in Germany for the first time. It wasabsolutely fantastic; I learned so much and want to thank all of the people who attended.  I may have indulged in a bit too much "apple wine" one night, however.  The result was a warrior poem I was "inspired" to write.  You cancheck it out here if you dare!

This summer saw the first "Buyῡ Camp" in San Francisco under the Golden GateBridge on the Pacific Ocean.  Many highly regarded Bujinkan martial artists fromaround the country (around the world, actually!)  were in attendance to share theirinsights and gather the insights of their Buyῡ warrior friends.  We also shot threevideos for Black BeltMagazine that weekend.  Great fun and, again, we all learned so much. We planto do it again this year!

Finally, we have started a tradition that I hope continues. We in the Buyῡinvited many of the world's top practitioners to come and train with us.  This year Ihad a chance to teach with these friends and Buyῡ: Sveneric Bogsäter from Sweden, SteffenFröhlich from Germany, Arnaud Cousergue from France, Moti Nativ from Israel, and BudMalmstrom from the exotic state of Georgia.  Next year Peter King fromEngland and I will teach together in New Jersey.  Everyone is invited to join us.  These Shidoshi seminars are really great!

I am confident that 1999 will be a great year, because I amcommittedto making it one.  In fact,  I am so committed that Iwould like to christen this year, 1999, the "Year of Commitment."

I am inspired to do that for a number of reasons. Most of the reasons, it turnsout, are simple but very deep.  It started out with my realization that making acommitment, rather than being difficult (which seems to be the prevailing attitude towardcommitments), can actually make life easier.  When you are committed, many of thedoubts that you have are put into perspective.  Commitments mean priorities, so lifebecomes more manageable.  Let's take, for example, a commitment to another person.  When problems arise in the relationship (as they almost always do) andyou are committed, its not a matter of  "if" you will staytogether, but "how" you will work it out.  There's no confusion, there's noprocrastination, there's no questions, no ifs, ands, or buts.  It has to be done--sowork it out!  I suppose not every relationship is destined to last.  But, inmost cases, its better to work out problems than to live with the pain of losing arelationship with a friend, lover, or spouse or  relative. 

Of course the same can be said about commitment in the training. "How do Iget to training on Monday night?" is almost always a more manageable question than"Should  I go to training on Monday night?"  Think about it...

One of the big commitments in the Bujinkan is the commitment to go to the Daikomyosaiin Japan.  I know so many people who tell me that they want to go.   Unfortunately, something always seems to come up and they never quite make it.  Ihave made the trip to Japan every year since I started training except maybe one.  That is at least 17 times.  Maybe more.  The reason I go is simple. Thetraining is always great, Hatsumi Sensei is usually very relaxed and available. Andlet's face it,  Sensei will not be able to teach forever, so ever year we have him isvery precious.

I must confess, however, that there were many years that were very difficult. ButI was committed; so I went.   I started every year with a promise to myself that Iwas going to Japan--no matter what!  With that commitment made, it was no longer"if" I was going to Japan, but, "how" was I going to get there. And here's a little secret:   I believe that it was that commitment that sort ofrearranged my fate so that I was able to go each year.  What if I had approached itthis way:  "Well, I want to go; but let's see what happens as we get closer tothe fall.  Let me make sure I have the money (or the vacation time, or nothing betterto do, etc, etc.) and make sure nothing else comes up."   I guarantee youthat I would never have gone.   That's because I never reallyhad enough money or time off, and something else was alwayscoming up.  That's life--with or without commitments.

I remember, also, when I really committed myself to following Hatsumi Sensei'sguidance.  I decided that I wasn't going to try and read into everything he said, orattempt to reconcile contradictions that I thought I had detected in his statements overthe years.  I would just listen and take things at face value.  That's whenthings became much clearer and easier for me.  I could ignore the politics, thedoubts about what I should or should not be doing, who I should or should not be listeningto or training with.  All I had to do was listen to what my teacher said and do mybest.  Now, that kind of thing sounds dangerous: putting your faith in anotherperson.  But, rather than feeling like a cult member or a robot, I felt freer.  It wasn't confining to make the commitment; it was liberating.  Of course I have agreat teacher--that's a definite requirement.

