Hey There Melburnians
I've just recently moved here from interstate and I've been looking for a new dojo for some time now... I'm hoping that someone can give me the hot tip on where to go.
I'm having a hard time finding a dojo because I have a few specific requirements:
1) I want to be able to train 7 days a week. I work shifts, overtime and on-call and so I may or may not be available on any given day. Besides, to be honest, given the opportunity, I will train 7 days a week. I'm an Aiki-jun-ki
2) I want a dojo affiliated with a major organisation because I've moved 4 times in the last ten years and every time I move interstate I join a new school and it's back to white belt for me... It's getting a little frustrating :\ I
3) A sizable dojo. A few that I've seen have been top classes with top teachers but the dojo have been smaller than my bedroom, and as a result the class basically stand by and watch while two or sometimes four others practice. I'm used to a dojo the size of two full basketball/netball courts (Jan de Jong in Perth if anyone knows of it) and I would think that in a place like Melbourne there would be something even better? I want to throw and be thrown without worrying about hitting some poor kid's head, or my own, on the wall!
4) No separatism/elitism within the school. I'm tired of being separated from higher/lower experienced students. It's no good, and the only reason it's happening is because the dojo is simply too small to fit everyone. I want to be able to learn from those more talented than I, and I'd like those less talented to be able to learn from me... And another thing - Hakama. A quick search around here will point to many a reference to Osensei claiming that training was to be done in hakama, and not just Gi(I believe he referred to the dogi as 'underwear'?)... And yet the majority (dare I say ALL?) of dojo which claim to follow the style of Osensei will not allow anyone sub-yudansha to wear the hakama. Now me personally, I've been studying MA's for 7 years now, and much of it has been done wearing hakama.I feel uncomfortable having it removed, and I really don't see why I shouldn't wear it. I mean, it has been argued that it hides poor leg movements, but if that's really the case then they would offer to allow me to wear it after having confirmed that my footwork is all good. But I'm always confronted with "only black belts get to wear them"...
If it's a matter of 'rank', well sheeet, people, what do you want, a medal? Crikey it's just a pair of pants, not a status symbol. The worst thing about those schools claiming that it is a matter of 'rank', is that they inevitably claim allegiance to the way of Osensei, and yet haven't done even basic homework about it. I don't want to go to a school to learn bad habits from those who haven't yet learned for themselves!
Help me! I'm lost! I just *know* that somewhere in this magnificent city is a huge dojo with dozens of happy friendly students who have done their homework and follow the right way, not the way everyone else does it. Please someone tell me where!
Desperate Todd, the rusty Aikidoka