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-   -   Two Dojos in One (...by Ronco (tm)) (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1017)

Magma 07-18-2001 10:52 AM

Two Dojos in One (...by Ronco (tm))
 
First of all, let me say that it is good to be back. I don't know how long I have been away, but it seems like ages.

Now, don't let the light hearted thread title fool you, I have a serious question that I would like to get some feedback on. Recently, another dojo affiliated in the same organization as ours lost their training facility. We made accomodations for them to train with us in our dojo and there was a great hope that the two programs could come together as one. In fact, there were several seminars that we went to where we brought the largest contingent of any represented dojo.

But not all was happy in paradise.

There were natural, expected issues to overcome: training nights were different, as were training intensities, it seemed, and attitudes toward training (some completely held to aikido only as an art and a way of self-improvement, shrugging off all suggestions of practical self-defense as "not what I'm training for," while some were completely interested in the self-defense side, leaving the art as an afterthought). Tangible differences, such as training schedules could be worked out, but the intangibles, the attitudes, went unchanged.

There was an announcement made in the beginning that there would still be two dojos, with two distinct dojo names - which seemed silly, to me. To my thinking, if the visiting dojo intends to remain independent then they should conduct themselves as guests in the house of another until such a time as they could get their own facility again. For instance, which dojo are new students signed up under? Do they go to the visiting dojo, so that while the home dojo gets no new students the visiting dojo gets to develop their program without having to worry about maintaining their own facility (thereby being that much stronger when they inevitably split, for what other purpose could their be for keeping the visiting dojo's name but the hope that someday they will be independent again?). Again, IMHO, if they are interested in coming together to form one family larger and stronger than the two could be separately, then there should be one dojo; one dojo name. This point was made to my Sensei by the leader of the organization we are both affiliated through, "There are not two dojos. There's one. Your house, your dojo."

My question is, has anyone else gone through something like this? And if so, how was it handled? What did you do that worked? What didn't work? What didn't feel good but was for the best? How do you handle disrespectful students who won't attend classes given by one sensei or the other because, "That's not what I'm training for," "That's not what I'm used to," or "That's not the way my sensei does it"? Should two dojos exist like this under one roof, or if two come together should there be only one?

Jim23 07-18-2001 11:44 AM

Hey Tim,

Where've you been? I thought you quit aikido and took up ... ;) (a lame attempt at a joke.)

Based on what you've said, I think that the two dojos should definitely split, otherwise you'll have nothing but problems (for quite a while, anyway) and besides, who wants those kinds of (ego) problems at training?

If, as a merged dojo, you don't mind losing many students, then go ahead and merge.

Personally, I'd vote for the split.

Jim23

Magma 07-18-2001 03:02 PM

Hey, Jim,
I've been around, it's just that on occassion, work actually expects me to... um... work. But I'm going to try to check in here more often.

As far as the dojos go, I don't mind losing students that weren't there before (I've been in classes of four people - counting the instructor - before). I just don't like seeing people that I thought had an investment in my dojo jump ship and leave. Truly, I could already see the attitudes changing in certain people as the issues polarized. We will see what happens now.

I'm still interested to here from anyone that might have experience in this sort of thing.

guest1234 07-18-2001 03:46 PM

I see two problems in the current situation, and one common solution. If two dojos have merged, then that implies a mixing of the two beliefs and goals, and even names (or a new name selected entirely). It sounds like the 'home' dojo rather wants to assimilate the 'visitor', and the 'visitor' is resisting. Merging only works if both sides are willing to compromise and perhaps change, like a marriage. Demanding one subject itself to the other rarely is successful. While the visitors may be taking advantage of a roof over their head, I assume they are paying for it as well, and the home dojo probably didn't mind the bolus of new students.
Students who do not attend classes where self defense is stressed, when that is not their goal, are not disrespectful. They are voting with their feet. If the visitor dojo leaves and a lot of the home students leave with it, that is also voting with their feet. Enough voting might prompt a reevaluation of the goals of the home dojo. The two problems: not a clear understanding of whether this is a merger or a (somewhat hostile) takeover, and values that sound rather divergent. If the two groups are not interested in compromise, then the visitors should find a new place, and the home dojo should wish any that leave, including home students who are voting with their feet, good luck.
Oh, and I was in a club that belonged to one organization, but one of the instructors belonged to another---and it was the best experience I have had. Every one (including instructors) was respectful of the others' teaching and values, students were exposed to a variety of methods and beliefs, and there was a lot less politics than in my current, only one organization, dojo. So two different teaching styles can easily exist under one roof, as long as egos make room for it.

