I have taken Aikido for a year. Ok, more like a 8 months to be honest. I don't attend every class meeting per month. There is a reason for that and that is because the dojo is turning Japanezing. That is the term I have for it. Let me explain, it will help with what my complaint is.
Japanezing isn't a bad thing. It is when my class decides there isn't enough Japanese feel in or to the dojo. Several months back the Sensei and the two senior students start to make small changes to the decor of the Dojo. They started to turn the strip mall space we called a dojo into a gaudy Japanese restaurant. Previously, our old space had the feel of an NPR piece; innocuous bland and mediocre decor avoid of anything Japanese (or anything else for that matter) other then a framed picture of O'Sensei sitting on a shelf with a vase and silk vegetation of some sort in a small white vase. And the floor was covered in mats. There was nothing special about the dojo.
Then they started sprinkling in Japanese words and terms beyond the terms of techniques, sensei, and dojo. Like for example, the other day they started using all these Japanese terms from their pocket Rosette Stone. Instead of calling each other my the first name, they slap on "San and Sama" constantly. Joseph-"san" is now the name of one of the senior students, instead of Joseph. We have to address each other in this way. Expect for a select few who are addressed as sama. Every chance they get, they use a Japanese word tangled up in their English to replace nouns, like the bathroom, and major body parts.
The Japanese Renaissance Festival is everyday. Their street clothes are Hopi coats or something like that. Then there is the Ninja pants to go along with it. They wear tabi or wooden sandals with white socks. It is Disney on parade or either "It's the Small World" exhibit coming to life. I can't decide. I am waiting for next week when someone is going to sport a top-knot and where Kabuki make-up.
I mean, we wore heavy white pajamas in the dojo with belts. We train bare-footed, Hakama's wore are black You noticed I said wore, using the past tense or ware. Yep if you didn't guess it, the senior students and the sensei look like they walked out of some Japanese Fellini Anime Samurai film.
I could go on with all the other Japanezing oddities that have arisen in the dojo. Per my good judgement sighting I think you got the picture, I will not. I don't think a bit of Japanese accent here and there is a problem, But let's not be who we are not; we are not Japanese. Let's shift back into reality, it is nice to play dress up like for Halloween or a custom party for an evening. Or perhaps, indulge in the occasional a fantasy escape of a Bronte Sister. Though I think Japanezing your life becomes a full time profession that is an issue, isn't it?
Yes, I am annoyed by this paradigm shift. And I have asked myself if what is really going on is a matter of me not liking change. I don't think so, it isn't a matter of change its self, it is a matter of what the change is. I summized with all my mental powers that this is definitely a direction I feel comfortable with. I don't think this shift to being Japanese Renaissance Fair Headquarters positively effects training. Perhaps, I am wrong in my evaluation. Maybe I am afraid of change and comfortable with the dojo as it was. I should realize that, and get on the Samurai Aikido wagon like everyone else. Should I be annoyed, should I be concerned, of these new ways of my dojo being the true way as it should be? Or, should I go against the flow and place a wake up call?