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David Yap
10-30-2003, 09:10 PM
I just heard that one of our local dojo affiliated with Aikikai had declared itself as an independent dojo and I believe that it is the first and only independent aikido dojo in my country.

What exactly is an independent dojo? My brief understanding of the term "independent" is that the organisation or instructor concerned is non-affiliated to anyone or body (i.e. Aikikai or others) and it/he/she runs the organisation/dojo according to its/his/her objectives including setting the syllabus and gradings and issuing of ranks including dan grades.

Any independents out there care to enlighten me on the variations to my understanding above.

Regards

David

happysod
10-31-2003, 02:48 AM
David, I'm not familiar with a single dojo going independant, but I was peripherally involved in setting up a new association a while back, which may be similar.

Essentially, what you described concerning non-affiliation etc. is correct. However, for insurance purposes, new associations/dojos normally do then join some sort of umberella organisation to ensure they are covered legally and have some sort of recourse if problems arise in the association and also for dan ranking. The organisation they join will normally be one of two type.

1. A generic martial arts council with fairly strong connections to some sort of government body.

2. An aikido asoociation which is best described as a cooperative "bank" of dojos.

In both cases, "style", syllabus, kyu gradings etc. are up to the individual dojos. It is only if the dojo wishes their students grades (and their own) to be recognised outside that dojo that stronger links are needed.

I was part-time in a dojo which seemed to be run as a separate entity as it switched associations three times in as many years. However, as gradings were not my interest, I found no problems with training there.

Hope it works out for you

john.burn
10-31-2003, 04:01 AM
Hi David,

Yep, you're pretty much correct with what I would consider an 'independent' dojo certainly as far as the UK goes. In fact most of the Associations in the UK are independents - they have no links back to their respective styles hombu dojo, there are I think only 4 or 5 out of over 30 that I can think of as having direct links back to their styles hombu dojo.

FYI, the Association I belong to are independent and we're about the third largest in the UK at present with around 600 - 700 students.

Don_Modesto
10-31-2003, 07:49 AM
I just heard that one of our local dojo affiliated with Aikikai had declared itself as an independent dojo and I believe that it is the first and only independent aikido dojo in my country.

What exactly is an independent dojo? My brief understanding of the term "independent" is that the organisation or instructor concerned is non-affiliated to anyone or body (i.e. Aikikai or others) and it/he/she runs the organisation/dojo according to its/his/her objectives including setting the syllabus and gradings and issuing of ranks including dan grades.
Maybe. But in this country, with its multitude of Jpn SHIHAN, independent might have the meaning of affilitation directly with HONBU, bypassing the locals, although I don't know if these conditions apply in Malaysia.



For further info, see: http://www.aikikai.or.jp/Eng/info2/InternationalRegulations.htm

Chapter 1 : GENERAL PRINCIPLE

Article 1 : AIM

1. The Aikikai Foundation - Aikido World Headquarters, in order to spread Aikido in countries throughout the world and to have a system which works smoothly, hereby lays downInternational Regulations.

2. The Aikikai Foundation Aikido World Headquarters shall be referred to hereinafter as the Hombu.

Chapter 2 : RECOGNITION BY THE HOMBU OF AIKIDO ORGANIZATIONS IN A GIVEN COUNTRY

Article 2 : HOMBU RECOGNITION

1. The Hombu will give Hombu Recognition to an Aikido organization whichit judges to have satisfied the following conditions. If more than one Aikido organization exist in a country due to national law and/or rules or any other reason the Hombu admits as appropriate, Hombu Recognition can be given to those organizations.

(1) The relevant Aikido organization has been established legally and has had more than five years of substantial Aikido activity since itfs establishment. It is not a single dojo of an individual person.

(2) The relevant Aikido organization has more than one affiliated dojo open to the public, and holds activities throughout the year.

(3) The head of management or the chief of Aikido instruction of the relevant Aikido organization (hereinafter referred to as the Person in Charge) is 4th dan or above. The Person in Charge is a permanent resident of the country of that organization.

(4) The relevant Aikido organization has more than one holder of 2nd dan of Aikido or above, who will assist the Person in Charge in establishing the committees for instructing and dan/kyu grading examination.

(5) The relevant Aikido organization has established a Headquarters, Regulations and a Directing Committee.

(6) Issuing of Hombu Recognition to the relevant Aikido organization will not cause any confusion or problem in the organizationfs country.

2. An Aikido organization which has been given Hombu Recognition will represent its country in international Aikido activities. If more than one Aikido organization with Hombu Recognition exists in a country, those Aikido organizations should, if necessary, coordinate and cooperate with each other for domestic and international Aikido activities as appropriate in an amiable and timely manner based on the Aikido spirit established by the Founder of Aikido.

3. An Aikido organization which has been given Hombu Recognition may be eligible to perform the following activities. The extent of possible activities depends on the dan rank of the Person In Charge.

(1) Issuing of kyu grades (See Article 14)

(2) Examination of dan grades (See Article

9.1)

(3) Application for the registration of dan grades (See Article 8)

(4) Application for the examination of dan grades ( See Article 9.1)

(5) Application for the recommendation of dan grades (See Article 9.2)

(6) Certification of instructors (See Article 17)

(7) Receiving assistance from the Hombu

(8) Joint activities with the Hombu concerning Aikido

4. With respect to an Aikido organization which has not been given Hombu Recognition in accordance with Article 2.1 because it does not satisfy the conditions for Hombu Recognition, the Hombu will, if it deems necessary, give instruction to enable it to fulfill the conditions for Hombu Recognition, and assistance in developing the organization. Furthermore, matters concerning dan grades, are subject to the provisions of

Article 6.1. In this case, gHombu Recognitionh is to be read as gsubject to the provision of Article 2.4, and examination for dan grades will be conducted by the Hombu or a person delegated by the Hombu.

Article 3 ISSUANCE OF CERTIFICATES

To an Aikido organization which has been given Hombu Recognition, a Certificate of Hombu Recognition will be issued through established procedure.

Article 4 MATTERS TO OBSERVE

1. An Aikido organization which has been given Hombu Recognition must adhere to the following principles.

(1) An Aikido organization which has been given Hombu Recognition must respect and follow the spirit of Aikido established by the Founder, Ueshiba Morihei, and basic principles concerning the dissemination of Aikido established by the Hombu.

