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Peter Boylan
03-05-2015, 10:47 AM
I got to spend the weekend training in something completely outside any of the things I regularly train in this weekend. The biggest thing I took away from the training was just how much there is beyond the stuff I regularly study. It gave me some great perspective on other options and other ways of looking at things, as well as ideas for how to improve my own regular practice, ideas that would never have occurred to me otherwise. I wrote this blog post about it.

http://budobum.blogspot.com/2015/03/outside-seminars-or-what-we-dont.html

Do you go to outside seminars? Why or why not?

Janet Rosen
03-05-2015, 11:08 AM
Do you go to outside seminars? Why or why not?

Heck, yeah! I started going to seminars in other Aikido styles very early in my training (early enough that it was at the point where most advise against it due to "confusion") and over the years have dabbled a little in several other empty hand or weapons arts, not intending for them to replace Aikido as my primary art.
I agree with your point that doing so immediately makes very explicit the implicit assumptions within one's primary art that limit either our understanding or our skills.
This does not mean that one comes to disrespect one's primary art. It's just a different perspective, with a broader understanding.
For example, koryu weapons are a whole different creature than Aikido weapons work - but the goals are different, and I have no expectation that Aikido jo kata are teaching me fighting skills; they are teaching me lessons I need in order to enhance my Aikido practice.
Having attended the same seminar you did....I will say that it was incredibly congruent with my Aikido training, a near-perfect complement. :)

Susan Dalton
03-05-2015, 07:27 PM
Yes, as often as I can, which isn't as often as I'd like. I enjoyed your blog, Peter.

Adam Huss
03-05-2015, 11:00 PM
I just did last weekend. I often train at seminars, and more frequently schools, outside of my organization. What I commonly find is this isn't very common. I've trained at countless aikido dojo where students didn't know there were other styles of aikido, let alone name an instructor from one. Heck I was at a dojo where many students didn't know there was other aikido dojo in their city (there was one across the street).

kewms
03-06-2015, 02:32 AM
Plenty of people just don't go to seminars, even the ones held at their own dojo. "Serious" students are a relatively small fraction in most places.

Katherine

dps
03-06-2015, 04:07 AM
Plenty of people just don't go to seminars, even the ones held at their own dojo. "Serious" students are a relatively small fraction in most places.

Katherine

A lot of students don't have the money or are too busy with thier lives (raising kids, taking are of sick family members) to go to seminars or visit other dojos. That doesn't make them less serious about Aikido than someone who can.

dps

Demetrio Cereijo
03-06-2015, 05:47 AM
"Serious" students are a relatively small fraction in most places.

True, but going to seminars and seriousness are not directly related.

Mary Eastland
03-06-2015, 07:36 AM
Plenty of people just don't go to seminars, even the ones held at their own dojo. "Serious" students are a relatively small fraction in most places.

Katherine

Lol, Serious students come in all shapes and sizes. We have had people come to our seminars that just go to seminars.

I go to a few. It is fun and great to see what other people are doing. But I would much rather walk downstairs and train here. Some aikido people really think who they are and act all strutty and important just because they have a certain rank.Our dojo, people and mats are really nice . I hate moving mats and snotty people.

NagaBaba
03-06-2015, 09:06 AM
I think what Peter had in mind here was OUTSIDE seminars – means non aikido related seminars. Personally I think it is excellent idea (I even met Peter in one of such seminars many years ago :) ), but these days it is so difficult to find somebody with serious reputation and significant knowledge who is teaching. On the other side so many muba bumba self-designated soke, grandmasters and other mysterious teachers who are taking advantage of naïve and not well informed researchers of ultimate power…

Also in North America the distances for travel are big so it reflects in important costs.
But I highly recommend Koryu weapons seminars for all aikidoka who think they know how to use bokken and jo LOL Of course it will be a shocking therapy but it is worth any money…

In the other hand I’m not very enthusiastic about combat sport seminars; I think it is a contradictory to the spirit what O sensei developed and would be very misleading by giving false self confidence that now you know how to fight efficiently.

SeiserL
03-06-2015, 09:07 AM
I cross train in different arts and styles on a regular basis.
Training/experiencing different perspective facilitates seeing the common denominators.
Besides, its fun.