Last year was the year of the Buyῡ.  I also wrote a bit about sustainability andthe Japanese concept of "Gambatte," or persistence.  We all need theability to "keep going."  Perhaps the foundation of that concept iscommitment.  When you make a commitment and have your priorities in place, all theother confusing and distracting things in life become, as my late friend and mentor,Robert L. Humphrey used to say, "just details."

As you may know, Hatsumi Sensei has awarded Professor Humphrey a posthumous honorary10th degree black belt with gold medal for his positive impact on the Bujinkan.  Dr.  Humphrey's name now hangs at the Hombu Dojo in Noda.  Humphrey's Life ValuesTheory and "Warrior Creed" are also officially authorized for inclusion inBujinkan instruction.  Check out the Life ValuesInstitute Home Page and the Warrior Creed if you havenot done so already.

Well, Buyῡ, I'm committed to another great year of training, friendship and discovery.  I hope you are too.  See you in Japan at the Daikomyosai, if not before.

Keep going!

Jack Hoban


The Warriors


They have stood for all ages
Side by side
The same as all others
Neither better nor worse
But possessed of a burning love
For truth and life above all else.

They have stood side by side
In darkness
In fear
In ignorance
In war
Knowing no certainty
But the shoulder of the man next to them
And it was enough.

They have stood side by side
Facing death
For their children
Who would live
In peace and happiness and light
For all ages.


- Jack E. Hoban
  January 25, 1998
  Dietzenbach, Germany


New Year's Message

January 1, 1998

Dear Buyῡ:

I know I say this kind of thing every year, but this year has beenunbelievable!  A Buyῡ sponsored TaiKai in New Jersey was only one of the highlights(at least for many of us!).  The opening of Hatsumi Sensei's Hombu Dojo in Noda wasalso a significant event.

In addition to our New Jersey TaiKai, I was able to attend TaiKais in Paris andBarcelona, as well as the DaiKoMyoSai in Japan.  We in the Buyῡ have strengthened andextended our network of "warrior friends" in our own country and all over theworld.  In acknowledgement of our growing ties with the others that walk this warriorpath, I have decided to call 1998 the year of Buyῡ.

The Buyῡ Dojo was conceived almost 15 years ago by Mark Hodel and myself as a way to put a name, however inadequate, to our feelings about what a martial arts community should be.  For those of you who have been involved, you know it is not an organization, really.  True, we perform certain administrative tasks, such as processing ranks and organizing seminars, etc.  But the Buyῡ's longevity has revolved around the principle that "training is the thing."  Show up for training and you're in.  Train with a nice spirit and you're in.  Ignore the politics and seek friendship, skills and truth and you're in.  This kind of attitude has been hard for most of us at times--hard on the ego,  hard on our feelings, a challenge to our personal initiative.  But for those of us who still show up for training, I think that we can look back and see that this has been a good way of approaching the path--not the only way, not necessarily the best way, but a way that has endured.  So we will keep going.

This year we will study Shinden Fudo Ryu Happo BikenJutsu, but concentrate on the sword.  So get your training weapons together,watch some Hatsumi Sensei videos and get to it!  Additionally this year, I will bemaking an extra attempt to team teach with some of my long-time Buyῡ.  Look forseminars with Sveneric Bogsäter of Sweden, Bud Malmstrom, and who knows who else.  Please make an attempt to train with other Bujinkan members on a local level if youcan.  I know that this can be difficult.  I know how easy it is to look at otherpeople, even other people who are doing Bujinkan Taijutsu, and say to yourself:"What's with that guy?  That's not the real way to dothis."  Well, when you feel that kind of (natural) reaction, remember something.  There are many right ways to do this.  Success andlongevity are the signs that the way works, even if it is not your way.  Andremember, these people are not going anywhere, so you better get used to them!  They may have a different spin on it than we do in the Buyῡ (and remember, all ofus in the Buyῡ don't have the same spin), but if they've kept going for 10 years or so,their way works--for them, as ours has done for us.  So respect them and treat themas Buyῡ.  And you'll feel better, I think.

