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Ta Kung
08-13-2001, 03:39 AM
I've heard that some styles (?) have "claping" in the opening and/or closing ritual of each class. How come you do this? How do you do it, is it a single clap or more?

At my club we don't clap, and I've never seen any other club do it either. Just curious, I guess...

Regards,
Patrik Eng
President of Stupid Questions Inc. :)

lt-rentaroo
08-13-2001, 08:13 AM
Hello,

I'm pretty fortunate in that I've had the opportunity to train at different dojo throughout the U.S. I've trained at dojo where "clapping" was performed during the opening of class and dojo that had no clapping. My own personal understanding of the clapping is that it is a method to clear one's mind. Allow me to use this analogy to explain my thoughts. It used to be common belief that when someoned sneezed, that it was caused by a demon leaving their body; and saying "God bless you" to this person was the method to prevent this demon or evil spirit from reentering the persons body. Seems pretty silly (and no offense meant towards those who believe so), however some people believe very deeply in this. So, if saying "God bless you" after someone sneezes can prevent the evil from reentering their body, then I suppose "clapping" can be a way to rid one's mind of all the bad thoughts or stress inducing things that may have happened prior to training that day. At least that is what I tell myself.

I've also heard that the clapping is actually the beginning of a Shinto prayer. I'm more inclined to believe this is the actual reasoning behind the clapping, but I prefer to rationalize the clapping in my mind by thinking of it as a way to cleanse my mind of the stress / unhappy things from the day.

In my current dojo, we do not clap during the beginning or ending of class. I've found that clapping during the beginning of class does not seem to be directly related to a particular style of Aikido either, at least not that I've witnessed. Have a good day!

Greg Jennings
08-13-2001, 08:18 AM
Originally posted by Ta Kung
I've heard that some styles (?) have "claping" in the opening and/or closing ritual of each class. How come you do this? How do you do it, is it a single clap or more?

At my club we don't clap, and I've never seen any other club do it either. Just curious, I guess...

Regards,
Patrik Eng
President of Stupid Questions Inc. :)

Ever been to one of Saito Shihan's seminars or seen one of his instructional tapes?

Two bows to the front, two claps, then one bow to instructor (after he/she pivots).

Every ASU (Saotome Sensei's organization) dojo I've been to (here in the U.S.) has the same opening and closing ritual. The ASU explanation is that the clapping represents unity.

Our dojo is affiliated with division 1 of the AANC ( http://www.aanc.org/ ) which is an Iwama-oriented organization. Our dojo is hosted, however, by my instructor's church which is Pentecostal Christian. Out of sensitivity for their potential concerns, we neither clap nor bow to the front. We just bow to each other and get busy.

FWIW, I personally pretty much don't care one way or the other.

Best Regards,

aikilouis
08-13-2001, 09:56 AM
In our dojo (associated with Association Francaise d'Aikido, led by Gerard Blaize 7th dan Aikikai, student of Hikitsushi Sensei 10th dan), clapping is part of what we do during Chinkon Kishin No Ho, a series of exercises performed at the beginning of every class. According to Gerard Blaize, it was already done at the Omotokyo, and it is an energy-related exercise.
Sometimes I go to seminars given by a 4th dan Sensei (25 years of practice, long stays in Japan), who teaches at 1 hour drive from my home. My sensei had told me that he took Shinto very seriously, but I was surprised to see him clap to the kami the first time we said goodbye, in order to put the kami's protection on me on my way home. I was a bit startled, but also felt very good, knowing that someone really cared for my safety. Very strange and sweet feeling.

Louis R Joseph

Erik
08-13-2001, 10:46 AM
Originally posted by Greg Jennings

Our dojo is affiliated with division 1 of the AANC ( http://www.aanc.org/ ) which is an Iwama-oriented organization.

Greg, while I know what you meant, others may not.
The AANC is composed of 3 divisions each of which is headed by a different individual.

Division 1 - Bill Witt
Division 2 - Frank Doran
Division 3 - Bob Nadeau

Bill Witt clearly has an Iwama-orientation. Frank Doran has always seemed to me to have a fairly mainstream Aikikai orientation and Bob Nadeau, well, Bob is pretty much just Bob. As I understand it Bill Witt was promoted to 7th dan by Saito whereas Frank Doran and Bob Nadeau were promoted by Hombu. The AANC is an Aikikai-affiliated organization with no Japanese shihan as it's leader (including Saito) which also means no shihan at the top but that's a different topic. It is NOT an Iwama-orientated organization and thank the Great Pumpkin, my personal diety of choice, for that.

