Training in Japan, a few tips!

Brian R. VanCise

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Having just returned from Japan. I thought that I would give some
important information to those going over to train with Soke!
First off I would advise anyone going over to check Ohashi Sensei's
sight out for training times and how to get to Ayase and Noda!
http://www001.upp.so-net.ne.jp/bujinkan/ !

Next up, I would recommend anyone going to Japan to invest in
some Tombo Weapons that can be found at: www.timbathurst.net !
These are great training tools and best of all they are light weight!
This is really important when you are trudging around Japan, the last
thing you want is to be carrying a lot of extra weight!

Finally another really important thing is that you have a comfort level
with your training and with what is currently being taught by Soke! You
can attend as many seminars as possible with various Shihan who have
been training recently in Japan. Train with your instructor who is up
with the current teachings of Soke or you can also check out the
website of Shihan Legare and Shihan Pearce to get a feel for what
Soke is currently teaching! This webstite: www.shinkentaijutsu.com ,
has video clips of Shihan Legare and Pearce teaching what is currently
being taught at the Hombu Dojo!

Finally get prepared for some great training!

Brian R. VanCise
 
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Brian R. VanCise

Brian R. VanCise

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Well, training in Japan can be expensive but there are several
things that you can do to make it more cost effective. First, try to
find someone who lives in Japan to put you up for a reasonable cost!
That would save you a considerable amount of money! Second if that
is not possible but you have a timeshare somewhere in the states you
may be able to use that to get an excellent deal in Japan by transfering
to an affiliate with your timeshare company! Second, be prepared to
eat light and penny pinch when you can! You have to account for:
Lodging, Food, Train fare(this can get expensive), training fees, sight
seeing(if your able and not to busy training), and last but not least
airfare! I would really recommend having a credit card that gives you
miles for airfare when you purchase items. That credit card could allow
you to get your airfare paid for with bonus miles and that would save a
lot of money! We flew roundtrip for around $745, which at the time was
a good deal! Needless to say you should plan anywhere from $2,500 to
$3,500 but really it all depends on what you do, where you stay, what
you eat, and how many times a day you train! Sorry for being so long,
I hope this helps!

Brian R. VanCise
 

Cryozombie

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Brian R. VanCise said:
First, try to
find someone who lives in Japan to put you up for a reasonable cost!
That would save you a considerable amount of money!
Brian R. VanCise

We should all go and Show up at Don's Doorstep... I'm sure he will put us all up.

Hehe. Just kidding Don. :asian:
 

Don Roley

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Technopunk said:
We should all go and Show up at Don's Doorstep... I'm sure he will put us all up.

Grab the hose dear. We have another outbreak of ninja in the garden.
 

Kunoichi

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I have not visited Japan yet although I hope to in the not too distant future.
How important is it too be able to speak Japanese? I know very little of the language now but I am trying to learn little by little....
Would being clueless to the language hinder your training or is it not that important?

Thank you
 
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Patrick Skerry

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If for no other reason than common courtesy, I would go to a community college and take a course in conversational Japanese before visiting their country. You would be surprised how appreciative some people can be if you make an attempt to speak their language.



Kunoichi said:
I have not visited Japan yet although I hope to in the not too distant future.
How important is it too be able to speak Japanese? I know very little of the language now but I am trying to learn little by little....
Would being clueless to the language hinder your training or is it not that important?

Thank you
 
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AaronLucia

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You could either do that...or...be like me and buy a ton of Hatsumi's videos. I think just hearing the language spoken by natural speakers helps to creep it into your head. :)
 

Don Roley

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You know, in all seriousness, if there was someone I thought I could trust not to run off with my silverwear I might be willing to give them a futon to sleep on. Providing of course they lived in an interesting area and were willing to do the same for me and my family in the future.

Always wanted to travel. Cutting down on costs like lodging would make it a lot easier.

And for trips to Japan, that is going to be what you have to think about. The air fare and lodgings are going to be a huge chunk of your budget. If you pack some donuts for the first few days breakfast, peanut butter, etc you can save some cash on food as well.

