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Old 07-10-2009, 02:01 PM   #1
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"New York Aikikai Etiquette"

Posted 2009-07-10 14:00:28 by Jun Akiyama
News URL: http://www.aikidocenterofjacksonvill...kai-etiquette/

This blog entry entitled "New York Aikikai Etiquette" comes from the Diary of an Uchi-Deshi blog of Tonya, an uchi-deshi at the New York Aikikai.

From the article: "8. Do not trash anyone on the mat. Going fast is okay. Beating up someone who is a beginner is not okay. There are always a few people who are like that and they earn themselves a bad reputation."

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Old 07-14-2009, 06:09 AM   #2
Charles Hill
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

"Do not trash anyone on the mat. Going fast is okay. Beating up someone who is a beginner is not okay. There are always a few people who are like that and they earn themselves a bad reputation. If you trash the wrong person, then every black belt on the mat will take turns doing the same thing to you."

My eyebrows raised a few times reading this article. I waited to see if anyone else would comment, but no one has.

In this particular quote, we learn a few things about New York Aikikai. There are always a few people (with bad reputations) who beat up beginners. If a person beats up the "wrong person" (whoever that is) they will get beat up by every black belt on the mat (who are apparently polite enough to take turns).

Any thoughts?
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Old 07-14-2009, 06:28 AM   #3
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

Quote:
Charles Hill wrote: View Post
"Do not trash anyone on the mat. Going fast is okay. Beating up someone who is a beginner is not okay. There are always a few people who are like that and they earn themselves a bad reputation. If you trash the wrong person, then every black belt on the mat will take turns doing the same thing to you."

My eyebrows raised a few times reading this article. I waited to see if anyone else would comment, but no one has.

In this particular quote, we learn a few things about New York Aikikai. There are always a few people (with bad reputations) who beat up beginners. If a person beats up the "wrong person" (whoever that is) they will get beat up by every black belt on the mat (who are apparently polite enough to take turns).

Any thoughts?
I don't know anything about the New York Aikikai. I do know, from personal experience, that getting the correct words in English (American, not British) to convey ideas or thoughts is sometimes tough.

For instance, the part you quoted can be taken various ways. Your last para indicates that the quote is taken in reference to members of the New York Aikikai.

But, if you open the perspective just a bit and take into account that maybe there are quite a few visitors to the New York Aikikai, then we can also infer that this part "always a few people who are like that" could be about outsiders.

Likewise, "If you trash the wrong person, then every black belt on the mat will take turns doing the same thing to you" has several layers of unspoken perspectives. In what manner are the black belts "trash"ing? Is it done vindictively? Or in a manner that is showing and teaching the person about his/her actions? There are levels here that have not been addressed.

Taken as a whole, sure, this part of the blog could be construed in a negative fashion. Is it?

I don't know anything about the New York Aikikai. Hence, I made no reply to that blog. Here, though, you did ask for thoughts.
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Old 07-14-2009, 06:50 AM   #4
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

I read it as someone visited the dojo and started beating people up and then the senior students were harsher on him in response. But you're right, it could be read different ways - it's a bit ambiguous.
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Old 07-14-2009, 02:27 PM   #5
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

If it's not issued by a dojo's website, or by some representative of said dojo, then what we have here is someone's opinion of what the etiquette is, in their perspective.

There is too much to poke at in this particular list of do&don'ts :

#7 first sentence makes a lot of sense, and is a gracious nod to respecting someone else's home, not etiquette. Second sentence? Would I want some complete stranger ambushing me to fold my dirty laundry? oh wait, it turns out:
Quote:
This is not a requirement of course, but it certainly is polite and makes everyone like you.
Something tells me this is the author's first go at writing a list of etiquette. Perhaps they should start with their own dojo's rules.

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Old 07-14-2009, 04:45 PM   #6
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

Thank you for the replies.

Quote:
Mike Logan wrote: View Post
If it's not issued by a dojo's website, or by some representative of said dojo, then what we have here is someone's opinion of what the etiquette is, in their perspective.
Yes, I think so, too. That is what makes it all the more interesting to me. The writer is an "uchideshi" living and working at the dojo and is writing the blog primarily for people connected to the dojo. I think that, perhaps, we are getting a more honest view of how things go, rather than a list of rules made up for potential/new students. I would doubt that they would put this in a dojo brochere.
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Old 07-14-2009, 05:28 PM   #7
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

I have trained at USAF dojos. Asking for water will sometimes end up in a guilt trip from the sensei, e.g. "Is it an absolute emergency? Can't you wait until the end of class?"

This whole deal of being a visitor and giving the sensei gifts might be an extraordinarily kind thing to do, but it has no place in the etiquette or guidelines of a dojo.

"It doesn’t matter if you think what they said is stupid or completely useless." Yeah, it does matter. This isn't military basic training during which cadets have to breathe in tear gas. If a sensei told me to go out in the parking lot and hop on one leg, we'd never see each other again.

Sorry Ledyard Sensei, but here I go: "Aikido begins and ends with respect." I take this as mutual respect, recognizing other's seniority, while they recognize you as an equal human being.

I have more to say, maybe later. This discomforts me.

Drew
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Old 07-14-2009, 08:01 PM   #8
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

"Do not trash anyone on the mat. Going fast is okay. Beating up someone who is a beginner is not okay. There are always a few people who are like that and they earn themselves a bad reputation. If you trash the wrong person, then every black belt on the mat will take turns doing the same thing to you."


It sounds like the black belts are looking out for the less experienced (potentially weaker) students.