I just wanted to clarify this. I've heard the AANC referred to as an Iwama organization in the past when it's not.

[Censored]
08-13-2001, 11:44 AM
I've heard that some styles (?) have "claping" in the opening and/or closing ritual of each class. How come you do this? How do you do it, is it a single clap or more?

In my current school, we always start class with the bell, and sometimes with a few claps as well. I have never heard an "official" explanation, but I take it as an opportunity to condense my spirit in the tanden. No religious significance.

Greg Jennings
08-13-2001, 12:58 PM
Originally posted by Erik

Greg, while I know what you meant, others may not. The AANC is composed of 3 divisions each of which is headed by a different individual.

Thanks for the clarification, Eric. I was in a rush but should have done a better job.

It happens about twice a month:

"In today's episode of 'As The Dojo Turns', Greg Jennings, the idealistic dojo secretary, once again attempts to explain to a wary potential student how his dojo in Montgomery, AL is affiliated with the Aikikai Foundation in Tokyo through Division One of the Aikido Association of Northern California. Will he ever learn?".

I have had good experiences with the AANC, Witt Sensei and especially Hans Goto Sensei. It'll be interesting to see what the next few years bring.

Thanks Again and Best Regards,

wayback
08-13-2001, 01:36 PM
Our sensei explains it as this: 2 claps, the first sends energy out into the universe and the second brings it back to you....

--Sharon

Erik
08-13-2001, 02:19 PM
Originally posted by Greg Jennings I have had good experiences with the AANC, Witt Sensei and especially Hans Goto Sensei.

I don't know Bill Witt other than having been in a class or 2 but I will say that Hans Goto seems to be a pretty decent individual who probably deserves more recognition than he gets.

It'll be interesting to see what the next few years bring.

Indeed! It hasn't been particularly pretty in the last few years to this observer of the Aikido condition and I worry about it's future. That is, if I've got nothing else to worry about and need something to worry about.

"In today's episode of 'As The Dojo Turns', Greg Jennings, the idealistic dojo secretary, once again attempts to explain to a wary potential student how his dojo in Montgomery, AL is affiliated with the Aikikai Foundation in Tokyo through Division One of the Aikido Association of Northern California. Will he ever learn?".

Imagine if you were in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland or even Jerusalem.

dainippon99
08-13-2001, 03:04 PM
I've heard it described as the first clap dispells distracting thoughts/poor thoughts, and the second clap calms the mind and settles the center.

Carlos
08-13-2001, 03:15 PM
Patrick,

it's a very good question indeed.

I learn that the clapping before training have the "idea" to wake the O'Sensei spirit (kami) and bring his attention to the current class, to promote good training.

The clapping in the end of the class have the idea to thank's O'Sensei attention and his idea to create the Aikido.

Regard's

Carlos

http://aikido.paginainicial.com.br

aikilouis
08-13-2001, 04:49 PM
The explanation of "waking O Sensei's kami" is very interesting. Maybe we shouldn't believe that it is a ghost floating around in dojos, but that he lives through our commitment to the art. I've read an interview of Hikitsushi Sensei where he said that he did not perform the techniques, but that he was just an intermediate through whom the spirit of O Sensei was in action. The fact that he considered him as a second father gives an idea of the quality of their relationship. For us, the bowings and clappings can help us relate to an extraordinary tradition.

Louis R Joseph

darin
08-13-2001, 08:38 PM
Originally posted by Ta Kung
I've heard that some styles (?) have "claping" in the opening and/or closing ritual of each class. How come you do this? How do you do it, is it a single clap or more?

At my club we don't clap, and I've never seen any other club do it either. Just curious, I guess...

Regards,
Patrik Eng
President of Stupid Questions Inc. :)

The clapping is a shinto ritual. Whenever Japanese go to a shinto shrine they first wash their hands, take a drink from a fountain then approach the shrine. They clap twice or ring a bell in front of the alter then pray. I guess its the same for Aikido except we don't wash our hands before class. I was told that the clapping is to call the spirit of the shrine.

My teacher never used this ritual. Just a bow to the front. I asked him why and his answer was that its a Japanese custom and not necessary for westerners to do.

