PDA

View Full Version : Splintered Aikido


Please visit our sponsor:
 

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!


Magma
08-24-2000, 05:13 PM
I have a question. We recently put on an AAA seminar at my dojo where instructors came in from chicago. Early in the invitation and promotional process, we tried to make it clear that any martial style was welcome to come for the weekend, and we did, in fact, have several arts represented on the floor. What did not show on the floor were other styles of aikido. In calling around to other dojos to invite them, we received very curt and sometimes quite impolite tirades about how that dojo's style was not AAA and therefore would not come.

My question is: in an art focused on harmony, how is it we've gotten to the point where other, completely different art forms are more willing to attend seminars than other splinters of the aikido family might be?

I can't get around the fact that the answer might be ego, but I would like to hear what others have to say...

M

[Edited by Magma on September 25, 2000 at 02:35pm]

akiy
08-24-2000, 05:42 PM
I think the reason why people from other arts may be more open to going to seminars of other arts may be due to the fact that they (as in, the people studying at the school and the teachers) have no "history" with the people doing the seminar.

It's an unfortunate fact, even in this "harmonious" art, that personality differences and such exist. I think it was Dobson who said that the reason why we have such splintering in aikido is due to all of us being so "harmonious" to begin with. We develop our own form of harmony and decide that our harmony (or our method of being harmonious) is the best and only way.

I personally don't know how well the current crop of senior instructors are going to be able to get along any more. Most of them carry with them decades of "history" with them. Some are very open, but others aren't.

My personal feeling is that the current crop of "students" are the ones who can make the difference -- and I think that includes people like us. Go to seminars, especially with people you've never seen. Support the events of other dojo around you. Be friendly to visiting aikido folks.

If we make an effort to try to see, feel, and understand other people's interpretations of aikido, I think that the future of aikido will be a much more "harmonious" place.

I'll get off my soap box now...

-- Jun

Chuck Clark
08-24-2000, 07:11 PM
Stay on the soapbox, Jun.

I agree and just finished a short rant following your other post.

Lots of folks, when faced with a different method, either "cooperate" so much that nothing is happening or they turn it into a war to show the other person that their way is best.

Understanding how to give energy to another person during our keiko and trust our ukemi and them is very difficult. I think it is the key to the "harmony" many of us would like to have as one large "family."

Fearful ego must be left at the door when we enter the dojo for keiko. It doesn't matter who gets thrown. Learning is the key. Staying vulnerable and risking is very hard for all of us to do. I'm not sure any of us do it right a lot of the time.

Niadh
08-24-2000, 08:32 PM
I am currently studying two styles of Aikido. I have found that both instructors seem very open to the other's style and I learn from both. Every now and again I will hear, "that is XXX style., we do this a little differently...", but it does not seem to be vindictive. Keep in mind these two dojos are about 3/4 of a block apart.
I recently attended a seminar at one of the dojos. The guest, Gleason Sensei, made a point of having people go to dojos of other affiliations, but seemed more towars USAF & ASU than say Ko-Ki-Kai etc. Maybe that was just my impression. Some of the students however, were very "this is my way and it is good and right" especially if trying to do a technique a way that was not like they had learned. I feel it only fair to point out that these were the more advanced students.
This was my first seminar after almost 14 years, and I am still a little undecided.
Niadh

Erik
08-24-2000, 10:46 PM
It's a good soap box Jun.

One of the things about an area like this is that people get together, discuss the art and do so in a non-partisan manner with all ranks participating relatively equally. I'm willing to bet that this is fairly unique.

Hopefully this time next year you'll have 20,000 posts.

Some of the students however, were very "this is my way and it is good and right" especially if trying to do a technique a way that was not like they had learned. I feel it only fair to point out that these were the more advanced students.

I've noticed this too. Probably been guilty too.

BC
08-25-2000, 11:01 AM
Hear hear. Reminds me of a conversation I had with some folks at summer camp recently. We were talking how cool it would be to have a big seminar that would include all the representative styles and dojos found in the Midwest/Chicago area (USAF, AAA, ASU, Ki Aikido, Yoshinkan, Yoseikan, Tomiki, Independants, etc.). I think it would make both O Sensei and John Lennon very proud...Imagine...

-BC

Russ
08-25-2000, 11:53 AM
Hear, hear, Jun!

We're all quite naturally afraid to make ourselves vulnerable by opening up to something different, even only a little different. Imagine how difficult it must be for someone who has a vested interest (via time and money) devoted to a certain style to let it go even for the relatively short time of a seminar. It's funny how our minds trick us. "I've trained ten years this way so I must be closer to the penultimate expression of technique. If I let that go even for the weekend then it's backward step." If we are stuck in a generally North American thinking mode, (ie. move forward, achieve the goal), then we tend to get defensive about our "way". Of course, if we keep reminding ourselves that there is actually no "there" to get to and no particular "thing" to achieve then we tend to be more open to other "ways".
A whole bunch of words to simply say "Beginners mind...."

