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Sojourner
08-02-2015, 05:56 AM
"It is a pity that it happens that people can become interested in Aikido, yet end up joining the wrong dojo and having a bad experience and moving away from Aikido as a result. Like any martial arts training, there are both good and poor quality dojos out there. Figuring how how to make a commitment to one of them can be difficult at the best of times. I hope this article will give you some guidelines on what you might look for initially when looking into training Aikido".

https://dontmakemeangrymrmcgee.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/choosing-the-right-aikido-dojo/

Hellis
08-02-2015, 06:58 AM
Ben
You raise some good points - Personally I like to feel the atmosphere as I walk in to a dojo, If a visitor comes to my dojo, we first offer them a seat and ask if the have any questions, mostly people like to watch for a while, we later approach them and ask if they have any further questions and try to make them feel welcome.
I was in Perth Australia some years ago for six weeks - I visited a local dojo, I respectfully bowed as I entered, no one looked in my direction so I took a seat and watched the class, as the evening wore on I was still invisible to the instructors who spent much of the class chatting to each other, except for two high kyu grades who appeared to be doing a display for me personally as they looked over for approval every time they did a technique.
I decided to sit the class out and see what would happen, as the class ended and the mats were put away I realised that I was still invisible, I left as respectfully as I had arrived.
If I had been a beginner I would not be choosing that dojo, that's for sure.

Henry Ellis
Co-author ` Positive Aikido `.
http://kazuo-chiba-sensei.blogspot.com/
http://britishaikido.blogspot.com/
http://rik-ellis.blogspot.com/

ryback
08-04-2015, 03:28 AM
When I think back at the time when I was a beginner the only think that I was interested in was to practice and learn the art of aikido. Credentials, diplomas and affiliations seemed like the most boring thing to think about, I just wanted to practice and have good, effective technique.
When I first met my sensei I was intrigued by his passion of the art and by his choice to be independent. When I saw and felt his technique I realised that lack of affiliation could be an...advantage. Now, after almost 20 years I can see all of these officially recognized and affiliated aikidoists with their tons of ranks and credentials that they wave like a flag, struggling with their same, lame, pathetic technique as they were alway doing, a sad repetition of themselves and each other, with no sign or enthusiasm for any progress, hiding their incompetence behind their number of Dan ranks and taking advantage of all those people that would do what the OP's article advices. Choose a dojo by its front window.
I would need a whole...encyclopedia to refer to all those things that consist a good dojo, so this is neither the time, nor the place. Yet, I can say this: Beware of superficial credentials and...neon light dojos, sometimes the commonly accepted recognition can be the most misleading thing on the Way of the martial arts. Aikido is a practical martial art and the dojos and senseis cannot be judged by a beginner... Instead the beginner should be thinking what he is ready to try or do in order to learn the art and develop himself into a better person...

lbb
08-04-2015, 07:56 AM
When I first met my sensei I was intrigued by his passion of the art and by his choice to be independent. When I saw and felt his technique I realised that lack of affiliation could be an...advantage. Now, after almost 20 years I can see all of these officially recognized and affiliated aikidoists with their tons of ranks and credentials that they wave like a flag, struggling with their same, lame, pathetic technique as they were alway doing, a sad repetition of themselves and each other, with no sign or enthusiasm for any progress, hiding their incompetence behind their number of Dan ranks and taking advantage of all those people that would do what the OP's article advices.

This strikes me as a false dichotomy and a simplistic way to view the aikido world. Do you actually believe that there are people who are intelligent enough to access a computer and read this forum, and yet who are stupid enough to believe that credentials create skills or abilities? When used properly, credentials reflect skills or abilities -- as indeed they do in many cases. A license to practice medicine is a credential. When used properly, it tells you that you can trust the practitioner to have a basic level of competency in the practice of medicine. When used fraudulently, of course it means nothing. Can you name me anything that has any meaning when used fraudulently?


I would need a whole...encyclopedia to refer to all those things that consist a good dojo, so this is neither the time, nor the place.

It is absolutely the time and the place. It is the subject of this thread.


Aikido is a practical martial art and the dojos and senseis cannot be judged by a beginner... Instead the beginner should be thinking what he is ready to try or do in order to learn the art and develop himself into a better person...

The beginner has no idea what he or she is ready to try or do, and may have no intention of practicing aikido in order to "develop himself into a better person". If your dojo only accepts beginners who claim such, then your dojo is recruiting students who are either self-deceived or who are deceiving you, or both. The beginner DOES NOT KNOW. A good dojo allows them to not know, and to come to knowledge through the medium of training -- not books, not "revealed wisdom", only their own experience. Putting a beginner on the spot and requiring them to make decisions and commitments that they are not informed to make, is introducing dishonesty into the process from the minute they step onto the mat.

ryback
08-04-2015, 05:16 PM
So...now credentials reflect ability and skill...? Since when? Last time I checked YouTube was still around and was full of aikidoists with credentials but no skill at all!
There are potential students out there that need dojos but most dojos are not looking for students but for...customers! That is why the art is fading out into an "easy", non effective from of practice suited for...old farts, like Tai-Chi has become. The easier it is, the more people can keep on doing it, the more customers for the officially affiliated, recognized mc dojo shops! And the story goes on, generation after generation, and we keep on crippling the art by handing out ranks, credentials and diplomas that reflect nothing at all of the essence of the art. No mention of following the most all-around teacher that has an effective technique, knows about nutrition and has something to say about all aspects ofeveryday life through the prism of the aikido warrior. Just "follow the one whose neon lights shine brighter" even though they may blind you!
A beginner should be willing and able to commit his life into the art in order to learn, that's the onlything he is in position to know. He has no filter to judge a teacher or a school and that's why he can get lost by being...impressed for the wrong superficial reasons...
Who is the beginner to demand the "right aikido dojo" and what has he done to deserve it? The only thing that counts is the effort he is ready to make in order to become something better. If that is nothis motive then he needs not to worry about the "right dojo"!

rugwithlegs
08-04-2015, 06:12 PM
Cracked has come along way. While written as a joke, their comments on Martial Arts Instructors and the links that are embedded in the text are very much spot on.

http://www.cracked.com/article_19577_6-badass-jobs-that-youre-probably-already-qualified-to-do.html

Sojourner
08-04-2015, 07:44 PM
In my state you cannot paint a house as a tradesperson if you are not qualified and registered with the master painters association. This is for the protection of the general public from people that are unskilled. The same goes for the Building industry as a whole along with various other trades. I have no issue at all with there being accountability from an Aikido organization for the people that represent it for exactly the same reason.

