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fullerfury
04-12-2005, 12:41 PM
Hello. A student of mine recently took a business trip and was eager to visit and practice at a local dojo while away. I recommended he notify the dojo of his intentions prior to his departure on his trip. I was a bit shocked by the reply.

While I respect the feelings and sentiment behind it and understand the wariness of a visiting aikidoka from a foreign dojo, it still left me with a deflated feeling.

Below is the original correspondence from my student to the dojo followed by their reply. I have omitted any names and affiliations of the other dojo.


---------------------------
Good morning.

I am a member of Aikido Suimei of Phoenixville, PA and will be
traveling to <somewhere in USA> next week for business. If time permits I would like to visit your dojo to practice with you if that would be ok with you.

Aikido Suimei is an ASU organization of which I am a member.
I've been practicing aikido for 1.5 years now and hold the rank of
4th Kyu. I look forward to hearing from you and hope that a visit with you is possible.

Peace,

Pete

------------------- Response ---------------------
Dear Pete,

It is always nice to hear from fellow Aikido students traveling in the
area.

As you may be aware, we practice a style of aikido at least somewhat
different than what you have trained in. Although we always welcome
visitors to come and watch our classes, we have found it better to
avoid
having students of other styles "drop-in" for just a few classes.
Though I
am sure that your style and your study are both accomplished and
honorable,
even small differences in training style can cause confusion or lead to
accidents. Differences in breakfalls, rituals for initiations,
striking/blocking, or throwing techniques can present opportunities for
miscommunication and possible injury.

If a student of another style of any martial art were interested in
training
long term and starting as a rank beginner, they are of course welcomed.
However, for such a short period, we would prefer you to visit and
watch
rather than participate.

If you would like to visit our dojo, please let me know and we will
make
sure that the instructors on that evening know you are coming and have
an
opportunity to meet and talk with you.

In a Spirit of Harmony,
Teacher from <somewhere in USA> dojo

Jory Boling
04-12-2005, 12:58 PM
"we have found it better to
avoid
having students of other styles"

it would be interesting to know exactly what kinds of things happened that caused them to find it better. we have visitors all the time for 1-2 classes at our dojo. and the one time i visited a dinstinctively different dojo (on a work trip) i was welcomed and invited to come back any time. hopefully that is the case at most dojos.

Ron Tisdale
04-12-2005, 01:07 PM
While I understand your surprise and disappointment, I can also understand the response. Some places have a definate way of doing things that can be percieved as quite different from the general expectations in aikido. I know people that think if I do a straight arm shihonage they think I'm trying to hurt them on purpose...but where I train, that is just a rather commonly done variation. Imagine my surprise if I do that technique to someone and they jump up and try to smack me for it! Small differences can make a huge difference sometimes.

Personally, I've learned to be very cautious at first when taking ukemi or performing techniques in a strange environment. I almost always let the other person set the level, I almost always pattern the technique shown REALLY slowly first to see if I'm missing something, etc. Even as a yudansha, I take instruction/suggestons from the white belts if they have it...after all, they've trained in that dojo much more than I.

I wouldn't let this bother you that much. And this kind of response is exactly why I try to notify the dojo ahead of time about my visit. So far, I have had nothing but warm receptions...

Oh, I think I met you at a embukai the AKI dojo in the area had. Hope you're doing well.

Best,
Ron

deepsoup
04-12-2005, 01:07 PM
Yep, definitely seems weird to me. I'd be interested to hear what happened too.
However, for such a short period, we would prefer you to visit and watch rather than participate.
Not my idea of a good night out. :confused:

Sean
x

Cyrijl
04-12-2005, 01:09 PM
they are afraid that:
1-he might be dojo busting
2-he might be better than them

I think, from my experience, that this mentality seems prevalent in Aikido more so than some other arts. (i mean at the coule of dojos i went to and the ppl i have talked to...nothing innate about aikido) There is always a passive agressive response to situations. Anger is repressed and comes out like this. He could have just said "No, we don't accept others students for liability reasons." Instead he goes on this meaningless meandering explanation. It is sad. Everyone can teach someone something and everyone can learn from someone.*

I am starting a a non-aikido school this week and the instructor told me about how students from other schools sometimes try to come there just to prove themselves. Fortunately, he has a ringer he uses in just such occassions.

(*in a general sense)
jzf

senshincenter
04-12-2005, 01:11 PM
A very keen sense, Jory, great you picked up on that. That is a very good question you raised.

Still, perhaps the true word they mean to use is "easier." Such that they really mean, "we have found it EASIER to avoid having students of other styles "drop-in" for just a few classes."

dmv

kironin
04-12-2005, 01:25 PM
what a bunch of wussy B.S.

:disgust:

Rod Yabut
04-12-2005, 01:33 PM
That's terrible that their dojo functions that way.
Everytime I go on business trips, I've always brought my gear and expect to practice. Although I've only followed protocol (calling ahead for permission) only once or twice, I've shown up at another dojo unannounced everytime and they welcome me as their own.
The good thing is that they provided you with the courtesy of explaining.

rob_liberti
04-12-2005, 01:51 PM
Maybe they shouldn't call their school "aikido" if it is so different. I train with people from other aikido orientations all of the time. Give me a break - fast or slow, dynamic or static, atemi happy or dance the night away, who cares it is only a few classes... If they are bold enough to say that to you in an email, it seems like they should be bold enough to let you come and just tell you what is expected of you while training aikido in their place. And if you actually cause some problems then they should be bold enough to tell you to please sit out.