Yours truly,

Russ

Sid
08-25-2000, 01:58 PM
I dunno if this applies but here goes. I am an aikidoka in South Africa. I wnated to get some more practice in, and, at my sensei's suggestion phoned another club so that i could practice at two clubs at once. Maybe that was silly of me, but I thought it would be nice. I asked them if they had heard of my sensei, and they said that they had. They then said that he didn't know what he was doing, and that he didn't know aikido. I asked him about this, and he said that it was becuase he hadn't registered his club under the South African Aikido board, but went straight thorugh to the Hombu Dojo. I thought that that wads a rather nasty example of politics and vindictiveness.

Btw, I know he isn't a fake, becuase I can see he teches aikido.

sid

cguzik
08-25-2000, 05:05 PM
I have had the good fortune during the three years I have been training to pratice in several different dojos. Part of this has been due to quite a bit of business travel, during which I would seek out dojos wherever I was staying, and part is due to a cross-country move last year which took me from an AANC dojo to an ASU dojo. From what I have seen the differences between USAF, ASU, and the diverse AANC styles are mostly superficial.

I have noticed that it is what I would call the middle-level students who tend to be rather locked into their own idea of how techniques should work. These would be students who are more experienced than I am but who have not spent much time teaching.

Practitioners who are less experienced than I am tend to just pay attention to what I am doing, and very senior students are aware that it's important to be adaptable and understand that different schools teach different ways.

I have had one teacher at a school I was visiting actually point out to his students that it would be better to pay attention to my movement than to try to correct me, because they would someday be going all over to different seminars and would need to be adaptable. (Note that I am not saying I was doing things "right", just that a big part of all this training is to learn to be sensitive to our partners). This attitude seems to be pretty common amongst teachers, but not necessarily amongst their senior students.

Sometimes I think all these corrections are a hinderance but hopefully in the long run I'm learning more.

Chris

DJM
08-26-2000, 12:08 PM
Hear hear!
I share some of the above posters dislike in speaking of different 'styles'...
There is, in my strictly amateur opinion, only 'Aikido'. All the so-called styles really are are different ways of teaching it...
Maybe it looks a little different to us beginners, but since the principles are constant, irrespective of dojo or Sensei, everyone's Aikido ends up walking the same path..

Peace,
David

Nick
08-26-2000, 12:26 PM
I agree- with any 'style' of any path- just different trails to get to the same road.

-Nick

tedehara
08-26-2000, 10:43 PM
BC wrote:
Hear hear. Reminds me of a conversation I had with some folks at summer camp recently. We were talking how cool it would be to have a big seminar that would include all the representative styles and dojos found in the Midwest/Chicago area (USAF, AAA, ASU, Ki Aikido, Yoshinkan, Yoseikan, Tomiki, Independants, etc.). I think it would make both O Sensei and John Lennon very proud...Imagine...

-BC

You can probably see this seminar as some sort of Platonic Ideal, since (in my experience) the Chicago Metro area is very "splintered".

I once was visiting a Chicago dojo and mentioned a suburban dojo to a senior member. He got very upset. The group from the suburban dojo had come from the dojo I was visiting and there was some bad feelings on their "departure". I'd like to note that the suburban dojo was still a member of the same organization and had the same Shihan. If people treat others like this within their own organizaton, how would they treat someone from a completely different group?

Some of the top senior members were there when the various groups split apart and bad memories linger. Other students have heard stories mixed in with their training. These stories of other dojos may/may not be true. However, if you hear a lie enough times, you begin to assume it is true.

When was the last time you trained with a dojo completely outside your style/organizaton? What were your feelings at that dojo and how did they treat you? What were the reactions of the teachers and fellow students in your dojo, when you told them of your visits? Were you foolish enough to tell someone in your dojo, what you were doing? Sometimes, it's not so easy.

I don't see the Chicago area as being any better or worse than anywhere else in the USA. Forums like this one give you an opportunity to get to know other aikidoists up to a certain point. However, to actually go to another dojo and practice with strangers is worse than starting over. Because these "strangers" may already have a prejudical attitude against you. Just as you might carry prejudices against them.

Sorry to play Devil's Advocate, but I really don't see any change in attitude among Aikido organizations. No one said human nature was all sweetness and light - learning to get along with each other is an important lesson. It's a lesson that has to be constantly relearned and practiced daily.

Ted Ehara

[Edited by tedehara on August 26, 2000 at 09:49pm]

Dan Hover
08-26-2000, 11:13 PM
sometimes we all get so caught up in Holding ourselves to the exact translation of Aikido we sometimes miss the big picture. Does everyone get along with everyone else at their dojo? In an ideal world sure, we all would, but here in reality land people all have thier own baggage. differnet styles of aikido came about becasue of different teachers who trained with O'sensei at different times in his life. All are walking on the same road he laid out for us, but all started walking on it at various stages of the construciton of that road. does this mean that one is right or "more right" than the other, not really. No more than being a catholic makes you more a christian than being a lutheran. We must not lose sight of the fact that there are different approaches to the art, and where the harmony will begin at is the student, not the instructor. The student needs to go to other style's classes, early on before he/she can accululate the baggage that prevents mr/s Yudansha from acknowledging that they are different perspectives of the same art. if things didn't evolve, we still would be working with the bayonet and spear instead of the Jo. No one ever really wants to admit to their own complacency about their technique, whether it be good or bad. See whats out there and learn where we as Aikidoka came from, and how it has changed over the years, and surprisingly enough that we are far more similiar than we are different. Off course that's just my opinion I could be wrong.

