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Thread: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

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    Kosho-Monk is offline
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    Default Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    In a different thread Carl Long Sensei made a statement about some dojos not really following a Japanese Model for training. I would like to discuss this a bit as I am sure I am one of those dojos.

    My desire it to get ideas from some of you more "rooted" Japanese stylists in hopes that I might be able to improve on what I am doing at my school.

    Thoughts anyone?


    Thank you,
    John Evans


    PS. I would also just like to take a moment to thank Long Sensei for participating here. There are many (At least I think there are as I don't want to be alone in this group!) students of an art that have its roots in Japanese history that really could use some help re-connecting. I believe Long Sensei is someone who can help us. Domou Arigato Gozaimasu Sensei.

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Well, where do we want to start?
    I think something basic would be a traditional dojo layout, followed by some simple etiquette.
    There are a lot of misconceptions out there that are accepted as fact simply because they have been used erroneously for so long.

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Starting with the dojo layout and basic etiquette would be great.

    I'm all ears (eyes)!



    -John

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Here is a link to articles written by Dave Lowry regarding the the layout of a dojo.
    http://www.fightingarts.com/reading/article.php?id=386

    http://www.fightingarts.com/reading/article.php?id=387

    I will try to make up a diagram of a dojo layout and post it. Then we can move onto etiquette and maybe the history of it.

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Wow. There's a lot more to the traditional dojo than I thought. I knew that there was a basic layout but did not think it was so complex.

    This must be very difficult for people trying to teach traditional arts today. Unless you have your own land and can build your own dojo. I had a hard enough time just finding a space suitable for renting in my town, nevermind checking to make sure it faced a proper direction.

    Does anyone here have a dojo that matches the one described in the article?


    Thanks,
    John

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    This is a basic layout for a traditional dojo.
    The students sit facing kamiza with the highest ranked student closest to the joseki and the lowest ranking student towards shimoseki.
    Sensei sits at the kamiza facing the students.
    dojo.gif

    I really enjoy the etiquette part of the dojo as it really puts me in the mood for training. You walk in and leave the world outside.
    When entering the dojo, one should do a standing bow (ritsu rei) towards the kamiza. Some people have a problem with bowing because it somehow seems submissive, it's more like a salute.
    Some dojo's allow the students to have a short warm up period before class, others have a warm up as part of the class. I prefer the former, simply because the students are there to train, and they will soon realise the importance of keeping their body in a limber shape.

    After a warm up period or when sensei comes into the class the sempai (usually the highest ranking student) will call "Seiretsu", which means line up. Then he will say "seiza", at this point everybody assumes seiza.
    Then he will say "rei", everyone bows to sensei. Sensei then turns towards the kamiza and everyone bows.
    The sempai or sensei will then say "mokuso", which means meditation, followed by "mokuso yame" to end meditation.

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    how about language, weapons, class structure and ettiquette, and lastly, how traditional or not is it to bring coffee onto the floor?

    Regards,
    Walt

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Shawn,

    Thanks! The picture is great.

    Do you or anyone you know have their dojo set up like this? Mine is pretty close to what you have here. But I don't have the students line up with the yudansha on my left and mudansha on my right. I guess that's because I don't have many black belts that I'm teaching. I have my students line up with the lowest ranks in the front, closest to me, and the higher ranks in the back.

    I'm going to take the picture you attached, if you don't mind, and teach my students this. I think I might start my class a little more formal too. Right now I say "line up" and then bow my students in with the Kosho hans positions. (kind of like how Hanshi does it) Then we all kneel down and meditate for around 5 minutes. (sometimes longer) I usually end the meditation by saying something like "open yours eyes" and then we warm up and stretch out.

    From there we go into "basics" and then into the lesson for the night. We bow out of class the same way we bowed in, but with no meditation.

    Thanks again. I am enjoying this conversation and learning a lot.


    Warm regards,
    John

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Hi Walt,

    I would have to say that bringing coffee onto the floor would be a traditional no-no. My teacher does this and I have never been bothered by it. But his classes are very relaxed and not formal or structured like this at all. But he doesn't try to pretend that he's being traditional either.

