I belong to a small, non-profit, independent dojo, and we have been wondering about the possible benefits of afilliating with a larger organization, such as USAF, Ki Society, Aikikai, etc etc.
I would be interested in hearing about pros and cons from the diverse AikiWeb world. Factual material, such as contact sources at different organizations would also be helpful, as I could contact federation 'officers'. It's hard to figure out who to speak to from websites, and I'm not sure I'm getting to the right spot anyway.
I would anticipate that the consensus at my dojo will be to remain independent, but we would like to make an informed decision!
Thanks for your help, H Brown
I think the biggest "benefit" that a dojo can get out of affiliating with an organization is that your teacher gains a teacher. I'm not too sure if I can come up with any other reason why someone would want to affiliate outside of that reason that's "legitimate." And, if I can say so myself, I think affiliating would only make sense if and only if the teacher of your dojo really wishes to become a real student of the organization's teacher(s).
I think having a teacher is an important thing for any teacher unless they happen to be extremely experienced (ie 40 years or so of experience). As I've said before, I'm always wary of teachers who are teaching and not training.
In any case, you can get information about the larger organizations at:
Hope that helps some.
Affiliation gives a teacher and students a sense of family. But, you should probably make sure you pick the right family for you. Some things to consider are the costs. What the price is annually. How much a seminar with the head instructor ( or other high ranking instructor) will cost. (Since they are usually required annually) How much rank will cost your students, and you.
I just recently affiliated my dojo with the International Aikido Association, after looking for about a 6 months. I found an instructor whose philosophy was similar to mine. Sosa Sensei doesn't interfere with day to day operations and teaching. He just wants to improve our aikido and leave a great legacy of quality aikidoka.
Most importantly, I can learn so much from him! That is the exciting part of affiliation.
If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me.
I agree with what Jun has stated. It is important that teachers continue to train as well. I remember reading a statement somewhere that said when you stop learning, you start dying. Anyway, I was curious as to where your dojo was located and it is very close to the town I grew up in. The background you have listed states that one of your teachers was Shihan Fumio Toyoda. You may want to contact the Aikido Association of America (Shihan Toyoda is the director of the AAA) by accessing their website at http://www.aaa-aikido.com. The AAA offers instructor seminars every year (I've attended them in the past and they are enjoyable and informative), as well as many other member services.
If your club decides to become affiliated with an Aikido organization, I would recommend choosing an organization that also has the same philosophy with regards to technique and training environment. For example, if the style of Aikido your club practices is Aikikai/Hombu you would be much better off becoming affiliated with an Aikikai/Hombu organization, not a Ki Society organization. I'm not implying one type of organization is better than the other, It just makes good sense.
When you have started as an independent dojo and begin to look at affiliation, the following questions need to be addressed:
1. What are the organization fees?
2. Are my students required to pay a membership in addition to the dojo?
3. What is the organizational philosophy of the organization?
4. What is their level of commitment to member dojos?
5. Who is the head of the organization and how did they get there?
6. Does their style of practice relate comfortably to mine?
There are many other questions you may wan to consider. Primarily, what are you looking for from affiliation?
Some organizations have fees for everything and you are expected to meet them. For example, you have your annual dojo fees, individual membership fees, and, testing fees. Find out what they are and what the expectations are surrounding them.
The organization's organizational philosophy is also important to know. How do they view themselves? For some orgnaizations absolute loyalty is everything. Others only want your fees and could care less what it is you are teaching.
The head of most of the preodominent Aikido organizations either inherited their position, rose to it, or held high rank in another Aikido organization prior to establishing their own. Just because someone started their own organization does not mean they know anything, nor, does it mean that they do not know anything. Research and ask questions.
Finally, does their style of practice relate to yours? This may require your attendance at several different organizations seminars and camps, or visits to their dojos, so that you can see for yourself just how they train. This is as important as anything else.
Then there is always the question as to why you want to affiliate at all.
Good luck in your search.
Yours In Aiki,
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