In my opinion, if someone wants to visit Connecticut they can come train with me. If you don't like my classes because you want something else, I'd be happy to help you get to one of the many other dojos in the area that might be more to your liking - I might just decide to try to train with you there for a night or two.

Rob

Greg Jennings
04-12-2005, 02:25 PM
I wonder if the response would have been different if the proposed visitor had been, say, a sandan?

Best regards,

Cyrijl
04-12-2005, 03:08 PM
I still think my answer is probably the most likely....they were either afraid he'd cause trouble or he would be alot better then the comparabel ranks at the school, come here and tell everyone how bad they were and how their aikido was weak and sissylike

JAHsattva
04-12-2005, 03:36 PM
"I've been practicing aikido for 1.5 years now and hold the rank of
4th Kyu"

this is what scared them.

if he would have just stated 4th kyu, they wouldn't have passed judgement.

but 4th kyu in 1.5 years sounds like your traveling a fast path through aikido.
because some dojo start at 5th or 6th kyu.

i could be wrong but , this part of the message made me think so.

don't sweat it , i would go exploring in the mountains or woods and be a solo practitioner on vacation.

sounds like a rare occasion to be turned down .
maybe the next vacation will be more welcoming.

the slayer
04-12-2005, 03:53 PM
are dojo will welcome you we have visitors from holland bulgaria brighton etc i also phoned up brighton dojo when i was going on holiday and asked if i could train their for one night and they also welcomed me even thot heres was slightly different i still learnt a few things and had a good time and i think jason may be right they may have been scared of because are dojo starts at 6th kyu and it takes some of us a while to get the grades.but if you are coming to england one time call ahead to the komyokan aikido headquarters sensei ezra will welcome you

senshincenter
04-12-2005, 04:34 PM
Yeah, but I think most instructors know that rank and duration of training are totally relative and thus nearly meaningless. For example, if a person told me he/she had been training for 1.5 years, I still would have no idea how well they moved (or not) until I actually saw them. And I wouldn't expect to know until I did see them. The same thing would go for their rank - even if they said they were a 3rd dan. I mean, after a while, you figure out that a person can say they have been training 10 or 20 years and still not have that mean a darn thing - so while I guess it is possible, I would be a little surprised to hear that a dojocho felt they could interpret anything from rank and/or stated duration of training. I think it's just protocol that we mention these things when visiting new dojo but I don't think it's actually carrying with it any kind of significance and/or meaning - at least not the kind where you start turning folks away. Therefore, I would suggest the dojocho in question just turns everyone away - even when rank and duration of training seem to correspond to his/her own.

Don_Modesto
04-12-2005, 05:38 PM
People seem offended at the dojo in question. I'm not. They sound like a serious bunch. I'm guessing Iwama, maybe, or Chiba's dojo. Whatever. Visitors may contribute nothing other than variety. At higher levels this is interesting and useful; at 4th KYU, it's only a damned distraction. This is before we factor in possible unctuous demeanors...

Personally, I've learned to be very cautious at first when taking ukemi or performing techniques in a strange environment. I almost always let the other person set the level, I almost always pattern the technique shown REALLY slowly first to see if I'm missing something, etc.

Me, too.

senshincenter
04-12-2005, 06:13 PM
When I trained at Chiba Sensei's dojo, we had visitors, from everywhere, with all kinds of rank, come on by to train. Some came for a while, some came for one day. Before that I trained at two Western Region dojo (Chiba Sensei affiliated) and again it was the same thing - all welcome, always.

I think allowing visitors into one's dojo is not necessarily about trying to gain something from them directly. It seems to be more about what we as a group and as individuals gain (and learn) as we take on the responsibility of host. As we understand this responsibility at our dojo, we don't have a mat fee, etc., and we try and do a lot to fulfill this role of host as fully as we can - even providing food and board whenever needed. For us, we don't take on this role of host because some visitor is going to or can teach us something we don't know and/or should know. So, personally, what I try and do is to take the role of "host" as seriously as I can. I wouldn't consider myself being serious regarding the benefit of hosting visitors because I turn away a lower rank/1.5 year old practitioner.

I'm not out to try and tell anyone what they should do, and certainly not what the dojocho in question should have done - to each his/her own. This is just more what we do and have done.

david

Mashu
04-12-2005, 06:25 PM
If they don't like visitors I wonder how they treat new people? When I was a kyu rank I visited different ASU and AikiKai dojo and they were always very gracious and I was grateful for the chance to see different styles and levels. Best to skip the dojo in question.

fullerfury
04-12-2005, 06:35 PM
Hi Ron. I remember my visit to the North Wales dojo fondly and remember you as well.

In truth my main reason for posting this correspondence was for a point of discussion. While I was a bit taken back by the reply my student received, I am not really all that surprised, even if I said as such.

Every chance I get I pack a dogi when on vacation or work related travel. I have only had great experiences( Aikido of Dallas and The Dojo in LA run by Sensei Robert Bryner come to mind ) when I have been fortunate enough to find a new dojo to lay some sweat down in, if only briefly.
I have also only had very positive experiences when visitors from other local organizations and States have come to train with me. In both cases, I have always ended up learning something new.

I also find it hard to believe, especially from what appears on paper as a well established school ( one with numerous yudansha on the teaching staff of level of at least 3rd dan ) that the school in question would not be able to monitor 1 4th kyu on the mat for one session.

It is a shame that the students of that school are not exposed to other flavors of Aikido.

