12. Don’t be a dumbass

Don’t be a dumbass

Yeah. You. The guy curious about koryu training. Don’t act like a dumbass.

I’ve had it up to my neck with rude, idiotic, psychotic, immature, and clueless people curious about koryu martial arts training. I don’t understand it. People don’t go tromping into a stranger’s house tracking muddy feet, farting at the dog, and throwing their cigarette butts on the shag carpet (or do they?) and expect a warm welcome. Why do people do so many etiquette faux paus when observing a koryu dojo then, and expect a ready acceptance?

I’ve written about proper etiquette in entering a koryu dojo before, and so have several other writers and teachers of koryu traditions. But somehow, people keep popping up clueless, simply clueless about proper etiquette and behavior, so…

I’m gonna make this REAL simple. I’m not even going to do a lot of explaining, in order to keep things short and simple. If you don’t understand the why or wherefore of certain pieces of advice, then go look it up. Go to koryu.com and dig up my more in-depth articles, or those by folk like Dave Lowry or Meik and Diane Skoss.

So before you even consider going to observe a koryu practice:

The koryu isn’t for everybody:

If you are taking psychotropic drugs, have a serious mental disorder that requires medication, hear messages from the CIA talking to you in your head, or believe that flying saucers implanted radio transmitters in your body, don’t go to a koryu dojo. They don’t want you.  Being sad or depressed sometimes due to twists and turns in living is a fact of life. But if you are prone to being clinically insane, then stay away.

If you are a high school dropout, too bad. Go back to school or get your GED before asking to join.

If you are seeking something to add to your self-aggrandizement, stay away. Many koryu will emphasize that you can’t show off any of your skills without the instructor’s permission, if at all. Certainly, you will not be allowed to show off your kenjutsu kata at a birthday party at a bar.

If you posted your creative sword twirlings on YouTube to the music of “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Gladiator,” or “Highlander,” ending your “kadda” by falling to one knee and poking the sword tip into your parent’s grassy lawn, head down so your long front bangs fall over your teenage-angst ridden eyes…Go away kid, ya botherin’ me. We don’t need teenage angst. Go spend your time watching another “Twilight” movie instead.

If you are under 16 and are immature and still play with video games more than you socialize with people, stay away.

If you are over 16 and are immature and still play with video games more than you socialize with people, stay away.

The koryu is wide open for people regardless of race, ethnicity, religious preference, sexual orientation, etc. But you have to bend to fit the style, not the other way around.

Trailer park trash, white trash, ghetto gang bangers, Chicano low rider gangstas, local Hawaii “mokes,” basically, idiots and slobs of any race or creed: you’re not going to be welcome. Sounds elitist? It is. Too bad. Like the title of this blog states, dumbasses are not welcome in a koryu regardless of color, creed, religion or sexual orientation.

Like one koryu teacher told me, “I think koryu are not for dumb people. It may be for lazy people, but not for dumb people.”

Why? Go think about it. That’s your koan, Grasshopper. If you feel insulted about being considered dumb, do something about it. Pick up a book and read it. Better yet, pick up a book without any anime manga illustrations.

Email intro’s:

So you think you still qualify as material for koryu training? You want to find out where to train?

A lot of inquiries now happen via email. Fine.  That’s a very nice, tentative, exploratory way to inquire about training from the teacher.  But a couple of do’s and don’t’s:

When you email the teacher, give him or her a title, such as Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. Most koryu teachers in America don’t care (or even don’t LIKE) being called Sensei Such and Such from a stranger. Besides, calling someone Sensei Joe is not the proper standard form in the Japanese language, and most koryu teachers speak some level of Japanese. Better, if at all, to call them Joe Sensei. But better by far to say Mr., Mrs. or Ms.  Because some teachers, for certain reasons, don’t like being called sensei by complete strangers.

Some, of course, do love titles. Just as I wrote this, I surfed onto the e-budo web site and found someone who was insulted, simply insulted that a curious inquirer didn’t put the sensei at the end of his teacher’s name. You ALWAYS call teacher X by X-sensei, he insisted, and while you’re at it, he himself should be called Y-sensei. Don’t ever call him Mr. X. That’s not high-falutin’ enough. On the other hand,  I refer to my sensei in a number of ways, even dropping the honorifics when referring to him in a crowd that has no idea of proper etiquette levels in spoken Japanese. I (and other folk I associate with) tend to actually be rather forgiving of cultural differences when working with a general audience.

