1. Who is the dojo’s founder and what prompted him/her to build the school? Is there any rich history behind its making?
Makoto Dojo was founded by myself, Richard Ray, in 1994. Training in martial arts since 1972, I started teaching what I knew to friends and students in the early 1980’s. This began in backyards, parks and garages. Then moved on to rented space in martial arts schools and gyms.
In 1994, I decided to focus my attention on sharing the Japanese martial arts that I had been learning since 1980. I chose the name Makoto for my Dojo because I vowed to share what I knew with sincerity and to reflect my personal search for truth in its ultimate meaning. I have always believed that universal truth is being “taught” to us at every moment in every day experiences. Which is why I came up with our Dojo motto: “Truth through experience…”™
The Genbukan Dojo which is the Dojo of our Soke Tanemura Shoto was formed in 1984. Tanemura Soke has trained in martial arts since the age of 9. After 14 years of serving on the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Force, he decided it was his life mission to share traditional Japanese ninja and Samurai lineages with the world and thus founded the Genbukan Dojo. More information about Tanemura Soke and the Genbukan Dojo can be found here: www.genbukan.org.
2. What forms of Japanese martial arts do you teach in your school? Can you please share with us the history behind them?
At the Genbukan Makoto Dojo, we teach a wide variety of traditional Japanese martial arts traditions which include the following:
- Genbukan Ninpo Bugei
- Jujutsu i.e. Hontai Takagi Yoshin Ryu, Kukishin Ryu, Asayama Ichiden Ryu, Daito Ryu, Shinden Tatara Ryu etc…
- Kukishin Ryu Bojutsu
- Genbukan Bikenjutsu (secret Japanese swords techniques. Coming from Kukishin ryu, togakure ryu, ono-ha itto ryu, mugen shinto ryu etc…)
- Koryu Karate (Shinden Tatara Ryu, Kijin Chosui Ryu etc…)
- And even Chinese martial arts of Ba Qua, Chin na and chi gong
Modern applications of these ancient traditions are also stressed as well.
Beyond the physical Bumon martial gate, we teach the Shumon or spiritual gate, coming from the Amatsu Tatara lineage, which is basically the study of truth. Our lineages stretch back 2000 years, some of our youngest lineages are more than 300 years old…
The Genbukan curriculum comes mostly from the arts taught by a man named Takamatsu Toshitsugu, but also has influence from other teachers of Tanemura Soke, such as Nagao Sensei and his Mugen Shinto Ryu iai and Aiki Jutsu, and Sato Kinbei and his Chinese martial arts…
3. What are the principles and concepts that you uphold and try to instill in your students?
At the Genbukan Makoto Dojo, we strive to uphold and teach the Butoku or Samurai virtues as well as placing a strong concentration on Seishin Teki Kyoyo or spiritual refinement. From the very first lesson, rei-ho or etiquette is taught and stressed. Like Tanemura Soke always says, it is not how high you can kick or fast you can punch but it’s how deep you bow. Even when you take off your gi and leave the Dojo, people can tell you are a martial artist because of your manners.
In addition to the above, we strive to uphold as best we can the lineages and traditions so kindly shared with us through our teachers. We also place a solid emphasis on being able to use these traditions at a very high level and not just “play” with them. This includes the physical as well as the mental and spiritual aspects of our arts…
4. Why do you think it is important for people to learn martial arts?
I firmly believe that under the proper instruction, martial arts can change people’s lives in dramatic ways all for the better. People are searching for something… wholeness, confidence, understanding, empowerment… I truly believe that martial arts can deliver on those fronts and more.
5. What difficulties and obstacles have you encountered so far with regards to teaching martial arts and how did you overcome them?
The challenges to teaching martial arts are many…
How do you deal with the realities of owning a business and doing what you need to do to be successful without “selling out” or watering down what you do?
How do you deal with difficult students or parents?
How do you find time to keep up with your own training?
I can go on with many more, but all of these challenges are just that – challenges. But if you look deep within yourself and believe in what you are doing and then focus and do what you need to do, they all fall away… Each one then becomes a learning experience.
So how do I deal with difficulties and obstacles? I see them as learning experiences, I stay true to me inner vision and they cease to be a problem, they all become gifts…
6. What advice and/or insights can you share with our readers who want to pursue their interest in the Japanese form of martial arts?
