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Elb
02-13-2003, 07:17 PM
Hey all,

Just watched an aikido class for the first time, as I was considering taking classes there. Everyone was super nice, friendly, and helpful to each other.

I really enjoy the principles of aikido and the style itself.

However, I was kindof taken aback with all of the formality and extreme deference for the sensei. Im curious as to whether this is standard for all aikido or was this dojo 'out of the ordinary'?

For example:

The sensei would show a technique, then the students would all practice it. As the sensei walked around he would occasionally stop and correct a students technique. At these times, the entire dojo would stop, and all the students would rush to sit down in a specific way. One student was not kneeling quite right and a senior student corrected him.

I can understand wanting to watch the instruction, but the fervor with which everyone clamored to sit was kindof strange to me. Then the student he was correcting would yell out 'thank you sensei' in japanese.

Another example was when the sensei clapped his hands twice to signal the end of a technique practice, all the students ran in an all out sprint back to kneel at the edge of the mat. I mean it was like there was a whip at their backs, it seemed almost paniced. And this happened at the end of every technique.

Also all the students would say what I imagine was 'thank you' in japanese pretty much every 2 minutes or so at each other and at the sensei.

I was just wondering if this was typical for aikido dojos? I truly like the style but I dont think that type of fervor and extreme deference is for me.

Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance.

shihonage
02-13-2003, 07:50 PM
Yes it is typical.

PeterR
02-13-2003, 07:52 PM
Trying to be more Japanese than the Japanese?

It's not typical for the dojos I train in but not completely out of line either. In the dojos I've run and learnt in students normally sit in seiza to recieve instruction, bow and thank the instructor on completion. When they change partners they bow and thank their old partner, change, and bow and greet their new. Usually if the instructor wanders over to give a personal touch the practicing pair remain standing but thank and bow to the instructor when he's finished. The bowing and thanking is pretty relaxed - just a natural extention - not militeristic at all.

Peter Goldsbury
02-13-2003, 08:05 PM
I think the practice varies somewhat from dojo to dojo, or country to country. In the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, here in Japan, it is not the practice for everyone to rush across the dojo whenever the instructor changes a technique. Nor do people stop when the instructor corrects or teaches an individual pair. In fact I know that the present Doshu dislikes this practice. But in the Hombu, it is common to have the same partner for the entire 60 minutes of training. I myself do not allow this in my own dojo, but require people to change partners for every technique. My instructor colleagues like everyone to line up when they teach a new technique, but I do not mind people making a circle, so long as there is enough space for ukemi.

However, it is good training to follow the customs of the dojo, wherever you are. I have done this ever since I started.

Best regards,

mattholmes
02-13-2003, 08:31 PM
I think, from your description, that the dojo you visited was likely a bit on the ritualistic side. I don't know that this is necessarily a bad thing, but don't think that this is somehow necessary to pass along the knowlage. It's a personal taste.

In regards to the running, I run to sit down (we do this in my dojo when the instructor demonstrates a technique) because I'm there to train and I don't want to waste my time. Just something to keep in mind.

Personally, I find that dojos like this usually turn me off. For instance, I don't mind naming techniques in Japanese, but it bothers me when non-Japanese speaking people go around pretending that they're in Japan and speaking the language (I'm sure quite badly). But this has just been my experience; I think that any dojo has something to offer if you like the instructor.

Trust your gut. If you don't like the style of teaching, please keep looking for another school that you do like. You will know when you do see it.

Matt

Jeff Tibbetts
02-13-2003, 10:30 PM
In my dojo, it sounds more like what Peter was saying. We do sit in seiza when a technique is shown, and we do tend to line up quickly. We don't stop the whole class when our instructor corrects a couple unless the correcting is something that everyone needs or a good point is brought up. We bow to our partners, and the teacher when he corrects, but it's honestly not a forced, rigid thing; it's very natural and seems like it just reflects respect. I don't think I'd be put off by any of the practices you described; it would be a good idea to know all those things in case a high-ranking instructor comes to your class or something. Besides, some people like that "martial" feel. I would think that if the insruction was solid, the people were friendly and you like the art that you should go despite the off-putting style. I'm sure that the humility you experience at first was something that all the other students worked through, so it can't be too bad for you.

happysod
02-14-2003, 05:02 AM
Dear Jesse,

Yes they exist, no they're not the entire story out there. Don't worry, there should be non-pod dojos out there near you.

Mr Tibbets, I have to totally disagree. I go to a dojo to learn aikido, not humility. Happy to follow codes of conduct in the dojo that ensure safety. This can sometimes mean exaggerating methods of showing mutual respect in order to mitigate the testosterone which can happily flow within the dojo, but the practices described were excessive to my mind.

Still, our different views should emphasise the point that there should be a dojo out there for Jesse.

JJF
02-14-2003, 05:46 AM
I've been to Kendo-dojo's and karate-dojo's where the bowing and running seemed a bit 'forced'. In my aikido-dojo we do the same things, but with a different mindset. I bow because it seems the proper way to show respect for the art, and your partner (being the sensei or anyone else), and because I like that 'Japanese' air to it :D It just feels right. When I run back to the line, it's because I like to be ready for the next technique asap, so I don't waste anybodys time.

Ta Kung
02-14-2003, 06:58 AM
We don't scream "thank you, sensei", but we do bow when we recieved an instruction. If sensei corrects another persons technique, the person being corrected bows. The other people continues to train as normal. If sensei thinks the issue is relevant for many of the students, he simply tells us to sit down for a moment to watch him do the technique.

