Originally posted by Chuck Clark
Looks as if you have a problem. If you're serious about wanting to learn what you have some previous concept of known as "martial arts" and there are no teachers in your area, then when you can leave...move where the best teacher you can find lives. If you miss on the first try, keep trying and look for a teacher.
There are no easy answers to the situation you're in. When I was 13 years old and had been training with an instructor since the age of 6, the instructor moved away and I had to catch rides on weekends to travel the 110 miles to the nearest dojo. This was in 1960 and I continued this until I got my own car in 1963. I then drove myself to this dojo. After graduation from high school, I left at 4:30 am the next morning for San Jose, California to train. I haven't stopped yet. You can do it also if you want it bad enough.
I laughed when I read your posting. Around here you get 90% of your students from within a twenty minute drive. After that only the hard core folks who specifically want to train at your school with you will make any additional effort.
We are in a suburb of Seattle which is separated from the city proper by a lake that requires a lot of trouble to negotiate at rush hour. Years ago I went over that bridge at rush hour every night to train with Mary Heiny Sensei; it took over an hour by the end of my stay there. Now I have people come to me and say that they have trouble getting to class because of the commute. I just smile. Many times I have people say they are leaving so that they can train at a school that is closer to them. That's fine of course but it always intetesting when it comes from people who have previously been raving about how wonderful the dojo was and how much they loved the training.
I think of Saito Sensei who was hours from the dojo and took the train every day to practice with O-Sensei. I suspect that amongst the top practitioners around the country there are a disproportionate number like yourself who really had to work to train. That commitment has lead them to where they are now.
For a young man of seventeen, finding the right teacher might involve doing a bit of travel and checking out people around the country. It is certainly easy enough to communicate with people through forums such as this and get a feel for who the people are who you might want to seek out. Some are on the forum, others here are students of teachers who would be worth checking out. Finding that teacher is a lot like trying to find the grad school you'd like to attend. You might research who is the top person in your field and apply there. Certainly you wouldn't expect the circumstances to drop that teacher in your lap (although that was in fact what happened in my case with Saotome Sensei; pure luck).
I will conclude with a quote from Lovret Sensei that I read years ago. "There are students who train as often as they can and there are students who train." I always liked that one.
[Edited by George S. Ledyard on June 26, 2000 at 07:18pm]