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Rob Coote
12-02-2002, 12:33 PM
I was wondering if it is common practice for students who may be travelling away from their home dojo to train at a remote dojo where they are staying?

I live in Edmonton and train with the Alberta Aikido Tenshinkai Dojo under Sensei Tran Hiep Hoa (6th dan). I will be going home for Christmas to Winnipeg, and know of a couple of dojos there.

I only began my training in August of this year, and only this weekend tested for and passed my Kyu 6 test (yay, no more white belt!), but definitely do not want to miss 2 weeks of classes.

Is this common, and if so what is the etiquette surrounding being a guest in a foreign dojo? What belt do I wear? Where do I stand in rank? Etc.

Any advice anyone has would be appreciated!

Rob

rachmass
12-02-2002, 12:44 PM
Rob writes: "Is this common, and if so what is the etiquette surrounding being a guest in a foreign dojo? What belt do I wear? Where do I stand in rank? Etc."

Hi Rob, when I travel, I always try to go to a dojo near where I am staying. The way my sensei handled any visit, was to write a letter of introduction on my behalf (or anyone from the dojo who was traveling/moving) to the chief instructor of that dojo. I would also call ahead of time to find out what classes there were, and whether they accepted visitors or not. So, that way they would know I was coming, and it was okay, and I'd have the letter from my sensei.

Anyone else?

Oh, and as to rank and standing: I always go with a beginners state of mind (no matter what rank you are). If the dojo doesn't wear colored belts, don't wear one. As a visitor in another dojo, you just don't know their customs and their techniques might be somewhat different than what you are used to.

Traveling and meeting other aikidoka is a lot of fun, and can be very educational.

Best wishes on your upcoming venture.

Rachel

MikeE
12-02-2002, 12:59 PM
For the most part...letters of introduction have gone the way of the dodo.

Call or e-mail ahead of time (like a few days or a week) and ask if you could visit and train. I have in all my training and travelling only been told i couldn't visit by one dojo. (That was because they were new and the head of the organization required a year without "outside" influence) before visitors could come to visit.

When visiting other schools, no matter what, have a white belt with you.

Most importantly:

DO NOT presuppose that you do techniques right at your dojo because it is different from what is being taught at the place you are visiting!

Do what they do, and keep your mouth shut.

rachmass
12-02-2002, 01:03 PM
I agree with Mike on the majority of his post, but do not think that good manners have gone with the way of the dodo, and do suggest a letter of introduction; the chief instructor will appreciate it.

best,

Rachel

wilmking
12-02-2002, 02:27 PM
Hi:

i always take my white belt with me (as well as hakama) when going to visit other dojos and other styles. some dojos want you to wear a white belt, others insist you wear the belt and "outfit" from your home dojo. even then i always sit on the lowest end of either the white belts or black belts.

you are a guest and should respect their way of doing technique as well as formalities. so it is a lot safer if you can look right (or left, depending on how they line up) and bow, clap, or knock your head against your knees, if that is what they are doing.

above all, keep an open mind and have fun!

martin

Crif
12-02-2002, 02:27 PM
I used to work for an airline and therefore I've trained in at least 20 different schools around the country. First call and let them know you're coming, only one place I called in Las Vegas told me no. Keep an open mind, while most are receptive there are always students who have something to proove to the outsider. Treat them the way you want to be treated and thank them after, this is for the people that come after you. You will see many different things from schools that like to bust each other up to schools that go through the motions and even schools that look nothing like what you do. Have fun with it. check it out... http://home.att.net/~hyun.hwang/travelogue.htm

siwilson
12-02-2002, 02:49 PM
Hi

First, ask your instructor for their permission to train in another dojo. It is good manners and they may know something about that dojo that you do not.

Take your belt, but also take a white belt with you. Some dojos will not be worried about what belt you wear, but some like kyu grade visitors to wear a white belt. Black belt should carry a white belt to and offer to wear it, although, that said, dojos should respect a black belts grade, as their ability should show through training, not their belt.

Call to the dojo in advance if possible. I remember quite a few years back turning up at a Karate dojo, interested in learning their approach to striking, only to find a black belt class in progress. It left me watching and not training. My mistake! If you cannot contact the dojo, then just tun up.

