A Knight’s Errant

Questing for modern day warriors!

A knight errant would wander the land in search of adventures to prove his worth either in knightly duels or other chivalrous like pursuits. The word errant meaning, wandering or roving. This being so meant that a knight’s errant (quest or pilgrimage), is similar to a samurai warrior undergoing musha shugyo. A warrior undertaking musha shugyo, is called a shugyosha. The warrior would wander the land practicing and honing his skills without the protection of his family or ryu.

The meaning of shugyo can be construed as harsh or austere training. The value of harsh training is often lost in the world of a climate controlled dojo. A warrior trained within an absence of warmth may be inclined to use rigorous exercise to stay warm. The beauty of simplicity and self-denial of creature comforts while living an austere life help reacquaint oneself with nature. These ascetic values seem to imbue spiritual discipline to a shugyosha.

For modern warriors in a civilized land, musha shugyo can be found in traveling to train with other styles in seminars or the same style in foreign places. Although even doing the travel portion, implies musha shugyo. This is especially so if the travel is akin to the old fashioned forms of travel where the distance traveled and the manner of travel is in touch with nature.

With this in mind, backpacking and bicycle camping leap into the forefront of musha shugyo. So, when you combine doing your kata, and suburi with your normal camp activities, you feel like you have walked into the past. Although we might not have dragons to joust with, I have encountered plenty of wolves or their cousins on two or four legs on my journeys.

Camp side training in things like knife and tomahawk throwing do not seem out of place even among most non martial art types. However, hauling a katana out might raise a few eyebrows especially in a park like camp ground. While wilderness camping keeps prying eyes away, lugging a sword around on a bike still stands out while traveling as it tends to make one look like some kind of a nut or weirdo. So, save dressing up like a samurai and wielding a katana for the dojo.

I have found that with my injuries and white beard, a cane works well in camouflaging my weirdness. From my point of view, the cane works great as a modern day warrior’s quest training tool. Still, I willing admit that I may have jousted more with my cane from the seat of my bike than most knights have ever done with a lance.

It is frowned upon nowadays to joust with windmills, but it is nice to find a group to share these type of adventures. It takes someone special to go out on strange adventures where the only point is to test oneself. “Iron sharpens iron, as one man (person), sharpens another,” a quote from King Solomon I believe. From my personal experience some of my fondest memories with friends and students alike have been borne out of the informal bonding experience of musha shugyo via hiking, biking and training in the out of doors. There is nothing like peeing in the woods in a cold rain to test your resolve.

I do not have PTSD over biking although I might have had it at one time, but I do try to steer clear of busy streets and highways and roads without bike paths. Nonetheless, standard biking is out for me as the position kills my back. As most of my astute readers know, backpacking is also an activity that injuries bar me from participating in. So, in conclusion I’m planning on getting a recumbent trike (either a delta or a tadpole), to help me adapt to my situation. After that goal has been achieved, I will post on my Patreon page information about people who may want to join me and some of my friends and students on a knight’s journey.


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