Observe proper email etiquette. In other words, DON’T WRITE ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS BECAUSE IT MEANS YOU ARE SHOUTING IN THE PERSON’S EARS FOR ATTENTION!!!!  Check your spelling, grammar, diction and usage of slang. If you write like an idiot, chances are the teacher is not going to get a very good impression of your intelligence. Most koryu teachers I know are college graduates. Many hold advanced degrees. They expect some brains from their students. If you are stupid, dropped out of high school, or flunked English 101, too bad. The koryu aren’t for you.

Don’t write, “I want…” The koryu teacher doesn’t give a shit about what YOU want. You have to conform to the training regime, not the other way around.  And if you expect to become “samurai,” fuggedabout it. You’re living in a preteen’s wet dream.

You can ask about the system, what happens in training, the training times and if it would be possible to observe a class. No koryu instructor will turn you away if you are respectful and truly seeking training. You can tell the teacher that maybe you did some modern budo, like aikido or judo, or kendo or karatedo. But alas, that’s going to just give the teacher some insight into your abilities, and unless you trained directly with Ueshiba Morihei, Asai Tetsuhiko, Gichin Funakoshi, or the like, training a year or two at the local kids’ karate class is not going to make the teacher think you’re incredibly skilled.

Chances are, the teacher will know many of the other martial arts teachers in the area and have a respectable view of reputable teachers of Japanese traditional budo. But if you were training in a fly-by-night school, he may have never heard of your teacher or group. He may not even care, either.

Watching a class:

Think about what you are going to wear before you show up. You don’t have to dress like you’re going to a senior prom, but don’t wear a torn-up t-shirt to show off your amazing pecs and brick abs (or beer belly and fat butt crack, or clothing that exposes too much tits and ass…that goes for women, too, by the way). Don’t wear t-shirts that have off-color or obscene images or words, and take off your damn baseball hat. What, is it super-glued to your head?  Did your momma never tell you to doff your cap when in a formal indoor setting, like a church, to show respect?

You can dress informally but with respect, say in a polo shirt, or whatever is appropriate for your locale and cultural environment. In Hawaii, Bermuda shorts and a polo shirt is considered near formal wear.

When you are about to enter the training hall, take off your footwear. Observe where and how the students doff their gear and do so in the same manner. Note that they don’t just chuck their footwear in a jumbled pile. The shoes and slippers are arranged in an orderly fashion so that they can be efficiently and quickly put back on. Sometimes there is a getabako, a shoe rack. You figure it out. But if you just throw your shoes in a pile, the teacher will notice that and consider it a strike against you.

When you enter the dojo, it’s nice if you do a bow to show respect to the environment, but the teacher will probably not expect you to know the etiquette of the dojo. But in any case, don’t act like you just entered a gym class. Think more like you stepped into a tea ceremony room. Or a church. Why? Look up the articles in koryu.com.

Don’t think a koryu dojo is like a modern strip mall karate chain outlet training. If you try to show familiarity with “dojo etiquette” and grunt, “OSU!” you will only look like an idiot. Why? Look it up. Koryu.com.

If the teacher offers you a comfy, cushioned chair to sit in because he says the class may be long, take it. He’s trying to be nice. If you decline and say you’d rather sit on the wooden floor or tatami, then you had better sit in seiza through the whole practice, or at the very least, if your feet hurt, cross your legs quietly. Sticking out your legs and stretching them, slouching against the wall…You don’t do that in tea ceremony, you don’t do that in a koryu dojo. Why? Look it up in koryu.com.

Sit up straight and shut up. Ask questions only if the teacher asks if you have questions, or if he comes up to talk with you during breaks in the training. If you came with a  friend, keep your conversations to a minimum.

If you see a move that, by golly, looks like something from your aikido class or judo class, or from kendo kata, don’t go trying to repeat the move by yourself or with your tagalong buddies.

If your cell phone goes off, excuse yourself and go outside of the dojo to answer it.