Cliff Judge
03-06-2015, 09:46 AM
I used to, then I found some things I really liked, and made them officially my style as well. And now I don't have any time available to go playing around at seminars. :)

PeterR
03-06-2015, 10:48 AM
Plenty of people just don't go to seminars, even the ones held at their own dojo. "Serious" students are a relatively small fraction in most places.

Katherine

I considered myself a serious student and avoided seminars like the plague - much rather go on a dojo visit.

It may be just me but I never got that much out of group events. Too much battling of egos (I may admit to being part of the problem).

phitruong
03-06-2015, 11:26 AM
not a serious student meself. i used to go as much as i can, to as many seminars outside of my organization as well as different martial arts styles. these past few years i haven't done much in that, because of life, family, work, and so on and so forth. i like to play with other folks ego. it's sort of an aikido practice in the spiritual sense. we talked quite a bit about spiritual, but we don't often put it to the test. play with other folks ego put your spiritual to the test or a training of sort. of course, if folks won't let go of my eggo i will employ my One Thousand Years of Death technique. :D

lbb
03-06-2015, 01:42 PM
I don't go to more than two or three seminars a year -- it's a matter of time and money. My senseis usually attend both summer camp and the eastern regional camp, so I try to as well, and that's a chunk of change. Then we also usually host a seminar as well. So, as a practical matter, no.

Susan Dalton
03-09-2015, 08:20 PM
Different perspectives here are making me giggle. I go to maybe 2 or 3 a year, and I think that's a lot. Some of you go to 2 or 3 and no, that's not much. Phi, I know you go to some because I see you there. Now, just don't put the One Thousand Years of Death technique on me when you see me next.

MRoh
03-10-2015, 05:18 AM
Do you go to outside seminars? Why or why not?

My experience is, to participate in "outside-arts" seminars is interesting just in the moment you do it.
To benefit from training new arts ore styles permanently, a deeper examination with the material is neccessary.

To profit from "outside" seminars, the material must be usable across the boundaries of forms.
Forms are containers that teach specific principles of an art, and if it's not related to the stuff you do in your daily training or if you dont understand, it's a waste of time.

If you go to seminars where you just learn new forms, you will get nothing if you don't understand what is behind.

Alex Megann
03-11-2015, 03:35 AM
Do you go to outside seminars? Why or why not?

Well, since nobody else has said it, I started going to seminars with a "non-aikido" teacher a couple of years ago, and it has revolutionised my understanding of the aikido I was taught up to then. I am currently working on trying to integrate the two "streams" in my own practice: I certainly don't feel that one invalidates the other, but I am doing my best to understand what the overlap is between the two models, at the same time as enjoying the subtle and slow changes in how my body works.

A by-product of this is that I am getting much more selective in which aikido teachers I find interesting.

Alex

Tim Ruijs
03-11-2015, 06:22 AM
Traditionally, you seek out for a teacher. During this period it is allright to go to different seminars as you are still 'shopping'. After perhaps two, three years you should know what you are looking for and commit to a teacher and work with him. During this period it would be rather strange to visit other teachers (outside your lineage). When you feel your current teacher cannot help you progress, it is time to seek out another...your relation has naturally ended.
When in doubt, contact your teacher and see what he thinks.

kewms
03-11-2015, 11:12 AM
FWIW, my current teacher attends seminars outside his style regularly, and encourages his students to do the same.

It's not "either/or," it's "both/and." That is, I am still learning plenty from my current teacher, but still find other perspectives valuable.

The idea of long-term loyalty to a single teacher assumes, among other things, that the student is willing and able to seek out the best possible teacher in the first place. Most beginners don't know what they're looking for, wouldn't necessarily recognize top-level instruction if they tripped over it, and certainly aren't willing to up-end their lives and travel across the country for it. It takes some experience -- including experience outside one's own lineage -- to begin to understand what the possibilities are and what one might want to look for.