aikilouis 07-18-2001 04:02 PM

One sensei, one dojo, no matter if two schools share the same facility. After all, many dojo harbor schools from different martial arts, and very few think about sharing activities.

Louis R Joseph

mj 07-18-2001 06:42 PM

Maybe I'm being naive (ahem) but there is not one dojo, or two... there are a bunch of people training the way they want. People from two different styles of aikido are, IMHO, about as likely to get on as two different religions. Maybe they will take something from each other, maybe not.
ca is right....ego ego ego

Jim23 07-18-2001 07:02 PM

If the two dojo(s) become one, some people will leave due to the different views/opinions about aikido.

If they split and go back to the way they were before, everyone will be happy (even if some people "switch sides").

So, why bother with the merger? To have a bigger dojo? To prove that one won over the other?

I say let the sensei fight it out to determine a winner (another attempt at ... never mind).

Jim23

Jorge Garcia 07-19-2001 07:40 AM

Two dojos in one place will always be tough. It can be done but if too many humans are involved, then there will definitely be problems that may or may not be overcomeable.
In the first dojo where my son and I started aikido, there was one dojo with two senseis. They were each teaching a different style. The students were allowed to attend any class they wanted and the teachers rotated teaching every other day with Sundays off. It worked fine for a while but two things went wrong. 1) The first sensei was popular and had many "friends" who couldn't pay their dues that attended his classes. Once the word got out, there were a more than a few that developed that "problem". The other sensei had students that were punctual in paying their dues but they began to feel resentful of the ones in the other class who weren't. That divided the classes because people who weren't paying then wouldn't attend classes where the students did pay their dues lest someone say something to them. This polarized the dojo and it created two dojos in one building.
2) Then one of the senseis wanted to join a federation and the other didn't. This further polarized the dojo because it caused divided loyalties to different shihans.
Eventually, the dojo split and we all went our separate ways. There were hard feelings at first but eventually, everyone forgot about all that and we all became friendly again (but on different sides of the fence!).
More communication would have been good but the underlying premises about how to do things were different and I think that the two senseis realized that to bring all that out would have caused all out war. At any rate, everyone loves and respects each other now and they have maintained cooperation and a mutual respect since then.

charron 07-19-2001 11:32 AM

2 dojos in 1
 
It seems to me, that you have two kinds of people there now. Those that want to continue to learn and practice the way they have been, and don't want to change. And, those that have an open mind and are willing to try something different. If merging is not happening, then why not treat each other as two completely different MA. Would you be having a problem if the other group was doing Judo, of Karate? Probably not. So for those who do not want to change, then look at the other group as a completely different MA. You don't have to participate if you don't want, or you can keep an open mind and maybe, just maybe you will find that even though the other group is different, they mau just have something to offer that you were unaware of. It's a great opportunity, to learn from the differences rather than shut yourself off because of them.

cbrf4zr2 07-19-2001 08:29 PM

GRRRRRRR!
 
Well I'd love to throw MY two cents in on this deal and say what I'd like to see happen but Magma and myself train at the same dojo, and I don't want to air our dirty laundry on here. I actually started training at the dojo after the merger occurred and so I like to think I can view the whole situation as objectively as anyone out there. When training - it was very easy (generally) to see which students were with which sensei/dojo.

