Interviewed by Isao Tokuhashi
Edited by Daniel Penso
Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mivelaz Vincent (Switzerland)
Budoka (Martial Artist)
Today we introduce you to a “NINJA” from Switzerland. Mivelaz Vincent, 3rd dan of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu.
Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu (武神館武道体術): Most commonly associated with ninjutsu, the strategy and tactics of unconventional warfare, guerrilla warfare and espionage purportedly practiced by the ninja.
Isao Tokuhashi, the founder of My Eyes Tokyo, met Vincent for the first time in Saitama Prefecture during the 2002 FIFA World Cup. That was his first trip to Japan. They stayed at the same guesthouse and often hung around in their neighborhood and Tokyo.
Vincent got married to a Japanese woman several years ago and developed stronger ties with Japan.
Tokuhashi has seen him several times in Tokyo since they left the guesthouse, but he didn’t know about the life history of this Swiss gentleman very well so Tokuhashi decided to explore his journey to Japan and listen to how he got attracted to the country and the way of “Shinobi”.
*Interview in Roppongi
Changing from a video game-holic into a martial artist
I come to Japan almost every year, even right after the Great East Japan Earthquake. I’ve been coming to Japan from Switzerland since 2002 to train in “Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu”. Of course, I had always wanted to come to Japan since I got involved in martial arts, but I had to finish my studies before preparing for a long trip to the country. I was still young and it was a bit unusual for me to go that far by myself at that time.
My career as a “Budoka” (武道家, martial artist) started at age 10. I did judo until I was 12. My mother wanted me to do something outside because video games were getting popular at that time and I was getting too much attracted to them. That made me become a “geek”.
I met a good Judo teacher so I started to like it and attained an orange belt (*Belt color changes; White->Yellow->Orange->Green->Blue->Brown->Black->Red & White->Red). I wanted to continue it, but I couldn’t spend any time on judo because I had to study more at school because I started to have some difficulties due to the development of a dyslectic matter.
Encounter the Ninjutsu
I wanted to do something again in 1997 at age 17. I was so skinny and surrounded by geek culture at that time, so I wanted to build my body and be stronger as a human being. Then I happened to encounter Budo Taijutsu through one of my friends and it became clear what I wanted to do as soon as I met my shisho (師匠, master).
His name was Werner, a Spanish man who was living in Switzerland. Eventually, he became like my big brother, who made me into who I am today. He told me, “You have to be a gentleman if you want to be a warrior”. I took the words to my heart.
Another word that I heard from him at that time made me finish developing my devotion to the warrior life around age 20 – “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance”
Unfortunately, I lost my master in 2005. He died from stomach cancer at the age of 39. I was really shocked. But, then, I decided to pass what I’ve learned to the next generations because I felt that it would be my duty and teaching should never be forgotten.
I was introduced to another sensei (He is not my shisho because I can call only one person shisho). He is a French professor whom my shisho had already met a year before his death. I started to take his seminars after the death of my shisho.
I went to European countries and took every single seminar in order to show how I was eager to follow him. I continued it for five years with my friends from my shisho‘s dojo, and he accepted us as his students in 2010. It was kind of a test from him. He wanted to see if we were serious enough in his practice. He told us he would teach us at our dojo since then, so we held our own dojo seminar for the first time. We have held a seminar every year ever since.
Passing the torch
Actually, I’m not a shisho. In our dojo, I don’t let my students call me master so I say I’m just a “Coach”. I don’t teach them, I “share” skills and techniques with them.
I want them to follow what my shisho said; “You have to be a gentleman if you want to be a warrior”.
Don’t be selfish, self-conscious or arrogant. Be a selfless person, take care of others and cherish other’s lives to the last gasp and I pass on the knowledge that I received from my shisho and my sensei to the next generation – Those are my duties.
Martial arts are about war and death. It can’t be treated lightly. It’s a responsibility that we all have to understand.
Taken at Myozenji Temple (Minato-ku, Tokyo)
What is Japan to you?
It’s the symbol of something I didn’t have when I was a child.
That was something far away from me and different from what I knew. But, after I realized that I was a scion of an old Celt family in my late teens, I could understand what Japan was. Japanese culture and Celtic culture share a lot of similar aspects. Both of them believe that power comes from the earth, from the ground.
I thought that I would never connect with my Celtic roots in my life. I went to Ireland, one of the Celtic nations, but I couldn’t feel at home there.
However, finally I could do that – here in Japan and I understood that feeling deep inside of me at last!
Bujinkan Dojo – Soke Masaaki Hatsumi:www.bujinkan.com