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gi_james
07-07-2007, 02:44 AM
Greetings Aikido Community!

I am really hoping that someone can shed some light on this for me.

I was asking one of the Japanese I work with some questions about Kyuodo, and martial arts in general. I told them that I was taking Aikido downtown, and he started laughing... which made me a bit mad... they said that Aikido wasn't very popular in Japan. That Judo & Kendo was the most popular. I'm not sure why they were laughing.

oh well... Aikido is popular with me. That's all that matters.

Is Aikido really "un-popular" in Japan, or is this just the opinions of the Japanese that I work with?

--James
James Strickland
Misawa Aikido Club
StrickStuff.com (http://www.strickstuff.com)
Misawa AB, Japan

PeterR
07-07-2007, 06:17 AM
Well your co-worker is an idiot.

Judo, kendo, and to a lesser extent kyudo are found in the Japanese school system because they have a well defined competative element. Aikido generally has none and is rarely taught as part of the school curriculum. There are exceptions, even more so in areas of the country were Shodokan Aikido can be found.

Very, very few of those that do judo, kendo or kyudo continue to do so in university and even less after that. On the other hand a lot of Aikidoists get their start at university clubs but of course here too many stop after university. Those that do aikido before usually do it outside the school system. I personally have had children start Aikido with me, disappear because of school demands, and re-appear once again after a few years.

There are Aikido clubs everywhere and easily comparable in numbers of adult practitioners to judo and kendo. Still if you look at the percentage of people that have done judo compared to the percentage that have done aikido - we come in a way behind.

It really looks like you have run into a version of the animal that plagues Japan. Some guy did a bit of budo in highschool and proceeds to show his expertise to the gaijin even though he is a now unfit 40 year old that can't hold his liquor.

Don't worry about him - are you really doing what you do to be popular?

Cheers

gi_james
07-07-2007, 06:48 AM
Well your co-worker is an idiot.

<snip>

Don't worry about him - are you really doing what you do to be popular?

Cheers

an idiot.. I agree...

I'm not doing this to be popular, doing this to better myself. I was just curious what the Japanese community as a whole thought about this.

Thanks.

heathererandolph
07-07-2007, 07:54 AM
I don't think it's a good idea to generalize, I mean just because one Japanese person laughed at Aikido training, does not mean Japanese in general think it's well, laughable. Laughing at any one's training is rude, anyway. But, maybe it was a nervous laugh. I suppose there are probably just as many variations in Japanese opinions of Aikido as on American opinions or Aikido or anything else in life. You might want to ask him more about his opinions on Aikido, since it would be interesting to know what the average Japanese thinks of it.

gi_james
07-07-2007, 08:07 AM
I don't think it's a good idea to generalize, I mean just because one Japanese person laughed at Aikido training, does not mean Japanese in general think it's well, laughable. Laughing at any one's training is rude, anyway. But, maybe it was a nervous laugh. I suppose there are probably just as many variations in Japanese opinions of Aikido as on American opinions or Aikido or anything else in life. You might want to ask him more about his opinions on Aikido, since it would be interesting to know what the average Japanese thinks of it.

You're right, I shouldn't generalize, just curious. Maybe it's because I live in a small Japanese Farming Town & it's different up here...

-James

CitoMaramba
07-07-2007, 08:22 AM
Apparently the mainstream Japanese media think Aikido is important enough to write about:
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/feature/1076

heathererandolph
07-07-2007, 08:28 AM
I'm sure you know more about it than I do --but it is a small town, so...anyway, just don't let it distract you from your training!

gdandscompserv
07-07-2007, 09:53 AM
They seem to respect the founder of the art.:D
http://www.evi.co.jp/aikido11.JPG

Peter Goldsbury
07-07-2007, 10:52 AM
The evidence produced so far is not convincing.

Japan Today is not a good example of the 'mainstream Japanese media'. Nothing produced in English is really 'mainstream'.

Ricky's illustration is of the statue of O Sensei in his birthplace: Tanabe City in Wakayama Prefecture. I was present when it was unveiled. Tanabe City works very hard to promote the memory of its local sons, but is hardly representative of Japan as a whole.