(2) Dan grades are legitimated by the Doshu of Aikido. An Aikido organization which has been given Hombu Recognition must hold in esteem the Aikido dan grades legitimated by the Doshu. The members of that organization must obtain dan grades to be legitimated by the Doshu and registered at the Hombu regardless of a situation in which national dan grades are issued by the country or government due to the national legislation or some other reason.

(3) An Aikido organization which has been given Hombu Recognition shall establish a teaching system and examination structure for dan and kyu grades, such as an Instructing Committee and a Dan/Kyu Examination Committee.

(4) An Aikido organization which has been given Hombu Recognition must keep close contact with and cooperate with the Hombu and also with the instructor(s) dispatched by the Hombu staying in its country. Also it shall coordinate and cooperate with the Hombu regarding the acceptance of instructor(s) to be dispatched by the Hombu for a short period.

(5) An Aikido organization which has been given Hombu Recognition shall keep contact, coordinate and cooperate, as appropriate, with other Aikido organization(s) in its country to promote friendly relations. Also it is recommended that a type of umbrella organization for those Aikido organizations should be established.

(6) An Aikido organization which has been given Hombu Recognition shall abide by the provisions of this Regulation in addition to the items mentioned above.

2. An Aikido organization which has been given Hombu Recognition must submit to Hombu a written agreement mentioning (1) through

(6) of the Article 4.1 above.

Article 5 CANCELLATION OF HOMBU RECOGNITION

In a case where an Aikido organization with Hombu Recognition violates the provisions of these Regulations and creates serious obstacles for the dissemination of Aikido by the Hombu, the Hombu will, both verbally and in writing, urge the adherence to the provisions of these Regulations. If the organization does not demonstrate to do so, Hombu Recognition may be cancelled. The qualifications of the Aikido organization (Chapter 4) will cease to exist.

Abasan
11-01-2003, 09:20 AM
Well we don't have a prolific number of Japanese shihans here in Malaysia. We have one. He's the head of aikikai malaysia.

And yes, the dojo that seperated from aikikai malaysia is none other than mine. Since i'm not the sensei, i have no answers for you.

All i can say is, i don't see any changes in my aikido style. As far as i'm concerned, we are still practicing aikido. We still give respects to all aikidokas and my sensei has never stopped me from practicing with any other dojos or senseis.

I love the relaxed attitude we have on this.

Nafis Zahir
11-01-2003, 02:33 PM
I used to go to an "independent" dojo. They did pay dues to the Aikikai in Japan, but that was only because they needed to be able to give you Shodan certification. For example, my old instructor never to anyone about the aikikai blue books, nor would he let you have it. That was because they do not associate with any other dojos or instrctors and do not want their students training anywhere else. They teach that the Iwama style is the only true style and that anything else you learn is garbage. The one thing they do say that I agree with, is that they got tired of all of the politics. When I left, I asked for my blue book. My shodan ranking was marked by the Late Toyoda Shihan with whom the had links to. Probably for this reason. But they didn't want us to do any techniques that Toyoda Shihan showed us and often ridiculed his style behind his back. What hipocrites! Anyway, independent means that they want to stay to themselves and not have anyone tell them what to do, how to test, how to grade, what techniques or weapons are required for this or that. That's cool. If you know your stuff, what difference does a piece of paper make anyway? It's only for show. They may not recognize your rank, but they will recognize your technique!

Abasan
11-02-2003, 05:14 AM
"They may not recognize your rank, but they will recognize your technique!"

Thats about as honest as you can get in any dojo.

David Yap
11-03-2003, 01:29 AM
Maybe. But in this country, with its multitude of Jpn SHIHAN, independent might have the meaning of affilitation directly with HONBU, bypassing the locals, although I don't know if these conditions apply in Malaysia...<snipped>...
Thanks, Don, for the regulations on affiliation with Aikikai. As a rule, Aikikai Hombu does not accept direct affiliation from a sole dojo. Hence, for the dojo in question if it still seek recognition from Aikikai, it still need to affiliate itself with a body that is recognised by Aikikai Hombu. That's not a problem as precedently (as everyone knows)Aikikai Hombu does not stop member bodies from accepting cross-border affiliations. For example, there is another body in Malaysia that claimed recognition from Aikikai Hombu and the sponsor is an Aikikai Shihan residing in New York, thousand of miles away and only give instructions probably once a year for a day or two in a closed seminar.

What one is "independent", does one call his/her art "Aikikai Aikido" or "My Aikido" or just "Aikido"? The art of aikido is beyond techniques, the goal is character and spirit - and it is non-gradeable.

Regards

David

David Yap
11-03-2003, 04:21 AM
...

What one is "independent", ...
Sorry for the typo, actually meant "When.." not "What.."

David

Abasan
11-03-2003, 10:34 PM
Well, that named association with the shihan from New York is verily more active then the officially recognised aikikai association. For better or worst, thats the truth of it. They have more members, they do more international seminars and they get things done. And its not closed... I've joined that seminar and i enjoyed learning from Sugano sensei although its different in style. There were hundreds of ppl there, but he still managed to mingle and I got the chance to take uke for him. I appreciate that. The instructors in that association are also long standing Aikikai instructors here.

As regards to the shihan only giving some 1 or 2 seminars a year, it doesn't detract much from what's happening right now with the present Malaysian Aikikai HQ and its affliated dojos. So I see no difference at all.

I think one of the reason why some dojos choose to become independant is because they want to do stuff that the head of the group doesn't want. Like hold more seminars maybe (with outside senseis invited), or do more camps with a lot less red tape. Aikikai Malaysia's been around for a long time now, I've not attended a single camp/seminar sponsored by it at all. Because there's been none. Anything at all has been organised by dojo's independantly.

If I'm not mistaken, whenever Yoshinkan malaysia opens up a new dojo, they get sponsored somewhat by the Japan HQ. I'm not dicing this, I think its great. It shows that your efforts are regarded.

If you want a united association, then that association has to mean something to its members. Maybe if you want to gather us all 'indies' out there, a good way is to have the HQ sponsor say... instructors classes, joint dojo sessions, monthly visits, etc etc. As HQ, the responsibility is greater and its to serve all its members not just its dojo members or serve out the black belts.