-Garrett

Chris Li
04-12-2005, 08:13 PM
People seem offended at the dojo in question. I'm not. They sound like a serious bunch. I'm guessing Iwama, maybe, or Chiba's dojo. Whatever. Visitors may contribute nothing other than variety. At higher levels this is interesting and useful; at 4th KYU, it's only a damned distraction. This is before we factor in possible unctuous demeanors...

That's what I say - it's all about what's in it for me! :)

Truthfully, visitors can often be a distraction and a hassle - but I prefer the atmosphere in open dojos.

Best,

Chris

Nick P.
04-12-2005, 08:37 PM
Visiting other dojos is like a mini-seminar; those "hosting" are suddenly confronted with a whole new variable element in their midst, and the "visitor" is surrounded by complete unknowns. A true opportunity for everyone to really practice some blending.

Their loss for not welcoming your traveling student. For the record, what was your student's reaction, and did they eventually find a place to train while on the trip?

PeterR
04-12-2005, 08:51 PM
Yep, definitely seems weird to me. I'd be interested to hear what happened too.

Not my idea of a good night out. :confused:

Sean
x
Hi Sean;

Shodokan Honbu would prefer non-Shodokan people to watch also. I understand this perfectly as there is a definite rhythm to the training.

At Shodokan Himeji no one watches (you are dragged out onto the mat) - first time visitors don't pay either. My little contribution to the Aikido world even though it cuts the flow of training.

Still that is a choice I make and would not get upset if a group declined my participation for the reasons that group stated.

giriasis
04-12-2005, 08:55 PM
Because of our location, Ft. Lauderdale, we get a lot of visitors of all levels and have not found visitors to be distracting or a hassel. If anything you get to train with someone who practices in a different manner to learn lessons you don't typically get to learn. We don't turn people away because of style/ association. In the five years I've been training here, I have seen my sensei welcome visitors outside our association from ASU, AAA, Iwama, Aikikai Hombu, Nihon Goshin Aikido, Sand Drift Martial Arts, and Yoshinkan. It's always interesting to train with someone who has a different "style" than you.

Lan Powers
04-12-2005, 09:29 PM
Here in the middle of no-where there aren't enough training opportunities anyway....everywhere I have visited was thrilled(seemingly at least) to have a new face. :)
Even the largest dojos I've been a visitor at were warm and open to seeing/meeting you there.

To each their own though. :ai:
Lan

Misogi-no-Gyo
04-12-2005, 09:52 PM
Mercilessly
Of course, in any given situation it is always easier looking at the other guy for what is wrong. Please don't take this the wrong way, but personally I think there was a critical error in the way that you went about it. Being from NY, it reminds me of the herds of mid-westerners who come into Manhattan walking around looking up at everything like it is the first time they ever saw a building, or standing on a street corner just looking around and around like they are completely lost, or something... Of course, they could simply be from Jersey, but... You see it doesn't matter if it is the first time you have seen a tall building, or if you are lost, or if you are from New Jersey... because it is always about perception and not reality. In the cases I mentioned these innocent people are just walking advertisements that scream, "Please rob me, I'm not from these here parts..." What I am saying is, it has to be all martial arts, all the time, even especially on the initial way upon which you approach things (deashi mixed with shizen-ni).

Sure you were trying to be polite (commendable) by giving them notice. From a martial arts perspective though, you showed them your opening, you telegraphed your intended attack plan and they simply shut you down like the way a BJJ expert puts someone in a triangle choke and squeezes the dickens out of em - mercilessly.

Now I am not saying that you were wrong. What I am saying is that it is better to examine your own approach and figure out how to reach your goal rather than having someone else control the situation from the get go. Training is a circle whereby you first look at what your opponent did, but you then must look at what you did, or did not do when faced with that situation. Improvement comes when you can develop alternate routes or paths which you can take when confronted with what has formerly shut you down. For all I know what you did say may have set off some pretty loud bells due to the fact that the last guy who visited his dojo from your school broke the wrist of one of his students, or worse, broke his own wrist. Maybe the dojo-cho's wife used to date your sensei and there is still some bad blood. He could simply hate your teacher, your style, or your shihan for any number of reasons and is just trying to be polite by brushing you off with some excuse about outsiders... You just can't know, and thus you should never put the details out there upon which you may unfortunately find yourself hanging.

For example, you could have called them anonymously and said you would like to know if it is possible to watch class. Having the information, you could have gone down there and said that a former student of theirs, someone whose name you can't quite remember said if you are ever in town to make sure you go there and train with them. Realizing that you came all that way based upon a referral of one of their former students, even if he had been mistaken might make it difficult for them to say no to you, especially while you are standing there with a twenty dollar bill out to cover the training fees. You could have also said that you may be moving into town next month and that you wanted to find a dojo at which you could immediately start training when and if you settled in. In that situation, a potential student, even one with some different experiences is a much more attractive prospect upon which to direct their energies. I am not advocating lying, mind you, but if your goal is to train and pick up some new experiences, there certainly is a way of achieving it if you are creative.

There is little to be gained by coming to the board, sniveling and looking for sympathy. Maybe that is just what 4th kyu students with 1.5 years of aikido do at your dojo. Of course, maybe that is what these guys were afraid of happening, only after the fact. Who knows? Not I. What I do know is investing your energies into avenues that move you forward towards achieving your personal training goals is always a better option. Having just said that, I am quick to admit that, for you, coming here maybe a first step in doing just that. So on the hope that your journey of a thousand miles has already begun, I wish you all the best in you future pursuits.



.

Rupert Atkinson
04-12-2005, 11:03 PM
Hi Sean;

Shodokan Honbu would prefer non-Shodokan people to watch also. I understand this perfectly as there is a definite rhythm to the training.


