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Annoyed 09-14-2010 09:57 AM

Japanezsing
 
I have taken Aikido for a year. Ok, more like a 8 months to be honest. I don't attend every class meeting per month. There is a reason for that and that is because the dojo is turning Japanezing. That is the term I have for it. Let me explain, it will help with what my complaint is.

Japanezing isn't a bad thing. It is when my class decides there isn't enough Japanese feel in or to the dojo. Several months back the Sensei and the two senior students start to make small changes to the decor of the Dojo. They started to turn the strip mall space we called a dojo into a gaudy Japanese restaurant. Previously, our old space had the feel of an NPR piece; innocuous bland and mediocre decor avoid of anything Japanese (or anything else for that matter) other then a framed picture of O'Sensei sitting on a shelf with a vase and silk vegetation of some sort in a small white vase. And the floor was covered in mats. There was nothing special about the dojo.

Then they started sprinkling in Japanese words and terms beyond the terms of techniques, sensei, and dojo. Like for example, the other day they started using all these Japanese terms from their pocket Rosette Stone. Instead of calling each other my the first name, they slap on "San and Sama" constantly. Joseph-"san" is now the name of one of the senior students, instead of Joseph. We have to address each other in this way. Expect for a select few who are addressed as sama. Every chance they get, they use a Japanese word tangled up in their English to replace nouns, like the bathroom, and major body parts.

The Japanese Renaissance Festival is everyday. Their street clothes are Hopi coats or something like that. Then there is the Ninja pants to go along with it. They wear tabi or wooden sandals with white socks. It is Disney on parade or either "It's the Small World" exhibit coming to life. I can't decide. I am waiting for next week when someone is going to sport a top-knot and where Kabuki make-up.

I mean, we wore heavy white pajamas in the dojo with belts. We train bare-footed, Hakama's wore are black You noticed I said wore, using the past tense or ware. Yep if you didn't guess it, the senior students and the sensei look like they walked out of some Japanese Fellini Anime Samurai film.

I could go on with all the other Japanezing oddities that have arisen in the dojo. Per my good judgement sighting I think you got the picture, I will not. I don't think a bit of Japanese accent here and there is a problem, But let's not be who we are not; we are not Japanese. Let's shift back into reality, it is nice to play dress up like for Halloween or a custom party for an evening. Or perhaps, indulge in the occasional a fantasy escape of a Bronte Sister. Though I think Japanezing your life becomes a full time profession that is an issue, isn't it?

Yes, I am annoyed by this paradigm shift. And I have asked myself if what is really going on is a matter of me not liking change. I don't think so, it isn't a matter of change its self, it is a matter of what the change is. I summized with all my mental powers that this is definitely a direction I feel comfortable with. I don't think this shift to being Japanese Renaissance Fair Headquarters positively effects training. Perhaps, I am wrong in my evaluation. Maybe I am afraid of change and comfortable with the dojo as it was. I should realize that, and get on the Samurai Aikido wagon like everyone else. Should I be annoyed, should I be concerned, of these new ways of my dojo being the true way as it should be? Or, should I go against the flow and place a wake up call?

Some Kid 10-07-2010 05:47 PM

Re: Japanezsing
 
I really feel your pain, but it's just so damn funny! It's like you're living the Life of Brian.
If it's as bad as you describe, there is quite possible that there's quite a few people there just waiting for somebody to state that the emperor is in nude.

Aikibu 10-07-2010 07:58 PM

Re: Japanezsing
 
LMAO...

Sounds like a great LARP scenario "Call of the Psuedo-Samurai Masters of the Dojo Universe."

Steam Punk has nothing on Aikido! :D

William Hazen

Josh Reyer 10-07-2010 09:43 PM

Re: Japanezsing
 
That sounds pretty damn obnoxious. I'd look for another place to train. This group might be good someday, but they need to grow up first.

WilliB 10-07-2010 09:49 PM

Re: Japanezsing
 
It sounds hilarious. No youtube videos?

Hellis 10-08-2010 01:48 AM

Re: Japanezsing
 
Theatre Aikido, something to look forward to each week.