    I guess that's the whole thing right there. If you are telling people you are teaching from a certain tradition, then you should. And if you want to follow your own traditions or have none at all, then just be honest about that.


    With respect,
    John Evans

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Quote Originally Posted by kroh
    how about language, weapons, class structure and ettiquette, and lastly, how traditional or not is it to bring coffee onto the floor?

    Regards,
    Walt
    Language: We have gone back and forth on the amount of japanese we use. We are using more now. Mostly greetings, counting, some techniques (say in japanese and english) , reishiki (etiquette - Literally bowing ceremony)

    Weapons: We do have a weapons all mount. How the swords are placed is another course in etiquette. If the tsuka (handle) is on the left your are peaceful and calm. On the right, you are looking to fight.

    Structure: pretty much as already described

    etiquette: is everything at our dojo. Especially when we have visiting sensei or travel to other dojos. Answering up when addressed, respect for dojo and others of all ranks, respect for your partner (be a good ukei - attacker), etc.

    Coffee: Only when noones looking.

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Quote Originally Posted by gakusei

    Coffee: Only when noones looking.
    Good MAN!

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    I think that meditation is good at the beginning and at the end of class.
    At the beginning it is another chance to clear your mind of the buildup through out the day and get it focused on training.
    Some people have trouble clearing their minds in complete silence, a good way to assist this is to lead them on a visual meditation.

    At the end of class it allows students to sit back, reflect on what they've learned and file it away in the memory banks.

    As far as japanese terminology, that part of the fun......to some it may seem like a drag to learn the names of everything in japanese. Sometimes you have to explain that it's not required right off the bat........eventually students just start relating the terms to what they're doing and don't even realise it.
    I would just like to stress that it is important to try and pronounce the words correctly.....It's hard enough to learn the terminology, but learning it wrong and then trying to correct yourself when you hear it properly is even harder.
    Anytime you have an opportunity to use japanese terminology, use it....counting, names of basics, directions, body parts, salutations, etc.
    It's kind of cool walking into a class and saying, "O genki desu-ka?"
    and your classmate or sensei replies "Hai, genki desu okage samade."

    In Kosho class, we would bow in the same way as John mentioned, this would be followed by seiza, rei to sensei, rei to kamiza and finally mokuso.

    I can go over the proper way to enter the dojo with shinken or iaito in another post.....and maybe some stuff on in class etiquette.
    Just shoot out the questions........if i can't answer them, maybe Long sensei can help us with the finer points, or correct me if I'm out to lunch....lol

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Shawn,

    Thank you. This is great.

    Sometimes I will end class with meditation but normally I do not. I tend to end with some motivating exercise and get the students really pumped up at the end before they leave. For me this has worked in keeping students, as they leave very excited and energized.

    I teach mostly using English but will throw in the Japanese terms here and there. I've been thinking of teaching my advanced class all in Japanese terms, but haven't gotten myself to that level yet. My first teachers never used Japanese at all. It wasn't until I met Hanshi Juchnik that I started even thinking about Japanese.

    I have some students that believe bowing to the Kamiza is a bad thing so I don't make them do it. I bow to it before I begin classes and when I end for the night.

    Here's what I teach my students:

    1. Remove shoes and place in proper place
    2. Bring gym bag and any other stuff to changing area
    3. Change into gi
    4. Come to edge of training area and bow towards front of room
    5. Enter training area and put on belt (some kneel and some do not)
    6. Greet teacher first with a bow and friendly greeting
    7. Greet other students with a bow and friendly greeting
    8. Quietly stretch out until class starts
    9. Class lines up and we perform the "Kosho" bow
    10. With children I have them perform a Japanese-style bow to their parents
    11. Then we bow to each other and we go into seiza and meditate for several minutes
    12. Then we get up and spend half the class warming up, stretching and exercising
    13. After that we go into basics and then into a more advanced lesson
    14. We bow to each other when class is just about to end and line back up
    15. I usually have something to say and make sure I thank each student for coming to class
    16. Kosho bow
    17. Kids bow to parents again and point and shout "you are awesome!" to them
    18. We bow to each other and the class is dismissed


    -John

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Hi John,
    what do you have on your kamiza?
    I think it is important to stress to students that the bow is a salute, paying respects, not a religious act.
    I'm a real believer that if you want to follow a traditional way or etiquette, the students have to do it.......it's part of the training......
    I think some people make up excuses. I haven't trained with one canadian that has refused to bow to kamiza.
    Kosho dojo's usually have a picture of James Mitose or Hanshi, along with some kanji that says kosho shorei kempo......no reason to not respect your teacher's teacher or the art you have been given the privelege to study.

