So, I had an interesting call today from someone looking for a "Ninjutsu Academy where [he] can train year round to reach full mastery of Ninjutsu." I asked him to explain a bit more what he was looking for, since our dojo is open year round but that wasn't what he was asking about. He is looking for a dojo where he can live at and train for a year to become a master of Ninjutsu.
Now, I'm aware of certain academies of martial arts in Asia that offer these kinds of things. This is not common in America, and certainly not for the Bujinkan. In Japan there is one small dojo where you can rent rooms at during your stay in the country and many other apartments for rent nearby the Hombu (head) dojo. But in the U.S. I don't know of any legitimate Ninjutsu schools that do this. So, I thanked him for the call, but had to tell him no, he can not live at the dojo. I didn't even bother telling him there is no way to "master" this martial art in one year. Sometimes I wonder if people even realize what that means, to master a martial art.
I think to many, a black belt is a form of mastery. However, the first rank level of a black belt in Japanese is Shodan, and that translates not to first degree black belt as many assume, but rather it means "beginning level." I know many teachers of this art that have been training for decades and are very good, but still travel to Japan to train and learn because there is always more to learn. This marital art is a lifetime journey, not something you master in one year.