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Peter Boylan
10-11-2013, 08:26 AM
I just came back from a trip to train in some koryu arts in Japan. The atmosphere in the dojo there is always remarkable to me because of the calm and respectful way everyone treats each other. Is the atmosphere in your dojo as respectful as it should be? I describe my experience in Japan at
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2013/10/training-in-japan-isnt-what-you-see-in.html

Cliff Judge
10-11-2013, 09:42 AM
I just came back from a trip to train in some koryu arts in Japan. The atmosphere in the dojo there is always remarkable to me because of the calm and respectful way everyone treats each other. Is the atmosphere in your dojo as respectful as it should be? I describe my experience in Japan at
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2013/10/training-in-japan-isnt-what-you-see-in.html

What movies are you referring to in the title of your post?

Iaido and jodo training in Japan is going to be different than Aikido training in Japan, or even jujutsu training in Japan, for reasons ranging from cultural to practical. It may be neither possible nor a good idea to conduct Aikido training in a similar atmosphere.

Sounds like a great trip though!

Bill Danosky
10-11-2013, 10:38 AM
Pretty formal. We have a protocol for everything we do on the mat. If I have something I want to say, I'm careful of the timing and considerate of the instructor's authority over the students.

Paul Huber Sensei is a very down-to-Earth guy, but being Aiki children of Kit Hathaway Sensei, we all consider we're representing her reputation among other Aikidoka and the public. So observing proper dojo etiquette is a matter of honoring her. She's outspoken, too. So that only counts for how we behave on the mat.;)

tarik
10-11-2013, 12:10 PM
Do you really mean respectful or do you mean formal?

They are not the same.

The atmosphere in my personal dojo is fairly informal, although we do bow in and out, and bow to one another when we begin and end kata. We laugh, talk, tell jokes, sometimes cuss, and test one another constantly.

I also sometimes allow my children onto the mat even during adult class as long as they are respectful, don't interrupt, and remain out of the danger zone, but if they begin testing those rules, they have to leave immediately.

I consider it a respectful environment, although I occasionally wish for a little more formality and a nicer looking dojo (it's been stuck in mid-remodel for years due to lack of funds).

I know that how I run my dojo would be considered disrespectful to the art by some in other parts of the aikido world, but I am not accountable to them, only to my teacher, my students, and myself. Except as a curiosity, I don't really care how other people run their dojo unless I am visiting and need to know in order to be polite.

Best,

Peter Boylan
10-11-2013, 01:11 PM
Do you really mean respectful or do you mean formal?

They are not the same.


I'm definitely looking for respectful. The dojo where I train in Japan tend to be very formal at the beginning and end of practice, and less so in the middle. There is a lot of bowing going on, but it's Japan, so it goes with the local culture. How we interact we each other is fairly informal, but extremely respectful of everyone.

I've been in dojo outside Japan that were formal but managed to be disrespectful of the students. Formal does NOT equal respectful.

Cliff Judge
10-11-2013, 01:24 PM
Peter,

Could you explain a little more about what a dojo without a respectful atmosphere might look like? I think what you are getting at is that the sort of Cobra Mai dojo from the original Karate Kid where "THERE IS NO WEAKNESS IN THIS DOJO!" is the opposite of the respectful environment you are describing. But I think the difference between the iaido and jodo dojo you trained at and one where the instructors are displeased if the students don't bark "OSU!" properly is more a matter of where the formality sits in the training.

I think this conversation sort of moves into the realm of, some Japanese martial arts picked up these militaristic / nationalistic features at the front end of the 20th century and that became a part of their traditions. And also there's a thing about hazing people into a group in Japanese culture that exists in companies and schools.

lbb
10-11-2013, 02:49 PM
Yeah...there's respectful, there's formal, and there's solemn. Probably some overlap, but they are different things.

Peter Boylan
10-11-2013, 02:51 PM
Peter,

Could you explain a little more about what a dojo without a respectful atmosphere might look like?

