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BJohnston 01-19-2010 07:22 PM

Traditional vs Non Traditional training...questions
 
I know there are other threads with similar titles, but I do have specific concerns and questions that I would love answers to. I'm a beginer with Aikido. I've been studying the last month and 1/2 with a pretty traditional Birankai affiliated dojo. I enjoy the teaching method there. I have a lot of respect for the art and feel like it's important to pay homage to the tradition...ie learning Japanese terms, the implementation of weapons traing and how it affects my Aikido, the philosophy of O'Sensei... The only down side is that it's a 45 minute drive 1 way. I make it to 2 classes/week. I live in a part of the world where there's not a ton of choices when it comes to dojos. However I recently found a Tomiki dojo locally. They're a pretty private bunch. I spoke with one of the instructors this evening. They are not affiliated with any international organizations. They use a color belt system for testing. They're very untraditional in the sense that they do not use Japanese terms including the word Sensei. They feel that it is a demeaning term. They don't teach weapons until 3rd Dan. which kind of bummed me out because that's my favorite class. He said that the average time for making Black Belt is about a year and a half. His complaint about organizations is that they hold you back from rising through the ranks at a respectable speed. All of those philosophies fly in the face of what I believe(d) to be true...up until this point. Could someone tell if this is true with all Tomiki dojos or is the exception to the rule? Is this a realistic and/or a proper way to train and truly learn Aikido? I know that there's more than one way to learn the art. I'd love to save travel time and money, but I don't know if I completely get the teaching method.
I'm truly interested in getting opinions on this.

Regards,

B

Andrew Macdonald 01-19-2010 09:22 PM

Re: Traditional vs Non Traditional training...questions
 
I am sure you will get may response to your post, this is a very interesting topic

traditional vs non traditional is a very old and comp[lax argument among MA styles, and some time people who have stuck rigidly to tradition have actually stunted their growth but one the other side some of the people who have thrown away all tradition have become martial artists with no root,

Some things from your post I found interesting:

‘They're very untraditional in the sense that they do not use Japanese terms including the word Sensei. They feel that it is a demeaning term'
If you don't learn at least some Japanese terms this makes it difficult to train in other dojos either nationally or internationally, I have trained in other countries where the only language I had in common was ‘Aikido Japanese', it helped a lot. I suppose if you only intent to practice ein the one place the it is not really needed.

I also wonder why they find the Japanese term for teacher demeaning

They don't teach weapons until 3rd Dan'

I have come across this a few times that schools not teaching weapon techniques until higher grades I guess they have their reasons but for me I would really miss my bokken work

He said that the average time for making Black Belt is about a year and a half

This I find very interesting, To be honest the time is really really short, and it make me very skeptical if all you want to do is learn some techniques and have a work out then maybe it is ok, but Aikido and all martial arts should go a lot deeper than that and it takes a lot longer to reach black belt

Without seeing the dojo it sound as if these people ae offering ‘Aikido lite' a few techniques but nothing else, which I guess is ok for some people who just want to hang out and throw each other around but If you are interested in aikido for real then I would look elsewhere

On a personal note, I really hate dojos like the one you describe, they do a lot of harm to martial arts and generally are run by people with limited skill that have been kicked out of other organizations or left because the got the smell of money

lbb 01-19-2010 09:43 PM

Re: Traditional vs Non Traditional training...questions
 
Quote:

Barry Johnston wrote: (Post 250684)
IThe only down side is that it's a 45 minute drive 1 way. I make it to 2 classes/week. I live in a part of the world where there's not a ton of choices when it comes to dojos.

Well, it is what it is. If a 45 minute commute is challenging to you, there's nothing more to be said about it. However...I don't think I have ever lived anywhere where I had less than a 45 minute commute to the dojo. When I was in Boston, it was 45 minutes (or more) walking and by subway to the karate dojo, or about the same to drive to where we would train shindo muso ryu jodo. Now that I live out in the hills, it's about a 45 minute drive to the dojo down in the valley. My commute is typical for our dojo members, who are quite spread out.

This isn't really the "20 miles, through the snow, uphill, both ways" lecture that it may sound like. I'm not saying "suck it up and do the 45 minute commute". I'm just pointing out that studying martial arts is time-consuming. I left home tonight at a little after 5 to get to the dojo, I stopped on the way home to do an errand that took about 15 minutes, and I got home at about 9:30. That is a big chunk of time. Most people simply can't make that kind of time in their lives. More to the point here, I think if you look closely at the Tomiki school, you'll find that the difference in the commute (of what, 20 minutes?) doesn't make much difference in the time that training will take out of your life. If time is a big consideration, I'd really suggest looking carefully at what time will be involved, including commute, time to change, training, changing again, dojo chores, back home. The question may not come down to Birankai vs. Tomiki, but aikido vs. no aikido.