I think Peter R summed it up very well and we both have experience of being foreigners running aikido dojos in Japan.

I meet loads of Japanese who tell me that aikido is really a kind of karate... You know, there are kicks and punches, but aikido is a bit different: it is, well, more spiritual ( = seishinteki). In other words, they don't have a clue.

Best wishes,

Qatana
07-07-2007, 11:05 AM
I bet you would get exactly the same response in say, a small ,isolated farming town in the "American Heartland".

jennifer paige smith
07-07-2007, 12:18 PM
I bet you would get exactly the same response in say, a small ,isolated farming town in the "American Heartland".

Not a bad analogy. 'Conservatism' in thought is everywhere. But people evolve and the future is open. The strongest effect, I feel, that we can have on others opinions about ourselves or our diciplines is to live as a good neighbor. Demonstrate the good way of living that you have come to in your life, Aikido included, by living in good principle. Even if it seems a little weird.

sisley
07-07-2007, 04:40 PM
When I first began Aikido and I would mention this to my Japanese students in the US, I was surprised at how most of them had no idea what it was. Over the years of practicing Aikido and teaching, I've learned that Aikido isn't well known for either Japanese or non-Japanese, and I prepare myself accordingly.

I think Peter R's comments about budo and school are right on the money. I also see many children begin Aikido (or any budo), only to have to give it up as they enter junior high. Very few continue on from that point.

And popularity is all relative. Kendo, Kyuudo, Karate, and such have been around for a long time. They are well-established in society and in the minds of the Japanese people. Aikido is younger, but growing. Give it time.

Finally, remember that Japanese laugh for different reasons than westerners. While it may irritate you, don't think too much about it.

Just train.

--jimbo

Rupert Atkinson
07-07-2007, 06:04 PM
It's funny, but I have had exactly the same reaction many times. They laugh at you. I kind of think it is like a Japanese person telling me they do Maypole dancing. We'd think that odd, right? Well, I would, I suppose.

L. Camejo
07-07-2007, 07:03 PM
This thread brings back some memories of when I met the Japanese Ambassador for this country some years aback. His reaction to me doing Aikido was: "Ahhh Aikido... like a dance ne?"

C'est la vie.

gi_james
07-07-2007, 07:47 PM
It's funny, but I have had exactly the same reaction many times. They laugh at you. I kind of think it is like a Japanese person telling me they do Maypole dancing. We'd think that odd, right? Well, I would, I suppose.

lol, guess that would make me laugh! Thanks for all the replies, I'm definitely going to continue to train.

-James

Tinyboy344
07-07-2007, 11:00 PM
Bro, who cares if a lot of Japs are doing Aikido or a few Japs are doing Aikido. I have to agree with Pete Rehse, if you're in it for the popularity, I'd be playing basket ball or football right now

Nikopol
07-07-2007, 11:31 PM
Greetings Aikido Community!

I told them that I was taking Aikido downtown, and he started laughing...

If you live in Japan long enough you will see that some people laugh inapropriately and offer opinions on things they know nothing about. It happens in any country.

This may be because the person was educated in a superficial university that did not have anything as serious as an Aikido club, and his childish 'personality' is to laugh at things he knows nothing about. I came to Aikido to associate with a better quality of people than that.

Aikido is not as popular as drinking and smoking and laughing at people. But I will choose Aikido and only regret not having come to it earlier. I suggest that if someone laughs at it he probably needs it, and you might just look him in the eye and tell him so.

Jory Boling
07-08-2007, 08:21 AM
the various dojos i've trained at over here have a very healthy children's program and most of the adult classes can get quite crowded.