Hi Cliff,

I'm thinking about dojo where the the teachers may be abusive, whether they are loud about it, or quiet and just hurt students when they can to prove they are "better" than the students. Teachers who ignore students that need instruction and play favorites. Teachers who expect to be treated like lords while they pour disgust on any student who can't handle what the teacher chooses to dish out. I've seen all too much of that.

I've also seen dojo where the students were not expected to be respectful to their fellow students, so there would be bullying and and brutality between students and groups of students.

The whole Cobra Kai thing is actually something I haven't run into, but these others, abusive teachers and abusive students, that I've seen far too often. I've

Cliff Judge
10-11-2013, 03:23 PM
Hi Cliff,

I'm thinking about dojo where the the teachers may be abusive, whether they are loud about it, or quiet and just hurt students when they can to prove they are "better" than the students. Teachers who ignore students that need instruction and play favorites. Teachers who expect to be treated like lords while they pour disgust on any student who can't handle what the teacher chooses to dish out. I've seen all too much of that.

I've also seen dojo where the students were not expected to be respectful to their fellow students, so there would be bullying and and brutality between students and groups of students.

The whole Cobra Kai thing is actually something I haven't run into, but these others, abusive teachers and abusive students, that I've seen far too often. I've

Even if you just look at traditional schools or any art in Japan, there is a gray line between "shugyo" and "stanford prison experiment."

SeaGrass
10-11-2013, 04:41 PM
I experienced the same atmosphere after making the switch from aikido to koryu. The atmosphere in our koryu dojo is like what Peter described, lots of laughter even though the training is intense and the techniques are threatening. We are formal and casual at the same time, no ego, no passive aggressiveness like I've seen in aikido. We respect everyone in our dojo and in the kai, I think it has something to do with the defined goal of preserving the art, putting the art and kai above oneself.

Anjisan
10-12-2013, 12:05 AM
Peter,

Could you explain a little more about what a dojo without a respectful atmosphere might look like? I think what you are getting at is that the sort of Cobra Mai dojo from the original Karate Kid where "THERE IS NO WEAKNESS IN THIS DOJO!" is the opposite of the respectful environment you are describing. But I think the difference between the iaido and jodo dojo you trained at and one where the instructors are displeased if the students don't bark "OSU!" properly is more a matter of where the formality sits in the training.

I think this conversation sort of moves into the realm of, some Japanese martial arts picked up these militaristic / nationalistic features at the front end of the 20th century and that became a part of their traditions. And also there's a thing about hazing people into a group in Japanese culture that exists in companies and schools.

Some examples of common disrespect may include standing when sensei is explaining something to a paired couple, standing with one's hands on one's hips, talking while a technique is being demonstrated, looking out the window while a technique is being shown, very junior students instructing their partners to name but just a few that I've noticed over the years and which drive me absolutely crazy whether I'm teaching or not.

Mark Uttech
10-12-2013, 05:29 AM
Onegaishimasu, the things Jason Rudolph brings up are common signs of disrespect. If it is a new group of beginning students, dojo etiquette hasn't been taught or learned yet. When we sign up to take a class at a dojo, we should be interested in learning and not thinking about other things. Learning to pay attention is an actual part of practice and makes all the difference in the world to both, teacher and student. My two cents.
In gassho,

Mark

tarik
10-12-2013, 11:10 AM
Some examples of common disrespect may include standing when sensei is explaining something to a paired couple, standing with one's hands on one's hips,

Not disrespectful, IMO, although I was once reprimanded for it by a senior even after being told explicitly by her senior to continue training unless sensei asked us to stop and pay attention. Unless sensei asks people to stop and pay attention, we are expected to keep training.

talking while a technique is being demonstrated, looking out the window while a technique is being shown,

Definitely, disrespectful.

very junior students instructing their partners to name but just a few that I've noticed over the years and which drive me absolutely crazy whether I'm teaching or not.

This one is more difficult. We train all our partners, juniors and seniors, to test and offer feedback, but definitely not instruction. But then what is considered instruction differs and needs to be taught itself.

