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Old 12-16-2005, 10:31 AM   #1
Josh Reyer
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Location: Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 644
Training at Hombu - is it worth it?

Hello, folks.

The general thrust of this post is probably likely to start a style/flame war, which is the last thing I want. So please forgive me if I'm a bit long-winded in an attempt to explain exactly what my concerns are without stepping on any toes.

In a little over a year, my current work contract here in Toyota City will be completed, and the chances are likely that I will seek other work elsewhere. That seems a fair ways off, but these kinds of things have a way of sneaking up on you, and I don't want to put things off until the last minute. It's my hope and desire to go to a place where I can train often in Aikido. As Stanley Pranin mentioned in his interview with Jun Akiyama, the majority of dojos here in Japan are weekend affairs, with a few places having a week day thrown in. The Aikido only dojo is also pretty rare; most places I've found rent a local community judojo for practice, and different days may indeed be in different community centers.

As you can imagine, I find this highly unsatisfying. Not only because at most I can only train twice or three times a week, but because as of right now due to my work schedule I can only go once a week! And actually this month two of the classes I can go to were cancelled, and I'll miss a third because I'll be in Tokyo this weekend. So for all of December I'll day.

Were I an old hand who got his shodan training everyday in a university club, this might be so bad, but I'm not. I don't think without some serious near daily (thrice a week or thereabouts) training, I'll never make serious improvement. Not at my age. In retrospect, I never realized how good I had it at Twin Cities Aikido Center. Nice facilities, multiple classes a day, affordable rates, weapons classes, and an eclectic group of teachers, teaching, and students. What a missed opportunity.

So anyway, from this prospective, when the opportunity for a move comes up, I'd like to go someplace where I can train frequently. But not just frequently, but with a proper mindset. By which I mean, ukemi where uke doesn't take a dive, and technique that has martial application, including atemi.

I'm giving serious thought to moving to Tokyo. For one thing, I'm highly intrigued by this Akuzawa fellow Rob John has brought to our attention. But for another, there's Hombu Dojo, which provides more opportunities for training than I'll likely ever need. But I have some concerns...
  • First, the quality of the aikido there. Training and effectiveness is the big topic in aikido today, and Hombu has drawn some fire for being less than applicable. E.g., paring down of techniques, lack of atemi, and no weapons training.
  • Second, some years ago I observed a class at Hombu, and from that and by many accounts it seems quite crowded. I wonder how that might effect training.
  • Third, the high cost. Actually, cost wise Hombu seems pretty reasonable for the amount of classes they offer. I'm currently paying 5,000 yen a month for a dojo that only trains on the weekends. The flipside, though, is related to the previous points. I'm looking for quality, not just quantity.

Now, let it not be thought I'm putting down Hombu dojo or the people that train there. I'm just trying to see if it's the right place for me, personally. I imagine, in fact, that on the training at Hombu is pretty variable; some teachers being better than others. And certainly if I need to I can supplement my Hombu training with smaller, more independent dojos (in terms of training). Like anywhere, there's sure to be benefits and drawbacks.

Really, what I'm seeking is people with personal experience training there, to give me a bit of perspective, to better make any future decision. And if anyone has other suggestions, I'd be highly keen to hear them. I've read, here and there, that there's some good aikido in Osaka, but I don't know anything specific.

Thanks in advance for any info.

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
- Chaucer
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