If someone wishes go out out and get an internet diploma for a set fee that means nothing and hang that on their dojo wall, prospective students have every right to be made well aware that is the case and that this so called qualification is actually fraudulent and should be treated as such. I have no problems of the same standards of recognition that exist in workplaces being maintained in a Dojo setting. There are more than just one parallel between doing a 4 year apprenticeship in a trade and earning a black belt in Aikido or any other recognised Martial Art.

lbb
08-04-2015, 08:11 PM
So...now credentials reflect ability and skill...?

They should, yes. This being an imperfect world, they don't always.

Since when?

You're being disingenuous, and that is no basis for a discussion. Neither is a grinding axe. You want to rant about the state of the world today, which is a cheap and easy form of entertainment. It is not discussion and it does not arrive at the truth.

A beginner should be willing and able to commit his life into the art in order to learn, that's the onlything he is in position to know.

Commit his life? That's a bit much. As you yourself say, the beginner is in no position to know; therefore, how can he know that this is something worthy of him "committing his life"?

He has no filter to judge a teacher or a school and that's why he can get lost by being...impressed for the wrong superficial reasons...
Who is the beginner to demand the "right aikido dojo" and what has he done to deserve it? The only thing that counts is the effort he is ready to make in order to become something better. If that is nothis motive then he needs not to worry about the "right dojo"!

Here you are partially right. A beginner (in aikido, or anything else) cannot understand the advanced topics of the subject they're just beginning to learn. They cannot and should not demand that their instructor make all things plain to them -- that's like a beginning algebra student demanding that a professor explain differential equations. Regardless of his/her skill and knowledge, the professor can't explain, because the student lacks the background to understand the explanation. But that does not mean that a beginner has no basis for judging whether the dojo is right for him/her.

When I first stepped into the aikido dojo, I did not have any understanding of aikido at all, and I did not try to. I had studied karate for about six years (guessing, I honestly did not keep track) and shindo muso ryu jodo for maybe five years, but I had moved and was not training in either at the time (and had not for a few years). Aikido had no particular attraction to me; I was simply looking for a good dojo in any style near my new home. I walked into the dojo during a Saturday morning class and was greeted by one of the senior students, who talked to me briefly about the dojo and answered some questions about schedule and so on. As we talked, I was observing the practice. "Would you like to sit down and watch the class?" the student said. "No thanks, I've seen what I want. I'll be back," I said. I came back the next Saturday and started training. I knew nothing about aikido, and could not judge whether this was a "good aikido dojo"...but I did have enough knowledge to judge that for me, this was a good dojo. I didn't "commit my life"; I didn't understand this stuff; I didn't try to understand it. All I committed to was to train; if it started to make sense, great; if it started to feel wrong, I'd leave. I've been there ever since.

ryback
08-05-2015, 10:41 PM
In my state you cannot paint a house as a tradesperson if you are not qualified and registered with the master painters association. This is for the protection of the general public from people that are unskilled. The same goes for the Building industry as a whole along with various other trades. I have no issue at all with there being accountability from an Aikido organization for the people that represent it for exactly the same reason.

If someone wishes go out out and get an internet diploma for a set fee that means nothing and hang that on their dojo wall, prospective students have every right to be made well aware that is the case and that this so called qualification is actually fraudulent and should be treated as such. I have no problems of the same standards of recognition that exist in workplaces being maintained in a Dojo setting. There are more than just one parallel between doing a 4 year apprenticeship in a trade and earning a black belt in Aikido or any other recognised Martial Art.

Even the mere fact that martial arts skill are mentioned as having parallels with any kind of profession or craftsmanship, is just making clearer and clearer that my worries have been right all along. Students are looking for dojos and dojos are looking for customers. And when the customers arrive the teachers do what every good, professional businessman should do: make things "easy" and say what the customer wants to hear in order for him to keep coming back. Not only there are teachers out there who do that by giving the wrong advice about training, nutrition, cross-training(what a bloody mess), weight lifting(even more pathetic) and so on, but also we have people out there now that they advice the beginners to follow those teachers if their...credentials are legitimate and also make sure that they will get such legitimate, recognized ranking promotions themselves in the future in order to make sure that the lame, photocopy (yet professional and recognized by other...photocopies) of a sensei species will never be extinct until we aikido's essence fades into oblivion and nothingness!!
As for teachers with recognition but no ability...I am not talking about a fraud internet recognition. I am talking about a legitimate (in paper) recognition that reflects no skill... Can it get any more "fraud" than that? Who is gonna protect the potential students by these dojos? Well I got my answer in this thread... Nobody! Instead, the majority will keep on advising and pushing them deeper and deeper into this "officially recognized" lie, breeding more generations of "officially recognized" incompetent teachers and then spend the rest of their time wondering what happened to the effectiveness of aikido and if it works or not, in this very forrum...
Pretty, bloody lame...!

lbb
08-06-2015, 09:03 AM
Yannis, you're indulging in pointless ranting generalizations. As I said before, this is no basis for a discussion. If you know some way of forcing every human being on earth to be scrupulously honest, by all means, produce it. If you know some method of training every human being on earth to recognize deception, by all means, tell us. But you don't.

You sound to me like someone who came to aikido with stars in his eyes after watching too many bad martial arts movies, ready to drink any koolade offered to you -- and if none is offered, you simply make your own. I have seen more than a few students like this. You know what happens to them? They come in the door with their agenda, and they refuse to accept anything that does not conform to their silly fantasy. I have seen the most honest, scrupulous senseis you can imagine try to disabuse these individuals of their foolishness. The truth falls on deaf ears; these people are willfully self-deceived. Eventually they realize they got it all wrong, and then they blame the world, or the art, or anyone or anything but themselves. And then they become soapboxing crusaders like you who rant around the internet screaming, "IT'S ALL LIES!"

