The Ninja Tourists

Michael Glenn being a good tourist, Bujinkan Hombu Dojo
I am preparing for my third trip to Japan this year. In my preparations I came across some old notes from another trip I made many years ago. Before one class I had with Oguri Sensei, I encountered a common attitude among visitors to the Bujinkan Hombu Dojo.

The Ninja Tourists.

On my way to Oguri Sensei's class, I bumped into one of these tourists from Los Angeles. Since I know him from back home, I stopped to chat a bit. This was his first trip.

He was very happy. Beaming in fact. He showed me some photos he had gotten of himself with various teachers. But then he said something that sounded off to my ears,

"We are part of history!"

I asked, "How do you mean?"

He said, "Being here."

That seemed wrong to me at the time.  To me it was just class, just training.  You would be part of history sitting at home watching TV too.  But for him it was like visiting a holy place.  That's one extreme of the tourist attitude.

The Japanese people and Bujinkan teachers are just normal people with lives. Not Ninja fantasy characters.

No matter how great they are as martial artists, what can anyone learn from them with that attitude?  You'll see what you want to see and learn what you want to learn.  Which may or may not be what is being taught.  More than likely what is being taught will be a little more grounded in reality.

Some foreigners treat the visit like a martial arts mecca.  Meanwhile Hatsumi Sensei is showing various ways to punch somebody in the throat.  It seems like there may be a dangerous disconnect there.

But, all these years later, I've softened my attitude about this. Most of the Japanese teachers seem happy to meet all these excited visitors from around the world. And as Nagato Sensei told me a few months ago, Fate has brought us all together.

What is right for my training is not what is right for anybody else's training or life. And what was right for me that day so many years ago was getting myself to Oguri Sensei's class.

I said goodbye to my friend from LA. Then I sat on the train thinking about how happy he was with his tourism. When I got to the Hombu dojo, Oguri Sensei had a smile for me that I will not forget.

There were only 4 of us in his class that day.

My friend from LA was not there but I guess he was right. We are part of history. I had a great class with lots of personal instruction from Oguri Sensei.

He has passed on, but I shall always value those classes because they are now part of my history.



great thoughts, thank u!

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