I don’t know why some folk don’t realize it, but as much as you are watching the class, the teacher is watching YOU out of the corner of his eyes. Act like a doofus with no notion of formal respect and he’s going to note that down.

When class is over, go up and thank the teacher if he doesn’t approach you first. Ask some questions, but keep it short unless the teacher wants to talk more. If you have a lot of questions, ask the teacher if you could email him again. And just because YOU want to join the class doesn’t mean you CAN join the class. The teacher will weigh a lot of things in his mind as to whether or not to let you in.

Now, whether you email him or ask questions afterwards, do some homework ahead of time. Go to koryubooks.com. Read up the articles there about what a koryu is and isn’t, read up on Dave Lowry’s books, which are available in bookstores and libraries, so you don’t sound like a smug idiot.

Some questions you might ask:

It is fair to ask who the teacher’s teacher was, what the name of the particular style of koryu is. Then if you have some doubts about the claims, check it out by asking questions on forums like e-budo.com.

Don’t ask “what federation do you belong to?”  as if it was a modern budo group. Koryu belong to the ryu, not to this or that federation.  I belong to the Bitchuden Takeuchi-ryu. Period. There’s no Hawaii Takeuchi-ryu Association vs. the Hawaii Takeuchi-ryu Society with competing officers and board of directors. We either ARE in the Takeuchi-ryu or we’re not.

Oh, by the way, if he says he belongs to an association of American Grandmaser Soke’s, he’s not doing a koryu. He may be good, his self-defense techniques may look cool, and he may talk the talk, but so far I haven’t seen anyone associated with those American Gandmaster Soke Ultimate Eternal Grandmaster organizations that are actually authentic Japanese koryu systems.

Don’t ask about tournaments. There aren’t any.

Don’t ask about promotion schedule or testing. Like I told one inquirer who thought our ryu was just like kendo, there aren’t any promotion testing or schedule. You get your rank when the teacher thinks you deserve it. And as a teacher, I don’t have to test you. If you train all the time with me in a small group, I should darn well know your skill level without having to test you. Now, some koryu associated with modern budo, like a lot of iaido groups aligned with the modern kendo federations, do have tests and promotions. But they are kind of a hybrid.

Don’t ask what color belts we will give you. We really (up until recently) don’t have any belt colors other than white, brown and black, for jujutsu, and kyu rankings are very, very recent.  I hardly pay it any attention until you get a “serious” rank, such as shoden mokuroku. Don’t know what that means? Go to koryu.com.

In iai we wear dark blue belts, or obi, to hold together our gi and hakama. You want a black belt?  You can wear one. That doesn’t make you ranked as a “black belt.” It just means your hakama won’t fall down.

If you decide to join, some groups have a tuition, some don’t charge you anything. Most koryu in America are not-for-profit ventures and just barely cover the room rental.  It’s fair to ask about monthly fees and other charges.

Joining a koryu, however, is not just putting your money down and jumping in to train. The teacher makes the decision, not you. Maybe he or she will turn you away for some reason. The koryu is not for everybody, and maybe the teacher doesn’t want to waste your time and turned you away because he figures you will lose interest in a few weeks.

I have not turned away many people myself. I once did ask an obviously psychotic person to leave or I would call the cops on him. I don’t allow crazy people into my classes. Eccentric, socially awkward: maybe. But insane street people talking about ninjas coming out of the walls, no.

Anyway, new students come dribbling in, but most of them leave after a few classes, so in my case, they weed themselves out. So why would I want to invest so much time in you unless I thought you would stick around a while? It’s not like I’m making money off you, after all. It’s more like I’m trying to pass on a treasured tradition, and if you don’t have the time or willingness to bend your ego to fit the system, why should I bother?

I spent most of this article ragging on newbies to koryu, but here’s the really good part. If you are earnest, mean well, have a good sense of respect and humor, and carry yourself properly, then most koryu teachers will welcome you with open arms. There’s not enough of you out there joining up. I yearn for more students who aren’t insane, whackos, dumbasses or low class, low-IQ losers from the nether end of the gene pool.

