Re: How to Get the Most Out of Attending Aikido Camp
Thanks George - very sound advice.
I would extend this advice too - try and socialise with your seniors, the main teacher, or with visitors. It's often more comfortable to stick with your dojo mates if you went with some, but by putting yourself out of your comfort zone, you can gain hugely. Even if you are just part of a group watching and listening you gain value, whether it is other people's questions, or old stories etc. If the teacher at least recognises you next time on the mat, you are that little more likely to get picked for uke.
There's often the opportunity to ask a question after a session, and as long as its done politely and respectfully I have never seen it cause problems. Questions might be about specifics in the session, or more general about how the teacher does their own training, or what it took them to learn ABC. Note that very specific technique questions are often best asked first of your seniors before bothering a visiting shihan! But sometimes it is interesting if you get different views and then ask why X says this and Y says that. You can ask questions while walking to lunch, or perhaps if you get the opportunity to sit at the same table. See what opportunities arise.
This aspect of socialisation is particularly important for Japanese. I have seen visitors to Japan just turn up on the mat, do the practice and go home. No one really knew them, no one particularly "taught" them. The value they got out of the time and money spent in being in Japan was marginal. If you have socialised and made an effort, then you are much more likely to have a senior take you to one side and show you some things. They recognise your efforts and are often very encouraging. Of course Japanese language abilities can be a huge help, but just a pleasant attitude makes the most difference. Some evenings can turn out to be rather boring (especially if your Japanese is poor!) - but your presence will have been noted and appreciated.