Training in Japan, a few tips!

bencole

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But to take in on yourself to speak for Hatsumi seems a bit presumptious. It is his place, and unless I got specificly charged by him to do so, I would let he or those he has in positions of authority decide how to deal with the matter.

Don Roley said:
Every situation I can think of where someone decided to be the spokesperson for Hatsumi's will, it turned out they were running their own game.

I did not say that one should be "speaking for Hatsumi" in these situations. I *DO* feel that as seniors in the dojo we have an *OBLIGATION* to right wrongs within the dojo our of respect to Soke, though. Soke cannot and will not take responsibility for everyone, but if someone is disrespecting the dojo or posing a danger to others, then it is our responsibility to stand up and be men/women.

I believe that if you have a "good heart" and you make a solid choice, given the information at hand, to take steps to protect the dojo, Soke would only be pleased. I have *EVERY* reason to believe this.

Speaking frankly, I think that there are a lot of people would rather bury their heads in the sand and complain about things behind people's backs than actually handle the problem right then and there....

If senior members of the dojo are not willing to step up and take on responsibility for the dojo, then who will?

Sacha Baron Cohen (of "Borat" fame) was recently on NPR here in the States where he talked about how indifference can lead to terrible things. You can find the interview on www.NPR.org, btw, and I highly recommend it.

The exact quote was of Ian Kerschl, a historian of the Holocaust, saying, "The path to Auschwitz was paved with indifference."

I am certainly not equating allowing drunks to train at Hombu as the equivalent of Nazi rule, but the general point is that the unwillingness to stand up to true wrongs can lead us to bad places.

In general, I think that if a little more reprimanding was used by people who know better that *MOST* of the problems that people rant about on the net (i.e., Trash at Hombu, Rudeness in Noda, etc.) would go away. But so long as people are not *TOLD BY THEIR ELDERS* that what they are doing is wrong, they can always claim ignorance. And they do. And the problems get worse and worse....

As an example, Don, you say when someone is being lascivious on the train platform, you would rather duck away and hide. Why not turn to them and say, "Not cool, dudes. You don't need to understand Japanese to know that you are being a twerp. Moreover, you are dirtying Soke's home turf. Not cool at all...."

The Japanese woman would know, without understanding English, that you had stepped in to point out the wrong of the comments, which would (1) provide a clear signal to her that not all foreigners are like those guys (i.e., your expressed goal of hiding) and (2) *PREVENT* future recurrences (i.e., impossible if you hide).

I think there are far too many senior gaijin in Japan who would rather complain about things than actually do anything about it.

YES! YES!!! We *SHOULD NOT HAVE TO TELL PEOPLE TO USE THEIR BRAINS*, but they don't.

And ranting about it without being willing to fix the problem is not the best action *AS A SENIOR IN THE DOJO.*

YES! YES!!! There *ARE* even more senior people than you (and the other gaijin), *BUT* they don't speak English and don't understand where the perpetrators are coming from.

This has nothing to do with people "speaking for Hatsumi", it has to do with "doing what's right", "respecting the dojo", "respecting Hatsumi-sensei", and "ensuring the safety of all."

If a senior student at Hombu was aware of someone training drunk, and someone ended up hurt as a result of that drunkenness, I would hold those seniors partially responsible. No amount of claiming, "It's not my responsibility" would absolve those individuals of being spineless weenies and being poor examples of leadership within the dojo.

If our seniors are not willing to look out for the safety and sanctity of the dojo environment, then who will?

-ben
 

Grey Eyed Bandit

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Every time I've asked other people who've seemed the most interested in sabotaging what their training partner is trying to do, what exactly it is they're doing, I've been reprimanded by the instructor in charge and told it's not my business. Furthermore, two years ago, I was at a large seminar in which a 15th dan picked up a kid about 15 and asked him to tell everyone whom he was, where he came from and what thoughts he had about training - at which point he seemed noticeably uncomfortable. I was inches away from standing up and telling him to leave the kid alone and ask me instead, but I guarantee that if I had, I would not have been a welcome guest to those organizers anymore.
 

bencole

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Every time I've asked other people who've seemed the most interested in sabotaging what their training partner is trying to do, what exactly it is they're doing, I've been reprimanded by the instructor in charge and told it's not my business. Furthermore, two years ago, I was at a large seminar in which a 15th dan picked up a kid about 15 and asked him to tell everyone whom he was, where he came from and what thoughts he had about training - at which point he seemed noticeably uncomfortable. I was inches away from standing up and telling him to leave the kid alone and ask me instead, but I guarantee that if I had, I would not have been a welcome guest to those organizers anymore.