My last post "All i can say is, i don't see any changes in my aikido style." If what I was doing was 'Aikikai Aikido' previously, and if I'm no longer from an 'Aikikai Dojo' then my aikido would probably be 'Aikido Formerly Known As Aikikai Aikido' or AFKAAA for short.

David Yap
11-04-2003, 07:58 PM
Thank you, guys, for the replies. They affirmed my understanding of the definition of an "independent " dojo that is non-alignment or non-affiliation.

Thanks again, Don, for the reference to Aikikai's regulations. Again, as I have observed, the rules are not cast in stone.

I did not ask "Why dojo operators go independent?". I am not going to anyway - THIS IS the end of my thread. I would weigh these reason to be more on the commercial rather than politics. Politics are more often the veils. This question, I expect would generate a lot of "political" responses that would most time be indiscrete, personal, ugly and distorted. Most times, the responses would be from students who know half the truth or can't tell the difference due to blind loyalty and hence immature to judge ones character and know the true meaning of budo (the martial way).

If you guys want to continue on this line, I appreciate it very much if you can start another new thread.

Thanks, goodbye & happy training.

David

PS. Unless the instructions in aikido go against the essence and principles of O Sensei's teaching - I would say Aikido is just (his) Aikido.

Koren Ko
04-13-2006, 02:34 PM
Hi David,

After I saw your thread, I somehow reminded of my past experience when practicing Karate.

I was learning a certain stlye of Karate-do up to Black belt for atleast 7years. It all went ok until my sensei and several others was broke off from the main body. Thus, breaking off any link to the former school...Including the opportunity to participate in any competition and/or seminars. While have a great split upon the affected students to whether to stay or leave.

Reason given by my sensei is unfairness of attention and bias of opportunity to the "unnoticed" qualified student by the Shihan to the selected few. Then, plus and minus several other issues which resulted expulsion of the "disobedient" Senseis (including my Sensei)

Though my Sensei and others eventually decided to start their own Dojo and style and affiliated to another major Ryu (in order to have qualified students able to join competition like WUKO, AUKO and for other learning experiences) after reconsile attempts by the Soke failed and approval for affiliation.

But the point here is not to dicuss who was right who was wrong or what they are struggle for.

It is how this kind thing affect the low rank students.

Most of those affected are school students. With sudden announcement that the Sensei who are teaching you are purged, any student will just be confused. Felt betrayed and many other mixed feelings.

Choice:
Give up your Sensei, and study with other Sensei of the original style that you had never trained with before?
Follow your Sensei and affiliate with other style instead?
Or just stop pracitcing it because the politics just kill your interest?

Regardless of which choice, the student will sure lose their training pals.

Then, if you decided to learn something else, this bad experince will make you think twice on finding which "problem free" dojo to learn Martial art (normally those popular and with many styles to pick from) again.
Furthermore, that it is fair and no bias.

And when those stopped students grow up, they,(now, as general public) will probably bear a negative mind on all martial art.

Just my sadden thought.

DudSan
05-31-2006, 01:56 PM
I know of at least three independent Dojos in my country. I knew one of these guys, and he was a good Aikidoist.

The most interesting 'independent Dojo' is a style that they call 'Satori AikiBudo'. They use the same principles and basic techniques of Aikido, with other particular techniques they have, focused so much in real Self Defense as in spiritual aspects. They give the Belt after a person has been 'enlightened', that means when he understand the essence of the art and start being totally fluid. I find it a good stuff, though it hangs on the person, of course.

All the others are just streetfighting based on Steven Seagal movies. Not Aikido at all.

My opinion is that, if someone wants to learn something he/she likes and the independent Dojo teaches something that they like, go ahead then. But when dealing with the change of technical programms I I still respect tradition enough as to believe that a tradictional teaching is safer than the new inspirations. Because there is nothing new under the sun.

Respectful regards
DudSan

James Kelly
05-31-2006, 03:28 PM
...They give the Belt after a person has been 'enlightened'
now that's funny...

jimbaker
05-31-2006, 05:37 PM
There are also teachers who are independent because they were asked to leave an organization. They may or may not tell their students this.

I too have noticed some indepentent teachers shopping around for an organization through which they could get recognized ranking. The teacher gets certificates and the organizations add another dues paying dojo. It's been my experience that neither thinks highly of the other.

DevinHammer
05-31-2006, 07:59 PM
I used to go to an "independent" dojo. They did pay dues to the Aikikai in Japan, but that was only because they needed to be able to give you Shodan certification. For example, my old instructor never to anyone about the aikikai blue books, nor would he let you have it. That was because they do not associate with any other dojos or instrctors and do not want their students training anywhere else. They teach that the Iwama style is the only true style and that anything else you learn is garbage. The one thing they do say that I agree with, is that they got tired of all of the politics. When I left, I asked for my blue book. My shodan ranking was marked by the Late Toyoda Shihan with whom the had links to. Probably for this reason. But they didn't want us to do any techniques that Toyoda Shihan showed us and often ridiculed his style behind his back. What hipocrites! Anyway, independent means that they want to stay to themselves and not have anyone tell them what to do, how to test, how to grade, what techniques or weapons are required for this or that. That's cool. If you know your stuff, what difference does a piece of paper make anyway? It's only for show. They may not recognize your rank, but they will recognize your technique!


I disagree. I have heard of and experienced plenty of "affiliated" dojo that don't want their members training anywhere else, or claim that there's "one correct way" to do techniques. It has much more to do with the sensei's attitude than any affiliation or lack thereof. I come from a very well known and respected dojo that is no longer affiliated with any organization, and we are encouraged to "train around". We're also constantly bringing in guest instructors, from a variety of affiliations, and exploring different ways of doing things. As I understand it, our past affiliations were discontinued due to frustration with the politics.

alex padilla
05-31-2006, 08:37 PM
i think politics and financial matters causes independent dojos. besides the attitude of the sensei or students who think they are senseis.

