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shadowedge
06-14-2008, 07:07 AM
Hi everyone,

I'll be moving to Tokyo within 2 months to for work. I've always wanted to go visit the Humbo dojo (http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/index.htm ) and I never thought I could actually get the chance.

The thing is I'm a bit nervous about the whole move. I've been self studying nihongo alone for like the last 2 months. One can imagine that, my communication skills wont exactly be good by the time I get there.

Now I feel lucky to have landed a job that requires me to be in by 10 - 10 30 AM. Which means there will be time to catch the morning classes. What scares me though, is that my availability will only be for Doshu's classes.

Although I've been an aikidoka since 2001, wont it seem rude if i go directly under Doshu's classes? I've read the regulations for foreigners and all, but I'm thinking I should take the beginner classes first since I'm new to the place and everything.

Can anyone give me advice? What should I do?

Thanks

J

Peter Goldsbury
06-14-2008, 07:37 AM
Hello Rene,

I think the two morning classes are from 6.30 till 7.30 and from 8 till 9. I suspect the second class will be less crowded than the first, but you should be aware that there are Hombu regulars who have been taking the first class, only, for many decades.

You might find the Hombu office somewhat unwelcoming at first. You need your Aikikai membership card and your blue yudansha card if you are a yudansha. Sign in, pay your dues and get on with practice.

Like all new dojos it will take some getting used to, but you will soon become a member of the local dojo community.

Best wishes,

shadowedge
06-14-2008, 07:48 AM
Thanks Peter :)

That's exactly what I was worrying about. I wanted to be part of the dojo by joining in through the lowest ranking entrance.

Are you currently in Japan? I'll be staying (most likely) in Kokubunji, I don't really know how far that is from Shinjuku or Hiroshima >_<

thanks.

J

Walter Martindale
06-14-2008, 03:43 PM
That's exactly what I was worrying about. I wanted to be part of the dojo by joining in through the lowest ranking entrance.

J

I'm not Peter, but..
First few times at Aikikai Hombu were (I found) a bit nervous times, but you get used to it. (admittedly I've only been to about 10 sessions there, ending in 2004... was it that long ago?).
Not sure where Kokubunji is, but Shinjuku (suburb of Tokyo) and Hiroshima (city) are about 3 hours apart (or more, I forget) on the Shinkansen (bullet train).

If you get to Hiroshima, you may find a good session at the police training dojo. (oh.. Wait... Isn't Kokusai dojo the police? yet another demonstration that my command of Japanese isn't really a "command" - more of a "suggestion"..)

Patience - try to use Japanese - when you show that you're trying, people who speak English will help out - if you don't show that you're trying.. well.. it would be like a Japanese person walking up to a shopkeeper in, say, Invercargill (deep south New Zealand) and expecting the staff to speak his/her language instead of trying to use English - which is purported to be the official language here...
:D
Cheers,
Walter

Stefan Stenudd
06-18-2008, 02:01 PM
Although I've been an aikidoka since 2001, wont it seem rude if i go directly under Doshu's classes?
If you are an Aikikai yudansha, no problem. Go to the morning class - that's like stepping right into aikido history, and a great experience. Anyone of whatever grade will feel awkward at first, but after a few mornings you will feel very welcome, indeed, and quite at home.
If you are not yudansha, you might consider other classes.

I am not sure about the demands for the morning class. I seem to remember seeing some mudansha there. Anybody knows for sure?

Walter Martindale
06-18-2008, 09:56 PM
If you are an Aikikai yudansha, no problem. Go to the morning class - that's like stepping right into aikido history, and a great experience. Anyone of whatever grade will feel awkward at first, but after a few mornings you will feel very welcome, indeed, and quite at home.
If you are not yudansha, you might consider other classes.

I am not sure about the demands for the morning class. I seem to remember seeing some mudansha there. Anybody knows for sure?

I've only ever been there as mudansha... (not a complete beginner, though - nikyu at the time but with 10 years of practice - it was a loooong sankyu spread over 3 dojos)
W

shadowedge
06-19-2008, 07:04 AM
Patience - try to use Japanese - when you show that you're trying, people who speak English will help out - if you don't show that you're trying.. well.. it would be like a Japanese person walking up to a shopkeeper in, say, Invercargill (deep south New Zealand) and expecting the staff to speak his/her language instead of trying to use English - which is purported to be the official language here..

hai, sou desu ne... I can't agree with you more. Last time I was in Tokyo, it was really awkward not to be good with the dialect. I guess I will have to pursue Nihongo classes before I even think of setting foot in the dojo hehehehe :o

was it that long ago?).
Not sure where Kokubunji is, but Shinjuku (suburb of Tokyo) and Hiroshima (city) are about 3 hours apart (or more, I forget) on the Shinkansen (bullet train).

From Narita to Kokubunji was about 2 hours, and we stopped by Shinjuku right around the middle of the trip, so it should be an hour's distance I guess...

