By Matt de Simone
Botetourt County residents interested in training in martial arts have the opportunity to learn from a local sheriff’s deputy.
Joseph Rae is a Botetourt native who recently opened the Buchanan Bujinkan Dojo at 19785 Main Street in Buchanan. Rae is a deputy with the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Office and is a retired Navy veteran, spending over 20 years in military service.
The word “Bujinkan” can be translated to mean “the hall of the enlightened warrior” or “the hall of the divine warrior.” The discipline consists of traditional Japanese and samurai martial arts. Rae taught in an informal dojo in Chesapeake, training with other service members. He said he always had the intention of moving back to the area to teach Bujinkan.
His start in martial arts developed at a young age, first training at a Roanoke Bujinkan school under instructor Jeff Duncan in 1993. Like most kids, the stuff seen on television and the big screen first sparks interest.
“When I was a kid, I watched ‘The Karate Kid’—that was the first inkling [of wanting to train in the martial arts],” Rae recalled. “I went out and got a job to pay for my training when I was 15.”
Rae has continued to teach in the Bujinkan discipline since he began his training. He has trained overseas and started instructing while stationed in the Chesapeake area of Virginia. Rae wants his students to develop a strong sense of integrity and strong wherewithal and discipline in their lives.
“The word ‘martial’ translates as ‘military,’” Rae explained. “The art was designed for the battlefield. There is a huge self-defense aspect to it. It is also really good for teaching discipline and character-building—being aware of your surroundings. It’s a lot of fun too.”
Rae holds classes for adults and children. There is a belt-ranking system like many disciplines ranging from white belt to black belt. He explained that adults could obtain black belts within four to five years on average.
“The black belt is the beginning of the real training,” Rae continued. “This martial art is like a well. You have to ask yourself how deep you are willing to go. There is still so much more for me to learn.”
Rae is looking forward to continuing to help young minds (and old) gain a sense of morale and awareness of their surroundings.
“Most of my students, especially the younger ones, don’t know what they are capable of,” Rae said. “If they’re strong people and they have a good heart, then they can help other people. I want to teach them self-confidence—quit looking at the phone and see what is around you. It’s pretty cool to watch the kids grow. My own children train.”
Rae is taking a civic-minded approach to the school, teaching discipline and respect to his students. He said he owes a lot to his original instructor and wants to give back to the community with Buchanan Bujinkan.
The dojo recently had its grand opening training session two weeks ago. Rae mentioned that recently community members approached him about instructing a women’s self-defense that he is considering.
Classes at the dojo take place on Monday and Wednesday nights from 6-7 p.m. (children) and 7:30-9 p.m. (adults) and the occasional Saturday. Visit the Facebook page for more information about the Buchanan Bujinkan Dojo.