I went to Shodokan Hombu in Osaka for a week or so in 1989 - and they let me train. Admittedly, I was shodan of the UK Tomiki system but to be sure, it was quite different, and interestingly so.

Since that time, several UK people have become more involved in Shodokan - to the extent that in the UK it caused a rift. :straightf Now, there are basically two Tomiki styles - one is the original UK Tomiki style, and the other consists of those who follow the Shodokan directly. I know people on both sides, and some in-betweens. As far as I know, members of the 'other' are always allowed to train if they turn up. :)

Chuck.Gordon
04-13-2005, 12:54 AM
Hey, my attitude has always been 'if they don't want to train with me, it's their loss, screw 'em.'

The dojo in question may have some real easons for doing business like that, or they may just have a case of paranoid ego inflation. Dunno. In any case, it's their business and their choice.

IMHO: Dojo are not supposed to be public facilities. YMMV. Mine is not. It's pretty much an autocracy and I have final say over who steps on my mat or not. If they don't like it, I'll happily make reccomendations elsewhere.

Now, that said, I've never refused anyone who wanted to visit, but unless I know them or they come in with an introduction from someone I know and trust, I almost always make them watch at least one class before getting them onto the mat.

Over the years I've had some really fine folks visit the dojo, from all over the world (more than a handful from this board's membership, too). And the great majority were polite, played well with others, and a good time was had by all.

However, some years past, I also had some folks attempt dojo-yaburi, and the intrusions were disruptive, annoying and totally unfruitful for all concerned. That, however, isn't the reason I place such limits on visitors.

I want folks who visit to have an idea about what and how we do things on the mat before dropping them into the class. It's safer for them, safer for us. An observation class lets us get to know each other, too.

Chuck

PeterR
04-13-2005, 12:55 AM
Rupert - I tend to use the two terms interchangeably - Tomiki certainly called his style Shodokan. Not really that up on UK Aikido politics (why would I be) but the "Tomiki UK" groups still participate at international events and are part of the family. The kata and techniques are generally the same with any differences easily worked out.

I have over the years seen non-Tomiki folks (maybe I should have used that term) come and train but those tend to be particular circumstance. I do remember one time where the decision to allow some one to train was more trouble than it was worth.

batemanb
04-13-2005, 01:25 AM
Although we always welcome
visitors to come and watch our classes, we have found it better to
avoid having students of other styles "drop-in" for just a few classes...............

even small differences in training style can cause confusion or lead to accidents. Differences in break falls, rituals for initiations,
striking/blocking, or throwing techniques can present opportunities for miscommunication and possible injury............

If a student of another style of any martial art were interested in
training long term and starting as a rank beginner, they are of course welcomed.........


OK, I've cut some stuff out, not trying to take it out of context, but doesn't anyone else think that preferring a rank beginner for one session as opposed to someone with 1.5 years experience, regardless of style, is really just a cop out? There's bound to be differences, but FWIW in my experience, some experience is better than none :).

Something I've noticed over the years when meeting people from different clubs and styles, is that they always focus on the differences in what's being done ("ooh, I've never seen that before.."), they never focus on the what's common, e.g. a nikyo is a nikyo, once you observe that, the differences in getting there (from what you do to what they do) become easier to overcome since the core principle is recognizable. Whenever I visit somewhere new, I always look at the technique first, then the outer movements.

Yeah, but I think most instructors know that rank and duration of training are totally relative and thus nearly meaningless. For example, if a person told me he/she had been training for 1.5 years, I still would have no idea how well they moved (or not) until I actually saw them. And I wouldn't expect to know until I did see them.

Currently we have two visitors training with us, one lad from Holland recently transferred to the area with his job, and another lad from Melbourne on temporary visit, also work related. Both are from different organisations, one from Sugano Sensei's line, the other from Iwama Ryu, neither of which are linked to our association. Both have been practicing for 4 years, one is a Shodan, the other is 4th Kyu.

The Iwama guy came for the first time this week and during keiko was partnered with one of our guys who happens to be going for shodan on Sunday. They were doing some ken dori and the Iwama guy was asked to do yokomen uchi, which he did, although it was gyaku yokomen uchi, so it came from the opposite way, it confused our guy for a couple of minutes, but nothing that couldn't be resolved quite effortlessly :D . The Sugano lad has looked at a few techniques, I can see his face questioning the differences ;) (he mentions it after), but again he picks it up pretty quickly, without any major effort for me, and even if there was, that's not a problem because that is what the instructor is there for. It has been a pleasure to train with both of these lads, they offer a different perspective to training, which has been a challenge to some and a a revelation to others. They and anyone else are welcome to train at our dojo anytime.

rgds

Bryan

Chris Li
04-13-2005, 01:34 AM
There is little to be gained by coming to the board, sniveling and looking for sympathy. Maybe that is just what 4th kyu students with 1.5 years of aikido do at your dojo. Of course, maybe that is what these guys were afraid of happening, only after the fact. Who knows? Not I. What I do know is investing your energies into avenues that move you forward towards achieving your personal training goals is always a better option. Having just said that, I am quick to admit that, for you, coming here maybe a first step in doing just that. So on the hope that your journey of a thousand miles has already begun, I wish you all the best in you future pursuits.

If you read the first post you'll see that the sniveling wasn't done by the 4th kyu. It was simply the story as related by their instructor. The letter seemed reasonable enough to me. Personally, the kind of stealthy approach you seem to be advocating seems much too complicated for me. I just go and present myself straightforwardly - I've never had any problem with that approach, even with conservative schools in Japan (never been refused by them, either).

