Origin of the Japanese toward cross training


2nd Black Belt
Apr 29, 2011
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I had a very strict Japanese jujutsu instructor, he didn't tolerate much and the consequences for not following dojo rules or protocol were sever. Most infractions were met with a stern warning, and if that failed with a second occurrence of the infraction, you were expelled from the dojo for life. Like, if you studied another martial art, or crossed trained in an other martial art you would asked to make a choice. If you didn't make that choice within a reasonable amount of time ;), like the next practice, you were told not to come back.

A component I believe of that behavior and philosophy was the idea you focused on one thing and one thing only. If you where going to be good, you made the sacrifices and committed to one art and its training. Especially, within the first 10 years of training. I was told that this was pretty typical of Japanese senseis of his generation, and it wasn't just contained to martial arts, but also functioned in the Japanese society to a greater extent. The Japanese, I was told, felt that great dedication equal or surpassing that of an Olympic athlete was the only way to success. That no divinations from the path or distractions of the goal wasn't tolerated. Which was really echoed by a friend who spent time in Japan in kendo school and a student was knocked unconscious with a bokken for not paying attention to the sensei's lecture. He wasn't concentrating on the task at hand or staying alert to what was happening during instruction of the task, his mind started to day dream for a second. Then WHAM! the sensei hits him on the top of the head and knocks him out cold with a bokken. I have been told by my Taichi instructor who is acupuncturist, (and whose isn't? :) ) that that could have kill the student; in Chinese martial arts, the crown of the head is target that results in death if struck hard enough. Talk about whacking someone on the head and not killing them was either a demonstration of great control or dumb luck. So my Japanese sensei fell into that category he was very strict and had that mind set.

Years ago, my Kendo friend introduced me to the Book of Five Rings, where Mushashi encourages diversity in training, studying other martial arts, and occupations as well. This is in strong contrast to what I was taught to focus on one path. My question is does anyone know if Mushashi's advice was ever widely adopted by the Japanese martial's culture? if not was the Japanese martial arts generally always as I described strict, or is that something of say the last 100 years?

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