Katherine

Robert Cowham
03-12-2015, 03:19 PM
I've seen examples where the teacher attempts to control students and become the "only source" for said students - "I myself studied with all these people, but you don't need to - you can just study with me!" To my mind, this shows a lack of confidence, and "guru complex". I prefer the teachers who are happy with you going elsewhere, and encourage this and indeed challenge you to bring back your new understanding and demonstrate it. The best teachers for me are particular about fundamentals and principles, but also encourage appropriate individual understanding which can manifest itself in ostensibly very different outward forms.

Of course there is a balance here. If there is not enough commitment to a particular relationship with your teacher, then why should they bother to teach you? Classic "shu-ha-ri". There are periods in your learning where attempting to study too many different styles at the same time can mean confusion. But done in a respectful way, a certain amount of variety is good.

Then there are people who become shodan in a variety of different arts but it can become an academic "collect techniques" type of endeavor, with little depth in understanding compare to what they might have achieved by sticking to fewer arts.

YMMV :)

Currawong
03-14-2015, 05:39 AM
I am thankful that one sensei where I am is, despite being an uchi deshi of the main teacher here, is completely different in his style, having explored a number of koryu and other martial arts. His classes are always surprising and very challenging to one's knowledge and ability. In that regard at least, it has encouraged me towards considering different types of Aikido training and even a bit of training in other martial arts to gain a wider perspective.

philipsmith
03-14-2015, 01:43 PM
Practice outside your main style should be encouraged. I remember Tamura Sensei once asking me what I'd been doing recently and when I said training with Yoshinkan & Tomiki teachers saying "Very good experience; keep doing that"

Just about sums up how we should approach training IMHO

JP3
03-15-2015, 10:33 AM
It sounds like Peter went to one of Howard Popkin & Joe Brogna's daito-ryu seminars, as that was precisely my experience with Howard/Joe.

I "try" to get up to Nick Lowry's Windsong Dojo in OKC at least once a year for one of his multi-day things. Sometimes I can make it twice a year, some years not at all because of real world concerns.

Those multi-day things are a lot of fun, and often there are things to be learned right in one's own art that you'd not considered before, or in a closely-related art that supplement and enhance, or in something completely different.

What I find when I go do something unrelated to aikido, like systema for example, is how closely they actually are in their working. Having practiced for literally decades in punch-kick, I can tell you that the systems are different in their emphasis, not terribly much in their techniques (e.g. Shotokan karate vs. hapkido is a good example of that dichotomy).

I'm straying. Yes, I have done the outside style seminar thing and came away better for so doing.

Peter Boylan
03-15-2015, 02:01 PM
Traditionally, you seek out for a teacher. During this period it is allright to go to different seminars as you are still 'shopping'. After perhaps two, three years you should know what you are looking for and commit to a teacher and work with him. During this period it would be rather strange to visit other teachers (outside your lineage). When you feel your current teacher cannot help you progress, it is time to seek out another...your relation has naturally ended.
When in doubt, contact your teacher and see what he thinks.

Tim, I'm not sure where this tradition you mention is from. It's certainly not from traditional Japan. People often cross trained there. In fact, cross training and challenge matches (not duels) were so common that many dojo in the pre-modern era required oaths to not engage in inter-art matches. Within Aikido, training in multiple arts was closer to the norm during Ueshiba's lifetime than not. Look at Tomiki, Mochizuki, Inaba, Nishio, Ueshiba Kisshomaru and others. Most of Ueshiba's students in the pre-War period were accomplished martial artists before they started training, and many continued training in other arts after beginning Aikido.

Training in other arts and styles gives you new perspective on what you are doing. It doesn't negate it, it supplements your understanding so you can learn more deeply.

Rupert Atkinson
03-15-2015, 10:06 PM
The more the better ...

Tim Ruijs
03-17-2015, 06:58 AM
Tim, I'm not sure where this tradition you mention is from. It's certainly not from traditional Japan. People often cross trained there. In fact, cross training and challenge matches (not duels) were so common that many dojo in the pre-modern era required oaths to not engage in inter-art matches. Within Aikido, training in multiple arts was closer to the norm during Ueshiba's lifetime than not. Look at Tomiki, Mochizuki, Inaba, Nishio, Ueshiba Kisshomaru and others. Most of Ueshiba's students in the pre-War period were accomplished martial artists before they started training, and many continued training in other arts after beginning Aikido.