Training with other dojo can be extremely rewarding, but can also be very confusing for beginners. If your dojo teaches Kamae and center and you train in a dojo that does not teach center, this has the potential to reverse a beginners progression.

To add, as a teacher I find letters of introduction very complimentary, but I do not expect them at all. Everyone is welcome, which I feel is the spirit of Aikido, with or without introduction.

Best Wishes

:ai:

Edward
12-03-2002, 12:42 AM
I travel a lot for my business, and I do carry along a gi and a white belt. I always try to contact the dojo by email to introduce myself and ask for permission. I have never been rebuked, and I have trained at aikikai, iwama, yoshinkan, tomiki, you name it. Sometimes I used to wonder what I was doing on the mats, and if we were doing the same martial art. However, I found out that later on, all these strange techniques that I've learned during my travel helped me understand and improve my overall aikido.

And regarding the introduction letters, I have asked my teacher only a few times to provide me with letters. The local senseis were very pleased to receive them and paid particular attention to me during training. However, I do not request such letters often because I travel really a lot and I do not want to worry my teacher with too many requests. Anyhow, with or without introduction letter, I have found all aikido dojos to be friendly and welcoming.

aikigreg
12-03-2002, 07:45 AM
Agreed. recently visiting a dojo in Santa Fe, I had email permission by the sensei to attend. Once I arrived I jumped in and started working out with the class which was much more difficult than our regular class. But when they'd go to pin me after suwariwaza ikkyo, they'd say "tap when you're pinned." The response in my head was "You're not pinning me - I barely feel your hands on my arm." But I didn't breath a word and just started tapping like the rest of them.

End result, I didn't get much out of their ikkyo pins but I got a HECK of a lot of of the sensei's ikkyo and iriminage.

I basically treat it just as I would a seminar. Try to learn THEIR aikido and blend it with your own.

BC
12-03-2002, 12:34 PM
It has been explained to me by my sempai that you do not necessarily need to bring a letter of introduction if you're only visiting for less than a week or so (Hombu dojo is the exception, I'm told). I've never been turned away when visiting local dojo in my travels, and believe my technique has benefitted from these visits. IMO.

rachmass
12-03-2002, 01:01 PM
Hey guys, did I start a debate about the letters of introduction???? Didn't mean to, find it rather funny the replies.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter which way you do it. I was stating what I was taught as proper etiquette. My teacher is very proper (yours too Robert) and he insisted on this being the right way to handle a visit, when I went to visit anywhere. Now, if someone comes to me without one, I welcome them with open arms (and mat) anyway. I actually wouldn't expect one, being as I am such a junior instructor. Definately though, if I were traveling to a dojo with a senior instructor at the helm, I'd want to bring a LOI, but then again, that is just me.

Cheers all,

Rachel

Neil Mick
12-03-2002, 01:48 PM
Hello all,

I try to make it a travelling standard to train at a dojo where I intend to visit.

Letters of introduction, emails from an instructor, etc, are all good points of etiquette, and I advise you to go with them, if you feel theses tokens of courtesy will make you feel more relaxed, and welcomed, training there.

OTOH, I recently just showed up, day after Thanksgiving, to a dojo in the area where I was visiting relatives, with no letter, email, or anything. I wore my hakama and black belt, and I was treated with respect (if not a bit of trepidation. Some of the students seemed too shy to train with me).

Two years ago I went to S. Korea and corresponded with the Sensei there, before attempting to train. He was very courteous, and I found his students delighted to have a foreigner in their dojo. He even asked me lead the class for a few techniques (we are about the same rank), after which he took me out to dinner and offered crash-space before I jetted back to the US.

IAC, it's better to go overboard with courtesy, esp if that is what your Sensei stresses (mine tends toward the casual side, and welcomes all styles to his dojo).

One point with which I disagree: my first Sensei (Saotame) felt that if you earned a black belt, you should wear it whenever you train, even at a dojo with a different style. I tend to agree, but again: this is personal preference.

One thing you should definitely NOT bring to a new dojo is "attitude." As mentioned above, always approach a new dojo as a new student, no matter what your rank. The worst thing you can do is try to "prove" how "badass" a martial artist you are.