So, bullshit exists, and perhaps your bullshit meter is broken or needs recalibration. But to project your issues onto all aikido students is silly. Not everybody abandons common sense when they walk into an aikido dojo, and not everybody is foolishly dazzled by rank in a system that they've never heard of.

If you want to call out frauds, by all means do so, but have the courage and the integrity to get specific and name names. Your pointless generalized ranting about "there are teachers out there" is just absurd and a complete waste of time.

Mary Eastland
08-06-2015, 09:47 AM
Even the mere fact that martial arts skill are mentioned as having parallels with any kind of profession or craftsmanship, is just making clearer and clearer that my worries have been right all along. Students are looking for dojos and dojos are looking for customers. And when the customers arrive the teachers do what every good, professional businessman should do: make things "easy" and say what the customer wants to hear in order for him to keep coming back. Not only there are teachers out there who do that by giving the wrong advice about training, nutrition, cross-training(what a bloody mess), weight lifting(even more pathetic) and so on, but also we have people out there now that they advice the beginners to follow those teachers if their...credentials are legitimate and also make sure that they will get such legitimate, recognized ranking promotions themselves in the future in order to make sure that the lame, photocopy (yet professional and recognized by other...photocopies) of a sensei species will never be extinct until we aikido's essence fades into oblivion and nothingness!!
As for teachers with recognition but no ability...I am not talking about a fraud internet recognition. I am talking about a legitimate (in paper) recognition that reflects no skill... Can it get any more "fraud" than that? Who is gonna protect the potential students by these dojos? Well I got my answer in this thread... Nobody! Instead, the majority will keep on advising and pushing them deeper and deeper into this "officially recognized" lie, breeding more generations of "officially recognized" incompetent teachers and then spend the rest of their time wondering what happened to the effectiveness of aikido and if it works or not, in this very forrum...
Pretty, bloody lame...!

You sound a bit bitter.

We have a dojo. We welcome students. We love to train. We welcome dues. Money is not the issue... training is.

Your post was a tad general. I am sorry if you had bad experiences.

Garth Jones
08-06-2015, 02:24 PM
You sound a bit bitter.

We have a dojo. We welcome students. We love to train. We welcome dues. Money is not the issue... training is.

Your post was a tad general. I am sorry if you had bad experiences.

Exactly. My dojo is not about the money either. We welcome anybody who wants to come in and learn, even the 'old farts.' Speaking of that, most of the folks who walk through our door are in their late 30s to early 40s. I think most of the teens and 20-somethings who are interested in martial arts are trying MMA. Some of them find aikido when they are older and have been smashed into the floor too many times.

Cheers,
Garth

ryback
08-06-2015, 04:50 PM
Who said that every legitimate, officially recognized dojo is incompetent? I certainly didn't and you should read more carefully before getting to anxious to defend your schools or yourselves and by the way I had no bad experiences a careful read as I said should clear that too...
What I said is simply that we cannot advice a beginner to choose a dojo based on credentials because if he happens to get to the wrong people he can be easily manipulated into believing that their dojo is something that is not! And since, as I believe I already said, a beginner is not in position to judge due to lack of experience, he can pick a dojo, train, see what the sensei and sempai are capable or incapable of doing, see what other people are capable or incapable of doing and eventually he will develop a personal filter to choose the right dojo for him. But in order for this to work, he should keep an open mind, not be blinded by recognition that may or may not reflect one's skill.
A martial art is a practical technical thing, one should be judged by what he can actually do and not some framed papers on his wall...
Many times I have seen two teachers of the same rank, one being thunder and lightning and the other being a fat, lame joke of an aikidoist. Same rank, same organization!
So what the hell does official recognition mean aftet all...?

ryback
08-07-2015, 03:25 AM
Yannis, you're indulging in pointless ranting generalizations. As I said before, this is no basis for a discussion. If you know some way of forcing every human being on earth to be scrupulously honest, by all means, produce it. If you know some method of training every human being on earth to recognize deception, by all means, tell us. But you don't.

You sound to me like someone who came to aikido with stars in his eyes after watching too many bad martial arts movies, ready to drink any koolade offered to you -- and if none is offered, you simply make your own. I have seen more than a few students like this. You know what happens to them? They come in the door with their agenda, and they refuse to accept anything that does not conform to their silly fantasy. I have seen the most honest, scrupulous senseis you can imagine try to disabuse these individuals of their foolishness. The truth falls on deaf ears; these people are willfully self-deceived. Eventually they realize they got it all wrong, and then they blame the world, or the art, or anyone or anything but themselves. And then they become soapboxing crusaders like you who rant around the internet screaming, "IT'S ALL LIES!"

So, bullshit exists, and perhaps your bullshit meter is broken or needs recalibration. But to project your issues onto all aikido students is silly. Not everybody abandons common sense when they walk into an aikido dojo, and not everybody is foolishly dazzled by rank in a system that they've never heard of.

If you want to call out frauds, by all means do so, but have the courage and the integrity to get specific and name names. Your pointless generalized ranting about "there are teachers out there" is just absurd and a complete waste of time.

This is such a mess of an answer and so far from what I am, what I do and what my experiences were that I don't know were to...begin.
All your assumptions about me are completely in the wrong direction and show a superficial reading of my posts and a lot of...fantasy. I was never fond of martial arts movies, I am a kind of a, let's say "specialist" of some sort in cinema and music because that happens to be my job. I am a classic cinema fan (even silent era) and generally I know a good movie when I see one whether I like it or not.
I had no bad dojo experiences if you read my posts it will be made clear. I chose aikido because I wanted to learn a martial art and I stayed with my teacher for so many years because he is the best I have ever seen at least for me. He never tried to impress me with rank or recognition but that doesn't mean that he is not officially recognized. On the contrary he is, but he is not enthusiastic about that ranking system and my years with him have proven to me that it's his technique and knowledge that make him special for me at least!
So, don't get rude and personally insult me with a huge hypothetical assumption about me based in complete lack of knowledge about me and my life. I didn't use any personal insults, I never said that everybody is a fraud. I merely said that in a system were people can hold a rank that many times does not reflect their actual skills, we cannot advice a student to choose a dojo based on such criteria. Even the simple fact that people that hold the same rank obviously do not possess the same technical ability should make us think twice what in fact recognition and affiliation reflects. We can't keep on playing the game of "whose daddy is bigger than whose" because it's childish! We need to get closer to the essence of things...

lbb
08-07-2015, 07:43 AM
This is such a mess of an answer and so far from what I am, what I do and what my experiences were that I don't know were to...begin.