Also, I wasn't a fly on the wall when you visited the Tomiki school, but rapid advancement is a bit of a yellow light for me, particularly if it was they and not you who called attention to it. Forget whether the typical time to black belt is only a year and a half, and ask yourself this: in a year and a half's study at the Tomiki dojo, do you think you would be as proficient as a black belt from the Birankai dojo? Did you see something at the Tomiki dojo that led you to believe that they had some way of helping you to not just advance in rank more rapidly, but develop proficiency in aikido more quickly?

Best of luck with it,

PeterR 01-19-2010 09:49 PM

Re: Traditional vs Non Traditional training...questions
 
Tomiki (Shodokan) Aikido is a training system as much as anything else and originated primarily with university training in Japan. The idea is that you have Black Belt after the 2nd year or so. You see that with other Aikido styles also. At Shodokan Honbu it takes about three years on average but that also reflects on how much you train.

Shodan (1st Dan) really means beginning level not Mastery but in any case I never get wrapped up in comparing what one blackbelt means to another.

Sword and Spear are part of the requirement for Sandan and not tested before that - but you know that does not mean it can not be trained before that. Knife kata are tested as Nidan and of course used in randori training almost from the beginning.

How much weapons training and when depends on how a particular club constructs its training. I certainly taught sword and spear kata from very early to those who were interested in my club in Himeji.

International affiliation has I think a good effect on standards - I am a little suspect of the claim that they hold back progress if you measure progress by rank which I don't.

The other thing is that even if this club is not affiliated internationally - it is important to understand the path it took from Tomiki. There are quite marked differences.

jss 01-20-2010 01:36 AM

Re: Traditional vs Non Traditional training...questions
 
Quote:

Peter Rehse wrote: (Post 250692)
Shodan (1st Dan) really means beginning level not Mastery but in any case I never get wrapped up in comparing what one blackbelt means to another.

I totally agree with this. 1st Dan shouldn't be as big as deal as it is sometimes made out to be. Secondly, one and a half year may be quite realistic to get to Shodan. It all depends on how much training hours you put in and how actively you're being taught/coached by the teacher and other dojo members. I mean, if you get individual (and correct) feedback on every technique you practice in a class, you can progress quite rapidly. Unfortunately practical consideration prevent that from happening.

PeterR 01-20-2010 02:53 AM

Re: Traditional vs Non Traditional training...questions
 
By the way - I suspect the club being referred to derives from Karl Geis which are quite different to the JAA/USA clubs in several ways. I have little to no experience with the former, more with the latter.

The only JAA clubs as far as I know are in Tulsa - they tend to follow the Shodokan system developed by Tomiki much closer.

Karo 01-20-2010 09:48 AM

Re: Traditional vs Non Traditional training...questions
 
If Mary doesn't want to give you the "20 miles, through the snow, uphill, both ways" lecture, I will :D ;)

My commute to the dojo takes 1.5 hrs one way. Recently, getting back home means more like 2 hrs, courtesy of our ailing Metro. And I still make it to the training on average 5 times a week.

On the other hand, before I signed up, I though it was too far away. And even for a while after I signed up, I thought I'd only be going once a week.

So my advice to you is, if you really like that dojo, stick with it for a while, despite the commute. Maybe after some time the commute will stop being a problem :)

Karo

dalen7 01-20-2010 10:03 AM

Re: Traditional vs Non Traditional training...questions
 
Quote:

Barry Johnston wrote: (Post 250684)
They don't teach weapons until 3rd Dan. which kind of bummed me out because that's my favorite class.

He said that the average time for making Black Belt is about a year and a half. His complaint about organizations is that they hold you back from rising through the ranks at a respectable speed.

Regards,

B

Here are some thoughts based on my personal experiences
with Aikido: [I have trained approx. 3 years in Aikido]

1 If you like weapons, Birankai Aikido, especially from what you said, will be your best bet for now.

I know a guy who trains in the Birankai style of Aikido and it appears that they do focus more on weapons than a typical Akikai affiliated dojo.

Just look at Hombus testing requirements - no weapons at all. ;)
[Doesnt mean you wont find dojos who do try to specialize in this, but in your case you know what your up against.]

2 Black belts... ah yes.
One of my biggest gripes is the apparent lack of structure in Aikido. This alone is what I see as taking people 5 years and a decade to get anywhere.

If I had my choice of dojos, I would personally start out with a Yoshinkan Aikido dojo... and thats only based on what I have read and seen of how they train.