This Bujinkan is really sort of unique because of Hatsumi Sensei'sinclusiveness.  Anybody who shows up, trains with a nice heart, and "keepsgoing," is in.  We are certainly not little cult member clones of each otherlike one sees in many other types of organizations.  I sometimes refer to us jokinglyas a "bouillabaisse of humanity."  As in any good stew, there is a delicateblending of many flavors and spices.  Now you and I may both know (or be!) the"cayenne pepper" of the Bujinkan.  Cayenne pepper straight out of thebottle in large quantities might not taste too good, but when you blend it in correctlywith the other ingredients in the stew, it adds something, doesn't it?  Mostimportantly,  think of how the stew (or chili!) would taste without it! Prettybland, huh?  Everybody in the Bujinkan makes up the stew; we need everyone.  Please try to see all these different people as important in the context of thewhole.  Its a better way, I think.

Last year was the year of the Immovable Spirit Part II. I was very optimistic,but cautiously so.  As we have come to see, life seems to swing like a pendulum: upand down.  When things are going well, tough times seem to always be around thecorner.  When things look the worst, good news is right down the street. Thisis natural, so it makes sense to "cultivate an immovable spirit." And ofcourse, this was proved out once again.  A great friend and mentor, Robert L.Humphrey, passed away in 1997.  The timing of it was particularly significant for me.  I knew that he was sick and had spent some time with him at his bedside inTennessee.  Things didn't look too good, but with a guy like Bob Humphrey, you bestnever give up, because he sure isn't going to.  Finally, however, I had to get backto New Jersey for the TaiKai.  It was at the disembarkation area at Kennedy airport,as I was literally watching Hatsumi Sensei come through the gate, that the cell phone inmy pocket rang.  It was Humphrey's daughter telling me that he had died. Youcan imagine the rush of conflicting emotions in my mind at that moment.  The"immovable spirit" was an elusive ideal, let me say that.

Hatsumi Sensei and I talked about the timing of Humphrey's death and that phone callquite often during the TaiKai.  Sensei had met Humphrey and was very familiar withhis work, both as a Marine Officer and as a conflict resolution specialist. HatsumiSensei said that he felt as if a "torch had been passed" to him from Humphrey atthat moment.  As a result, Hatsumi Sensei has awarded Professor Humphrey a posthumoushonorary 10th degree black belt with gold medal for his positive impact on the Bujinkan.  Humphrey's Life Values Theory and "Warrior Creed" are also officiallyauthorized for inclusion in Bujinkan instruction.  So the pendulum swings back up alittle bit....Check out the Life Values Institute HomePage and the Warrior Creed if you have not done soalready.

Folks, I have no idea how we are going to surpass last year in terms of excitement, upsand downs, and significant events.  We'll probably do it, though.  And with ourBuyῡ, together, we can "keep going."  That, after all, is the mostimportant thing.

Good luck, gambatte kudasai.

Jack Hoban


New Year's Message 1997

January 1, 1997

Dear Buyῡ:

Happy New Year everyone! I must say, this year has been a doozy. I don't know if I havetruly developed an "immovable spirit," but it sure was called for: so many upsand downs this past year. Many of my friends have said the same thing.

The world seems to be moving so quickly, how to keep up?

I often think of Hatsumi Sensei's simple admonition: "Gambatte!" Thismeans, roughly: "Do your best!" Or perhaps, "Keep Going!"

It is a simple statement, but very powerful. The world, more than ever, is moving forward.We must move forward with it.

