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Traveler
09-28-2013, 04:52 AM
So, I've trained in aikido for 10 years or so at a dojo that was pretty serious about atemi use (ie, you will get hit if you don't pay attention, at least at brown- or black-belt level), and recently moved to a new town where the closest dojo is an aikikai dojo but trains in a very soft, no-atemi style. They are *very* good at taking balance, and at keeping their balance, and I want to learn that, as well as the techniques that they teach that I haven't seen before... but they're also completely oblivious to their openings, both as uke and as nage. I think for their style I'm probably training at about a sankyu level, despite the hakama and black belt, but at the same time I'm constantly having to pull back from hitting even relatively high-up yudansha. And their ukemi is awful - no committed attacks, just grab and ground, and no further attempt to 'get' nage at all. Several times, high level students have let go in the middle of the technique and then been surprised when I enter on them, and at the same time I also frequently have trouble throwing them b/c of the grounding.

Both sides are getting frustrated with each other. Is there room for compromise, or do I give up on this and go to the next-nearest dojo, about an hour away?

robin_jet_alt
09-29-2013, 05:28 PM
Don't give up. Learn what you can from them and practice what you already know in the back yard. Eventually, you will either move on or you can start your own dojo. I've done 4 different styles now, and each has had its own frustrations.

Aikiwarrior
09-29-2013, 07:07 PM
I was in a similar situation. Started out brand new to aikido in a tough as nails dojo back east in new york city. My wrists would be nearly raw by the end of the week. My forearms started to become tree trunks. The shodans would not let go and would try to hit you if you did not fully follow thru with the technique with intent or keep them at bay with atemi. Then i moved out west. I soon came to learn everywhere is not the same. Just learn what can but never forget what you were taught, Maybe if you stay long enough you can step up and influence changes.

robin_jet_alt
09-29-2013, 10:44 PM
Another thing to consider is that there are different methods of training to achieve different results. For instance, I will often ignore my own openings as uke when the result that I am trying to achieve is to teach nage to move correctly (and if I go into it much more, I run the risk of talking about IS stuff, which is pointless on here) in order to take my balance. I don't do this because it is a generally good style of ukemi, but because I am trying to teach a particular concept and nage is overly reliant on something else. Maybe that is what is going on here.

Rupert Atkinson
10-01-2013, 11:27 PM
Stick with it. I too have done several different styles of Aikido and have at times been very annoyed but have learned something from all of them. Sticking with it is worth it in the long run - just don't forget what you have learned.

NagaBaba
10-02-2013, 06:20 AM
I see that after 10 years of training you are still excited about hitting somebody. It means you still don’t understand that this aspect is completely useless as an indicator of “martial effectiveness” in cooperative environment.

If you are serious about aikido, you should look for the dojo where they practice seriously weapons (I’m not talking here about Iwama style weapons teaching) otherwise you will never reach high level understanding of aikido. Other criteria such as distance to the dojo are no relevant. If however the distance to the dojo is important to you, it means that your interest to aikido is superficial and we can’t really discuss here more about it.

lbb
10-02-2013, 07:21 AM
Oh, brother...

Basia Halliop
10-03-2013, 12:28 PM
To me it sounds like it could be a really good opportunity, given that you see certain strengths that they have that you don't. It might be a chance for you to work on those aspects of your aikido. If you train their way, at least for a while, and concentrate your attention on the things that they're better at then you, you might find you can really improve those aspects of your own aikido. And you can keep mentally aware of your and your partner's potential openings even if it isn't appropriate to actually hit them.

On the other hand, if there's another dojo you can get to that seems to you to have those strengths without also having some of the weaknesses you feel you see, that might be even better in the long run. Because in the long term it's hard to fully commit yourself to a dojo and teacher if you feel they're weak in an area that you feel is important.

Basia Halliop
10-03-2013, 12:38 PM
I see that after 10 years of training you are still excited about hitting somebody. It means you still don’t understand that this aspect is completely useless as an indicator of “martial effectiveness” in cooperative environment.


Szczepan, do you mean that it isn't important if people are leaving openings where they can be hit? I understand why hitting people wouldn't be an indicator of martial effectiveness, and also that people sometimes use hitting to cover up errors, but I would have thought that if you and your partner are in a position where they can hit you, that's basically bad? Shouldn't you be trying to get behind them, and to get them off balance, etc?