    It's hard for anyone to make the transition to using japanese terminology; I think the best thing to do is ease into it. Use the training manual, work on the terminology relevant to each belt level. You never know, your students might take an interest in the language and try to study it at home.......I know, I did.

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    When I was comming up, many of the seniors in my first MA club spoke Japanese fluently. It was a way of them honoring the instructor who taught there (even though she was an orgre!). When they started in on something they didn't want the juniors to know... they started rattling off in Nihongo... Prompted a lot of us juniors to go out and learn to speak it so we could figure out what BS they were talking. Most of the time they were just trying to decide where to go and eat after classes. Go figure.

    ...bows...
    o yasume nasai...
    Walt

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    On my Kamiza - which is more like a shinza - I have:

    two Japanese scrolls, one the reads "kosho shorei ryu" and one that reads "may peace prevail on earth"

    my first white belt and my first black belt

    a wooden box that I keep insense in

    a tibetan singing bowl

    a small statue of a monk

    a small vase filled with wooden sticks that I can put fragrance oil in (I use Pine Forest)



    I understand about having students bow because it's the way things have been done - tradition. But I don't push the issue. Some students bow to the kamiza and some don't.

    I'll keep working the language. I just noticed that a fellow Japanese dojo in town is offering language classes on Saturdays. I just might see if I can attend these.

    One thing we do in class, at the end, is I say Domou Arigato Gozaimasu and they respond Dou Itashimashita (sorry for the spelling).


    -John

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    At one point we went through the whole zarei to the kamiza, clapping and mokuso business, but after finishing the seigansha (petitioner) phase we switched to a simple kobushitsusumirei and ritsuzen.

    I think that there are elements of it that don't really have the same meaning to people outside of the culture. When I work with my stepson I mention the traditional elements as trivia, but as he's my stepson I just work within the existing relationship.

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Quote Originally Posted by eyebeams
    At one point we went through the whole zarei to the kamiza, clapping and mokuso business, but after finishing the seigansha (petitioner) phase we switched to a simple kobushitsusumirei and ritsuzen.

    I think that there are elements of it that don't really have the same meaning to people outside of the culture. When I work with my stepson I mention the traditional elements as trivia, but as he's my stepson I just work within the existing relationship.
    I think that if you want to teach something as traditional you're selling the students short by eliminating certain elements.
    Did you have a shinto shrine in your dojo with kami that needed awakening?
    I think that is bringing in a religious element that some people might balk at.

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Quote Originally Posted by Kosho-Monk
    On my Kamiza - which is more like a shinza - I have:

    two Japanese scrolls, one the reads "kosho shorei ryu" and one that reads "may peace prevail on earth"

    my first white belt and my first black belt

    a wooden box that I keep insense in

    a tibetan singing bowl

    a small statue of a monk

    a small vase filled with wooden sticks that I can put fragrance oil in (I use Pine Forest)



    I understand about having students bow because it's the way things have been done - tradition. But I don't push the issue. Some students bow to the kamiza and some don't.

    I'll keep working the language. I just noticed that a fellow Japanese dojo in town is offering language classes on Saturdays. I just might see if I can attend these.

    One thing we do in class, at the end, is I say Domou Arigato Gozaimasu and they respond Dou Itashimashita (sorry for the spelling).


    -John
    Shinza and Kamiza are the same thing, different spelling. You may have meant tokonoma.
    Sometimes in different dojo's you hear sensei say "shinza ni rei" or "kamiza ni rei".......neither of which (IMO) sounds very proper. I think it's better japanese to simply say "rei" (something a japanese teacher told me as well).

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    With out stating a major flame war, I have a question.

    Does all this tradition at the beginning and or end of class help the student in any real way?
    Quality outweighs quantity every time.

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