Falling Leaves

Phil Legare (49 Posts)

Dai-Shihan Legare is the recipient of 4 Bujinkan Gold Dragon Awards and the Bufu Ikkan lifetime award presented by Hatsumi Soke for martial arts excellence. Joanne Legare, Phil’s wife and a Dai-Shihan in the Bujinkan who often co-teaches at his seminars, is also the recipient of a Gold Dragon Award. Dai-Shihan Legare currently resides in Tokyo, Japan and trains with Soke on a weekly basis


I walked home today through an area lined with trees in their full fall glory with leaves dropping as I passed through.  A number of leaves fell on me, on the sidewalk around me, but most fell to the ground around the tree.  The fall leaves were everywhere – a beautiful sight.  This got me to thinking about some of the things that Soke has talked about during the last several Hombu training sessions.
Soke spoke to the increasing responsibility the Dai-Shihan have to run and take care of their own dojo(s) and students. He told the audience that from now on annual Bujinkan memberships (both Kyu/Dan and Shidoshi-kai) will no longer be sent to Hombu – it is now the decision of the Dai-Shihan as whether to charge their students an annual membership fee for their dojo.  He went on to say that going forward Hombu will be a place for Kyu and Dan students to train rather than a place for the most senior students and his focus would shift to training Kyu and Dan students.  He charged the Dai-Shihan to look after their own dojo(s) and their own countries. (Note: I don’t believe he was saying Dai-Shihan and Shihan would not be allowed to train at Hombu but rather he wants us to focus more on teaching our students at our own dojo(s) and (maybe) preparing those students to travel to Hombu for advanced training.) Does this means Soke will focus on the basics at Hombu? I have no idea, but the coming year is certainly going to be interesting.
Back to those falling leaves…… they got me to thinking that falling leaves might be a good metaphor for the Bujinkan. Soke is the tree, the branches are the Bujinkan as it has spread all over the world, and we are the leaves.
When it’s the season, leaves fall from the tree to the ground, and in my mind this signifies our independence in the Bujinkan as Dai-Shihan and Shihan.
Many of the leaves fall near the tree, so while we are independent we still honor Soke and are loyal to the Bujinkan. The leaves that fall around the tree eventually transform, providing protection to the roots in the winter and fuel for the tree to grow strong, eventually creating new leaves on the tree, bright and green. As the seasons progress this cycle continues. To me, the leaves that fall close to the tree are the many, many loyal Bujinkan students around the world. The leaves that fall further from the tree, or on the pavement, or the wind takes them away, maybe to another tree; these leaves represent those students who, for whatever reason, have lost their way in the Bujinkan. Maybe they moved off to another teacher, maybe they turned their back on the Bujinkan and created their own art, or maybe they just decided to quit. Whatever the reason, these are the wandering leaves that do not nurture Soke’s tree or the Bujinkan. But like the tree that stands silent in the storm, Soke always welcomes you back. I am always encouraged by the large numbers of senior students who continue to travel to Japan to train with Soke year after year (even if it makes the training space very small at times!). These are the beneficial leaves that fall close to the tree (Soke) to nurture it and in turn the tree (Soke) renews our spirit and hearts so that we bud and bloom as bright new leaves. I think its a fitting metaphor. Does this resonate with you? Where does your leaf fall each year? Are your spirit and heart renewed each time you train with Soke?
Finally, this led me to think about myself and my own students. Many of them have been with me for decades and are now Shihan and Dai-Shihan themselves. Are they still my students? Are they Soke’s students or students of a Japanese Shihan they train with when visiting Japan? As Nagato Sensei has said, you can’t change your teacher. Your teacher is your teacher, no matter what rank you attain. Even if you progress beyond them, they still have a place in your history as your teacher. The only way to change your teacher is by their passing, retiring, getting a Hamon (expulsion) from the Bujinkan, or going off to pursue other interests. If you have a serious disagreement with your teacher you can, of course, quit with them to train with someone else, but they will always remain your first teacher. Beyond that, whoever you started with remains your teacher. You can have many other teachers and mentors along your training journey, but that does not diminish the role or position of your first teacher. As an example, I started my Bujinkan training in 1977 with Fukuda Sensei in Aomori-Ken (northern Japan). He has since passed away. I also trained for several years with Larry Beaver and Steven Hayes. They both left (or in Larry’s case never officially joined the Bujinkan) to do other things. Doron Navon then accepted me as his student. He retired a number of years ago to open a Feldenkrais clinic in Tokyo. Since I had no active teachers, Soke accepted me as his personal student and gave me the budo name Taka Seigi (Hawk Justice). That is a quick overview of how Soke became my teacher.
For those of you who started your training in the Bujinkan with me, for better or worse, I remain your teacher. I am very proud of each of you and how far you have come in the Bujinkan. Many of you have achieved the highest ranks, but it doesn’t matter what rank you are now or how far apart we may be. In Soke’s eyes and in mine, you continue to be my students.
Be leaves that fall close to that tree – Soke’s tree – and to my branch. Let’s continue to build our strong Budo community together! Bufu Ikkan.
r/Phil
Phillip Legare
www.takaseigi.com
“Strength Through Proper Training”
About The Author

Phil Legare

Dai-Shihan Legare is the recipient of 4 Bujinkan Gold Dragon Awards and the Bufu Ikkan lifetime award presented by Hatsumi Soke for martial arts excellence. Joanne Legare, Phil’s wife and a Dai-Shihan in the Bujinkan who often co-teaches at his seminars, is also the recipient of a Gold Dragon Award. Dai-Shihan Legare currently resides in Tokyo, Japan and trains with Soke on a weekly basis

Comments