Goin to J-pan

Aiki Lee

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Hi all, this summer my family and I are going to japan for a few weeks. As we are all martial artists we are seeking places of training. For those of you in the bujinkan, genbukan, or jinekan: is it possible to train as a guest there in the hombu dojos for perhaps a day or even a few hours?

If any of you could provide some insight I'd be much obliged. I know I likely won't be training under the masters directly, but to just be able to see them or train in their dojos would be swell.

Also FYI :After Japan my family and I are going to China for a week to train at the sholain temple for a day and tour some of the country.
 

MMcGuirk

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Unless you're a member of the Bujinkan dojo, you can not participate or watch at the Honbu. Sorry, but you will be checked once inside.

Don't take it personal, you pretty much have to be a member of any group to join in training there. Especially traditional schools. Loads of martial arts classes though! If your Nihongo is really good, maybe you can sweet talk them.

There are plenty of Budokans (not the concert hall) around, just follow the people with the sword cases or bow cases on the trains! :) One of the reasons I love Japan!

There are plenty of Japan travel blogs to get extra info.
http://www.tokyotopia.com/

Most of the training halls (Budokan) I've found are in Japanese. I'm not much help there for you.

Hope that helps.
 

Bujingodai

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Me personally I made sure to have my Honbu card ready, and in 6 sessions I never got checked once and saw quite a few guests.

BUt thats my experience there.
 

MMcGuirk

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You might not have been checked when you were last in Japan but this has changed. The last three years I've been at Hombu anyone not immediately recognizable was questioned. I won't go into the weirdos who have had to be thrown out.

Now, if you are with a group and the leaders or other members of the group are known members, you probably won't be bothered. But depending on which class you train at questions will be asked on who your teacher is even with the group. I'm basing this answer on your question.

My Japanese friend who is new to the training was with me on his first time to honbu and he was questioned as to who he was immediately, but luckily I had introduced him to a few other members of the residents and they vouched for him.

It's up to you Himura.
 

Cryozombie

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My instructor had a similar experience last october on his first trip there, but he was prepared, and was also with someone who trains there regularly to introduce him.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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To train in the Bujinkan, Genbukan or Jinekan you need to be a member of the respective organization. Truthfully in the Bujinkan if you are not a member with training you will be totally lost.
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Dale Seago

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You might not have been checked when you were last in Japan but this has changed. The last three years I've been at Hombu anyone not immediately recognizable was questioned. I won't go into the weirdos who have had to be thrown out.

Now, if you are with a group and the leaders or other members of the group are known members, you probably won't be bothered. But depending on which class you train at questions will be asked on who your teacher is even with the group. I'm basing this answer on your question.

My Japanese friend who is new to the training was with me on his first time to honbu and he was questioned as to who he was immediately, but luckily I had introduced him to a few other members of the residents and they vouched for him.

This brings up an interesting, and perhaps even a bit scary (if you think deeply about the implications), tangential point.

I won't even speculate on how many hundreds or thousands of foreigners cycle through varying periods of training with Soke and the shihan each year. Yet the ones who haven't been there before, even though they may have a membership card and may have trained for some time and have decent movement, will be questioned. In a polite way, certainly; but the shihan will want to know who they are, where they're from, who their instructor is, etc.

Somewhere around 2/3 to 3/4 of my dojo students have gone to Japan to train at least once, and I'd say probably half go on a recurring basis once or twice a year. . .on their own or with a friend or two, usually not with me. (I give them enough information to get around on their own without having to have a "shepherd", and they can do all the training with ME they want to when they get back.) The ones going over for the first time all report the same experience when they return: They get noticed and quizzed; then when it's established that they train with me they're treated extremely well.
 
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Aiki Lee

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To train in the Bujinkan, Genbukan or Jinekan you need to be a member of the respective organization. Truthfully in the Bujinkan if you are not a member with training you will be totally lost.
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not quite sure what you mean by totally lost, but I'm a bit diassapointed that these organizations wouldn't allow guests to come in and train. I understand that no one wants a person who is just idlely curious to waste their time, but those of us who are genuinely into martial arts training seem to get the shaft.

What I'm looking for is really a training experience that goes beyond what one could consider "tourist" martial arts groups. You know, guys who have never done MA before and try it out because they are in Japan but normally wouldn't think twice about it.