So there really is little reason to skip some sort of training because of money. As hard as it may sound to some people, I have heard some people say that they were going ot skip some class because of money. After all that they paid to get here, it just sounds like an excuse to me.

Oh, and I think everyone that comes to Japan should learn enough Japanese to ask where the toilet is. It is hard to get good enough so that you can understand the parts that can only be transmitted by words rather than showing you the moves. But being able to ask where a station is, etc, will save you some grief while trying to find neat things to buy in Tokyo.

Since I am on a roll, I will say that I think people should try to find a Japanese shihan that has small classes and is willing to give individual attention to the most basic of things. You may think that you know the san shin, kihon happo, etc. And maybe you do. But if you do not and do not know enough to know that you don't know(did that make sense?) then it is best you find out your weak points from the most knowledgeable people you can.

Some people have said that they were skipping going to training with some of the shihan in order to be fresh for Hatsumi's lessons. I think they are either idiots, or lying with an agenda of getting rank from Hatsumi. Hatsumi is great, but he can't be bothered to deal with the very basics. And the basics will serve you best in the long run. And the smaller size and greater individual attention really raises the quality of the instruction in the Shihan's classes. A typical class with Nagase, Oguri or Noguchi might have 10 people. Only 9 (maybe less) other people with you and a teacher of the quality of Noguchi! Being a little more tired and less likely to impress the boss enough for him to give you your next rank is a small price to pay for that type of chance IMO.
 

Kizaru

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I posted this on another internet forum. Hope nobody minds if I cut and paste it here...

Re: Tips for Training in Japan!
I'd like to chime in about the 'proper care and feeding of translators'.

Recently, I've been translating at the Honbu on Saturdays and there are a few points I'd like to bring up on how to make your experience there a little smoother.

1. FOCUS ON THE INSTRUCTOR. THE TRANSLATOR IS A STUDENT JUST LIKE YOU.

When you walk in the door, there is a group of students and a teacher. The translator is a student like everyone else. If you find that you have a question that needs to be asked, please direct it to the INSTRUCTOR, and not to the translator. I don't know how many times I've said to someone, "Are you asking me, or XYZ sensei?" This is a very common mistake, but is also very rude. The translator will actually appreciate it if you FOCUS YOUR ATTENTION ON THE INSTRUCTOR, even as he interprets for you what the
instructor is saying. This is an act of respect for the teacher, and that's the most important thing. After all, you want to build a relationship with the teacher, and not the translator, right?

This does NOT mean that the translator is an invisible slave who will hop to your side every single time you feel the urge to open your mouth! Keep in mind that the translator is there as a service to the TEACHER, and NOT
as a service to the students. He is there spending his own hard-earned time and money to train, just like you, with the added effort of having taken the time to learn the Japanese language before-hand. If you want him to stop his own training every five minutes and run over so that he can
translate a question for you, you should discuss and arrange this beforehand and pay him his hourly rate.

2. KEEP IT SIMPLE

There are some Japanese shihan who will want to try speaking English or Spanish with you. By all means have fun in these situations, but do your best to handle them on your own. Don't involve the translator in your efforts to be understood unless absolutely neccessary. Smile, keep it
simple, and be ready to save it for later and get back to training.

3. DON'T TEACH IN SOMEONE ELSE'S CLASS

Sometimes, when a concept is being demonstrated, people get excited and want to blurt out comments about what they see, or what they think the teacher means. This urge is understandable, but is considered rude, REGARDLESS of what dan rank you hold, how many seminars you've taught, how many books you've written or videos you've made. It blurs the line between who is the teacher and who is the student, and this is HIGHLY inappropriate when training anywhere, but especially in Japan. It is also annoying to the teacher, who will more often than not be unable to fully understand and/or verify your re-interpretation of what he is saying. (It drives me nuts when, after I translate something simple, someone says something like, "But what sensei really means is to polish your knob until it gleams like a mirror," or some other such garbage!)