Colleen - I see where you are coming from on the whole "voting with feet" - but the attitude/lack of respect from some of the (and unfortunately higher ranked) students went WAY beyond just not showing up for certain classes. There seemed to be an agenda - and a complete unwillingness to compromise from the visiting students.

There was a complete and unfounded arrogance about "their style" of Aikido that they seemed to put themselves on a pedastel, and refuse to accept that any other variant of Aikido was even worth considering. We had great opportunity to learn from not just Aikikai style but Kokikai style from a somewhat regular visiting Sensei. These students outwardly showed on the mat a complete lack of repsect for the visiting Sensei (who had been guest teaching) long before the merger. Almost going as far as saying his Aikido was worthless! :mad:

It was way beyond just "not wanting to learn" something different, and IMHO, beneficial. It was simply a lack of repsect for anyone who didn't jump on their bandwagon and sing praises from every mountain top about "their style" of Aikido. It seems as of now that we are splitting, which really disappoints me - because I was learning so much from working with so many different people. I would take many things from many different people and incorporate it into many of my techniques.
I however do not want to fall into the trap of being around that attitude all the time and having it effect me - so if the split does go through I will be staying and not leaving.

In my mind it was never about styles or what was being learned. It was like someone opened their house up to a homeless person, clothed them, gave them food cleaned them up, tried to make them comfortable, and all the while they are telling their friends you are the biggest jerk in the world because you wont let them redecorate or that you actually ask them to help out around the house. And then when they leave, you can't find the good china and your yard is all torn up.

OK - I said I wasn't going to air out the dirty laundry - but this whole thing has me REALLY has me mad and I couldn't keep it in any longer.

Magma 07-20-2001 07:28 AM

Clarification
 
Just to be clear, the two dojos we are speaking of are of the same style and, in fact, the same organization within that style. I think it would be naive to wonder why two aikido schools of different styles cannot mix, but that's not the case here.

The two schools are of the same (big-S) Style, but the two schools had different (little-S) styles.

Jim23 07-20-2001 08:41 AM

If the training atmosphere is as bad as you say, you guys have a real mess on your hands - not splitting would be stupid.

It's never easy being objective when stuck in the middle of that type of problem, and it's easy to analyse the situation to death.

Go back to the way you were, in two different locations (possibly with some people switching sides). I think most people would be happy.

Jim23

Magma 07-20-2001 09:44 AM

Yeah, even as I typed my initial message I realized that there was no way that I could paint it where a completely objective third party would look at it and say that we should stay together. It didn't feel good, but now that it's done, I think it may be for the best.

Another question on this topic... and I'll say it as much without bias as I can:

What would people think of students that gain some considerable rank (1st, 2nd, or 3rd kyu), who then leave their sensei and their dojo to train with another sensei at another dojo just across town because they like the teaching better? Should that sort of thing happen? Would you do it in that situation (where you have attained that rank and see another dojo that catches your interest)?

Just questions...

akiy 07-20-2001 10:45 AM

Quote:

Originally posted by Magma
What would people think of students that gain some considerable rank (1st, 2nd, or 3rd kyu), who then leave their sensei and their dojo to train with another sensei at another dojo just across town because they like the teaching better? Should that sort of thing happen? Would you do it in that situation (where you have attained that rank and see another dojo that catches your interest)?
It's hard to answer "should" type of questions, but I'll relate things from my own experience and say that I pretty much did the exact thing that you're talking about. I trained at my first dojo until a bit after I got my 1st kyu and then left. I actually trained without a "home" dojo for about a year, just going from dojo to to dojo and training where I wanted, until I ended up setting at a dojo where I got my shodan. I ended up moving a few months after that test to where I'm currently living (where I moved to specifically train where I'm now training).

I think it's up to the practitioner to keep finding a teacher/dojo where his or her training may progress.

