“Practicing under Takamatsu-sensei always gave me a shudder. It was always painful. Pain that would last with me for days. The man knew how to kill. Compliments were nonexistent. His instruction under Toda-sensei was even more severe. The slaughterhouse. That is what he called Toda-sensei’s dōjō during his time there. He was told that only through suffering can you truly grasp the essence of ninjutsu and what it is to persevere in life. He taught me that a true master of bujutsu is not there to be a disciple’s friend. They are not meant to be like a parent who nurses their young. To survive in combat and in life, the trials must be difficult, often painful. A true master pushes his student not just physically, but psychologically as well. Then, he observes. Will the student stay the course? Will he stop and give up? Will he become angry? Feel betrayed? Is he led by his emotions or ego? Will he break? These tests go on for years. In that time, an individual’s true character will emerge. The true disciple never wavers throughout his life, his spirit sharpened. He rises to a level of master himself one day. Such men are rare. Maybe one or two in a lifetime. Most disappear of their own accord. Yet, those few that stay humble and remain, rise alongside the master, mirroring his image, and slowly become a living embodiment of the ryū.”

– Masaaki Hatsumi 初見 良昭


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