In budo, the element of wind is unpredictable. Wind can be calmingly welcome, or violently destructive, raging in a moment and subsiding in the next. Regardless of force, winds blow constantly all around us with far reaching, ever present effects. This is the reason for the expression bufu ikkan, which is often translated as “the martial winds blow every day” or “the way of war is survival”, though a further key translation conveys tradition, or lineage.
Martial winds can be understood as the ways of the world to which we are constantly exposed. They are the unbounded potential for anything to happen at any time; the random chaos of life that fosters the circumstances that could forsake us just as soon as they could favor us. They can also be understood as the genealogy of adaptation and survival that has passed to us from generations of our predecessors. The way of war is to be unceasingly at the whim of life’s chaos with forces beyond our control often
compelling us to make difficult decisions and tradeoffs. Every day there is a new challenge to face with unique fallout to manage. Simply by living our lives, we are called to wage war; we win by extending the lineage we have inherited and continuing to survive.
Survival can be ugly and sometimes brutal. For this reason, we need guiding principles that help us reach a balance between waging war and finding peace in the aftermath of each battle. We come together in our training to develop these principles; to support one another and to grow, to share our experiences and to receive insight that helps us make sense of them or move on from them, to validate each other when we need it and to challenge each other to push forward when we are stuck. Training is our ongoing preparation for the unending war of life. It goes beyond what we practice in the dojo and
compels us to be consistently alert, to pay attention, to be able to make changes when necessary, to expect pain, difficulty and resistance, and above all to persevere.
In and out of the dojo, we are continuously being shaped by everything that goes on around us and even a gentle wind may blow us off course over time if we are not vigilant about our development. To guard against this, we must pay attention to how we act and react every day, taking the time to reflect on what is happening in our lives, on the impact it is having, and on the messages that we are sending and receiving. The more we learn to listen to the winds blowing persistently around us, the more we can learn to interpret them and cultivate the ability to redirect them as we choose.
If we can react accordingly to the chaos of life, we can grow from it, becoming more capable of facing its challenges. Just as we are changing every day, so are the circumstances surrounding our survival, and just as we are being refined by our experience every day, so too is our next adversary being cultivated.
Whether this is a person, an event or an ideology, we must strengthen our minds and hearts with every experience, taking what lessons we can from our own lives and from the collective history that enabled them, so that we will be always ready for the time when we will meet. Even in times of isolation and seeming stagnation, forces are still at work forging the next wave of action and reaction. We must prepare during such times of quiet so we can withstand the inevitable storm.
Martial winds are a lineage, and survival a tradition; the principles that sustain us today were shaped by the conditions of the past and they still carry the echoes of the winds that they once tamed. Sometimes howling like a wild vortex, and sometimes barely a whisper that we must strain to hear, the martial winds continue to blow every day. We must always pay attention, bearing in mind that what we hear ultimately depends on what we have trained ourselves to understand. If we persevere on our paths,
staying true to the principles that guide us, just as they guided those who came before us, we can weather the winds like true warriors.
by Koroku member