View Full Version : Etiquette for visiting foreign dojo

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bruce bryan
08-15-2004, 09:16 AM
Can anyone offer any suggestions regarding etiquette for visiting and training in a foreign dojo please.

Next year, my girlfriend and I are going to Las Vegas on holiday. We will have been studying Aikido for around a year by then, and would like to train whilst on holls. There is an Aikido dojo in vegas, but we are unsure of the etiquette (if any) that should be followed prior to and on visiting a new dojo.
Any suggestiond would be greatfully recieved, thank you.

08-15-2004, 09:33 AM
I've done this several times in the last three years, and always found my hosts welcoming and helpful. My rules are:

Email in advance and ask if you can attend.
Wear a white belt.
Pay the standard mat fee if the host dojo will let you, otherwise offer a donation towards costs.

Greg Jennings
08-15-2004, 12:07 PM
In addition, I'd also suggest getting your instructor to send a letter of introduction asking if you might train *before* you contact them in person. It's a small thing, but sometimes it's that extra bit of courtesy that makes a difference.

Best regards,

Robert Cheshire
08-15-2004, 11:07 PM
My teacher has trained/visited at an aikido dojo in Vegas on two seperate occasions (he had to attend a conference for work so no vacation for him! :) ). He said they were a friendly enough group. I don't know how many dojo are there. He said this one presents itself as a Christian based dojo. If you're not a Christian this may or may not offend you. I suggest, as others have mentioned, that you find out where you might want to visit/train (internet search) and contact them.

08-15-2004, 11:21 PM
I've done this quite a few times now. It's courteous to email or call in advance, but in cases where I couldn't do that (no email address available, etc) I've also been welcomed just arriving early and politely asking to train.

It's a bit easier if the other dojo is the same general style/association as yours. If you visit a dojo of another association, be prepared to feel fairly clueless. Cross-style weapons practice is particularly hard as everyone seems to do different weapon forms.

It's a good idea not to engage in comparisons between the dojo, even if your hosts seem inclined to do so. Just take the new experience for what it is and try to learn as much as you can. Also, especially if the styles are different, you'll be told some things that flatly contradict what you learned at your own dojo. Bite your tongue....if you're somewhere else, you're there to learn what they have to teach. (I screw up on this occasionally, not being tempermentally inclined to bite my tongue, but I always regret it.) If you've just got to say something, a diplomatic solution is "Please be patient with me on this one, we do it quite differently.'

It is a good idea to have your own sensei's permission to practice elsewhere. I've never gotten a letter of introduction and frankly would be embarrassed to do so, but I do let my teachers know and give them the opportunity to say "Heavens, you'll get hopelessly confused" if they want to. (So far they haven't.)

Mary Kaye

08-16-2004, 12:05 AM
Since what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas I'd imagine just about anything and even more than that goes. :D

Seriously, in my opinion people make way too big a deal about this. Just don't be a friggin' idiot and you'll be fine. I've done everything from emailing in advance to just showing up for class (probably what I do most often). I've yet to meet a teacher which wasn't cool with it although some of the students can get fussy and self-important about the whole thing. Of course I'm in the Bay Area so your mileage may vary.

The advantage of emailing or making contact is that you won't show up on a night when they don't even though the web site said they would show up. Or, you won't turn right, drive around in circles through a very bad part of town because Map Quest is fallible after all. Been there and done that!

08-16-2004, 05:42 AM
I've done this a few times myself and never had any problems turning up and introducing myself to the instructor on the day.

I take with me a white belt, black belt and my hakama and ask what the instructor would prefer I trained in.

I sit at the bottom of the mat when lining up, then prepare myself for the confusion that sometimes comes with training in a new dojo.

basically, I have found if you show a bit of courtesy you cant go far wrong.
(contacting in advance is a good idea too)
I have not yet found a dojo that is not welcoming

Hanna B
08-16-2004, 07:32 AM
As Bruce will have been training for a year, the hakama/belt colour issue is not of interest.

I'd say that if you just came to class and said Hi, I am from dojo this'n'that in the UK, can I join class? it will most probablly work out well. Like Erik says, no need to make a big fuss about it. I would send an email in advance though. If nothing else you'd like to make sure that the place is not closed for some reason, plus you are more likely to be given some attention.

08-16-2004, 04:01 PM
As far as I am aware, there are not many dojo in Las Vegas. I was there a couple of weeks ago and visited this one:


They were extremely hospitable and welcoming, and the training was very good. They have a nice, clean dojo as well.

I emailed them the week before at the address listed on their website, and they replied with a confirmation of their schedule and location. You might mention in your email how long you have been training and with which organization and teacher, and I am sure that they would be very welcoming.