Talon
05-31-2006, 08:43 PM
I train at a dojo that is not affiliated with anyone. When I asked the sensei why. He said he was not into the politics and paying dues to some outside organization. He said that if we affiliated, our fees would go up and he doesnt see any point in charging his students any more money for dues. He says his philosophy is hard training not papers and affiliations. It will not make you better on the mat according to him. I'd preffer to be affiliated but I liked his dojo the best when I was shopping around (5+ years ago). How expensive are affiliations anyway to a dojo owner?

aikidoc
05-31-2006, 10:01 PM
There are some issues of concern when becoming "independent". As an example, I have seen organizations claim "aikikai style" when their closest relationship to the aikikai was one of the lineage instructors had been under Koichi Tohei-3 levels removed. How can one maintain a connection to the aikikai style, if there is such a thing, when you never train actively under the aikikai for 30 years? I originally trained concurrently under an aikikai and an "independent" organization. The independent group was considerably removed from the aikikai both in terminology and style, yet members still claim aikikai style. Is this intellectual dishonesty or do they really believe that is what they are teaching? Or, is it because it is popular to make that connection to the aikikai?

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against independent organizations. As long as the "independent" makes it clear where their lineage lies and maintain intellectual honesty in their claims. IMHO It will be the student's responsibility to determine if the quality of aikido suffers without connection to a formal organization with higher level instructors.

Budd
06-01-2006, 07:39 AM
I think it again depends on what you're looking for. I've heard so many times, "How high a rank can I get at your dojo?" or "What does it take to get a black belt?" from people that joined our independent dojo -- then didn't make it through a month of classes.

For the seasoned student, it's much easier to look at where the instructors (independent or otherwise) got their stuff, feel them on the mat (though it helps if you train at a place where the instructor trains with you, rather than walking around saying "do this, do that") and make an informed decision than it is for the brand new martial arts student that:

1) Doesn't understand the pros and cons that exist vis a vis belonging to an organization and being independent.

2) Doesn't have a basis for comparing the practitioners' skills (a compliant demo where people are flying through the air might seem more impressive than a less compliant demo where folks are dropped quickly and with minimal force).

3) Doesn't understand the difference between training aikido as martial art that you can fight with versus aikido training as learning to harmonize with the spirit of the universe (insert your own definitions of these things as it seems to be a case by case interpretation).

I train at an independent dojo and very much like it that way -- but I think that has more to do with my instructors, training partners and my perception of the quality of training than it does regarding the dojo's status as independent or otherwise (though, given my somewhat 'maverick' nature, I'm betting that it still IS a factor).

YMMV.

jimbaker
06-01-2006, 07:40 AM
For the USAF, the annual dojo fee is $65 for dojos with fewer than, I think, 50 students. The ranked students pay $30 per year for their membership. Test fees up to Shodan are $30 per test.

We're not required to buy manuals, patches, dogis, hakama, weapons, belts or anything else for that matter, from the USAF.

Since the USAF does not issue Yudansha ranks, but rather gets them directly from Hombu dojo, fees for Yudansha tests go directly to Japan.

I'm not sure what people think is "too expensive", but for me, 65 bucks a year seems reasonable.

aikidoc
06-01-2006, 08:47 AM
The issue of rank can be complicated with it being very political in some organizations to costly in others. I don't want to get on the rank quality issue for each level. However, suffice it to say that the one weakness independent organizations can fall into is stagnation. How does the top of the organization, depending on size, continue to improve it's aikido. I have seen organizations where the yudansha keep advancing based on time in grade but don't attend seminars or do anything visible to advance their own skills. This stagnation leads to futher deterioation down the road of the quality of successive generations. At least with a large or connected organization, the top ranks are generally of significant rank skill and dedication that they continue to evolve their aikido. However, when you have an organization that splits off for whatever reason with lower ranked yudansha that self promotes the quality issue becomes visible. I know of one independent that tests only to nidan and then rank is time in grade from there forward. If you are actively training, do the time in grade, you get the rank. You can end up with 5th or 6th dans who have never tested beyond nidan and have no other requirements than time in grade. Does it or could it mean the 5th or 6th dan has nidan level skills? Absolutely unless someone is guiding this person's training. This is one of the biggest challenges in my mind that independents face-maintaining quality.

Budd
06-01-2006, 09:46 AM
I think it again depends on the dojo and the organization. What are the instructor's verifiable qualifications? Does the instructor have a Teacher? How often does the instructor visit/train with his or her teacher? What are the verifiable qualifications of his/her Teacher? When the instructor teaches, does he or she train with the students or just demo? What are the standards for rank? Is the aikido trained as budo, moving zen, aerobics, etc.? Are you paying testing/association fees? If yes, where does this money go?

As to the issue of stagnation, I think that's always going to be an issue when the head Teacher is of middling skill -- which I'm sure plenty can point to inside and outside of the main organizations -- AND has an investment in keeping the students dependent on him or her for advancement/knowledge/etc. (doesn't have to be financial, can be purely for ego). Which I think comes back to this: Is your teacher always trying to improve? Are they afraid to fail along the way? Assuming you do your work on and off the mat, are they trying to bring you up to their level (and hope that you someday surpass them)?

vsm712
06-09-2006, 12:30 AM
this thread is very timely...our dojo plans to be independent since we don't want to join any political war and that we simply want to practice in harmony but we hope to still be recognized and maintain our affiliation with hombu dojo....since being independent means we don't have any local affiliations anymore, will it not be possible for us to be recognized? if there's a way, i would appreciate exactly the steps as to how we can achieve this...i've read the regulations and just basing it on there, would be difficult to achieve this that's why im asking if anyone was able to achieve this and what exactr course you have taken. thanks in advance ...

George S. Ledyard
06-09-2006, 12:44 AM
That was because they do not associate with any other dojos or instrctors and do not want their students training anywhere else. They teach that the Iwama style is the only true style and that anything else you learn is garbage.

The one thing they do say that I agree with, is that they got tired of all of the politics.

I like that very much... they don't associate with anyone else, think everybody else's Aikido is garbage, think that their style is the only REAL style, and they got tired of the politics? It's precisely this type of attitude which makes me tired, I must say.

philipsmith
06-09-2006, 04:18 AM
Just to agree with Mr Ledyard.

"I don't agree with the politics" usually means "I'm not getting what I want from the association"; be that rank, position of authority or financial support.

Being independent is often an easy route to follow because you have complete freedom.

