Primarily, this is aimed at our specific dojo located in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. bit.ly/monctonninja But in many cases, the answers do apply to Ninjutsu as a martial style worldwide. In certain cases when this is not so, it should be obvious in the answers given.
1. What do you teach?
We teach actual Ninjutsu. Many dojos in the Bujinkan only teach Taijutsu, and even refer to themselves as Budo Taijutsu, but then say they teach Ninjutsu when they don't really. We teach the complete system.
2. What is Taijutsu?
Taijutsu is the unarmed combat aspect of Ninjutsu (or at least the unarmed and armed combat aspects, when in reality, it only refers to unarmed combat).
3. What is Ninjutsu?
Ninjutsu is a huge umbrella term that refers to a group of skills for survival against man or catastrophe. It includes various types of combat, survival, herbs, psychology, health, intelligence gathering, horseback riding, blacksmithing, communication, prepping, escape, evasion, spirituality, distractions, explosives, invisibility, concealment, law, firearms, tracking, lock picking, food growing and storage, geography...and hundreds more. The list is truly exhaustive.
4. When is it free?
Every Monday our classes are free. Always. For everyone. No expiration. Any other days we train are not free and are for those who want to get more out of it. Mondays are the best choice for beginners, but not exclusively.
5. What's the catch?
No catch. This gives everyone an equal opportunity to learn life saving skills. When I was younger, I had no money and had a very hard time with this. I promised I would make a way for those who cannot afford it.
6. Where is it?
It's in the gym at the Moncton Wesleyan Church (or the multi-purpose room next to the gym), in the basement, at 945 Saint George Boulevard, Moncton, NB, Canada. They have wonderful facilities. On very warm days, we hold the class on the lawn at the same location. The other training days are not at this location.
7. When is it?
Monday's classes are at 6pm for kids ages 4 to 12 for 1 hour. Adults is at 7pm for 1.5 hours. The other 2 days are not at this location.
8. Can I watch a class?
Yes. You can watch any of the days, actually. Monday is the best day to do so as it will probably have more information you can relate to.
9. What do I wear?
You can come wearing something comfortable and flexible. You can wear sneakers on the mat. If you have an old uniform from another style, you can wear that for now.
10. Can I bring a friend? Can they watch me/you?
Yes! That would be most welcome.
11. Are there many women there?
Yes. About half the class is made up of women.
12. Is this for sport?
No. The techniques are designed to survive a life and death encounter. They are too dangerous to be used in a sports setting. But the training itself is very safe.
13. How long have you been training in this?
As I write this, I have been studying Ninjutsu for about 32 years. Wow, time flies!
14. I'm too out of shape or injured to do this, I think.
Honestly, no one starts this "in shape" or injury free, necessarily. It will get you into shape slowly, and if you have an injury that affects your movements, what better way to learn how to work with it in order to protect yourself? In fact, many people who have injuries or illnesses say it actually improves with training!
15. How long will it take to get a black belt?
If you put in an honest amount of dedication, you might expect to reach black belt in 4 years or so. It could be a little faster, maybe longer, depending on many factors.
16. How much do the other classes cost (other than the free ones)?
As I write this, about $31 per month. Every other family member that comes also in the same house is half the cost of the previous (ie. $16 for the 2nd member, $8 for the 3rd, and so on...)
17. Should I eventually get a uniform? Can I get one from you?
You should, yes, but you don't have to. You can get one from me, but you don't have to.
18. How do I/my kids sign up?
No need! Just show up!
19. Is this free program still available? I saw an ad.
Yes! It has been running for about 3 years and there is no plans to stop. Mondays are always free!
20. Do I need any equipment?
No. Usually, there is enough training equipment to go around, but you can certainly get things as you go, if you wish, through me, or anyone else.
21. Can I/my kids come this Monday?
Yes! You can start right away.
22. How long will the free Monday be offered?
As it stands, forever! There are no plans to stop it.
23. Is your website up to date?
Yes. Changes, if any, are usually made within the week, or even within the day.
24. Is this similar to things like karate and judo?
Relatively similar. Karate and Judo are both Japanese styles so they would be more similar than non-Japanese styles like Tae Kwon Do or Kung Fu. But remember that many styles today are for sport and are based on rules and competition where they should not be injured. Our style is for survival and made to be very quick and effective in reality combat and the enemy will not be uninjured, although practice is very safe.
25. How do I know if I am training with a good qualified teacher?
You are learning under a bad and unqualified teacher if any of the following applies to them, and you should run!
a. Such as, they do not have proper paperwork to show they are both at least a black belt and a certified teacher (both).
b. They teach occult or black magic type things.
c. They claim to teach Ninjutsu but spell it ninjitsu, with an "i".
d. They claim to be Bujinkan but their letterhead/organization name is not affiliated with the Bujinkan.
e. Their status has been confirmed as false by the Japan Honbu when you check.
f. Any of their certification is in English. It will always be completely in Japanese, except their name (so get a translator to confirm everything).
g. Any of their certification is missing Hatsumi's signature.
h. If their excuse includes "we are not affiliated with the Bujinkan/Hatsumi", their organization head should be very well documented and well known within martial arts circles, especially Ninjutsu circles. The only "possible" valid alternatives would be Genbukan, Jinenkan, Choson, Natori, which are a very distant 2nd to Bujinkan, regardless of someone's opinion on the matter. Any other organization should be approached with extreme caution.
i. Their classes are wearing full hoods and masks. Sometimes, this might be okay, depending on what is being taught, but for no reason, consistently, is cheezy and weird, and a red flag.
j. They promote anything illegal and immoral/unethical.
k. They dislike (even forbid) if you train with anyone else other than them (this indicates a cult figurehead mentality).
l. They make any type of grandiose claims that cannot be substantiated.
m. They argue online excessively about anything.
n. They say anything negative about other martial artists.
o. They visibly make no effort to further their own training with a qualified teacher (this also indicates a cult figurehead mentality).
p. They use padding and protective gear too often (or at all). Proper Ninjutsu training is designed to build up tolerances.
q. The teacher is out of shape.
r. How the teacher performs is your end result. Do you want to emulate them?
s. They are a certificate factory (are not interested in creating true skilled martial artists, but making money or some other easy way). If you see someone getting a black belt and you think they don't deserve it based on their skill demonstration, they don't. Standards within the Bujinkan outside of Japan vary wildly and are not enforced.
t. They borrow/steal some/all of their material from other styles and call it "new" or "modern", or some other fancy wordplay or is only 1 generation old when the material is clearly hundreds of years old and is identical.
u. They move slowly, don't take direct hits, or otherwise have a method that seems strange and docile, are shocked when they experience real pain, or don't even have a safe word to stop a technique that approaches the danger threshold because they never come close to the threshold.
v. Their dojo looks too much like a business or commercial enterprise and not like a training facility for hardcore truists/purists.
w. They never train outside, or in the cold, or rain, or get dirty, never tear clothing, or train in nature at all, in different environments, in different clothing, or try to emulate reality.
x. They claim Ninjutsu but don't teach aspects that are non-combat related, such as is stated earlier. Only 10% of Ninjutsu is combat related (even though it may take 90% of the time to learn).
y. They are too repetitious in classes. Class is meant to learn new things. You perfect them on your own time (except for a few things).
z. Lastly, they have never been to Japan for training. Granted, they could be a junior level black belt who just hasn't made it yet, but the test of this is as follows: Dan ranks (degrees of black belt) should be progressing at a rate of about 2 years per degree. There is a very high level of probability that something is amiss if they achieved their black belt 10 years ago and have not kept pace appropriately, for instance.