As MikeE said, above:

"Most importantly:

DO NOT presuppose that you do techniques right at your dojo because it is different from what is being taught at the place you are visiting!

Do what they do, and keep your mouth shut."

Leslie Parks
12-03-2002, 03:54 PM
I think everyone above has covered the pertinent points, however I have one thing to add.

Your instructor may be able to recommend a dojo to you if he/she has been to the area or knows of someone around there.

akiy
12-03-2002, 04:38 PM
I agree with what Leslie wrote above that your teacher might be able to give you a recommendation as to where to train, but don't be afraid to train with people outside of your organization or approach to aikido. It looks like out of the ~40 dojo I've been to, less than a third have been with the organization to which the dojo where I currently train belongs...

On the point of letters of recommendations, I've heard such being good etiquette, but I haven't used such personally. It's always a good idea to try to establish communication with them ahead of time -- if only to make sure about their class location and schedule!

I agree fully with the folks who mentioned to, basically, "do as the Romans do" as a guest at a different dojo. Although what they're doing may seem different and strange, it's often very educational to try to understand just why such a difference exists.

And lastly, have fun. Smile. Make friends. Although the folks at the dojo you visit may be doing aikido differently or their teachers may not stand your own teacher, we're all on this road together. We're all people, huh?

-- Jun

MikeE
12-03-2002, 09:53 PM
Jun,

Let me know when you are in the Minneapolis/St.Paul area. You (and anyone else) is more than welcome.

:)

In Aiki,

erikmenzel
12-04-2002, 03:53 AM
I agree with what Leslie wrote above that your teacher might be able to give you a recommendation as to where to train, but don't be afraid to train with people outside of your organization or approach to aikido. It looks like out of the ~40 dojo I've been to, less than a third have been with the organization to which the dojo where I currently train belongs...
I can concure. IME training at dojos that are not only outside your organization but also outside your style\approach can be a realy realy rewarding experience (if only to discover that a lot of the misunderstanding and hatred between organisations/styles is just due to politics and people telling stories about other styles/organisations without hand-on experience) . Probably you will find that the similarities are much bigger than you expected and that the differences are much smaller, and the differences might not even matter at all.
I agree fully with the folks who mentioned to, basically, "do as the Romans do" as a guest at a different dojo. Although what they're doing may seem different and strange, it's often very educational to try to understand just why such a difference exists.
In my opinion it also impolite to not do what your hosts are doing. Be a good guest, and realize that you are not entering another dojo alone. You represent your dojo and your teacher. Be respectful.
And lastly, have fun. Smile. Make friends. Although the folks at the dojo you visit may be doing aikido differently or their teachers may not stand your own teacher, we're all on this road together. We're all people, huh?
Hear Hear!!

Talon
12-04-2002, 01:53 PM
Rob!

You mentioned that youre training under Sensei Tran in Edmonton.

>" live in Edmonton and train with the Alberta Aikido Tenshinkai Dojo under Sensei Tran Hiep Hoa (6th dan)."<

I am also from Edmonton. I'm wondering if you read the article in the sun about Sensei Tran a few weeks ago. I was trying to find a link to it but the sun doesnt offer back issue articles online anymore. Anyway, If you havent I think you should read it if youre going to continue training at his Dojo. How is his Dojo doing anyway?

The Aikido community in Edmonton was really concerned about the article and It is beleived that since the article mentioned the name "Aikido" it tainted how people look at aikido in our city and in general.

Anyway,

If you need a copy of it let me know I have a copy of it that I showed my Sensei in order to get some feedback.

later,

Paul

Ali B
12-05-2002, 02:56 AM
Hi all,

I went to visit 2 dojos with my teacher on Saturday. We had 2 * 2 hour classes and it was great fun. Both clubs' styles were very different from each other and our style but it did not matter and we were made to feel very welcome, especially from the second dojo, which has only been open a few months, I think the Sensei was glad of the support.

This Weekend I am off for a four hour drive to the City of Granada, where I will be going to a seminar with Endo Sensei 8th Dan - Yipeee....