It is said they dont look like they flow, but a lot really depends on perspective. Personally I feel they [Aikidoka] need to get a solid base first, which Yoshikan seems to give, especially if they want to work with other martial arts and/or even do sport fighting. [Tomiki even, I suppose - though Im really not familiar with it. Im referring to cross training with BJJ, ThaiBox, etc.]

The belts are really only guides anyway and arent the most important thing. You will find many a black belt that can get their rear ends beat.

Aikido is multi-purposed and can serve various goals, etc.
What takes the time, is learning about this flexibility of Aikido and its place within various given scenarios.

Sure it would help if someone just told you from the get go, but the reason no one does is the same reason many dojos lack structure... they grew up in a dojo and some pass on what was given to them, vs. really finding out for themselves what its all about. :)

In the end you dont seem like you have much choice if your limited by finances... if you like weapons and your not limited... stay with the group your with... and maybe train on the side with the other guys to get the feel.

Peace

dAlen

BJohnston 01-20-2010 10:30 AM

Re: Traditional vs Non Traditional training...questions
 
Thank you all for your replies.

Quote:

Well, it is what it is. If a 45 minute commute is challenging to you, there's nothing more to be said about it.

lbb
It's not a huge challenge. I guess my point is that if I had the option to train at a dojo of equal quality closer to home it would be nice. I've got a family and I own my own business so every minute is valuable to me. With that being said I'm completely committed to training and will continue to make time to do so.

Quote:

If Mary doesn't want to give you the "20 miles, through the snow, uphill, both ways" lecture, I will :D ;)

My commute to the dojo takes 1.5 hrs one way. Recently, getting back home means more like 2 hrs, courtesy of our ailing Metro. And I still make it to the training on average 5 times a week.

On the other hand, before I signed up, I though it was too far away. And even for a while after I signed up, I thought I'd only be going once a week.

So my advice to you is, if you really like that dojo, stick with it for a while, despite the commute. Maybe after some time the commute will stop being a problem :)

Karo
That's very inspiring for me to hear. When I was looking for dojos I thought that I'd be happy with whatever I could find. I'm realizing that dojos like the one I'm a member of aren't as common as I thought.
I want learn the more traditional way. I think it helps me understand the true intent and purpose of the art.

B

dalen7 01-20-2010 10:51 AM

Re: Traditional vs Non Traditional training...questions
 
Quote:

Barry Johnston wrote: (Post 250684)
They're very untraditional in the sense that they do not use Japanese terms including the word Sensei. They feel that it is a demeaning term.

Well... it could be "demeaning" - just watch: :D
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKmUsVeKp1o

"Bow to your Sensei!" :D

peace

dAlen

Basia Halliop 01-20-2010 11:53 AM

Re: Traditional vs Non Traditional training...questions
 
Quote:

He said that the average time for making Black Belt is about a year and a half

This I find very interesting, To be honest the time is really really short, and it make me very skeptical if all you want to do is learn some techniques and have a work out then maybe it is ok, but Aikido and all martial arts should go a lot deeper than that and it takes a lot longer to reach black belt
As long as they don't then go and act as if a black belt knows a lot, I don't think it really matters. It just means 'first degree black belt' will be a comparatively much more beginner rank than somewhere else. If anything, it may be a more traditional or at least more Japanese scale of ranks.

The 'Sensei' thing - well, to me their reaction seems a bit extreme but if they train with a good attitude, teach well, etc, again it's not really that important what language they use.

I would be more concerned with their actual technique and training and if you are actually interested in what they do and how they teach it - it's more likely than not completely different from what you're learning now, although if you just started you might not be far enough to have developed a strong preference. Also with the comment 'they seem a secretive bunch' - whether they are friendly and good to work with and there's a culture in the dojo you'd feel comfortable with.

ninjaqutie 01-20-2010 02:28 PM

Re: Traditional vs Non Traditional training...questions
 
My commute is between 30 and 45 minutes (depending if we give this other guy a ride, which happens an awful lot). Its about 40 miles round trip and I go there four times a week. I'd say that if it is a great dojo, you like the teacher, you like the style, then go. That is exactly where my husband and I are at. There is one a bit closer, but the trip is well worth it in my opinion.

If you are curious about the other style, try a class or two. Then go from there. I wouldn't really get caught up in the rank issue as rank is different everywhere you go. A 3rd kyu here might be better then a 1st kyu somwhere else or worse then a 4th kyu at another dojo. As far as the non Japanese terms go, I learned a bit of aikido that way in the past. It made it a little difficult at first because I didn't know I already knew some of the things until I saw it done. Best of luck.


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