OwlMatt
10-03-2013, 07:28 PM
I see that after 10 years of training you are still excited about hitting somebody. It means you still don’t understand that this aspect is completely useless as an indicator of “martial effectiveness” in cooperative environment.

If you are serious about aikido, you should look for the dojo where they practice seriously weapons (I’m not talking here about Iwama style weapons teaching) otherwise you will never reach high level understanding of aikido. Other criteria such as distance to the dojo are no relevant. If however the distance to the dojo is important to you, it means that your interest to aikido is superficial and we can’t really discuss here more about it.

Szczepan, your assumptions, condescension, and judgement are not helpful to OP and are not conducive to an atmosphere of mutual respect. Please stop.

NagaBaba
10-04-2013, 10:48 AM
Szczepan, do you mean that it isn't important if people are leaving openings where they can be hit? I understand why hitting people wouldn't be an indicator of martial effectiveness, and also that people sometimes use hitting to cover up errors, but I would have thought that if you and your partner are in a position where they can hit you, that's basically bad? Shouldn't you be trying to get behind them, and to get them off balance, etc?

This aspect is simple and complicated at the same time.
Of course the consciousness of the existence of the openings is important, we can use them to hit or counter the attack or the technique. But resuming OP criteria for aikido practice to “we are pretty serious about atemi use” means he is living in some kind of fantasy.

In aikido practice we have predefined uke and nage behavior (even Tomiki fighters can use only predefined attack and 16 predefined techniques). It means that nage knows what attack arrive BEFORE it happens physically. This already is an opening from attacker side. Using this opening to hit or counter is a very easy task, and has nothing to do with martial aspect of the practice. Under such conditions, even a novice is able to hit many times an experienced attacker; it is not a big deal. So ‘being serious about atemi’ is IMO not valid criteria to evaluate another dojo.

The examples of the valid criteria: posture, precision in technique execution, position of the nage in comparison to attacker, the correct use of the angles for entering into attacker and when you unbalance him, the correct use of your own body, timing, intent etc…
If somebody is not aware about these criteria, it can be developed correctly by practice of the weapons.

NagaBaba
10-04-2013, 10:50 AM
Szczepan, your assumptions, condescension, and judgement are not helpful to OP and are not conducive to an atmosphere of mutual respect. Please stop.
Do you have something to say about the topic?

Traveler
10-05-2013, 12:17 AM
you only know where uke is coming from if you don't do jiyu waza, and if you don't have an uke who tries to get you when you screw up.

As for the distance not being important...!
Must be nice, having all the time in the world and no other obligations.

What I can see is that this ki-style of aikido, while less martially effective, would be of much greater utility in the more common context of the relative or friend who is pushing boundaries, who isn't really trying to hurt you, and whom you don't want to clobber. That's why I'm torn about what to do: I want to learn this, but I don't want my ukemi to get sloppy, either.

Maybe I can sign up for one dojo, and do mat-fee visits at the other sometimes so that I can have my atemi cake and eat it too.

robin_jet_alt
10-05-2013, 05:25 AM
you only know where uke is coming from if you don't do jiyu waza, and if you don't have an uke who tries to get you when you screw up.

As for the distance not being important...!
Must be nice, having all the time in the world and no other obligations.

What I can see is that this ki-style of aikido, while less martially effective, would be of much greater utility in the more common context of the relative or friend who is pushing boundaries, who isn't really trying to hurt you, and whom you don't want to clobber. That's why I'm torn about what to do: I want to learn this, but I don't want my ukemi to get sloppy, either.

Maybe I can sign up for one dojo, and do mat-fee visits at the other sometimes so that I can have my atemi cake and eat it too.

I did that for a while, when I was at a dojo where I felt my ukemi was getting sloppy.

John Longford
10-06-2013, 06:00 AM
You should be pleased that you are struggling. If you or anyone else can immediately adapt to a different style then they didn't learn anything in the first place. I find it take students quite some time to adjust

OwlMatt
10-06-2013, 09:29 AM
Do you have something to say about the topic?
Robin and Jared have already said what I would have said better than I would have said it. Their advice is soild.