Henry Ellis
http://kenshiroabbe.blogspot.com/

JJF 10-08-2010 04:37 AM

Re: Japanezsing
 
I've seen similar.. though not remotely as ugly as that... Usually I would encourage that you just practice and let them have their fun... I would expect it to wear off within a while. However it sounds really bad. If they force you into the same behaviour and loose focus on good honest practice over strange semi-japanese

Funny thing is that the least japanese dojo's I've been to have been in... well yes... Japan. In the west we tend to overemphazise every little aspect of dojo-kun until we get the hang of it. Like driving a car.. the first couple of month's/years we are consious about all the rules and do's/dont's - then we start to relax and act according to the situation.

Guess the best you can do is to invite a good japanese no-nonsens sensei to stay for a while.. once he is done laughing he will probably get the whole thing back on track again :)

Seriously though... I think you should calmly raise the matter at the next general assembly or other relevant occasion. Simply tell them you have a hard time understanding how this 'more japanese than the japanese' approach (don't use that expression) will help the students learn aikido. Don't fuss or blaim them for being wrong - just open the debate, and if they aren't able to allow a student to be selective about the rules, then you should seriously consider taking yourself somewhere else. Give it a fair shot - and if it fails, vote with your feet.

I hope it will all fall into places for you.

JJ

Marc Abrams 10-08-2010 06:48 AM

Re: Japanezsing
 
You should be there to train in the art of Aikido. If people want to play the game of trying to turn into a Japanese person, then by all means, allow them the space to do so. Heck, it can be quite amusing at times. You could even compliment them and let them know that the shape of their eyes is changing!

If the Aikido teaching is good, stick with what you are there for. If you do not believe that the Aikido instruction is good enough for you, look elsewhere.

Marc Abrams

lbb 10-08-2010 06:51 AM

Re: Japanezsing
 
The practical problem with training in a place like this is, where are you gonna go from there? It seems like most of these affectations would be considered weird or laughable or even offensive at other dojos. Every dojo has its little quirks, and people understand and tolerate that when traveling to seminars or when visitors come to their dojo...but this is so way out there, I can't picture anyone from this dojo going elsewhere and not sticking out like a sore thumb. All well and good if you plan to never stray outside this dojo, but then that doesn't seem real healthy either.

Peter Goldsbury 10-08-2010 07:30 AM

Re: Japanezsing
 
Hello Annoyed,

Your complaint makes me feel quite fortunate to be practising and teaching a Japanese martial art in Japan, to 'ordinary' Japanese. Of course, they are not 'ordinary', but we are a general dojo, offering aikido to anyone who wants to make the commitment. By this I mean that we are not a specialist enterprise for students, police or the military.

At present there are no non-Japanese members of our dojo, apart from myself and my two fellow instructors. So it is just not possible to 'Japaneze' things. Everything is 100% 'Japaneze' already--and completely without effort. So, no happi coats or ninja pants. Tabi are accepted, because we think it is good for the knees. No sempai or kohai and 'Sensei' is heard in a completely natural context. No sprinkling of Japanese terms in our explanations, for they are all in Japanese to begin with. So no intellectual contortions about whether 'kuzushi' is preferable to 'unbalancing', or whether 'ukemi' fully captures the sense of 'breakfall'. If our students do not understand these terms, then we have to explain.

I tend to agree with Marc Abrams. What is the aikido training like? Are you learning anything?

Is the instructor Japanese? Has he / she spent serious time training in Japan at a reputable dojo? If not has he / she visited or lived in Japan? I have seen some students of an intense Japanese instructor (in the UK) trying to 'go native' and imitate everything he does, from the 'spiritual smile' to the 'samurai walk'. But they tend to be in the minority.

Best wishes,

Marc Abrams 10-08-2010 07:54 AM

Re: Japanezsing
 
Quote:

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: (Post 265923)
Hello Annoyed,

Your complaint makes me feel quite fortunate to be practising and teaching a Japanese martial art in Japan, to 'ordinary' Japanese. Of course, they are not 'ordinary', but we are a general dojo, offering aikido to anyone who wants to make the commitment. By this I mean that we are not a specialist enterprise for students, police or the military.

