The concept of Shu-Ha-Ri otherwise is a description of the process that the student must pass in order to become a master. At a deeper level of understanding of this concept it is also a relationship that is formed between master and student in order to learn the “Heart of the School”. In Shisei Ryu we have exactly this ShuHaRi situation. Coming into the training we are on the tatami often dressed in kimono, hakama, we become part of the school, the dojo or the group. Then arises the first bond, subjective feeling of the situation. Hence begins our way with Martial Arts, we gain the most important role in the whole Budo process – we become a student.
Being a student we enter the first stage called called Shu (: protect, defend, obey, observe, to be at, to be persistent, to be reliable / consistent with reality). This is the time, which may well be compared to the early years of the process of human development. We are like a child, to develop, one must be provided with adequate stimuli from the outside and must see the correct patterns of both movement and cognitive. Such a “child” has been, or is each one of us at the beginning of the road in the Martial Arts. This is the time where we have to adjust our perception to what the master says, shows. Every note, constructive criticism has only one goal at this stage – you have to learn the basics. At the stage of Shu the fundamentals of School are the priority. Technically, what is characterized at this stage is the learning and embodiment of the fundamentals through the repetition of techniques, exactly as they are presented, without affecting the will, opinion, or judgment, but with a total openness and modesty. This is an important basic conditioning period both physically and mentally, where all the necessary conditions are carefully prepared for the next stage. This is not the time to discuss the technique, checking or testing it. The knowledge must either be accepted or not. There is no other way to become a master. Being at stage of Shu one must fully trust a person who is not a trainer but, is a Sensei. It is he who takes the burden of responsibility for what he says and shows. Therefore, in summary level Shu is the stage of education and using the experience of your master to learn the basics of the School.
Then comes the time of stage Ha (break, tear, crush, destroy, move, open, explode). A description of this period has a lot of very dynamic meanings, but all are very accurate, because this stage is a time of complete change of thinking. A student with stage of Shu, where he focused on the guidelines of his master must begin to see acknowledgements in himself and in what he does. This is the time when one begins work on oneself, and the path is strongly based on the foundations one has previously learned. It is precisely these aspects that will give a stable foundation for further development, because it is the technical confirmation and at the same time understanding what training is that brings answers and results on work we must do on our skills. It is also a great time of verification. Being at stage Ha we begin to have students who obviously are at the stage of Shu, so that’s why our belief must be strong enough for both us and our students. A big part of the master’s role is to carry a student through these stages, so the student entering a period of Ha gains self-confidence, the knowledge of School and the philosophy of life which he entails. It is on us now the beginning of the burden of responsibility, how we will pass already known fundamentals of the school, it depends on us whether we will be able to share what we got. It is a very difficult stage in our development. Many people just then give up, or do not see the need to go further. Often this happens because of our human nature, we are afraid to give up what we already have, we do not like changes, we do not want to take responsibility for someone. Often one has to give up on earlier habits. It is very difficult, it seems to us, we had something good, we think that the way was already properly selected. We close ourselves to one technique already considering it as complete and ready. Now is the time for the most important step. You are in stage Ha, you have to go, open, break, crush previous habits. A large role in this stage falls on the Sensei, who oversees all these cascade of changes that occur. He supervises the proper direction of development through the prism of other masters, but also by his experience. Therefore, the stage of Ha is further covered by the supervision of a master.
Finally comes time of stage Ri. The definitions are: separation, departure, leaving, becoming free, liberation. It can be concluded that it is the end of education. This is the time when the student becomes the master. Therefore, it would be naive in large scale to think that there is nothing to learn. At this stage, we are free from attachment to a particular technique. Our worldview is much wider, our experience by moving through the whole process is very rich. Now with full conscious we can be a help for our students and show them directions on the road. We already know the directions, we know the way, difficulties and obstacles. However, we must develop all the time, because we treat each student individually and in this way we direct them through the process of Shu – Ha – Ri. Obviously there’s no need to add that to achieve this stage every single person needs a lot of time, training, and the exploration of our ups and downs. The stage of Ri in the School of Shisei Ryu gives us unimaginable freedom of action, development and realization of techniques through the experience without any divisions.
What stage you are currently at, where you’re going and even who leads you through the path, depends only on yourself. So please, everyone who is consciously threading in the path of training, use fully and wisely the opportunities that we have – the opportunities of decision-making. It is our choices only, that lead us to where we are and make us such and not other people – Budoka.