View Full Version : Are affiliations necessary?
10-16-2002, 11:34 AM
I'll post a "hello world" post in the proper forum, but I wanted to pose a question here.
I'm entirely new to Aikido, as well as martial arts as a whole. I visited a local dojo here and enjoyed it a lot. Things seemed to fit, and after reading the "howto critique a dojo" document here (title is not exactly was it is here though, I have forgotten it.) I was sure things were fitting more and more, the more I thought about it.
The question is this. Is there any real difference between a dojo affiliated with an orginization, vs one that's not? Are rankings different in terms of skills and technique known? IE: Are dojo's with affiliations set to strict (not a bad thing sometimes) rules as far as testing, promotions, etc?
Just gathering thoughts.
10-16-2002, 12:16 PM
Hi. there are pros and cons to the issue: you are certainly better off with a gifted teacher, unaffiliated, than a mediocre or unethical teacher who is affiliated.
Some organizations have uniform standards for testing and rank, others don't. Each one's website should clarify this issue.
My personal concern with someone who choses to run an unaffiliated dojo is: how does he or she keep learning and growing? Is s/he going to seminars taught by high ranking instructors/practitioners a few times a year in order to continue to be challenged to improve? Or is s/he presenting a "museum piece" of what s/he learned, or, worse, has s/he gotten sloppy and set in her ways over the years? This is possible with any instructor, but less likely in an organization that expects people to participate in seminars.
10-16-2002, 12:17 PM
Is there any real difference between a dojo affiliated with an orginization, vs one that's not?Yes. Instead of giving you a general answer, why don't you post (or email me) with your location and the dojo or dojos you are considering. I am somewhat familiar with the Aikido scene in CT, and, depending on your location, I might be able to advise you as to what's going on at a particular dojo and why it is not affiliated.Are rankings different in terms of skills and technique known? IE: Are dojo's with affiliations set to strict (not a bad thing sometimes) rules as far as testing, promotions, etc?Yes. Each organization has different testing standards, and one advantage of an affiliated dojo from a student's perspective is that any rank received will be recognized throughout that organization (and sometimes by other organizations as well). Also, in dojos affiliated with major organizations, you have at least some assurance that what is being taught is generally recognized as a reasonably valid interpretation of the art.
10-16-2002, 05:08 PM
If rank concerns you, then an affiliated dojo might better suit your needs, but also know that some unaffiliated dojos will also recognize rank from an organization. It really depends on the guy in charge....
I would be more concerned with the instructors than whether they are affiliated.
Who were/are their instructors..and their instructors... how long have they been training, etc....
I say this because I've also seen affiliated dojos that are simply living off the rep of the organizations head guy, so that is also a concern.
I do not agree with G DiPierro's post regarding assurance that you're going to get a "reasonably valid interpretation of the art" that only holds true for THAT particular organization.....
10-17-2002, 09:38 AM
Rank doesn't concern me as much as how well I feel when I'm practicing at a certain dojo. If the atmosphere is good and I'm not going out of my way to like a place, then I think all in all, it's ok to train there. If I were to change dojos in a while and enter an affiliated one, I would not mind (as far as I can tell.) being the "low guy" on the ladder.
10-17-2002, 10:52 AM
Thomas and I exchanged a few emails about the dojo in question. The person that owns this dojo was one of the early students of the first Japanese teachers that came to this country to teach Aikido. He has some great photos in his dojo of himself with Yamada S. and Koichi Tohei, all wearing nothing more than swim trunks, standing together in a lake from one of the first summer camps in the late 1960s. He was obviously at one point affiliated with the USAF, but I beleive that he left a long time ago, probably before 1980. I don't know much about the circumstances surrounding this, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had something to do with his preference for Tohei's style over that of the others.
I think that Janet's comments about the Aikido in an unaffiliated dojo becoming isolated are at least somewhat relevant here. I don't believe this instructor attends seminars any longer, but I know that some of his students occasionally do. Personally, I have no doubts that he is teaching a valid form of Aikido and I don't see any problem with Thomas practicing there other than the one with rank that he addressed in his last post. I did suggest that he visit some of the other dojos in the area before making a final decision, but I think that the most important thing in this situation is to choose a place where he feels comfortable.
10-17-2002, 11:03 AM
Probably the situation with affiliation varies from country to country. In the Netherlands politics are for a lot of the organisations so important that being independent offers a nice way of staying out of all the arguments and political fighting.
Of course being independent also means you have to provide for those things that are otherwise provide by the federation/association. Still, if you want to be taken seriously as an independent dojo you have to do almost anything twice as well as affiliated dojos.
My experience in the Netherlands is that independent dojos tend to be better organized than the affilated ones.
10-17-2002, 11:47 AM
In the Netherlands politics are for a lot of the organisations so important that being independent offers a nice way of staying out of all the arguments and political fighting.
That's a very valid point, in my opinion. Ive obviously never been affiliated with an organization, and don't know of the politices/infighting, but I can only compare thoughts to the politics I've seen in the corporate world. /shudder
All in all, I rather enjoyed the dojo, the members, and Sensei. I'm going to take a look at others as well, but in the interim before I make a final-final decision, I think I'm going to stick with it here. If anything, to ensure I don't end up back on the couch with the remote in my hand. ;)
Thanks so much, guys!
If anything, to ensure I don't end up back on the couch with the remote in my hand.
Ahhh the much dreaded TV-waza - a very powerful set of finger-pressure techniques, that has the power to gain you much wisdom and knowledge but which will also destroy the student who are weak of mind and thereby crush his/her will. Dangerous stuff for sure ;)
Sorry :) Couldn't help myself. I very much second that you should look for a dojo, where the teacher(s) are open for new influences. Otherwise you might end up in an environment that dosen't encourage progress as much as it could. However it is also good advise to look for a place where you are happy to train and where the people makes you feel good.
I guess the only thing I want to add is that even when you have decided upon a dojo - remember to be open and go experience what other peoples Aikido are like. Maybe not the first couple of months or years - just beware not to become caught in the 'there is only one right way' trap. I was allmost there, but has luckily been foreced to move on - at least a little bit.
Good luck and welcome to Aikido.
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