Are there other Bujinkan, Jinekan, or Genbukan schools in Japan that will allow me to train with them? If there HQ are off limits are there other school that might let us hang out and try their classes? If so, do you know where they are so I can set up a meeting with them?
 

jks9199

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not quite sure what you mean by totally lost, but I'm a bit diassapointed that these organizations wouldn't allow guests to come in and train. I understand that no one wants a person who is just idlely curious to waste their time, but those of us who are genuinely into martial arts training seem to get the shaft.

What I'm looking for is really a training experience that goes beyond what one could consider "tourist" martial arts groups. You know, guys who have never done MA before and try it out because they are in Japan but normally wouldn't think twice about it.

Are there other Bujinkan, Jinekan, or Genbukan schools in Japan that will allow me to train with them? If there HQ are off limits are there other school that might let us hang out and try their classes? If so, do you know where they are so I can set up a meeting with them?
A few things to consider...

First, you're looking at this through "American eyes" and kind of discounting the cultural norms of Japan. You don't simply stumble in and start training in a lot of dojos in Japan. You need to be recommended and granted permission to train. Visitors also need recommendation or referral. It's a different culture, and things work differently there.

Second, the Hombu dojo is the home of the style. It's the headquarters, and, for the Bujinkan, Hatsumi seems to do most or all of the instruction at Hombu. Wanting to walk in as a visitor and train would be kind of like going to Rome and expecting the Pope to hear your confession, even though you're not even Catholic, or going to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in DC, and expecting to walk in the door and sit down at a Cabinet meeting.

Third, there's the whole issue of simply walking in the door to train at all. If you don't have the basics for a style, how can you hope to wander into an advanced class and benefit from the training? Imagine walking into an advanced calculus course without basic arithmetic and geometry...

I'd suggest locating a Bujinkan, Jinekan, or Genbukan instructor in your area. Talk to them about getting some exposure to the style, and perhaps a recommendation to a school you can visit while you're in Japan.
 
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Aiki Lee

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A few things to consider...

First, you're looking at this through "American eyes" and kind of discounting the cultural norms of Japan. You don't simply stumble in and start training in a lot of dojos in Japan. You need to be recommended and granted permission to train. Visitors also need recommendation or referral. It's a different culture, and things work differently there..

I wonder how these dojos bring in any money if they don't actively recruit new students. Wouldn't they want to share their art? I know I would. I understand not wanting to have to deal with the idley curous but to those who are genuinely interested it seems like a waste.

Second, the Hombu dojo is the home of the style. It's the headquarters, and, for the Bujinkan, Hatsumi seems to do most or all of the instruction at Hombu. Wanting to walk in as a visitor and train would be kind of like going to Rome and expecting the Pope to hear your confession, even though you're not even Catholic, or going to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in DC, and expecting to walk in the door and sit down at a Cabinet meeting.

Yet the Pope and US president go to public events were anyone can see them (though not necessarily meet them). The point I wanted to make was I do train in ninjutsu in America, but I don't belong to these organizations. I wanted to see what training is like in Japan just to gain a different perspective.

Third, there's the whole issue of simply walking in the door to train at all. If you don't have the basics for a style, how can you hope to wander into an advanced class and benefit from the training? Imagine walking into an advanced calculus course without basic arithmetic and geometry...

I have training in koto ryu, gyokko ryu, togakure ryu, tagaki yoshin ryu, and kukishin ryu (decended from the actual family not the the verison passed on through Takamatsu). I'm not a mere beginner. The Jizaikan teaches most of the same styles that the Bujinkan teaches plus a few others that are not taught such as Daito ryu and Eishin ryu. So I'm quite versed in the basics thank you.

I'd suggest locating a Bujinkan, Jinekan, or Genbukan instructor in your area. Talk to them about getting some exposure to the style, and perhaps a recommendation to a school you can visit while you're in Japan.

I'm happy with my current organization, and it isn't worth it to me have to go through all this "red tape" to maybe be able to train in the Honbu. I get that Hatsumi or Tanemura would be bothered constantly if they allowed people to get to the so easily, but aren't there a lot of Shihans at the Honbu? Couldn't some of them deal with visitors that wanted to train? It seems to be unnecessarily exclusive to me.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Jks9199 tried to explain this to you. They are there to teach the students of their respective arts and most importantly members of their organizations. I cannot speak for the Genbukan or Jinekan but the Bujinkan is incredibly busy with upwards of sixty to one hundred people in the hombu dojo at any time for Hatsumi's classes. (and it is a small building) So the Bujinkan is very busy. Also the Japanese Shihan's classes are busy as well. While you are genuinely interested you are also ideally curious by your own definition in a way because your intention is just to go and train but not be a part of the Bujinkan. So you would be taking up space in a way from some one who wants to be there and is a part of the Bujinkan.
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The Shihans of the Bujinkan are also about teaching members of the Bujinkan as well. Sorry I cannot help you more.

