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dps
09-05-2007, 10:00 PM
Interesting interview of Stanley Pranin. It has some interesting insights into Aikido and O'Sensei.

http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=4906&highlight=tomiki&sid=805e83bc33820215afb155a5e6477448

David

akiy
09-05-2007, 10:04 PM
Thanks for mentioning that interview, David. I'm glad you found it interesting. It's available here on this site at:

http://www.aikiweb.com/interviews/pranin0800.html

-- Jun

wildaikido
09-05-2007, 10:24 PM
Nice read!

Carl Thompson
09-06-2007, 12:47 AM
There’s some great knowledge there for sure. I thought this part was a bit culturally stigmatic though:

Because the Japanese work ethic has people, especially the men, working from the morning to late at night -- often every night of the week -- and sometimes going into work on the weekends, it's not a society conducive to intensive martial arts training. So, what you get are people who might practice martial arts for relaxation, for a hobby, or as an excuse for social interaction.
Because real estate, especially in the cities, is so expensive, there are almost no store-front dojos like those we can find in America or perhaps in Europe. So, the number of professional dojos is minute in Japan. I would hate to have to attach a number to them, but certainly there are less than a hundred. Here in America alone, I would be surprised if there were less than 1500 or 2000 professional dojos, not to mention whatever other groups there may be.
When you have a dojo which is dedicated to aikido, which offers classes several days a week and, in some circumstances, several classes a day, and you have people who are maybe not working as many hours as the Japanese do and who are conscious about living in a violent society, you get a much more serious level of commitment.
Japan is not a violent society. There's no time for this sort of thing other than as a hobby, with a few exceptions. And, because of the economy, the possibilities, unless you're wealthy for other reasons, of opening up a professional, commercial venture and making a success out of it are almost nil.
Another thing is that, frankly, being an instructor of martial arts is not regarded very highly socially in Japan. If you were a father and your daughter was going to get married to a man who ran a dojo, you probably would not, at first blush, be delighted with that prospect. I'm not saying that it's regarded poorly, but it's not like being an engineer in a company or being a translator or something of high social status.
Here, if you're good at what you do and you're successful, people will judge you more on what you've done and what level of success you've attained rather than just dismiss you saying, "Well, he's a martial arts teacher." Although, even in America, the image may be somewhat tarnished because of the purely commercial nature of some martial arts schools, I don't think we would have quite as quite as strong a negative prejudice as they would in Japan.
Aikido will develop more abroad and has done so already in America and in Europe than in Japan because of the social and economic structures and because of the more serious level of commitment. There's no question in my mind.

He does stress that they are generalisations, but it still smacks of sophistry when it just so happens that his own country and culture are the most conducive to the understanding and practice of a Japanese originated art. I wonder if he could back up the figures with factual statistics. In Europe I came across very few dojos – it was mainly sports halls sharing the floor with badminton players, whereas here, it seems every town and city has a budokan and countless dojos to various arts including styles of aikido I’ve never heard of outside of Japan.

I know my work experience differs from that of a native Japanese person, but I’ve plenty of colleagues and friends who share their experiences with me. Work life is very different here, but not just with regards to the average number of hours. Some companies even have their own dojos and I never had a bunkasai (culture/arts festival) at my office back in the UK. There is a balance. There’s also a culture of dedication to one’s craft and plenty of “mienai” (unseen) rules in the office that foreigners miss, such as the necessity to take breaks.

Apart from that, an interesting read! :)

PeterR
09-06-2007, 01:07 AM
I agree with the below. In Japan you don't have to set up a store front dojo - there are ready made facillities in schools, sports and cultural centers, police stations - not to mention privately run.

There’s some great knowledge there for sure. I thought this part was a bit culturally stigmatic though:

He does stress that they are generalisations, but it still smacks of sophistry when it just so happens that his own country and culture are the most conducive to the understanding and practice of a Japanese originated art. I wonder if he could back up the figures with factual statistics. In Europe I came across very few dojos – it was mainly sports halls sharing the floor with badminton players, whereas here, it seems every town and city has a budokan and countless dojos to various arts including styles of aikido I’ve never heard of outside of Japan.

I know my work experience differs from that of a native Japanese person, but I’ve plenty of colleagues and friends who share their experiences with me. Work life is very different here, but not just with regards to the average number of hours. Some companies even have their own dojos and I never had a bunkasai (culture/arts festival) at my office back in the UK. There is a balance. There’s also a culture of dedication to one’s craft and plenty of “mienai” (unseen) rules in the office that foreigners miss, such as the necessity to take breaks.

Apart from that, an interesting read! :)

Dan Austin
09-09-2007, 09:10 PM
He does stress that they are generalisations, but it still smacks of sophistry when it just so happens that his own country and culture are the most conducive to the understanding and practice of a Japanese originated art.

It's not at all far-fetched. For example, many well-known BJJ instructors coming to the states are on record saying that Americans are much more serious and dedicated to training than the Brazilians are. Maybe we're just really competitive. ;)

Josh Reyer
09-10-2007, 12:41 AM
I agree with the below. In Japan you don't have to set up a store front dojo - there are ready made facillities in schools, sports and cultural centers, police stations - not to mention privately run.

Further, the opportunity for training is there for anyone who wants it. You may look at a dojo's webpage and see they only train twice a week and think, "My God, what kind of decent budo training can they get studying only twice a week?" But if you look closer you see that they are affiliated with some other dojo that's in the area, and students can also study there on different nights. So while the casual hobbyists study only twice a week (probably as much, I daresay, as the casual hobbyist in the States), the men truly interested in studying budo often end up dojo hopping - Tuesdays and Fridays at Dojo A (their primary affiliation), Mondays at Dojo B, and Saturdays at Dojo C. They get their work in.

For example, at the dojo I trained at in Toyota, they rented the judojo of the Toyota Municiple Gymnasium on Saturdays and Sundays. Taijutsu for an hour and a half, weapons for half an hour, and then one hour free practice. And then one of the sensei's good buddies from his Iwama days had another dojo a 30-40 minute drive away that met for an hour and a half on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with a weapons class on Saturday nights. Members of one dojo could attend the practice of the other dojo at no extra cost. So, if some fellow living in Toyota (pop. 411,000) decided to dedicate himself to Iwama style aikido, he could get a total of 11 hours of partner practice over five days, in addition to whatever solo training (suburi etc) he was doing. Not bad at all.

If you look at the Aikikai's dojo finder, you find a lot of Japanese dojo's like this. One instructor who goes to two or three different community centers over four nights, or one main dojo (meets three times a week under the head instructor) and a number of nearby satellite dojos (meet once a week under an assistant instructor), and groups of dojos loosely affiliated. I think I mentioned in another thread that the Owari Yagyu Shinkage-ryu guys, possibly the premier kenjutsu school in the Aichi area, meet 2.5 times a week in various sports centers around Nagoya, and haven't had a proper dojo since their old one burned down in WWII.

I can understand someone used to storefront dojos in the States coming to Japan, with visions of beautiful, antique dojos in their heads, being somewhat taken aback by budo training in Japan. But I don't necessarily think it's "better" in the States.

SeiserL
09-10-2007, 05:50 AM
Two of my favorite people.
Both give us much instruction, insight, and inspiration.
Rei, domo argigato.