Best,

Chris

xuzen
04-13-2005, 03:16 AM
Hi all,

From the reply, the dojo-cho seems very diplomatic. It is their dojo; so I guess it is their rule, nothing much to fuss about. My guess is that they may have bad experienced wrt such kind of 'intrusions', so they pre-emptively try to avoid possible 'intrusion'.

Having said the above, in my place, aikido is not a popular MA relative to say, karate, tae kwon do etc. We rarely get visitors, and if we do, only a small percentage will want to try out the class. Those who try, only a small percentage will stay on to their first grading. Given such small number, it is quite unlikely we will turn down curious visitors or other school aikido practitioners. Besides, it is a good break from our normal routine.

Boon.

Dazzler
04-13-2005, 05:35 AM
Hi all

I cannot see any circumstance where we would refuse a visitor in one of our open classes.

It is up to the club in question of course, but anyone is welcome in our dojo especially someone that takes the trouble to write in advance.

To say that the person may attack differently causing confusion to me is quite funny.

Would you say to a street attacker..."stop! thats not the correct way to stab me?".

If your aikido is so inflexible that it only works when the attack and response are rigidly drilled...then (lights blue touchpaper and stands back....) maybe it isn't aikido at all!

IMHO !

D

batemanb
04-13-2005, 05:58 AM
Would you say to a street attacker..."stop! thats not the correct way to stab me?".

Almost word for word what I was thinking when writing my post above :D

rgds

Bryan

fullerfury
04-13-2005, 06:23 AM
Interesting rant Shaun. You explore some valid angles, but I believe you are stretching a bit, but none the less very provocative.

Nick, no the student did not respond to the email and did not go visit the dojo while away on business. I believe he opted for an evening at a local blues club instead.

-Garrett

Ron Tisdale
04-13-2005, 07:41 AM
Would you say to a street attacker..."stop! thats not the correct way to stab me?".


I'm not sure that's the point of the statement. In training, you want the freedom to attack strongly, but the surity of going to work the next day...so a recognizable pattern/reigi/protocol may often be preferred. I do know that I'm pushing against the tide here, and personally, would prefer an open dojo myself.

But I am aware of the motivations for this type of thing, and I am not anxious to tar the dojo in question with some of the negative brushes used here quite so quickly. With so little information to go on, I don't think I have enough to make a decision about the response one way or another. I also remember dojo yaburi type situations, karateka coming in actually asking for a challenge...some openly, some not. While its always interesting to see how these things play out, its also a waste of time...and it does carry a certain amount of real risk.

Ron

Dazzler
04-13-2005, 08:11 AM
Hear what you are saying Ron. To a certain extent I agree that its necessary to follow some controlled and planned development path - we certainly try to work this way.

But if you apply that thinking too literally wouldn't it exclude any unknowns ...eg beginners?

My take is that anyone is welcome...if they don't behave then they leave.

Never experienced any problems with this.

Dont get me wrong...I'm not endorsing an 'anything goes free for all' in the dojo.

But some variations from within the aikido community or even outside aren't at all bad...none of us is too perfect to benefit from exposure to some others and hopefully we are willing to share what we have too..

Where I teach / train we accomodate and embrace differences....especially as in the example of this thread where the guy went out of his way to politely check that it was ok to train. Theres always something to be learned.

Not looking to tar anyone...unless I have missed it I think the names etc have been excluded...just giving my thoughts for those that run dojos to consider.

Cheers

D

Ron Tisdale
04-13-2005, 08:50 AM
And good thoughts too. One thing to consider...he went out of his way to politely ask if he could attend...so shouldn't he be just as polite when the answer is one he didn't expect? If you ask the question with an agenda, you may not like the answer. My solution if you are not willing to live with the answer is don't ask.

As to taking that position too literally, the responder made it clear that beginners *are* welcome. So I think the 'too literaly' supposition doesn't apply.

Best,
Ron

Dazzler
04-13-2005, 09:17 AM
One thing to consider...he went out of his way to politely ask if he could attend...so shouldn't he be just as polite when the answer is one he didn't expect? If you ask the question with an agenda, you may not like the answer. My solution if you are not willing to live with the answer is don't ask.


Rather spookily I said almost those exact words when discussing a student last night who asked if he was ready to grade.

He didn't like the answer either.

Good point...I guess its still a free country after all.

Cheers

D

Ron Tisdale
04-13-2005, 09:22 AM
what a bunch of wussy B.S.

:disgust:

And

As a teacher, my experience has been that many beginners especially those that have never done any other martial art to a significant extent can be really hurt by being thrown in to cross-style situations. The confusion can erode their confidence in learning aikido at all. Physical injury is highly possible given the differences in ukemi (what little they know at this point), my own experience in cross-styles training and Ellis Amdur's essays would really give me pause in suggesting to a beginner that it's a good thing or important for their training at that point to attend other style seminars or dojos.

Suggest a contradiction to me...could you clarify a bit?

Thanks,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
04-13-2005, 09:23 AM
Rather spookily ...

:)

Ron

Justin Gaar
04-13-2005, 09:48 AM
In the end i always miss a good thread. Anyway,
Maybe they shouldn't call their school "aikido" if it is so different.
Ahh but it must be Aikido. There are always different affiliations, different foundations, different ways of doing things. Remember the old "If we were all the same" complex? But might i say, i would research the kind of style the foreign dojo is a part of before i ask to participate in it.

kironin
04-13-2005, 10:28 AM
Suggest a contradiction to me...could you clarify a bit?
Thanks,
Ron

no contradiction.
:D


in the case that started this thread, the teacher is obviously okay with the student visiting this dojo on his trip.

the quote you give is reasoning in the context of whether I as a teacher encourage beginners to visit other schools. I don't. At the same time, if they are going on a trip and say they plan to visit a school, I never say they can't. I will probably ask if there is a program related to ours in the area, or see if I can find info about the school mentioned on the web, or if know people in that city or state, make inquiries about dojos in that area (I have done all of these.). The more confidence I have in their skills the less protective I become.