Maybe by trying to express yourself with more clarity, and with reference to specifics?

So, don't get rude and personally insult me with a huge hypothetical assumption about me based in complete lack of knowledge about me and my life. I didn't use any personal insults, I never said that everybody is a fraud.

I wasn't rude and I didn't insult you. I asked you to communicate more clearly; you responded with more generalizations instead of fewer.

I merely said that in a system were people can hold a rank that many times does not reflect their actual skills, we cannot advice a student to choose a dojo based on such criteria. Even the simple fact that people that hold the same rank obviously do not possess the same technical ability should make us think twice what in fact recognition and affiliation reflects. We can't keep on playing the game of "whose daddy is bigger than whose" because it's childish! We need to get closer to the essence of things...

Right...and water is wet. Is this news?

I don't see anyone in this discussion or elsewhere suggesting that beginners should make their choices based on credentials in a system whose merits they do not know. To some degree, you are tilting at windmills and fighting an enemy that does not exist. At the same time, if my prior comments about beginner agendas don't apply to you, well, they sure do apply to some beginners -- and when a beginner has such an agenda, what do you propose to do about it? Will you personally reform all ranks in all aikido organizations such that they "reflect their actual skill"? You know that you can't do that. So what is your proposed solution to achieve this perfect state of affairs? You know that there is no such solution. It's always going to be caveat emptor: beginners, with no knowledge of aikido, will simply have to apply their own common sense and calibrate their own bullshit meters. If you think that aikido is somehow unique in this, you are simply wrong. Humans have been making foolish decisions throughout all of human history -- there's a sucker born every minute.

Michael Hackett
08-07-2015, 02:39 PM
Before a student can choose the "right dojo" he has to understand to at least some degree what he is seeking. Does he want to achieve a black belt? Learn to fight on the street? Prepare for a career in MMA? Improve his fitness and conditioning? Practice a martial art simply for the sake of practicing a martial art?

There are plenty of martial arts schools that will guarantee a black belt in a specific time. There are plenty who will promise almost anything.

Personally I think assessing the atmosphere of the dojo is critically important. It may be intangible and hard to describe, but does the place just feel right? Watching a few classes, the interaction between instructor and students, the interaction between students, how fast students leave the mat after class can provide valuable insight even for a beginner. A place where courtesy, dignity and respect are obvious may well signify the right dojo for a student.

Credentials and ranking aren't foolproof by any means, but they may give some indication. I personally know two rokudan instructors; one is independent and the other belongs to a large association. The former is an incredible teacher, practitioner and person. The latter - not so much. A five minute visit with either would suffice to make the determination I just described. I recently visited a dojo in another state while on business. I don't know if the Dojo Cho actually holds any rank from any organization. But his classes were darned good and fun. I will visit again if I am in the area. When all is said and done, ranking and credentials really aren't the best calculus to determine the quality of a school, but they are a good starting point. If the instructors are ranked by an organization, that is a start.

I knew a little aikido (but not by that name) from the basic police academy. I knew I wanted to train in aikido. I visited several dojo in my region and most were really good places. I walked into our dojo and immediately knew it was the best dojo - the best dojo for me. Intuition? Guesswork? Good luck? I dunno, I prefer to call it atmosphere. Years later it remains the best dojo - the best dojo for me.

tenshinaikidoka
08-07-2015, 06:40 PM
Maybe I am the only one who understood what Yannis was trying to say, but I do and I tend to agree with what he is saying. Having said that, the paper hanging, while not important in the scheme of things (lets be honest, skill on the mat is what counts) is a general starting point for MOST prospective and even some seasoned martial artists.

Anyone who comes to my dojo is free to ask any questions they want, watch and/or participate in class and I explain everything upfront to them so there is nothing "hidden". But that is just me, I let my "skills" speak for themselves, good or bad to someone looking at joining.

rugwithlegs
08-07-2015, 07:03 PM
Absolutely agree with Mr Hackett. The article I posted above, the one link was to an article with information on how to verify a lineage and rank - but the most telling point for me was when the author pointed out to be a student of any martial art (or just about anything) means time invested with that particular room, with those particular people. Joining a dojo means that is where you hope to spend at least hours every week and closely, intimately interacting with the people inside for years and maybe decades; doing what they are doing for hours every week for years and maybe decades.

If you don't want to be there from the very beginning, if you feel uncomfortable just meeting the teacher, if you see their practice and say to yourself, "God, I never want to do that" - walk. You aren't ready to be there and you may never be. That's okay.

For the rank issues - I like what Peter Boylen had to say in his blog recently. Rank is given for political reasons, or for ability in the particular art, but never really for training as an educator.

Whether or not the person in front of the room can do or cannot do, or whatever their rank and allegiance, still not really a statement on if they can teach.

Definitely not a statement on whether or not you want to spend your free time and miss hanging out with friends or your family or children or partner or try to further your education or your career; or sacrifice other things you want your disposable income to go on - just so you can spend time with this instructor and this dojo.

ryback
08-07-2015, 10:56 PM
Maybe by trying to express yourself with more clarity, and with reference to specifics?

I wasn't rude and I didn't insult you. I asked you to communicate more clearly; you responded with more generalizations instead of fewer.

Right...and water is wet. Is this news?

