Martial Arts Lessons

Looking for martial arts lessons. Well here is lesson one  - there is no such thing  traditionally speaking. 

Taking a class or lesson at a community college, school or university is one way of learning and much favoured here in the west, its a fee for service kind of idea which is quite different to the traditional method in the east. 


Traditionally you didn't just wander into a local dojo and sign up for a course or 12 month contract. You were already a member of the samurai class and it was your obligation to undertake martial training with your clan, alternatively you were introduced to the school by someone as a person of good character. Once joining you might sign an oath of loyalty, probably there would be a religious aspect to it as well. Teachers would expect loyalty and see in you a person who would commit to the long term study of the art. You might even be considered an eventual successor.(there is tremendous weight of obligation on a schools headmaster to not disappoint the previous 20 generations of headmasters by failing to pass on the art to another generation). A heavy burden to bear for the teacher and the student walking into the dojo back then to be sure, but the obligation was understood by both the teacher and the student.

Today the mentality is at times a little akin to joining a gym, "I pay my money so give me my techniques". While this is no problem for the dojos intent of making money its a little troubling for the dedicated Budoka who are interested in principally continuing to learn the art themselves and in passing the art on. Saotome Sensei and many others say "you cannot buy technique", however you can respond in gratitude by contributing to the work of the dojo and its upkeep. 

Dedicated students are essential for a dojo to survive, as students gain in skill they help push the instructors development and help bring on the new students in the dojo,  these are real tangable returns of the obligation to the dojo. Students for the first few years are sponges for knowledge and can easily soak up an instructors time, unfortunately its at about this time that they leave because personal progress slows. At this time t becomes more of a personal responsibility to learn,  with the dojo and instructor acting as fellow journeyman and facilitators to the process. So please think about these things as you embark upon your journey. 


For more reading here are some excellent articles by Dave Lowry 

Keppan: Blood Oath: The traditions and expectations of joining a dojo in ancient Japan

A coconut Palm in Missouri: An analogy for bringing the culture of traditional arts to the west to help it survive 

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