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I am a first dan that presently lives and practices in the UK, and currently thinking of taking an "Aikido holiday" somewhere away from the UK later this year.
I don't really have a preference as to where I visit, but what I would like is to find a club that practices most days and would welcome an overseas visitor for a couple of weeks.
Ideally the club would also be able to help with accommodation (obviously I don't mind paying). I know this may sound like a cheeky request, but are there any clubs which could help?
I think you have quite a lot of options, actually. Many dojo will allow a visitor to stay at the dojo either by sleeping on the mat (bring your own sleeping bag) or by supplying a guest room (like our dojo).
Also, many cities have hostels and such that are really cheap at around $10/night. You can go to an aikido-rich area like the San Francisco Bay Area and visit a different dojo every single night if you want, all within an hour's drive.
You can also try contacting someone at a prospective dojo to see if there is anyone there who is willing to host you for a couple of weeks. I've done that before, too.
Good luck! Let us know how your trip organization and such goes.
George S. Ledyard
06-28-2000, 12:56 AM
If you get to the Seattle area you are welcome to train at our school. I am sure that we could arrange for places to stay as well. Check out http://www.aikieast.com for more info.
06-28-2000, 04:31 AM
Try looking up France! There's several cheap seminars there, and the aikido is excellent. Try starting from http://gargas.biomedicale.univ-paris5.fr/eurocal/index.html
There's a good course in the south with Tiki, VDB and Jaff Raji at the start of august that's pretty cheap. (under £150 with food and accomodation, I think..)
See for yourself!
06-28-2000, 06:36 AM
Sorry, I meant under ~£150. The Aikido itself is 800f for the week.
06-28-2000, 07:07 AM
OK, there's a flaw here, it won't show pound signs. Around one hundred and fifty Irish pounds, I meant to say. Probably onetwenty sterling.
06-28-2000, 08:19 AM
I can see the pund symbols here, in both posts..
06-28-2000, 12:29 PM
I see them now too, but earlier today "£1" appeared as "'" in my browser.
There is also a wealth of great aikido in the US. I would suggest attending one or more of the summer camps that are held by the various organizations (USAF, ASU, AAA, among others). You could even work these into a tour of the country if you like. Usually the fees for these events are reasonable and they include room and board as well. You can find announcements for these events on this site as well as a few others. Best of luck!
You know, this kind of information would make an interesting web page. Perhaps an additional field to the Dojo Search on Aikiweb can be added, where people can mention their policy towards visitors? This would have been very helpful for me - once I turned up to a dojo in Dublin that was on the same street as the one I meant to go to... it turned out to be the HQ of some commercial aiki-group in Ireland and they wanted to slug me 10 Irish Pund for the lesson when my own dojo charges 1.50 Irish Pund for regulars and interstate visitors are free. Thankfully I went on to discover the dojo I'd meant to turn up to. The Public Service Aikido Club on Pearse Street not only didn't charge me but made me feel welcome to join in their pub session afterwards. I had a great time and it made me feel much better about the quality of Irish Aikido Clubs.
Adam if you came to Western Australia you'd find training at four dojos (Aikikai, Yoseikan, Tomiki, and Yoshinkan, not including my club's style of aikijujitsu) at least 5 days a week and for little if any charge. And I'm sure that I could organise someone to stay with for a week if you come over. We don't get heaps of foreign visitors but enjoy them when they come along.
Lots of people come to Australia for holidays, I imagine that your holiday choice will influenced by what *other* things you intend to do when you're travelling.
good luck with it
liam - Uni of Western Australia Aikido
Thanks for your message. Australia does sound very appealing.
Regarding your message about various dojo's policies towards visitors, I must say I have always felt extremely welcome when visiting other dojo's, whatever the organisation or style they happen to be.
I have noticed a great differences in cost mind you, some charging a couple of English pounds and other charging 5 times that amount, but I think this is down to the charges of the dojo concerned, not necessarily down to there view of visitors.
Perhaps you could let me know your email address, and we can discuss Australia further. I am already making plans for this year, but there is alays next. My email address is email@example.com.
As far as the suggestion to put the dojo's policy regarding visitors go, I'd say that I think (tonight, at least) that it's up to the visitor to contact the dojo ahead of time. I hope that the contact information for each dojo is correct enough for people to be able to contact them before they go to the dojo. Besides, I think it's good etiquette to do so, any way...
ahh... while I would agree with you Jun that it would be outrageously poor etiquette to turn up to a dojo without previous contact, having a field that says (for example) "Drop-in visit charge:" would enable someone without a lot of money to distinguish whether a dojo is going to let you in or not, quickly. Of course a phone call, personally addressed email or even a letter will find out the same information - over a longer period of time.