I don't see anyone in this discussion or elsewhere suggesting that beginners should make their choices based on credentials in a system whose merits they do not know. To some degree, you are tilting at windmills and fighting an enemy that does not exist. At the same time, if my prior comments about beginner agendas don't apply to you, well, they sure do apply to some beginners -- and when a beginner has such an agenda, what do you propose to do about it? Will you personally reform all ranks in all aikido organizations such that they "reflect their actual skill"? You know that you can't do that. So what is your proposed solution to achieve this perfect state of affairs? You know that there is no such solution. It's always going to be caveat emptor: beginners, with no knowledge of aikido, will simply have to apply their own common sense and calibrate their own bullshit meters. If you think that aikido is somehow unique in this, you are simply wrong. Humans have been making foolish decisions throughout all of human history -- there's a sucker born every minute.

You did insult me and that was clear! You made personal statements against me, made assumptions about my approach to aikido that have nothing to do with me simply because you disagree with my opinion on this whole matter. It's healthy to disagree, I have no problem with that but it's obvious that it wasn't me who wasn't clear, it was you who didn't pay any attention to my posts. It wasn't me fighting non existing enemies but you, with your talking about beginner's agendas, people who are blaming other people or the art because what they had in mind wasn't what they found e.t.c, while my posts and my aikido experience had nothing to do with any such things.
And after all that, you use your little...sense of an irony saying "water is wet, is this news?"
Well, unfortunately it is news for some people since, not only I have to state the bleeding obvious but also also I have to defend the bleeding obvious because you disagree and fight against the bleeding obvious!!
There was an article with an opinion about the criteria for choosing the right dojo.
I happened to disagree with thse specific criteria.
I stated my reasons for my disagreement.
I can't be clearer than that, open your eyes when you read what I have written and also open your mind. Agree or disagree but use your sense when you do that and not your fantasy to make a model of me in order to validate your personal attack against me. It will make any discussion much more useful in the future...

ryback
08-07-2015, 11:01 PM
Maybe I am the only one who understood what Yannis was trying to say, but I do and I tend to agree with what he is saying. Having said that, the paper hanging, while not important in the scheme of things (lets be honest, skill on the mat is what counts) is a general starting point for MOST prospective and even some seasoned martial artists.

Anyone who comes to my dojo is free to ask any questions they want, watch and/or participate in class and I explain everything upfront to them so there is nothing "hidden". But that is just me, I let my "skills" speak for themselves, good or bad to someone looking at joining.

Thank you very much! Not because you agree with me but for really taking the time to understand the essence of my posts. It proves at least that what I have written makes some sense!

Riai Maori
08-08-2015, 03:45 AM
Thank you very much! Not because you agree with me but for really taking the time to understand the essence of my posts. It proves at least that what I have written makes some sense!

I agree with you whole heartily. I have recently walked from a club that I felt was being run as a business. Actually as an ex committee member, the books were $100,000.00 plus in the black, from just 1 club. The Aikido being taught was very diluted and gave a false impression to beginners. I was taught quantity as opposed to quality Aikido. Friend, I too get the same nonsense from Mary Malmros. Read some of my past post responses. Ask a stupid question, and she gets a stupid answer. Don't feed into her remarks, just let them run off your back as if doing Tai No Henko and exit out your fingers.:)

tenshinaikidoka
08-08-2015, 09:51 AM
Thank you very much! Not because you agree with me but for really taking the time to understand the essence of my posts. It proves at least that what I have written makes some sense!

Your welcome and yes, what was written made sense to me. I understood where you were coming from. But unfortunately, some take it either out of context or simply want to argue for arguments sake.

ryback
08-08-2015, 03:57 PM
I agree with you whole heartily. I have recently walked from a club that I felt was being run as a business. Actually as an ex committee member, the books were $100,000.00 plus in the black, from just 1 club. The Aikido being taught was very diluted and gave a false impression to beginners. I was taught quantity as opposed to quality Aikido. Friend, I too get the same nonsense from Mary Malmros. Read some of my past post responses. Ask a stupid question, and she gets a stupid answer. Don't feed into her remarks, just let them run off your back as if doing Tai No Henko and exit out your fingers.:)

Thanks mate! I really like the Tai No Henko parallel! Right to the point!

JP3
08-12-2015, 09:58 AM
Thoughts...

1. A paper on a wall does not an excellent, or even competent, instructor make.

2. However, if the paper on the wall was delivered to the individual instructor from a reputable group, certifying a certain level of proficiency at a level as described therein, then such a certificate does carry some weight with me as I know and understand that such things are not just handed out or Lord forbid, simply sold.

3. Rank may or may not mean anything as it compares/correlates to skil in teaching, and that is a discussion for a different day (or thread...) but rank and/or instructor certification, again from a reputable group who holds itself and its members to proficiency standards, does mean something (to me, at least). Meaning, if... say, Howard Popkin/Joe Brogna give a student a certain rank in the Daito-ryu they practice, I can be assured that, knowing Howard & joe personally, that student-person can do (because they actually had to do them in front of the said Howard/Joe to get the rank certificate) the things that rank represents.

lbb
08-12-2015, 01:26 PM
You did insult me and that was clear! You made personal statements against me, made assumptions about my approach to aikido that have nothing to do with me simply because you disagree with my opinion on this whole matter.

I did no such thing, but believe as you wish. I can't control your reactions.

ryback
08-13-2015, 09:14 AM
Thoughts...

1. A paper on a wall does not an excellent, or even competent, instructor make.

2. However, if the paper on the wall was delivered to the individual instructor from a reputable group, certifying a certain level of proficiency at a level as described therein, then such a certificate does carry some weight with me as I know and understand that such things are not just handed out or Lord forbid, simply sold.

3. Rank may or may not mean anything as it compares/correlates to skil in teaching, and that is a discussion for a different day (or thread...) but rank and/or instructor certification, again from a reputable group who holds itself and its members to proficiency standards, does mean something (to me, at least). Meaning, if... say, Howard Popkin/Joe Brogna give a student a certain rank in the Daito-ryu they practice, I can be assured that, knowing Howard & joe personally, that student-person can do (because they actually had to do them in front of the said Howard/Joe to get the rank certificate) the things that rank represents.

