Japan finds itself in a very difficult position. Not only the martial arts, but many of their other cultural arts from paper dolls, traditional crafts, tea ceremony, you name it, are finding that many, if not most, of their senior students are foreigners. When they are interested in doing them, the native Japanese tend to look at these arts as "hobbies". The foreign students are people who packed up everything and moved ten thousand miles to live and study these arts in Japan. The Japanese have had to deal with the phenomenon of foreigners in many cases having a better understanding of certain aspects their traditional cultural heritage than they do.
Mr. Ledyard, could I get you to elaborate on this? I feel this is at odds with my own experience here on the ground in Japan, but you are obviously seeing things from a very different perspective.
For example, I'm a sumo fan. A big sumo fan. And thus, when I talk to a typical Japanese person about sumo, my knowledge far outstrips theirs. The typical (practically scripted) reaction to this is for the self-deprecating Japanese person to say something like, "Wow, you are more Japanese than I am!" Which of course is a very silly idea. I simply possess a cache of specialized knowledge that reflects an interest of mine. The typical Japanese person still knows far more about sumo than the typical American, and more to the point, even as an avid sumo enthusiast, when it comes to sumo knowledge I get my clock routinely cleaned by Japanese
sumo enthusiasts. And of course this goes both ways, as there are Japanese enthusiasts of certain American cultural aspects who know far more about baseball, jazz, etc. than the average American.
This seems to be my experience here with other aspects of traditional Japanese culture. The average non-Japanese practioner certainly falls to the right of the mean on an average distribution, but your statement "many if not most of the senior students are foreigners" seems somewhat hyperbolic. I understand this to be the situation in Toda-ha Buko-ryu, and that Katori Shinto Ryu is experiencing a heavy influx of non-Japanese, but in most other classical arts it seems to me that for every dedicated-more-than-average foreign student, there are a number of dedicated-more-than-average Japanese students.
OTOH, the budo world that I know on the English language internet is certainly different from the budo world that I know in real life. So I'm very interested in your perspective.