If you are an Aikikai yudansha, no problem. Go to the morning class - that's like stepping right into aikido history, and a great experience.

intimidating and exciting.... >__<

Walter Martindale
06-22-2008, 08:54 PM
hai, sou desu ne... I can't agree with you more. Last time I was in Tokyo, it was really awkward not to be good with the dialect. I guess I will have to pursue Nihongo classes before I even think of setting foot in the dojo hehehehe :o


Well.. Yes - it's good to have SOME Japanese when you go to Hombu but you can get by with not too much. As you will recall - you can order food in most restaurants by pointing at the models, and "Biiru mo ippon kudasai" repeated too often will have you needing help navigating home. I've only enough Japanese to get into trouble, but not enough to get out of trouble. Example. Once I asked at a corner police box (I think that's "koban") where a certain address was, that someone had written for me in kanji. (sumimasen, - kore wa doko desu ka) - the police man pointed down a street, rattled off a great long pile of stuff, and all I caught was "go machi" (5 streets), and "migi" (right). So, I walked down that street, and at the 5th street corner, I asked a man walking by the same question, and he said - "kono uchi desu" - it's this house here (in Japanese) and called out to the people inside - they were my friend's parents - he'd asked me to pay them a visit before I went to Japan from Vancouver. We had a brief, very awkward visit because my lingo was so limited and their English was nil.

However - you can get by at Hombu with limited Japanese. Aikido practice is Aikido practice - and if you're quiet, polite, watch people for how they behave, and try to fit in, you should have a good time.
There are usually enough gaijin around that you'll be able to find someone who speaks either English or your language.

Cheers,
W

patf
07-16-2008, 12:58 PM
I'm 4th Kyu and I was visiting relatives in Japan in March 2008 (my wife being Japanese). I visited Hombu Dojo about 5 times during my week stay and it was a highlight of the trip for me. Definitely having Japanese language ability is a huge plus (I'm pretty fluent myself) as the senseis tend not to talk so much, but when they do they are emphasising the more intricate details of the technique or the overall philosophy of their Aikido. The classes were mostly black belt and above with a few "white" belts in each class (I didn't observe any colored belts). I was somewhat nervous at first but quickly got into the swing of things. Here's a couple of hints for you...
1. Lockers provided, bring 100yen coin to release the key, keys are hung inside the dojo on the wall.
2. When entering the dojo sit seiza immediately at the entrance and bow once to shomen and then turn and bow towards the other aikidoka warming up at the back of the class.
3. The mats are like no mats I have ever seen before, kinda cloth and pretty hard. You may end up with some mat burns the first couple of times.
4. Get there at least 10-15 minutes before class (even more on your first day), on my first day, I got to the Doshus class about 2 seconds before the rei. The front desk staff will usually let you train immediately (if you are going to first class on your first day) and then sort out your membership after class. They have good english skills too.
5. Depending on the sensei, you may be partnered with the same person for the entire class. Basically the sensei determines if/when you change partners. If you do change partners the sensei typically won't tell you to change until after he has demonstrated the next technique, so instead of bowing to partner after completing a technique (which is what we typically do in our dojo), you bow to partner (you just trained with) when sensei tells you to change to a new partner.
6. I found that the students (speaking very generally here) conversed a lot with other students they know (before and after class I'm referring to here). You need to be proactive and start talking to other students yourself.
7. Showers are available and they are nice and cold!
8. Don't hesitate to ask an "older" person to be your partner, I partnered with a "much older" lady, she looked about 60lbs but she had me flying everywhere. It was amazing.
9. Sensei will sometimes go around the students demonstrating the technique, generally a circle of students forms around him in seiza and sensei will perform the technique a couple of times per student. Some students bowed before and after their turns, some did not. I think the emphasis was on getting up there quick and maximizing the senseis use of time.
10. Practice your ukemi, for a couple of reasons. Even if you don't feel initially comfortable practicing with such a inverted (Many yudansha/shihan and few mudansha) environment, you should at least feel comfortable taking good ukemi from them. Also the dojo can get quite crowded and there are a few pillars to avoid, so good ukemi skill will help you feel comfortable much more quicker.
11. This may vary per individual but I highly enjoyed classes by Doshu and Endo-sensei.
12. The dojo is swept and cleaned after every class. Be proactive and grab a cloth or brush, even offering to take the cloth/brush from a higher ranked student. (a lot of times the other student won't relinquish the brush/cloth initially but if you offer again approx half way through cleaning they usually accommodate.

Enjoy!

Patrick

nekobaka
07-16-2008, 08:43 PM
I know a lot of dojos in the world that allow 5 kyu and above, or pre yudansha to wear hakama, I don't know if that is your case or not, but if you are worried about your ability, go with a white belt and no hakama, they will probably go easy on you. also how you do techniques is important too, if you go with fast and strong, you may get it back more than you want. When you practice anywhere for the first time, it's good to go slow and light until you can get a feel for the place.

Also, remember, people are constantly visiting for one time at hombu, it's nothing new, neither are foriegners, or unexperienced people. It's been ages since I went, but there was nothing to be nervous about. Do you have audio japanese to listen to? that's really helpful. It's a hard language to pick up, but the more you use it, you will improve.