You, on the other hand, come in here telling OP that he is "excited about hitting somebody", that he "[doesn't] understand", and that he is "living in some kind of fantasy", all based on the assumption that he judges the quality of aikido clubs based on how much atemi they do. He, of course, never said that at all; you are just assuming that is true so that you can tell him he is wrong.

And this bit...

Other criteria such as distance to the dojo are no relevant. If however the distance to the dojo is important to you, it means that your interest to aikido is superficial and we can’t really discuss here more about it.

... is absolutely ridiculous.

You're not helping; you're only muddying the water of what is otherwise a very useful thread, relevant to a lot of aikidoists' experience, including mine.

Malicat
10-06-2013, 08:24 PM
To give a little bit of credit on the side of a misunderstanding, I wouldn't say the distance comment was so much ridiculous as it simply demonstrated a massive misunderstanding of the geographic size of cities in the US versus other countries. Personally I drive about 120 miles one way to get to one class a week (Yes, I drive about 4 hours round trip to attend a 2 hour Aikido class), and 180 miles to get to my other dojo for a Saturday morning class. This is because I live in a very rural community in the US. I think it is safe to say that most of my friends who live in Europe are constantly amazed by this, and they consider 30 miles to be an extremely long commute on any kind of regular basis. If the geographic distance to the dojo was holding you back and you were fretting over a dojo 10 miles away versus one that was 5 miles away, I can see where someone might think you weren't dedicated.

For the OP, while I think the idea of regular attendance at one dojo and mat fees at another might be a good idea, I'd ask you to rethink which one will be getting regular attendance. The closer one is going to be much easier to work into your schedule, but you also need to ponder what kind of habits you are going to be taking home with you. If the instructor that you most want to emulate is farther away, you might want to consider going to that one at least half of your available time. The fact of the matter is, you are going to reflect the style that you spend most of your time training.

--Ashley


And this bit...

Quote:
Other criteria such as distance to the dojo are no relevant. If however the distance to the dojo is important to you, it means that your interest to aikido is superficial and we can't really discuss here more about it.

... is absolutely ridiculous.

You're not helping; you're only muddying the water of what is otherwise a very useful thread, relevant to a lot of aikidoists' experience, including mine.

NagaBaba
10-07-2013, 06:48 AM
you only know where uke is coming from if you don't do jiyu waza, and if you don't have an uke who tries to get you when you screw up.
I agree that jiyu waza (any attack, any technique) is an excellent practice and we do it a lot at the end of the class.
However....

most of the time, the attack and technique are known in advance because instructor demos it and everybody is simply repeating. So under such conditions, where attacker is giving his body in overcommitted attack, hitting him heavily should be considered as a cheap shot.


As for the distance not being important...!
Must be nice, having all the time in the world and no other obligations.
.
Well, once in my life I saw a sensei I wanted to learn from, so I moved from Europe to North America to be able to practice with him. So yes, distance is not important, what is important are you serious about the aikido training.

lbb
10-07-2013, 08:27 AM
Well, once in my life I saw a sensei I wanted to learn from, so I moved from Europe to North America to be able to practice with him. So yes, distance is not important, what is important are you serious about the aikido training.

...and in North America you lived under a bush and ate manna from heaven, is that right?

Certain people live in the lucky circumstances of great freedom combined with no responsibilities. These people tend to benefit from the efforts of others (parents who let them live at home, a working spouse/partner, a friend who lets them couch-surf indefinitely). For those who have these benefits and
no untidy encumbrances in the form of a spouse or partner, children or elderly parents (and who are additionally blessed with unlimited good health), one could indeed say "seriousness", or lack thereof, is the sole limitation of their aikido training. It's when people in this situation fail to recognize the rarity of their privilege, and judge others as if they were in similar circumstances, that the reasoning becomes absurd.

NagaBaba
10-07-2013, 09:14 AM
...and in North America you lived under a bush and ate manna from heaven, is that right?