On the other side, I welcome any one to visit our classes and certainly have had various inexperienced traveling aikido students of various backgrounds visit.

Ron Tisdale
04-13-2005, 10:31 AM
:) Thanks, that's clear now! (context, ron, context!)

RT

Rod Yabut
04-13-2005, 11:21 AM
My second two cents…

While sharing seminar experiences, I remember a fellow aikidoka telling me that he went to a seminar once where a group from one dojo just practiced amongst themselves. It wasn’t their choice because by their sensei actions, he made it a point that they practice amongst themselves and not with the general seminar attendees.
In retrospect, it is their preference - and their “loss” for not exploring the possibilities of their aikido and losing the opportunity to try it with on a different body type. So this same mentality may apply to this unwelcoming dojo.

I can see a visiting beginner being a distraction because you don’t know they’re how good their ukemi is. But here he announced his rank and years of training - with this you’d expect that he’s fairly comfortable with the training that he’s had – even as bold as to go into another dojo by himself. At 4th kyu, this person should have “some” ability to take ukemi. In my book, their fair game to take in some extra cranks and higher break falls. No distraction there. Like we used to say at my former dojo, the darker the belt… the harder your thrown!

deepsoup
04-13-2005, 01:36 PM
Shodokan Honbu would prefer non-Shodokan people to watch also. I understand this perfectly as there is a definite rhythm to the training.

At Shodokan Himeji no one watches (you are dragged out onto the mat) - first time visitors don't pay either. My little contribution to the Aikido world even though it cuts the flow of training.

Still that is a choice I make and would not get upset if a group declined my participation for the reasons that group stated.

I wouldn't be upset either, but I don't think I'd bother to visit a club once just to watch a class. (Like the 4th kyu in question, I think I'd have gone off to find the blues club instead.)

The way you do things at Himeji is much more my cup of tea. :)

Not really that up on UK Aikido politics (why would I be)
Best way. I think I'd prefer to be less up on the politics than I am.

Sean
x

Aiki.Ronin
04-13-2005, 04:48 PM
[QUOTE=Sean Orchard]I wouldn't be upset either, but I don't think I'd bother to visit a club once just to watch a class. (Like the 4th kyu in question, I think I'd have gone off to find the blues club instead.)

Even though most of us aren't in Japan or living by their cultural norms I do find the concept of visiting and watching and being persistent to be more positive and effective than just walking away after a potential first rejection. Yeah if I was in town somewhere for a day and they wanted me to only watch I might be tempted to simply leave and hit a club. That's not a problem for me though since I like going out to clubs much later than most dojos are open...

Basically what I'm saying is that it takes time to gain trust from people. Think about it, you are asking a complete stranger to let you lay your hands on them, and possibly endangering them (or yourself). My experience (mainly while traveling to seminars I have no affiliation with) is that it takes a day or so for people to get to know who you are and what you're about, but after that happens I have made new friends and learned a lot.

(Thanks goes out to the nice folks at the ASU dojos in San Antonio and Austin, and also Sensei Lynn Fabia and her students in Dallas and Shreveport)

Sorry for the long post!

senshincenter
04-13-2005, 06:35 PM
My second two cents…

While sharing seminar experiences, I remember a fellow aikidoka telling me that he went to a seminar once where a group from one dojo just practiced amongst themselves. It wasn't their choice because by their sensei actions, he made it a point that they practice amongst themselves and not with the general seminar attendees.
In retrospect, it is their preference - and their "loss" for not exploring the possibilities of their aikido and losing the opportunity to try it with on a different body type. So this same mentality may apply to this unwelcoming dojo.


I believe I may know of the dojo you are referring too. They were all very serious Aikido students. It wasn't so much that they had standing orders to train with only themselves but that they were more prone to train with equally serious Aikido students. At a seminar, you can tell who is a serious student and who is not - pretty much at first glance. Serious Aikido students sit in seiza differently, they walk differently, their body looks different, they move differently, they have a different gaze, etc. If you fit the bill, these folks would train with you - quite reguarly - even if you weren't from their dojo. If you weren't as serious as them, sure, I saw them often "politely" turn away from you in order to bow in to one of their own or to another serious Aikido student from another dojo. For some reason, that makes sense to me, especially because it is not so easy to train seriously at a seminar - especially some of the bigger ones. It also makes sense to me because I know for a fact that their dojo was always open to visitors that wanted to train with them there.

maikerus
04-13-2005, 07:11 PM
About two years ago a friend of mine who studied Aikikai in Japan invited me along to his dojo to take a look. I brought my dogi (with white belt) just in case I would be able to train.

We asked the instructor if I could watch the class or if it would be okay for me to train. I said that I had been training in Yoshinkan for 20 years and was interested in training with them to learn from what they were doing.

I was surprised, but not insulted, when he said no. What bothered me was when he started to rant about how Aikido wasn't a game and I shouldn't of thought to even come to ask to train. I apologized and asked it was okay for me to watch the class. That was fine, so I sat in seiza and watched the 2 hour class and picked up a lot of interesting variations from my style that way.