Dan Hover

DJM
08-27-2000, 04:58 AM
Hi all..
I've been thinking a little about this. It's often said that a good Aikidoka will be able to apply the principles of their Aikido in all parts of their life - but surely, most especially, in other areas of their Aikido. I'm speaking about ukemi, the side of Aikido which develops your sensitivity to tori's technique and allows you to roll with it. It doesn't work if you have pre-conceived ideas of what tori's attack will be, or if he doesn't do a technique the same way you do.. Also you can't allow yourself to be 'duped' by uke's attack history - just because the last 3 attacks have been shomen ate it doesn't mean the next one will be..
I would hope that Aikidoka would be able to apply these skills to the whole of their Aikido - including how they approach other 'styles' - with sensitivity and flexibility...

Peace,
David

guest1234
08-27-2000, 06:39 AM
i have not been practicing for very long, but i've moved around a bit and have to say Ted has some valid points, despite what we'd all like to believe. But there are also rays of hope. My first move was in the same city, not long after i'd started at one dojo: we'd been told if we wanted to train in another school we'd need the sensei's permission. I didn't realize at the time that meant in a different MA, not a different Aikido dojo, and asked about training in a different dojo (and style) when i went home for visits. It was some time after i'd been encouraged to leave that a senior student from that dojo pointed out to me NO one ever asked to train at a different Aikido dojo, before or after me. When i've visited other cities, i usually train if i can---and each dojo (never the same affiliation) has been super nice to me; work kept me at two different ones longer than a month each time, and the senseis there treated me as one of their own, as did their students. My shorter visits have been as cordial in other places. I do try my best at each to learn what is being taught, and not show what i'm bringing with me unless the instructor asked---but that is only polite. The most difficult thing for me is when, either in the initial demo, or if during correction an instructor shows something that is part of the style a previous sensei has taught me, and announces it 'is wrong' or 'doesn't work' etc. i like correction, and while not fond of being made fun of don't mind it too much, but it makes it difficult for me to learn when (even inadvertantly) someone tears down a previous sensei's teaching. my last dojo was a model of acceptance (it was an Aikido club, i'm told that's why)...anyway, three instructors, each with their own different roots, who had a live and let live approach that was perfect. we just came to do Aikido, and if you couldn't get the technique one class, we'd say, wait until the next hour and someone will teach it differently. i've just moved (again) and now find that the hardest thing for me to deal with, and i know my ego is all entwined in it, is when i get that inadvertant mocking of a previous teaching. well, something for me to work on :).
so, as i now hop off of this very nice soap box, i have found both agoraphobia and outstanding flexibility in a variety of dojos, styles, and senseis/students. i think, like us as individuals, Aikido is a work in progress.

akiy
08-27-2000, 11:34 AM
Ted raises some very valid and interesting points.

tedehara wrote:
When was the last time you trained with a dojo completely outside your style/organizaton?
As far as a different style goes, I went to a five-day seminar with the Jiyushinkai (http://www.jiyushinkai.org) folks in Tempe in May and had a great time. (They're a different organization than the one I belong to, too.) I was at Kashiwaya sensei's Ki Society seminar last November.

And as far as organization goes, I think the last time other than the one stated above was when I went to see Isoyama sensei in Colorado Springs in April. I was at Virginia Ki Society last November. I also saw Saito sensei last September, too. I'll be heading out to the Bay Area to see Takeda sensei next Thursday.

When I used to live in the Bay Area, I travelled to many different dojo and seminars regardless of affiliation and/or "style."
What were your feelings at that dojo and how did they treat you?
I can't say that I've personally been treated poorly. Now, that may be a spurious argument, but that's been my experience. Maybe I need to get out more...
What were the reactions of the teachers and fellow students in your dojo, when you told them of your visits?
My teacher has told me in so many words to go out and see other shihan from other organizations and not just limit my training to people from our organization. He and others at the dojo seem to encourage my promiscuity.
Were you foolish enough to tell someone in your dojo, what you were doing?
Yup -- I'm a pretty big fool about it, really. Sometimes I even get others to go with me, too.
Sometimes, it's not so easy.
You're right about that. I can't say I haven't heard stories of people getting turned away at the door of a dojo because they belonged to the "wrong" organization. I've heard a story where one shihan held a big public demonstration and another teacher from the area decided to go and watch. A few of the shihan's students approached him when he was taking his seat and asked him to leave. (He did.)
However, to actually go to another dojo and practice with strangers is worse than starting over. Because these "strangers" may already have a prejudical attitude against you. Just as you might carry prejudices against them.
Of course, that happens, too.

But, my own feeling is that being insulated in one single style or organization is limiting to everyone's aikido.
Sorry to play Devil's Advocate, but I really don't see any change in attitude among Aikido organizations.
Maybe not among organizations, but perhaps in individuals.

We receive many visitors at our dojo from all sorts of different organizations. We try to welcome them as well as we can and then train with them. Hopefully, they'll be able to say to their friends that they felt welcome and had a good time. Maybe that'll lead to more visitors in the future. And so on.