I remember a conversation where an aikido instructor said his dojo's teachers shouldn't be questioned because "I'm a Shihan [self appointed] and nobody tells me what to do"

In saying that I do know some independent dojos who are not concerned with rank etc.and are none the worse for that, but they are the exception.

happysod
06-09-2006, 06:33 AM
I remember a conversation where an aikido instructor said his dojos teachers shouldn't be questioned because "I'm a Shihan [self appointed] and nobody tells me what to do" In contrast, the general consensus within many "associated dojos" is you never question a shihan because well, he's a shihan - nothing need be stated, it's just understood... :rolleyes:

I'm uneasy the implications that independent dojos occur through some lack of integrity on the part of the those who went independent. There are many reasons for leaving an association (or even being asked to leave) as some of the more "headline" dissociation's have shown. Note, I'm not saying the comment wasn't valid in some cases, but I don't believe it's the endemic reason. As for "complete freedom", believe me, it's a pain in the neck rather than a blessing and most independents in the UK normally adopt someone else's framework (often their parent association) rather than trying to build from the ground up.

The worry about stagnation is a valid one. However, I've met the odd non-independent dojo which has been even more insular than I thought was possible while remaining within an organization. So I'd put this down as more of an potential problem for all dojos, especially as most seminars are normally more open about heathens attending than in the past.

Jorge Garcia
06-09-2006, 07:10 AM
this thread is very timely...our dojo plans to be independent since we don't want to join any political war and that we simply want to practice in harmony but we hope to still be recognized and maintain our affiliation with hombu dojo....since being independent means we don't have any local affiliations anymore, will it not be possible for us to be recognized? if there's a way, i would appreciate exactly the steps as to how we can achieve this...I've read the regulations and just basing it on there, would be difficult to achieve this that's why I'm asking if anyone was able to achieve this and what exact course you have taken. thanks in advance ...

This is an interesting question. I don't know about anyone else but I do know of a way. If a teacher knows of a Shihan that lives in Japan and is willing to take you on as a student and make your dojo a branch dojo of the Japanese dojo, then you can be "independent" in the sense of not being part of a large organization and get your certificates from Hombu dojo. That teacher would have to come to the U.S. and test the students. I believe that Christopher Taw of Arlington Heights had this kind of an arrangement and I am know of others that have as well. The problem with this is the same reason that organizations rise up. That problem is that it is very expensive for a single dojo to pay to bring someone from Japan (airfare, hotel, meals and honorarium) and send them back twice a year. The other problem is that most dojos aren't large enough to have a major seminar in so you can't raise the money having a seminar in a dojo that fits 30 people like sardines because 30 people won't raise the funds you need. If you move to a larger venue, then you have to hope people from all affiliations will come to it but if they don't, then you are stuck with the bill of the place you rented, the advertising and all the other expenses involved. You could lose your shirt. As much as we like to think the "aiki" spirit is out there, the truth is that the organizations do privately discourage training across jurisdictional lines. Not universally, I know, but they do or the die hards in the hierarchy do. I know that by experience. I know some would disagree and will give me anecdotal evidence of their own Sensei and organization but this could make an interesting discussion. When we started having our Friendship Seminars, I did a lot of research and talked to a lot of people and we have found ways to make it financially viable and even successful but it was a leap of faith. I am grateful that things have worked out but it's a job for an independent dojo to do all that so they just tend to go the low road and be isolated and save the expense and issue all their own certificates and keep then cash to pay the bills.

Kevin Leavitt
06-09-2006, 07:58 AM
Good topic.

I am an "independent kinda guy" right now. Mainly because where I am I have no organization around that studies what I want to study. I have a bunch of guys that we basically train MMA. Now it is not a free for all. We do train on our own in an informal arrangement with no prescribed curriculmn per se. But we are affiliate basically with the Modern Army Combatives Program (we are an active duty Army organization). We also have a Gracie Barra BJJ affiliiation through a Black belt in Italy.

On a personal note I maintain my ties with ASU through my dojo back in the states as best I can.

I am not one to follow the mold and path. Could careless about politics. Yes, I am also probably clever enough to start my own MMA Ryu style as well.

I have found there are some benefits to maintaining affliation with an organization. Also, very good reasons to pursue rank and testing through these established organizations. They offer a structure and standard, and mentorship.

My old karate sensei founded his own style based on the sum of his life experiences. He was somewhat of a prodigy in Karate. He truly developed and codified his own system! However, even he would travel to Japan to test for his promotions under JKA to ensure that he had a "check" on what he was doing.

I think it is possible to be non-parochial and have a mind of your own, and avoid group think, and be open to outside sources and still affiliate. If you are good enough at what you do for your art, you can isolate those skills to demonstrate them for the particular body that is evaluating you. If your chosen affliation is based on the right principles, then regardless of what you practice, you should not have issues with the affiliation.

Budd
06-09-2006, 08:49 AM
I find it amusing when I hear of sayings like "We're independent because we don't like politics!". I guess what it sounds like to the outside party is that "We're independent because the politics didn't favor me/us!" Speaking as someone that trains at an independent dojo, there are always going to relational aspects that you must be sensitive to (that's part of the training), whether it's just the dynamic between you and your teacher, your sempai, kohai, etc.

I think the problem of stagnation is valid (but again, not exclusive to independents) -- but you can be an independent dojo and still go to seminars with associations or visit other affiliated dojo (or as was recently the case this year, a seminar that involved sponsorship by three different dojo- two different group affiliations and an independent dojo). It's ultimately the responsibility of the student to develop their practice and progress in their training. A good teacher provides you with the tools and shows you the path, but it's up to you follow it (whether you're an agoraphobe or a tourist).

Personally, right now, what matters to me are (not necessarily in order) my goals for training (I find I always need to have goals, whether it's to be able to do five more push-ups, tap out five people a night, or advance a rank), my relationship with my teacher and supporting my dojo. I think that, affiliated or otherwise, if you're meeting or exceeding your goals for training and the material is presented in an honest fashion (by people that have legitimate training backgrounds) -- then the rest of the progress is solely up to you.

Of course, you couuullllddd get in to that whole name-dropping thing of, "Well, I train with Shihan X and we've got the REEL AIKIDOUGH!", but that would probably spark an entirely different thread . . .

aikidoc
06-09-2006, 09:11 AM
we hope to still be recognized and maintain our affiliation with hombu dojo....since being independent means we don't have any local affiliations anymore, will it not be possible for us to be recognized? ...