First I would like to explain that traditional Japanese martial arts will require you to maybe shift the way you normally think and do things. In speaking to a Western audience, I know that we like to ask questions all the time, we want to know why, when, where, how, what if?
But the traditional way is to do, not to talk. If you trust your teacher, then do what he or she instructs you to do without a lot of questions. If you practice the kihon faithfully, many of your questions will be answered through the training itself!
When your teacher sees that you are ready, they will give you the kuden and then it will mean so much to you because you put in the time and hard work to understand it.
Another thing is patience. Traditional training will literally take you apart and then put you back together again and this takes time. What you will find out about yourself during that process will amaze you. It is very difficult, but amazingly powerful. Having been through the process, you will come to understand T.S. Elliot when he said: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time” –T.S.Elliot
Look at your teacher, do you wish to move like them? Live like them? If so, listen to them and trust them, put your own ego aside and do the work. If not, find another teacher.
7. Can you give a short biography of your instructor(s)?
Our Soke started training in martial arts since the age of 9 years old. He is the founder of the Genbukan World Ninpo Bugei Federation, the Kokusai Jujutsu Renmei and others. His official titles are Genbukan World Ninpo Bugei Federation, President Kokusai Jujutsu Renmei/Federation, and Executive Director.
Grandmaster Tanemura was born with the name Tsunehisa Tanemura on the 28th of August 1947, in the town of Matsubushi, which is located in Saitama prefecture, Japan. Tsunehisa was his given name, but later he took the name “Shoto” meaning the “Law of the Sword”.
He is the Soke or grandmaster of over 26 traditional martial lineages:
Mastered Ryu-Ha / Schools
- Hontai Yoshin Takagi Ryu Jujutsu – 18th Soke
- Hontai Kukishin Ryu Bojutsu – 18th Soke
- Gikan Ryu Koppo-Jutsu – 14th Soke
- Asayama Ichiden Ryu Taijutsu – 18th Soke
- Tenshin Hyoho Kukishin-Ryu – 18th Soke
- Amatsu Tatara Bumon & Shumon – 58th Soke
- Shinden Tatara Ryu Taijutsu – 55th Soke
- Shinden Kito Ryu Bojutsu – 55th Soke
- Bokuden Ryu Jujutsu – 15th Soke
- Itten Ryushin Chukai Ryu Jujutsu – 3rd Soke
- Chinese Martial Art Hakkesho – 5th Denjin
- Araki Shin Ryu – Menkyo Kaiden
- Yagyu Shingan Kacchu Yawara – Menkyo Kaiden
- Tenshin Koryu / Shindo Tenshin Ryu Kenpo – Menkyo Kaiden
- Kijin Chosui Ryu Daken-Taijutsu – Menkyo Kaiden
- Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu Yamamoto-Ha – Menkyo Kaiden
- Mugen Shinto Ryu Iai-Jutsu – Menkyo Kaiden
- Shinden Fudo Ryu Daken-Taijutsu Tanemura-Ha – Soke
- Shinden Fudo Ryu Taijutsu Tanemura-Ha – Soke
- Kukishinden Happo Biken-Jutsu Tanemura-Ha – Soke
- Togakure Ryu Ninpo Tanemura-Ha – Soke
- Gyokko Ryu Kosshi-Jutsu Tanemura-Ha – Soke
- Koto Ryu Koppo-Jutsu Tanemura-Ha – Soke
Trained / Studied Schools
- Iga Ryu Ninpo
- Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo
- Gyokushin Ryu Koppo-jutsu
- Tenjin Shinyo Ryu Ju-jutsu
- Yoshin Ryu Ju-jutsu
- Onoha Itto Ryu Ken-jutsu
- Shindo Munen Ryu Ken-jutsu
- Taiwado Ju-jutsu
- Shindo Muso Ryu Jo-jutsu
- Kageyama Ryu Ken-jutsu
- Kito Ryu Ju-jutsu
- Shin Kage Ryu
- Shikomizue Jutsu
- Takeda Ryu Aiki-no-jutsu
- India Martial Arts
My direct teacher is Michael Coleman Kyoshi. He is Tanemura Soke’s longest training student in the United States and holds the highest rank in the United States as well. He has trained in martial arts since the early 1970’s and has spent over 20 years learning directly from Tanemura Soke in Japan as well as the United States and Europe. Coleman Sensei has taught all over the world and is highly respected for his skill and knowledge of our martial traditions. To find out more about Coleman Kyoshi please visit his website: www.futendojo.com.