In other words, we've bred a culture of wimps and ostriches....

-ben
 

Grey Eyed Bandit

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All about maintaining the status quo, I guess.
I say something that's true to a group of seven or eight people, and all hell breaks loose. 15th dan does the same when teaching a group of 23 people - no sweat.

I honestly don't know what I'm going to do about all the hypocrisy I witness on a daily basis.
 

Don Roley

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In other words, we've bred a culture of wimps and ostriches....

Just following the will of our superiors.

The Japanese are not big on direct confrontations. When the folks showed up to class drunk, the people in charge did not toss them out or even speak to them. Their revenge is a bit more indirect. They withhold comments and corrections. I remember when someone took a group photo with a few other people while class was going on. I looked at the teacher teaching and he told me to leave them alone. "You can't expect them to act any better," I was told.

So if the teacher won't say anything, and indeed tells us not to cause conflict and disharmony in class, there really is not much we can do.

Pointing out and complaining about behavior in general without names seems to be ok. Maybe someone can learn from such talk. But pointing out specific names or confronting them seems to cause the Japanese more concern than the acts themselves.

I mean, you know that maniac who was forced out of the Bujinkan a few years ago. You know what he did. So did Hatsumi. But not once was there a direct confrontation. Instead, every time this sociopath showed up we did soft and slow training. That idiot hated that type of training and eventually left the Bujinkan as everyone hoped.

Now if someone in charge was not going to tell him face to face that his actions were not acceptable, I do not see how anyone else can take the risk of being censured for standing up for what is right.
 

kuntawguro

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Several things you do not want to do if you go to Japan to train. Do not give a gift or a tip ( a typical Filipino tradition)- the person recieving that gift is honor bound to do the same in returnand can make them feel really uncomfortable. Next, do not wear black uniforms or uniforms with many patches on them. It is in very poor taste. I toured Japan in 1992 by invitation. When I showed up to the dojo for our gathering I wore my Filipino outfit ( after all- I was invited to share Filipino arts) I was not let into the dojo- "in order to enter here you must wear a clean white uniform" I was told by the ranking student. Now, I took real offense to this, after all, if i invited you to my club , I would not expect you to take off your Karate uniform and buy one of mine. When Kai Sensei found out what happened, he personally appologized for the insult. Still, I was really ticked off. I am good enough to be invited, i was good enough to do 4 demos for them, yet I was not good enough to enter their club for a meeti - is how i took it.
 

bencole

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Don Roley said:
I mean, you know that maniac who was forced out of the Bujinkan a few years ago. You know what he did. So did Hatsumi. But not once was there a direct confrontation. Instead, every time this sociopath showed up we did soft and slow training. That idiot hated that type of training and eventually left the Bujinkan as everyone hoped.

Yes, but that is because with that individual's personality, fire would breed more fire. Extinguishing the fire by cutting off the air was a more appropriate way to handle that keg of gun powder.

Just following the will of our superiors.

If that is so true, then why did one of the Shihan physically impede entry of someone into Hombu with Soke telling the man that he was not welcome? Soke and this Shihan *PHYSICALLY* prevented someone from stepping up into Hombu dojo, and told the individual to leave.

On a personal side, Soke has instructed me more than once to tell people to shut up, clean up after themselves, behave, and other such reprimands. In my personal experience, Soke expects people to be willing to tell people that they are doing bad things.

If Soke cares about people using real weapons in the dojo due to their danger (and I *KNOW* that you have heard his admonitions about weaponry), then why would he knowingly allow the equivalent of a weapon (i.e., a drunk black belt) to be in the dojo training?

