I notice that my “dark side” post is one of the most visited areas of my blog. Seeing that has set my mind to considering the circumstances surrounding that earlier contribution.
Let me begin by saying that I have no personal knowledge of, or experience in, Bujinkan in general or with Mr. Prather and Warriorschool in particular. I stumbled across that whole situation while googling “warriorship” as part of some research for this blog. After reading through the various resources I thought that this was a compelling example of what I have always considered to be the risk surrounding the modern redefinition of warrior and decided to write about it here.
I must state that stories on the internet are far from “proof” of anything and many are “hearsay” at best. There is also the possibility of “signal noise” in any human interaction, where the intention of one party is “lost in translation” by the receiver. In other words what we may have here “is a failure to communicate” for all the proof I have. My personal opinion is, if all parties are willing participants and nothing illegal is going on…well it is a free country.
However, I don’t want to discount some of the compelling stories of people who claim to be former students. I think there is enough of a circumstantial case to warrant extreme caution. Especially before submitting oneself to a program where one has to suborn themselves in a subservient manner to someone without there being some sort of “public need”, such as in military or public service.
Following orders unquestioningly is one thing for real warriors in combat, where working together smoothly can be a matter of life and death. It’s another matter for civilians playing warrior (unless the intention is the forming of a militia or private army), to place another civilian in authority over themselves. Especially in the pursuit of something as nebulous as “warriorship”. When this pursuit takes priority over a persons “real life”; things like family, work, children, marriage and religion…that should be a warning to the student and the instructor alike.
I believe that a person interested in “warriorship” these days needs to take charge of his own education. Determine what it is you want to learn. Define your goal and be an educated consumer. If you want to act “like a warrior”…behave like one. Have some self-respect, stand up for what you think is right and speak out against wrongdoing. Don’t suborn yourself to another person without need. Respect towards your teacher and regulations or courtesy within the dojo are an entirely different matter than what I am talking about here. The warrior suborns himself to a leader for the accomplishment of a mission, NOT for some quest for “warriorship”. If someone is pushing for a superior/subordinate relationship outside the dojo…beware. Even within the military there are very clear limits regarding who is in the direct chain of command and what those leaders can and can’t order their subordinates to do. My lieutenant would have gotten a laugh in his face if he ORDERED me to go to his house and clean his basement.
Again, this is my personal opinion, take it or leave it. I think that one needs to beware of any school or organization that claims to “have it all”. I will respect an instructor that tells me that he can teach me unarmed combatives but I would be better served to get firearms training somewhere else, than I would someone who claims to “have it all”. Beware the instructor who tries to prevent you from furthering your education elsewhere. If you have the time, money and desire, go on your own musha shugyo. In the end I believe you will have a more fulfilling experience having been captain of your own ship, rather than kowtowing to some “bracelet” before mowing his lawn.
All of this brings a Zen koan to mind:
Zuigan called out to himself every day: `Master.’
Then he answered himself: `Yes, sir.’
And after that he added: `Become sober.’
Again he answered: `Yes, sir.’
`And after that,’ he continued, `do not be deceived by others.’
`Yes, sir; yes, sir,’ he answered.