:-)

Tarik

Bill Danosky
10-12-2013, 02:20 PM
Kit San would say, "It's possible to be too formal, but you can't be too respectful."

hughrbeyer
10-12-2013, 02:37 PM
Standing while sensei was working with your partner was standard protocol in my first dojo (Tomiki style). A sort of "parade rest" stance was preferred. Senior practitioners in that system also liked being called 'sir'.

With over 20 years on the mat, I've adopted a fatalistic attitude towards dojo etiquette. Even now, I occasionally get confronted with an etiquette rule I've never heard before. I nod, smile, and do it as long as the person who cares about it is around--otherwise, I do what makes sense to me.

Malicat
10-12-2013, 03:32 PM
Kit San would say, "It's possible to be too formal, but you can't be too respectful."

I like that quote. We do have a few hard and fast rules of formality where we train, no standing with crossed arms, no hands on hips, when the instructor is teaching, sit in seiza or crosslegged, that sort of thing. But I honestly can't imagine an Aikido class without laughter. Aikido is a joy to me, and to everyone else I train with, That always comes through with smiles and laughter.

--Ashley

PaulF
10-13-2013, 04:14 PM
We train regularly at three different dojos in the same society, the degree of etiquette observed varies from one to the other, and within each depending on who shows up, but they are all generally respectful, albeit with a fair amount of informality and good humour mixed in. I think I'd feel very at home in Tarik's dojo.

Stephen Nichol
10-13-2013, 05:58 PM
...looking out the window while a technique is being shown...

You people get windows! :eek:

Lucky. :o

Respectfulness is paramount over formalities. I prefer being respectful but comfortable when training with others. Bowing at the begining of class and after. After sensei shows a technique and then to your partner and again after practicing that technique is all very easy and comfortable. Even using Onegaishimasu and Domo arigato gozaimashita... even saying it the equivalent in English is fine. This all conveys perhaps the minimum levels in some aspects but I find it does enough to show that you respect your dojo, your sensei, your training partners and hopefully yourself. Being able to laugh when it happens is good for a positive atmosphere and knowing when to be quiet so everyone can focus on what sensei is saying and demonstrating is common sense as well...

As mentioned some places have their 'group policy' for why you have to bow a certain way before or after sensei/sempai, back a certain stiffness, angle, right hand before left going down elbows to the mat, the left hand before right coming back up... eyes a certain level, feet move a certain way when approaching, disengaging, hand at your sides thumbs covered/tucked in... yes the lists can go on and on... especially if you factor in when you are supposed to breath in or out during all of this. This sort of thing can be fun if you want to see if you can learn it and repeat it but I find that for me personally, being able to perform that level of formality all of the time would be an atmosphere killer no matter how many times I smiled to my partners... as that can be not allowed either.

So it can get to a point where it gets to be almost counter productive to just training.

Janet Rosen
10-13-2013, 08:41 PM
Finding certain standing stances disrespectful is definitely not universal; I've trained in a number if dojo where it was simply expected you would be quiet and attentive. Ditto falling into seiza when the instructor is working with one pair of training partners; many dojo have a policy that, as the instructor is actively moving among groups, the other students should continue training or else no training would take place.
No right or wrong, just observing norms and "when in Rome"...

Basia Halliop
10-13-2013, 08:57 PM
I think I agree with Janet that the details of how we show respect or disrespect aren't universal.

Intent matters. If you know that a certain behaviour is asked for by your teacher and others and is considered to be a sign of respect, then deliberately not doing it may be a sign of disrespect, but if it isn't the expected custom where you are, or if you are unaware of or don't really understand the custom or its importance to the person you're talking to, then not following it may not mean anything.

I like the many little rituals we have in aikido class and I think the formality has a purpose, but I also think it's a dangerous mistake to confuse formality and respect.

kivawolfspeaker
10-14-2013, 08:42 AM
Another sign of disrespect, although I think it for the most part unintentional, is checking one's cell phone during class. I understand emergency situations happen, but still the focus should be on training, not what missed calls you might have.

lbb
10-14-2013, 10:09 AM
Another sign of disrespect, although I think it for the most part unintentional, is checking one's cell phone during class. I understand emergency situations happen, but still the focus should be on training, not what missed calls you might have.