I changed dojo the first time as I realized that progress there was very difficult as neither the teachers nor the students really had much more to offer; my growth potential felt, to me at least, very limited. Going from dojo to dojo for a year offered me the freedom to pursue the kind of training that I wanted. Luckily, all of the dojo that I attended understood my situation and welcomed me each and every time I trained with them. When I settled on my second dojo, I had been training there more consistently than at any of the other dojo. I still consider one of the teachers there to be one of my teachers. I then spent a couple of weeks (when I had a lot of free time due to getting laid off) training where I'm training now and enjoyed it quite a lot. When one of the members here offered me a place to live should I want to move up here, I accepted and moved here, specifically to train.

I personally think it's important to train around. I still do go see different teachers from different organizations. I still travel and train whenever and wherever I can. I'm lucky in that all of my teachers, my current one included, have encouraged me to go out and see, feel, and experience different approaches to the art; if they didn't, I probably wouldn't have trained with them.

As for the original question of whether to merge two dojo or not, I think it's pretty much in the hands of those whose minds are more closed. If people are not willing to be open-minded, there's no way to make them so except, perhaps, by showing your open-mindedness (by having people in your dojo train in their classes or something). If they've already shut the door and thrown away the key on what you do, then so it goes. What's the saying? "Different strokes for different folks."

In any case, that's my personal experience. I hope others people have others!

-- Jun

PS: Welcome back, Tim!

Brian Vickery 07-20-2001 11:52 AM

Re: GRRRRRRR!
 
Quote:

Originally posted by cbrf4zr2


There was a complete and unfounded arrogance about "their style" of Aikido that they seemed to put themselves on a pedastel, and refuse to accept that any other variant of Aikido was even worth considering. We had great opportunity to learn from not just Aikikai style but Kokikai style from a somewhat regular visiting Sensei. These students outwardly showed on the mat a complete lack of repsect for the visiting Sensei (who had been guest teaching) long before the merger. Almost going as far as saying his Aikido was worthless! :mad:


Hi Edward!

....I'm really curious about theses "aikidoka" ;) ...how much time have these folks spent in the dojo? ...what rank do they hold? I must admit that I find this attutide quite disturbing and rarther disgusting, especially for students of Aikido!

cbrf4zr2 07-20-2001 12:12 PM

Brian

Fire me an e-mail and I'll be happy to respond - too much information might offend some parties if they happened to stumble on here.

Unless you want to answer that one Tim?

Magma 07-20-2001 12:48 PM

Rank
 
I don't mind sharing, because while I bear the people no ill will (I hope they find what they are looking for), this isn't anything that I would refrain from saying in their presence.

Brian, the time on the mats was probably between 2 and 5 years for a group of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th kyus. The length of time the dojos have been together and they have been attending my dojo is about 7 months.

The time on the mats for those now changing dojos and leaving with the visitors also goes from 2 to 4 years, and reaches all the way to first kyu. And in fact, attitudes among these members had been changing already, though their leaving is still a punch-in-the-gut kind of surprise.

It is... revealing, to say the least. There is nothing like adversity to show the character of a person.

Brian Vickery 07-20-2001 02:09 PM

Re: Rank
 
Quote:

Originally posted by Magma
I don't mind sharing, because while I bear the people no ill will (I hope they find what they are looking for), this isn't anything that I would refrain from saying in their presence.

Brian, the time on the mats was probably between 2 and 5 years for a group of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th kyus. The length of time the dojos have been together and they have been attending my dojo is about 7 months.

The time on the mats for those now changing dojos and leaving with the visitors also goes from 2 to 4 years, and reaches all the way to first kyu. And in fact, attitudes among these members had been changing already, though their leaving is still a punch-in-the-gut kind of surprise.

It is... revealing, to say the least. There is nothing like adversity to show the character of a person.

Thanx for the reponse Tim!

I'm glad to see that yudansha aren't included in this group! I remember the transition from mudansha to yudansha involved more than just a change in belt color. With the added responsibilities that came with being a shodan, a dramatic change in attitude also came with that rank. I began to view the art from a totally different perspective...but that's a totally different topic!