Training in other arts and styles gives you new perspective on what you are doing. It doesn't negate it, it supplements your understanding so you can learn more deeply.

It is true that in the past there was fierce competition between schools (dojos) about who had the best technique. That, however, is something different than practising in different dojos at the same time. That was disapproved. You would expose your secrets to the 'enemy'. Do you see a Russian general also work as general in the American army? He might defect, but that is still not 'at the same time'. Neither army will allow it....high treason, he would be executed....

lbb
03-17-2015, 07:44 AM
It is true that in the past there was fierce competition between schools (dojos) about who had the best technique. That, however, is something different than practising in different dojos at the same time. That was disapproved. You would expose your secrets to the 'enemy'. Do you see a Russian general also work as general in the American army? He might defect, but that is still not 'at the same time'. Neither army will allow it....high treason, he would be executed....

I think this analogy is a little strained. At least, I sure hope so.

Cliff Judge
03-17-2015, 09:51 AM
It is true that in the past there was fierce competition between schools (dojos) about who had the best technique. That, however, is something different than practising in different dojos at the same time. That was disapproved. You would expose your secrets to the 'enemy'. Do you see a Russian general also work as general in the American army? He might defect, but that is still not 'at the same time'. Neither army will allow it....high treason, he would be executed....

It is probably not that teachers didn't want their secrets piflered to other schools and that a traditional social structure arose whereby you had to have one teacher. And just more that there are layers of social minutia that must be attended to. It is important in Japanese martial culture to be clear on what group you are a part of and what your role in that group is. If you are training with two teachers, and the three of you bump into each other in town, how are the two teachers supposed to treat you and each other, in the context of you being there?

kewms
03-17-2015, 10:31 AM
It is true that in the past there was fierce competition between schools (dojos) about who had the best technique. That, however, is something different than practising in different dojos at the same time. That was disapproved. You would expose your secrets to the 'enemy'. Do you see a Russian general also work as general in the American army? He might defect, but that is still not 'at the same time'. Neither army will allow it....high treason, he would be executed....

On the other hand, allies train together all the time.

Katherine

Tim Ruijs
03-18-2015, 08:36 AM
It is important in Japanese martial culture to be clear on what group you are a part of and what your role in that group is. If you are training with two teachers, and the three of you bump into each other in town, how are the two teachers supposed to treat you and each other, in the context of you being there?
Well put. As I see it there is a strong relation with lineage and culture. In Japan relationships are everything. You are always positioned in relation to.

@Katherine.
Please read this in a positive context, I am not attacking you, or anybody else.
Aikido, in my perspective, is a martial art. You practise with partners to develop yourself and others (of you 'clan'). When you globalise this to include all different flavors of Aikido and visit just any teacher you can, where does that leave you in relation to the above? What is your position when administrative bodies collide (very similar to the teachers example), when you have different opinions about teaching? Or do you 'just' practise the technical aspect of Aikido and cannot be bothered with the bigger picture?

Tim Ruijs
03-18-2015, 08:38 AM
I think this analogy is a little strained. At least, I sure hope so.

I am afraid it is not. It is simply about conflict of interest.

lbb
03-18-2015, 10:06 AM
I am afraid it is not. It is simply about conflict of interest.

So, you know people who have been charged with treason and executed for training outside their style?

phitruong
03-18-2015, 10:16 AM
If you are training with two teachers, and the three of you bump into each other in town, how are the two teachers supposed to treat you and each other, in the context of you being there?

only problem if you all bump into each other at a bar, where the subject of who pickup the tab, which more than likely, the two teachers will make you pick up the tab. so don't pick up the tab. just sneak out the back door. :)

kewms
03-18-2015, 11:06 AM
@Katherine.
Please read this in a positive context, I am not attacking you, or anybody else.
Aikido, in my perspective, is a martial art. You practise with partners to develop yourself and others (of you 'clan'). When you globalise this to include all different flavors of Aikido and visit just any teacher you can, where does that leave you in relation to the above?

I don't think I ever suggested "visiting just any teacher you can."