We have a few members who are medical professionals and occasionally on call for emergencies, and who leave their phone at the side of the mat for that reason -- but apart from that, who does this?

kivawolfspeaker
10-14-2013, 10:38 AM
We have a few members who are medical professionals and occasionally on call for emergencies, and who leave their phone at the side of the mat for that reason -- but apart from that, who does this?

It's possible that this person is in a position like that and is on call for work, but it still feels somewhat disrespectful to those who are training with them.

lbb
10-14-2013, 12:34 PM
It's possible that this person is in a position like that and is on call for work, but it still feels somewhat disrespectful to those who are training with them.

Heck yes, if they didn't bother to explain the circumstances. OTOH, if this happened at my dojo...well, I can't conceive of anyone doing it under any other circumstances, and they'd definitely have it on silent (so they would have to check). Do you think it's still disrespectful? Do you think that on-call people should simply not train?

We also have some people who often come late to class because of their work/family situations. This is tolerated because it's understood that they're doing their best to get there as soon as they can (and are, in fact, working harder to get to the dojo than the rest of us). I know that at some dojos, this simply wouldn't be tolerated for any reason. Do others feel that this is disrespectful?

Anjisan
10-14-2013, 12:57 PM
Another sign of disrespect, although I think it for the most part unintentional, is checking one's cell phone during class. I understand emergency situations happen, but still the focus should be on training, not what missed calls you might have.

Well Jen I happen to have a child on the spectrum of Autism and many issues have come up from time to time with child care providers and at school so I for one do occasionally check my phone and everyone who has been around a while knows exactly why. I have not noticed that to be an issue however at the dojo with the rank and file, at least during the classes I have attended or taught. So obviously with the appropriate permission and understanding it may not be so bad.

kivawolfspeaker
10-14-2013, 01:04 PM
Well Jen I happen to have a child on the spectrum of Autism and many issues have come up from time to time with child care providers and at school so I for one do occasionally check my phone and everyone who has been around a while knows exactly why. I have not noticed that to be an issue however at the dojo with the rank and file, at least during the classes I have attended or taught. So obviously with the appropriate permission and understanding it may not be so bad.

I see Jason, thank you for the explanation. :)

Peter Boylan
10-14-2013, 01:27 PM
One thing I have learned to do in visiting various dojo in Japan is to focus on being respectful and polite when I go into a new dojo. You have to be aware and watch what the other people in the dojo are doing and strive to emulate their respectful behavior. Just going in and doing what you know is not enough. You have to work at being respectful and actively observe and figure out what is appropriate for the dojo you are in. It's not always easy, but it is necessary.

kivawolfspeaker
10-14-2013, 01:49 PM
No, in those cases, it is not disrespectful, but an explanation should be given (not to everyone per say but . . ) and it should be on either vibrate or silent, which with the only person I've seen, had it that way :)

Bill Danosky
10-15-2013, 09:25 AM
Wayne Dyer says there are legions of people out there just WAITING for something to be offended by.

So rudeness can also be thought of as a public service, if you twist it around enough. You're welcome, everybody. If anyone needs any other rationalizations, just let me know.

lbb
10-15-2013, 08:47 PM
Wayne Dyer says there are legions of people out there just WAITING for something to be offended by.

Although I suppose it might seem that way sometimes, he's completely wrong.

Bill Danosky
10-16-2013, 11:37 AM
Although I suppose it might seem that way sometimes, he's completely wrong.

WHAT? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!! HOW CAN YOU EVEN SAY THAT????

