By Kimu Sensei, early 2014, Chief Instructor Shindenkan Competence and Development centre – Honbu Dojo
My journey through the POMW project, part 2; Why? And how was the POMW project established?
In Shindenkan we work with a strategy- and action plans with room for everyone – the elite as well as the exerciser.
Since 2005 we have also developed an internal association leader course, specialized for Shindenkan’s voluntary and unpaid association leaders.
It is not so distant from a practical specialized business management course, but it is specialized to the properties of an association, and the lack of managerial authority, and also Shindenkan’s needs through the democratic adopted strategy- and action plans.
Because it is an association it doesn’t necessary have to be inefficient, without direction and unprofessional.
If this is the case, it will be inefficient and the voluntary and unpaid leaders will quickly lose their motivation and passion for making an effort for the members and the society.
This is often happens in the voluntary associations, where democracy must rule and must be complied with, but it can often have difficult conditions, if the association leaders are responsible for actions they cannot comply with, or if they are imposed extra work by the members through the General Assembly, where the providers of proposals don’t want to contribute themselves, and the result will be destructive disagreements and disintegration.
Shindenkan wish to take a lesson from these failures, but we will continuously celebrate the democracy in its most efficient nature through empowerment. Therefore we have a motto saying: “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes, but a true leader learns from the mistakes of others” – especially because there will be released more time for what is passion of all Shindenkan members – Yakami Shinsei-ryu martial art!
Therefore the national general assembly decided to establish this internal leader course and instructed the competence centre of Honbu-dojo to develop and implement it. It was also in line with the successful 2000-2005 strategy plan, which was replaced with 2005-2010, where we increased focus on more efficiency with an ongoing transfer of knowledge and experience and sharing through a close TEAM work locally as well as nationally.
The success of the strategy plan led to that Shindenkan in 2012 had 12 member associations and around 1,100 members.
In the period 2000-2010, Honbu-dojo’s Competence Centre worked hard on the development and finalization of all the KYU competence modules, which visualized and revealed the values in the 1,000 years old multi-track martial arts system; Yakami Shinsei-ryu. It mad it practically more accessible and easier to understand for practitioners as well as readers, and much easier to handle in the local schools in line with the modern worlds bustle and motivation, so that Shindenkan’s motto:” Room for everyone – the elite as well as the exerciser”, could also be realized in practice.
POMW – the first steps in a democratic sports organization
A public senior municipal employee once expressed with wonder, why “… did we not in a rush put together a course, as it would not be challenged within the Shindenkan organization, and therefore it should only have a quality equal to make the user/exerciser satisfied.
We have been met with such thoughts before – also internally in Shindenkan. But we simply cannot do that.
First of all it would be against our values. Second of all it would be characterized as cheating and deceiving, and we do not cheat and deceive our own members. For the third, it would short-termed and for the fourth you don’t do this against a world Heritage, which are more than 1,000 year old.
Therefore – all competence development and visibility complies with Shindenkan’s graduation and competence procuration, which has been unchanged for at least 600 years, where a systematization of the documentation took place, in order to keep the system intact and ensure continuously development.
In 2010 I informed the general assembly and the association board, that I had finalized the preparation of 18 of the 20 KYU competence curriculum courses, after having worked on them for 8 years, and that the preparation of the remaining 2 courses would be finalized and handed over at the end of 2011.
I could then continue with all the DAN curriculum courses, which in general are 2-3 times longer than the KYU courses, and the estimate is to prepare one full DAN curriculum course per year.
In 2010 I also informed the general assembly and the board of the association that I had developed a very controversial idea, how to practical demonstrate differences and similarities between the modern and the old warrior.
All over the world and in Denmark as well, there are many people who question the value of exercising modern martial arts, when it comes to real life situations and the usability of exercising modern martial arts.
The variety of questions ranges from, “How would you parry a light saber?” to ”Any person with a gun can shoot a martial art exerciser, so why exercise martial art?” and further to ”Who is the best and would win?; a modern elite soldier? Or a modern samurai – a dedicated experienced traditional martial practitioner?”
There are many questioners who immediately connect traditional martial arts with personal development and who understand the value of it – and who would in these times with Facebook, branding and selfies proclaim that personal development is overrated and can’t be used for anything I this modern world and the modern times?
There are also many questioners, who immediately connect traditional martial arts with self-defense and understand the value of it.
Then there are also many who can connect traditional martial art with self-defense and personal development through increased self-confidence, self-esteem and confidence in own skills in order to avoid a situation or get out of the situation in a relatively fine condition physically as well as psychologically.
But no one are able to connect and understand the context between the modern warrior and the ancient world’s warrior, as the modern warrior use firearms and the ancient warrior use a sword, which is quite an advantage for the modern warrior – with a limited glance.
But if you ask yourself the question, what the real difference is between a regular army trooper and an elite trooper, then people get more perplex.
Today the equipment the regular army trooper use more or less the same equipment the elite trooper use, so the difference must be the multi-track competence education, the missions and the human behind.