As I said, my own teacher encourages students to attend "outside" seminars. But he has -- and shares -- very clear opinions about which "outside" teachers are and are not worthwhile, and why.

Katherine

philipsmith
03-18-2015, 03:36 PM
Just back from an afternoon of Escrima - fascinating to see the similarities and differences. So much to ponder for my Aikido future!!

mathewjgano
03-18-2015, 07:15 PM
I would like to do more, but I would like to do more at my home dojo, too. I can see how going to a bunch of different schools might not help me much right now due to my present lack of consistent training.
Experiencing Tomiki Ryu was a great experience (several years later, I still like to practice some of the warm-ups on my own) and while I was barely there, experiencing a touch of an internal approach at Ledyard Sensei's dojo was also a great experience. These experiences were useful both for the comparison of technical differences and areas of focus, but also simply the chance to experience people who have been wired to move a little differently.
Coincidentally I'm letting a friend teach a Wing Chun class in my garage soon and am looking forward to seeing how it might apply. I don't figure it will necessarily add to my depth of Aikido, but I think it will give me a little more breadth of consideration for how different people might move.

Tim Ruijs
03-19-2015, 06:20 AM
So, you know people who have been charged with treason and executed for training outside their style?

I did not realise you meant it that literal :D in which case: no! off course not! :freaky:

But I do know that students have been kicked out of the dojo of my teacher because their behaviour was not agreed upon by him (including cross training). I myself have refused access because of the person's reputation that preceded him.

I don't think I ever suggested "visiting just any teacher you can."
I never wanted to suggest that. I took a more global/general approach.

But he has -- and shares -- very clear opinions about which "outside" teachers are and are not worthwhile, and why. [/QUOTE]
This is exactly what I do - for students not too advanced.

lbb
03-19-2015, 07:47 AM
This is exactly what I do - for students not too advanced.

Tim, how long do you think a student should train before they can benefit from training outside your style? Or, rather than a length of time, what should the student's proficiency be in their base style before going "outside"?

Tim Ruijs
03-20-2015, 06:13 AM
That depends on the student. At the very least there should be some understanding/realization that different Aikido styles exist and that they have different perspectives. The student should be proficient enough in the style they practise in. This gives them some frame of reference to observe differences and (more important) commonalities when attending different styles. This also applies to the teachers, regardless of style. You must know the intention/didactic of the teacher to be able to understand him.

When you do not do this, your practise is rather arbitrary...can still be good fun and all...

Peter Goldsbury
03-20-2015, 02:47 PM
It is important in Japanese martial culture to be clear on what group you are a part of and what your role in that group is. If you are training with two teachers, and the three of you bump into each other in town, how are the two teachers supposed to treat you and each other, in the context of you being there?

Hello Cliff,

Very interesting comments, with which I largely agree. Something like this actually happened to me once and caused much bewilderment among the non-Japanese observers of the episode. I was at a seminar in Matsuyama given by Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba. I went with members of my dojo, including the dojo-cho, whom I will called Teacher A. After the seminar there was a formal dinner and I was summoned by my teacher, Teacher A, who was quite agitated. The place settings around the table meant that he would be seated opposite another teacher, Teacher B, with whom he was having a serious dispute. (Of course, I knew Teacher B, but was never able to train with him--for obvious reasons.) My teacher ordered me to attend the dinner in his place and when Doshu found out, he smiled, with some regret, but accepted the situation.

The day after, I was at the ferry port with my teacher and members of my group, when I saw Teacher B, with members of his group--including some foreign participants whom I knew. I went over to talk to them and also talked to Teacher B. My group obviously knew what was happening and could not really object, so they devoted all their efforts to not seeing what I was doing.

The irony is that my two dojo instructor colleagues were long-term students of Teacher B, whom I met several times and with whom I developed a friendly relationship. The result was that I got so sick of this nonsense that I broke with Teacher A and became independent. So our students are encouraged to go to other dojos and we also invite other teachers as guest instructors. There are no rules about this, but the students who do go to other dojos tend be be yudansha,

Best wishes,

Robert Cowham
03-20-2015, 05:13 PM
So, you know people who have been charged with treason and executed for training outside their style?

