As a student of the Bujinkan for the last 8 years or so, I’ve benefited much from the training. The word Bujinkan means the Training Hall of the Warrior Spirit, and is a Japanese martial arts organization composed of 9 schools of traditional Japanese martial arts, 3 of which were ninjutsu schools.
A powerful lesson that’s stuck in my head through the years was something I first read from The Grandmaster’s Book of Ninja Training by our grandmaster, sōke Masaaki Hatsumi:
People create all their barriers for themselves. It’s really such a foolish thing to do. We create our own obstacles and lose our own way in the search for truth. So it represents no barrier for me now. All that it’s necessary to do when one faces a barrier is just keep walking, paying it no attention. Just keep going, keep walking, and the obstacles disappear! In my case, when I appear to be in trouble and I think I won’t make it, I just keep walking. And so it continues, even today.
The character for the word nin in ninja means ‘to endure’ or ‘to persevere’. It combines the character for knife on top of the character for heart, it means to go on despite having your heart under the knife!
Thus, a ninja is somebody who perseveres with his heart’s intentions even under threat or pressure.
This ninja philosophy is really simple to remember, and is summed up in 2 words: keep going.
Which sounds surprisingly like what another master martial artist, Bruce Lee, said (from the book The Warrior Within: The Philosophies of Bruce Lee):
It’s just a case of learning to look at hardship as if today the rain is coming on strong, but tomorrow, baby, the sun is going to come out again.
And in a letter Bruce sent to one of his closest friends while the latter was going through a profound hardship:
Life is an ever-flowing process and somewhere on the path some unpleasant things will pop up – it might leave a scar – but then life is flowing on, and like running water, when it stops, it grows stale. Go bravely on, my friend, because each experience teaches us a lesson.