You certainly could become a Bujikan, Genbukan or Jinekan member and train with a certified Shidoshi and then visit Japan and experience the training.
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Brian R. VanCise

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As for being lost when training in the Hombu dojo? Well I have seen people with fifteen or twenty years or more of training scratching their heads. I have seen this repeatedly and experienced it myself. Basics may not be enough. :rofl:
 

JadecloudAlchemist

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I have training in koto ryu, gyokko ryu, togakure ryu, tagaki yoshin ryu, and kukishin ryu (decended from the actual family not the the verison passed on through Takamatsu
As in trained in Japan with the actual families? I thought the descendants have nothing to do with the martial side. I have also read with an interview with Tanemura that Togakure ryu was in fragaments and Takamatsu pieced it together.

You could always contact Hombu by phone and ask if you can go. I did this at another school though.
 

MMcGuirk

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This brings up an interesting, and perhaps even a bit scary (if you think deeply about the implications), tangential point.

I won't even speculate on how many hundreds or thousands of foreigners cycle through varying periods of training with Soke and the shihan each year. Yet the ones who haven't been there before, even though they may have a membership card and may have trained for some time and have decent movement, will be questioned. In a polite way, certainly; but the shihan will want to know who they are, where they're from, who their instructor is, etc.

Somewhere around 2/3 to 3/4 of my dojo students have gone to Japan to train at least once, and I'd say probably half go on a recurring basis once or twice a year. . .on their own or with a friend or two, usually not with me. (I give them enough information to get around on their own without having to have a "shepherd", and they can do all the training with ME they want to when they get back.) The ones going over for the first time all report the same experience when they return: They get noticed and quizzed; then when it's established that they train with me they're treated extremely well.

I think I see what you mean on the vast amount of people coming through, I'm still kicking it around. It's also amazing the amount of good people who manage the trip. I've met people from almost every religion, culture and corner of the world at honbu and we all seem to immediately get along. Maybe it's the shared experience and love for the art? For my part, I don't always say hello to everyone. There's just too many people sometimes! But when we do get a chance to hang out friendships are made.

And so as not to thread drift: In general no one should take it personally if they are not allowed access to a school they are not part of. It's just not how it works in Japan or any old school MA for that matter. No one is trying to be rude, it's just a precaution. As suggested, joining one of the three aforementioned schools is probably the better start to gain access.

In a way, those of us living in the west are lucky. We can go to most any dojo, fill out an application and then join. I've spoken with Kung Fu practitioners and Vo Vat (Vietnamese Kung Fu) people and they basically had to beg and spend a lot of time allowing the teacher to get to know them before being accepted as students.
 

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I wonder how these dojos bring in any money if they don't actively recruit new students.

Call me CRAZY... (ok Zombie you are Crazy) but when an Art becomes all about making money, it becomes worthless. Then you get crap like Long Distance Training courses, Video Black Belt testing, and selling "mastership" in your newly founded "better improved, we know more than the masters who have been doing it 50 years" version of the art to established schools of Karate or some other art and making them one of your franchises. Then you suddenly have a master of "Toad Thai Do Ninjutsu" who has trained in the art for all of 16 hours teaching it for the new "Soke" or "Anshu" or whatever term the "founder" grants him/herself.
 
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Aiki Lee

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Where to begin:

Fisrt off I concede that perhaps I don't belong at the Honbu dojos since I don't belong to those organizations. So I understand and respect this position.

As for people scratching their heads after fifteen years or so and what not, not everyone will get everything all the time but from the training videos I've seen of the honbu dojo there doesn't seem to be anything so advanced that I don't understand what is going on.

As for the kukishin family, the founder of the Jizaikan trains with a man who trains directly under the family of kukishin. Kukishin teachings were passed on to takamatsu, but that's no reason to believe that the family line itself doesn't carry the traditions down themselves.

Cryo zombie, I'm not saying that a martial art school should be concerned about ONLY making money. I hate video testing and mcdojos just as much as the rest of you, but if enough students aren't training how does one keep up the funds to keep the dojo running properly and then how does one spread their art without the funds?


I didn't mean to come across to anyone with the idea that I "deserve" to train at the honbu of the bujinkan, I just thought it would be cool to add to my ninjutsu training the experience of practicing it in its homeland, but if it's not allowed then it's not allowed I guess.
 

