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PhilJ 03-25-2004 01:31 AM

Training in Hombu
 
Can anyone help me understand the visitor policy (if any) at aikikai hombu?

I was in Japan for business, and took a whole day to myself, and thought it'd be good fun to visit Shinjuku and also hombu.

It was a long trip from Narita, but to actually witness the piece of aikido history as I did was invigorating.

Nonetheless, here was the situation: I hold rank in two styles of aikido, "recognized" by hombu, Seidokan and IAA. The front desk would not allow me to train, even though, in VERY broken japanese, I told them my training. (I was planning on having a letter of introduction, but it fell through) The front desk had no idea what I was talking about, even after mentioning the styles and asking if I could participate. It could've been the language, but I was asked for the "japanese name" of my instructor, and of course could not give one. Even after dropping Seidokan's kancho's name, I got odd stares.

So I watched Kobayashi-sensei's class, and folded someone's hakama afterwards. I can't help but say I was disappointed in how things turned out, but at least I was allowed to watch.

Can anyone help me out so I know what to do and what is allowed if I decide to return there?

Thanks,
*Phil

batemanb 03-25-2004 03:30 AM

They used to have a rate about 3000 yen for a day. I've just looked at their English web site, but I couldn't find mention of visitors. The text on the English site says:

A person wishing to learn Aikido at Hombu Dojo is requested to register himself/herself as Hombu Member. Fill out the form available at the reception office, pay the registration fee and receive a membership identification card. Present the membership card at the office before every practice and pick it up prior to leaving. The office is open daily except Sunday afternoons and holidays.

Registration Fee (non-refundable)

8,400 Yen

I presume that you would have to pay the daily rate in addition to the Aikikai membership. I'm sure some of the other non Aikikai guys that post here have trained at Hombu as visitors, maybe they can provide more info.

Regards

Bryan

Mark Headleand 03-25-2004 06:05 AM

I'm going on second hand info from some friends in my dojo who have trained at the hombu a year or so ago, so this may not be 100% accurate but anyhow,

They (at the hombu) seem to be a little fussy about name dropping to let you train. To give the example that happened to my friends: They arrived with membership books (to our organisation) showing grades etc and a letter of recommendation from a high ranking sensei. We had just got new (member) books as the old ones were falling to pieces. The problem was that the new books didn't have the technical director of our organisation named on them. (Tamura Sensei)

It was looking as if they were going to be unable to train :eek: until one of my friends found that he'd brought his old book with him, stating the linkage to the Aikikai.

Moral of the story? Take something which the Japanese will recognise and be able to verify. I've no idea if this was a one off occurrence but if in doubt always be prepared… ;)

Hope this helps

frankfer 03-25-2004 10:13 AM

I'm planning a trip later this year with a few people from my area.

Please... if anyone else would respond as to what the "protocol" is when visiting hombu dojo to train it would be appreciated.

PhilJ 03-25-2004 03:41 PM

Thanks all, I've been through the dojo's site many times, and was prepared to pay the $80USD+ to register, but maybe not necessarily the additional $100USD+ to train for one day.

At any rate, it never even came up.

Since I bear no real linking with aikikai, then I'll probably be out of luck.

Which brings up my last question: what is the value in having your style of aikido 'recognized' by hombu?

*Phil

Chris Li 03-25-2004 06:48 PM

Quote:

Bryan Bateman (batemanb) wrote:
They used to have a rate about 3000 yen for a day. I've just looked at their English web site, but I couldn't find mention of visitors. The text on the English site says:

A person wishing to learn Aikido at Hombu Dojo is requested to register himself/herself as Hombu Member. Fill out the form available at the reception office, pay the registration fee and receive a membership identification card. Present the membership card at the office before every practice and pick it up prior to leaving. The office is open daily except Sunday afternoons and holidays.

Registration Fee (non-refundable)

8,400 Yen

I presume that you would have to pay the daily rate in addition to the Aikikai membership. I'm sure some of the other non Aikikai guys that post here have trained at Hombu as visitors, maybe they can provide more info.

Regards

Bryan

I've never had problems walking in for a day, and I've never had to present any kind of documentation at all - just pay my money and go on up (except, to drop names, the time when I walked in with doshu and got in for free :) ). The fee is 1,500 yen per day for guests plus consumption tax. I just tell them that I want to train for the day and that's it, I don't think that they really care all that much.