If you are trying to maintain affiliation with the Aikikai Foundation there are some steps you have to take and it takes time. You need to have an organization in place and meet their criteria. The organization needs to be in place for 5 years. See the aikikai website for details. The latest aikikai regulations are at the following link: http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/index.htm

aikidoc
06-09-2006, 09:19 AM
The issue of stagnation is especially important when independent dojos discourage their students from attending seminars not put on by the independent. There are a myriad of excuses and pressures used to discourage outside training. However, unless the instructors are seeking outside training stagnation will occur-unless they are good at upgrading their skills by themselves. As my students progress, I know it is a challenge to keep myself advancing so as to keep their skills moving ahead.

Talon
06-09-2006, 09:38 AM
Our independent dojo sensei promotes all students to attend any and all outside seminars and other learning sources. One of the reasons why he left his school was that his sensei didn't like it when students went to seminars presented by others. I personally love the training we get at our independent dojo and perhaps some day we will affilate with some organization if that is at all possible. In the meantime, I'll train hard and enjoy the time with my friends at the dojo.

Budd
06-09-2006, 09:58 AM
The issue of stagnation is especially important when independent dojos discourage their students from attending seminars not put on by the independent. There are a myriad of excuses and pressures used to discourage outside training. However, unless the instructors are seeking outside training stagnation will occur-unless they are good at upgrading their skills by themselves. As my students progress, I know it is a challenge to keep myself advancing so as to keep their skills moving ahead.

Agreed, but again, I think that happens both inside and outside of independent groups -- and likely had more to do with the dojo/instructor than belonging (or not) to an organization.

gregstec
06-09-2006, 11:19 AM
Agreed, but again, I think that happens both inside and outside of independent groups -- and likely had more to do with the dojo/instructor than belonging (or not) to an organization.

Absolutely right. I am somewhat of an Aikido gypsy that trains 'around' a lot. Currently, I train with an ASU affiliated club and I also train with Budd at the Itten dojo on occasion as well as attend seminars with other groups when I can. Stagnation can occur in any environment where new and different things are not encouraged.

I like the deep resources that an affiliated dojo can bring to your training, and I also like the opportunity to explore some of the unique perspectives and quality instruction that can be found in an independent dojo; which can be found at the Itten dojo. Bottom line is that you make the most of whatever training you are involved in at the given moment. If it gets to the point of stagnation, it may just be you and not necessarily the dojo.

Greg Steckel

Budd
06-09-2006, 11:45 AM
Hi Greg :) -- hope to see you on the mat, soon!

Just for clarification as well, when Greg says he trains with me, we're both just students practicing under the instruction of the dojocho. I don't want anyone to get an incorrect impression that I'm any kind of teacher -- just a student that loves to train at Itten.

gregstec
06-09-2006, 11:57 AM
Hi Greg :) -- hope to see you on the mat, soon!

Just for clarification as well, when Greg says he trains with me, we're both just students practicing under the instruction of the dojocho. I don't want anyone to get an incorrect impression that I'm any kind of teacher -- just a student that loves to train at Itten.

But I always learn something from you every time you jam me into the mat :freaky: Will try to stop in next Thursday...

Greg S

senshincenter
06-09-2006, 10:56 PM
What is an independent dojo?

We are an independent dojo. Check out the link below - in the signature.

We could never run the program we do in a federation - simply impossible. In short, and personally, I see it as: for some there is the temple and/or the temple system, and for others only a hut will do. We are a hut - or try to be a hut. Anyone can join us, anyone can leave - any time, and for any reason - returning whenever, however. Temples have always had the walls - not huts.

Historically, the thing with such huts is that they have never equated insulation with stagnation. I do not either. In fact, such huts have always associated isolation with penetration (i.e. insight) - institutional support and broad exposure with superficiality. I think this has been the case in martial arts history as well - penetration comes from insulation (or near insulation), not from broad exposure. The latter idea has only gained prominence fairly recently, in my opinion. Nevertheless, it remains a tough argument to sell if one really thinks about it. Why? Because when you think about it, things like seminars and camps can really only touch the most superficial aspects of the art - that's probably always been true, and that's why there probably has always been huts. Just a quick note to say I can't swallow this idea that isolation leads stagnation and that broad exposure leads to deep insight and/or meaningful progress. I believe the opposite to be true.


thanks,
dmv

Peter Goldsbury
06-10-2006, 07:10 AM
I just heard that one of our local dojo affiliated with Aikikai had declared itself as an independent dojo and I believe that it is the first and only independent aikido dojo in my country.

What exactly is an independent dojo? My brief understanding of the term "independent" is that the organisation or instructor concerned is non-affiliated to anyone or body (i.e. Aikikai or others) and it/he/she runs the organisation/dojo according to its/his/her objectives including setting the syllabus and gradings and issuing of ranks including dan grades.

Any independents out there care to enlighten me on the variations to my understanding above.

Regards

David

Hello David,

I have read through this thread and would like to establish one point. Was there any aikido in Malaysia before Mr Jun Yamada came and established the Aikikai Malaysia in Kuching, Sarawak? At the present time I believe that there are four groups in Malaysia recognised by the Aikikai. It is perhaps indelicate to ask this, but am I right in thinking that the four Aikikai groups, and any other groups that practise aikido that is recognisably Aikikai, are offshoots of Mr Yamada's original organization?

aikidoc
06-10-2006, 09:01 AM
Just a quick note to say I can't swallow this idea that isolation leads stagnation and that broad exposure leads to deep insight and/or meaningful progress. I believe the opposite to be true.
dmv

I understand you points of view. However, my point is that if you are not expanding your knowledge by participating with the rest of the aikido world your options for development are limited. Especially if you are not being mentored by someone of greater knowledge. Sure, you can expand your knowledge by buying tapes and reading books and experimenting with what you see. I do that all the time. Sometimes it helps me move in the right direction, sometimes not. This same issue, to me at least, can become a problem when you isolate yourself purely under one umbrella or instructor as well. You are exposed to only that perspective. Your instructor may be providing you with everything you need and that is all good. However, you are limited by that base of knowledge unless you push the envelope by yourself.

senshincenter
06-10-2006, 09:25 PM
I can follow this - it appears to make sense - but only on the surface. However, if you really think about it, nothing supports it - even history doesn't support it. The greats, in whatever field, have done the exact opposite - adopting pure isolation or great spans of isolation - having these periods be the moments of their greatest growth and advancement. If we were dealing with a finite thing, then maybe. Like if Aikido had some sort of finite value like 100 - yes, seeing more of 100 gets you closer to 100. However, Aikido, like other arts, is infinite - it has no finite value. Having 10 of infinity is no different in terms of completion than having 20 or 80 of infinity. When it comes to infinity you don't gain by amassing more of anything - not even exposure. You only need one thing, and from that one thing, you pierce it until you find the infinity in that one thing. This is why depth is more important than breath when it comes to all art forms - especially a martial art like Aikido. If anything decreases one's chance for gaining knowledge (or insight or wisdom - which are better words here) it is to hold that knowledge is gained in the same way that finite and material things - like money - are gained. Broadness cannot help but to limit one's depth of understanding.