Yet, the world offers many distractions. Overwhelming distractions. Perhaps you have foundit difficult to concentrate on your training. Perhaps you have wondered: "Howimportant is budo in the modern world?" The answer is, in my opinion, moreimportant than ever! Now, more than ever, we must "Keep Going!"

In this time of relative peace it is easy to relax into a lifestyle where our trainingseems like a hobby, a quaint adjunct to our "real" world. But, what we mustreaffirm is that for us, the warriors, the training is ourlifestyle. The reason is that warriorship is a manifestation, in action, of our deepesthuman value: what Professor Humphrey calls the "Life Value."

What do I mean by "manifestation, in action?" I mean doing, being, training.Living as a warrior. Don't merely talk about it or think about it or write about it on theinternet (oops, better wrap this up!).

What does this mean? It means we must train more. We must train more consistently and withthe awareness that warriorship is not a hobby, it is a lifestyle. If we do that, twothings will happen: (1) We will have defined our life perspective, and all of thedistractions will be easier to manage, and (2), we can earn the personal serenity thatcomes with living a life of purpose as a defender of life.

So I have decided to christen 1997 as: The Year of the Immovable Spirit Part II.Last year, I think, the tone was that we must have an immovable spirit when facing the badtimes. But there is a flip side to that. We need an immovable spirit when facing the goodtimes, the "easy" times, the distracting times. Perhaps even more so.

This year we will practice taijutsu, especially footwork, as well as, naginata, ken, and jo. These are all important skills for the warrior. But, even more, we will strive to maintain our warrior's perspective in our daily lives: focused on our calling as protectors of life. It is a lofty calling. One that seems to be "out of style" in these distracting times. That only means we have to focus harder, train more, continue to cultivate an "immovable spirit" that, in bad times and good times helps us to "Keep Going!" Our goal: attainment of the highest levels of human nobility and serenity. They are, I believe, the rewards bestowed by nature on the warrior.

BuFu Ikkan,

Jack

P.S. I just spell-checked this document and it didn't recognize the word internet!That is how fast the world is moving!


New Years Message 1996

January 1, 1996

Dear Buyῡ:

Happy New Year! Get ready for some great training!

Recently returned from Japan, I am struck with the sense that the next three years maybe the most important yet for the Bujinkan around the World. Hatsumi Sensei feels thatthere is finally a sufficient level of basic understanding of his heart and movement toturn up the intensity in the training. Those of us who have not been training hard enough,or have not taken the opportunity to train more frequently with our seniors, run the riskof missing the significance of these times.

In order to be ready to take advantage of this opportunity, we must deepen ourcommitment to the warrior lifestyle. This is not something that happens, necessarily, onthe outside; it happens on the inside. It is a clarification of our own personalintentions.

Like all of you, I find myself tempted, at times, to view this lifestyle as a glorifiedhobby. My commitment becomes a function of convenience. There is nothing wrong withmartial arts as a hobby, by the way. But, I am talking about something more substantialthan this. I am talking about pursuing a set of living values, warrior values, and gaininga lifetime, certainly not of ease, but of serenity and purpose.

That is why we are calling this year, the "Spirit of The Warrior."

A I write this on New Years Day, 1996, I am reminded of the word's of Shinryu MasamitsuToda, 32nd Grandmaster of the Togakure Ryu. In his New Years message of 1891, he wrote:

1. Know the wisdom of being patient during times of inactivity,

2. Choose the course of justice as the path of your life.

3. Do not allow your heart to be controlled by the demands of desire, pleasure, or dependence.

4. Sorrow, pain, and resentment are natural qualities to be found in life; therefore, work to cultivate an immovable spirit.

5. Hold in your heart the importance of respect for your seniors, and pursue the literary and martial arts with balanced determination.

One hundred five years, and truly pertinent today. Akemashte Omedeto Gozaimus! Gambattemasho!

Jack Hoban

© 2017 Living Values.  All Rights Reserved.

Warrior Painting By
Gregory Manchess