Certain people live in the lucky circumstances of great freedom combined with no responsibilities. These people tend to benefit from the efforts of others (parents who let them live at home, a working spouse/partner, a friend who lets them couch-surf indefinitely). For those who have these benefits and
no untidy encumbrances in the form of a spouse or partner, children or elderly parents (and who are additionally blessed with unlimited good health), one could indeed say "seriousness", or lack thereof, is the sole limitation of their aikido training. It's when people in this situation fail to recognize the rarity of their privilege, and judge others as if they were in similar circumstances, that the reasoning becomes absurd.
Hi Mary,
I see you don't understand the reality of life of the immigrants. That's OK.
Let's go back to the topic.

lbb
10-07-2013, 09:35 AM
Hi Mary,
I see you don't understand the reality of life of the immigrants. That's OK.
Let's go back to the topic.

I understand quite a few things about the reality of life. From your dismissal of the difficulties of others as trivial (when, as near as I can tell, you don't actually know anything about their lives), I'm not so sure you do -- but perhaps I'm mistaken. You said that you moved continents to train - impressive, but perhaps you could tell us more about your circumstances when you did so. How did you finance your move? How did you make a living? Did you have dependents at the time?

OwlMatt
10-07-2013, 09:37 AM
Sczepan, people with families and jobs can't always just pack up and go wherever they want, and they don't always have the freedom to spend hours driving places. If you don't have a life that gets in the way of your aikido, good for you. But stop telling others who don't have the same privilege that they lack devotion or understanding.

You have done nothing in this thread except claim that people who don't do aikido your way either don't know enough or don't care enough, and that gets old real fast. OP came here for advice, and you have offered nothing but judgment. Once again, please stop.

oisin bourke
10-07-2013, 10:39 AM
...and in North America you lived under a bush and ate manna from heaven, is that right?

Certain people live in the lucky circumstances of great freedom combined with no responsibilities. These people tend to benefit from the efforts of others (parents who let them live at home, a working spouse/partner, a friend who lets them couch-surf indefinitely). For those who have these benefits and
no untidy encumbrances in the form of a spouse or partner, children or elderly parents (and who are additionally blessed with unlimited good health), one could indeed say "seriousness", or lack thereof, is the sole limitation of their aikido training. It's when people in this situation fail to recognize the rarity of their privilege, and judge others as if they were in similar circumstances, that the reasoning becomes absurd.

That's a pretty dismissive generalisation, Mary. I moved continents to train too, and I didn't "benefit from the efforts of others" (although I managed with the support of my significant other). I paid my own way and made my choices. If you or anyone else didn't make that move for whatever reason, that's fine, but don't belittle the efforts of those of us that did.

lbb
10-07-2013, 01:04 PM
That's a pretty dismissive generalisation, Mary. I moved continents to train too, and I didn't "benefit from the efforts of others" (although I managed with the support of my significant other).

I'm not being dismissive. If you managed with the support of your significant other, how is that not benefiting from his/her efforts?

I paid my own way and made my choices. If you or anyone else didn't make that move for whatever reason, that's fine, but don't belittle the efforts of those of us that did.

Let's just put that shoe back on the foot that it belongs on, shall we? I didn't belittle anything; I responded to someone (not you) who belittled someone while being ignorant of his circumstances. You've got no call to get in a huff. But as far as "belittling your efforts", which I didn't do - would you care to tell me more about how you managed your move?

oisin bourke
10-07-2013, 01:18 PM
I'm not being dismissive. If you managed with the support of your significant other, how is that not benefiting from his/her efforts?

Let's just put that shoe back on the foot that it belongs on, shall we? I didn't belittle anything; I responded to someone (not you) who belittled someone while being ignorant of his circumstances. You've got no call to get in a huff. But as far as "belittling your efforts", which I didn't do - would you care to tell me more about how you managed your move?

Well in my case,I managed with emotional support, hardly unusual from a partner, now, is it?. Anyway, I know plenty who did "the move" on their own. In any event, we all managed to get by on our own steam, not by freeloading, as you basically stated.

As for belittling, well, yes, you did. You didn't address Szcepan directly when making this assertion, you decided to take a broad sweep at anyone who had made the effort to move long distances to pursue their training.

And when I called you on this, you accuse me of getting in a huff?

Basia Halliop
10-07-2013, 01:35 PM
I wouldn't immigrate to another continent for Aikido even if I could (actually I suppose technically I could, though I like where I'm training so it's a moot point). It's important to me, and a big thing in my life, but not the only important thing or even the most important thing. By that standard I'm a dilettante, and personally I have no problem at all with that :).

