CHRISTIAN INSIGHTS FROM KITO RYU DENSHO SHIMBU NO HIKETSU
(SACRED MARTIAL MYSTERIES)
The roots of Kodokan Judo go into the Kito Ryu. Kito Ryu was at one time known as a Kempo system, but changed the name to Jujutsu when that term became the common word for empty hand fighting. At time Kito Ryu practitioners also used the term Judo, which is where Jigoro Kano got the idea for his school.
Many people are unaware that the Kodokan was a branch school of Kito Ryu originally. Kano had his Kito Ryu master guest instruct at his school from 1882 to 1885. It was 1885 when Kano was awarded a full license in Kito Ryu and was considered worthy of being considered the head of his own system.
Kano was allowed to see the scrolls of Kito Ryu in 1885. The Kito Ryu Densho, traditional writings, contained the Shimbu no Hiketsu (sacred martial mysteries) and the Judo Uchu Mondo (questions and answers), very spiritual writings.
As a Christian I feel that Christ is the answer to spiritual questions and depths of all traditions. But other traditions can help us know what questions to ask. Following are key terms from the Kito Ryu Densho with a Christian interpretation for martial artists seeking to reach the highest levels of the martial arts in a spiritual manner.
Tendo means the Way of heaven. Jesus explained that ‘the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ in Matthew 4:17. What this means is that heaven is immanent, it is here and now. We need to learn to follow the Way of heaven now, for in the future when we are there, we will have no need of the strength and power that comes from heaven. But now, in this life, we need to follow the Way so that we’ll have the inner strength and divine power to deal with the vicissitudes of life.
Shimmei refers to the Deity. In Hebrews 11:6 the Bible tells us, ‘to know God we must first believe that He exists’ and this is why it is so important that we talk about God in our Kempo Dojo. Many people did not grow up with God, going to church and hearing about Him. Those students who have never had the chance to learn about God need the opportunity when they come to learn Kiyojute Ryu Kempo Bugei.
Shinto is best translated in an understanding of western thought as the Way of the Spirit. Jesus said, ‘God is in me, I am in you and you are in me’ in John 14:20. This is the Way of the Spirit. We need to realize that on a spiritual level God is within each of us. The Way of the Spirit is union with God, it is realizing that we can follow that Way because of the divine presence within.
Dojutsu is the Way of techniques. This is upon which all of the rituals of religion are based. Actions can be the focus of our spirits, which then allows them to be manifestations of the Way. All that we do in churches can be actions that manifest the Way, but every action in your Kempo training can manifest the Way as well. It is a choice to project and focus our Ki, your inner spirit that allows the practice of the martial arts to be a spiritual discipline. It is your choice. As you practice Kempo in this way you develop the ability to maintain that focus and emphasis in life, so that everything you do becomes a method of manifesting the Way in life. Jesus lived this way so fully that he could say, ‘I am the Way’, as in John 14:6. By following Jesus we can come to understand and live this Way as well, making our techniques of Kempo our spiritual discipline.
Shinri can be translated, the Truth. Jesus also said in John 14:6 that he was the Truth. Truth is important, but the most important truth of all is…God is! Once we recognize this truth, then our lives become clearer and we come to understand what really is important. We come to realize that the relative truths in the world mean little in the long run. All that matters is love and sharing God’s spirit, which is love, through acts of kindness, goodness, and compassion. All acts of man, all jobs, all ways of life should reflect love or they are not worth doing. See in your vocations, avocations, and recreations an opportunity to share this truth with others. God is love, as I John 4:8 tells us, and if we would live the truth, then we too must be love, for God dwells within us.
Shinki translates mind spirit, which refers to the union of the mind and the spirit. Jesus said for us to love God ‘with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind’, in the Japanese language that can be summed up with one word, Shin. Shinki as noted above specifically means mind and spirit. It refers to the fact that God does in fact dwell within, but our minds can choose to focus on other things and thus interfere with the flow of love in our actions. This is why Mushin, no mind, is the most important discipline of the martial arts. When you learn to achieve Mushin, you allow the Ki to flow unrestricted in your life. At that point your mind and your spirit unite as one to serve God. Only by achieving the union of mind and spirit does an individual become truly free and know their true self.