Bear in mind that this mistake can also happen when translating from English into another language, for example Spanish, Dutch etc. etc. PLEASE don't assume the role of teacher yourself. The shihan is the teacher, you are the student. As a co-translator, the shihan is speaking through you. Please do not grab a friend and begin demonstrating the technique as you translate into your language. Let the teacher demonstrate with *his* movements, you just translate the words. Later, on your own, you can discuss and re-interpret to your hearts content.

4. IT'S OKAY TO SAY "HELLO!"

Another thing people often forget or don't realize is that when you come into the dojo, it's perfectly okay say 'hello' to the instructor. While you yourself may feel somewhat shy as a newcomer to Japan, think how would you feel if you were surrounded by a group of people all speaking their own language--and not one of them made an effort to talk to you or greet you? Even in your own home town this would feel uncomfortable, especially when these same people are suddenly hounding you for advice once the class has begun! Small talk is fine. Say 'good morning' or practice your Japanese or talk about the weather. You don't have to be a megadan or a 'personal student' of his in order to walk up and say hello.

You don't have to ask about 'winning a fight' or 'what do you think about XYZ sensei leaving the Bujinkan?' (However, if you want to stir up a hornets' nest like that, I'm sure I can find someone ELSE to translate for you!)

IN CLOSING...

On those cold, rainy Saturday afternoons, there's nothing wrong with asking the teacher if he'd like you to make him some tea before class. If he's driven a long way he'd probably appreciate it.

Lastly, bear in mind that the happier and more at ease your instructor feels, the more likely he is to offer you the 'keys to the castle' which is what you came all the way to Japan to get in the first place!
 

Don Roley

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Kizaru said:
This does NOT mean that the translator is an invisible slave who will hop to your side every single time you feel the urge to open your mouth! Keep in mind that the translator is there as a service to the TEACHER, and NOT
as a service to the students. He is there spending his own hard-earned time and money to train, just like you, with the added effort of having taken the time to learn the Japanese language before-hand. If you want him to stop his own training every five minutes and run over so that he can
translate a question for you, you should discuss and arrange this beforehand and pay him his hourly rate.

Don't even get me started about this.

If I had my way, people who translate for the Shihan would have a couple of police officers walking in front of them, shoving citizens aside while screaming, "Move aside peasants! A TRANSLATOR is coming through!"

There is no benifit for people translating for you. They do it as a favor. Treat them as if you owed them something- because you do! They pay the same amount as you do to show up to class and the attitude some people seem to have that because they are visitors they have priority really does not make me want to go out and inconvinience myself for them.

Here is a hint- no matter what they shihan teaches you will probably learn a hell of a lot from it. So if the guy who has been there every week for 5 years or so wants to learn something new, you will probably enjoy it. If you make a big stink out of learning something at one session, there have been cases where the next time you show up the translator has either taken the day off, or suddenly can't seem to have time to translate what the teacher says.

For that matter, why the heck do some people not bother to learn things before they show up to Japan? I know that I said that people should double check what they think they know with the best teachers they can, but I have translated Someya's way of passing a sword over to another person time and time again. What really pisses me off is that some of the instructors that were there two years ago learning that bring their students to Japan and the students do not know what I KNOW Someya taught the teachers in the past.

Treat the translators with the respect of someone who is doing a big favor for you out of the kindness of their heart deserves. You would probably not understand a good portion of what was going on if not for them. And if anyone hears about how I can be an even worse insulting bastard in person than on the internet, it is probably because I can point to at least five cases where I have told people to take off because they tried to order me to translate without so much as a "please" involved.
 
