When I started Bujinkan training back in 1983, one thing that was made very clear to us from our teachers was that in-person learning was the only acceptable method for teaching and learning a martial art. Books and videos (VHS back in those days, you know) could supplement your training, but they could never replace an instructor’s watchful eyes observing and feeling your techniques themselves.
So over the years, most of us diligently separated the different tools of learning, always emphasizing in-person instruction. While we watched videos and read books, many of us were suspicious of people whose primary mode of learning martial arts wasn’t from an in-person instructor.
But 2020 has proven to be a powerful catalyst for change, and the Bujinkan has been affected as much as everything in our lives. So for those of us for whom online training was anathema, it was a disconcerting change of mindset.
But ninjutsu is about resilience and adaptation. So we’ve embraced the new rules of learning, and now that we’ve restarted in-person training with restrictions, we’ve still got online classes and livestreamed classes. Even a year ago, I never would have imagined myself making these training choices. But I’m proud of how well we’ve adapted and continued to train in the face of some very difficult obstacles, and it only proves that we’re capable of doing even greater things in the uncertain times to come.