Therefore there is no doubt in my mind that the main difference between the regular trooper and the elite trooper is;
The human behind – a much stronger psyche and will to perform, a creative intelligence above average and a need for adventure and to test itself.
Perspective to the world of martial art
Most elite troopers have an average service period of approx. 4-7 years, officers a few years less, where after they are transferred to more ordinary service or get a job in the private industry.
If we see it in this perspective with our own world; The martial sport and the martial art, then the context could be very interesting, as Yakami Shinsei-ryu’s 1,000 years of statistics tell us, that the difference between an ordinary warrior and an elite warrior distinct between two steps.
The first step is up to JODEN, 4th Dan Yakami Shinsei-ryu, 5th Dan BKK, and primarily the structured multi-track competence education and, and secondary the personal development – learn to get to know yourself and your strength and weaknesses.
According to modern statistics this takes as an average 15-20 years and statistical seen through approx. 50 years of Scandinavian history, it is under 10 individuals out of ten thousand, who has achieved this.
And until this culminates with the transition between martial sports and martial arts on the second step; the densho title MENKYO, 6th Dan Yakami Shinsei-ryu, 7th Dan BKK, where it is primarily the personal development which is crucial and secondary is the structured multi-track competence education and the challenges, which makes the great difference. According to modern statistics this takes an average of 15-30 years to achieve and statistical seen through 50 years of Scandinavian history it is below 3 individuals per ten thousand who has achieved this.
This context and thesis has been described by the Japanese martial arts grand mindset, master Minouchi Sensei in some of his books and writings; That the human behind, the multi-track mindset makes the big difference on the long run.
Thesis; If it is true that the crucial factor primarily is the human behind the weapon, which is also timeless and independent of the technical development, the social norm and country of origin, when will there be a coincidence between comparable practical skills – between the ancient elite warrior and the modern elite warrior?
The elite troopers basic training takes around 2 years, where only 3-7% of the aspirants will graduate, whereas the basic training in Yakami Shinsei-ryu to densho title SHODEN takes around 10-12 years and only 1% of the aspirants graduate.
A fully educated practical skill education can therefore not be directly comparable – but the human behind and the ongoing personal development can be compared.
If the multi-track mindset is so crucial for the result, then it would be exciting to compare, when it time wise for a Yakami Shinsei-ryu practitioner, will learn the modern practical skills on a fixed standardized measurement, which directly can be compared with practitioners of the same practical skill or skills.
As the modern elite troopers have many practical skills, but the human behind – the mindset compared with Yakami Shinsei-ryu, according to Minouchi Sensei’s thesis and then there must be a more simple practical skill, which also has a simple design, so that the primary and crucial factor behind the fact that it is the human behind – the mindset.
My solution to this problem is the shooting.
The shooting is a relatively simple practical skill in its substance. A substance which designed with the purpose of being so simple as possible, so that the widest possible range om people can do it with efficient results within relatively short time.
As we hardly can get active elite troopers to participate on our conditions, but already have great experience with civilians, troopers and retired elite troopers, who will participate on our conditions, then we are in the opposite situation. We will come to them.
The shooting sport is a civilized as well as a military basic skill, and we will fulfill our purpose, as there is a clear connection to our need and purpose to proof Minouchi Sensei’s thesis.
This means, that the goal is following the civil and military conditions an standards and not our own standards, but the process to this goal will or can be different, as Minouchi Sensei says “the individual practitioners mindset as well as the instructors mindset is very different, depending on the grade of the instructor, and the mindset culminate at the densho grade MENKYO – Master of all the Martial Arts.
So the main question the thesis should answer and indicate is with the basis that the most important is the human behind the weapon and the practice of the human behind;
There was no doubt that, if the association board and general assembly decided to approve the POMW – Project Old Modern Warrior, it would have been the until date largest and most resource dependent project Shindenkan have ever initiated.
Furthermore the project would be totally ”unsecure”, as no one in Honbu-dojo competence center with grades above the black belt, had no experience at all weapon (guns), but they only had Minouchi Sensei’s thesis to rely on and to proof, together with their own multi-track competences and the human behind the competences, so the idea was in reality completely ideal!
It would therefore be a completely ”clean from scratch” project, where the success or total failure, could fall back on Shindenkan and Minouchi Sensei. A so-called make-or-break project without any prerequisites, and on top of that the most expensive and period wise longest project ever in our history of almost 50 years in Denmark.
An extreme high risk project, which could harm Shindenkan’s credibility and background, if the project did not result in a significantly proof of Minouchi Sensei’s insight, thesis and 1,000 years of history and experience.
The largest part of organizations similar to Shindenkan would probably have rejected the project because of the high risk, as Shindenkan did not have any prerequisites and were 100% dependent of competences from outside of the organization, whose purpose not necessarily was to help Shindenkan.
At the same time the 100% optimal and ideal starting point to prove Minouchi Sensei’s thesis was;
It is the human who makes the biggest difference, with its practice background and its process flow.
Short within the general assembly and the association board meeting in 2010, did the two instructors above OKUDEN sign up for membership in a shooting association to get some experience in shooting. It resulted in approximately 6 shootings in three weeks, which did not make us much wiser.
