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Jimmy L 05-13-2006 03:16 PM

Should I be Worried?
Hi all.

I have been practicing aikido for about a month now and am enjoying it very much. However, having read much of these forums i am starting to worry. Many of the things - for example katas that are talked about i haven't seen taught at my dojo.

I am pretty sure the dojo is not a 'Mc Dojo' as no profit is made from it the (very low) cost of the classes goes to the rent of the hall and to occasionally buy equipment. Also the sensei and some of the senior students are very skilled (one of the students has practiced for 20-odd years - and the sensei 43 years practice i think he remarked in disgust after forgetting how to put on his hakama).

Am i missing out on a part of aikido or will this be taught later.

P.S. sorry if this seems worry seems premature as i have only been doing it for a short time but i don't want to go for years then realise i have missed out - I will ask the sensei and i am sure he can help me - he is very friendly.

Aristeia 05-13-2006 03:26 PM

Re: Should I be Worried?
Don't stress Jamie. When people talk about kata in aikido they're generally talking about one of two things.
1. weapons kata - the use of weapons and kata varies signifcantly from association to association and even from dojo to dojo. So if you're not doing any that's not that unusual.
2. paired practice. eg. person A attacks with shomen uchi, person B performs irimi nage, rinse and repeat. i.e. the way we generally practice. This is called kata because it is a set pattern that is performed as opposed to sparring with resisting opponents.

So I suspect you've read "kata" on these forums and been thinking about the solo exercises in things like Karate, when in fact it's being used to refer to what you're already doing?

justin 05-13-2006 03:55 PM

Re: Should I be Worried?
i wouldnt worry about it many people mention hard training with over the top ukemi just be thankfull you havent got to do that with only a month or two under your belt, as you progress you will be shown more and more.

Mark Uttech 05-13-2006 06:43 PM

Re: Should I be Worried?
Jamie, I would venture to say that your worry is premature. It is like a typical aikido dojo warm-up: if everyone watches and imitates the sensei, the whole class is working together in unison; on the other hand if you look around and start just copying some other student who is looking around just like you, confused chaos results. In gassho.

Kevin Leavitt 05-14-2006 05:27 AM

Re: Should I be Worried?
Obviously you want to practice at the best place you can possibly practice! However, when nothing else it available...then you do the best you can with what you got!

Not everyone has access to robust dojos with Shihan and lots of experienced senior students!

That is okay! You can be the best that you can be with what you have.

I think a McDojo is more about the attitude and intent of the instructor more so than skill level etc. You will/would probably be able to tell as most people's BS meters are pretty good if they are willing to cut them on. Sounds like yours is working fine!

If your instructor is sincere, he is exposing you to things that you feel are of value...even if it may not be the best in the world, then I'd say you are good to go!

Hopefully he is somehow tied into others in the world of aikido that will allow you to see others and be exposed to their training.

I current am running a small dojo that is a mixture of BJJ and Aikido. I do not profess to be an "instructor", but run a "club", while I am recognized as the senior member and do instruct, if I were in a larger area, or someone more qualified came along, I would defer to there abilities. I also bring in instructors, mine, and others to expose my students to things I simply cannot convey or teach them.

To me i'd be running a McDojo if I professed to be a "master", sensei, or worse yet Shihan. If I professed to have studied aikido and other martial arts for years and taken the best from each one since all of them were lacking and designed my own system that is most complete and bestowing the title of Soke, 10th degree, grandmaster on myself. I'd be a McDojo if I scoffed at others and professed knowledge about the internal secrets of the arts that have been transmitted to me by my long gone sensei. If I concentrated on "combat effectiveness" yet refused to really engage my students for fear of them beating me some how.

However, just because you live in a small town, and may be working with someone that may not have as good ofknowledge of aikido as others in the world, does not necessarily mean you are studying in a McDojo.

Mark Freeman 05-14-2006 08:10 AM

Re: Should I be Worried?
It's probably best not to compare what happens at your dojo with what you read on this forum.
I have been practicing for 14 years and I read about aikido practice that I have not, and may never experience. You are a little premature, given your newness to the art, in drawing any conclusions about your own situation.
If you like what your sensei is teaching you, go with what he has to offer, you can always start to make some more informed conclusions later on.

There are posters here who may well talk/write alot better than they actually perform, ( I could be one of them ). ;)

P.S. McDojo's are not that common in the UK, it's rare to see anyone making a living from any martial art.

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