Heh this is really depressing...
I understand the math of it all... What I don't understand is why some of these organisations don't join up for the better of the community (ha! jeez I'm funny. Yes I do...Fame and fortune
The concept that Field has a large dojo, well, has just pummeled my hopes squarely into the mat... That was the first dojo I went to and I walked out 3/4 of the way through the class, extremely disappointed (Sorry guys, just being honest!). My original post, referring to the class sitting and watching, was talking about Field... The place was tiny! The way I (and the math) see it is this. My armspan is 2 metres. Uke's armspan is two metres. In order to get a full armspan between us with full range of motion we need a good 4 square metres each. That's 8m2 for each pair in the class... And that's if we don't move our feet. Expand to twice that space to make room for throws and yes, I'm asking too much. Such is the capitalist world in which we live
However while I'm on the gripe about being poorly instructed, the thing that eventually made me leave was watching two yudansha walking round the class instructing students on the correct grip on the sword, and describing the same thing as each other, and yet using different grips to each other while demonstrating - one following their instuctions, one not, and confusing the heck out of a group of three whitebelts. This is not how I want to be taught... It was only after I left, and hung my head in embarassment on behalf of the martial art which I had long spoken highly of, and just shown to my girlfriend and a long time close friend for the first time, that the mate asked me "Is it usually that quiet? most of the class spent most of the night sitting down watching... Was it just me or was there not enough room for everyone?, and my girlfriend said "well for an art that you claim to be all spiritual, I thought the meditation you've told me about before and after class would have been longer than like 30 seconds". That's when I realised that I should have had faith in my feelings and that I wasn't just being an elitist.
Regarding wearing a hakama, everyone knows where you're coming from, but most styles have created their own set of "rules" for wearing them. In most dojos you will find that they are only worn by yudansha, but then, just like most people don't care if they have to wear them, perhaps you should care less if you don't wear one, in the end it's just training. Don't limit yourself based on that rule, it would be silly for someone to lose out on studying with the person they find best able to teach them simply because they didn't like the uniform...
I don't mean to be rude, but I couldn't disagree more with a bunch of things in there. Aikido is an extremely spiritual thing for me, and to claim the significance of the way that the dojo treats what I consider to be my soul as something that should be warped to suit their whim, that it's "just training", cuts a little deep. It's more than a uniform man... It's a representation of things which I hold very dear...
A few pertinent quotes and info that you probably already know:
The 7 folds in the hakama (5 in the front, 2 in the back) is said to have the following symbolic meaning:
"They symbolize the seven virtues of budo," O Sensei said. "These are jin (benevolence), gi (honor or justice), rei (courtesy and etiquette), chi (wisdom, intelligence), shin (sincerity), chu (loyalty), and koh (piety). We find these qualities in the distinguished samurai of the past. The hakama prompts us to reflect on the nature of true bushido. Wearing it symbolizes traditions that have been passed down to us from generation to generation. Aikido is born of the bushido spirit of Japan, and in our practice we must strive to polish the seven traditional virtues."
O Sensei was rather emphatic that EVERYONE wear the hakama, but he came from a time/culture not too far from wearing hakama as standard formal wear.
"Most of the students were too poor to buy a hakama but it was required to wear one. If they couldn't get one from an older relative, they would take the cover off an old futon, cut it, dye it, and give it to a seamstress to make into a hakama.
- Saito Sensei
"In postwar Japan many things were hard to get, including cloth. Because of the shortages, we trained without hakama. We tried to make hakama from air-raid blackout curtains but because the curtains had been hanging in the sun for years, theknees turned to dust as soon as we started doing suwariwaza. We were constantly patching these hakama. It was under those conditions that someone came up with a suggestion: "Why don't we just say that it's okay not to wear a hakama until you're shodan?" This idea was put forward as a temporary policy to avoid expense. The idea behind accepting the suggestion had nothing to do with the hakama being a symbol for dan ranking."
- Shigenobu Okumura Sensei, "Aikido Today Magazine" #41
If we can allow the importance of the hakama to fade, perhaps we will begin to allow things fundamental to the spirit of Aikido to slip into oblivion as well. If, on the other hand, we are faithful to O Sensei's wishes regarding our practice dress, our spirits may be more faithful to the dream to which he dedicated his life."
- Mitsugi Saotome Sensei, "The Principles Of Aikido"
Check out the full version at http://www.shindai.com/articles/hakama.htm
if you haven't seen these before... There's also much more of course, but this gets it in a nutshell...
So maybe after reading this you'll see why the hakama is important to me: Respect for OSensei, the old ways, and my spirituality.
Call me an old fashioned hippy but that's me
I wonder whether a dojo who does not know about, or care about, such things is a dojo I want to learn from.
I would like to make it clear that I am not taking shots at anyone here, and I am not trying to argue with anyone, it's just that I feel maybe my reasons for wearing hakama, and finding a dojo that encourages it, are misunderstood