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Brian R. VanCise

Brian R. VanCise

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Regarding translating I would concur whole heartedly that you need to
really respect and appreciate the effort of the translators! They really are
helping you in a very, very important way! I also feel that it is important
to have a small working knowledge of the Japanese language before you go,
or at least have someone in your group who has a working knowledge! It
is very important to know how to articulate where the bathroom is? Other
phrases such as where is the train station, bus, etc all come in handy!
Going with a group really makes the trip fun and enjoyable and if you
are able to travel with your Shidoshi or Shihan! That is really special!
While you are in Japan, everyone is going to go to Soke's classes but
Don's point about going to as many of the Shihan's classes as possible is
excellent! You can learn a world of information from Shihan's like Senou,
Noguchi, Ogguri, Shirishi,Nagato not to mention Legare, Pearce, Young,etc.
There are so many good teachers living in Japan that if you have the
opportunity to train with someone take the time and do it!

Brian R. VanCise
 
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AaronLucia

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I really appreciate all the information guys!

I only started about 3 months ago, but i can't wait to go to Japan and train!
 

Enson

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i saw the hombu dojo on that website given by brian. pretty nice. smaller than what i had expected... but nice.

peace
 

Cryozombie

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I had a couple questions...

If you go to Japan to train, and show up at a class, is it appropriate to just arrive? Should you arrive with someone who already trains there? Is it expected that you will be introduced to the Shidoshi, or can you just introduce yourself and train? (as was pointed out in the above post)

Do only Dan Ranks go train? Is it uncommon for Kyu ranks to go to these Dojos?
 

Kunoichi

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I am glad to hear that there are many kind translators over in Japan since languages have never been my strong point, although I am still looking to enrole into Japanese lessons to help me improve and expand on my basics :) Thank you for sharing your information, it is much appreciated!
 

Dale Seago

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Technopunk said:
I had a couple questions...

If you go to Japan to train, and show up at a class, is it appropriate to just arrive? Should you arrive with someone who already trains there? Is it expected that you will be introduced to the Shidoshi, or can you just introduce yourself and train? (as was pointed out in the above post)

Do only Dan Ranks go train? Is it uncommon for Kyu ranks to go to these Dojos?

*wiping tears of laughter from eyes*

Oh, dear lord.

I couldn't agree more with what Kizaru and Don have said.

Technopunk, regarding your questions:

Certainly, it's a good idea to come with someone who already trains in the dojo you're going to if possible, so they can introduce you. That may not always be possible (some students from my dojo and others in the area often go over at different times from me, for example, which I actually encourage so we get more of a smooth "flow" of transmission during the year), and if that happens to be the case it would be a nice thing if your Shidoshi furnished you with a letter of introduction to the Shihan you're visiting. If that doesn't happen, at least be prepared for him to ask who your instructor is and hope the Shihan knows him. :)

To give an example of what I mean, a sandan who's been wandering the world for most of the past year told me in class tonight that around the time of the April Tai Kai he was training with Nagato shihan at Hombu and asked him a question about something. Got a fairly superficial answer, as Nagato didn't know him.

Was back periodically over the next couple of weeks before going on to Thailand, and at some point Nagato asked him who he trained with. I'm his "secondary" teacher, not his primary one; but when he mentioned my name Nagato said, "Ah, yes -- he understands Budo", and everything changed; Nagato spent quite a while talking with him and getting into the "meat" of what the lad had been asking about.

And no, you certainly won't find only dan ranks training at the dojo of the various Shihan -- they have their own students who live there, y'know, and not everyone starts as a black belt.

Hatsumi sensei often says in his own classes and at Daikomyosai trainings, "There are no ranks here", and he seems to mean it. An absolute total-newbie white belt has as much "right" to be there as any nosebleed-level megadan. Mind you, that doesn't mean the former will learn or understand as much as the latter, as Don has pointed out; but, truly, everyone is welcome at Soke's classes.

My personal recommendation for training in Japan would be: Go to Hatsumi soke's classes for inspiration, and to the various Shihan's classes for understanding.
 

Don Roley

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Brian R. VanCise said:
Regarding translating I would concur whole heartedly that you need to
really respect and appreciate the effort of the translators!

Respect? Try worship!!!!

Or do you want something like this to happen to you?
 
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