I will later on conclude why we did not get much wiser, but the general assembly decided on behalf of the association board to follow Kimu Sensei’s presentation and further investigate the project, in order to prepare a specific project plan and thereby also an analysis of the cost of the project.
The project manager appointed was Jens Hanshi-dai, as he was OKUDEN HIDEN and thus very close to the densho grade MENKYO – Master of all the Martial Arts, as Minouchi Sensei pointed was the ideal grade in order to proof the thesis. Kimu Sensei was appointed chairman of the steering committee and managing project developer.
After approval the project should be established, so it could be launched, if the association board and the general assembly approved the project plan including time line and budget.
Jens Hanshi-dai´s private life unfortunately came under pressure which resulted in a divorce two years later. The association board recommended on the general assembly in 2011, that the chairman of the steering committee and the managing project developer and Honbu-dojo’s chief instructor, should “step down” and act as project manager, keep the position as managing project developer the steering committee should be handled by the association board with the chairman of the board as chairman of the steering committee.
As Kimu Sensei was the only other possibility if the project should succeed, and as he would like to support his own idea and project, he accepted the recommendation and accepted to lead the project. It was adopted unanimously by the general assembly 2011 to run the project for a preliminary period of 5 years until the end of 2015.
POMW – Project Old Modern Warrior was born, and Kimu Sensei should run the biggest project investment ever in 50 years of Scandinavian history on both positions and at the same time take care of his key position as chief instructor and chief developer for Shindenkan’s competence center, Honbu dojo.
At the general assembly 2013 in connection with the optimized organization structure for larger martial arts organizations/associations as Shindenkan, the general assembly adopted that the most optimal, agile and efficient way to run future development projects was to have such project managed and approved by the cross-organizational coordinating committee; SOPORG – Shindenkan Operations & Organizations, which consist of chairman of the association, deputy chairman of the association, Honbu dojo’s competence center’s chairman and deputy chairman and also included an elected additional member from Shindenkan.
Shindenkan have learned the lesson from other association’s failures, and have tried to build a bridge between the association/organization and the system under the democratic “umbrella” of the association
From barren land to lush and fertile farmland – The dynamic learning and structured process
Kimu Sensei prepared a road map and valuation process, which in short terms were as follows:
E.g. brainstorming POMW – what questions should the project answer?
Answers to questions in random order which arise based on the description and the purpose of the project;
The more structured questions that emerged before and during the project, the more the project should be adjusted. There were many adjustments at the beginning and very few at the end. This of course goes well with bettering, the experience and the growing technical competence.
The POMW Project, which was in advance approved by the general assembly, should go ”So far wings can carry, where it still makes sense for POMW project”.
This meant that boundaries quickly were expanded from Denmark to Europe and to the rest of the world including Far East and USA. POMW very quickly turned into a global and international project.
The answer of why, is very simple. It very quickly became apparent that Minouchi Sensei thesis turned out to right, and Kimu Sensei extended and therefore adjusted quickly the inquiry to the facts and reality.
It could be very interesting to examine “how far down in the grades” in Shindenkan we could go before the effect of Yakami Shinsei-ryu training was not beneficial for POMW marksman according to Minouchi Sensei thesis.
General assembly 2012 was of the same opinion and very was of the same opinion and were encouraged by the POMW progress and preliminary results, so POMW’s project manager, Kimu Sensei’s proposals to the steering committee SOPORG’s support and resolution were adopted unanimously.
Expert advices from marksmen and shooting federation, advised us in 2010 that we should use 15 years of POMW basic skills, would be most likely. This meant five years each for pistol, rifle and long distance riffle. It turned out very quickly to be wrong.
In 2011 the duration of the POMW project was adjusted to from 15 years to 5 years and at the same time adjusted to from a local project to a continental project and competence level. In 2012 we adjusted the project further from 5 years to 3 years. and yet another upgrade from continental to an international elite project and elite level of competence.
In 2012 the POMW project arouse seriously international interest and POMW was contacted about collaboration and learning processes. The interest have increased and continued to increase up to today in 2014, although POMW project officially ended December 31, 2013. We have turned down both large and small offers since Shindenkan’s main “métier” and main passion is and remains to be our 1,000 year old heritage and system; Yakami Shinsei-ryu. POMW is now part of our mandatory KYU competence curriculum, and volunteers DAN competence curriculum. It has been an amazing journey and process that we see as very positive – but there have unfortunately also been some bumps, “jantelov” (people saying: don’t think you are better than us) and unnecessary counteract during the project here in Denmark. But the result of the project, we can all be proud of – and if others will enjoy this or not is entirely up to them. But one thing is certain; Minouchi Sensei thesis is indeed demonstrated and all Shindenkan members will enjoy this.
This article belongs to a series of final POMW articles, and will answer questions like;
How and why was POMW project set up?
How was it structured and how was the process?
What experiences were most instructive – both positively and negatively?
Retrospect; Is there something in the process, which can be done more efficiently or effectively?
Ambient influence Shindenkans influence and participants’ influence on POMW
And other questions