09 Apr 2008

Understanding Japanese Social Behavior in the Context of the Martial Arts

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Japanese culture, behavior, customs, etiquette, and social expectations are very, very different from our own. Don Roley provides some useful advice for Occidentals considering studying martial arts in Japan.

When you take a Japanese martial art in Japan the first thing you need to understand is that it is not a business to the teachers. It is a relationship. In many ways it is like a marriage. But unlike a marriage- one side, the teacher, has all the power. The students defer to the teacher and follow his directions. There is no negotiations, no pick and choose of what to follow or not. The student pretty much jumps when the teacher says jump and sits when the teacher says sit. Your only choice should you not like the situation is to sever your ties and leave. Again, unlike a marriage leaving this relationship is much cheaper. Since you place so much control over yourself when you enter into this relationship, finding a teacher worthy of that trust is important.

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