Japanese anime is filled with characters who are engaging in Shugyo. They keep training their minds and bodies to reach ever greater heights. If an opponent is overwhelmingly strong, the hero will redouble their efforts. I find these characteristics to be inspiring. Another trait that many of these characters share is that they are kind and light-hearted, but when it comes time to be serious, they can become very serious.
There are also real world people who have inspired me to do shugyo. These include Miyamoto Musashi, Yamaoka Tesshu, and Tenshin Tanouye Rotaishi. All are swordsmen who reached the state of no mind or no sword ( 無心, 無刀 ) and are reputed to be unbeatable.
I would also remiss if I did not make mention of The Iron Butterfly: Ch’ang Tung Sheng, the grandmaster of Shuai Chiao who never turned down a challenger and who was undefeated from the age of 17 to 77. (I’ve also seen him refered to as The Floating Butterfly)
Though I have never personally met any of the above figures, the stories (perhaps a bit glorified, or maybe they can not do these figures justice?) have inspired me to continue my training. I have been fortunate to meet many outstanding people throughout my life, many of whom were inspirational… but most are not related to shugyo and thus would be off topic to mention here. I would like, however,to make mention of some Shugyo teachers whom with I have had direct contact:
“If a man is your teacher for a day, treat him like your father for a lifetime.”
Everett Ogawa and Professor Brook Ziporyn. I had extensive contact with both of these individuals during or just after a time when my world view was in the process of drastically changing (university) and I consider them as mentors.
Master Matt Mollica in Columbus; my great kung fu teacher of over 11 years, who continues to accept me back into his classes whenever I happen to be in town.
William Zemsky, my zen master and design mentor from 2003-2011 while I lived in San Francisco.
Finally I would like to mention the teachers who have taught me much despite the short intervals of time that in which I was able to train under them. Sadao Kotaka Soke: headmaster of the Sakurai-ha Kohgen Itto-Ryu Kenjutsu system and Founder of the United States Classical Kendo Federationand the Ohio State University Kendo-Iaido Club. Hosokawa Roshi from Chozen-ji, Master Wong Kiew Kit in Malaysia; from whom I learned Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung, Master Paul Ooi in Singapore; who has developed and taught many excellent training methods for developing so called internal force, and Shifu Prasanna Jayaweera and his students in Sri Lanka; who gave me 2 weeks of continuous private instruction without expecting a penny in return.