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Izzy is currently living in Japan and pursing his childhood dream: to become a ninja. To read more head on over to The 30 Year Old Ninja. You can sign up to get RSS post updates at his site where he posts new content every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Have you ever had the perfect plan? You organize everything perfectly, you get all your ducks in a row. You put the plan into action... And you realize it's not what you wanted. What do you do? Do you quit?

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Finding a Dojo in Japan

October 2011

I had spent the last few days trying to find a martial arts dojo in Japan. This started with an internet search. Crazy thing: Turns out Japanese people tend to speak Japanese. This means they also tend to write in Japanese. After 8 hours of searching (yes, this was a huge waste of time) it finally dawned on me: Izzy you cannot read Japanese...

I then came up with a more logical approach: I asked my supervisor who is fluent in Japanese and English to help me figure this out.

Well, after about 20 minutes, we found a dojo. We called. They had class that day! I was pumped, excited, ready to become a ninja!

That evening I got on the train and traveled 1 hour and 20 minutes. I was so ready to start becoming a master martial arts expert.

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What are you willing to do to make your dream come true?

Turns out, becoming a master martial arts expert wasn't really a priority at this dojo. Though they did want to become experts... in talking and drinking water. Which isn't a bad thing to be an expert in, it just wasn't what I wanted.

I like my martial arts training to be intense! I want to sweat! I want to be focused... I don't want to talk about my backpack...

After the hour and a half training session, I ventured back onto the train. This wasn't going to workout, It was nearly 3 hours round trip, plus I already considered myself an expert at drinking water (I do it everyday!). There was no reason for me to continue attending this dojo.

Would you give up on your dream if you ran into a barrier?

I went back to work the next day and politely informed my supervisor that the dojo was much too far to travel on a regular basis (I opted not to mention their true focus on water and talking). Back to the drawing board!

YES! We found another dojo. This one was local. I could get there in 20 minutes on my bike. This is fantastic, amazing, incredible... I'm ready to become a ninja!

I am soon attending the class. I pay the fee, and am on my way! There are classes twice per week. I'm attending class on a regular basis, but I have a feeling inside my stomach that this isn't right. But this has to be right! I want to be a martial arts expert! THIS HAS TO BE THE WAY!

Have you ever been doing something because you thought it was the way... But it wasn't? How do you know when it isn't right?

Due to some unexpected transportation issues (my bike broke) I wasn't able to attend class for two weeks. During this time I realized, this dojo didn't provide me what I was looking for.

The class was extremely laid back. There was no intensity. There were a total of 4 people enrolled in the class: one which seemed primarily focused on taking 10 minutes breaks every 5 minutes, a high school student that loved practicing his english but really could care less about training, and an 11 year old that was very sweet but wasn't quite the competition I was hoping to find... Not quite the path to ninjahood I had assumed.

I battled with this. Am I making up excuses? Do I have unfair expectations? Isn't this better than nothing? After being honest with myself I realized this dojo didn't give me what I wanted.

I initially thought when I came to Japan that I would immediately find a dojo that was perfect for me. Not true!

A piece of me felt like a fraud. I came to Japan to study martial arts and here I was quitting for the seccond time. But after much thought I realized this is simply part of the process.

Are you involved in activities that are not taking you where you want to go? Sometimes quitting is the right thing to do.

It was pretty clear that this whole becoming a ninja thing wasn't going to be that easy. After some thinking and some budgeting I found my solution: once a month I would take a small trip and train at a martial arts dojo somewhere in Japan. During that in between time, I watch videos online, mimic the movement, and do visualization techniques. Is this perfect? Not at all. Is this what I want in the long run? Not at all. Will this alone make me an expert? No, it won't.

But for now, this is a solution. Come August, I am quitting my job and will be moving to Kyoto, to train full time in martial arts. Until then this is my solution.

Do you allow barriers to stop you? Do you say it's impossible? Is it really impossible?

The difference between success and failure lies in taking action. Those who are successful are willing to learn from their mistakes and constantly adjust. They are locked on an outcome not a particular path to get there.

What about you? Have you given up because it's "too hard'? Are you holding onto something that isn't right for you? Are you creating false excuses?

Izzy is currently living in Japan and pursing his childhood dream: to become a ninja. To read more head on over to The 30 Year Old Ninja. You can sign up to get RSS post updates at his site where he posts new content every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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Comment by Nate Schubick on May 24, 2012 at 9:41am

Hey izzy, keep looking but from the sound of it you want a miyagi and not a dojo. You want one teacher to mentor you and that is a good thing. Japanese people do not long to teach foreigners what they know. Thats what it appears like to me anyway. I think your spot on with your approach but perhaps it may need further definition or clarification. I hope you find what you seek soon. On a funny note maybe if you grow a long white flowing moustache the teacher will come

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