I myself have never been turned away when I asked to study koryu jo, iai or jujutsu. The teacher and fellow students loved having a new face to train with. And more to the point, if you show a willingness to stick around for the long haul, you become a part of a martial arts “family” that can’t be duplicated by any large-scale, for-profit, hundreds-of-students modern martial arts school. Being part of a koryu is way, way different from that kind of sterile, faceless training system. But you have to be ready for it. Don’t act like a dumbass.

34 thoughts on “12. Don’t be a dumbass

  1. Alright, I have a koryu teaching license, as I have gendai credentials as well.

    You seem to be falling into the koryu exclusive club mentality on this post. I have trained (2 groups) with and watched a fair bit of koryu groups in Japan (around 30 or so) and despite what other authors promote, it is about the same as any other dojo. Budo is budo. People are people.

    Fact is, always show respect. To the teachers, to the students, to the potential students. Remember though we are not recruiting for a cult. I like a variety of people and the varied personalities that come in. It is OK to have them rough around the edges. Getting to explain to people and educate them is a wonderful part of the process.

    Ignorance of a way or etiquette does not equal dumbass.

    Funny you mention high school drop outs and koryu. I was an English teacher in Japan. I had one student who was the worst student and geeky kid you could ask for. He was miserable at school. He failed everything. He was there for one reason only, Kendo. When he put on the armor he came alive, and that 13 year old kicked my butt around the room. While yes, kendo is not koryu – budo is a system of education. He was captain of the Kendo team, and went on to study several sword arts after school. It was his life. Ease up on the definition of intelligence. I bet you a buck he could whip you too!

    Would you keep the medicine from the sick? Why would you not want to teach the people that come to you? I don’t know man. The tone of this post was hostile. Lighten up, this stuff is supposed to be fun.

    Budo is a game. Have fun. Love people. Teach them and learn from them. That is the only lesson worth learning.

  2. “Sensei Strange,”

    Here I have to agree to disagree with you. This may make me in your eyes a member of the “koryu exclusive club mentality”; if so then, yep. Guilty as charged.

    I always show respect to people entering my practice hall, but I have my limits. If a person begins exhibiting violent psychopathic behavior, I’m sorry but I’m calling the cops. I had to threaten that once to a person who came in to watch the class and began to act dangerously strange when I refused to believe his statement that ninja were coming out of the walls for us.

    As a former high school teacher, I’ve taught spoiled rotten kids, kids with serious attitudinal, mental and emotional problems, homeless kids, and kids who were simply acting like teenagers, i.e., irritating as all heck. And I learned to deal with them and work with most of them. So I know what it’s like to bend and give support to people who disrespect you. Kids will often (but not always) come around if you show patience and true caring, because all too often adults in their lives ignore them and belittle them. But there are limits to my patience, and that’s a failing I will admit to. I adhere to the school of “tough love.” Sometimes you have to have discipline to go with love, I always say, or you end up like a wet noodle.

    “Recruiting for a cult”? I never suggested that. But I’m also not recruiting for thousands of members, either. In fact, I’m not recruiting at all. People come to me and ask to join, I don’t run out to try to pull people into my club. If they don’t like what they see, fine. Don’t come back.

    The majority of my students have never done koryu before. Some had a smattering of MMA or freestyle martial arts, others had extensive modern budo training. Some have had what I deduced were serious physical and possibly mental impairments. Most were clueless about koryu practices. I took them all in if they were serious about training. I even took in a little kid once because his father pleaded with me to try to make him tougher so he wouldn’t constantly be beaten up in the playgrounds because he practiced ballet and the other boys called him a sissy. I trained with him one-on-one for months not just in jujutsu, but in building and projecting self-confidence so that he didn’t have to fight.

    Most of my students were ignorant of koryu and traditional martial arts practices when they first started. But none of them showed the kind of arrogance and callow disrespect that I recently encountered among visitors who should have known better, which is why I got so irritated.

    What I recently encountered were people who stated that they did a lot of martial arts so they KNEW all there was to know and didn’t need to listen to my advice when I offered it to them.

    It is admirable that you managed to connect with the 13-year old problem child. Maybe he COULD kick my butt in kendo. But is that your measure of people? How much butt they can kick?

    And sorry, but I won’t go easy on high school dropouts. I’ve seen what happens when feeling sorry trumped serious efforts to make young people take responsibility for their decisions. And it’s never good.