And I don't want to knock those dojos who won't allow a drop-in visit because they're too afraid of the insurance/liability issues, that's okay too. If the "Drop-in visit charge" field said "Free - but visitors must be members of X Aikido Federation" then clearly I can save myself the time of visiting their website/dojo.
As a further example I see that a particular San Francisco dojo charges US$10 for drop-in visitors. If you convert that to AU$ we're talking almost a month's worth of training fees at our Perth dojo. Students who are planning a cheap holiday may not be able to afford this. I suspect that they would be discouraged to train in San Franciscan aikido at all, because the dojos which are free don't normally advertise this - people only see the commercial dojos' drop-in fees and become wary of all dojos in that area.
At the moment I'm on the management committee of for our dojo, and I figure if someone has paid to come all the way out to Perth Western Australia we shouldn't burden them any further with fees.
If there was a field for people to announce that they didn't charge (or charged $X) for drop in visitors, I suspect people would be encouraged to cross-train, or at least be prepared for whatever fees are levied on them.
geez that was a lot of text, huh? Anyway Jun your dojo database is great as it is, and I'm only suggesting an improvement. (it would be cool to search on dojos in California with drop in fees < $10!)
liam - Uni of Western Australia Aikido
Are there many dojo out there that do not charge a mat fee? The average mat fee I've run into in the United States, at least, is about US$10 with the highest fee I've personally paid being US$20. Aikikai Hombu Dojo, if I remember correctly, was 1575 yen.
Yes, I've also been to dojo that have waived their mat fee (just like this past Monday in Los Angeles), but I don't think I've encountered any in my limited experience that don't really have such in their "handbook."
07-13-2000, 10:19 AM
The Jiyushinkan doesn't have a mat fee. No one gets on our mat unless they're a member or a guest.
If a guest offers a mat fee, we most often decline because we enjoyed the training. However, there is a wooden box on the wall where anyone can drop a "donation, curtesy mat fee, or members' dues" in an envelope. We do not make a big deal out of it. However, it should be good manners to leave an appropriate "gift" even if told that it isn't "necessary."
I'm interested to hear about others' customs.
07-13-2000, 08:42 PM
The policy at our dojo in York, PA is a $10 mat fee, which is usually waved for yudansha and visiting friends/family members of regular members.
07-13-2000, 10:21 PM
Jun and Chuck,
In travelling, my experience has been that most places have a mat fee, but rarely have I had anyone accept it. Our own dojo has a fee with about the same frequency of collection.
Regarding etiquette, I've always messaged on ahead a couple months before I plan to attend another dojo. Part of this is selfish - I've found that schedules obtained in printed materials, and now even the net, tend to become out of date quickly, so I want to be sure that there is actually a class, as time is usually limited when I travel. I used to mail ahead, now I email, and really appreciate it when site like Aikiweb offer links for email and/or web sites - it really facilitates the process.
I usually ask about times, mat fees, and what is considered acceptable uniform, so as not to come to the dojo "underdressed" (if I can leave the hakama home it makes packing easier).
I've always found warm welcomes and fun times. In Ireland we were asked to the pub after class, for instance.
Until recently (in my ignorance) I was not aware that not only is it a good idea to message ahead, it's also good protocol. I observed this when an aikidoka from another town dropped in to watch practice unannounced, with a bit of swagger, to our home dojo which is small, friendly, independent, but traditional.
After he viewed class and left, our sensei, without directly criticizing, talked a bit about the politeness of forwarding a message ahead before you visit. Perhaps, this is a vestige of the old-time "letter of introduction." I have no problem with it, and think it's a good idea. Actually, when I visited one town, the fact that it was known I would visit, enabled me to meet the head instructor (who wasn't teaching that night) who is well known as both teacher and author. I was humbled as he walked in, stopped by the side of the mat, and asked if I was the one who had written earlier, and introduced himself. Pretty neat I thought!
This thread brings up some interesting issues.
1. When I travel, I usually try to make contact ahead of time if I would like to visit an out-of-town dojo. Sometimes, however, I'm not able to speak to someone at the dojo because of limited class times, and I feel bad about leaving a message and placing an obligation on the dojo to return a long distance call to give me the OK to visit. E-mail is a great solution to this, but not every dojo has it. On the other hand, I have always been made to feel extremely welcome at every dojo that I have ever visited, whether or not I have been able to make contact beforehand.
2. I my home dojo, it is our custom that only yudansha wear hakama. However, I know that in many dojos, hakamas are worn by all ranks. What is the correct protocol when I am visiting these dojos? Do I need to purchase a hakama for these occasions, or is it usually OK for me to go in my "underwear?" On the one occasion that I did visit such a dojo, I was still unranked and the Sensei had formally been affiliated with our organization, so he understood and let it go.
3. In one dojo I visited, I was asked to line up ahead of the sempai (mostly yudansha), even though I was a lower ranked kohai (mudansha). What are other people's experiences in this area?
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