I'm in the process of helping organize the third annual Aikido-L (http://www.aikido-l.org) Seminar. This year and in the past, we've had teachers from USAF, ASU, Ki Society, Yoshinkai, Jiyushinkai, Kurita Juku, Nishio sensei's group, and Aiki Budo all volunteer their time and effort to teach. The majority of the people who come to the Seminar are those on the mailing list. Many travel from around the United States and also from other countries like Norway, Germany, and Canada. Most all of them train at different dojo which span the gamut of styles and organizations.

So, I don't think it's impossible to organize such a cross-style, cross-organizational seminar. It just takes people who are able to check their egos at the door and just do aikido.
No one said human nature was all sweetness and light - learning to get along with each other is an important lesson. It's a lesson that has to be constantly relearned and practiced daily.
I agree, of course. But that doesn't mean we can't practice being open to others, either.

-- Jun

Dan Hover
08-27-2000, 11:43 AM
did you notice that your instructor encouraged you to go see others? Hopefully everyone who will read this will notice that. More instructors should be like this. Go see everyone you can, then you will see the true diversity and beauty of the art and the limitless applications of the art. I too was very fortunate that my instructor very early on, would take me to see Saotome one weekend, and then two weeks later, off we would go to see Yamada and Kanai. Now I pimp any seminar that is within 6-8 hours from our dojo, regardless of affiliation. See what is out there, then we can talk shop, instead of talking ignorance.

Dan Hover

akiy
08-27-2000, 11:49 AM
Dan Hover wrote:
did you notice that your instructor encouraged you to go see others?
Me? Of course. My going to a lot of different teachers was something I already did before I came to my current dojo. It may have been sort of self-selective since I will not study under a teacher who refuses to let his or her student see other people. I've been lucky (or selective) that all of my previous (and current) teachers have had an open mind about such.

-- Jun

DJM
08-27-2000, 12:11 PM
tedehara wrote:

<snip>
When was the last time you trained with a dojo completely outside your style/organizaton? What were your feelings at that dojo and how did they treat you? What were the reactions of the teachers and fellow students in your dojo, when you told them of your visits? Were you foolish enough to tell someone in your dojo, what you were doing? Sometimes, it's not so easy.
<snip>
Ted Ehara

Ted,
I haven't trained at a different dojo, yet, but I have trained at a non-Tomiki weekend course, held by Ken Cottier Sensei, which was held by an Aikikai Dojo. There were a number of attendees from my dojo (my Sensei amongst them) and we were treated as part of the family. Bob Jones Sensei, Chairman of the British Aikido Association, has told us to experience different Sensei, different dojo, in order to strengthen the breadth and depth of our Aikido. Also a couple students at our dojo study 4 nights a week - twice at the dojo I attend, and twice at another. If anything Sensei welcomes the different 'spin' on things they sometimes bring to the dojo..

All in all an atmosphere, at both dojo and organistion levels, that fosters a truly wide-ranging learning environment...

Which makes it all the sadder when there are dojo, and possibly organisations, who try and keep the portcullis down.

Peace,
David

Erik
08-27-2000, 12:26 PM
I've been trying to find the exact quote but have failed so I'll paraphrase.

Henry Kissinger once commented on why political infighting is so savage in the educational realm. He said,

"because there is so little at stake."

Thought it appropriate.

In regards to Ted's questions. The Bay Area is fairly open. Probably because there are so damn many of us that you just can't prevent it. Dojo hopping is common and I would be pretty comfortable knocking on almost anyone's doors around here.

But, I must admit that while I regularly visit 3 different dojos (ASU, AANC), there are a number of brands that I have not visited. One of these days I suppose.

And yes, the Bay Area has seen more than it's fair share of politics. Enough that it even filters down to someone like me. My shodan was delayed a year while my instructors tried to figure out which division they'd join (AANC 3 divisions). They went for none of the above and joined a different group. Sigh!

[Edited by Erik on August 27, 2000 at 11:52am]

Magma
08-27-2000, 11:00 PM
When I was just starting my training, I attended a seminar where at one point the group was divided into 2nd kyu and above and 3rd and below. The higher ranked group left the floor for instruction in a different area, and we were left with only one black belt - the sensei instructing that class. I can stll remember the feeling - because it was really physical as much as it was psychological - of there just being more air to breath on the mats. And it wasn't because there was more room, but because so much ego had gone with those who had left. Those of us left then were able to get down to the real business of training.

That isn't a knock against the yudansha, but a diagnosis of a particular situation which informs this discussion a bit, I think. I have found black belts who are both humble and helpful, and an inspiration for my continued growth. I have also found those who could not be bothered to help even when directly asked.

IMHO, it is on these personal levels where we can begin to turn around the direction the aikido family has been taking. When we forget what it feels like to learn, we resent those who still are, no matter what their rank . . . or affiliation. If someone has something to teach, or something to learn, they should have the opportunity.

M

Dan Hover
08-28-2000, 09:34 AM
You know I've been at seminars where they split it between Yu and Mudansha, and you're right there is a difference, Only problem is I go with the Yudansha's and secretly wish I was with the Mudansha's so I wouldn't have to deal with the attitudes.

Magma
08-28-2000, 01:34 PM
Dan Hover wrote:
You know I've been at seminars where they split it between Yu and Mudansha, and you're right there is a difference, Only problem is I go with the Yudansha's and secretly wish I was with the Mudansha's so I wouldn't have to deal with the attitudes.

