Photo by Russell Whitaker
My name is Benjamin Cole. I have been training in martial arts for roughly 35 years and in the Bujinkan for more than 20 years. I began my training in the Bujinkan in Japan under Keiji Nakadai, later transitioning to Toshiro Nagato’s dojo and Soke’s sessions at Ayase.
At one point in my training, Soke decided that it was time for me to grow in the art in a different way—he selected me as his translator and I retained that role until I left Japan in 2000. My time as translator sharing Soke’s wisdom to practitioners in the dojo eventually manifested in the publication of “Understand? Good. Play! — Words of Consequence” in 2001. The book has since become a bit of a collector’s item in the Bujinkan.
I have never believed that one must live in Japan long term in order to “get” the art. (Some of the best practitioners of the art, in my opinion, have never lived long term in Japan.) I do believe, however, that one must connect to the art via Japan or via someone with that connection. In the end, the Bujinkan is a Japanese art, and there is no escaping that legacy. I feel that the experience of having learned the art only under Japanese teachers gives me a slightly different perspective of the art than most practitioners outside of Japan. I hope to share that perspective via this blog to those who are interested.
Outside of the dojo, I am a tenured associate professor at the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University in New York, NY, USA. I hold a B.A. in Japanese Language & Culture from Occidental College, and an M.B.A. (with Distinction) and Ph.D. in Strategy from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. I consider myself an organizational scholar, who uses sociological constructs and theories to examine phenomena such as economic exchanges, industry regulation, and technological innovation. I enjoy music, live theater and musicals, spending time with my wife and dog (in that order), and downing a few beers with friends.