There are always exceptions but most times the paper does not even reflect any sign of excellence even if it is handed by the most reputable and official organization, even Hombu dojo Aikikai... Sometimes it works the opposite way. The more official the recognition, the more misleading...
As for ranks being sold out... Come on! Let's face it and speak the truth! The candidate has to pay to have the testing and then he has to pay again in order to receive the rank... Why should he pay for recognition rightfully earned? And how many times can you "fail" an incompetent candidate who pays for his testing? Not many! In the end you "pass" him in order to also take the fee for his Dan or whatever! And if anybody claims that these things are not happening he is either lying or living in a dreamland!
I am not saying that ranks and recognition is bad, each one of us can make his choice. But we cannot advice anyone to choose the "correct" dojo according to such criteria because they mean nothing!

Garth Jones
08-13-2015, 03:19 PM
Ranks being sold? Possibly, but it's not common in my experience.

1. In my organization the person doing the testing has no financial incentive. If I test one of my students for a rank, I don't get any of the rather modest testing fee. Nor do our senior instructors who test folks for black belt ranks get a portion of the test fees.

2. In aikido people are not failed often. That has much more to do with the fact that they are not allowed to test until their instructor feels they are ready than any financial considerations.

3. Some martial arts have many, many ranks and test all the time, which can generate substantial money. We have five or six ranks prior to black belt so testing is relatively infrequent.

That has been my experience over 27 years in the USAF and the ASU.

Shadowfax
08-13-2015, 05:19 PM
Why should he pay for recognition rightfully earned?

Why shouldn't he? If you want certification from a certain recognised and respected group that says that they guarantee that, according to them, you have a certain skill set and have achieved a certain level of that skill, should they not expect something in return? What is a few hundred dollars over the span of years it takes to achieve those skill levels? People spend far far more in other pursuits of skill than most people spend in martial arts just to get to shodan.

I personally spent $30k ,in 18 months, to acquire certifications in my equestrian skills as a rider and trainer, I could have just gone out and told people, I am self taught and have "X" number of years of experience riding and training horses and people do that. And most people who are looking for quality are willing to pay more for a trainer who has certifications from well known reputable training programs. They are also more willing to trust that the trainer will use methods that they are comfortable with and want used on their horses. If I wanted my horse to be trained for top reining competition I would not send her to a highly recognised trainer of classical dressage horses.

In my 6 years in aikido the fees I have been required by my teachers to pay in order to attain the rank of shodan have amounted to Approximately $5,210. That does not include seminars I have elected to attend which were not required in order to receive promotion.Compared to what it cost to gain a similar level of skill in the horse world this is a very small price to pay. Of that amount $4320 of it was for monthly(about $868 a year) dues which help to keep the rent paid. That leaves $890 that went to the ASU for affiliation dues and testing fees. I can't take riding lessons from a backyard, self trained hack for that price, let alone someone who has years of experience that practices at a high level and has recognition in the horse world as a quality instructor.

Knowing the background of the person you want to learn from can provide some idea of what might be expected as far as style of the art they teach as well as the philosophy of teaching they might have. If someone can't tell you where they came from how can you start to guess who they might be and whether they might be what you are looking for?

Six and a half years ago I decided to try aikido. As advised by a friend who is involved professionally in martial arts, I looked up all of the dojos in my area and contacted them asking questions about their teaching programs lineage and background. I didn't end up going to the dojo with the highest ranking instructor, I went to the one that answered my questions. Even though the answer was simply, "Just come."

It was not the rank, or the linage that made me chose to train there. It was the sincere and kind welcome and the quality of the instruction. The fact that the instructors could tell me where and how they developed their skills, from whom they learn, and seeing that they continue to work on their own growth and education were important factors. The fact that I quickly saw the passion that these people had for their art and the strong desire to be as effective in teaching that art as they could. The fact that those teachers are strongly motivated by the desire to be a credit to their own teachers. They don't teach aikido to make money or to be admired and called sensei. They teach aikido because they love the art and in order to continue to train and develop in the way that they want to go, they had to open a dojo.

So the dojo I chose just also happens to be affiliated with the ASU. Since the people I wish to train under have chosen this route I pay the dues and the testing fees associated with that membership. If they decided tomorrow to become independent or join some other affiliation I would still chose to train with my teachers. Because these are the people I wish to learn from and train with and share a significant and important part of my life with.

Six years down the road, and every day, for many reasons, I am more convinced that I could not have made a better choice.

ryback
08-14-2015, 02:52 AM
Why shouldn't he? If you want certification from a certain recognised and respected group that says that they guarantee that, according to them, you have a certain skill set and have achieved a certain level of that skill, should they not expect something in return? What is a few hundred dollars over the span of years it takes to achieve those skill levels? People spend far far more in other pursuits of skill than most people spend in martial arts just to get to shodan.

I personally spent $30k ,in 18 months, to acquire certifications in my equestrian skills as a rider and trainer, I could have just gone out and told people, I am self taught and have "X" number of years of experience riding and training horses and people do that. And most people who are looking for quality are willing to pay more for a trainer who has certifications from well known reputable training programs. They are also more willing to trust that the trainer will use methods that they are comfortable with and want used on their horses. If I wanted my horse to be trained for top reining competition I would not send her to a highly recognised trainer of classical dressage horses.

In my 6 years in aikido the fees I have been required by my teachers to pay in order to attain the rank of shodan have amounted to Approximately $5,210. That does not include seminars I have elected to attend which were not required in order to receive promotion.Compared to what it cost to gain a similar level of skill in the horse world this is a very small price to pay. Of that amount $4320 of it was for monthly(about $868 a year) dues which help to keep the rent paid. That leaves $890 that went to the ASU for affiliation dues and testing fees. I can't take riding lessons from a backyard, self trained hack for that price, let alone someone who has years of experience that practices at a high level and has recognition in the horse world as a quality instructor.

Knowing the background of the person you want to learn from can provide some idea of what might be expected as far as style of the art they teach as well as the philosophy of teaching they might have. If someone can't tell you where they came from how can you start to guess who they might be and whether they might be what you are looking for?