I've heard the same things from my Yudansha travel-mates to these seminars.

M

Dan Hover
08-28-2000, 01:42 PM
Magma wrote:
Dan Hover wrote:
You know I've been at seminars where they split it between Yu and Mudansha, and you're right there is a difference, Only problem is I go with the Yudansha's and secretly wish I was with the Mudansha's so I wouldn't have to deal with the attitudes.

I've heard the same things from my Yudansha travel-mates to these seminars.

M
sad isn't it? take a look, they are the future. Ignorant in their own complacency.

stratcat
09-21-2000, 01:26 AM
Y'know, like the Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson Song?;)

Anyway, this is a subject that is very important to me, because it implies that we all RESPECT other, no matter what style of Aikido we practice. It truly bothers me when someone in a dojo disrespects somebody else's style. It shows a lack of education, as well as ignorance of Aikido's ultimate goals.

Somewhere along the line we forgot that O'Sensei's mandate was that Aikido was for the world, and not for a select elite of people that would forever hold its "secrets". The idea was to use Aikido as a way to UNIFY the family of Man, not as a bone of contention. To say "My style of Aikido is better than anyone else's," or "My style is the only TRUE Aikido" is to imply that only those that practice that style of Aikido have possesion of the inner working's of harmony and Ki. How preposterous, presumptuous and egotistical!

Unfortunately, sometimes even our dojo-mates fall into this sort of small minded thinking. In that case the best thing we can do is just walk away. If that person truly felt he/she knew a better way, instead of bragging, it would be more productive to just quietly go on teaching his style and that way convincing people as to the "advantages" of his/her style!

In any case, many times the differences aren't even in the technique, but in the policies for testing, teaching methods, order of the curriculum, etc. and not any real discernible difference in philosophy or technique. Are we really going to start ranting as to why my testing philosophy is better that yours, or vice versa? It's not any other dojo's business anyway! Or why dojo x teaches its beginner's kota-gaeshi before ikkyo? Give me a break!

We have to overcome this disease of in- fighting. Rather we should seek to learn the best form each other's styles. I'm sure there are many useful things I could learn from Aikikai Technique or Tomiki or Yoshinkan, or Atemi- Kai or Shin Shin Toisu or whatever; I hope I have the opportunity to do so someday. Conversely I would like to think that the style I practice could also add to anyone's learning of Aikido techniques, we welcome any to come learn WITH us and not just FROM us. That way we could enrich all our collective learning experience. Remember, O'Sensei forbade competition- maybe that could apply between dojos as well?

I read somewhere: there are many roads that lead to the summit of Mt. Fuji, but they all lead to the same place. Let's make the journey a pleasant one, and not throw rocks to the travelers on the other trails, huh?

Jun, don't lose the soap box. It's always good to have someone with the guts to say what's on their mind, and to say it loud and clear. We need to air the things that might be controversial. We are all Aikidoka, anyway, surely we can respect each other, even if we don't always agree?

fudo
09-21-2000, 03:02 PM
The Aikido-L mailserv folks have (I believe) had two seminars where everyone on the list -- from widely disparate styles -- were invited. I went to the second, which was held in the Virginia suburbs of DC, and it was great. The seminar was structred so that one teacher from each style represented had a 2-hour class. There were (if memory serves me correctly), sensei from the Ki Society, Yoshinkan, Aikikai, ASU, and some offshoot of jujitsu/aikijujitsu. The theme was "celebrate our similarities", not differences, and everyone had a great time.

So, it CAN work.

-mf

fudo
09-21-2000, 03:03 PM
The Aikido-L listserv folks have (I believe) had two seminars where everyone on the list -- from widely disparate styles -- were invited.

I went to the second seminar, which was held in the Virginia suburbs of DC, and it was great. The seminar was structred so that one teacher from each style represented had a 2-hour class. There were (if memory serves me correctly), sensei from the Ki Society, Yoshinkan, Aikikai, ASU, and some offshoot of jujitsu/aikijujitsu. The theme was "celebrate our similarities", not differences, and everyone had a great time. Needless to say, I learned a lot.

So, it CAN work.

-mf

Mike Collins
09-21-2000, 11:20 PM
Still, it's a lovely ideal, and Jun, you should know there are a good many of us who not only agree, but to some degree, try to do just what you've said.

Aikido is like this beautiful jewel, and most, if not all of us are looking at a given light splinter from one prismed refraction and declaring that Aikido. We owe it to our teachers to gradually and naturally unite Aikido, if not in it's physical manifestation, then in the spirit of our own training atmosphere.

In the one dojo where I train, there are differing splinters who spend a great deal of time and energy bitching about this and that. It has recently come to me that I have a responsibility both for my own happiness, and for the passing on of this beautiful and life-changing art, to make my training atmosphere joyful rather than a clouded bitchy mess. It's hard to take responsibility for this stuff, but we all (at least those of us who have benefited from this art)have incurred a debt, to our teachers, their teachers, and to Osensei, to make the art alive and well.