Ethan Weisgard
07-10-2007, 11:31 AM
In some cases, as people have mentioned here, Japanese people will laugh not "at" you but at the situation. In many cases Japanese people are fascinated by the fact that foreigners study something so traditionally "Japanese." They will sometimes laugh at this situation, and sometimes remark that you know more about the traditional aspects of Japan than they do. But then again- the person in question could just have been rude!
The Japanese people in general know that Aikido is a martial art used for self defense, and as Peter Goldsbury mentioned, that it has a spiritual aspect to it. Most people also know that it is not as "hard" as karate for instance. Over the years, I have always been met with respect by the Japanese people who have learned that I study Aikido.
Another sign of the awareness of Aikido in the Japanese community (in Japan) is the manga series called "Evil Heart" that has been released recently in Japan. The series depicts Aikido very seriously, and with great respect. And what more: one of the main characters is a Canadian Aikido instructor living in Japan. I have written a thread topic about this elsewhere on this site.

In Aiki,

Ethan Weisgard

gi_james
07-10-2007, 09:31 PM
Another sign of the awareness of Aikido in the Japanese community (in Japan) is the manga series called "Evil Heart" that has been released recently in Japan. The series depicts Aikido very seriously, and with great respect. And what more: one of the main characters is a Canadian Aikido instructor living in Japan. I have written a thread topic about this elsewhere on this site.

In Aiki,

Ethan Weisgard

I will have to search for this manga series, I hope it's in English. I start Japanese Classes next month. can't wait to learn the language, it will make my Aikido training alot easier I think.

-James

James Davis
07-11-2007, 10:54 AM
One of my sempai trained in Japan for a while, and mentioned that he studied aikido while he was out with some friends. One of them laughed, and when asked what was funny, said that my sempai coming to Japan to train in aikido is similar to a japanese person going to the US to train with a six-shooter.

I suppose, even with aikido being as new as it is, it's considered old.

akiy
07-11-2007, 11:03 AM
One of my sempai trained in Japan for a while, and mentioned that he studied aikido while he was out with some friends. One of them laughed, and when asked what was funny, said that my sempai coming to Japan to train in aikido is similar to a japanese person going to the US to train with a six-shooter.
Reminds me of Jim Baker's article:

http://www.aikiweb.com/humor/baker1.html

-- Jun

Carl Thompson
07-11-2007, 10:46 PM
I had a funny incident regarding "the Japanese" view of aikido a few weeks ago. I was at Iwama station and this middle-aged, drunken office-worker got off the train heading towards Tokyo. He stumbled around a bit then crossed the footbridge to my platform. He spotted me (easy to do -- I'm a lanky foreigner) and shook my hand repeatedly as he explained that he'd got on the wrong train. Then he asked which platform he needed in order to go to Tokyo. I told him he had just got off the train bound for Tokyo and that he needed to go back to the other platform. He thumped his head and cursed.

At this point he freaked me out by making as if to walk directly back across the rail-tracks (just as the super-express was about to come flashing through the station). He laughed as I grabbed him and shook my hand again. Then he saw my keikogi protruding from my bag and asked if I did Judo. I explained that I did Aikido.

"Aikido ka? Sore wa josei no budo! (Aikido? That's a girl's martial art)" He cried, then laughed and pointed at me. He claimed to be a 5th dan Judoka (quite plausible judging by his gnarled fingernails) and started telling me what he thought of Aikido.

He repeatedly said "Aikido ha kore shika nai: (Aikido is nothing but this)" and started flopping his hands about with his wrists crossed. It was a hilarious pantomime with lots of fainting gestures in response to parodied, camped-up grasping actions. He ended the lecture with a contest of grip-strength with me then got on the next train to Tokyo.

I wouldn't say he was representative of the whole of Japan but his impression was quite funny. I am often quite surprised at how few people, even in Iwama, know what aikido is, although so far everyone I've spoken to has at least heard of it.
:)

PeterR
07-11-2007, 11:31 PM
Funny - the judoka I practice with tend to be quite respectful about aikido at least to my face.

gi_james
07-15-2007, 03:13 AM
I wouldn't say he was representative of the whole of Japan but his impression was quite funny. I am often quite surprised at how few people, even in Iwama, know what aikido is, although so far everyone I've spoken to has at least heard of it.
:)

I no longer ask their opinion. I only mention Aikido when asked about it. That was a funny story, tho!

-James
Misawa AB, Japan
www.strickstuff.com
http://strickstuff.com/Aikido.png