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John Matsushima
09-24-2005, 12:30 PM
How important is the study of Japanese culture in your training? How does it help? Do you ever intend to visit Japan for this reason?

09-24-2005, 02:57 PM
I use the culture a lot to help explain to me the reason that we do what we do and how we do it. I've used it once or twice to explain to people in my dojo including Senseis the origin or background of things. I'm totally into the culture and the resident expert. Although I'm not an expert for I haven't had the chance to live there yet. My dojo-cho will start to have me instruct some classes since I'm moving up in rank and my thing will be bring the Japanese culture, language, etc.. to the dojo. It will be trivia for my dojo mates but it will help to reinforce the language and mannerisms to me personally.

Jory Boling
09-24-2005, 05:10 PM
I constantly research some aspect of Japanese culture and apply it to training. It might have to do with the language or it might have to do with etiquette. I do plan on living/training in Japan for an extended period of time so I hope I won't be completely lost when I arrive.

09-24-2005, 09:44 PM
I was interested in Asia before I started aikido, and since I was 18, I didn't know much about anything. Aikido ended up being the influence that brought me to study japanese, study abroad, and eventually stay. so in my case it was pretty important. I think if you are serious about doing aikido and becoming high ranked you have to know about ettiquette in detail, and I have never seen any high ranked non-japanese person who wasn't very good at ettiquette. especially if you do aikido for 5,10 years there isn't much to think about, it just comes naturally. Culture (not ettiquette) is only important if you are interested in the spiritual aspects, and not everyone is.

Ali B
09-25-2005, 04:34 AM
I trained with a Japanese teacher for five years In Spain, I loved my time with him as he is a fabulous teacher but if I say he did not teach culture in he ways you would expect would you be disappointed? I'm not as I leaned so much more, even practicing five times a week I still think most of it went over my head ( I hope I absorbed more than I retained mentally)

I did learn some ancient Jo Katas which he says you will not see outside Japan and he taught how to "move like air", "slow is quicker than fast", Aiki and so on... some of it mystical stuff compared to more traditional dojos but its still aikido. He is a very modern teacher and thinker. I make this point often, his dojo was the one where etiquette was least emphasized compared to more traditional styles . He was very informal and cared deeply for his students, we all called him by his first name inside the dojo and out.

I really do not beleive you have to go to Japan to really learn it, I have a Scottish teacher now who has as much to give.

Amir Krause
09-25-2005, 10:15 AM
A matter of purpose, for some, the Japanese culture might be ore important than most other content, others will regard it as a non essential topic.


09-25-2005, 11:48 AM
As with studying foreign languages, philosophies, religions, scientific approaches, I believe it is most welcome but perhaps, generally speaking, not exactly essential to have at east some amount of knowledge of the cultural background. It helps to understand the issue in question.

09-26-2005, 03:21 PM
I visited Japan after studying the Japanese language and culture here in the US for almost two years. I was drawn to Aikido as a result of that trip, so for me, it's all forever connected. I study both Aikido and Japanese language/culture with as much intensity as I can and try and find the links wherever possible.

I don't think Aikido training necessitates studying the culture of Japan unless your sensei teach that way. I train with several sensei in our dojo Some use more Japanese language than English, and some seem to observe a more formalized Japanese way of teaching than others.

In the end, knowledge is always good. The more you know, the more options you have open to you. And if you are lucky enough to find your way into a dojo in Japan, a bit of studying the culture before you go wouldn't hurt.

Your question would be an excellent one to pose to your own sensei and see what they have done as their training progressed. I am definitely going to make it a point to ask mine to see what they say.

09-26-2005, 11:11 PM
How important is the study of Japanese culture in your training? How does it help? Do you ever intend to visit Japan for this reason?
I'd say it's not real important to study Japanese culture when studying Aikido, but that one ought learn something about it, if for no other reason than to find out what "Aikido" generaly means.
There are various forms of teaching Aikido, some of which are very traditionally Japanese and some of which are not. That said i guess it depends on the language used by one's teacher as to whether or not one needs to learn about parts of the culture. If they speak in Japanese, for example, you probably need to learn a little bit of the language and the implications that go along with that language.