George S. Ledyard
09-22-2000, 03:35 PM
Niadh wrote:
Some of the students however, were very "this is my way and it is good and right" especially if trying to do a technique a way that was not like they had learned. I feel it only fair to point out that these were the more advanced students.
Niadh
I am reminded of Monty Python and the Holy Grail in which one psuedo Frenchman taunted his enemies using a phrase which started with Little minded ...etc.

If you take a technique like kotegaeshi, there are as many versions of that technique as there are martial arts. Many of the people with whom I trained made a big deal of why their particular version was the superior version and the others were deficient in some way. Fortunately for me, my teacher is Saotome Sensei whom I have never heard say such a thing aboout any technique. My particular take was that every version I have learned would work in the proper context so I have incorporated all of them into what I teach my students.

I think that the worst thing a teacher can do to his students(aside from abuse)is to narrow their vision. The idea that there is only one way to do a technique is just as dangerous as the idea that one religion or one political philosphy has a lock on the truth. Training should result in an expansion of horizons. But what often happens is that the more experience students have, the more they are insecure about admitting that there is something they don't know or understand. If some does something differently, they dismiss it so that they can continue to be important. This is absolutely the worst when those people eventually become teachers. They are forced by their own limitations to forbid their students to look at other options as that would expose their own deficiencies. It results in small spirit and virtually guarentees that they will be mediocities in the long run.

Always remember the story of the Zen Master who was asked for instruction by an arrogant Samurai. The master proceeded to offer him tea. When the master poured he didn't stop when the cup was full and kept on pouring. The Samurai protested in shock and the master replied that it would be impossible to teach someone whose cup was full just as it was impossible to put more tea in to this teacup.

Ignore all this BS. It is all about insecurity and trying to make oneself feel secure by associating with rigid authorities who claim special insight. Just train, look at everything, try everything, and make your own Aikido. You can't do anyone else's Aikido, not even your own teacher's. Don't pay attention to people who have traded their broad vision for some silly status within an organization of insecure people.

[Edited by George S. Ledyard on September 22, 2000 at 02:45pm]

Russ
09-22-2000, 05:03 PM
Sorry, I can't figure out how to use the reply with quote thingy..., but George Sensei said:

"But what often happens is that the more experience students have, the more they are insecure about admitting that there is something they don't know or understand. If some does something differently, they dismiss it so that they can continue to be important. This is absolutely the worst when those people eventually become teachers."

Ain't that the truth, George sensei! Man! As mentioned in another thread at another time, the more I train the less I know. I will assume that this feeling doesn't abate with experience and I will hope that, as Gleason sensei puts it so well, experience of the hara will cultivate trust in oneself to apply the correct technique..., whenever. (I'm paraphrasing Gleason sensei of course.)

The hardest battle for intermediate and advanced students (teachers included) is to not get trapped by that damn ego. This oft said truism manifests itself when you cling to what you know and feel defence is needed when confonted with something that is simply..., different. A different take or style is, in a general sense, neither better nor worse than ones own and, quite frankly, there is room enough in Aikido for all that is out there.

kironin
09-23-2000, 09:07 PM
tedehara wrote:
When was the last time you trained with a dojo completely outside your style/organizaton?

Last week...

I'm Ki Society and I spent five days training with a shihan (8th dan) from Aikikai Hombu. He was nothing but gracious and friendly and paid as much attention to me in class as anyone else. The host dojo, from the sensei on down to new students made me feel very welcome. This was the first time I had been there.

In the past year, I have dropped in
in at AAA, Aikikai, ASU and some independent dojos. Taken classes or did seminars with major teachers in those organizations.


What were your feelings at that dojo and how did they treat you?

see above.

I've heard about bad experiences years ago, but I have never had one.
Perhaps it's because I always go in
expecting the best rather than the worst. The world is what you make it.
You can choose to focus on the conflict out there or you can look for openings where compassion and friendship are in everyone.

That isn't to say I haven't shaken the dust off my sandals upon leaving a few places, but I don't make generalizations from individuals nor
do I repeat stories to others.

and I do visit two dojos in town that
have head sensei that have a individual history and don't speak to each other. They know I visit the other dojo, I make no secret about it. When I go to either one, we don't talk about the past we just do aikido. I don't attempt to get involved in the politics.
I am respectful at both places and only say good things.


What were the reactions of the teachers and fellow students in your dojo, when you told them of your visits?

No big deal. In fact I can recall many
a good time in the Virginia Ki Society
when a number of fellow students would get together and have a good time chatting about their experiences with this or that sensei at seminar and something funny or interesting happened.

Now, I am the head of the Ki Society
school in Houston, so I set the tone
and attitude. I don't try to teach them
non-Ki Society style but my senior students always know that I come back and show them some insight or
move I picked up at these wayward wonderings through the larger aikido landscape. We play with it. It's a non-issue with me if they want to go to a seminar out Ki Society because I am likely to be right there with them.
When I was a sankyu, I remember my first teacher taking me and several other students to a seminar with Saito Sensei.

The attitude always was, if what we teach doesn't withstand scrutiny, then what good is it ?

You learn what each group's assumptions are and what their goals are. Some I agree with and some I don't, but it's almost always educational.


Were you foolish enough to tell someone in your dojo, what you were doing?

see above...


Sorry to play Devil's Advocate, but I really don't see any change in attitude among Aikido organizations.

