Several people have been asking about the recent dojo name change. Since it’s kind of a big deal to change the name of a dojo, especially one that we’ve had for over ten years, I thought I’d share a few thoughts behind the decision.
The previous name, “Hakkoryu Ken-Nin Dojo” has served us well for years. It was the right name for the time and phase of the dojo development. As I understand it, “Ken-Nin” loosely translates into English as “perseverance” or sticking to it, in our case persevering under the sometimes difficult circumstances of establishing and running a dojo as a young Hakkoryu Nidan at time when there were no other Hakkoryu training options in the state and being located far away from my sensei.
I feel like we did this with the help of several loyal students and the support of the larger Hakkoryu network that we’re a part of. We’ve seen the dojo grow from just a few people in a small garage to one of the older and more established Hakkoryu dojo in the United States. People come and go as always, and we’ve had as many as 13-14 students actively training to a handful of dedicated students who make up the core and personality of the dojo.
“Ken-Nin” and the concept of perseverance has always been associated with the archetype of astrological Saturn for me which resonates on a personal level and will always be a part of my outlook and approach to life. However, in many ways, I feel like our group here has moved beyond that as a defining theme.
In most of the people who come to train and stay at the dojo, I’ve seen an unwavering commitment (also a Saturn theme) to fully being oneself in the face of cultural conditioning and the many distractions available in today’s world; of doing things in a way that aligns with the Hakkoryu tradition but also fits with who they are as unique individuals. Moreover, we’ve all made it a point to not get overly focused and fixated on things such as details of the forms (which often vary from person to person or by body type) and instead try to identify and embody the essence of what is being taught.
I feel like the concept of “Fudōshin” embodies all of this and at the same time integrates and includes the theme of “Ken-Nin” or perseverance. Fudōshin is most commonly translated into English as meaning “immovable heart” or “immovable mind”. This is not a fixated state of being, but one that is open and takes in everything without becoming attached or stuck on anything in particular.
This concept of Fudōshin can be traced back to a letter called Fudōchi Shinmyoroku (不動智神妙録) in “The Unfettered Mind”, a book containing a collection of letters and correspondence between the Rinzai Zen monk Takuan Soho (1573-1645) and the sword master and daimyo (regional lord) Yagyu Munenori. In it Takuan writes:
“Although wisdom is called immovable, this does not signify any insentient thing, like wood or stone. It moves as the mind is wont to move: forward or back, to the left, to the right, in the ten directions and to the eight points; and the mind that does not stop at all is called immovable wisdom.”
Fudōshin is something that I feel we should all strive for as we continue to explore the essence of what makes Hakkoryu Jujutsu and Koho Shiatsu unique in the larger context of traditional Japanese martial arts. Furthermore, I think it says something about the atmosphere we’ve created and embraced in the dojo here.
In the recently published and wonderful book by Nidai Soke, “The Secret Of Hakkoryu Jujutsu”, Soke is quoted as saying:
“Change your mind, and never stick to one idea.”
For me, this speaks directly to this concept of Fudōshin and not getting too fixated on a particular way of doing things, but rather to look for what is often the simplest and most natural approach – even if it’s not always the most obvious or common way.
Without going into too much detail in a blog post like this, I can say that the concept of a consistent and reliable heart/mind and will is very much in line with my particular makeup (or “design” in Human Design terminology).
All of that being said, Fudōshin is not a wholly unique concept in my orientation nor in Hakkoryu. If you spend a little time researching the term online, you’ll find that others in the Japanese martial arts community have been exploring and working with it as well. Two of the better articles, in my opinion, are Peter Boylan’s write up “States Of Mind: Fudoshin” and Christopher Caile’s “Fudo: The Concept of Immovability”. Both worth a read.