“The most important thing is to Master Budo for yourself”

During the 2007 DKMS Party, Nagato sensei approached me and said “Chris, The most important thing is to Master Budo for yourself.” I was caught a bit off guard about this, and have come to understand what Nagato sensei told me 5 months ago. The only person that matters when it comes to life and budo is YOU. Nagato Sensei told us a story about how Soke was able to meet with a 101 year old monk on his death bed. Soke then asked the Monk what is the secret to life. The monk answered, YOU are the most important thing on this earth.


At first, many people will be caught off guard with this answer, but you have to look deeper into the meaning. How many times do we see people trying to help others, when they can not even help themselves? By doing this, it makes it harder and harder for those people to get themselves to a good point in life. Therefore, life and budo must start with YOU. Once you have been able to reach a good point in life, then you can help others, and help them more easily. This is the same with Budo. When you come to the dojo, the only person that matters is YOU. No one is there to take you by the hand and guide you through life/budo. When you come to the dojo, you must be ready to learn for yourself. I noticed this weekend that many people do not understand how to train. Therefore, I would like to share with you the way I train, whenever I go to see my teachers in Japan. I use the same training method when I go to seminars, or another Shihan’s class.


The first step in learning, is to ask questions. However, I am not talking about asking your instructor, but about asking yourself these questions.  When you are in the Hombu dojo, and there are over 100 people, it becomes difficult to train well.

That is why you have to look for the key points. There are always key points in every technique that is being shown. This is the first question: What were the key points based on what the instructor showed? The eyes are very important, because you have to be able to catch what happened in only an instant of time. This would be expected of you as a witness to a crime. It only happened once, and you would be asked a million questions as to what happened. You have no time to think, but all the time in the world to process.

Once I have figured out the key points, I then try to fit them into the series of movments that were shown. When the instructor stops the class and shows the technique again, although there many be a slight change, the majority of the technique is there. It is at this point, I realize that what I was doing was not 100% correct. I then make a few changes to correct what I was doing. This is the second question: Am I really doing what the instructor is doing? While you are traning, you should not simply just move, or go through a series of movements that will not help you to grow. Instead, you have to find the pattern of the technique that is being shown, and then add in the key points.

The last step in the training is to feel the technique. Soke often tells us that only the person who is uke can truly understand what is going on. Therefore, if you are fortunate enough to be uke for the class, you have to feel how your body was manipulated, and try to reproduce this feeling. This is the third and final question: When I do the technique, does my uke respond the same way? If not, what can I do to make him respond the same way? Was my foot in the wrong position? Was I too far away? Was I too close? Did I use my left hand instead of my right hand? The list can go on and on. However, If you impliment these three main questions into your training, you will find that your taijutsu will become like new. If not, then you will continue on and endless loop of doing the same movements day in and day out. By staying on this loop, your taijutsu cannot grow.

Therefore, it is important to remember that your training starts and ends with YOU. YOU must try and learn for yourself. YOU must cultivate your eyes to see the truth. YOU must want to continue to grow and better your taijutsu. When YOU return to your dojos, go to Japan, or attend seminars, please try to impliment these three questions in order to improve your taijutsu. YOUR taijutsu is only important to YOU. Therefore, it is only YOU who can choose to learn, or to stay on the endless loop.


Chris Carbonaro

Bujinkan Shihan



%d bloggers like this: