When was the last time you trained with a dojo completely outside your style/organizaton?
I'm Ki Society and I spent five days training with a shihan (8th dan) from Aikikai Hombu. He was nothing but gracious and friendly and paid as much attention to me in class as anyone else. The host dojo, from the sensei on down to new students made me feel very welcome. This was the first time I had been there.
In the past year, I have dropped in
in at AAA, Aikikai, ASU and some independent dojos. Taken classes or did seminars with major teachers in those organizations.
What were your feelings at that dojo and how did they treat you?
I've heard about bad experiences years ago, but I have never had one.
Perhaps it's because I always go in
expecting the best rather than the worst. The world is what you make it.
You can choose to focus on the conflict out there or you can look for openings where compassion and friendship are in everyone.
That isn't to say I haven't shaken the dust off my sandals upon leaving a few places, but I don't make generalizations from individuals nor
do I repeat stories to others.
and I do visit two dojos in town that
have head sensei that have a individual history and don't speak to each other. They know I visit the other dojo, I make no secret about it. When I go to either one, we don't talk about the past we just do aikido. I don't attempt to get involved in the politics.
I am respectful at both places and only say good things.
What were the reactions of the teachers and fellow students in your dojo, when you told them of your visits?
No big deal. In fact I can recall many
a good time in the Virginia Ki Society
when a number of fellow students would get together and have a good time chatting about their experiences with this or that sensei at seminar and something funny or interesting happened.
Now, I am the head of the Ki Society
school in Houston, so I set the tone
and attitude. I don't try to teach them
non-Ki Society style but my senior students always know that I come back and show them some insight or
move I picked up at these wayward wonderings through the larger aikido landscape. We play with it. It's a non-issue with me if they want to go to a seminar out Ki Society because I am likely to be right there with them.
When I was a sankyu, I remember my first teacher taking me and several other students to a seminar with Saito Sensei.
The attitude always was, if what we teach doesn't withstand scrutiny, then what good is it ?
You learn what each group's assumptions are and what their goals are. Some I agree with and some I don't, but it's almost always educational.
Were you foolish enough to tell someone in your dojo, what you were doing?
Sorry to play Devil's Advocate, but I really don't see any change in attitude among Aikido organizations.
By their very nature, organizations will be slow to change in attitude.
But individuals can and do change
and new generations of students don't need to carry on the grudges of older generations if the seniors can recognize that forgiveness is a powerful tool and that passing on bad stories is like dealing in poison.
No one said human nature was all sweetness and light - learning to get along with each other is an important lesson. It's a lesson that has to be constantly relearned and practiced daily.
and one of the best ways to practice it is to enter a room of strangers, accept what is human nature in all the varied forms of imperfection, and leave with a new set of friends.