At present there are no non-Japanese members of our dojo, apart from myself and my two fellow instructors. So it is just not possible to 'Japaneze' things. Everything is 100% 'Japaneze' already--and completely without effort. So, no happi coats or ninja pants. Tabi are accepted, because we think it is good for the knees. No sempai or kohai and 'Sensei' is heard in a completely natural context. No sprinkling of Japanese terms in our explanations, for they are all in Japanese to begin with. So no intellectual contortions about whether 'kuzushi' is preferable to 'unbalancing', or whether 'ukemi' fully captures the sense of 'breakfall'. If our students do not understand these terms, then we have to explain.

I tend to agree with Marc Abrams. What is the aikido training like? Are you learning anything?

Is the instructor Japanese? Has he / she spent serious time training in Japan at a reputable dojo? If not has he / she visited or lived in Japan? I have seen some students of an intense Japanese instructor (in the UK) trying to 'go native' and imitate everything he does, from the 'spiritual smile' to the 'samurai walk'. But they tend to be in the minority.

Best wishes,

Peter:

Maybe we could ask that dojo to donate their used "Japanese" material to help you fit in better! :D :D :D !

This is akin to people who speak "Japenglish" to Japanese instructor in the USA person will change from "Sensei, it is time for us to go to the event now..." to "Sensei, we go event now..."

Marc Abrams

DonMagee 10-08-2010 08:59 AM

Re: Japanezsing
 
I'd just ham it up a few notches. I'd show up in full dress and talk with a really bad movie accent.

"Ohhhhh honorable sensei!" (Walks away backwards bowing the whole time)

Dan Rubin 10-08-2010 11:39 AM

Re: Japanezsing
 
Just be glad you don't practice Greco-Roman wrestling.

Keith Larman 10-08-2010 11:59 AM

Re: Japanezsing
 
I was at a tai kai (sword event) and there were some guys from a local karate school that also did sword work. The funniest thing in the world to me was that when these guys answered questions, or let out a kiai, they all sounded like they were doing really bad Toshiro Mifune impersonations. Now considering most of them were teenaged boys and a few girls it was really, well, silly sounding. There were more traditional groups at the same tai kai and the contrast couldn't be greater. Nothing flashy, nothing loud, just solid work.

Now I'll add that all these local kids were quite sincere. One kid "grunter" kid asked me about swords at the competition and in conversation I gently suggested he watch someone I knew who was performing at that time who was top notch. He noticed the contrast. I introduced him to a few local sensei. Not that his existing place was bad, but I wanted to at least open the door for him to other options.

Anyway, over time he lost his Mifune-esque deep samurai grunts as he focused on a more traditional approach to the sword.

Shrug. I wear tabi because my knees prefer it. And since I go barefoot all day long I need to have something to protect the tatami from my feet... ;)

Knew another guy seriously into swordsmanship from decades ago. Wore geta all the time, even to work. I kept waiting for the top knot. Over the years he became more circumspect, dropped most of the behaviors, and is now a top level instructor, fluent in Japanese, well read, and he really knows his stuff. Shrug.

So I'll repeat the other question. How's the aikido?

Demetrio Cereijo 10-08-2010 01:26 PM

Re: Japanezsing
 
Quote:

Dan Rubin wrote: (Post 265934)
Just be glad you don't practice Greco-Roman wrestling.

衆道 is always an option.

Dan Rubin 10-08-2010 03:43 PM

Re: Japanezsing
 
Quote:

Demetrio Cereijo wrote: (Post 265936)
衆道 is always an option.

PEDERASTY???! :confused:

Demetrio Cereijo 10-08-2010 04:51 PM

Re: Japanezsing
 
"Tokugawa Japan ranks with ancient Athens as a society that not only tolerated, but celebrated, male homosexual behavior. Few scholars have seriously studied the subject, and until now none have satisfactorily explained the origins of the tradition or elucidated how its conventions reflected class structure and gender roles. Gary P. Leupp fills the gap with a dynamic examination of the origins and nature of the tradition. Based on a wealth of literary and historical documentation, this study places Tokugawa homosexuality in a global context, exploring its implications for contemporary debates on the historical construction of sexual desire.