Best,

Chris

MikeE 03-25-2004 09:22 PM

Regardless, I find it a little irritating that they were trying to require a Japanese sensei to let Phil train. When I was looking for a new organization, I chose a gaijin as my Sensei and passed on a few Japanese instructors.

So much for O'Sensei's grand vision of Aikido uniting the world.

The other thing that is strange is that the Nidai Doshu recognized Seidokan as a legitimate form of Aikido...and yet he didn't get to train.

Nacho_mx 03-25-2004 09:31 PM

Aikikai International Yudansha Card...don´t leave home without it. Seriously, any organization who claims recognition by Hombu will get you one of these, including a separate membership card for Hombu.

Chris Li 03-25-2004 10:33 PM

Quote:

Michael Ellefson (MikeE) wrote:
Regardless, I find it a little irritating that they were trying to require a Japanese sensei to let Phil train. When I was looking for a new organization, I chose a gaijin as my Sensei and passed on a few Japanese instructors.

So much for O'Sensei's grand vision of Aikido uniting the world.

The other thing that is strange is that the Nidai Doshu recognized Seidokan as a legitimate form of Aikido...and yet he didn't get to train.

As I said, I've never been required to produce any kind of documentation at all. One time (when I wasn't living in Japan) I just said that I was training in Hawaii - the woman in the office asked if it was with Bob Aoyagi - it wasn't and she wasn't familiar with the other (foreign) name, so she just wrote it down and took my money. Most other times they didn't ask me at all, but I have trained there even when (years ago) I wasn't Aikikai affiliated without the slightest problem.

My hunch is that there was a miscommunication and they thought he was coming from something other than Aikido (or at least other than Aikikai Aikido). Don't expect the lower-level office folk to be up on all the foreign organizations and teachers - most Japanese Aikido folks just give you a blank look even when you mention a name like Yamada or Kanai.

Best,

Chris

Chris Li 03-25-2004 10:38 PM

As an afterthought - a couple of people have mentioned bringing letters of introduction, but frankly, I can't imagine that they'd be of any use at all to the office folk at Aikikai hombu, they'll probably just look at you oddly.

If you want to give one to a specific teacher, on the other hand, it may be of help.

Best,

Chris

batemanb 03-26-2004 01:17 AM

Quote:

Christopher Li (Chris Li) wrote:
I've never had problems walking in for a day, and I've never had to present any kind of documentation at all - just pay my money and go on up (except, to drop names, the time when I walked in with doshu and got in for free :) ). The fee is 1,500 yen per day for guests plus consumption tax. I just tell them that I want to train for the day and that's it, I don't think that they really care all that much.

Best,

Chris

I used to pay by the month there when I joined, but paid daily after I joined a local dojo. I couldn't remember the exact daily fee, for some reason 3000 yen kept ringing bells. 1500 yen is even better, about £15, or $22, not bad for the day. I would guess, as Chris mentions later that there was some mis-communication.

Regards

Bryan

Josh Bisker 03-26-2004 01:56 AM

sometimes it's really nice to hear about places that are more expensive than London.

Ghost Fox 03-26-2004 06:17 AM

or New York

David Edwards 03-26-2004 06:32 AM

Lol, I pay about £25 a month (varies, depending how many sessions in the month, usually 8ish) for my classes in my home dojo... (I don't add up how much I spend in other dojos, 'cos I pay them per session rather than monthly) but admittedly, that's with a 5th dan, rather than 6th, 7th, 8th, etc, Doshu too... hmm.. I can see where the price difference comes in. Plus it's pretty much the Aikido Mecca.

batemanb 03-26-2004 07:01 AM

Actually, my math is pants, at todays rate of 192 yen to the pound or 109 yen to the dollar, 1500 (£7.50 - $15) yen for a day is pretty good for the number of classes that they offer.

rgds

Bryan

Charles Hill 03-26-2004 07:42 AM

Hi Phil,

Who was it that you talked to? Usually the front desk is staffed by a couple of long suffering young women who have to do many things at once and try to deal with the frequent visitors that come.