That being said, last Saturday I taught a class where there was:

1 Tomiki guy from the UK
1 Aikikai guy (training for 3 months in Japan)
1 Aikikai guy (trained for over a year in Japan, but stopped 3 years ago)
1 Aikijujitsu instructor who has been training Yoshinkan for about 2 years now
1 beginner guy who studied Kung Fu and Karate but this was his first time trying Aikido.
3 Yoshinkan people who had only studied Yoshinkan (two of them with me - one for almost 3 years and the other for about 18 months - and one university nidan who joined our club about 2 years ago, but has been training for about 6 years now)

It was a really fun class. Our schedule called for teaching hijishime and that's what we did, albeit very carefully <grin>

I find that as long as people come to try what you are teaching there is no problem. Discussions about how "we do it this way" or "why don't you do this" are better left for after the class, although some questions do make sense during class. Admittedly, it is difficult for people to do things different from what they are used to, but I have found that that is why they are there, so there is no friction involved in correcting them just as you would any other student.

cheers,

--Michael

-

darin
04-14-2005, 12:27 AM
I think its a good idea to watch a class or two before joining in. You can get an idea of the level of the students, ettiquite, dojo rules and the instructor's personality. If your going to train then I recommend bringing along a white belt unless your of the same style or the instructor recognizes your rank.

In my school I make all new students, regardless of experience and rank in other styles, start from white belt (even if they are wearing their own coloured belt). Its a good way of getting rid of those people from other styles who are there hoping to get a quick black belt or convert my students to their style or looking to test out their techniques. The ones who do stay realize that its only for a short time as they rise through the ranks quickly because I actually do recognize past experience.

happysod
04-14-2005, 07:12 AM
If you weren't as serious as them, sure, I saw them often "politely" turn away from you in order to bow in to one of their own or to another serious Aikido student from another dojo Good to know there's a perfectly acceptable reason for arrogance, presumption and keeping to a clique... :yuck:

As for the "watching a class first" in the original post, while the arguments put forward for it are reasonable, I can't help thinking that a dojo with this policy is going to miss out on those souls who are only around for a week (or less) on business who just want to train while traveling. OK, this may be some peoples choice and wish, but I find the idea that a single drop-in student is either
a) a distraction to the entire dojo or
b) not worth opening your doors to

both risible and rather sad. To me it just smacks of a touch of fear of the unknown on the part of that dojo and doesn't really provide me with a good impression of the quality of either the instructors (at dealing with people) or the aikido (I'd tend towards the it must be cultish crap).

[free plug]
Oh well, if anyone's in London for a visit and fancy prancing around on the mat with a frivolous bunch of ki-wusses, feel free to drop in. You may not like or accept what we do but you're more than welcome to try it out.
[/free plug]

rob_liberti
04-14-2005, 08:03 AM
At seminars, sometimes you go there to meet up with someone you won't be able to work out with anywhere else for a long time and so I respect that. But in normal class, I find it very distateful. Well, this looks like an opportunity for free therapy. When I first went to a class in Boston, it would happen so often that I would be sitting between two "serious students". - No joke, I mean it, they were indeed very serious at the time. When the teacher finished demonstrating, the two students around me would bow to each other and leave me to fend for myself. So I did. Years later, I find it telling that of the 6 serious stendents who did not behave that way 5 of them are still around. I'm still around, and NONE of those serious students (at the time) who only worked out with each other are still around. YMMV.

Rob

Rod Yabut
04-14-2005, 10:59 AM
Mr Valadez,

For some reason, that makes sense to me, especially because it is not so easy to train seriously at a seminar - especially some of the bigger ones.

I am in clear agreement with what you said above. That's respectable anyway you look at it.

At a seminar, you can tell who is a serious student and who is not - pretty much at first glance. Serious Aikido students sit in seiza differently, they walk differently, their body looks different, they move differently, they have a different gaze, etc.

This I have to disagree with you. I can't tell from looking at a person if they are a serious aikido practioner or not. Maybe after the first technique performed or first ukemi I can judge. But in my very humble opinion, this shouldn't be a way to approach practice.

I believe I may know of the dojo you are referring too.

Of course, this was shared with me. I wasn't there to see what really happened, but I have to say that the person that shared this with me is goofy off the mat, but as serious as they come on it.

I'm glad you shared another perspective on it though, it always better to hear both sides.


Re: May I come visit your dojo?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Rod Yabut wrote:
My second two cents…

While sharing seminar experiences, I remember a fellow aikidoka telling me that he went to a seminar once where a group from one dojo just practiced amongst themselves. It wasn't their choice because by their sensei actions, he made it a point that they practice amongst themselves and not with the general seminar attendees.
In retrospect, it is their preference - and their "loss" for not exploring the possibilities of their aikido and losing the opportunity to try it with on a different body type. So this same mentality may apply to this unwelcoming dojo.

Rod Yabut
04-14-2005, 11:05 AM
Oh well, if anyone's in London for a visit and fancy prancing around on the mat with a frivolous bunch of ki-wusses, feel free to drop in. You may not like or accept what we do but you're more than welcome to try it out.
[/free plug]

Ian - I'm planning a trip in 10 months. I'll look your dojo up! :D If there's aikido after the name of a dojo, I'll check it out!

ruthmc
04-14-2005, 11:19 AM
While sharing seminar experiences, I remember a fellow aikidoka telling me that he went to a seminar once where a group from one dojo just practiced amongst themselves.
That happens here too. Everybody else tends to look on these people as being pretty sad, if they're too scared to train with anyone outside their own clique :p

For me the second best part of attending a seminar is getting the opportunity to train and interact with new training partners. (The best part is getting to train under different sensei :) )

Ruth

Eric Webber
04-15-2005, 01:49 PM
Hey Garrett, good thread here. Seeing it, I feel the presumption to put my two cents in. I have traveled a little and practiced in a few different dojos across the US, have never been turned away. Everywhere I have gone I have been treated with kindness and patience, especially when I was starting out and REALLY didn't know my way around an aikido mat. I hope that Pete is not discouraged, and that he will continue to seek out dojos to visit as he travels occasionally, and be open to their teachings and ideas as any good budoka would be.

