Secret Scrolls of the Warrior Sage

Secret scrolls of the warrior sage are what I set out to find when I left for Japan in 1975 in search of the ninja. As a young man, I longed for contact with the wisdom of the ages. What if there really were special secrets guarded by generations of warriors sworn to the highest of protector ideals?

I had a hopelessly improbable goal in Japan, but I was driven by unstoppable intent. Like some tragic hero in an epic novel, I was ready to give up all in hopes of finding a master teacher who could reforge me into the man I longed to be, and I ended up plummeting through heart-tearing seasons of dark nights on my way to finding brightness.

The warrior can only become a sage in his advanced years, after all the battles have left him with deep insight into the human condition. He has witnessed courage, nobility, and virtue, along with false bravado, arrogance, and cruel righteousness. He has seen true bravely and abject cowardice. He has seen needless battles waged in rage, and he has seen leaders bow to brutes in hopes for peace but only to find slavery. He has, in the words of my own teacher’s teacher, “looked out through a veil of tears” at the horrors of what fighting struggle brings to the ones we love.

Decades earlier in his life, the Warrior Sage was most likely a Cool Young Dude exuberantly in the competition ring, or perhaps a Crisp Young Soldier marching into the field of combat, or perhaps an Intense Young Romantic swept into a rebellion or civil war forced upon him. He may have even relished the idea of testing himself in man to man combat just to see what it felt like to vanquish another in a contest of strength, will, and fighting skill.

It takes more than a life of rough encounters to turn the warrior into a sage, though. One can have much experience and yet still remain ignorant. To become warrior wisdom walking the world, one must thoroughly observe and analyze and transform as a result of the experiences. The sage earns his sagacity by facing the worst and finding the best, immersing in ugliness to learn of beauty, crawling through hell to realize heaven.

When I left America for Japan in the 1970s, I was a disillusioned black belt in my mid-20s. I had grown increasingly restless with the direction I saw martial arts taking in my homeland. Meditation-calmed young monks learning incredibly effective protector fighting skills taunted me from the Kung-Fu television series, but where was that experience in the training halls of an America in which I perceived martial arts growing flashier and shallower and shriller each year. I did not want to study with a martial arts rock star. I was looking for a warrior sage.

What are you looking for in your search for your path? How will you know when you have found the source for the answers to the burning questions churning in your heart? What do you say when others less idealistic than you smirk and ridicule your vision of all you could be? How do you reply when they urge you to sell out and join them in the smallness they live? Take heart. There are indeed some master teachers out there who welcome the intensity of your heart. Do all you can to hold your vision and prepare for just the right moment. The teacher will appear in your life ready to share, if only you stay true to the bigness of your dreams.

13 comments to “Secret Scrolls of the Warrior Sage”

You can leave a reply or Trackback this post.
  1. steve siverling says: -#1

    That is how I feel right now. I’m in my mid 20’s, got my blackbelt and an associate degree. Going back to school to get my bachelor degree.

  2. Kevin Cain says: -#1

    Thank you! Your words have inspired me just as they have since the early 80’s.

  3. How true that if we but draw from the wisdom, experiences from each moment, realizing we control what energy we attach to it, take with us, along our journey. Can tell yours is a wondrous one, thankfully you share this with us.

    Remember you once said, “A true teacher is always learning.”

    May we all learn from each moments’ wonder and the lesson it presents us, to go forward on our path, learning from sages as yourself, on our own journey…..

    Feel thankful for being a part of this journey…

  4. I am only 2 years younger than yourself and unfortunately for me only discovered the Bujinkan’s Budo Taijutsu within the last five years when I got to meet Sensei Dennis Mahoney of New Hampshire and was shown the effectiveness of your art. Only within the last year have I begun to seriously study it. The time gap? It was spent reading your books, those of Hasume Sensei and Ben Cole (essentially the same thing). It is now something I intend to do for the rest of my life. It is also not just the physical, but the spiritual that draws me here. As you well know, strength of spirit will surely last longer than strength of the body.

    I wish you a Happy Birthday and thank you for being the conduit through which this art ws revived in the U.S.

  5. Stephen your words are so insperational, Im 19 and I have been training in ninjustu privatly for 3 years under Eric Behlke in Spokane Wa. I find that this art teaches me to give recognition to emotions and feelings rather than brute force and athleticism. Which I have found to be directly controdictory to the “American” version of martial arts and orginized fighting. I am forever greatfull to the part you have indirecly played in my taking this path in life. I can only hope to one day train with such an idol

    Happy Birthday and Best Wishes

  6. “How will you know when you have found the source for the answers to the burning questions churning in your heart?”

    When I go to class in Boston on Friday night after more than twenty years of training in this art and realize every Friday I’m still a beginner. Thank you Mark, Thank you Mr. Hayes.

  7. I have such a passion, such a desire to learn the way of ninjutsu, but there are no truely authentic schools in my area, I had started to doubt I would ever learn it. But the message above renewed my hope, and for that I am truely greatful

  8. lamar e presley says: -#1

    I love it when my life’s circumstances, and encounters with others, offer the opportunity to share the language of the heart. Recently one such opportunity gave up the great gift of controlling the direction of positive mental and spiritual energy in a conversation with a young mixed martial arts enthusiast. In whatever path is chosen, let choose one that helps us to be more human. Thank-you for bringing us these lessons from the Great Authentic Masters of our beloved art. NO MORE PAPER DOJOS!

  9. Ken Wilson says: -#1

    I would like to wish you a happy birthday. Thanks for letting my son take our picture together at Karate College. It was a great honor to meet you. I really enjoyed the session you taught. I am very grateful you came to Karate College. Thanks also for your website. I did not know To-Shin do existed or that I can possibly learn the techniques via DVD. Thanks for all of your contributions to the Martial Arts.

  10. Daniel L Dunn says: -#1

    Thank you for all you continue to share. Every insight and word of encouragment I have gained from both yourself and Hatsumi Sensei has reassured me that I have indeed found the sources of the path that continues to help me along in the living and building of my will and dreams.

    I anxiously await the day when I may finally meet the legends who have for so long inspired me.

    Thank you again for everything.

  11. Master Hayes, it was an joy to read this, thank you for all you have done for the art with such grace and honor. I as a former member of the Shadow of Iga am pleased with your works…

  12. Thank you An-Shu for this finishing book to the series. All your previous works (books) have inspired me as well. Very well put together indeed. I look forward to my journey of training, and may you look forward to a great journey yourself for all the positive energy will come back ten fold.

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published.