Of course I'm talking about a period in one's training - after a capacity for self-responsibility has set in. But even before that, I would not hold that broad exposure can lead to the kind of insight that isolation can. Of course, I'm not picturing some newbie that is going to discover "Aikido" for himself. However, I would I also say that some newbie that is trying to discover it via camps and seminars, etc., is no better off - that is to say, capable of only so much depth (i.e. superficial insights).

Another way of looking at this is this way: Once, Aikido training was very isolated. Many Aikido greats came out of that system. It was quite impressive - especially if you think of it in terms of ratios. Today, Aikido is taught very broadly - where are the greats coming out of that system?

David Yap
06-11-2006, 10:11 AM
Hello David,

I have read through this thread and would like to establish one point. Was there any aikido in Malaysia before Mr Jun Yamada came and established the Aikikai Malaysia in Kuching, Sarawak? At the present time I believe that there are four groups in Malaysia recognized by the Aikikai. It is perhaps indelicate to ask this, but am I right in thinking that the four Aikikai groups, and any other groups that practise aikido that is recognisably Aikikai, are offshoots of Mr Yamada's original organization?

Hi Prof. Goldsbury,

I thought that this thread (started in Oct'03) has been closed. The independent dojo in question has since been "re-affiliated" with Aikikai Hombu via Etsuji Horii shihan of Senda dojo in Kobe. For strange reason(s) IMO the aikikai community here is amongst the unharmonious lot. The number of aikikai practitioners in the whole country average about 500~600 at any time.

Malaysia is geographically divided by the South China Sea - West (or Peninsula) Malaysia and East Malaysia (comprising the states of Sarawak and Sabah on the Borneo island). Here is a brief history of aikido in West Malaysia:

Aikido was first introduced in Seremban, West Malaysia by Thamby Rajah sensei after obtaining his black belt from Gozo Shioda in Tokyo, Japan in 1959. Thamby sensei is also the first Malaysian to receive a black belt from Kodokan Judo, Japan. While in Japan, he had also trained at the Japan Karate Association.

In the 1969, Michael Tham, his student, started Aikikai NS in Seremban after training at the Aikikai Hombu dojo in Tokyo. In 1975, Michael Tham started the KL YMCA Aikido Club. In 1982, Michael Tham retired from Aikido and the stewardship of the KL YMCA Aikido Club was passed to his senior student, George Lo. George Lo had initially trained aikido under Seiichi Sugano during his student days in Australia. This would be in the late 1970's as Sugano shihan had already left Australia for Belgium by early 1979. In 1988, George Lo migrated to Australia and Tee Cheng Sum was appointed the chief instructor at the KL YMCA Aikido Club. Tee Cheng Sum was also primarily responsible for the propagation of aikido in the Klang Valley starting in 1993 with opening of new dojo and the establishment of the Malaysia Aikido Association in 1994. It is interesting to note that most of the instructors in West Malaysia have had their roots in KL YMCA Aikido Club.

Credit must be given to the late Foo Chee Juan sensei. A student of Michael Tham, he had also trained and obtained his 2nd Dan at Aikikai Hombu, Tokyo. Following the departure of George Lo to Australia, almost all the senior students from KL YMCA Aikido Club (including C S Tee and Marcus Chan) also seek his instructions at his Aikido Academy dojo in Seremban.

Jun Yamada shihan was dispatched by Aikikai Foundation to propagate aikido to the East Malaysian state of Sarawak in 1970. Hence, majority of his students are based in East Malaysia. In 2002, he moved from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur when he was appointed the chief instructor for aikido at the Royal Malaysian Police Training Center (PULAPOL).

Currently there are 3 organizations recognized by Aikikai Hombu, namely:

Aikikai Malaysia Sdn Bhd under Jun Yamada, the resident shihan in Malaysia.
Aikikai Malaysia Association, AMA, whose president is Haji Haneef. Jun Yamada shihan resigned as the Technical Director of this association in 2005. (The reason for his resignation is clearly spelled out on his website)
Malaysia Aikido Association, MAA, which is presently led by Low Thian Seng. This association is run by instructors who were originally from the KL YMCA Aikido dojo - a dojo under the AMA umbrella. MAA's Technical Director is Seiichi Sugano shihan of NY Aikikai.

There is also a dojo located in the state of Johore which is under the supervision of T Sugawara shihan. However, I have no information on its status of Aikikai Hombu recognition. The only independent is the Seishinkai group under Tee Cheng Sum sensei. Tee sensei was a founder and the immediate past president of MAA.

AMA is the sole organization recognised by the IAF (at this time). I have been told that MAA would also be getting a recognition from IAF. Hence, I have posted a question on IAF forum as to whether IAF has amended its "one country-one representation" rule. A question that has been left unanswered.

I am not aware of the history of aikido in East Malaysia. I was told that a few Sarawakians did train in Japan in the 1960s. The question is whether they did establish aikido in Sawarak upon their returns.

Regards

David Y

Peter Goldsbury
06-11-2006, 05:00 PM
Hi Prof. Goldsbury,

AMA is the sole organization recognised by the IAF (at this time). I have been told that MAA would also be getting a recognition from IAF. Hence, I have posted a question on IAF forum as to whether IAF has amended its "one country-one representation" rule. A question that has been left unanswered.

I am not aware of the history of aikido in East Malaysia. I was told that a few Sarawakians did train in Japan in the 1960s. The question is whether they did establish aikido in Sawarak upon their returns.

Regards

David Y

Hello David,

Many thanks for your detailed answer. I have answered the question you posed on the IAF website.

Best wishes,

David Yap
06-13-2006, 04:59 AM
Hello David,

Many thanks for your detailed answer. I have answered the question you posed on the IAF website.

