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One consistent thread throughout Batman canon is that Bruce Wayne, in order to become the legendary crime fighter and world's greatest detective, spent many years of his life training in escape artistry, martial arts, various technological fields related to crime, and other talents.

To learn those skills, particularly martial arts and other hands-on skills, he had to have a teacher of some sort, or at least a partner to go up against. And while he could use a pseudonym, the second he becomes Bruce Wayne again, he's a world-famous figure in the business world.

How is it that his past trainers and partners haven't recognized this incredibly famous figure who they once taught suspicious crime-fighting skills to?

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    Do you know what Lachlan Murdoch or Rory Gates look like? high net worth individuals often lead relatively private lives. – Valorum Feb 6 '15 at 20:46
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    And so what if they recognise Bruce Wayne? Heck, Vladimir Putin is a black belt and he's hardly a supervillain. Oh, no wait... – Valorum Feb 6 '15 at 20:48
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    Either that, or his trainers are in the same lime pit as all the contractors and workers involved in the construction of the Batcave. – Kyle Jones Feb 6 '15 at 21:11
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    Do you mean to imply that the existence of Batman is implausible? How dare you! – KSmarts Feb 6 '15 at 21:30
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    Ignoring the "which canon" question entirely (which is a bad idea). Some possibilities could be: Division of labor-if learns a little here and a little there he doesn't raise as much suspicion as he would going to caped crusader university; pseudonyms-at worst, when he returns to his public life, one of his old teachers would say "Hey Bruce Wayne reminds me of 'Frank'!"; distance matters-if he does a LOT of learning in remote parts of the world, no one cares that he's Bruce Wayne; Alfred-let's be honest, he doesn't just buttle. – geewhiz Feb 6 '15 at 22:36
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Who says they didn't recognize him? Depending on canon, many of Bruce Wayne's trainers were the top of their fields in what they did. When Wayne wasn't roughing it crossing the world, he was training with masters, people so skilled at avoiding being found, it likely cost Wayne a pretty penny to be able to interact with them at all.

  • Bruce Wayne learned from people who simply had no interest in exploiting their knowledge of who he was. They were either already wealthy, or had NO interest in what Wayne had to offer.

  • There are people in the world who may be masters of their craft who do not buy into the industrialized world's perspective of "money is power". Either they already had their own power, such as Ra's Al Ghul, or eschewed money as a means of interaction.

  • They might have also decided that being in the debt of a man with power might be worth the effort to train him if they thought they could later control him. (See: Ra's Al Ghul)

In many of the canons of Batman's origin, the individuals he trains with are diverse and often secretive themselves. (See: Who were the 6 people who trained Batman in the New 52?)

  • Ted Grant (secretly the crimefighter, Wildcat) was one of the world's most formidable pugilists. A member of the Justice Society, he has his own secret identity and likely assumed Bruce had a score to settle and wanted him to be as prepared as he could be. Grant has no interest in exploiting Bruce Wayne.

  • Giovanni Zatara: Stage magician and member of a subgroup of humanity called Homo Magi. He trained Bruce Wayne in theatricality and slight of hand. No idiot, it is likely he knew who Bruce Wayne was and agreed to train him.

  • Henri Ducard: A trained and reputedly brilliant detective, he likely investigated who Wayne was and for his own reasons agreed to train Wayne. A devoted and slightly crazed man-hunter Ducard's ethical lack did not appear to make him interested in exploiting Wayne for his wealth.

  • Harvey Harris (From Detective Annual #1) Bruce learns the bulk of his detective skills from this man who was reputed to be THE best detective in Gotham city. Bruce tried to disguise himself and it didn't matter.

There are many other examples of individuals whom Wayne learned the bulk of his abilities from. He likely chose them because they were anti-social or disconnected from society at large, ensuring they would have little interest in Wayne once he returned to being his one-man war on crime.

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    Also, some might say, what difference does it make that the general public knows something like Bruce Wayne trained in Wing Chun from Richard Dragon. That seems like a perfectly acceptable thing for an eccentric billionaire to do with his leisure time. Even if everyone knew he had studied in all of those fields, very few would put it all together to form the big picture. – Monty129 Apr 15 '15 at 12:51
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His first master was simply experience

Batman's "training" is usually described to have involved a period of "reckless youth", where he wandered the world just getting into trouble. In the Nolan films, we see him stealing Wayne Enterprises property, and living as a vagabond in Asia. He seems to have taken a false name, although I don't recall if we ever learn it. But he talks about needing to steal to eat, so we know he's "roughing it". Various comic and cartoon stories have touched on this, but it's almost always there, and it's usually where he begins to pick up some skills in stealth, combat, and investigation. They're unrefined, but he has an aptitude even by this point.

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For this period, he likely didn't make many close friends (he was an angry kid), and he probably used a fake name. If anyone did recognize his face later, it'd be one of those "wow that kid from ten years ago kind of looks like that celebrity" sort of things. Hardly a security risk.

His true "masters" often did know his identity

Bruce Wayne has had many masters and mentors in various stories, but the more they meant to him and the more important they are to his origin, the more likely they are to know his identity. Using the Nolan films as an example again, Ra's al Ghul did know his name, even before they started training together. I seem to recall an episode of the animated series where his old master dies or is in danger, and his identity is no secret there either. (I could be wrong about that, though.)

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Generally, these figures are either so remote (e.g. a temple in Nowheresville, Nepal) that they aren't likely to ever spill the secret, or they are powerful and discreet enough (e.g. Ra's al Ghul and the League of Shadows) that they're keeping his secret, along with their own. Notably, this latter scenario has come back to haunt Bruce (for example in Batman Begins).

I can't recall him "training" or receiving any truly vital skills from anyone who was a security risk. His primary mentors seem to be either involved with him (like Alfred), aligned with him (like Ra's), or simply on the back-end of nowhere. They aren't strangers, who might "figure it out" and spill the beans. I've never seen any stories that had him learning to fight at the YMCA.

  • Something outside the Nolanverse would be appreciated, since this is all based on those movies so far, and not the comic books or anything else. – Zibbobz Feb 7 '15 at 2:20
  • The TAS episode(s) you're thinking of are "Night of the Ninja" and "Day of the Samurai". They have the same antagonist: an old sparring partner who knew Bruce Wayne and determined his secret identity after fighting Batman – Jason Baker Feb 7 '15 at 4:30

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