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Andrew Macdonald
01-14-2010, 08:50 PM
Through the time i have been reading this forum i heard a few accoutns of people travellig to hombu, some have been good but for the most part people seem to have come away disappointed

when we hear of Shihan that spent x amount of years in hombu it is no doubt impressive but is training time there needed to really advance as oppose to going to Japan and studying at the personal/indiviadual dojo of a Shihan

anybody that has been to hombu, can you tell alittle about your experience? was it worth it and what did you feel you got out of it.

thank you

Carsten Möllering
01-15-2010, 04:54 AM
My teacher, who won't wright here, spent three years in Japan, studying at bombu, Sugino dojo and with Yamaguchi sensei.
Training at the hombu was worth it. And it seems a little bit like a "family" to him.

A lot of the teachers of our Aikido Föderation Deutschland (Germand Aikido Federation) used to and use to train at the hombu. And all of them appreciate it very much.
Also some of my friends have been there, some only for days, some fore weeks or for one year.

One of our shihan has been student at hombu for seven years and is always full of good memories.

I myself have never been there.

Carsten

Joe Bowen
01-15-2010, 05:28 AM
Do you need to travel to Rome to be a good Catholic? or to Mecca to be a good Muslim? or to Israel to be a good Jew? No.

I've met several good Aikido people who have never been to the Hombu dojo and it has not detracted from their Aikido. I personally have been to the Aikikai Hombu dojo many times and enjoyed the experience each and every time. I've also trained with Japanese Shihan in their dojos in Japan and enjoyed myself each and every time.

I think folks who come away disappointed in their visits to Hombu dojo may have come with certain expectations and preconceptions of their visits and were disappointed when Hombu dojo is not what they expected. What these preconceptions and expectations may be, I don't know. All I ever wanted from my visits to the Hombu dojo were to engage in a good Aikido practice and I got it each and every time I went.

To get the most out of any Aikido instructor requires the development of a relationship with them. Sure you can learn something by attending a seminar from time to time, but to truly receive the full benefit of a particular teacher there has to be teacher-student dynamic. For a casual infrequent or one-time visitor to the Hombu dojo, this type of relationship won't develop.

The Doshu's class is always packed. Often you can get a really good partner who can expose you to some really good techniques, but occasionally you may end up with the other casual infrequent visitor to the Hombu who may or may not provide you the same opportunity.

If you attend any of the other Shihan's classes, you need to understand that any instructor at Hombu dojo has a class of folks that regularly attend their classes. So, don't be surprised if they don't treat you as an extra special visitor. Many of the students in these classes like to work with folks they know and may not take the time or the interest in you. Same goes for the instructor. This by the way happens all over the world and not just in Hombu. Visitors are not unusual there, and if you're only there a short time they may not take any interest in you at all.

Do we need Hombu dojo? I think yes. Every art needs a center, and while you may never travel there, nor do you really have to, it does provide a central focus for the art, gives it continuity, and anchors the art to its origins. While you may not agree with this, it works for me.

lbb
01-15-2010, 09:03 AM
or to Mecca to be a good Muslim?

Bad analogy -- IIRC, making hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) is a religious duty of every Muslim who can manage to do so.

Kevin Leavitt
01-15-2010, 09:47 AM
Mary, understand, but I also agree with Joseph's analogy as I do believe that there is a paradigm to alot of folks in aikido that would equate a visit to Hombu as a visit to Mecca.

Maybe not you or I, but certainly others.

Going to Hombu is not on my "top ten" list of places to visit, but if and when I get to Japan, I am most certainly going to go there, along with the Kodokan and few other places as well.

Abasan
01-15-2010, 10:45 AM
Hombu is a good experience primarily because when you have so many aikidokas gathered in one area, there are bound to be some gems there. Quite a few of those gems do not sport a hakama btw... so if you're lucky you'll meet some guy who has 50 years under his white belt who can do things like magic. It'll open your eyes.

No doubt you can find brilliant people in any country. Whether they will train with you is another matter too.

Another thing is... When you go there it is likely you'll attend maybe 3-4 classes a day every day. That kind of momentum really gets you going. Unlike in most normal dojos where you have only one class a day say.