If not executed, then promotions severely delayed in punishment! Teacher A studied with Teacher X. Teacher B studied with Teacher A and was promoted rapidly (and appropriately) for many years. Then Teacher B decided to study with Teacher X directly, at which point all B's peers started to bypass him/her and get promoted ahead.

Such is life...

Michael Hackett
03-21-2015, 07:19 PM
One of the greatest experiences I've ever had was attending the 2005 AikiExpo. Besides actually meeting Jun and training with him for a few minutes, I had the privilege of training with some luminaries of the martial arts world. Those of us who attended not only got to experience other styles of aikido, but we also got to experience other arts such as Systema and Daito-Ryu. It was such an informative experience that I've attended other style seminars on occasion since, as well as attending the programs of other arts. Each and every time I've brought something home with me that has informed or helped my aikido is some way.

By far the majority of my mat time is spent in our own dojo or organization, but the occasional visit to a different style or even art can prove valuable and productive. I think it worthwhile to at least peer over the top of your box and look outside at the bigger world.

lbb
03-22-2015, 11:44 AM
If not executed, then promotions severely delayed in punishment!

It may just be the very challenging week I'm having, but I can't see "promotions severely delayed" as anything to be compared to "executions". In fact, if you're being "punished" by having your "promotion seriously delayed", guess what? You're better off without it.

Robert Cowham
03-25-2015, 05:58 PM
It may just be the very challenging week I'm having, but I can't see "promotions severely delayed" as anything to be compared to "executions". In fact, if you're being "punished" by having your "promotion seriously delayed", guess what? You're better off without it.

I hope you feel better next week!

Dan Richards
03-27-2015, 01:08 PM
It is important in Japanese martial culture to be clear on what group you are a part of and what your role in that group is. If you are training with two teachers, and the three of you bump into each other in town, how are the two teachers supposed to treat you and each other, in the context of you being there?

I really think for all practical purposes that "Japanese martial culture" is dead and long gone. And anyone subscribing to it is buying into hierarchical silliness and is akin to those historical reenactors who take themselves and what they do way too seriously.

I've had Japanese teachers who acted like absolute babies, and total suck-ups around their own teacher. And I've seen their teachers—who were Japanese—be troubled in a way that they publicly expressed dissatisfaction with that kind of behavior. I've seen very strange, manipulative behavior coming from mid-level Japanese teachers towards their Shihan as well as their own local organizations—jockeying for some kind of position of power and influence.

Look at someone like Nishio—admittedly more of one of the old guard and a traditional Japanese gentleman, and how many teachers he had (http://www.nishikazeaikido.org/nishio/). And if you follow the branches closer into the tree, his teachers all had many teachers, including some of the same teachers.

Peter's example was a good one. It's not up to him or anyone else to be overly concerned with the behavior of their teachers. And if the behavior shows itself to be poor, then we either condone and support it, or we move on, as Peter did.

I've been around way too many good-spirited people in martial arts who have passion and openly want to share and continue learning on their journey. Ultimately, they are eternal students. And even teaching—in its truest form—is just another level of being a student.

Martial arts, by their very definition, evolve and progress. If we're doing the same thing we were doing last year, or fifty years ago, we're doing it wrong.

I think a lot of this boils down to: How do we define our relationships? On some archaic model or code? Or something fresh, alive, and vibrant?

There's a hint in the word "current."

Alex Megann
03-28-2015, 04:39 AM
Look at someone like Nishio—admittedly more of one of the old guard and a traditional Japanese gentleman, and how many teachers he had (http://www.nishikazeaikido.org/nishio/). And if you follow the branches closer into the tree, his teachers all had many teachers, including some of the same teachers.

Thanks for the link to the Nishio article, Dan. There is a very revealing comment in there:

Aikido training at hombu (headquarters) was not conducted by O Sensei, but by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and Koichi Tohei.

It was a year and a half after starting Aikido at hombu before Nishio would see the famed Morihei Ueshiba, O Sensei, for the first time.

This further confirms what Stanley Pranin and others have written. So Nishio had a lot more actual mat time with the non-aikido teachers mentioned than with O-Sensei!