I have seen a few non Japanese instructors adopt this ritual into their classes because thats the way they do it in Japan or it looks cool. Its rather funny as these people are not Japanese nor have any understanding of Shinto or what the rituals actually mean.

Jorge Garcia
08-13-2001, 08:38 PM
When I have been in Seminars with Akira Tohei Sensei of the Midwest Aikido federation, he never clapped. Just a simple bow to the front and a simple bow to the students. Hiroshi Kato sensei, my current shihan claps 4 times with 2 bows, both at the beginning at the end of class. I once asked him why he does it and if it had any religious significance. He said that his teacher did it (O'Sensei) so he does it.
Also, others have told me that the claps "wake up the gods". Steven Seagal Sensei also added that for those who clap, they should have an effigy of O'Sensei at the front because the clapping is supposed to bring his spirit into that effigy during the practice time.
As far as clapping goes, I have always been told that the student (in his own dojo) should do whatever his teacher does. For whatever it's worth!

Jim23
08-13-2001, 09:46 PM
Clap to call the Kami (Ubaldo?;))? Four claps and two bows? What is this Oscar night?

I thought aikido had no religous connection. Isn't that what's constantly preached here to people who ask?

Jim23

guest1234
08-13-2001, 10:56 PM
I think we've talked before about the clapping as prelude to a Shinto prayer, but that that is not what it is meant as in most dojos that do that in the states. My guess as to why: the senseis who picked it up from their Eastern teachers didn't understand or ask why, or their teachers gave them alternate explanations that they thought would be more acceptable to Western minds. But, like presents, I think it is the thought that counts---the only significance it has is in the mind of the person clapping.
The clearing/focusing the mind explanation is OK with me, but the send out/return energy one seems a bit of a stretch, since there is usually not much time between claps. It is not like the time between claps for Ki breathing, when you might visualize energy out and in---to me at least. It is more like the two claps to get us to sit down and pay attention to the next technique, which is kind of what it's role in prayer is--attracting the attention of the kami.

Now HANDWASHING, on the otherhand, I really wish to believe everyone is doing before class. :eek:

Erik
08-13-2001, 11:38 PM
Originally posted by ca
Now HANDWASHING, on the otherhand, I really wish to believe everyone is doing before class. :eek:

The worst case of poison oak/skin rash I've gotten in the last 2 years was on my wrists and showed up suspiciously soon after an all day seminar. Grrrrr.....

Anyways, my own thoughts on bowing/clapping are much more mundane. When I have occasion to cover a class I bow but don't clap. Nick, are you surprised by this? I bow people in because I like the idea of using it to get everyone somewhat on the same page. It kind of acts as a focus and it establishes who owns the mat--it's a little vague where I hang out at times. Clapping could work the same way I suppose but I've never cared for it. I don't teach much but if I did I could probably come up with a better alternative to bowing. The rest of the time I just go along for the ride.

I've heard some of the other explanations, although washing hands was new to me, but because of my faith in the Great Pumpkin :o I'm excluded from exploring them. The Pumpkin :cool: is a kind but stern taskmaster on these pagan matters.

darin
08-13-2001, 11:45 PM
Originally posted by ca
I think we've talked before about the clapping as prelude to a Shinto prayer, but that that is not what it is meant as in most dojos that do that in the states. My guess as to why: the senseis who picked it up from their Eastern teachers didn't understand or ask why, or their teachers gave them alternate explanations that they thought would be more acceptable to Western minds. But, like presents, I think it is the thought that counts---the only significance it has is in the mind of the person clapping.
The clearing/focusing the mind explanation is OK with me, but the send out/return energy one seems a bit of a stretch, since there is usually not much time between claps. It is not like the time between claps for Ki breathing, when you might visualize energy out and in---to me at least. It is more like the two claps to get us to sit down and pay attention to the next technique, which is kind of what it's role in prayer is--attracting the attention of the kami.

Now HANDWASHING, on the otherhand, I really wish to believe everyone is doing before class. :eek:

I just asked a Japanese girl in my office what the significance of clapping is. She actually didn't know but said its atarimae which means something natural. But she did say its for inori which is prayer and that dojo and shrine are the same. I guess its like how catholics do the sign of the cross.

stratcat
08-14-2001, 12:25 AM
Well, the explanation I've heard is that the clapping is part of the Omoto Kyo rituals, and Shintoism in general, which are religions where the spirits (Kami) of ancestors are revered, and that they take a very active part an interest in what happens in the land of the living.

