Thread: Sensei?
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Old 09-06-2012, 02:50 PM   #64
Chris Li
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Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,299
Re: Sensei?

Basia Halliop wrote: View Post
"Different culture, different place, different language, different customs. It seems kind of silly to me to insist on importing random Japanese customs that really have no purpose outside of the context of their culture."

I think some of the things being referred to here have a long history in western dojos. We pick things up from our teachers, they pick things up from their teachers, etc. It isn't necessarily 'imported' in some kind of forced or artificial or sudden way, often customs just naturally are passed on from teachers to students. If you follow the chain back enough, the geography does change, as do many other contextual things, but that doesn't necessarily make it fake. Neither does it mean it is or should be identical to its cousins across the world or to other generations; it will naturally have its own flavour. And each generation when they become teachers passes on their own version of the customs that feels natural or right to them.

Of course if someone is running a dojo if certain words or customs don't feel right to them they can always do things differently. But IMO if you belong to a small community where everyone does something a certain way, deliberately deciding to change it to 'something more logical' or 'something with a more local history' can just as easily end up feeling forced or unnatural.
Sure, people can do what they like - but people who insist on it for some imagined deep oriental meaning, or as an essential part of the budo experience, well...

I've had folks (quite a few of them) insist that people who wouldn't bow to a picture ought to be excluded from training, for example...



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