Shannon Fry
04-15-2005, 10:02 PM
I recently traveled to Las Vegas and I too contacted the local Aikido Dojo. It was Desert Winds Aikido. Spoke with James Sterlin and told him who I was and my rank of 2nd kyu. He gladly invited me to participate,So I did. It was the greatest experience I had training outside of my own dojo. I returned to my own dojo with many tricks to share the wealth as they say. I wish that all dojo's could be as friendly as Desert Winds. I encourage anyone that has travel to Las Vegas to train at this dojo.Especially with Sensei Sterlin!! YOU WILL LEARN SO MUCH!! Thanks Sensei Sterlin

Domo Arigato,
Shannon

takusan
05-06-2005, 09:52 PM
First let me state that I welcome visits (visitors) from other clubs.
Ours is pretty much an open door type philosophy.
I feel the same as most of the posts state.

Now, - Its their dojo, their rules. - Period.

If you write a letter asking permission, what are the two possibilities?
Yes,
and
No.

If you aren't prepared to take the no's, then don't send the letter.

If someone came to your house, how would you react.
I doubt I would invite a stranger in off the street - as a matter of course.
Some might.
I probably wouldn't.
But its MY house - my rules.

Yes, its unfortunate that we can't just drop in on a friendly basis. We are all aiki children of Osensei. But then, not all siblings get on all that well, (as I'm led to understand).

Oh well, thats life. With aiki, I accept the others decision.

Dave H

Anat Amitay
05-07-2005, 03:22 AM
Actually, I find a difference between my home and my dojo, in the sense that I wont let a stranger off the street in my home, but an aikidoka that tells us he'll be around and wishes to join a class or two would be welcome.

takusan
05-07-2005, 05:11 AM
Thats why its called a parallel comparison.

You see the merits of one compared to the other. They still, aren't the same.

Like you, I would invite them in,
hell I'd let them throw me around a bit.
No problem there.
That was how I met my current sensei.
Didn't know this old(er) guy from Adam, but as is the norm, asked him in. Turns out that he is the head of the Fuji Ryu Federation Of Australia.
It was this openness that initiated his approach for us to join with his organization.

But in another's dojo OR house, I abide by the owners / sensei particular ways.

What else are we all doing in aikido, than blending, yielding, accepting of other people 'do' :do: ?

Just because I don't agree or like something in someone else, doesn't give me the right to force my views on them. I will retain my opinion, but thats all.
(Tried that other path, thought I liked it, but soon learned it was a rather silly path to follow)

Anyway, we aren't in disagreement, just, I think, a level of sensitivity to other plonkers. Ooops, my bias is showing. Must be human after all. :D

Dave H

samurai_kenshin
05-07-2005, 12:03 PM
Just so things like this don't happen in my area, I'll tell you that If you're traveling to Oakland/SF area, you're always welcome to train at Aikido of San Leandro led by Patricia Hendricks sensei. She loves it when students of other styles come, because she believes it shows some other aspects of aikido. BTW over there, we do Iwama style

jester
05-07-2005, 01:02 PM
Maybe they had a bad experience or injury in the past. I really think that if someone came to my dojo from another style, they would be really confused as to what's going on. All Aikido really isn't the same.

Also, new students focus mainly on ukemi and our walking kata, which might be really boring to someone with a year or so training already.

If the school was in your own organization, or same style, then I don't see why there would be a problem.

takusan
05-07-2005, 05:07 PM
Yes, it is sad that there is resistance to traveling to others dojo, but its their wishes.

To extend the hand of friendship, I will right now, issue an open invitation on behalf of my dojo to people traveling that want to do a bit of training.
This applies to any person of good will and spirit.
NB, plonkers need not bother.
I'm nothing if not honest. Sorry.

Next time you are traveling to Christchurch New Zealand, drop me a line through the Aikiweb for details, or just drop in at the dojo - address as below.
There will be no charge made for the time with us, as that is against our clubs sense of hospitality. (well - more than a couple of weeks, might be pushing it) :D

Canterbury Aikido Club
274 Westminster Street
StAlbans 8004

Training Mon, Wed, Fri
6:00 - 7:30pm

(ps, the only requirement made by us, is that you bring a sense of humour - no kidding, you'll need it) :hypno:

Amir Krause
05-08-2005, 02:31 AM
I can easily understand them. In the Dojo I train at, this is the rule with regard to visitors - you can watch but you can't train, unless Sensei believes you are serious.
Visitors from abroad who come and wish to train for the duration of their visit, are normally considered serious and invited to train for free. Visitors from within the country may only watch the lesson, unless after they talk with Sensei, he is convinced of their serious intention to train with us.

I know this approach may sound strange for some of you. But this is the approach my Sensei believes to be traditional in our style. When he was in Japan, he had heard his sensei reject a student who had only planned to practice for 3 years rather then life Here, sensei is more lenient, considering our nature, but sensei will not accept students from other styles who only wish to sample our style. One has to take into account we are very small in relation, and our style is quite different.

Amir