By their very nature, organizations will be slow to change in attitude.
But individuals can and do change
and new generations of students don't need to carry on the grudges of older generations if the seniors can recognize that forgiveness is a powerful tool and that passing on bad stories is like dealing in poison.

No one said human nature was all sweetness and light - learning to get along with each other is an important lesson. It's a lesson that has to be constantly relearned and practiced daily.

hear, hear,

and one of the best ways to practice it is to enter a room of strangers, accept what is human nature in all the varied forms of imperfection, and leave with a new set of friends.

Craig

George S. Ledyard
09-24-2000, 01:27 PM
I once was visiting a Chicago dojo and mentioned a suburban dojo to a senior member. He got very upset. The group from the suburban dojo had come from the dojo I was visiting and there was some bad feelings on their "departure". I'd like to note that the suburban dojo was still a member of the same organization and had the same Shihan. If people treat others like this within their own organizaton, how would they treat someone from a completely different group?[Edited by tedehara on August 26, 2000 at 09:49pm]

This is exactly the type of bad karma people pass on from one generation to another. It is the fault of the teachers involved to let that type of thing happen but it also the willingness of the students to take on all their teacher's baggage that makes it possible.

I make it a point to draw all my own conclusions personally. I am great friends with other Aikido teachers who are from very different backgrounds and we have agreed that it would be silly to carry on the conflicts from a previous generation as if they were our own.

Years ago I went to Hombu dojo for a week to train. This was before Saotome sensei and the ASU were back under the wing of the home dojo. Saotome Sensei gave me various letters of introduction and I was extremely cordially received. I was able to take extensive ukemi from Doshu and Osawa Sensei and just had a tremendous time. But when I was in the locker room the other Americans were busy trying to figure out who I was and where in their universe I fit in. Finally one came up and actually read the kanji on my belt. It was Saotome Sensei's own belt that he had given me on the occasion of my San dan test. This fellow actually had the temerity to suggest that I keep it covered up as my affiliation with Saotome Sensei was a problem.

This little minded fellow was quite busy trying to perpetuate a conflict that he was far to young to even understand and that his seniors were at that moment trying to reconcile. It was laughable. As if I would train anywhere that I had to hide my relationship with my teacher.

People look for any excuse to find fault with others because it defines them in their own minds when they are actually very insecure.It is completely unnecessary and just shows off ones openings to the world.

BC
09-25-2000, 11:59 AM
[QUOTE]tedehara wrote:

You can probably see this seminar as some sort of Platonic Ideal, since (in my experience) the Chicago Metro area is very "splintered".

I once was visiting a Chicago dojo and mentioned a suburban dojo to a senior member. He got very upset. The group from the suburban dojo had come from the dojo I was visiting and there was some bad feelings on their "departure". I'd like to note that the suburban dojo was still a member of the same organization and had the same Shihan. If people treat others like this within their own organizaton, how would they treat someone from a completely different group?....
_____________________________________

I definitely view it as an ideal. I think ideals are things that we should aspire to, and I think it would be a worthy one to attain. I understand that it might not ever happen, but wouldn't it be wonderful if it did?

I hope the dojo you visited in Chicago wasn't where I train, and if it was, I would like to apologize for your having to see such behavior. I believe that it would not be truly representative of our membership. That kind of behavior is totally inappropriate, and it is unfortunate when encountered - especially from sempai.

Also, based on my experience visiting other dojos, it wouldn't be representative of most aikidoists I have encountered. I have visited a few dojos outside of my home dojo's affiliation, and have always been treated with the utmost in courtesy, respect and graciousness. One of the dojos actually had been affiliated with our organization (USAF) until a few years ago. That didn't stop them (instructor and students) from welcoming me to practice with them for the whole week that I was there, and since I have family there, I'll definitely go back. I occasionally have to travel for my job, and always make an effort to go to the local dojos to practice. I think that it is definitely good to broaden your horizons, and see what others do and how they do it. Many other members of our dojo also travel, and practice at other dojos when they do so. I have always been encouraged when I shared my experiences with fellow students and my instructors.

I agree that the US situation appears to be very splintered, but some strides have been made in the past several years (the ASU and AAA being welcomed back into the Aikikai, multi-organizational seminars given). Given the diversity of American culture, one view could be that it's surprising that there isn't more splintering than what we see now. While being aware of the negatives, I think its very important to see the positives as well, because that's where I would like to see things headed. It's kind of like constantly looking behind you to see where you've been. If you keep doing it, you're eventually going to stumble, fall, or get lost because you can't see where you're going. You have to look forward to where you want to be.

In the meantime, I simply do what I can by chasing after my "ideals" by training earnestly, conducting myself with courtesy, respect and grace, and treating others as I would like to be treated. IMHO.

-BC

[Edited by BC on September 25, 2000 at 11:16am]

Magma
09-25-2000, 03:50 PM
Sometimes I wonder if this legacy was left behind by O'sensei purposefully. What better way to test aikido in a student's life than by watching how that student deals with someone who believes as strongly in something just different enough to cause contention? It's as if the strength of the conviction feeds the dissension, but more importantly, it focuses in on those very beliefs to show whether or not they are actualized in our lives. The more we believe without actualization (ie, talking without action), the greater the risk of splintering in the aikido community.