Charles Hill

aikidoc 03-26-2004 07:51 AM

I thought the aikikai only recognized aikikai styles. Unless the ranks are issued by the aikikai I don't believe they recognize them. Although I did have one instructor from a non-affiliated group manage to train without any problem. He met one of the shihans with English skills and struck up a relationship.

Your IAF booklet would I think solve the problem.

Fred Little 03-26-2004 08:49 AM

When I was in Tokyo, the first time I went to Hombu, I simply walked up to the front desk and handed over my yudansha passport along with whatever the sign indicated was the daily rate. Subsequently, I just passed over the daily rate without the passport when I walked in for morning class, the first of three I was taking each day.

I don't recall off the top of my head what the charge was at that time, but it calculated out to less than the daily training rate at NY Aikikai at the time.

Of course, given the number of classes offered in both places and the usual level of instruction available, it looks to me as if paying the daily rate and catching all available classes compares quite favorably with the economics of your standard weekend seminar, even if you don't have a yudansha book and hand and there is a $75 registration fee tacked on the front end.

Fred Little

Nick P. 03-26-2004 08:52 AM

As Charles pointed out, it might depend on the person you spoke to; having spent many years as a customer-service rep in different fields, who knows what when and what they actually say can lead to confusion...I would imagine Hombu is no different (though we all wished it were).

PhilJ 03-26-2004 10:56 AM

Thank you for your input everyone, and it is clear to me now what the concern should be: consistency in communication.

It seems there are a lot of differing views and it makes me nervous if it "depends on who I talk to" -- it reminds me of customer service in my cellphone provider. :)

I appreciate how busy the front desk can be, and at the same time, I don't expect to have variation in the rules based on who's there or what their workload is; I expected more consistency on the part of the front desk staff (which, Charles, is indeed who I talked to and exactly as you described). What would be handy is to have some official statement on their website, or, if allowed to train, some form we could print out and fill in the blanks along with instructions on fees, etc. It would be a great tool to be able to hand to the front desk and they immediately know what's happening.

As I said, I'm only disappointed, not irritated -- it is HQ after all. That, and not only am I a peon, but a peon from a different style anyway, so I would never dream of pushing this further. :)

Many thanks,
*Phil

Chris Li 03-26-2004 11:22 AM

Quote:

Fred Little wrote:
Of course, given the number of classes offered in both places and the usual level of instruction available, it looks to me as if paying the daily rate and catching all available classes compares quite favorably with the economics of your standard weekend seminar, even if you don't have a yudansha book and hand and there is a $75 registration fee tacked on the front end.

Fred Little

I should have mentioned it, but the registration fee is not (AFAIK) required if you're paying for the day, just if you're signing up for regular classes. If you just pay for the day the fee is just 1,500 yen plus tax (around 1,575 yen total).

Best,

Chris

Bronson 03-26-2004 11:25 AM

Quote:

Michael Ellefson (MikeE) wrote:
The other thing that is strange is that the Nidai Doshu recognized Seidokan as a legitimate form of Aikido...and yet he didn't get to train.

As I understand the story: R. Kobayashi sensei talked with K. Ueshiba and they agreed that Seidokan was a valid form of aikido, but Kobayashi wanted to remain independant so he didn't affiliate with Aikikai Hombu. Unfortunately their conversation remained just that, nothing was ever put in writing and K. Ueshiba apparently never passed along the info to his son or to the administrative powers that be. So with the passing of K. Ueshiba we are left as one of those weird independant groups existing on the fringes of aikido society....which is fine by me :D

Bronson

Fred Little 03-26-2004 12:56 PM

Quote:

Christopher Li (Chris Li) wrote:
I should have mentioned it, but the registration fee is not (AFAIK) required if you're paying for the day, just if you're signing up for regular classes. If you just pay for the day the fee is just 1,500 yen plus tax (around 1,575 yen total).

Best,

Chris

Yes. Nobody asked me for a registration fee, but I have no idea if it was because there was a stamp in the passport showing a donation (because the man at the desk did check the front and the back), or because of a more general policy.

Without a passport, I have no idea how the encounter would have gone, but my point was only that if I had been required to pony up another $75, I still would have felt it was a good value given that I was going to be around for a few days.

Best,

Fred Little


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