Chaos / Disorder

By Pete Reynolds

Friday night after training at the Hombu, as we were putting our "street clothes" back on, Hatsumi Sensei was walking into his small changing room/office when he looked down and noticed my backpack. What caught his eye was a kanji placed on the backside between the two straps. As soon as he noticed it, he quickly looked around and called over the nearest Japanese to look at it. As they studied it, Hatsumi Sensei said, "Kakkoi-ne?" or "Cool, isn't it?" Then as quickly as he noticed it he was again on his way. What was the kanji you may be wondering? The kanji was "ran" (pronounced much like the man's name Ron) which means chaos and disorder.

What makes this relevant is that we frequently hear complaints from those who think that there's no rhyme or reason to the ranking structure in the Bujinkan or that the 9 ryu-ha aren't clearly separated and categorized or that there are poor/bad teachers allowed to teach within the organization. The list of criticisms goes on and on. Generally, the complaints revolve around the perceived lack of structure and order in the Bujinkan and the concern over how those outside the Bujinkan will view us.

Please, brace yourself for this revelation. Maybe the Bujinkan is the way it is because Hatsumi Sensei wants it that way. Are you still there? O.K. this bears repeating. Maybe the Bujinkan is the way it is because Soke wants it that way! Now here's the million dollar question, "Why would Soke want it this way?" It's very unstructured, it's not very orderly, why would he want it like that?

Possibly this disorder, this chaos, is part of the training. If everything were laid out nice, neat and orderly, we wouldn't really have to use our brains would we? We could just sort of blindly trust and accept everything at its face value. If all 8th Dans, for example, were exactly at the same level, and they were all really good, we wouldn't have to use our own judgment to determine whether or not they were worth training with or not. If all the ryu-ha were presented in a nice, neat and structured curriculum, then we would be missing an important training tool in the Bujinkan, chaos!

Chaos serves an important function. While of course, structure and order serve a purpose also, the overwhelming need for it is a weakness. Outside the dojo the world can be chaotic and all is not always what it seems. Hatsumi Sensei is training us to deal with and excel in these real world often chaotic conditions. That is "Nin" isn't it? Enduring and persevering through that which others can't or won't. How many of us have seen people go by the wayside because someone else got a higher rank or because there isn't an official Bujinkan curriculum or guide to the 9 ryu-ha? It's foolish isn't it? You either, trust and respect Hatsumi or you don't! It's pretty black and white.

If you do have this trust and respect, you know you are gaining life enhancing skills and insights and you can appreciate the chaos and know that it doesn't matter what anyone else's rank or status is. By the way, in case you're still concerned about those bad teachers, that's where the bad students go!