Is The End Near? 

This article is for Bujinkan dōjō teacher. It is based on my experience. 

Do you know that your Dōjō might be dying without you being aware of it? 

I began teaching in 1987, and I was not good at it. I learned how to do it correctly,  the hard way. And I’m still learning to teach better thirty years later. 

I made all mistakes possible and did my best to correct them. After doing it for many years, and after visiting many different dōjō, I found a pattern that I’d like to share with you in this post.

There are three level types of dōjō,  I called them Level #1, Level #2, and Level #3 dōjō. This is a type of Sanshin. 

Level #1 dōjō: this is a dream dōjō. At level #1, the group is committed,  and everyone wants to learn. This is often, a new group headed by a young Shidōshi. The students are mainly beginners, but some higher ranks coming from other dōjō, join in, and give the young group some kind of maturity. The teacher is often seen as charismatic, at least by the practitioners of his dōjō. Egos are low, sharing is high. The group is more important than the individual. 

Level #2 dōjō: this is logical evolution of the level #1. The magic of the first years is now gone, the training has turned into  a routine. The teacher is now surrounded by a few Shidōshi. They are the “instructors”. They went at least once to Japan. They share the teaching, and think their students are as motivated as they were, when they began. 

Egos are average, sharing is average. The group is split in high and low ranks. Strong “clanification”. Clans are more important than the group, or the individual. Unity is Omote.  

Level #3 dōjō: the dōjō is now sick  and dying. The high ranks got higher. The “ancient students” left. A new breed has come. The high ranks are turning “grandmasters”, and treat the beginners, as if they had been already training for a few years. Classes are mainly about the “flow”, waza are not taught, or taught badly, by the young unqualified black belts.  New students are clueless, because they were never taught the basics.  The instructors are so much in the illusion of their rank that they don’t train, they only teach their misconceptions to the newcomers. 

Egos are high, sharing is low. The individual  is more important than the group.  The end is near. 

So, figure  out if you are #1, #2, or #3, and react if necessary. 

If you correct your path  now, it’s never too late. 

If you want  to stay at level  #1,  then watch your step!  

Author: kumablog

I share here on a regular basis my thoughts about the Bujinkan martial arts, training in Japan and all over the world, and

3 thoughts on “Is The End Near? ”

  1. … In good Time


    2016-07-25 19:52 GMT-03:00 Shiro Kumas Blog :

    > kumafr posted: ” ​This article is for Bujinkan dōjō teacher. It is based > on my experience. Do you know that your Dōjō might be dying without you > being aware of it? I began teaching in 1987, and I was not good at it. I > learned how to do it correctly, ” >


  2. I would add that:

    – level #3 dojos tend to breed lots and lots of new dojos, which may or may not be level #1. This is often due to a clash of egos or disagreements over the routine of the teachings (we don’t do this, which I want to explore), creating little dojos headed by “a traitor” (under 5th Dan) who has split from the main one. With each new generation (or split) these new dojos may start doing things further away from the Bujinkan, trying to incorporate techniques from, for example, Brazilian Ju Jitsu, MMA, Systema, Krav Maga, Kick boxing etc. And thus the knowledge of the Basics accross the whole Bujinkan goes lower and lower.

    – level #3 dojos Fuehrer often try to recruit smaller Level #1 (or maybe #2) dojos for ego or money purposes (often a high rank will quit “civilian life” to live off teaching), enticing the leader of the Level#1 dojo to join theirs, with their supposed knowledge backed by a high rank. The level #1-2 leader joins the ranks of the highest ranking of the level #3 dojo, starts becoming “corrupted”, fawning over das Fuehrer who tells them how great they are and if you join my dojo (and pay some fees), I’ll get you promoted, because you’re worth much more than what you have been given so far.

    – level #3 dojos have quite a high turnover of new people

    – level#1 dojos may be very enthusiastic but it does not mean the teachning is good. It is “simply” (and that’s already a lot) shared more freely

    Arnaud – would you care giving a percentage on how many of each of these levels you believe there is in the Bujinkan world? 50% of Level #3, 30 of #1 and 20 of #3? Higher number of Level #3?

    I have come to realise that finding the right teaching/teacher (not a Mein Fuehrer) is something very difficult to do but of the utmost importance if one wants to grow.


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