Six and a half years ago I decided to try aikido. As advised by a friend who is involved professionally in martial arts, I looked up all of the dojos in my area and contacted them asking questions about their teaching programs lineage and background. I didn't end up going to the dojo with the highest ranking instructor, I went to the one that answered my questions. Even though the answer was simply, "Just come."

It was not the rank, or the linage that made me chose to train there. It was the sincere and kind welcome and the quality of the instruction. The fact that the instructors could tell me where and how they developed their skills, from whom they learn, and seeing that they continue to work on their own growth and education were important factors. The fact that I quickly saw the passion that these people had for their art and the strong desire to be as effective in teaching that art as they could. The fact that those teachers are strongly motivated by the desire to be a credit to their own teachers. They don't teach aikido to make money or to be admired and called sensei. They teach aikido because they love the art and in order to continue to train and develop in the way that they want to go, they had to open a dojo.

So the dojo I chose just also happens to be affiliated with the ASU. Since the people I wish to train under have chosen this route I pay the dues and the testing fees associated with that membership. If they decided tomorrow to become independent or join some other affiliation I would still chose to train with my teachers. Because these are the people I wish to learn from and train with and share a significant and important part of my life with.

Six years down the road, and every day, for many reasons, I am more convinced that I could not have made a better choice.
First of all, if a recognition is actually rightfully earned, nobody should expect nothing in return. You expect something in return only if you have done somebody a special favour or in commercial give and take which is exactly my point. Many organizations
rare making thousands and thousands of dollars or euros by selling...thin air! They sell the ranks making clear profit out of this rotten system. Of course that does not apply to all organizations...
Now, what is a reputable organization? Even aikikai has a Doshu who ends up there every new generation by the legacy of the name Ueshiba. So, the head of the most reputable organization, that has many other organizations and so called systems and styles under its wing is not even the best! He us just the next link in the chain of the Ueshiba dynasty! And he is also beyond rank! Who the hell tested HIM and put him up his throne? Nobody! And he is giving demonstrations representing aikido and he is also giving his permission and his "official seal" for everybody else's promotion and
e is making a lot of money doing that! And there are real good aikido warriors out there, that have to pay their money for their promotion and recognition! Recognition by an organization whose head was put there because of his name! How more fake, how more lame can it get than that? For decades it has been so, cultivating a rotten system of ranks that reflect nothing, absolutely nothing!!
I will say it again because some people seem to miss the whole point. Compare two aikidoists, same rank and same organization and you will find out that sometimes they are on a completely different level technically. Back in 1988 Steven Seagal Sensei was 6th Dan and he was the best! There were 8th, 9th dans out there that wouldn't even come close to his technique. Now that his image and priorities are a bit changed, let's say not so close to aikido as they used to be, he is a 7th Dan! And although he is worse than he used to be, he is still the best among other people who are...higher ranking than him! How come?? So what does ranking reflect? What good will it be in a fighting situation? We need to concentrate on martial effectiveness and skill if we need something solid to compare the teachers...
As I said before, recognition is not a bad thing. My point is that we cannot choose the right dojo based on such criteria!

Mary Eastland
08-14-2015, 09:51 AM
Hi Yannis:

I respectfully ask how you know Steven Seagal is the best? And the best what?

And on another note it would easier to read your posts if you inserted a line here and there.

Michael Hackett
08-14-2015, 01:26 PM
Mr. Mousoulis,

In your earlier posts you generally complained about the subjectivity of ranking. And no, you didn't specifically use those words. In your last posting you then became rather subjective yourself in your comments about Doshu and Ueshiba Mitsuteru, his son and about Steven Seagal.

Your opinions about Doshu and Seagal are just that, your opinions. They certainly aren't based on any objective standard of review. Others may share your opinion (I am a Seagal aikido fan - his movies, not so much) and others may disagree.

By basing your argument on subjective opinion, you are watering down your position considerably. Something to think about.

Shadowfax
08-14-2015, 02:43 PM
I have never heard that Steven Segal was ever considered "The best" by anyone other than those who chose to call him their teacher and some star struck moviegoers who have no reality based experience of what it is to be a martial artist. No doubt in that time others considered Yamada, Saito, Saotome and any number of other direct Students of O'sense "The Best".

Who decides who is the best anything? The Best horse on the track today might be the second best or even worst horse on the track tomorrow. No athlete ever stays on top for long. Why does it mater what one is the best of the best? What is right for you might not be what is right for me. So why are you fighting so hard to be right? What is the real point of your ranting? Why do you care how much money I spend and who I give it to if I am satisfied with the arrangement? Do you think I need your approval of the fact that the ASU through Doshu, through Saotome and through Wendy Whited sensei and through my own teachers have decided that I am currently a shodan level aikido practitioner? Do you think I care what some random guy on the internet thinks about my abilities? Do you think anyone else here really cares what you think? So... why should we care what you think?

Tell us... what do you think should be the criteria for choosing the right dojo for you? You are spending a lot of energy arguing loudly that we are all wrong. So...how about explaining how it is that you chose the dojo that you currently train in and the teacher you train under.

Or is the real problem that you can't find a teacher and a dojo that lives up to your unrealistic fantasies of having the world of aikido acclaim that you sir are just amazing, without your having to spend a dime to gain that recognition?

If the money is a problem for you, take up some other art where you feel you will get what you feel you paid for.

ryback
08-14-2015, 02:59 PM
Mr. Mousoulis,

In your earlier posts you generally complained about the subjectivity of ranking. And no, you didn't specifically use those words. In your last posting you then became rather subjective yourself in your comments about Doshu and Ueshiba Mitsuteru, his son and about Steven Seagal.

Your opinions about Doshu and Seagal are just that, your opinions. They certainly aren't based on any objective standard of review. Others may share your opinion (I am a Seagal aikido fan - his movies, not so much) and others may disagree.

By basing your argument on subjective opinion, you are watering down your position considerably. Something to think about.

I agree about the watering down, I tried not to name names in previous posts and some people complained about that. So I named names now, so now it's a matter of subjective opinion. Well in my posts I write my opinion or my point of view and not everybody else's...

What Steven Seagal does is the most fast and effective and that's enough to make it the best for me...

ryback
08-14-2015, 03:03 PM
Hi Yannis:

I respectfully ask how you know Steven Seagal is the best? And the best what?