    There’s a high school dropout in my extended family and he’s in a sorry state because he can’t even get an entry level job at McDonald’s; the competition for jobs is that intense. So unless he wakes up and applies himself to obtaining a diploma or a GED, his life is probably going to be a sinkhole. Feeling sorry for him and others like him is not going to help. Sorry and ten bucks will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks but not much else. Getting kids like that to find something worth striving for (as you did with that kendo kid) and accomplishing goals will.

    “Ignorance of a way or etiquette does not equal dumbass.” True, perhaps. But willful ignorance and a smug attitude that you know everything there is to know and then being totally disrespectful is. And that’s what happened. If that’s not dumbass, then I don’t know what is.

    Yeah, man, my post was hostile, because if you read my other posts here and in koryu.com, I tried to be very understanding, careful and patient as I explained about joining a koryu and the expectations thereof. I’ve been doing that for decades. I suggested those posts to the folk who emailed me asking to observe my classes, and these people totally ignored my gently worded advice because they said KNEW all there was to know. And then they acted like dumbasses. If they were so smart, why did they act that way? If they didn’t know, why didn’t they try to find out before they came?

    Why would I not want to teach all the people that come to me? Because some of them shouldn’t be taught, or at least not taught by me.

    I wouldn’t want to teach someone who will go out and use what they learned to harm other people. I wouldn’t teach people who simply want to show off. That’s because once someone is my student, they are my responsibility. Sorry, I can’t lighten up here. It’s a BIG responsibility. Their actions reflect on my teaching, good or bad. Budo is fun. But it’s also a responsibility not to be taken lightly.

    I have to also disagree here: Budo is not a game to me. It’s a tradition, an art and a love. Not a game.

    “Love people”? Sure. But I’m no Gandhi. My capacity for love is, alas, limited. I love people. I love dogs. I love lots of things. But I am a mean grumpy old man when it comes to people showing willful disrespect within a dojo when they should know better.

    I wouldn’t keep medicine from the sick, but I wouldn’t give a loaded gun to a criminal. Would you?

    Respectfully disagreeing,

    Grumpy Old Wayne Muromoto

  3. Liked the article, but had to copy and paste it into Word. The black background is really tough on my eyes for online reading. Not sure if you’ve considered changing backgrounds for easier viewing? And I didn’t think you came across as a “member of the koryu exclusive club mentality”.

  4. “Wayne Muromoto”,

    Yes I do understand many of your points. I admit your frustrated rant while read late at night put me on defensive mode, even though I was not necessarily your audience of choice. Many of your points are of course are valid – in a dojo, on a date of work place. It always shocks me to see what people come in wearing to my workplace for an interview.

    Of course the teen kicking butt isn’t a measurement of a person’s character, but sword arts were the only thing to light up a kids life. Just illustrating a point about budo being an alternate source of education. The important thing was not his relative butt kickery, but it lite a fire in him.

    Of course any group you create it is ultimately up to you to weave the fabric of the characters that walk into your door. Yes even in my more noble quest to teach the world have had to request people find a school more suitable for their mentalities.

    So respectfully I suppose I don’t disagree with anything. (maybe that koryu is the same as all budo) but I look forward to having my opinion changed on that if you can.

    I am happy to see you blogging again. I will be looking forward to more randori sessions in the future!


    Eric Pearson

  5. “There’s a high school dropout in my extended family and he’s in a sorry state because he can’t even get an entry level job at McDonald’s..”

    Wayne. I popped in via Kim Taylor’s blog.

    I’m a highschool dropout with nearly fifteen years in the I.T. industry and I’m a higher ranked iaidoka in an IKF-affiliated dojo, and I do believe you’re acting too much on instinct here. Sure, we’re a product of our experiences and you may have had some real cunts step through your door, but seriously — paint the world with less of a broad brush and give humanity the benefit of the doubt. Give it a shot.

    Budo is serious business, yes, and you make valid points, but you stand to lose a lot less hair if you approach the world with a neutral (read, flexible) attitude.

    Just saying.

    1. High school dropout,

      Thanks for your input, but with all due respect, I still disagree. That you managed to raise yourself high up in the IT industry without finishing high school is a very laudable achievement, but your success is an anomaly that is the exception to the general case, which proves my point. Most high school dropouts have very, very little prospects of success.

