Guests from other dojos should always be treated with utmost respect. As is often the case, students look for training elsewhere to further their learning experience, not to made aware that they are not getting adequate or competent instruction. Sometimes, it just cannot be helped. I often get students who come from areas where training is difficult to find and competent teachers are a rare commodity. It is the reason they are seeking me out, why should I treat them badly or make them feel inferior?
I usually prefer to not correct them on their first visit. Some students are here just to get a work-out while they are away from home. Those who come for actual instruction will usually stay. It is easy to correct another student from another dojo but if you inadvertently contradict what his own teacher says, you may cause confusion and hardship for the student himself. This doesn't do anyone any good at all.
I am only disturbed by students who come with an arrogant or "know it all" attitude or come into the dojo with a chip on their shoulders or trying to challenge our practice. These students are welcome to practice with my students as hard as they like. I have strong confidence in my students. But this competitive attitude is not good and I lose respect for this person and his teacher. . . . .
I think that when students visit other dojos, they should always be aware that they not only represent themselves but their teacher, class- mates and their dojo. If I ever hear that my student was rude or acted unseemingly in another dojo, I would severely reprimand him. All martial arts begins and ends with respect - this is the uncompromised and unchanging rule in martial arts.
In earlier times in Japan, it was believed that guests were always treated with great respect because they might be gods or demons in disguise to test your goodness. . . . It is only a funny superstition, of course, but it makes a nice reason to always be nice to your guests.
Very recently, I received a note from someone who had visited my dojo over 13 years ago. He was only a novice black belt then but I had asked him to teach part of the class as a guest instructor. I had forgotten about this incident completely but I received a message the other day stating that he had felt greatly honored and undeserving at the time but, after all these years, still remembered this experience and wanted to send his own students to visit my dojo and to join our practice.
I often like to invite black belts from other dojos to teach a class or part of a class in my dojo even though they may be much lower rank than myself or even my students. I am interested to see waht they are learning in other dojos, what is emphasized in their training and how they are understanding Aikido. Sometimes it is good and sometimes, not so good, but this is not the point, is it? It is just another point of view to see and appreciate.
Many times, it is all karma. What comes around, goes around. It is the same energy and effort to treat a student badly or in a good way. . . . . Aikido teaches that we always work towards goodness. . . . Although, it can be a form of "tough love' at times, as one of my senior students likes to say, 2nd Doshu always taught us to treat people with great respect.
To not blame anyone for slugs in the soda machine at Hombu Dojo is the kind of generous love and compassion 2nd Doshu demonstrated in his life and in his Aikido in his own quiet way. After all these years, I am still trying to understand this great lessson. . . . .