Cryozombie

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As for people scratching their heads after fifteen years or so and what not, not everyone will get everything all the time but from the training videos I've seen of the honbu dojo there doesn't seem to be anything so advanced that I don't understand what is going on.

No offense, but if you feel that way, I don't thing you don't get it AT all. I bring that perspective from attending numerous seminars with high ranking very skilled people in our art, and you watch the mix of students training; The lower kyu ranked students are just like "oh yeah, easy, I get it, it makes total sense" while all the Blackbelts are scratching their heads going... "no, wait, how did it..." because they SEE/FEEL the subtley that the lower ranks don't, and those lower ranks are missing the point.


Cryo zombie, I'm not saying that a martial art school should be concerned about ONLY making money. I hate video testing and mcdojos just as much as the rest of you, but if enough students aren't training how does one keep up the funds to keep the dojo running properly and then how does one spread their art without the funds?

What can I say... I look at out school and say thats not true. Our dojo is a private club. We make no money... my teacher teaches because he loves it. We pay a small fee each month (under 30 dollars a month) that goes to the dojo, for training materials. We all maintain "real" jobs, the club came together and built out our dojo space ourselves over the course of a couple weekends. As far as new students go, they are referral only, so WE bring in new students we feel are worth training with, and even then, they need to be voted in. It has NOTHING to do with money, and we do just fine without "enough students" or using the art to make money. The only way I could see you need to charge some huge fee is a) you dont wanna work for a living so you teach MA (not saying that isn't work, I just mean separately) and/or you maintain an expensive commercial space. None of that is NECESSARY (IMO and experience) to teach your art.
 

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Few things:

1. If you're looking for a dojo to pop into and watch some training I would first check your local area. Barring that, you could go to Kutaki.org and see if anyone there would be interested in having a visitor while you're in Japan. I think it not improbable that one of the foreigners or more foreigner-friendly (read:"english speaking") resident Shihan wouldn't mind you watching a training. I do have a feeling though that people are going to ask you to check your local area first, and it seems like a reasonable request. After all, it's not entertainment, it's training and other people are there to train.

2. It's not about making money.

3. If you think you get it, you don't. Not because it's so mystical that no one can hope to possibly 'get it', but because there's no way I spend so much time over there trying to understand what's up if someone who's seen a few videos has it down cold.

No offense, really, it's just that if it's that easy it's not worth it to me. (Trust me, and everyone else, it's not that obvious.)

4. I'm no historian, but I believe, from what I understand, that your understanding of the Kuki family lineage with regards to Takamatsu sensei might be flawed.

Someone else please jump in here, but isn't it Takamatsu sensei that reconstructed their martial arts for them? Or did they have an intact lineage and he just copied the scrolls? (But then, why would they need him to copy them if the lineage was intact?)
 

jks9199

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I wonder how these dojos bring in any money if they don't actively recruit new students. Wouldn't they want to share their art? I know I would. I understand not wanting to have to deal with the idley curous but to those who are genuinely interested it seems like a waste.



Yet the Pope and US president go to public events were anyone can see them (though not necessarily meet them). The point I wanted to make was I do train in ninjutsu in America, but I don't belong to these organizations. I wanted to see what training is like in Japan just to gain a different perspective.



I have training in koto ryu, gyokko ryu, togakure ryu, tagaki yoshin ryu, and kukishin ryu (decended from the actual family not the the verison passed on through Takamatsu). I'm not a mere beginner. The Jizaikan teaches most of the same styles that the Bujinkan teaches plus a few others that are not taught such as Daito ryu and Eishin ryu. So I'm quite versed in the basics thank you.



I'm happy with my current organization, and it isn't worth it to me have to go through all this "red tape" to maybe be able to train in the Honbu. I get that Hatsumi or Tanemura would be bothered constantly if they allowed people to get to the so easily, but aren't there a lot of Shihans at the Honbu? Couldn't some of them deal with visitors that wanted to train? It seems to be unnecessarily exclusive to me.
You've left those Western lenses over your eyes...

The dojos in Japan aren't necessarily about making money. (In fact, not all martial arts training halls/clubs here in the US are about making money, either...)

The culture is different. Think about it; the culture in the Northeast of the US is radically different than the culture of the Southeast... which is different from the Southwest. Now consider a culture that was largely self-isolated from the world for many years, is made up of lots of people in very tight quarters... The Japanese culture is dramatically different from ours. When we insist on trying to view them through the lens of our culture -- we're sure to find ourselves making mistakes. (We'll probably make them anyway, but making that minimal effort to understand that it is different will go along way towards minimizing their impact.)
 
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