So in essence, what you are doing when you clap and bow to the Kamiza is a religious ceremony, where you are calling the spirit of O'Sensei, to insure diligent and fruitful practice, as well as watch over the practicing aikidokas' safety. Further it alos a sign of respect to the founder of the Art, in essence our "ancestor" and thanking him for the creation of Aikido, and the opportunity to practice it.

Chikon- Kishin aspects are also taken into account in this ritual.In this sense, the ritual is also used to center the mind and calm the spirit, which is also part of the explanation for this ritual (and all its variations).

Lastly, because its profound religious significance would tend to fly in the face of western spiritual beliefs, other explanations were given to said westerners, to make it more palatable, as normally japanese students would tend to always do this ritual before the actual class. Eventually many western teachers adopted it because "it was simply done"

In the end, any and all rituals only have the significance you put into it. Without a personalized renewing experience all rituals become empty and meaningless.

guest1234
08-14-2001, 05:53 AM
I'm thinking that a communal sharing of some Pumpkin Pie (after HANDWASHING) would be a good way to start or end your classes, Erik.

sceptoor
08-15-2001, 12:23 AM
I'm a member of the Aikido Schools of Ueshiba(ASU), and I have here a handbook recently given to me after a year.(better late than never, right?)

Here is a quote from the ASU handbook "second edition", under "Proper Dojo Etiquette";

"Aikido is not a religion, but the education and refinement of the spirit. You will not be asked to adhere to any religious doctrine, but only to remain spiritually open. When we bow it is not a religious performance, but a sign of respect from the same spirit of universal creative intelligence within us all.

The opening and closing ceremony of each Aikido practice is a formal bow directed to the shomen, TWO CLAPS, another bow to the shomen and a bow between the instructor and students. The bows directed to the shomen symbolize respect for the spirit and principles of Aikido, and gratitude to the Founder for developing this system of study. The two claps symbolize unity, "musubi". You send out a vibration with the first clap and receive it's echo with the second. The vibration you send and the echo you receive are dictated by your own spiritual beliefs and attitudes."

Of course, the above view is not necessarily shared by all Aikidoka, but reflects the views and opinions of ASU founder Mitsugi Saotome Shihan, (more info regarding Saotome Shihan can be found here: http://www.asu.org/Saotome.html )

I have seen tapes of other instructors whom clap up to 4 times between bows to the shomen, Steven Seagal sensei being one of them. I guess these are examples of some of the subtle differences between the many Aikido organizations in the world today. The only thing I believe is that the sensei should try to familiarize his/her students with these practices and at least share a brief explanation and/or philosophy behind these practices, OR, students should research the meaning behind certain routine practices in dojo etiquette, rather than just "copy" what the instructor does without having the foggiest idea about what it is they are doing.

I hope this helps to answer the original question in this thread.....

Erik
08-15-2001, 01:15 AM
Originally posted by ca
I'm thinking that a communal sharing of some Pumpkin Pie (after HANDWASHING) would be a good way to start or end your classes, Erik.

The Great Cucurbita, as he's known to his closest followers, is most disturbed that you would suggest such a thing.

I wouldn't expect a visit on his upcoming holy day.

:cool:

Kami
08-15-2001, 04:50 AM
Originally posted by Carlos
Patrick,
it's a very good question indeed.
I learn that the clapping before training have the "idea" to wake the O'Sensei spirit (kami) and bring his attention to the current class, to promote good training.
The clapping in the end of the class have the idea to thank's O'Sensei attention and his idea to create the Aikido.
Regard's
Carlos
http://aikido.paginainicial.com.br

KAMI : Hello, Carlos! It's good to see you here!
We must understand clapping in two ways : the original shinto meaning and the present day meaning. Also, we must understand that even some japanese sensei do the clapping because of simple imitation of O-Sensei, with no further meaning at all.
In Shinto, the clapping was meant to wake the kami (individual or collective) and the last clapping to say farewell and thank you.
If you believe in that, when you begin practice at the dojo, your first clapping wakes the kami (not necessarily O-Sensei's but perhaps the main kami of the dojo) and the latter to thank it for an harmonious keiko.
For people of other religion or no religion, the clapping might mean "to wake ourselves up for training" and "to say goodbye to us all".
We might say that, today, there are as many reasons for clapping as for not clapping. It depends on your dojo, your sensei and yourself.
In our dojo, we clap out of respect, of tradition and to prepare our spirits for training.
Best regards and good keiko:ai:

