Duff Culp – Bujinkan Sanami Dojo TX
Austin, TX! What a beautiful and diverse city to grow up in. I have lived in Austin all of my life and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to develop in such a great community. Finding such a great connection with the Bujinkan network in Austin is pretty amazing! With a world shrinking due to an increase in technology it is no suprise that we are lucky enough in Austin to have a solid link to the Bujinkan Seniors in Japan that help to share Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi Sensei’s abilities and understanding. I have traveled to Japan a handful of times, (not enough for my liking). I passed my godan test in 2009 and strive to always find a balance with the responsibility I place on rank. I think rank is what we make of it. Do we find ego in it or not care at all. These are two incorrect extremes. I do not list my rank directly but I am a licensed instructor in the Bujinkan. I prefer for interested parties to find value in the merit of my movement and character, not my rank. I would suggest that no matter what art anyone pursues that they keep this in mind. Many westerners have a misguided concept of eastern cultures from movies and TV. Like calling themselves Sensei and DEMANDING others do the same. In Japan this does not happen. No one introduces themselves as Sensei and students choose to address someone as Sensei out of choice and respect. I never wanted to teach or desired to be a Sensei. I just kept going and it was part of the natural progression of not quitting. There is no glory that is tangible in this desire. Hard work and continuous self discipline and a want to keep finding your personal potential far beyond physical technique is the path I seek.
My direct connection to Japan is through Shawn Gray Shihan who I was lucky enough to meet and be-friend while he was in Austin. I find it important to be accountable for myself and my mentor and teacher challenges me by not handing me answers. I enjoy the process of learning and consider myself a student that just shares my level of understanding or lack of honestly. I think my students would agree that I am always striving for improvement and I make no attempt to mask the training with mystery and legend. We work on developing a solid base and then stress that base to allow it to branck naturally. Muck like a tree I find I have to constantly develop new roots to support the framework of what is seen on the surface. I enjoy this constant process and always stress the importance of not rushing to reach an end. Martial arts is a natural process which shows our potential and weakness. How we address those findings is what determines how far we go. Many new students come to class hoping to learn discipline. As adults our parents do not pay our bills and drop us off for class. We have to have some level of self discipline to even begin to see how it applies. It is the same with patience. If we think training will be like the movies and we will win a trophy in a week and master all that is presented then martial arts may not be for you. We have to have enough patience to continue to trust out teachers and develop the things that are needed in a general order that the whole will be supported. The training is a reflection of life and shows many connections. The way we live our lives can dictate our training and they both evolve as we redifine our mind, body, and spirit.
I am happily married and have known my wife for just over 10 years. I have many hobbies that include, carving, pyrography, leather working, bonsai, music, and anything related to art. I enjoy the study of law enforcement and criminal justice. I also enjoy learning and sharing from others. I learn about myself and my taijutsu from the students at the dojo all the time. Our partner is always our greatest teacher. Usually we will learn more through connection and action rather than conversation. It seems that the explanations and metaphors just explain the experiences and structures we are searching for. We all have unique abilities and talents that help to foster growth in all of us. Once class is over I am not an instructor to my students. We are all friends. Some students are amazing at mechanical task, other technology, music, dance… I think this is something many people are suprised by at our dojo when they arrive. Finding this balance of class and friendship is a challenge for very few though as our students lead by example and all contribute to the growth of the dojo unselfishly as if it is their home.
We have built the new dojo from the ground up and it is still growing. The space is just a reflection of the passion of the students and would just be an empty building without them. I am grateful to all that have gone before me and hope to help contribute to those who wish to help the art continue to survive for many more centuries.
Hope to see you on the mats!