Hope this makes sense.

M.

Konni
09-26-2000, 04:59 AM
Hello everybody!

I've followed this discussion with a great interest up to now and I would like to ask all of you a question: Would it be a positive action for a 5. Kyu-Aikidoist to train frequently in another dojo? I mean it may be good for a black-belt, who already has a basic experience in the technique of Aikido, but concerning a lower grade, wouldn't it produce akind of "mess of techniques" which would lead to misconceptions in his development? I ask you this question, becaue I've read in an Aikido-book that a juniior student should not try to get everything from different teachers, because the result would be a multiplication of faults and total misconception of this student.

Thanks for your replies,

Konstantin.

DJM
09-26-2000, 04:32 PM
Konni wrote:
Hello everybody!

I've followed this discussion with a great interest up to now and I would like to ask all of you a question: Would it be a positive action for a 5. Kyu-Aikidoist to train frequently in another dojo? I mean it may be good for a black-belt, who already has a basic experience in the technique of Aikido, but concerning a lower grade, wouldn't it produce akind of "mess of techniques" which would lead to misconceptions in his development? I ask you this question, becaue I've read in an Aikido-book that a juniior student should not try to get everything from different teachers, because the result would be a multiplication of faults and total misconception of this student.

Thanks for your replies,

Konstantin.

A very valid question Konstantin, one I've considered myself in the past. I think I would have to argue that Aikido is Aikido is Aikido... Granted there is different emphasis in the different 'styles', but I feel that, as the principles are the same across the board, having experience of different perspectives can only enhance your apreciation of Aikido.. Granted this opinion is from someone who's a newcomer to Aikido, but I have experienced both Tomiki and Aikikai Aikido - and have been honoured to watch amazingly gifted Sensei from both organisations (British Aikido Board (Aikikai) and British Aikido Association (Tomiki)) - and it's been my observation that the two styles complement each other, hand in glove...
Peace,
David

George S. Ledyard
09-26-2000, 09:05 PM
Konni wrote:
Hello everybody!

I've followed this discussion with a great interest up to now and I would like to ask all of you a question: Would it be a positive action for a 5. Kyu-Aikidoist to train frequently in another dojo? I mean it may be good for a black-belt, who already has a basic experience in the technique of Aikido, but concerning a lower grade, wouldn't it produce akind of "mess of techniques" which would lead to misconceptions in his development? I ask you this question, becaue I've read in an Aikido-book that a juniior student should not try to get everything from different teachers, because the result would be a multiplication of faults and total misconception of this student.

Thanks for your replies,

Konstantin.
It depends on what your purpose is to attend different dojos. Many people say that they like to move about to broaden their horizons but it is really a way of "hiding out" and avoiding making a commitment to a particular teacher or school. They can float around and fall in between the cracks without having anyone place any demands on them. They are almost inevitably mediocre in their practice.

On the other hand you may be very commited to a teacher or school but find that there is something else going on at a different school that you really want to try out. Years ago I was attending Mary Heiny's school. We had a particular style of practice that was excellent but was quite specific to Mary Sensei as a teacher. Bookman sensei came back from Japan and set up shop in Seattle. He was very strong and had a different style. I wanted to learn ukemi from his style of throwing. He also did weapons work which Mary Sensei didn't. And he taught iaido which i wanted to do. So I split my time between the two schools and paid full dues at both. Of course in some ways this was possible because it was always understood by everyone concerned that I was Saotome Sensei's student. It worked out well and I have enjoyed a great relationship with both Mary Heiny and Bookman Senseis for fifteen years. It didn't screw up my technique. But then again I not only don't look like Mary sensei, or Bruce Sensei, I don't even look like Saotome sensei or Ikeda Sensei. But if you look carefully you can see elements of every one of these teachers in what I do. Maybe that isn't ok with some others but it works fine for me.

[Edited by George S. Ledyard on September 26, 2000 at 08:08pm]

Kestrel
09-29-2000, 11:09 PM
As I mentioned on another thread I am very new to Aikido (2 weeks of lessons) but I am enjoying it greatly. Most of the practices are with the people from our university. So far there have been three different instructors..one for each of the days that we practice, and we have also been encouraged to go to the local ASU dojo if we would like extra practice. I went (with much trepidation) last night and found it to be an excellent experience (I like the traditional mats MUCH better than the mats they use in the padded gym) and everyone to be extremely welcoming. Each of the instructors that I have practiced under so far has a different aikido style and also a different teaching style. All of them welcome comments and questions and are very courteous. I was very much warmed by my reception at the dojo and plan to go back there at least once a week if possible...
On the issue of whether or not different styles "mess up" your Aikido, I am not really qualified to comment but I will relate my experience from yesterday at the dojo. One of my partners..one of the advanced students...was guiding me through the form that we were doing..(I cant remember the japanese name for it :( )and suddenly I was going down over his knee. I remember getting up..rather shaken..and thinking "we didnt do THAT in the other classes!"..and then realizing that it was just an addition to the form and was more of a personal little fillip than a major change. I dont think that practicing with the gentleman in question messed me up...but I guess we'll see when I go to my regular practice tomorrow. :P

Tim

"Are you *sure* thats safe?"