What Koryu ryu ha, if any, accept interested parties with tattoos?

Discussion in 'Koryu Bujutsu' started by Prospect, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. Prospect

    Prospect New Member

    I am someone who travels to Japan once or twice a year, for 1-2 weeks at a time.

    I'm interested in learning more about classical Japanese martial arts, and find myself very drawn to the embu by koryu ryu-ha I have seen which incorporate armed and unarmed techniques.

    I have a respectable profession, an education, a stable family life and all of the other things which Mr. Dave Lowry mentions in one of his articles on Koryu. I would be considered a conservative, in many respects, in the west.

    However, I am also heavily tattooed and this is one of my reasons for regularly visiting Japan: I am in the process of completing a donburi-style body suit.

    I fully appreciate some of the cultural connotations which tattoos have in Japan. I cover up fully when I visit. I'm also aware that many koryu or Japanese martial arts schools in general may refuse training to a tattooed westerner.

    But nevertheless, I want to ask:-

    Is anyone aware of any koryu or kobudo groups which do not care whether or not trainees have tattoos, for one reason or another?
  2. Dean Winchester

    Dean Winchester Valued Member

    Where are you based when you are over there?
  3. Prospect

    Prospect New Member

    Normally a mixture of Yokohama and Tokyo, but I usually visit Kyoto for a few days also.
  4. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    Rather than looking ryuha that accept tattoos, I suggest you find a school you are interested in, make contact and then broach it with the teacher. The majority of Japanese budo teachers I have met have been fine with tattoos, or at least, fine with those weird foreign students having them. :)

    Yeah, there are ryuha that do have issues with tattoos, but is that really just an issue with tattooed Japanese people?
  5. Count Duckula

    Count Duckula Valued Member

    You're a foreigner. I doubt any soke will 'not care' about a full body suit of tattoo. However, you're a foreigner and by definition a crazy barbarian ;)

    Tather than asking who will not mind, I'd find something which interests you and which would be doable to attend. And then explain your situation in person to the person who decides whether to accept you or not.
  6. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Valued Member

    Listen to Scott. Looking for a ryu-ha that is convenient, or fits around you, really is missing the point. If you're "drawn to embu" of koryu, what in the demonstrations interests you? What do you want to dedicate yourself to the promotion and protection of? You're really talking about studying a way of thinking as much as anything else, and in that regard, there needs to be some "connection" to your personality... otherwise, don't bother. You won't be able to get to the ryu-ha, nor do it any justice. But if you do find that there is a particular ryu that "speaks" to you, approach the school earnestly and honestly... and see how you go!
  7. Prospect

    Prospect New Member

    Thanks for the responses, guys. I do have a short list of particular ryu ha which I am interested in, and I will follow the advice offered.
  8. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    Just out interest, what ryuha?
  9. pgsmith

    pgsmith Valued dismemberer

    I would like to thow another thought out there. Are there any koryu that have groups where you live? This would be preferable to only being able to train when you visit Japan. If there is a koryu group near you, you could train at the hombu when you visit Japan, and train with your group the rest of the time.
  10. Prospect

    Prospect New Member

    Insofar as someone who has never participated in a koryu can be said to be able to form an opinion about the differences between ryu ha, I would say that at the moment what I am interested in is a school along the lines of Tenjin Shinyo Ryu or Takenouchi Ryu, but I am open-minded.

    That's a very good point, thanks. Time for a bit of research..
  11. Dean Winchester

    Dean Winchester Valued Member

    Is it the Jujutsu side of things that interests you?
  12. Prospect

    Prospect New Member

    I would say so - particularly the schools which mix in various weapons into that paradigm.
  13. Dean Winchester

    Dean Winchester Valued Member

    Where are you based ?

    When not globe trotting I mean.
  14. Prospect

    Prospect New Member

    Not that I do that much globe-trotting, aside from Japan, but: The UK / Ireland.

    I see there is a Takenouchi Ryu dojo in Yorkshire, oddly enough.

    Thanks for all the responses, guys.
  15. Dean Winchester

    Dean Winchester Valued Member

    Yep there's Takeuchi-ryu up north but you'll also find Sosuishi-ryu which is a bunpa (off shoot) of Takenouchi-ryu in the UK.


    If you are interested I can make some enquiries and see what the situation is?
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
  16. Prospect

    Prospect New Member

    Thanks for the offer, I will bear it in mind...
  17. Dean Winchester

    Dean Winchester Valued Member

    There's Tenjin Shinyo-ryu down south too.
  18. Kogusoku

    Kogusoku 髭また伸びた! Supporter

    The Tenjin Shinyo-ryu hombu will not take you if you have way too many visible tatoos. If you have sleeves, just cover them up.

    In the Kanto area, the Bichu-den Takeuchi-ryu have a number of active shibu in the Tokyo area. I am not aware if they have any policies on tattoos though.
  19. Jumonkan

    Jumonkan Valued Member


    I never even thought about tattoo's stopping me from training. Awesome thread.
  20. fifthchamber

    fifthchamber Valued Member

    Not like I'm the "official spokesman" for the school or anything..But I'd suspect it depended on the teacher...A full bodysuit tattoo is a little heavier than anything I've seen sported (or have myself), so I'm not sure about that, but equally, I suspect that if the intentions were decent and the effort was put in, it wouldn't matter overly except at demonstration time, when yeah, it would be good practice to cover up entirely...In training I suspect things would be fine..Although you'll find most people withdraw from a full body tattoo....That's just the culture here...A small one or two? No worries, full body? Yeah..That's a statement....So...It wouldn't be quite the same I think..

    If you're interested, genuinely, I'd suggest trying to contact the Yorkshire Dojo and seeing what happens there...That'd be a good first step either way...If you're worried about the reaction here to your tattoo, it'd be lessened if you arrived with a message from the dojo there introducing you and letting people know what you were all about too...

    Essentially, probably fine...But I'd make contact with Anna Seabourne Shihan in Yorkshire, try training there a good spell, and then when you come to Tokyo, you'd be all fine in either case...


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