Having said that... it would probably be a better experience if you can understand what the sensei is saying. So learn japanese if you can.

Cliff Judge
01-15-2010, 11:25 AM
I did a half-day of classes at Hombu when I first visited Japan in 2004, and I don't really think it's worth the luggage space for your dogi and hakama unless you are going to be in Tokyo for a couple of months and are looking for some smaller groups to do some serious training with.

There were plenty of high-level people on the mat, but there are so many layers of social hierarchy that as a drop-in, I was basically working with another drop-in all day.

Each of the shihan has a small group of disciples that are on the mat for their classes, and each of the non-teaching upper level people had one person they worked with all day. It is all very static, who pairs with whom.

In fact before the evening classes started, there was some drama going on between a yondan and an administrative lady on the side of the dojo. I think what was happening was, he was a yondan up from some other region of Japan who stopped by to train, and she was trying to find someone to partner up with him during class.

AsimHanif
01-15-2010, 12:22 PM
In the past 2 years I've had the opportunity to train with such a diverse group of instructors such as F. Takahashi, T. Sugawara, J. Ozeki, I. Faust, R. Nadeau, S. Endo, M. Friedl, G. Sakamoto, and Takeguchi Sensei of course. This is just within the Capital Aikikai network, not counting other dojo and seminars I've attended.
Would I like to visit Hombu? Yes. Do I think it necessary for MY aikido? No.

tarik
01-15-2010, 02:58 PM
Bad analogy -- IIRC, making hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) is a religious duty of every Muslim who can manage to do so.

I think the analogy is apt. It does not make one a bad Muslim if they are not able to manage the trip in their lifetime.

Best,

Charles Hill
01-15-2010, 08:36 PM
Hi Andrew,

I trained at Honbu from '95 to 2000. I had many great experiences and feel very much so that it was worth it. As others have posted, there is a big difference between the experience of guests vs. long timers.

I do understand that guests sometimes do have a lackluster experience. Visitors should understand that the long timers see many guests over the years and that the vast majority of guests come, watch the teacher and then still do the Aikido that they learned back home. As one generally keeps the same partner for the whole hour, it is generally not worth it to pair up with a visitor.

reyne caritativo
01-22-2010, 09:29 AM
Going to Hombu is Not necessary in your aikido training if you'll be going there for a short visit. But if you''re planning to train there for a long period of time, it will benefit you a lot. I've been there thrice and have tried Doshu's morning class and his afternoon class every Saturday and enjoyed every minute of it.

Anjisan
01-22-2010, 12:07 PM
Hi Andrew,

I trained at Honbu from '95 to 2000. I had many great experiences and feel very much so that it was worth it. As others have posted, there is a big difference between the experience of guests vs. long timers.

I do understand that guests sometimes do have a lackluster experience. Visitors should understand that the long timers see many guests over the years and that the vast majority of guests come, watch the teacher and then still do the Aikido that they learned back home. As one generally keeps the same partner for the whole hour, it is generally not worth it to pair up with a visitor.

I have had similar experiences at seminars where individuals don't want to try what is being taught, but simply revert to what they already know--frustrating. What is the point of attending beyond the social aspect if not to learn? However, I always attempt to keep an open mind and keep trying to engage new people (and encourage others to do the same) despite the risk of getting the training experience each time out that one hopes for.

As far as training at Hombu dojo, I would love to have that experience as I am sure many others would too, as part of my overall Aikido training. It would be like going back to the roots so to speak. However, in my opinion, there are currently enough non-Japanese as well as Japanese teachers here in the states and spread around the globe that one does not need to get to Hombu to learn something they can't now learn somewhere else.

Ketsan
01-27-2010, 08:02 AM
I can't say it's on my to do list. My instructor trained there for a month a couple of years back. The first statement he made about training at hombu on his return was that their Aikido was identical to ours.

My humble opinion after watching Doshu's videos that this is, broadly speaking, true. It seem's a long way to go and a lot of money to be taught the same thing in an envoironment where I don't have an established teacher-student relationship.