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Why I train
Village Old Timer
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This is a long post but II would like to share a moment from our dojo that illustrates clearly why I train.

My son Kevin has been training since age 4. Initially we started him in “martial arts” to teach him coordination, self confidence, and discipline – you know the usual. Over the years he did learn those things, but there was much more.

Early on it was very fun for him to roll and play the way you teach young students. About age 9 he had been training long enough for things to become less stimulating for him. He had been used to working with less experienced students so long that he was bored and tired of doing the same things over and over. He dabbled in soccer, basketball and wrestling but the attitude of the coaches and other parents made me feel that no one was allowed to just play the game. Everyone took their game so completely seriously that it even turned off Kevin. Rather than let him sit at home I brought him to the Dojo. He not only had to endure training in his class, but sit around and watch the Adult classes because I was his ride home. Over the years he grew to know the adults I trained with well.

At age 11-12, a critical cross road was reached. He was at the change between being a child or an adult. His irresponsibility at home and school was making me crazy and it was obvious he was miserable. I had started transitioning him to the adult class and although he was very wimpy at first – complaining about being hit or thrown, he learned to adjust. He started out as the Dojo pet, and everyone played with him. Like some pets, he became a friend. His relationship with the adults in the Dojo gave him another voice telling him to shape up and be more responsible. He started to improve.

At age 13, as a 1st kyu student, he came with me to Japan. His first class at Hombu he had forgotten to bring his belt (typical!). Shiraishi Sensei was there and as I introduced my son, he noticed he did not have a belt and asked if he needed one. Shiraishi Sensei went to the back and brought out a black belt that said SOKE on it. This is what he wore the first day there. Hatsumi Sensei made a special shodo with a picture of his “TV family” and wrote calligraphy saying something about father and son training together. (Joji said he could not read it!).

Perhaps it was just time, but I think it was exposure to Soke that make Kevin return from Japan with a new purpose. He slowly improved and a few months later passed his Shodan. This was no “Junior Blackbelt”! He had to throw around large adults and perform as well as the other black belt testing that day. He did great! He spent his high school years training more and more independently. He was a regular at our Friday Night Randori classes (which I could rarely attend). He became part of our grappling group and quickly fought and beat adults. Soon he became the usual Uke for the adult class (because you could throw him all over the place and he could take a punch).

Wednesday, September 2nd was his last class in our Dojo before he was going off to College. The word went out and all his Buyu from the Dojo showed up to train. We took turns throwing him, attacking and coming at him in every way imaginable. In-between he would have to shoe the kihon happo. The more exhausted he became, the better the kihon became. Emotionally and physically exhausted but performing better than ever he received his Yondan at the end of class. Emotions ran high and the moment overwhelmed him. There were tears in many eyes that night but there was no sadness. We were in awe of his progression from a dojo pet to this impressive budoka. While Kevin is going to be gone from the Dojo for most of the year he can’t really ever leave. His sweat and tears (and blood) are engrained into our mats. The friendships made from years of training will last much longer than those of grade school or high school. The lessons he has learned in the Dojo will serve him for the rest of his life. The knowledge of working for goals, the value of practice, Shikin Haramitsu Daikomyo and Gambatte are engrained into his psyche. Over the years I have remained his father but also had the privilege of becoming his teacher, and friend. I can’t think of anything we did to prepare him for manhood that will have come close to bringing him to the dojo.

I only hope it can also make me a better man.

Marty

Posted on: 2009/9/5 14:17
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Re: Why I train
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Marti that is a beautiful post! I also think the best thing I ever did for my daughters was to bring them with me to ninjutsu, they've all had need of the skills. Raising children is not a simple task and it is also one of the most important jobs you will ever take on. When they are young you must be the parent, you cannot be their friend. As they get older, if you have done the "parent" job well, they will also become your friend. My daughters are my friends even after all the mistakes I made.
It is this type of result that keeps me continuing on in this art. The next generation is what is most important and we need to teach them well. My congratulations to you on a job well begun. (it never ends)

Posted on: 2009/9/5 21:22
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Ed Martin aka Papa-san
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Re: Why I train
Village Old Timer
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From Istanbul Turkiye
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Marty,
I have a 3 years old son and hope that he also will like and train Bujinkan with me in the future. This art gave me a lot of things and still teaching life so I hope I can pass it to my son and to the next generations.
Thank you for this great post.

Posted on: 2009/9/6 4:26
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Re: Why I train
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Wow! Kevin gets his Yondan, very impressive yet well deserved. In my visits to your school over the years I have intermitently had the privilege of watching Kevin grow and most definitely improve. He has come a long way from playing in the corner and watching the seminar. Marty you are a good person and should be commended for your efforts, seeing your interaction with your family it is even more apparent that you are a good father and husband. I know this must be an overwhelmingly awesome moment for you, and its really special that you would share it here with all of us. Please tell Kevin congrats from me and I can't wait to see and train with him again next time!

Best,

Mike

Posted on: 2009/9/12 3:57
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Re: Why I train
Village Old Timer
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Gee Wiz Mike, thanks for those kind words.

It was a very inspiring moement for everyone there and gave me a lot of confidence as he was going away to college that he would be okay.

Kevin's growth was obvious, but we all see the growth and change in our student and friends as they train. Some of us take a little longer to make the right changes but as long as we continue to grow and never stagnate, I think we will all do fine.

There is no "graduating" from the bujinkan.

Marty

Posted on: 2009/9/12 14:16
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Re: Why I train
村長 :: Sonchou
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Wonderful post, Marty :)
Congratulations to Kevin and to you all for the job you all have done

Eva

Posted on: 2009/9/15 20:53
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Eva Barbara Bodogan
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Re: Why I train
Village Old Timer
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As a follow up to this fine story, Kevin passed his Godan test today at Daikomyosai! He had the assistance of many Great Shihan and passed on a day when they seemed to be testing the Shihan more than the yondan. There were nothing but positive wishes from witnesses and I truely appreciate all the support given to him and me. Our three shidoshi family will continue in it's training and see what else we can do to improve. Thanks to everyone!

Marty

Posted on: 2010/12/2 1:21
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Re: Why I train
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This thread even touched a cynical Brit like me!

My twin daughters were 2 years old on 17th November and I would love them to train with me when they are older. I plan to get them interested by keeping it all as intriguing as possible, showing them lots of 'suitable' martial arts movies and doing things like bo furi just in their peripheral vision etc.

Unfortunately my missus will be doing her utmost to ensure that they do NOT become involved in martial arts!

Posted on: 2010/12/2 7:59
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Re: Why I train
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Awesome story, thank you. My oldest is two and my next is only two weeks old. I look forward to when I can begin teaching them taijutsu. The other day my two year old walkd out into the garage where we were holding a training group and watched us doing ukemi. He ran out onto the "mat" (a piece of old carpet I brought home from work to cover the cement floor) and tried rolling like us. We are such an example to our kids! I took some time out to teach him basic zenpo ukemi that night. He can do them now with little help from me.

Posted on: 2010/12/2 8:21
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Re: Why I train
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Ok, I just wanted to reply to those who have children. I encourage you in passing this wonderful art on to them. That was one of the best things I did for my daughters, it will give you a lot of "piece of mind"!!

Posted on: 2010/12/5 3:16
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Ed Martin aka Papa-san
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