The Soke that I know would not. Some of the Japanese Shihan might. I certainly wouldn't, and would have no hesitations about throwing them out of the dojo.

Don Roley said:
When the folks showed up to class drunk, the people in charge did not toss them out or even speak to them.

I assume this was not Soke, and that Soke was not aware of the situation. It sounds like the "style" of "certain Japanese" but certainly not "all Japanese." ;-)

The next time you see Soke, ask him. Tell him the situation and say, "If I thought it was best for the safety of the dojo that I ask someone to leave, would it be appropriate to do so?" I'll bet you a Sam Adams that he would....

-ben
 

Don Roley

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Several things you do not want to do if you go to Japan to train. Do not give a gift or a tip ( a typical Filipino tradition)- the person recieving that gift is honor bound to do the same in returnand can make them feel really uncomfortable.

No, actually the custom of Omiyage is a long one and it is rather expected that someone give a small gift in certain situations.

You might want to check out what section this thread is in. Your comments about black uniforms gave me a chuckle.
 

kuntawguro

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Well, I agree that black uniforms are standard in your art as well as mine- but the average run of the mill DOJO will nail ya
 

Don Roley

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I assume this was not Soke, and that Soke was not aware of the situation.

On both accounts, no.

When Hatsumi tells me to do something, I will. But sometimes fire breeds more fire. Best IMO to follow the example of the Japanese. If they won't do anything to stop certain things, I am not going to take it on myself to stop them. I can give general advice, tell people willing to listen that their behavior is not good and try to steer things in a productive way. But that is about all I have been charged with.
 

Don Roley

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Well, I agree that black uniforms are standard in your art as well as mine- but the average run of the mill DOJO will nail ya

The thing is, we don't care. This is a thread directed toward people in our art. What other people should or should not wear, etc in other arts is not a concern for this thread.
 

Grey Eyed Bandit

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To my knowledge, at least one Japan resident has been explicitly told that he is not welcome to train with a certain shihan anymore.
 

Don Roley

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To my knowledge, at least one Japan resident has been explicitly told that he is not welcome to train with a certain shihan anymore.

Yeah, I think I know the case you are talking about. But that shihan has also told others not to come back as well. Those that were told to go away and never come back had to really, really work at it.
 

Logan

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I am not sure how others feel (or if this has been mentioned before) but in my experience, when training in Japan bring Yen - don't rely on cards or especially traveller cheques. You can find machines/places to accept them but it can be a hassle (especially if you are new). Japan is such a safe country that you can practically leave your wallet on a counter, go to the toilet and come back to find it still there (though it isn't advised!). The police system is so effective that people seem to go out of their way to return lost items to avoid suspicion on their part (and they are generally nice)*.

I am not sure for Bujinkan stuff but for other dojos they only accept cash as payment fees when you want to join/train/buy stuff.

*Except for bikes. People like "borrowing" your bike in certain areas of the big cities.
 

stephen

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The police system is so effective that people seem to go out of their way to return lost items to avoid suspicion on their part (and they are generally nice)*.



I wonder if it's a general cultural attitude rather than the efficiency of the police system. I've read stories, particularly concerning non-Japanese, that when confonted with serious crime have a particularly difficult time dealing with the police.
 

Don Roley

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I wonder if it's a general cultural attitude rather than the efficiency of the police system. I've read stories, particularly concerning non-Japanese, that when confonted with serious crime have a particularly difficult time dealing with the police.

Just a general note- try to avoid the police in Japan if at all possible.

There are officers here that are not racist, corrupt and/or thugs with guns. But don't count on being able to find one.
 

Don Roley

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Shawn Grey over at Kutaki just posted this and I was tempted to get up on my chair and cheer.

Hi All,

I'm writing this after noticing a significant increase recently in the number of times that people are requesting training-related information from me. Specifically, requests from people that I either don't know and/or have a very minimal or non-existent personal relationship with. Between my Kutaki PM Inbox and my email mailbox, it is beginning to take up a significant amount of time to respond to everything, and I'm realizing that I have to draw the line somewhere before I get completely steamrolled. Last week I got an email from someone whose name/email I didn't recognize and really don't think that I've ever met or conversed with before. The email went something like this:

"Hello,

I was wondering if you could send me the full training schedule of all of the Bujinkan Shihan in Japan. Please send this to both my work and personal email addresses, included below, as sometimes I can't check my home email from work and vice-versa.