      I’ve been an educator for some 20-odd years now. Your asking me to give dropouts a break is like being a smoker and saying to a doctor, hey, I’ve been smoking all my life, I’m overweight and have high blood pressure but I haven’t died yet. Why worry about me, doc? I worry because I’m an educator. It’s in my nature to worry and care.

      Statistically, you have a lot less chance of making a decent salary if you don’t have a high school diploma. The US military won’t take you. The FBI or law enforcement won’t. Most businesses won’t employ you beyond an entry level position. It’s possible to be successful, but it’s a lot, lot harder. Satistically, over a lifetime, high school graduates make more money than high school dropouts. College graduates make more money than high school graduates, Bill Gates of Microsoft (who dropped out of college to start Microsoft) notwithstanding (another exception to the norm, but he was already coding and hacking in high school).

      If you were to take one of my college classes, you’d see that I give “humanity,” the broad mass of students that come through my doors, a lot of benefit of doubts. Even after 20 years, when I can pretty much figure out the slackers, losers and loafers the majority of the time, I try to give them help and encouragement to turn them around. Sometimes they turn around. I see that, but I see that letting them loaf and slide by is not helping them one bit.

      But you know what? I am under no compunction to extend that same patience in my martial arts class. We deal with hard wooden objects, pointy objects and sharpened objects, and I have to be very, very careful about who I let in simply to protect the safety and health of my already existing students. I also have a limited amount of time to work with each student, so if someone comes in who is a high school dropout (my nephew-in-law particularly), my first reaction would be: You want to study martial arts with me? Before I give you nyuumon, you have to promise to get your GED, because that’s a statement that you can stick out something hard and grueling and succeed. It may not directly impact your martial arts but it WILL affect your life, and more than budo, I want you to succeed in life.

      As an educator, giving someone the benefit of NOT motivating them to succeed is being no educator at all.

      My hair is good. Got lots of it, by the way, although it’s turning gray. Thanks. And congratulations on your professional success. That takes a lot of work, given your handicaps.

      Wayne Muromoto

  6. High School Dropout,

    Quite recently, thank you. I’m married. And I’ll leave my private life at that, respectfully. What relevance do referring to my private life or hair have on our discussion? Please, if you do reply, give with your proper given name.

    Wayne Muromoto

  7. Just for the record, Bill Gates comes from one of the wealthiest families in Seattle. He could drop out and try to start up a business because he could always go back to his family and get some more (much more) money. And anyway he dropped out of college.

    1. Frederico,
      I knew Gates’ family was well-to-do. I didn’t know he was that rich, though. Thanks for the note. Yes, I intended to mean that Gates dropped out of college, not high school to note that there are exceptions to the rule, extending it to college. Gates did have a leg up, of course, because of his family wealth (and connections).

  8. Wayne,

    I did not mean to split hairs with you! I just wanted to warn young and impressionable readers that many of the successful ‘dropouts’ did abandon education because they were in very privileged positions, i.e they were not your Jo Random. Let’s face it, if Microsoft had failed Bill Gates could have resumed his academic career without starving or even going into debt. People like him are not dropouts. They are privileged kids who ‘took a year out’ and got so successful that they never went back to school.

    1. Fred,

      No arguments there. I agree with you, and your warning is really a good one. Yes, Bill Gates did have a safety net. If Microsoft failed, he could have gone back to Harvard and his dad would have helped him out, maybe. A lot of people don’t have that luxury. Good post.

      Wayne Muromoto

  9. Good day, Wayne.

    I too am popping in via Kim Taylor’s blog.

    I found your comment about high school dropouts absolutely hilarious, since I am one of them too. I managed to pick up my life and am now on track for graduating with BA in Mathematics from a University, which is why I can laugh at being a high school dropout.

    Any way, I think I know what you mean, and graduating from high school is a good indicator that someone has either the brains or the staying power to overcome difficulties, which are some of the same skills necessary to learn a martial art.

    Thank you for the post, you make lots of good points.

    P.S. I am nidan in ZNKR iai and jo.

