This article was originally written for and published in the Winter 2012-2013 Memorial Issue of Kagami: The Newsletter of the Kokusai Nippon Budo Kai. I have included it here in an attempt to share the late Shimabukuro Masayuki Hidenobu Hanshi's life-affirming vision with a wider audience.
To say that Shimabukuro Masayuki Hidenobu, Hanshi,21st Generation Soshihan of Seito Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryuIai-Heiho, was a master budoka of eminent skill, talent,and deep understanding, would be an exceedingly vast understatement. Many around the world have been witness to his skill or have been grateful recipients of his exacting instruction and profound insight. Moreover,
through his teachings and writings, he has indirectly touched the lives of countless others, sowing the seeds of
a profoundly meaningful and revolutionary world-view, a way of life rooted in deep compassion, illuminated wisdom and fierce determination to live a victorious life, thereby affecting meaningful change in our immediate environment and society at large, for the benefit of all.
Shimabukuro Hanshi’s first book, “Flashing Steel: Mastering Eishin-ryu Swordsmanship” has, as we all know, become a profoundly influential work in the world of budo, not only from the standpoint of a technical presentation of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu, but perhaps more significantly, due to the clear presentation of a philosophy, of universal truths, that have the potential to be profoundly lifechanging for those that truly embrace them. And as universal truths that point to our deepest potential, they are
therefore accessible not only through the practice of budo, but are truly available to all. And it is there that the universal
appeal of, “Flashing Steel”, of Shimabukuro Hanshi’s teachings, is truly found, for this steel is the sword of wisdom; it is katsu jin ken, the sword that gives life. I am sure we have all heard from those who do not even practice any form of budo, let alone Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu, that they found the teachings contained within the book to be relevant and applicable in their lives; inspiring them to engage in the incorporation of those teachings in their lives, and perhaps even to embark on the path that is Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu.
I was not a direct student of Shimabukuro Hanshi; as such I may not have known him as well as others, nor had the opportunity to receive his teachings on a weekly or monthly basis. However, I had the great fortune to receive instruction from him many times in many place over the years. Moreover, I was presented with an incredible opportunity, through my role in the production of Kagami, to forge a unique relationship with him, enabling me to receive his instruction and insight in an equally unique way. Through the development of this relationship, I was afforded the great benefit of being the grateful recipient of a small part
of Shimabukuro Hanshi’s teachings, perhaps some small insight into his heart, and certainly, his compassion.
Shimabukuro Hanshi’s teachings have certainly resonated deeply in my life. And although I do not always live up to the highest ideals contained therein, the wisdom of those teachings manifests as the light of awareness that clearly illuminates those shortcomings, allowing me to clearly see myself as the “foolish being” that I can be. The insight afforded by that illumination points to the work that is necessary so that I might raise the life condition that I actualize, better equipping me to meet those ideals in the future. That awareness, that insight into the life conditions that reside in our minds, is one of the great truths of Shimabukuro Hanshi’s teachings. Through determined effort, we can raise our life conditions, the ways that we perceive and relate to the world; enabling us to recognize and realize the highest potential that exists as our deepest reality. Shimabukuro Hanshi passed on the wisdom that we each have the power to positively affect our environment, both immediate and father afield; in fact, through compassionate action, through heart to heart connection, we each have the power to change the world. This is not a simply a philosophy of mere positive thinking. It is, in fact, a formula based on deep truths through which we gain insight into our own minds and hearts. Through the awareness of different levels of life conditions, of perspectives or ways of relating to the world, one can observe one’s mind, alter or adjust one’s conduct and the causes that one makes, thereby raising one’s life condition. Through living a higher life-condition, one can exert a positive influence on one’s immediate environment,
creating causes and circumstances that are conducive to realizing positive effects and benefits in one’s life, and significantly, in the lives of others.
This is of vital importance; the benefit of living a higher life condition is not merely limited to oneself; in fact, the highest ideal is to live at a higher life condition in order to exert positive influences that lead others, ALL others, to live at the highest life condition as well. This is the mechanism by which we, as budoka, can have a profound influence on our communities, the larger society in which we live, and exponentially, the entire world. I believe deeply that this was a significant element in Shimabukuro Hanshi’s, heart, vision, and the mission that arose from the depth of his being.
Shimabukuro Hanshi recognized and taught that we all possess the potential to touch and ultimately realize our highest life condition; that it already exists within the depths of our lives. It is our inherent and immanent birthright. Moreover, he taught that through determined practice, especially the study of budo, we can all begin to actualize this potential in this very life. Armed with this insight, we can each wield the sword of wisdom; our actions become driven by compassion, by the recognition of the inherent dignity of all life. Through our practice, through great determination, we strive to live a victorious life, for the benefit of all beings. This wisdom, and the vehicle with which to actualize it, was, I believe, Shimabukuro Hanshi’s greatest gift to us all.
Shindokan Dojo is once again proud to welcome Carl Long, Kyoshi, chairman/Soshihan of the Kokusai Nippon Budo Kai, for his return for a weekend seminar on authentic classical Japanese sword arts. We also welcome you to join us for what will certainly be weekend of instruction of extremely high caliber. Sensei will provide instruction in the koryu traditions of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu Iaijutsu and Ono-ha Itto-ryu Kenjutsu. While access to instruction in the koryu sword arts is slowly becoming more widely available, instruction at the level that will be experienced during this seminar remains quite rare indeed. It is important to note that Ono-ha Itto-ryu, an art that has directly influenced the more modern arts of Kendo, Aikijujutsu and Aikido, remains almost completely inaccessible outside of Japan. The KNBK is the only source of instruction in the mainline of Ono-ha Itto-ryu in North America! This is indeed a great and unique opportunity to study real koryu!
An exemplary teacher of authentic Japanese and Okinawan martial Arts, Long Kyoshi serves as the Chairman of the Kokusai Nippon Budo Kai and is the designated successor of Masayuki Shimabukuro Hanshi, the 21st Generation Inheritor of our line of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu Iaijutsu. Long Kyoshi is also Hombu-cho of the KNBK Intl. Hombu Dojo and is also the Kenshoin (Inspector/Advisor) of Iaido and Batto-do for the International Division of the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, the oldest martial arts governing organization in Japan. He holds the grades of 8th Dan, Shorin-ryu Karate-do; 7th Dan, Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu Iaijutsu; 6th Dan, Shito-ryu Karate-do; 5th Dan, Shindo Muso-ryu Jojutsu; and dan grades in Aikido and Kobudo.