Indomitable Spirit - Fukutsu no Seishin 不屈の精神
Indomitable spirit refers to having courage under duress, when facing insurmountable challenges and refusing to give in. “Putting your face into the storm and boldly walking forward”. It also speaks of strength of character, you may recall the expression, Nana Korobi Yaoki – “fall down seven times, get up eight”. Which tell us to never give up, to have the strength to continue rising to our challenges, not be daunted by failure or defeat.
It is often easier to divert our energy into something faster to reward, when faced with a complex or difficult task, particularly in the modern era where fast-paced, easy reward marketing is prevalent. I cannot extol enough the maxim of - hard work is its own reward, the level of satisfaction and growth attained from accomplishing a challenging goal is longer lasting and enriching to your character, through acquisition of self-respect and that of your peers.
This outlook reflects true Budo Spirit (Bushido) the essence and code of the classical warrior. There are seven tenants adhered to in Bushido:
· Sincerity – to be true to yourself or superficial to others.
· Responsibility - do not be obsequious, take ownership of your expectations.
· Frugality - do not be greedy.
· Politeness - do not be rude, do not slander.
· Modesty - do not be boastful, do not be arrogant.
· Loyalty - do not be unfaithful to people or causes.
· Harmony – be in tune with yourself and environment.
· Tranquillity – do not be wanton emotionally, maintain a life in balance.
· Compassion – understand and have compassion for the frailty of others.
Developed formally into a codified system to guide samurai through life’s many challenges, in the 1600’s of Japan’s Edo period during the Tokugawa Shogunate, Bushido became the backbone of samurai and subsequently martial arts (Budo) culture. Bushido is considered analogous with the European knights’ code of chivalry. This became particularly represented, in modern times, by the political organization Dai Nippon Butokukai, considered the highest (martial arts) authority in Japan.
The ideals of Bushido find their relevance in modern (more civil) times, where we face our challenges under less life-threatening duress, as the warriors of older times did. Maintaining your character under pressure is the highest of standards to attain, this is indomitable spirit.
Hagakure - written between 1709 - 1716 by Yamoto Tsunetomo this work discusses the life and relevance of a warrior caste in the absence of war. Drawing heavily on the need to uphold the tenants of Bushido in times of peace, the Hagakure maintains its’ importance through time. Below are three quotes from the Hagakure with a short explanation for your consideration.
“It is not sufficient just to remain calm in the event of catastrophe or emergency. When challenged by adversity, charge onwards with courage and jubilation. This is rising to a higher level. It is like the saying, “The more water there is, the higher the boat rises.”
Have the courage and strength of character to stand strong and meet your challenges, do not be concerned with success or failure, live within the moment. This is how we gain inner strength and personal growth.
“There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you still get the same soaking. This”
Seeing a challenge before you and knowing what is required to complete the task, do not be daunted. Step forward with determination and vision, see it through to the end. This is a relative example of the mindset required to complete your Grading.
“If one is secure at the foundation, he will not be pained by departure from minor details or affairs that are contrary to expectation.”
Here we see the benefits of a thorough understanding and working of the fundamentals when encountering change and circumstance. You might compare this to application practices and kata or working techniques from Tegumi exercises. What other real-life examples can you see in your everyday?
Tamashii 魂 - the warrior spirit of challenge is a long-standing tradition among the Bushi of old. In modern Budo you might recognize this as Kumite and other styles of matching. In older times these challenges between warriors consisted of little rules regarding techniques but maintained gentlemen’s agreement for conduct. Matches were strong and spirited, challenging a warrior’s ability, forcing growth through duress.
The spirit of Tamashii is alive and well as a strong underlying training principle in the Koryukan. Students are encouraged where appropriate to train strongly with their partner pressure testing technique for effectiveness. This aspect is vital is vital to strong functional martial development.
Learning - note it is important in the early stages of practice to take things slowly and easy, observing the key technical aspects of the example your instructor provides.
Once understanding and proficiency is realized, speed and power can begin, until finally with consent and direction from the instructor, pressure testing can begin. This method is reflective of the philosophy of Shu Ha Ri (the three stages of learning).
At completion of this learning process, of hard training, pressure testing and growth, you will ultimately find yourself returning to where you started, working the fundamentals once more, discovering new insights and commencing the circle of learning again, within a greater endless cycle.
Do Mu Gen – translating as “no end to learning” this expression is the second piece of the journey. As we have discovered the learning cycle repeats into itself revealing new insights, only to remind us to return to the beginning once more. Hence through this cycle we and with the mindset of indomitable spirit there is Do Mu Gen.
Although we are no longer learning martial skills to fight to the death, as they did long ago, the lessons can still be applied today.
The benefits of hard work and discipline are their own. Working consistently and with diligence, not being distracted from the path will provide you success in all life’s endeavours.
Building from your hard work and discipline you will develop Tamashii, the strong spirit to face challenges as they come.
Culminating these lessons / skills with an Indomitable Spirit creates within you a force to be reckoned with in all things. Coupled with the ideals of Bushido as noted above and will be an example to others.
When reflecting upon Fukutsu no Seishin we are reminded of one of our tenets: Nana Korobi Yaoki – fall-down seven times, get up eight.
This expression is the embodiment of having that warrior aspect and indomitable spirit in all things.
When you are training and grading remember these words and bring their attitude with you, be unstoppable, be unbeatable. A person who gets up after every failure, is ultimately more successful than those that stay down. They will bring knowledge, courage and stronger spirit to every challenge.