This past Saturday we had a visitor in our group.
New training friends are always welcome, and provide a unique perspective for the class when visiting.
As an instructor I always keep the following two points in mind when people visit our training:
The first is that no matter who I may be in the Bujinkan, and whatever our group may be in the structure of the organization, in that moment of interaction with a visitor, and I say this with no ego, I am the entire Bujinkan.
All they will know about the Bujinkan will reflect in how I and the members of our dojo conduct themselves.
How I act, how they are treated under my care, and how our group presents itself reflects 100%+ entirely on the Bujinkan. Knowing nothing of the Bujinkan and our martial arts, their entire opinion will be formed on how I conduct myself.
What they think of Hatsumi sensei, our soke will 100% be formed on how I conduct myself.
If I'm a jerk, what must the members of the Bujinkan dojo be like?
Not to mention the martial arts in general.
Every inquiry about our group and training, every visit, every interaction should and is handled with respect and courtesy. Not only from the point of being a decent human being respecting the journey of another person in the martial arts, but also out of the respect for those who were courteous and tolerated my questions in the dojo, showing friendship and compassion when I started my own journey.
Do most martial artists feel and act this way?
The second perspective is in understanding where the visitor is in their own journey in the martial arts.
Perhaps they are ready to join a group and are looking for a martial home?
Maybe they are on the path to deciding what direction to take their training?
Could even be that very first step in the martial arts, taking courage even to visit?
Regardless I want to share with them who we are, what we do, and how we move and give them "something" for the visit that they can take and use in the future regardless of joining our group, or another Bujinkan dojo, or even another martial arts school.
That something is a connection of some of our martial arts movements and philosophies so they can see some of the life-usable and philosophies of the Bujinkan dojo in addition to the martial arts movement (taijutsu) that we practice.