Thank you,

<name>"

This to me looks like a purchase order for a product (Only in this case there was no 'purchase') rather than a request for a favour from someone you've never met.
And needless to say, it went straight to the trash bin with no response.
This was an extreme example, but the number of similar messages I've been getting has really been on the rise lately. This is largely my own fault, as I've taken the position of making myself very available for questions and such over the last 10 years. The Internet also has I think given people the expectation that they should be able to get a large amount of information for little or no effort. However, an Internet webserver has no feelings and doesn't mind if you don't have a personal relationship with it and hit it a dozen times a day with requests for information. Most human beings, on the other hand (at least the ones that I know), are a bit different.

There are a number of my sempai here that keep a very low online profile simply due to the fact that if they don't, they get overwhelmed with these kind of messages, and I'm beginning to see the wisdom in that kind of "best distance make" attitude. I've basically come to the point where I too have to take a step back and let people put more effort into getting information themselves, for the sake of my own sanity. Otherwise I'm soon going to end up feeling like an automated information-disposal machine. So from now on I'm basically going to be ignoring messages from people asking for information or favours unless I've had at least one or two verbal conversations with them that involved personal topics like relationships or work. In other words, if there is some kind of personal relationship being formed.

I think that the Bujinkan is very much about forging personal relationships and that a relationship should be in place before too much is expected from the other party, whether that person is Soke, a Shihan, or a net-junkie like myself - or basically anyone else for that matter. That's just a natural aspect of human relationships, in my opinion. Not all Japan-residents may feel the same as I do. I know that some are more reclusive than I am and some are more open to questions. Looking around, I basically see that the longer the person has been in Japan, the less available they make themselves to people they don't have personal relationships with. And I think that's just because the longer that a person has been here, the more visitors from overseas they meet both in Japan and online, and the more people start to expect from them in the way of favours and information. Its natural that everyone has a limit as to how much they can do for other people without sacrificing more of their own time and energy than they can handle.

There are good resources for information in place that should help answer most questions. One of them I think is this site - the Search function is valuable if you don't find what you're after right away. Joji Ohashi's webpage is also valuable: http://www001.upp.so-net.ne.jp/bujinkan/. Ohashi-san's email address is also on that site. If you can't find what you need on either Kutaki or Ohashi-san's page or in email correspondence with him, Japan-residents are an option, and some of them are very helpful, but please remember the value of the personal relationship when doing so. Otherwise you may quickly burn a bridge rather than build one.

Happy training,

Shawn

So folks, treat the guys living here like human beings instead of web sites that exist to serve you. It gets really annoying from time to time. And if they do help, show some thanks! I have said it before and it bears repeating- if you won't put in time to find the answer to a question you could find for yourself, I do not feel any onus to help you.
 

Shicomm

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I'm more comfortable to reply to that over here then on the kutaki board.
I perfectly understand and respect the message given by Shawn but on the other hand i'm puzzled also.
On the one side it's not "done" to post training info ( times, locations and days ) on the net.
I still find that to be a bit odd but if that's the right thing to do then i'll respect that.
On the other side there is the point that you can ask for the info with those who know.

Off course ; it would be better to get that kind of info face to face.
But why should there be a "ban" on kindly asking for that info a bit less directly?
Is it like ; 'a bit more respect would be nice' or 'don't be shy and ask straight ahead' ?
I'm just puzzled even more ; it's "not done" to put it online but it's also "not done" to ask directly to some who might know. :idunno:
 

saru1968

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Kind of goes both ways.

I'm a terrible planner, i plan everything, every outcome as many possibilities as possible..don't cover all of them but as many as i can.

I remember planning my training trip to Honbu in Sept 2005.

Watching to gather information to plan my days and training trips to Honbu, Ayase and other Shihan's dojos.

Got a mixture of information ranging from all the training times of a particular Shihan to 'ask when you get here'.
 
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