This is mostly true.
So, I was at the dojo, about five years ago, teaching a basics class. About halfway through the lesson, I see this dude park himself right next to the mat, arms folded, scowling. Not wanting to interrupt practice, I ignored him for a bit. I did, however, take a look at his outfit: black gi, black belt (tied incorrectly), and…a Caterpillar baseball cap. We are in north Florida, after all.
Since my classes normally don’t attract mysterious characters, (even the scowling kind), I eventually made my way over to him. What follows is a loose transcription.
Me: “Hi! Are you interested in Aikido?”
Him: “Not really, no.”
Him: “I just came to see your technique.”
Me: “Oh. Well, do you have any martial arts training?”
Him: “Yes. I studied ninjutsu under xxxxxx.”
Before I continue, let me just say that if he was a ninja, he was the worst ninja I’d ever seen. I mean, that’s the whole point, isn’t it? I could see him. Plain as day, no cool smoke effects, no misdirection, not even a crummy ninja star. What a gyp.
Me: “Okay. By the way, my name is Jerry.”
Him: “I’m Mr. xxxxxx.”
Me: <Smiling> “Well, you can still call me Jerry”
Him: <Staring, puzzled> Not. Quite. Getting. It.
Me: “I’m kidding. Don’t worry about it. Do you have any questions?”
Him: “No. I did, however, see some mistakes in your class.”
Me: <What the…?!> “Excuse me?”
Him: “Mistakes. I can help your students train better.”
Oh, now I get it. He’s not here to train. He came here to teach. It actually takes me a second to process the absurdity of this conversation. Never let it be said that atemi must be physical.
My immediate questions: (1) Is this guy for real? and (2) Was he sent by Cobra Kai? I half expect a John Kreese figure to appear, yelling “Sweep the leg!” In the meantime, I can already hear muffled laughter behind me. I don’t want this to end badly (for our guest). Time for irimi.
Me: “Have you ever studied Aikido?”
Him: “Just ninjutsu.”
Me: “Listen. I’m not sure what you’re hoping for, but you don’t seriously expect us to make you our teacher? Just because you study ninjutsu?”
Please say no. For my sanity, at least.
Him: <Staring blankly>
Me: “Okay. Here’s the deal. You’re more than welcome to stay and train. As a beginner. But you’ll need to (1) lose the belt, (2) lose the attitude, and (3) lose the hat.
I just hate Caterpillar baseball caps.
Did we ever see him again? What do you think?
¹Since I cannot independently verify his training, I’m omitting the name of his instructor. The last thing I need are angry ninjas hiding in my shrubs while I mow the lawn.
²For the record, I don’t think this guy had ever stepped foot in a dojo before, ninjutsu or otherwise.