I'm not even sure I care or am even all that curious about how 'committed' other people are I'm training with or discussing with, or what it has to do with me or with anything. If I can learn from training with them, or if they have a good point in a conversation, that's really all I care about.

lbb
10-07-2013, 02:07 PM
Well in my case,I managed with emotional support, hardly unusual from a partner, now, is it?. Anyway, I know plenty who did "the move" on their own. In any event, we all managed to get by on our own steam, not by freeloading, as you basically stated.

Do you always see things in such a binary fashion? Only with such a view could you claim that I "basically stated" that you were "freeloading".

And yes, emotional support from a partner is "hardly unusual". I'm still wondering if your partner moved to another continent with you, and what she/he gave up to do so. I have no wish to particularize this to your situation, but you interjected yourself into the discussion with a set of claims that I can't address without particulars. Perhaps your partner gave up a career, educational path, a community with important amenities (for example, good educational facilities, decent access to child-care, etc.) or proximity to friends and family. Or perhaps your partner stayed behind and was deprived of your presence. You may disagree, but I think that those things are substantial -- and such a supportive partner is a substantial and valuable resource that not everyone has.

As for belittling, well, yes, you did.

How? Give specifics.

You didn't address Szcepan directly when making this assertion,

Yes I did. I quoted him and I was speaking to him.

you decided to take a broad sweep at anyone who had made the effort to move long distances to pursue their training.

You are not a mind-reader. If you try to tell me what I "decided", you'll just be wrong.

And when I called you on this, you accuse me of getting in a huff?

I stand corrected. I thought you were getting in a huff; now I see that instead, you're trying to pick a fight.

Janet Rosen
10-07-2013, 02:47 PM
Good grief. People on both sides: please have mercy on the OP and us hapless readers. Yes, some people pick up and move worlds away in order to pursue something important to them. Other people feel constrained by issues of tens of miles, a matter of hours. ALL are valid reflections of the totality of a person's life. If a person says, these are my constraints, any ideas?...no point in a pissing contest about life choices.

oisin bourke
10-07-2013, 03:09 PM
Do you always see things in such a binary fashion? Only with such a view could you claim that I "basically stated" that you were "freeloading".

And yes, emotional support from a partner is "hardly unusual". I'm still wondering if your partner moved to another continent with you, and what she/he gave up to do so. I have no wish to particularize this to your situation, but you interjected yourself into the discussion with a set of claims that I can't address without particulars. Perhaps your partner gave up a career, educational path, a community with important amenities (for example, good educational facilities, decent access to child-care, etc.) or proximity to friends and family. Or perhaps your partner stayed behind and was deprived of your presence. You may disagree, but I think that those things are substantial -- and such a supportive partner is a substantial and valuable resource that not everyone has. ....

I stand corrected. I thought you were getting in a huff; now I see that instead, you're trying to pick a fight.

This is going way off topic. I"ll just quote (again) your inaccurate dismissal of those of us who made the effort to travel long distances to pursue training opportunities:

"Certain people live in the lucky circumstances of great freedom combined with no responsibilities. These people tend to benefit from the efforts of others (parents who let them live at home, a working spouse/partner, a friend who lets them couch-surf indefinitely). "

I've no desire to give out personal information on a public forum. I'll just say that the previous quote didn't apply to me or most of the people I met who had relocated to train in aikido/budo. We worked, supported our families and paid our taxes/bills while pursuing our budo training. That's all you need to know.

BTW, this is the reason why I "interjected" myself into this discussion. If you're going to make inaccurate generalisations, people you are referring to will probably "interject" in order to call you on it.

Your final line is just stirring the pot IMO,so I"ll bow out of this discussion now.

Traveler
10-08-2013, 12:08 AM
If time and distance were no object, I'd still be training at my home dojo. OK? Or, while we're fantasizing, maybe I'd head to Japan for a few years and train with my Sensei's Shihan. However, I don't have a wife willing to follow me around like a puppy and take crap jobs to support my training, nor am I an heir, nor do I have a job that is easily transportable, nor am I willing to subject myself and my family to poverty while I sacrifice my career for aikido. If that makes me a dilettante, so be it. Can we move on now?

Does anyone have any experience with changing styles, either from hard to soft or vice versa? Or even just comments about moving to a new dojo?

