So, the other day I received a phone call by a guy, I'll simply refer to him as "Abe." Abe actually represents similar calls I get every so often, and this most recent one prompted me to write about it. (Don't be afraid to call or email about your interest in training, but do be aware how you may be representing yourself, or accidentally misrepresenting yourself trying to impress the sensei) Abe called and wanted to check out the dojo, but he was a bit confused how it works with schools that are considered Koryu. Ours is a Koryu School also sometimes referred to as a Kobudo school. If you are unfamiliar with the term, here are some great websites and articles to read on the concept of Koryu and how it differs from more modern martial art systems from Japan, known as Gendai. Understanding more about a Koryu dojo will help you avoid making mistakes when approaching a sensei about training or mis-representing yourself.
Here are some of the big differences between Koryu schools and Gendai schools. Koryu schools have an ancient lineage. Gendai schools are more modern, many being created in the last hundred years or so. In a Koryu system, there is no end to the journey, there is never a time when one has perfected the system. It is an eternal path because a student of a Koryu system (and teachers consider themselves students as well, just further along on the path, thus a Sensei) is constantly striving to improve and be better in some way at all times.
So, when Abe called and wanted to come check out the dojo, he insisted I teach him what he wanted to learn. Now, like I said earlier, Abe represents many such calls. Somtimes "Abe" calls and only wants to learn one thing or another. Or wants only private lessons. Or wants to be trained to be the next big martial arts sensation. Or admits he only wants to train for a few months to a year and then move on to another dojo.
I explain to Abe each time, politely, that I am not looking for students only interested in dabbling in different martial arts training or someone unwilling to learn with the rest of the class (a dojo is a family) and suggest he'll be happier training at a dojo other than ours and wish him luck with his journey. He usually seems a bit surprised I am willing to let him walk away so easily, but this isn't a business, I don't need to fill the dojo with warm, paying bodies. I want students who are committed to this art and the training. This is a Koryu school and to do anything else would lessen what it is we do in training. All aspects work together in this art, if you want to learn sword, you must learn empty handed because they are related. If you want to learn staff, it's the same thing. Also, the dojo is a family, and we train together and grow together, egos need to be set aside. So, whether you approach a Koryu/Kobudo sensei about training, whether our dojo or another, be aware of these points. Then you may be invited to train and experience the pure awesomeness of Kobudo training.