Combing through popular fiction, law codes, religious works, medical treatises, biographical material, and artistic treatments, Leupp traces the origins of pre-Tokugawa homosexual traditions among monks and samurai, then describes the emergence of homosexual practices among commoners in Tokugawa cities. He argues that it was "nurture" rather than "nature" that accounted for such conspicuous male/male sexuality and that bisexuality was more prevalent than homosexuality. Detailed, thorough, and very readable, this study is the first in English or Japanese to address so comprehensively one of the most complex and intriguing aspects of Japanese history."
Male Colors.The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan

Dan Rubin 10-08-2010 09:26 PM

Re: Japanezsing
 
This might win a prize for thread drift.

RED 10-09-2010 08:15 PM

Re: Japanezsing
 
It is possible to be more Japanese than the Japanese.

RED 10-09-2010 08:26 PM

Re: Japanezsing
 
Quote:

Dan Rubin wrote: (Post 265934)
Just be glad you don't practice Greco-Roman wrestling.

<3

carina reinhardt 10-10-2010 06:05 AM

Re: Japanezsing
 
Quote:

Maggie Schill wrote: (Post 265974)
It is possible to be more Japanese than the Japanese.

Any exageration is bad.
The very important thing Annoyed, is the question from Marc Abrams and Peter A.Goldsbury Are you learning anything?
If yes forget the rest..,
if you don't feel good training in that environment, look for another dojo, sometimes a change is necessary to progress

Demetrio Cereijo 10-10-2010 07:50 AM

Re: Japanezsing
 
Quote:

Dan Rubin wrote: (Post 265947)
This might win a prize for thread drift.

It would be a very undeserved price.

They want to act like samurai of old. So be it.

WilliB 10-10-2010 07:52 AM

Re: Japanezsing
 
Quote:

Demetrio Cereijo wrote: (Post 265989)
It would be a very undeserved price.

They want to act like samurai of old. So be it.

You might want to be careful not to critise a wannabe samurai too much... do they carry sharp katanas already?

Demetrio Cereijo 10-10-2010 08:07 AM

Re: Japanezsing
 
Quote:

Willi Brix wrote: (Post 265990)
You might want to be careful not to critise a wannabe samurai too much... do they carry sharp katanas (sic) already?

Im not criticising them, I'm pointing them in the right direction for proper LARPing.

And if the wannnabes are carrying sharp katana, I feel even safer, Darwin will take care of them.

Annoyed 10-11-2010 10:59 PM

Re: Japanezsing
 
In all due respect, I appreciate humor in this situation, but concerning the distractive mocking, I am not laughing. I've invested my time and money to this class. I have made friends in this dojo. Please understand my deference to my personal concerns, and seriousness, I hold for this matter.

The question posed more often to my question, is referring to quality. I don't know. I have nothing to weight technical adeptness against. What I see now as a novice I may judge wrongly, either way. With this in mind, I would like to direct to teaching methodology. That of which in my terms and understanding seems more accessible as the object I am able to answer at my level. So I shall, I don't see a connection in relation to the issues of Japanezing in my dojo and the quality of Aikido. Is the teacher's knowledge about and can't transmit information in a reasonable fashion that accelerates learning? The teacher is very intelligent and well learned in the ways of Japan, that is evident to many situations inside and outside the dojo. The Sensei is not Japanese, as previously indicated, but has a command of Japanese. The Sensei has extensive exposure and access to the country and the people for many years; not Aikido related. Is the Sensei good. I don't know. Is the Sensei highly intelligent and knows their shit when it comes to Japanese...yes. Japophile is an understatement. IMO the Sensei has an obsession for the Japanese.

Do I leave the dojo, right the Sensei off as a moron and more on from there? Well that is a facilitating answer that quickly arose to apparent. Haste makes waste. Therefore, other considerations must be considered. That is why came here. Any meaningful help is greatly appreciated.


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