Why Do You Train?

Speaking with a friend today, I asked myself, why do people train? In the nineties, it was easy, the ninja boom made the dōjō growing fast. During this golden age, it was not rare to have 60 or 70 students per class. Today when we have 20 students attending, it is good. In the 90s’, many newcomers were there because it was trendy to do Ninjutsu. This is not the case anymore today. Today people want sport martial arts, not learning an art that is a thousand-year-old.

At the end of 2019, the attendance is so low that, sometimes, I am not sure if it is good to keep the dōjō running. In a regular class, only 6 to 10 students of all levels are attending. During the last Tenchijin seminar, in October, only seven students attended.

That is why I want to know, “why do you train?”

For me, training is a part of my life. It is some kind of life hygiene. Without teaching or training, something is missing. But if I understand why I train, I keep wondering why the students come to the Dōjō.

When you already have a black belt, or if you are a Shidōshi, I suppose that training is part of your life. But beginners stay long in the dark before discovering the beauty of our art. The learning process in the Bujinkan is slow. And it doesn’t answer the need for speedy knowledge by our younger practitioners. Young students need fast answers. Everything they do in life is fast and goes through the passive link they have with a smartphone. They have an attention default. They are unable to focus more than a few minutes!

This year, I was hoping to have a new bunch of beginners coming to the Dōjō. I was happy to see that two to four new students were popping up each class to try the Bujinkan arts. Usually, we seduce 4 out of 10 people. Not this year. To give them more chances to join, we let them try for three classes. And they attended the classes, for not coming back.

I analyzed this. I discarded the fact that teacher’s skills were not in cause. And I came up with a non-exhaustive list of the reasons preventing them from learning Bujinkan:

  1. They are not used to pay for things, they want everything for free. This is what I call the “app syndrome”.
  2. They are so used to zap from one thing to another that they are unable to focus. Young people are looking for instant gratification (1)
  3. They “try” many arts to finally stay at home and play with their phones. That is because they are not used to being in charge of their lives.
  4. They come to us because of video games where pain doesn’t exist, where you can revive yourself with a magic potion. And if you die, you start another game. There are no consequences for the actions they take.
  5. If it is a movie that brings them in, then they are surprised not to learn how to fly or to become invisible!
  6. The image of the ninja transmitted by the media is wrong. And this image breaks into a thousand pieces once they enter the Dōjō. They discover that to be good, you have to train a lot. And that goes against their ADD (2)
  7. And finally, they find out that pain exists. What a surprise!

If you experience the same situation, with many tries and no inscriptions, feel better, you are not alone.

This year, I only have 16 registered students in my Dōjō, and I’m a Dai Shihan! But before the rank, I am a Bujinkan student; I follow Hatsumi Sensei’s Budō; therefore, I never give up, I keep going. And you should do the same.

Whatever level you have, I hope this article will motivate you to join and to train more often in your Dōjō. And always keep in mind the reasons why you train!


  1. https://medium.com/@tedwgross/why-we-are-knowingly-raising-a-generation-with-attention-deficit-disorder-add-256d9a078fdb
  2. ADD: Attention Deficit Disorder, check (1)

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Stefan Blum says:

    Dear Arnaud,
    Something is not in function with this post (Why do you train). I can’t see the end of the line of the whole text (within each line)
    I follow your posts a few years and I find your ideas and aspects very useful and interesting. Especially this post, I am very much interested in. Please, could you have a look to your post and check or enable the functionality for break down the line, so that we can read the full text.

    Hopefully its is not only my problem, otherwise I apologize for my reply.


    1. kumafr says:

      Hi Stefan, I have uploaded it again. It seems good now. Let me know.
      Thank you for your feedback


  2. Stefan Blum says:

    Thank you ! Now it runs well.
    I agree with you in all points. We have similar experiences made.
    And yes I take your experience and post as a motivation to train more and follow Hatsumi Sensei Budo. For me it is getting in contact with myself, find your own truth about YOUR reality (ego revised and focussed on the very moment) and act in accordance with your own values. This is what makes it never giving up and keep going for me. It is like a natural state and the feeling I have, doing this (training, reading, discussing) is: I love it. It is coming out of my deepest inner part, my heart, and I call it love.
    Perhaps LOVE needs to get a more concious place in training. Perhaps this is what all the children and also the adults are searching for. But in this world today, we miss time for self reflection, deeply discussions about life and its sense, so that there is only a little space to grow this plant (LOVE). For me love can be given and can be taken but for both directions you need a relationship. I mean it is a kind of connection with an unvisible band, rope or cord. To establish this kind of connection, I think, might be the magical formula.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas. Hope you got mine.
    PS: Will be in Noda next January, hope to meet you there.


  3. Milan says:

    Hi Arnaud,

    Millennials are a sad, disconnected generation that needs help in order to start seeing the world with the eyes of an adult. They need the help but they are the ones that must ask for it and seek it of course. Some of this happens unconsciously and this is the reason some of them end up sticking with certain teachers, arts or random people that can, in a sense, cure them from their deluded mind.

    In America, employers have huge problems now because the millennials are the new workforce and they quit job after six months, fight with colleagues over childish stuff and do not grasp the work ethics and discipline. It is the same in dojos with the young newcomers.

    However, if you think about it, the art with so much history and a strong gravitational pull of tradition and the historical lineage can help them root themselves. That can be a reason for them to train, even if they cannot word it. But it is a challenge.

    I think you shouldn’t look at them with the eyes of somebody superior because you grew up in a different world. Nobody can claim they would have been any different to them had they been born in 2000s and given a smartphone when they were 4. They are not simply “immature”. They are hurt by our generation and the world we created. So we owe them in a way.

    Milan from Serbia


  4. actdefense says:

    I personally disagree with the attention span thing. People can sit in a theater and watch a three hour Avengers movie. They can binge watch entire seasons of shows on Netflix in a weekend.

    There are other factors for poor attendance, but I’m not convinced that it’s lack of attention span.


  5. actdefense says:

    I personally disagree with the attention span thing. People can sit in a theater and watch a three hour Avengers movie. They can binge watch entire seasons of shows on Netflix in a weekend.

    There are other factors for poor attendance, but I’m not convinced it’s lack of attention span.


  6. Darryl White says:

    Dear Arnaud,

    I train because I found a passion I was missing in my life. I found something that energized me. It wasn’t like joining the gym. It was something that seemed to infect me. That is why I train.


  7. Rejoice says:

    OK Boomer
    I was sure that someone was going to write it. Excellent! 🤣🤣🤣


  8. I needed to hear (read) this today. The struggle is very real here in the U.S. You practically give it away so they’ll train, but they don’t love it like I do. I’ve devoted 35 years to the Arts, the last 10 of that to the Bujinkan. I guess I assume my new students will fall in love with it as I have. It is, afterall, a relationship. It has it’s good times and bad times. It’s with you everywhere you go. I’ll keep pressing forward…they will come. Hope you are well in Lebanon. Talk soon…


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