Just kidding. It seems like a foregone conclusion, but if your environment keeps those "waiting to be offended" types away from you, I'm very happy for you. Some of us are dealing with them rather often. I don't mind- since I am a conflict resolution pro, they are my job security. Dr. Dyer has sold a few trillion books on the subject. He's considered to be an authority by a lot of people. YMMV

lbb
10-16-2013, 12:05 PM
YMMV

It does. While there are offensensitive (sorry, can't claim that one) people out there, I question the validity of both "legions" and "just waiting". That sounds like projection to me. I can see how encountering two or three of people who are easily provoked would tend to stand out in one's mind, but let's not fall into the same error of turning an occasional stand-out event into every other person doing it all the time. Colorful exaggerations sell lots of books, I'm sure, but they're not good for one's mental balance :D

Also (and more to the point here, I think), the fact that someone, somewhere, may have exaggerated their sense of being offended over something vaguely related to what's going on here and now, does not mean that the real live human being standing in front of you doesn't have a legitimate complaint that should be seriously considered. The person in front of you isn't a trend or "legions", so why not at least start by taking what they say at face value, rather than treating them as some category of imaginary villains lurking in the bushes waiting to be offended?

Bill Danosky
10-16-2013, 01:01 PM
the fact that someone, somewhere, may have exaggerated their sense of being offended over something vaguely related to what's going on here and now, does not mean that the real live human being standing in front of you doesn't have a legitimate complaint that should be seriously considered. The person in front of you isn't a trend or "legions", so why not at least start by taking what they say at face value, rather than treating them as some category of imaginary villains lurking in the bushes waiting to be offended?

Gee, Mary. It sounds like you got offended by that.

Pauliina Lievonen
10-16-2013, 01:44 PM
Gee, Mary. It sounds like you got offended by that.Actually, to me, what she wrote sounds just sensible. Start by taking what people say at face value, check if maybe they do have a legitimate complaint and only if that isn't so, label the person as " too sensitive".

...just occurred to me that you might just be joking, in that case, never mind. :)

Pauliina

Bill Danosky
10-16-2013, 02:31 PM
...just occurred to me that you might just be joking, in that case, never mind. :)

Pauliina

Yes, I was. It occurs to me that Mary may have been having me on, too, in which case I obviously fell for it.
;)

lbb
10-17-2013, 08:13 AM
Yes, I was. It occurs to me that Mary may have been having me on, too, in which case I obviously fell for it.
;)

I wasn't, but I also recognize that not many people are willing to engage this issue. I tend not to go there myself unless someone else goes there first.

Bill Danosky
10-17-2013, 04:38 PM
I wasn't, but I also recognize that not many people are willing to engage this issue. I tend not to go there myself unless someone else goes there first.

I like engaging issues. Which one are we talking about?

lbb
10-18-2013, 09:16 AM
I like engaging issues. Which one are we talking about?

It's a digression and not suitable for hijacking this thread with.

Bill Danosky
10-18-2013, 10:34 AM
It's a digression and not suitable for hijacking this thread with.

Hey, it's all Aikido, but if you say so....

amoeba
10-22-2013, 11:16 AM
I think in Europe (at least in Germany, Scandinavia and France - can't really speak for the rest), training's generally a lot less formal than in the States or Japan.

I'd say our place has quite a respectful atmosphere - nobodys putting anybody down, everyone shows genuine interest in what the teacher's showing, people are working together (not blocking)...

Formality-wise, I guess we're somewhere in the middle (for Germany. I guess in the States we'd count as horribly informal). We bow in and out, we say onegaishimasu and thank you - the latter sometimes in German, sometimes in Japanese. We try to come in on time and if we're late, we sit, wait for the teacher to acknowledge us and bow in. I've trained in other dojos where that, for instance, isn't done, you just join. We sit in seiza or crosslegged, don't lean against the wall, don't point our feet at the shomen.

Most of the rest, though - nobody really cares how we stand when the teacher explains something, whatever's comfortable as long as we're watching and listening. Hands on hips or crossed arms aren't considered disrespectful (though I know better than to do it on an Endo seminar :D ). The teacher normally goes around explaining things to couples all the time, the rest of us is just supposed to train on. Otherwise, you'd never get to train at all. Oh, and we don't line up according to rank.
Also, we call our teacher by his first name (on and off the mat), never use the word sensei (unless talking about japanese teachers) whoever has the longest legs tends to sit in front in the car, regardless of rank - generally, off the mat, rank isn't considered important at all.