I would definitely encourage these folks to visit other dojos, train in as many seminars as they can, experience as many different styles of aikido possible. It's been my personal experience that there's NOTHING more humbling than to attend a seminar from a different style and find yourself totally lost with what's being taught. Even if they 'beleive' that the particular style giving the seminar is weaker or inferior to theirs, they will soon find themselves feeling pretty helpless. This is an extremely good character building/mind expanding experience!

Similar situations have occurred in my dojo. Sensei strongly encourages these students (...just short of kicking them out) to go and train at the dojo (or switch to the other martial art) which they perceive to be 'better'. A few of these students have come back after a few months when they realized that the other style was actually no 'better' than what they were being taught originally.

You really have no choice but to ask them to leave (or just let them go!), they are the proverbial 'rotten apple' and will poison other students. It does them no good by staying either ...they're bitter, close-minded and are not learning a thing! You're actually helping them by giving them some time away from the dojo to thoroughly think about what's troubling them.

Well, that my 2 cents worth! I wish you the best of luck with whatever comes of this situation!

guest1234 07-20-2001 03:26 PM

I understand your frustration at loosing students, but again, what I would call them is folks voting with their feet. I would hope we all could refrain from putting 'aikidoka' in quotes when refering to them (I don't know either side in this) because we've only heard one side of the story, and there is always at least one other side to hear. If you didn't charge them dues or mat fees, then yes, they were like someone you took in. If you charged, then they were like tenants who wanted to hang their most cherished family photo and you said no.
Not everyone is into self-defense, and it is no more your right to insist they be than my right to insist you stop. So don't worry about those who don't want to be in a self-defense oriented dojo, you will find others that do. Everyone has their own direction to find, and it wouldn't work if we were all trying to walk down the same street. I'm glad there are places for all of us.

cbrf4zr2 07-21-2001 12:23 AM

So - um...outward disrespect (on the mats mind you) to a Dan is acceptable practice?

guest1234 07-21-2001 11:39 AM

The 'disrespect' I've seen listed so far is not attending certain classes or seminars, and it soundes like their reasoning is they do not like to emphasize a self-defense approach to Aikido. In what way are they disrespectful? Did the dans do anything to provoke the kyu's reaction? I don't like to form a decision based on only one side's view of a disagreement, and so far one side has been silent, which actually may indicate more self control, and respect of the opposing side's privacy. Or they may not read this website :).

guest1234 07-21-2001 11:44 AM

Besides, didn't someone say you were splitting up, which really sounds smart? Why not just let it go, and be glad both sides will be able to persue their own approaches in ways they enjoy? Instead of wanting the unwelcome guest to stay and change to suit you, why not cheerfully help him pack when he decides he's overstayed his welcome and needs to move on?

JJF 07-23-2001 06:42 AM

I practice in an Aiki-kai dojo. For a while during this year we have hosted an Iwama-ryu dojo in our fascilities. The arrangement is as far as I know that they can use the dojo outside of the time when we are training and in any other way the two dojos are completely without interaction. We are not incouragede to, nor discouraged from, taking classes with the other Sensei, but if we were to go, it would include entering as students in the other Sensei's club as well as in our own. Of course this is two very different styles and co-training would not be easily done due to differences in traditions, style, affiliation etc etc. Perhaps if it was another Aikikai dojo it would have been more tempting to try to create a cooperation, but it should be avoided in most cases (or so it seems from the posts above).

akiy 07-23-2001 10:01 AM

Jørgen, you do realize that Saito sensei is part of the Aikikai, right?

-- Jun

Nick 07-23-2001 09:26 PM

it makes sense because he was one of O'sensei's deshi and still maintains the aiki jinja, but it seems like Iwama style is much different... I haven't been exposed to much of it, but it seems from what I've heard that Iwama style is a bit different than hombu aikido...

Nick


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