Jim23
08-15-2001, 08:11 AM
And I actually thought it was to turn the lights on and off ... hmm. ;)

Jim23

guest1234
08-15-2001, 09:57 AM
Hmmm, Erik, obviously not raised in Catholicism...
Oh, and Jim, you guys have lights in your dojo? :confused:`
Probably have airconditioning and other sissy conviences as well :D

Erik
08-15-2001, 11:14 AM
Originally posted by ca
Hmmm, Erik, obviously not raised in Catholicism...

White, born in the USA, it isn't like I'm going to grow up a Muslim or Buddhist is it? Anyways, I roll out the Great Pumpkin to remind myself not to take this religion thing too seriously.

mariko nakamura
08-17-2001, 08:02 AM
Last New Years we had a special class that started at 10:00 P.M. and lasted until 1:00 A.M. The first two hours we sat in seiza while sensei chanted his kotodama. And every so often, he would just start clapping and it was always 8 times. I'm sorry, I have absolutely no idea why. I guess I'm going to have to ask him tomorrow.
We always clap at the beginning and end of class. The reason I have learned is this; the first clap is awakening, realizing that we are all equal parts of the universe connected by Ki. The 2nd clap is to connect more strongly to the universe by vibrating our energy outwards. I guess if you want it to sound religous you can say Gods instead of universe. Its a little rough I think because there really is no good english translation for the words sensei said but I think its o.k.

cguzik
08-17-2001, 08:55 AM
Originally posted by Jorge Garcia
When I have been in Seminars with Akira Tohei Sensei of the Midwest Aikido federation, he never clapped. Just a simple bow to the front and a simple bow to the students. Hiroshi Kato sensei, my current shihan claps 4 times with 2 bows, both at the beginning at the end of class. I once asked him why he does it and if it had any religious significance. He said that his teacher did it (O'Sensei) so he does it.


Jorge,

If I remember correctly, when Kato Sensei bows in with four claps and two bows, the first of the two bows is to the Kamiza and the second is to O'Sensei's picture. Then, I think he turns and bows to the class.

For me the greatest benefit of the claps is to feel musubi with the rest of the class. It brings awareness of synchronizing timing and blending with the others around me.

I have the feeling that there are many things O'Sensei did that many of his students never quite knew for sure why he did them. But as we continue to practice we might find reasons we they are beneficial. Perhaps the further we delve into the art the closer we will get to finding out why the Founder did them. At least, that is my hope.

Chris Guzik

Mona
08-17-2001, 02:43 PM
Normally, we don't clap in class. But today, the sensei's friend whom he trained with in the U.S., taught class with him. And I can assure you, as soon as we sat for moksu, the sensei's friend clapped kinda brutally right before the opening ceremony. You should have seen the guys' faces! hehe..
well, thanks to this thread at least, it wasn't much of a shock to me. The guest sensei also clapped between each exercise and in other occasions.
So, from this i could conclude that clapping could be done:
a) to get the students' attention if the sensei has a general remark
b) to mark the beginning and/or end of each exercise
c) as a ceremonial tool before and after each class

:o That said, I'd rather a class without clapping. It was kinda noisy today!
Besides, my sensei doesn't need to clap to get our attention. All he has to do is stand straight and look at us intensely. ;)

j0nharris
08-26-2001, 01:28 PM
In our dojo, Kodokan Aikido, we clap at the beginning and end of class. Each time is one bow, four claps and one bow.
The original Kodokan dojo in Okasaki was opened by O'sensei (in the late 50's ??), and run by Tanaka Sensei, a shinto priest, as is his son who is now the Kodokan Shihan.

Our clapping tradition, as I understand it, comes directly from Tanaka's role as a shinto priest, though I do not know all of the specifics.

Notably, though, after the first bow, we come upright with our hands together, and the right slides slightly down the left in an opening motion..... opening ourselves to the universal kami, then sliding back up and closing after the fourth clap.

Someone once told me they had seen the same clap in a shinto shrine somewhere in the US.

-jon