So there is this idea that somehow if you go to Japan, you will be bestowed with secret knowledge and somehow be transformed into a martial arts master of mythic proportions. The same I guess can be said about going to the Shaolin temple or Wudan mountain. Sadly this is not the case.
The reason that there are really great martial artists in these places is that they take it on as a life mission, and LIVE THERE. Martial arts devotees (shugyosha) in Japan train every single day. But here’s the rub, there are also a bunch of lazy, half-assed martial artists out there too. They watch the same shows as we do and get all hyped up just like we do and go try to learn martial arts just like we do. Sadly, they get taken in by less than reputable “masters” just like we do too. There’s nothing that guarantees that the training that you get in Tokyo is any better than you can get in Ohio or New Jersey. In fact, many of the martial arts destinations have become so monetized and watered down that the training you get is absolute crap, but you pay thousands to go and say that you “trained in Japan”.
Is it cool to learn stuff from someone who’s ancestor invented it? Sure. Would it be neat to sit in the same dojo that people have been training in for 600 years? Absolutely. Does that have anything to do with how good of a martial artist you are? Nope.
For the price of a weekend trip to train in Japan, I could get weekly private lessons from a talented and experienced instructor for a year. Which one sounds more impressive at a cocktail party? Japan. Which one is going to give me a huge boost in my training? Working my butt off in the suburbs.
So if anyone needs me, I’ll be in my small, anonymous warehouse space doing the same things that people in small anonymous spaces all over the world are doing to make themselves more capable, adept martial artists and leave the name-dropping, and hype-spreading to the rumormongers.