Uchideshi in Iwama
Hi everyone, I picked up Aikido about a year ago and was immediately smitten. I learned of the uchi deshi lifestyle months ago and for some reason have recently been hit by a really powerful urge to go do it in Iwama for perhaps three months or so. The lifestyle of focus I suppose is very attractive, and the people at the Iwama dojos I have visited thus far have universally impressed me with their earnest dedication to practice. What I'm not sure about is how long I should have been practicing before I try to go.
I've been practicing in the US and Australia whenever I could for a little over a year now, sometimes twice a month, sometimes three or four times a week depending on allowances of travel. I've only tested US Aikikai 5th kyu but with the range of dojos and seminars I have attended have I think at least been exposed to a decent taijutsu curriculum (and wow does that vary when you travel a bit!), some suwari waza, suburi and the 31 kata. My sensei in the US gave a great deal of attention to ukemi which I have found at seminars to have given me the confidence to participate at a good pace and I am comfortable with my personal safety on the mat.
So I would like to know from anyone who has visited Iwama what the expectation is there for the level of training of uchideshi. I hear that experience with Iwama style Aikido is not necessary but I also don't know of anyone who has done this before 1st kyu. I hope I don't have to wait that long!
Re: Uchideshi in Iwama
I was based at the Ibaraki Shibu Dojo (the "Iwama Dojo" and Aiki-Shrine) for a while and I still go back to train there regularly. It is still part of the Aikikai and run by acting dojocho Isoyama Shihan. No problem with kyu grades or even absolute beginners in my experience. Check out the website for details. Inagaki Shihan usually handles admissions.
I never trained at Saito Hitohiro's dojo but I know a few people who do. It's maybe another five minutes further out from the station (although the accommodation is actually right next to the Iwama Dojo and Aiki Shrine). Entry details are on their website.
You might also want to look into Nemoto Sensei's "Aiki-house".
Re: Uchideshi in Iwama
Thanks very much Carl that's great to hear. I'll look into the programs and try to feel my way around what they offer. I have to imagine the Ibaraki Shibu Dojo and sensei Saito Hirohito's dojos offer different experiences and I wonder if anyone would like to share their experiences from time at either.
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