tsubaTomorrow the dojo will host Furuya Sensei's ninth meinichi or memorial service.  One of the three marks of existence in Buddhism is that of impermanence.  Warriors of old not only knew but embraced the fact that at some point their lives would end.  Rather than withdraw, sulk or fear this inevitability, they embraced it and thus were able to live their lives more fully.  Japanese warriors of old were fond of adorning themselves with subtle reminders of the values and beliefs that mattered most to them.  Japanese tsubas or sword guards were a favorite item to decorate with these symbols.  Below, Sensei explains this tsuba and how it figures into the transiency of life. I know everyone's lives are busy and that time has away of creating a sense of distance from things, but we are martial artist and martial artist are honorable people.  But, what is honor?  What does it mean for someone to have honor?  I know a lot of people talk about having honor.  Haven't you ever noticed that every martial arts movie is about honor?  The martial artists in these movies have to do something that they really don't want to do but they have to do it anyways regardless of the difficulty, odds or outcome.  That is honor.  Japanese Director Kinji Fukasaku said, "Honor is the last thing in the world you want to do, but you must do it."  Our duty as Sensei's students is to honor his memory - we owe him that much.

I hope that if you can,  you will come and remember Sensei tomorrow with us.  If you cannot, I hope that you will spend some time honoring him in your own way.

9:00 am: Memorial Service at the dojo 10:15 am: Grave site visit 11:45 am: Lunch at Golden Dragon (960 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012) Everyone is welcome to attend!

Sensei posted this to his Daily Message on September 1, 2006.  True Spirit of the Samurai:

Wonderful iron tsuba of the early 1700's.

Within the context of the sturdy folded iron with see the simple openwork designs which capture the true heart of the Samurai warrior. The design is of a cherry blossom, a snow flake, tansatsu (long stiff paper on which poetry is written). To the left, the double circle, "wa-chigai," represents the family crest of some proud and noble warrior family.

The cherry blossom is considered the symbol of the Samurai warrior - as it blossoms in its great beauty, the gentle breeze scatters the petals as they fall. The snowflake also represents the transiency of Life - it's momentary existence is expressed in its great beauty and delicacy.

With the feeling of the transiency of life, the warrior also pursues a life of culture and learning - the tansatsu represents the warrior's skill to express his feelings in poetry.

Nowadays, we only think of martial arts as punching and kicking and throwing people to the ground. So sad!