I think that travelling and training is excellent and my teacher encourages it. We shall be visiting a club in Málaga just before Christmas.

They are all different but the same. Its all aikido after all and they way we look at it. If I practice with you and your aikido is better than mine, then I shall do it your way and hopefully vice versa.

Enjoy your visit. Don't worry about etiquette too much. Hopefully they will understand that they do it differently where you come from.

Love and Light

Ali

Rob Coote
12-05-2002, 11:49 AM
I am also from Edmonton. I'm wondering if you read the article in the sun about Sensei Tran a few weeks ago. I was trying to find a link to it but the sun doesnt offer back issue articles online anymore. Anyway, If you havent I think you should read it if youre going to continue training at his Dojo. How is his Dojo doing anyway?
Paul,

True the dojo has undergone some trials over the past several weeks. Rumors flew, and no one really had an answer to what had really happened. I had not had an opportunity to see the media on the issue, and would definitely like to see it if you have a copy.

Last week Tran Sensei was back in class, much to everyone's surprise. It turns out that the person who caused him this "inconvenience" is now in serious trouble with the law himself, so Sensei's case is under review.

I too was concerned that the issue was tied to the Aikido name, but do not feel that Sensei's personal life should impact the dojo. We are here to learn from him, and his indiscretions aside, he is an excellent teacher and mentor. There have been a couple of students who do not feel the same way, and they have left, however the vast majority of us have chosen to stand beside our teacher in support. He has been very honest with us, and has spoken to each of us about the issue sincerely. I feel that all of us in time make decisions and choices that may not be the best for us at the time, but that we should have the opportunity to learn and grow from them.

Anyway, i suppose this topic could be an entire thread on it's own, but if you have a way to get me a copy of that article I would appreciate it.

Rob

Talon
12-05-2002, 01:46 PM
Rob.

Its good to hear that things are working out at Sensei Tran's dojo. I'm glad that he and his students are coping with the issues. I can get you acopy of the article if you would like, I'm not sure how. After all we live in the same City if all else fails I can photocopy it and mail it to you. I wish I could find an electronic link to it but I dont. Maybe I can scan it and send it to your e-mail in PDF fromat.

Good luck in your training,

Paul

Talon
12-05-2002, 01:51 PM
Rob.

Its good to hear that things are working out at Sensei Tran's dojo. I'm glad that he and his students are coping with the issues. I can get you acopy of the article if you would like, I'm not sure how. After all we live in the same City if all else fails I can photocopy it and mail it to you. I wish I could find an electronic link to it but I dont. Maybe I can scan it and send it to your e-mail in PDF fromat.

Good luck in your training,

Paul

Rob Coote
12-05-2002, 03:25 PM
Paul,

I am travelling on business until friday but if you have access to a fax machine you could send it to me that way. I have a private fax in my office in Edmonton.

I'll PM you the number on Monday.

Rob

Doug Mathieu
12-09-2002, 12:50 PM
Hi Rob

I read your post and will give you the name and number of a great club in Winnipeg. I lived and trained there up to 3 years ago before I was transfered to Calgary.

The Winnipeg club I recommmend you visit is currently an Iwama registered group.

They are however very friendly and open to visitors. Expect weapons work during class.

Call 1st for courtesy and to check practice times and locations.

Instructor: Wyoto Nyomba

Ph:204-942-7839

Another Contact: Craig MacKenzie - 204-453-6532.

As mentioned in many replies do what they do and don't say thats not how we do it in our dojo.

I travel quite a bit and it is one of the more enjoyable experiences to go and meet a group of Aikidoists at a different club.

Also, when you arrive at the Dojo be sure to introduce yourself. They should see you arrive and figure out you are a guest but it has happened that someone gets missed.

Lastly, some dojos have drop in fees like $5 but rarely ask an out of town visitor to pay. Asking them about it though is good manners.

All the best

Talon
12-11-2002, 01:48 PM
Rob.

i dont see it a s aproblem to fax you the article. Let me know your fax number.

Happy training.

Paul

Rob Coote
12-16-2002, 12:44 PM
Paul,

I sent you an email and PM with the fax number. Look forward to reading it.

Rob