Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Martial Arts Social Contract (Reprise)

By popular demand, we're re-posting this with a few tweaks. Thanks for asking!

Between the martial arts teachers at the Japanese Martial Arts Center in Ann Arbor and their students, there exists a social contract. The contract - mostly implied, sometimes written down - goes something like this:

As the teacher, I agree to give you, the student, the absolute best training opportunity I can give you, be it in judo, jujutsu, or iaido. I promise to offer you the complete martial art I know, including all its best aspects: physical techniques, theories of physical power, mental strategies, cultural aspects, and any spiritual benefits that are part of the art. I promise not to deceive you with martial arts mumbo-jumbo, and I promise not to try to falsely build up your self-esteem without providing any basis in real martial arts skill. I promise not to ask you to pay absurd dues rates, but will ask you to pay a fair rate in keeping with the expenses of the dojo and my need to earn a modest living. I won't give you a black belt unless you deserve it, but at the same time, I won't unnecessarily prolong your journey to black belt by making the standards impossible. I will try my best to help you develop yourself - mind, body, and spirit - so that you can excel in the dojo and in life.

As the student, you agree to attend classes as often as you can, putting forth all your effort, and practicing with energy and a positive attitude. You promise to consider the teachings I put forth, taking time outside of class to think about the relationship between my words and the techniques of your martial art. You promise to respectfully raise any issues you may have with your training, and give real consideration for my answers to your questions. You agree to practice safely to help prevent injury to yourself and other students. You agree to pay your dues on time, and agree not to take advantage of our policies to help you avoid paying a fair dues rate. You agree to work hard to learn your art, and to trust my decisions about when you are ready for promotions. You agree to commit yourself to the learning process, and to pass on the positive lessons you learn while at the Japanese Martial Arts Center.

Occasionally, a few students will come along who wish to learn what the teacher is teaching without honoring their side of the social contract. Such students may wish to learn to fight without taking part in the character development aspects of the martial art. They may train selfishly, failing to give due consideration to the needs of other students. They may try to trick the dues system by taking strategic leaves of absence, hoping to save a few dollars but still desiring all that the teacher has to offer.

We are happy to say that the vast majority of the students who have trained at the Japanese martial arts center are diligent, serious, generous, and sincere. They are quick to recognize that their teachers have given a huge portion of their time and treasure to try to master their martial arts, and are supportive in a variety of ways (offering to help with dojo events, helping newer students learn, paying their dues on time, and recommending the dojo to potential new students).

Generally, the closer students adhere to the social contract, the less formal their written contract needs to be. Those who find their dojo implementing strict written policies may consider blaming their dojo-mates who have failed to honor the implied contract.

Monday, July 23, 2012


(Reprinted from the Journal of the Shudokan Martial Arts Association, Volume 17 #2)

On August 17, 18, and 19 Nicklaus Suino Sensei, SMAA Judo Division Director, will be offering a special seminar at his Michigan dojo featuring budo experts Sato Tadayuki Sensei and John B. Gage Sensei. Both teachers are coming direct from Tokyo to the U.S., and they’ll be offering instruction in three important Japanese martial arts:

•The Kodokan judo of Kano Jigoro Sensei
•The Shodokan aikido of Tomiki Kenji Sensei
•The Nihon jujutsu of Sato Shizuya Sensei

Sato Tadayuki Sensei - Direct Student of Tomiki Kenji

Sato Tadayuki Sensei is one of the world’s leading Shodokan aikido experts. He was taught by Tomiki Kenji Sensei, founder of Shodokan aikido, in the living room of his house every Sunday before tea, and so he has an in-depth knowledge of Tomiki Sensei’s aikido system. He is also an accomplished judoka. Sato Sensei, sixth dan, was granted the position of Shihan of Waseda University Aikido club in 2007. This position has been vacant since Professor Tomiki’s death in 1979. He is an expert in his field, and in particular, the link between Kodokan judo and Tomiki-style aikido. He also teaches aikido at the Japan Police University, and he lives in Tokyo.

John Gage Sensei - Direct Student of Sato Shizuya Sensei

John Gage Sensei has been studying and teaching Japanese martial arts in Tokyo since 1986 when he joined the American Embassy Judo Club, which was lead by the late Sato Shizuya Sensei. Following the death of Sato Sensei, he became the leader of this well-established dojo, and he has been a member of the Kodokan Judo Institute since 1991. He has earned a seventh dan in Sato Sensei’s system of modern jujutsu, and he has a fifth dan in judo. He has taught seminars in judo and jujutsu in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania, the U.K., and the USA. 

Outstanding Opportunity

Contact Suino Sensei soon to get more details about this world-class training in world-class judo, aikido, and jujutsu. He can be reached at info@japanesemartialartscenter.com or (734) 645-6441.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Endlessness of the Way

There is one transcending level [of study], and this is the most excellent level of all. This person is aware of the endlessness of entering deeply into a certain Way and never thinks of himself as having finished. He truly knows his own insufficiencies and never in his whole life thinks that he has succeeded. He has no thoughts of pride but with self-abasement knows the Way to the end. It is said that Master Yagyu once remarked, "I do not know the way to defeat others, but the way to defeat myself."

Throughout your life advance daily, becoming more skillful than yesterday, more skillful than today. This is never ending. - from Hagakure.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Do your (martial arts) thing!

Wouldn't you agree that fear of failure is one of the biggest obstacles to staying on track to greatness? And that patience (or a lack of it) is a close second? I think that's why a lot of people stop trying - they're not sure all the effort is going to be worth it if there's no payoff, and real success can take a really, really long time. I've read two books lately that really help sort out these two issues in a way that may help get your ass kicked back into gear.

The first is The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson. Olson points out how most real success is the result of small, relatively easy actions done consistently over a long period of time. The payoff for those tiny actions is so distant (and invisible at the time they are done) that it's easy not to do them. There are dozens of useful insights in the book, but one point I took from it is that it's possible to study past success, figure out what those small correct actions are, and to stay on track with them even though the benefit is not easily apparent. Keep that perspective helps with all the daily jobs that may not be exciting or highly motivating.

The other book is Talent is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin. Colvin's point is that most extraordinary achievement can be explained by lengthy, concentrated work rather than by the miracle of genius. He advocates a very specific type of practice for virtually any activity that can lead to success. If the overall sequence is done correctly, incredible gains are virtually guaranteed if you keep at it long enough.

We're well into a century of achievement science, and the research is starting to stack up. The best of us are far more accomplished and our skills far more developed than most people were 100 years ago. One reason is that we understand much better how to achieve. Do your thing, do it well, do it often, and do it for a long, long time!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Nihon Jujutsu • Renaissance Judo • Tomiki Aikido

Do you know about the seminar we're hosting at JMAC in August? This is the one martial arts event of 2012 that you absolutely should not miss! You can get more info by visiting our seminar page.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Seminar - The Five Realms of the Martial Arts

Saturday, Feb 25, 2012
Time: 10am - 2 pm
Location: Japanese Martial Arts Center

09:30 - 10:00 am - Sign In
10:00 – 10:45 am - Jodo (4-Foot Staff) - Long Distance
10:50 – 11:35 am - Bokken (Wooden Sword) - Long/Middle Distance
11:40 – 12:35 pm - Filipino Knife - Middle/Close Distance
12:40 – 01:15 pm - San Chuan Dao (Chinese percussive striking) -Middle/Close Distance
01:20 – 02:00 pm - No gi takedowns - zero distance

$40 JMAC Students
$60 General Public

16 years and older
Space is limited - visit us at Japanese Martial Arts Center - or call to reserve your spot today!