If we've done wrong or our technique is poor, sensei does not say that we've insulted his ancestors or family. :)

Regards,

Patrik

JimAde
02-14-2003, 08:39 AM
My $0.02: We do things in much the same way as described. As some other people have said, we hurry to line up between techniques because it just seems polite not to waste anyone's time. If you have 20 or 30 people in a class it can take a while if everyone just strolls. When Sensei corrects a student, some people (especially newbies like me) will stop to watch just to get a chance to see the correct technique again. It's not required.

We never scream...unless we take bad ukemi :)

Nacho_mx
02-14-2003, 03:14 PM
We do things pretty much how you describe it, we just don´t yell, we keep our voices down. I find it appealing and useful in keeping our focus on where we are and what we are doing.

siwilson
02-14-2003, 03:20 PM
I like students to move with purpose.

Also, I think the use of Japanese - badly or not - is of help, especially in an interationally mixed group. I have trained and taught in Poland and Germany, as well as the UK, plus trained in Asia, and with other nationalities. The fact that everyone undestood the limited amount of Japanese used in Aikido is a good common factor.

Elb
02-14-2003, 03:24 PM
The yelling was more the exception than the rule, of a few overzelous ppl.

I've done some soul searching and I think i'll give this place a try. The instruction is solid and everyone is super nice. I may have some issues with authority, and some humility might do me some good :)

Thanks all for the input.

Oh one other question, after interactions, people seem to say something sounding like:

shuh-mas or shmas

or something like that. I checked the language section of this site but couldnt come up with anything. I'll ask next time I go but it wont be for a couple weeks. Was curious in the meantime.

Again thanks everyone for the insight and advice :)

akiy
02-14-2003, 03:54 PM
Oh one other question, after interactions, people seem to say something sounding like:

shuh-mas or shmas

or something like that. I checked the language section of this site but couldnt come up with anything.
http://www.aikiweb.com/language/onegai.html

http://www.aikiweb.com/language/audio.html

-- Jun

Kelly Allen
02-15-2003, 07:37 AM
Jesse! It was probably onagi shimas (pronounced "on a guy she mas"). Thank you in Japanese.

Kevin Wilbanks
02-15-2003, 08:37 AM
Domo is thank you. Domo arigato is thank you very much. Onegai shimasu means something more along the lines of 'please help me'. In practical Aikido terms, it usually means 'please train with me' to another student or 'please critique/assist/answer a question' to a teacher.

Kevin Wilbanks
02-15-2003, 08:48 AM
I think it can get annoying when everyone drops to seiza every time a teacher starts to correct a student, even at seminars. If the teacher is very active and circulating, it gets to the point where you can barely practice. I wouldn't like it at all if it became a habit of day-to-day practice at a dojo where I trained.

mike lee
02-15-2003, 01:04 PM
As far as I know, there are several reasons that students sit down and watch the teacher when he corrects someone.

In the dojo, it may be that some students don't understand the waza and they want to see once again how the teacher does it. (I often did this when the clase was taught by a shihan, even after being a black belt for many years.)

In addition, if students are in close proximity to the teacher, especially in a small dojo, they may want to give him some space. Also, if a guest instructor is in the dojo, the students may want to pay special attention to the new things he may have to teach. Sitting and watching is a way of showing interest and respect. (I can't stand the people who always continue practicing and talking in such situations. It's as if they're saying, "I already know how to do it —I have nothing to learn from you.")

At demonstrations, the same as above may apply, especially if the person is a shihan or doshu. Everybody knows irimi-naga, for example. There's not really a need for black belts to practice it at a seminar — but they may want a chance to see doshu do irimi-nage as often as possible, as well as witness how he teaches it, and then try to repeat his movements.

Kelly Allen
02-16-2003, 01:11 AM
Domo is thank you. Domo arigato is thank you very much. Onegai shimasu means something more along the lines of 'please help me'. In practical Aikido terms, it usually means 'please train with me' to another student or 'please critique/assist/answer a question' to a teacher.
Yes of course! I got it backwards as usual. It means I make a request. I remember now! Sorry for the miss information.

mike lee
02-16-2003, 03:07 AM
Sorry for the miss information.

So do we have a Mr. information in the house?

opherdonchin
02-16-2003, 07:46 AM
I've been at dojos where students stand to receive instruction (Seidokan dojos tend to be like this) and others where they sit (ASU / AiKiKai). I have to admit that the sitting version seems much more reasonable to me. I'm with Kevin that feeling like you HAVE to sit just because the sensei is demonstrating near you can get to be very trying. I've even seen senseis (Ikeda, for instance) who seem to shy away from demonstrating because they don't want to interrupt everyone's practice. On the other hand, students having the choice to sit if they WANT to watch a demonstration always seems like a better way for students to try to figure things out than talking amongs themselves.

Carl Simard
02-19-2003, 01:33 PM
I've done some soul searching and I think i'll give this place a try. The instruction is solid and everyone is super nice. I may have some issues with authority, and some humility might do me some good :)
For the authority, you must simply know that any dojo, no matter the martial art, has a more a less strong hierarchical structure. With the sensei at the top of the pyramid followed, usually, by the most experienced students.

The sensei has the last word on anything that's related to its dojo... It means that students have two choices if they don't like the rules or decisions: just respect what has been decided or train somewhere else...

PeterR
02-19-2003, 07:35 PM
The sensei has the last word on anything that's related to its dojo... It means that students have two choices if they don't like the rules or decisions: just respect what has been decided or train somewhere else...
Geez Carl that's easy for you to say. Your teacher is far from the extreme example sited. Still you are right - if you don't like it leave. If what you are learning means so much to you - adapt.

Cheers

Peter R.