Kusa

In New Zealand with Jo Gaunt on a Lord of the Rings Tour.

In a previous post on facebook, I`d mentioned my observations regarding peoples dress sence when visiting Japan. Especially when going to and from training:

“Many people travel from the Kashiwa Plaza Hotel or Ryokan in Noda wearing their training uniforms. They have “Ninja” or ” Bujinkan” plastered all over their t-shirts,sweaters, etc. I have even seen a student wearing kyahan, jika tabi and his full dogi in Kashiwa station!

Needless to say, the Japanese saw this as very amusing.

Do you see the Japanese practitioners representing the Bujinkan dojo doing this?

We often see Japanese children going to the dojo in their karate-do uniform etc. But, they are children.

We are adults, please think and act as such when you are in Japan.”

A saying comes to mind,

” when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

When in Rome, do as the Romans do means that when you are visiting a new place, you should try to do as the people do who are from the place. Example: “I can’t eat that.” Reply: “Oh, give it a try. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

People from different places have different ways of acting, so it is important to try to do things the way people do who are from the place that you are visiting. Example: “Are you sure we can eat this with our hands?” Reply: “Why not? All of these people are. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

The city of Rome was the capitol of the great Roman Empire. There were many strange and interesting things to do when visiting (“in”) Rome. Example: “Back home, we never sing in front of other people.” Reply: “Oh, come on. Give it a try! When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

In regards to being budoka and representing the Bujinkan in Japan, we can`t just think about ourselves.

As I have said previously, many people travel on the train or by bicycle to the hombu dojo. Many do this while wearing their dogi pants and training t-shirts. These t-shirts are representing the Bujinkan in both Japanese kanji and english.

These people are often training in the garments they arrived in and then return ( without changing ) by train to their ryokan or hotel. In some cases, these people stop and eat in a restaurant or cafe.

For the Japanese, the ninja have been long lived in folklore. The truth has been distorted so much, that they have no understanding of the truth from the false. We can then appreciate that the natural evolution of society has created a kyojutsu that has helped the art stay misunderstood.

In Japan, if we are seen walking around in ” Ninja Uniforms “, than this would be the same as walking the streets dressed like ” Robin Hood ” England.

I have never seen a Japanese nor foreigner studying Karate,Aikido,Judo,Iaido,Kendo or any other martial art, walking around in their dogi, let alone eating at a restaurant in one!

We often see children being dropped off to class in their uniform. This is fine, they are children.

We can also see High school boys and girls congregating together at the train stations in their Kyudo uniforms. But still, they are children/teenagers and, they are involved in an extra curricular activity representing their high school.

I have attended seminars around the world and seen people stroll from the training area in their dogi to local shops. I`m very suprised when I see this.

Has anyone seen the Japanese before or after class leave the dojo in their dogi to visit a cafe,shop or anything of the like?

We are learning how to blend into society. I have therefore headed this post “kusa”. This means grass, and at times, shinobi were called this due to their ability to move undetected and become one with nature.

In Japan, it is unavoidable to not ” stand out”. We are foreigners. However, if we are foreigners and also walk around in “ninja uniforms”, we are asking for more attention!

I`m not saying that there is anything wrong with advertising the “Bujinkan” or wearing t-shirts in public saying ” ninjutsu” or the like. However, we need to be mindful of the points I have attempted to raise while in Japan as representitives of Soke and his School.

If we have a problem, cause trouble, or do something stupid, than people will know our purpose here in Japan ( wearing Bujinkan related clothing ), and this is not good for Soke. We must really try to  not ” shame” him or his Shihan and therefore think and act accordingly.

There will be people who defend themselves in one way or another on this blog but, if we are thinking about the art,culture and just as an adult, it should be common sense.

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4 Responses to “Kusa”

  1. stealth, invisibility, controlling the elements of nature for concealment and the development of a higher consciousness…. sensibility.

    ” We are learning how to blend into society. I have therefore headed this post “kusa”. This means grass, and at times, shinobi were called this due to their ability to move undetected and become one with nature. “

  2. This article is fantastic, finally somebody talks louder about this particular bad habit, it is something has to be explain every day in our dojos but unfortunately not all the people consider it necessarily.

  3. This article is fantastic, finally somebody talks louder about this particular bad habit, it is something has to be explain every day in our dojos but unfortunately not everyone considers this necessary.

  4. Duncan,

    For what ever reason, Jeff and I just can’t seem to “blend in” when we travel around Japan. Pam does a much better job than we do, but in spite of all the right Kuji, we cannot be invisible.

    Marty

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