Janet Rosen
10-08-2013, 12:46 AM
Does anyone have any experience with changing styles, either from hard to soft or vice versa? Or even just comments about moving to a new dojo?

I've changed several times. It has been by my choice (as I would clarify what I wanted to focus in on training), rather than having to based on geography, so mostly there were things in the new dojo that I knew I WANTED. Even so, in each new dojo there have also been unforeseen things that were done differently and that required me to go though a process of adjustment - sometimes including feeling negative or critical - but just as even in the most successful long term marriage no one person can meet every single one of another person's needs, I figured out so too in a dojo. If the good stuff makes it overall worth training, internalize the things you miss from the old dojo so you can accept them as part of YOU without expecting your new dojo to honor or value them.

robin_jet_alt
10-08-2013, 04:09 AM
Hello Traveller,

I have changed styles 3 times (4 different styles), and each time, it has been because I have moved house due to my job.

The first style I did was a bit on the hard side in terms of how technique was applied, but not intense trainging, and lacking in a lot of the finer points I have come to appreciate in aikido over the years, but it did give be a broad exposure to many different techniques including weapon techniques. Anyway, I didn't know anything different at the time.

Then I moved and did honbu style. No weapons, fewer techniques, but unusually for honbu style, it gave me an excellent appreciation of the basics of aikido movement. The training was intense, and my ukemi improved immensely. Often, my body struggled to keep up with the training, and this was a bit dispiriting, and this was exacerbated by being unable to train as often as I would like due to other commitments. I didn't really miss the weapons work etc. and my main frustration was with myself not being able to keep up.

Then I moved to a Nishio-style dojo. The general level of ukemi was poor and the training was nowhere near as intense as I was used to. This frustrated me no end, and I ended up travelling to another dojo on Sundays occasionally to keep up my ukemi and get a workout. The advantage was that I got a refresher in my weapons work, and I got a good education in using atemi and being aware of and accounting for my own openings. Apart from the lack of intensity, I was also frustrated by how complicated everything was. I don't think it sat very well with me.

I'm now at a school that is from the Tohei lineage, but with a teacher who has trained in many different styles. He is a bit of a maverick in this style and tries to incorporate a lot of stuff from Saito sensei, Yamaguchi sensei, and Shirata sensei. He likes to keep what he finds works and throw out what doesn't, and after spending 4 days with William Gleason, we are trying to incorporate a bit of IS training (which clearly works). The only thing that frustrates me about where I am now is the lack of a physical workout, but that isn't an issue because I can just go for a jog if I want. I still get to practice ukemi at a high level, just not constantly enough to get a cardio workout.

In general, the way to cope is not to argue with the sensei too much and try to learn what you can. Unless you are very comfortable with your sensei and know that (s)he will take it the right way, keep your opinions to yourself. (I am lucky enough that I can discuss this sort of thing with my current sensei. He is very open minded.) Even though I don't feel like Nishio aikido is for me, I did learn a lot from it, and I trained with some great people. Just try to focus on the positive, and if you get a chance to go out and play occasionally, try to take it.

Zoe S Toth
10-11-2013, 08:38 PM
Hi OP!

I'm from a no-atemi dojo and we have quite a few travelers pop in. One in particular had the same issues you seemed to be having. He was about a sandan, although he hadn't ranked in a while due to the military moving him around a lot. Eventually, our sensei (I'm lucky to have a shihan) took him over and work him to death more or less by letting our visitor reall take a swing or two at him.

We always feel bad for the poor folks who try to throw a real attack at a perceived opening at Sensei.

No-atemi styles, like you mentioned, HAVE to be good a taking balance. At the lower levels though, they do leave openings. If they are like our dojo, they also want to focus on one technique and then later deal with changing things up to deal with sneaky ukes.

You failed to mention what type of teachers you have at this new place. If it's a high rank person, see if you can get them into a high energy free attack. You'll know quickly if they are all fluff or not. If it's a lower ranked person and you don't feel you are getting your time's worth go elsewhere.

Traveler
10-22-2013, 04:57 AM
Hi Zoe-
Yes, you're right about the dojo-cho. I never felt like I could lay a finger on him; he keeps his face out of the way, and his body angle isn't such that I could nail him with high-energy strikes at any given point. It's just some of the sempai.

I'm still doing both places part-time.