Hey, I was wondering for those of you who trained at hombu dojo, how was your experience like?
I personally was quite disappointed as it didn't seem very 'gaijin' friendly and the atmosphere was tense and serious.
First of all, I asked the reception counter if there were any particular rules I should be aware of...I was told there were none.
But during the session, after the completion of a technique, I found that you aren't allowed to switch partners. Once you're with a partner, you're stuck with that person the entire session. The way I was told this was quite rude more of a 'shoo shoo' gesture rather than a polite nope that cannot be done.
The whole class was basically silent with everyone focusing on their technique and it seemed deadly serious. As no one near me nor the Shihan instructing spoke English, I felt rather excluded especially when the Shihan showed the technique to my Japanese partner and not much to me...I also could have sworn him saying something about 'gaijin'...and 'gomen' which I am sure has some meaning which is harmless but the proximity of those words made me feel unwelcome especially when he was talking to the guy as if I was not there.
The canvas tatami mats were very slippery and damp with sweat. Not something I was accustomed to.
But perhaps the worst part was after the training...in the locker room...no one spoke a word. It all seemed really tense.
What ever happened to training in a joyful manner as advocated by O-Sensei?
When I brought this up to my Sensei's daughter, she mentioned that 'if they don't really know you, they're like that.' 'If you went with me, it would have been different'. 'Yes i agree the locker room situation can be quite tense'. 'Even some of the Japanese are shocked when they come to train at Hombu for the first time'.
In addition to her, I have read on blogs, heard from friends and other Aikido people who have had similar experiences to myself with Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Granted they're all not Japanese.
Not to mention Hombu being a real pain in the bum to find even with the map!!!! I had to whip up my GPS and incur heavy charges from my operator after totally getting lost.
So am I alone in this? Is this just a simple case of culture shock or is Hombu really such a xenophobic, unfriendly place? I guess part of it was the language barrier but still....considering you're the HQ...there should be at least some accommodation to us gaijins