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  • Writer's pictureDave Giddings

Symbolic changes...

The more observant visitors to the website will have noticed a slight change to its appearance in the last few days. There is now a new(ish) symbol on the web page banner, and the Bujinkan logo is behind the dojo name. So, why the change? Is it important, and does it mean anything to those training at the dojo?

Well starting with the last question first, it doesn't change the training we do at the dojo. We are still a Bujinkan dojo, teaching from the Ten Chi Jin syllabus as we have since we started. We only teach the kobudo weapons associated with the Bujinkan, and will not teach any other martial arts. This is not any kind of martial snobbery, its simply a) this is all I know - so I'm not going to teach other arts; and b) the art has a global application within its skill set, its just how the practitioner applies it - and how we teach it. In the end I believe if you are promoting yourself as a Bujinkan dojo, people won't be coming to learn kickboxing or fencing, so why would we teach other arts?

So, if the symbol doesn't imply a change - well why bother in the first place? Is it important? Yes...and no. Ok, so the symbol itself is one I have personally been drawn to for over a decade. I found the three Celtic crow symbol in a book about Robin Hood (my childhood hero) by Stephen Lawhead. It was a new look at the origins of the myth, and had it based in Wales at the time of the Norman conquest. I liked the connection I saw between three crow symbol and the Karasu Tengu 烏天狗 of Japan. Tengu are credited with extraordinary skills in sword fighting and weapon smithing. They sometimes would serve as mentors in the art of war and strategy to humans they find worthy. They were also supposed to have three legs (in some manifestations) and this in particular created that connection for me.

When I went to Japan to sit my sakki test it was on all the t-shirts I wore, and it has been with me in one form or another since. In 2022 I had a kimono made in the montsuki style (five 'mon' or family symbols) by Nine Circles who were able to do the symbol justice.

So, overall you could say this is a symbol, or mon, that I have adopted for my martial journey.

But why make a change on the website? It doesn't change anything in the training at the dojo, or who we are affiliated to, why bother? I have to say its a question I have been debating for a while now. The biggest reason I feel is this dojo was one I started in 2004, and we have achieved a lot since then. Articles published, demonstrations at national expo's and high quality black belts whom I have always felt were ambassadors for the dojo wherever they went to train. While the numbers are declining at the dojo, the standards are not. Those standards can only come from one place - the buck, as they say, stops at me.

If this is the case I need to take ownership of this, and acknowledge this is my dojo and it is my standards that affect all that goes on there. Therefore, going forward the dojo membership cards will also have this symbol, just to make it clear where the member trains, and what's behind that training.

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