These little revelations about Takeda and Sagawa are such a treat. We're very fortunate to have someone to translate -- not just someone with the ability to do the technical transliterations, and the patience to bear out such an arduous job, but with a rich budo background that must certainly make those translations closer to the mark on the original speaker/writer's intentions. I hope that the words "Thank you so much" don't get old for you any time soon.
The comment by Sagawa about Takeda's eyes in the famous photo... I had wondered at that picture. Takeda almost looks like he's hamming for the camera, like someone's grandpa at the family cookout. Did that man ever let his guard down for a moment? The photo might show one of the rare times he may have.
The whole thing about maintaining a Bujutsu demeanor all the time -- If one is practicing a way of life, not just a martial art as a hobby, then to be completely authentic I suppose that one must -be- Bujutsu. In Takeda's case, it was his birthright and how he grew up. He was a displaced samurai caught in a cultural vortex as society changed around him. After reading Stanley Pranin's and Ellis Amdur's accounts, I got the impression that this is the only way Takeda could be under his particular life circumstances. He was a creature of Nature, a product of his environment.
But what was Sagawa's excuse?
It seems that he had a much easier life and that Bujutsu was a chosen pursuit for his father and then for him. His skill levels may have been the best of all the Japanese masters (by his own and others' reckoning), but it seems to me that his Bujutsu bearing was something he had to work at and assume, that it must have taken much longer to have it fit like a second skin, rather than have it be something that grew from the inside, out as perhaps it was with Takeda. As a "rich kid" maybe he needed a purpose in life, and made a conscious decision for Bujutsu to be "it."
By contrast, Takeda didn't have that kind of choice. He simply "was."
Maybe I'm over-thinking this.
The aversion to Zen that was expressed by Sagawa (and Ueshiba) is also interesting. I can see the logic of Bujutsu being all-incompassing in both body and mind development; that is, if you are training with full intensity, awareness will develop out of necessisty. Your mind will "automatically" have to clear itself and be the "calm center withing the sea of chaos." Just train for a while with someone who is fiercely adept with a sword, and you'll see what I mean.
In defense of Zen, though, it isn't just about calming the mind and creating a coping mechanism (in the face of death); it's also about about -clearing- the mind in a way that heightens awareness, both of one's self and of one's surroundings (and opponent). If a student is not living La Vida Bujutsu the way Takeda did, using certain Zen concepts as part of the training regimen, can help develop that kind of awareness.
I don't see the full practice of Zen, as a lifestyle, as being necessary to developing the necessary mindset for Bujutsu, and in fact it probably would detract from it, if for no other reason than it takes time away from actual physical martial training. But I do believe that the adoption of aspects of it, certain practices incorporated into the martial system, as beneficial to martial training, particularly for the majority of people in contemporary society who are not going to pursue the kind of Bujutsu way of life in the manner of Takeda or Sagawa. An example of the successful intentional inclusion of awareness training is in the art of I Liq Chuan, which from Day One begins training its students in awareness at the same time that they are learning physical concepts. The mental and physical become one and the same.
Okay, enough rambling. I'm off to practice my Bujutsu Stink-Eye and see if I can scare anyone...