Re: Report from the Front
You can probably see this seminar as some sort of Platonic Ideal, since (in my experience) the Chicago Metro area is very "splintered".
I once was visiting a Chicago dojo and mentioned a suburban dojo to a senior member. He got very upset. The group from the suburban dojo had come from the dojo I was visiting and there was some bad feelings on their "departure". I'd like to note that the suburban dojo was still a member of the same organization and had the same Shihan. If people treat others like this within their own organizaton, how would they treat someone from a completely different group?....
I definitely view it as an ideal. I think ideals are things that we should aspire to, and I think it would be a worthy one to attain. I understand that it might not ever happen, but wouldn't it be wonderful if it did?
I hope the dojo you visited in Chicago wasn't where I train, and if it was, I would like to apologize for your having to see such behavior. I believe that it would not be truly representative of our membership. That kind of behavior is totally inappropriate, and it is unfortunate when encountered - especially from sempai.
Also, based on my experience visiting other dojos, it wouldn't be representative of most aikidoists I have encountered. I have visited a few dojos outside of my home dojo's affiliation, and have always been treated with the utmost in courtesy, respect and graciousness. One of the dojos actually had been affiliated with our organization (USAF) until a few years ago. That didn't stop them (instructor and students) from welcoming me to practice with them for the whole week that I was there, and since I have family there, I'll definitely go back. I occasionally have to travel for my job, and always make an effort to go to the local dojos to practice. I think that it is definitely good to broaden your horizons, and see what others do and how they do it. Many other members of our dojo also travel, and practice at other dojos when they do so. I have always been encouraged when I shared my experiences with fellow students and my instructors.
I agree that the US situation appears to be very splintered, but some strides have been made in the past several years (the ASU and AAA being welcomed back into the Aikikai, multi-organizational seminars given). Given the diversity of American culture, one view could be that it's surprising that there isn't more splintering than what we see now. While being aware of the negatives, I think its very important to see the positives as well, because that's where I would like to see things headed. It's kind of like constantly looking behind you to see where you've been. If you keep doing it, you're eventually going to stumble, fall, or get lost because you can't see where you're going. You have to look forward to where you want to be.
In the meantime, I simply do what I can by chasing after my "ideals" by training earnestly, conducting myself with courtesy, respect and grace, and treating others as I would like to be treated. IMHO.
[Edited by BC on September 25, 2000 at 11:16am]