This photo of the old Bujinkan Honbu Dojo just came up in my FB history from Oct 2012.
What is interesting about it from my point of view is this. It made me reflect back instantly to Oct 2012.
I took the photo in the middle of a rain storm, at what I thought was pretty much the end of my Bujinkan Journey. I was very disillusioned and disappointed in my journey so far after 12 years and I had all but decided to give up on my Bujinkan Practice when I would return home to Australia from Japan after being there for a couple months...
As I was still in Japan for a another couple weeks (I was returning home on the 1st of November) I said to myself, well you are still in Japan for another 4 weeks or so, you may as well keep practicing as you don't like walking around doing touristy stuff.
About 3 weeks later at Ayase Budokan, I met Kacem, and the next morning after that, I met Ishizuka Shihan and as they say, the rest is history.
The pouring rain and the dark and stormy night were representative of how I was feeling at the time in my budo journey. Lost, confused, disillusioned and disappointed in myself and my practice and with who I practiced (yes I judge others, its natural, and if you say you don't you are full of shit).
Meeting Kacem and experiencing what he had to offer was horrible... My ego couldn't take it, I didn't realize I was that bad, and every teacher that I had before sucked. Yeah they were nice, and I am still friends with many of them today, but they sucked at budo. Most of them made up what they were doing, the others, couldn't beat an egg.... I was in denial, but the most pathetic thing of all... I knew Kacem was right, I had doubts about my own practice long before I met Kacem, I tried to do what everyone else seems to do, and that is patch up the missing holes in my game from other arts or just make it up.... I felt like a fraud. But actually admitting to myself that I had to start over, and then committing to that was hard. But once I did take the first step, it was like a huge burden of shit was lifted off my shoulders to be replaced by a ton of hard work, yes it was still stress, but it was the good kind of stress that stimulates, not the bad kind that pollutes. The worse part is, Kacem never said a bad word to me, or about anyone else. His amazing skill level made me instantly recognize all the doubts and feelings I just described above. He never said anything for me to agree with him, or for me to say he was right. What I mean is this, I knew by the way Kacem moved he was right and what I had been doing before was wrong, I knew it to my core.
I still remember the first technique I practiced with Kacem, it was in a Ishizuka Shihan class and it was Ganseki Nage. I remember Ishizuka and Kacem, just laughing and smiling the whole time, nice and relaxed and no matter how fast and how hard I went, and if I tried to mix up the attacks, be dirty or try and disengaged, they always got Ganseki Nage on me, without hitting me or hurting me, but I couldn't stop them. It was truly humiliating being that outclassed... No matter what you did or tried to do to them, they laughed and smiled and were not even concerned by me... It was truly eye opening, and my first time experiencing real Masters. The fact that they made it look so easy, and never changed to henka, regardless of what I tried was truly awe inspiring.
Its funny that the best day for many people in the Bujinkan is the day they pass their godan test. For me it was the worse. It was the day I found out what I really was, and where I was going.... nothing and nowhere. Something needed to change, and like a divine wind, Kacem and Ishizuka Shihan appeared at the right moment.
I honestly believe meeting Kacem has changed my entire life. Not just my budo, but my entire life for the better.
He encouraged me to pursue further education, to get my Masters Degree, to regain my health and look after myself after suffering a life altering back injury from the Marines, which I am still recovering from 7 years later. He pushes me to be a better student and to never rest on my laurels about what I used to be able to do. Inspires me to learn foreign languages, study history and become well read across a vast range of topics.
I cannot think of a single teacher, athlete, coach or mentor in my life who has inspired me as much as he has. I don't think the next 5 people on the list added up would even get close to matching the level of inspiration he has provided me. Always leading by example and from the front, and demanding your utmost excellence and effort in everything you undertake. Always pushing you to do better than before.
I never thought when I took this photo, that I would be writing this now, but it is great to reflect back on it, and know that the future looks bright.
I'll leave this quote here to finish.
"If you discover along the way that something isn’t right either with your master, with your art or with you, don’t hesitate to admit it and to change it at once, even if the price for that would be to start over from the beginning."- Dr Kacem Zoughari
Kacem Brisbane Seminar Dec 2017