Best wishes,

Thanks, Prof, for the reply.

David

ikkitosennomusha
06-13-2006, 04:09 PM
An independant dojo, disregarding financial ownership, is a dojo free of having affiliations of any kind with another dojo or headquater.. This means that the dojo inquestion is not under the rules and regulations of another dojo or headquater.

In a nutshell this can be determined by asking "Is the dojo affiliated or not affiliated"?

LinTal
11-06-2011, 10:39 AM
For what it's worth in this discussion, we're an independant dojo too. Not too sure how all that works, happened long before my time. Something about mainstream styling.

Still Aikikai though, but we have oversight from a sensei in NZ. Maybe you can piggyback with another dojo's affiliation if you need to? I keep hearing of more groups considering this.

Janet Rosen
11-06-2011, 12:57 PM
Why is this being resurrected five years after the OP had a very specific question from three years before that that had been resolved already!?!?

hughrbeyer
11-06-2011, 08:15 PM
Brainssss.... BRAINSSSSSS....

LinTal
11-07-2011, 06:18 AM
Brainssss.... BRAINSSSSSS....

Secret's out! :D

Sorry folks, should have checked te date before responding to the list.

David Yap
11-07-2011, 07:22 PM
Why is this being resurrected five years after the OP had a very specific question from three years before that that had been resolved already!?!?

Originally posted during my 10th year in aikido (2003) and thread was revived 3 years later and now. Perhaps it will be resurrected in 2013 to mark my 20th year :D

Janet Rosen
11-07-2011, 08:08 PM
Originally posted during my 10th year in aikido (2003) and thread was revived 3 years later and now. Perhaps it will be resurrected in 2013 to mark my 20th year :D

David, you probably win a special Aikiweb award for being the rare OP on a resurrected thread to still be here! :)

dave9nine
11-08-2011, 09:36 AM
Why is this being resurrected five years after the OP had a very specific question from three years before that that had been resolved already!?!?

hmm. maybe because the threads remain 'open' and available for people to continue to post and reply to?

Hanna B
11-08-2011, 09:45 AM
For example, my old instructor never to anyone about the aikikai blue books, nor would he let you have it. That was because they do not associate with any other dojos or instrctors and do not want their students training anywhere else. They teach that the Iwama style is the only true style and that anything else you learn is garbage. The one thing they do say that I agree with, is that they got tired of all of the politics. When I left, I asked for my blue book. My shodan ranking was marked by the Late Toyoda Shihan with whom the had links to.

What is this blue book? I'm an Aikikai nidan and I've never seen nor heard about blue books. I have a card with my rankings, and I had some kind of membership card I think. Neither is blue.

Michael Hackett
11-08-2011, 08:44 PM
My "blue book" is a passport-like booklet from Aikikai Hombu. It is inscribed "Aikikai International Yudansha Book" on the front and incorporates my Aikikai membership number, my Aikikai Foundation number, and my rank registration number. Mine is signed by Kobayashi Shihan and chopped by Doshu. I also received a membership card from the Aikikai Foundation at the same time.

Hanna B
11-09-2011, 12:35 AM
Okay. I guess I should search it out in my drawers and see if it actually is blue. I remember it as just a folded piece of cardboard, but maybe I'm wrong.

phitruong
11-09-2011, 07:01 AM
What is this blue book? I'm an Aikikai nidan and I've never seen nor heard about blue books. I have a card with my rankings, and I had some kind of membership card I think. Neither is blue.

when you buy "used" car in the U.S., you go and check the blue book value which shown the estimated worth of the car. same in this case, the blue book is to show you your aikido value over time, which will be less and less over the year, as older car worth less; unless it's a good reliable model or one of those old restored car, then it worth more. :D

ShaderockLouis
11-09-2011, 07:19 AM
I today bid you a good days.I will say,although my major athletic goal is to become best boxer,I trains in some Solidity techniques.I am currently seeking a boxer's licences(hope it's blue)and I hear it's a passport book;also called a bible.Let's celebrate our lovely craft.

grondahl
11-09-2011, 07:31 AM
Okay. I guess I should search it out in my drawers and see if it actually is blue. I remember it as just a folded piece of cardboard, but maybe I'm wrong.

It looks probably like this (maybe without the presentations of the generations of Ueshiba).
http://www.aikikai.se/dan/diplom.html

Hanna B
11-09-2011, 03:45 PM
It looks probably like this (maybe without the presentations of the generations of Ueshiba).
http://www.aikikai.se/dan/diplom.html

Oh, that's the dan diploma. We're talking about the yudansha card, where the shihan responsible for the grading puts his hanko. (At least I think we are.)

grondahl
11-09-2011, 04:12 PM
Oh, that's the dan diploma. We're talking about the yudansha card, where the shihan responsible for the grading puts his hanko. (At least I think we are.)

The yudansha card is also in pictures a little scroll down the page.
http://www.aikikai.se/bild/yudanshacard-1.jpg

Hanna B
11-09-2011, 10:03 PM
Rings a bell, maybe. OK so now I know what I should be searching for :)

philipsmith
11-10-2011, 05:37 AM
"They teach that the Iwama style is the only true style and that anything else you learn is garbage. The one thing they do say that I agree with, is that they got tired of all of the politics. "

Just an observation (because I have heard this in different forms from lots of independent dojos) isn't this an oxymoron?

grondahl
11-10-2011, 07:33 AM
"They teach that the Iwama style is the only true style and that anything else you learn is garbage. The one thing they do say that I agree with, is that they got tired of all of the politics. "

Just an observation (because I have heard this in different forms from lots of independent dojos) isn't this an oxymoron?

Why? Most of the politic quarrels I have encountered in aikido seems to be internal affairs within an organisation or style rather than style vs style.

philipsmith
11-10-2011, 10:35 AM
Why? Most of the politic quarrels I have encountered in aikido seems to be internal affairs within an organisation or style rather than style vs style.

What I was trying to say is that the first sentence is obviously political, but then the dojo says it has become independent to get away from politics.

inframan
11-14-2011, 02:05 PM
"They teach that the Iwama style is the only true style and that anything else you learn is garbage. The one thing they do say that I agree with, is that they got tired of all of the politics. "

Just an observation (because I have heard this in different forms from lots of independent dojos) isn't this an oxymoron?

I'd say its at least a little ironic.