Alex

susanmarie
04-01-2015, 09:17 PM
Yes, absolutely. I find it fascinating to see the way different teachers approach techniques, where the differences are, and where the commonalities are.

kelly.steveson76
04-10-2015, 12:47 PM
I got to spend the weekend training in something completely outside any of the things I regularly train in this weekend. The biggest thing I took away from the training was just how much there is beyond the stuff I regularly study. It gave me some great perspective on other options and other ways of looking at things, as well as ideas for how to improve my own regular practice, ideas that would never have occurred to me otherwise. I wrote this blog post about it.

http://budobum.blogspot.com/2015/03/outside-seminars-or-what-we-dont.html

Do you go to outside seminars? Why or why not?

I have gone to training in other styles and find it tough sometimes, I also have attended some where training is a small portion of the class and fitness is about 90% of the class.

Mark Raugas
04-13-2015, 09:12 AM
It is important in Japanese martial culture to be clear on what group you are a part of and what your role in that group is. If you are training with two teachers, and the three of you bump into each other in town, how are the two teachers supposed to treat you and each other, in the context of you being there?

I understand the concern at the complexity, and leaving before the bar tab is brought to the table is a reasonable option, but I am not sure that means that one can't or shouldn't train in multiple arts -- if their skill level in their first art is strong enough. It is best to wait until one has full proficiency in one art to then start another, but in the current day, it is often the case that certificates of completion take an extremely long time to acquire and have a variety of political and social pitfalls associated with them, that a broader view might be beneficial.

Pre Meiji period, people would often get certification of a ryu's technical curriculum (inka/menkyo/menkajo/etc) in 6 to 8 years. At that point a person could go off on musha shugyo, move somewhere and open their own dojo, or possibly become an assistant instructor at their current dojo.

Especially in Edo, a number of people who reached a high level of skill cross trained a great deal, studying (usually serially) a number of arts. The lineage of styles like Shindo Yoshin-ryu come to mind, where there seemed to be a bit of synthesis even in the early Meiji era (in a good way).

In rural dojo, someone might not have options to go elsewhere, and spend a lifetime training with the same group. The group may not just be a dojo, but might be the village itself, in the case of Maniwa Nen-ryu -- cf. Ellis' book Old School, especially the expanded second edition.

Nowadays, it takes six to eight years to get a shodan in Aikido. A person may have trouble cross training in other dojo that all report back to the same hombu in Japan -- ASU vs USAF vs others. So, people get stuck for a very long time in a beginner's mindset. This can be useful, or limiting.

So, I personally think Cliff's statement is more about life as it often is today, than life as it once was.

Another good example is the amount of cross training Takeda Sokaku performed -- first sumo and jujutsu under his father (if Ellis' thesis is correct), inspiration from meeting figures like Tanomo Saigo, training in Ona-ha Itto-ryu kenjutsu as well as training in Jikishinkage-ryu kenjutsu, spear training, etc.

If you look at historical records of higher level samurai (Ikeda Chohatsu is one example), you can see listed certifications (menkyo) in many ryuha. They trained in multiple arts as part of domain schools, and those schools' teachers, if they wanted the salary from the domain and their position intact, would have to go along to get along. I bet those were some interesting relationships to navigate!

I would admit, training under multiple schools in a single art as a beginner is not a good idea socially or technically, as you need time to imprint on the teacher and gain skill before looking at other perspectives. Also, training in competing groups under different heads is not possible, if the competition is polite (different menkyo-kaiden in the same art who are colleagues) or acrimonious (training under a teacher who has broken away from their own teacher of an art will not endear oneself with the main line of the group).

But training in a second art that teaches a different weapon as its focus, or a jujutsu ryu and a kenjutsu ryu probably will not cause people much trouble. There are exceptions to all things, and there are groups that forbid training in other arts, or require a new student to get permission from their current teachers to begin training.

But I feel the statement you made that I quoted above is a bit too rigid.

A challenge is when the arts content diverges, and organizing principles conflict -- I would put more emphasis on the physical and mental challenges of absorbing two competing approaches to grappling or dueling or what-have-you than the social concerns. Ellis writes about this extensively as well.

Mark