    1. Stan,

      Thanks for the note. And I’m grateful that you were able to laugh at my wheeze-bag tirade for what it was, and to show that you managed to pull out of your own situation with grit and hard work. If anything, you’re a good example of not blaming others and taking responsibility for your actions, picking yourself up and going on with your life. Congratulations for not giving up! That’s true grit.

      Wayne Muromoto

    1. In Hawaii, polo shirts are considered pretty appropriate fancy dress for eating plate lunches.

      –Wayne Muromoto

  10. Wow…some parts of this post I agree with and some make me hope I never meet anyone who trains exclusively koryu.

    I would like to think that I am a good student who is respectful and works hard, but this post feels demeaning to me. I don’t know if that was your intent but simply by reading it I feel belittled and bullied because I feel that, according to you, I am not “good enough” to train koryu because I train a more modern art (karate) and maintain a more Okinawan demeanor, and perhaps even because you don’t feel that I am intelligent enough (I did graduate from high school, but I never went to college).

    The intent of my comment is not to convince you that your opinions and ideals are wrong, but to inform you of the message that this post conveyed to me.


    1. Noah,

      Thank you for your truthful comment. I thought it was a bit bombastic when I reread it after I wrote it, but what the heck. It was one of those days when I was getting really irritated with people who thought the world owed them something for nothing. …Not sure what an “Okinawan” demeanor is, but modern Japanese budo is also quite different from Okinawan, and is different from really old, old koryu too in that people are more upfront and relaxed, not so machismo or (at least in my system) concerned too much with protocol. But on the other hand, the gist of what I believe I still think is true: there’s no substitute for trying to do your best in life and not expecting a handout. Not going to college is not necessarily a negative. My dad never did because he had to work to support his brothers and sisters, and then when he had his own family he put all us kids through college. He worked hard at his job and took care of us and his own brothers and sisters all his life. But shirking responsibilities, challenges and opportunities in real life makes for very poor character in a budo person as well. That’s what I’m saying. My best…

      –Wayne Muromoto

  11. I wish to convey my love for your kind-heartedness in support of individuals who require help on in this content. Your very own commitment to passing the message all around had been surprisingly informative and have really encouraged guys and women like me to realize their ambitions. Your new helpful publication entails much a person like me and somewhat more to my office workers. Many thanks; from each one of us.

    1. Thank you, Regina. Like anyone, I have my days of being frustrated and days of being really motivated to teach, not just martial arts but at my own “real” job at a college. The rant was meant to prod people to realize that education is not something that is spoon fed to you just because you expect it. One’s education is a lot of work and continuous effort. I’m glad you took it in that light!

  12. Hi there,Stumbled on your blog a few minutes ago and I have to admit that you have some really good stuff going on here : ) . The only problem that I’m having are the loading times of your site , where is your site located? C ya, Sara And oh, I’m from Southeastern Europe btw

    1. The server is somewhere in the United States mainland, so it should work alright. Maybe the Internet was just a bit slow?

  13. Dear Wayne

    A classic posting, thank you! It’s funny you mentioning the thing about refusing a chair and then slouching on the floor, even to the point of copying iai moves in the corner – we had that exact same guy at our dojo. He joined our sister dojo and told the students there that it was his aim to make his own sword style. He said that he didn’t believe in learning form.

    “Hey man, I’m trying to learn the form of no-form, why are you teaching me form?”

    Suffice to say, he didn’t last more than about 2 months.

    Keep up the good work!


    1. Andy,
      Is it something in the bottled water, I wonder? Those kind of people seem to show up all over the place, all the time, and they still don’t have a clue. The “form of no-form”??? Seems like he was reading too much Bruce Lee. Of course, what they don’t get is that Bruce Lee himself spent years upon years studying Wing Chun, boxing, ballroom dancing (!) and did research on whatever martial arts he could look at before creating his “no-form” style. “No-form” comes out of “form,” no matter what. That’s the paradox.

    1. –Joachim-26: I’m not sure myself. Maybe it was a temporary glitch? The other day I wasn’t able to see comments at all, and then two hours later, it was working fine. Don’t know what happened.

  14. Mr. Muromoto,
    This post will always be my favorite “article” on martial arts. What you said needed to be said.
    Thank you for the experience,
    Tanaka Kishimoto

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