And on another note it would easier to read your posts if you inserted a line here and there.

In my point of view his way is (as I said earlier) what is the fastest and most effective in a fight... Yet I wouldn't personally follow him as a teacher but I would like to learn some aspects of the Tenshin dojo approach...

ryback
08-14-2015, 03:26 PM
If there are here people who don't care about my opinion, it's fine. They can stop reading my posts and that's fair game. They can also go on reading them and disagree, that's fair game and welcome as well...
But please stop making assumptions based on your fantasy about me, my dojo, or my instructors because you have no idea what you are talkin about and you make yourselves ridiculous stating fiction as fact.
The only reason I post is because I want my opinion to be out there as everybody else's so that, anyone who want some advice will have as wide a range of opinions as possible in order to think, try, and decide for himself...
I am very happy with my dojo, I have never paid for any recognition, I had some of the best instructors but that is none of your business, not related to the thread, so please answer to my posts if you like but stop making assumptions about me because it is insulting. Don't try to explain my opinion by imposing a specific model on me. This is my opinion, I state it and you can like it or not like it, but you don't know who I am, so stop pretending you do because you are so far from the truth that you are making fools of yourselves...

Garth Jones
08-14-2015, 03:51 PM
"As soon as you concern yourself with the 'good' and 'bad' of your fellows, you create an opening in your heart for maliciousness to enter. Testing, competing with, and criticizing others weakens and defeats you." - O'Sensei (Art of Peace, page 55)

Michael Hackett
08-14-2015, 07:20 PM
Mr. Mousoulis,

In your initial post you said that this wasn't the time and place to discuss how to choose the right Aikido Dojo. You also discussed how credentials and certifications can be misleading. Since then you have posted several times and only hinted at some of the things you might suggest would help a student choose a dojo. What are the criteria you would offer a person who told you he was interested in studying aikido and joining a dojo? What advice would you give?

For clarity's sake, my hypothetical student is an adult and has never studied a martial art before. In my mind, this is EXACTLY the time and place. You have strong opinions and have studied for twenty years. Please share your knowledge.

Rooster
08-14-2015, 09:07 PM
Even aikikai has a Doshu who ends up there every new generation by the legacy of the name Ueshiba. So, the head of the most reputable organization, that has many other organizations and so called systems and styles under its wing is not even the best! He us just the next link in the chain of the Ueshiba dynasty! And he is also beyond rank! Who the hell tested HIM and put him up his throne? Nobody! And he is giving demonstrations representing aikido and he is also giving his permission and his "official seal" for everybody else's promotion and
e is making a lot of money doing that!

You need to get your facts straight. Doshu does not make money from people being ranked, except insofar as the Aikikai Foundation pays his salary. And believe me, he earns his salary. He is the hardest-working man I have ever met, and a gentleman besides. And--as you would know if you had ever laid hands on him--his technique works.

I happen to be one of those "officially recognized and affiliated aikidoists with their tons of ranks and credentials...struggling with their same, lame, pathetic technique as they were always doing" that you described in your first post. I don't mind that a bit; I understand your criticism. But don't insult Doshu by name when you have never met him.

ryback
08-14-2015, 11:56 PM
Mr. Mousoulis,

In your initial post you said that this wasn't the time and place to discuss how to choose the right Aikido Dojo. You also discussed how credentials and certifications can be misleading. Since then you have posted several times and only hinted at some of the things you might suggest would help a student choose a dojo. What are the criteria you would offer a person who told you he was interested in studying aikido and joining a dojo? What advice would you give?

For clarity's sake, my hypothetical student is an adult and has never studied a martial art before. In my mind, this is EXACTLY the time and place. You have strong opinions and have studied for twenty years. Please share your knowledge.

I never said it's not the time and place to discuss how to choose the right aikido dojo, I said it's not the time and place to discuss what the right aikido dojo is...
As I said before the beginner has no filter to judge anybody so there is no right or wrong dojo at this stage. You get into a dojo, you put your gi on and you start working and that's the right aikido dojo for any beginner, because it will "transport" him from the point of "not practicing" to the point of "practicing" and sometimes this initial move is the most important.
He must always keep his eyes and his mind open and after some time he will start having some experience, he will start building some filters in order to better judge the work that's been done from dojo to dojo and choose what is the one that suits him best. The level of skill of technique, the lack or use of weapons, and generally the whole philosophy and direction of each school must be the criteria, so it's not easy. One must study, experiment, watch, feel...but some papers on a wall or the promise that he will get his share of papers have nothing to do with that.
I've seen a lot of people I know having been...lost in space after following the dojo with the most credentials and hunting their...own credentials. Somewhere on their way for recognition they missed...the art.

ryback
08-15-2015, 12:02 AM
You need to get your facts straight. Doshu does not make money from people being ranked, except insofar as the Aikikai Foundation pays his salary. And believe me, he earns his salary. He is the hardest-working man I have ever met, and a gentleman besides. And--as you would know if you had ever laid hands on him--his technique works.

I happen to be one of those "officially recognized and affiliated aikidoists with their tons of ranks and credentials...struggling with their same, lame, pathetic technique as they were always doing" that you described in your first post. I don't mind that a bit; I understand your criticism. But don't insult Doshu by name when you have never met him.

I never insulted the doshu personally, I simply criticize the system of choosing the head of aikido by his last name in this never ending Ueshiba dynasty... Are you always the best if you have such a surname?
I don't doubt that his technique works, I wouldn't like a system that picks the doshu by this kind of legacy even if he was the best of the best...

Paul S.
12-10-2017, 02:36 PM
Hi,I recently visited a dojo that was recommended to me. Instructor and I were only ones there early,we had quite the chat,offered me a chair and asked if I had questions. As people arrived,I was introduced to all. Head instructor introduced himself upon arrival. After class I was asked if I had any questions or concerns and I was even told I could approach any of the students after class too with any questions. Schedule was explained,cost and also head instructor(senior) and other locations (only one other) and the schedule there too.! Needless to say I starting at this location due to courtesy and professionalism.!