Suru, remember that as beginners (and not-so-beginners), a lot of the things instructors say seem extremely absurd. As far as aikido is concerned, everything they say is probably for your benefit.

Giving Sensei a gift could be on this list of etiquette because it is considered a kind thing to do at that dojo.

Last edited by caelifera : 07-14-2009 at 08:01 PM. Reason: silly html tag

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Old 07-14-2009, 08:50 PM   #9
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote: View Post

"It doesn't matter if you think what they said is stupid or completely useless." Yeah, it does matter. This isn't military basic training during which cadets have to breathe in tear gas. If a sensei told me to go out in the parking lot and hop on one leg, we'd never see each other again.
I've known Tonya for awhile now, and thus I know her mentality a bit when she wrote this blog. She currently lives at New York Aikikai and has been posting these blogs as an incite to her training and experiences there.

I think you might be taking her thoughts on obedience to your instructor to its illogical absurdity. Her meaning in this is closer to what Christine described above. Sort of like when your instructor might tell you to end in homni before going for the pin. You might at that time not understand what difference it makes whether you end in a horse stance or homni, however the first time some one clips you in the groin your instructor's wisdom will be clear to you. The instructor is equal to you as a human being, but they are wiser in experience, and greater in their understanding of Aikido. Their superior Aikido must be respected and their instructed must be taken irreverently.

Also I understand the black belt's mentality in defending weaker students, and their drastic correction of dangerous behavior. It is a KI principal to protect the weak. "The strong must protect the weak, the weak shall blossom as a shield for them in times of trial."
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Old 07-14-2009, 10:08 PM   #10
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
I've known Tonya for awhile now, and thus I know her mentality a bit when she wrote this blog. She currently lives at New York Aikikai and has been posting these blogs as an incite to her training and experiences there.

I think you might be taking her thoughts on obedience to your instructor to its illogical absurdity. Her meaning in this is closer to what Christine described above. Sort of like when your instructor might tell you to end in homni before going for the pin. You might at that time not understand what difference it makes whether you end in a horse stance or homni, however the first time some one clips you in the groin your instructor's wisdom will be clear to you. The instructor is equal to you as a human being, but they are wiser in experience, and greater in their understanding of Aikido.
I agree that this is probably what she meant, but she didn't write it that way. You may have something close to a telepathic link with her, but I don't.

Drew
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Old 07-15-2009, 11:07 AM   #11
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

I don't see any problems with this list of etiquette. What's all the hubbub, bub?

From what I have been told, New York Aikikai is a great place to train. They train hard and don't mess around on the mat. IMO, that is how it should be done!
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Old 07-15-2009, 01:56 PM   #12
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote: View Post
I agree that this is probably what she meant, but she didn't write it that way.
Well, frankly she's a 20 something year old girl not an essay writer. So the blog does read like the personal diary of a 20 something girl. That's unavoidable. (In my opinion it is well written in comparison to most 20 something year old girls bloggings... but I digress.)

However, if you agree that that was what she most likely meant, and understood (at least loosely) her intentions in the post, then frankly your first assessment was arguing for the sake of critique. Which is being argumentative for the sake of argument.
Let her be-- she's not a novelist.

Last edited by RED : 07-15-2009 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 07-15-2009, 02:18 PM   #13
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

Plus, Tonya said: "When someone corrects you, especially the teacher of the class"

The word "corrects" is key here. It implies training and refinement of technique. So it should be obvious that this was her intent.
The smarter we are the more prone we are to over analyze and think up possible out comes. This is not a bad thing. However, the blog is written plainly. Plain language is still language and communicates itself without hidden intention. I'd take it at face value. I'd read the whole of number 6 on the blog, and not take any line out of context. As a paragraph it relies on all its parts to yield sense.
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Old 07-15-2009, 05:02 PM   #14
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote: View Post
I have trained at USAF dojos. Asking for water will sometimes end up in a guilt trip from the sensei, e.g. "Is it an absolute emergency? Can't you wait until the end of class?"

This whole deal of being a visitor and giving the sensei gifts might be an extraordinarily kind thing to do, but it has no place in the etiquette or guidelines of a dojo.

"It doesn't matter if you think what they said is stupid or completely useless." Yeah, it does matter. This isn't military basic training during which cadets have to breathe in tear gas. If a sensei told me to go out in the parking lot and hop on one leg, we'd never see each other again.

Sorry Ledyard Sensei, but here I go: "Aikido begins and ends with respect." I take this as mutual respect, recognizing other's seniority, while they recognize you as an equal human being.

I have more to say, maybe later. This discomforts me.

Drew
These are somewhat traditional Japanese expectations I think, and to what degree they're important depends on the individuals involved and the place/dojo. For example, in Japan, when I make a "mistake" in what is normal etiquette, I'm excused because it's assumed I'm simply not aware (the gaijin pass). So there's usually a sense of whether a person should know how things are done which often takes place before "blame" is assigned. Gifting is a traditional behavior, and presumably you'll know whether you should provide one before you "ought" to.
Formalism (i.e. formal etiquette) is strange to people who aren't used to it (I have a strong anti-formalism streak so I can dig it), but when approached with the proper understanding I think it's a very nice thing, regardless of the culture or sub-culture it comes from. Many people believe respect is a thing that has to be earned...and I agree to a point, but I think a big part of the interpersonal issues within the Human Condition come from the notion of respect and so I've adopted the stance that I will try to show respect to all people (not always good at this ) and that I will do my best to do so in a way that is most familiar to them. Exactly what that means, varies because I reserve the right to act however I damn well please, but that's a card I almost never feel compelled to pull out. So putting Rei first, to me, means covering all your bases, because the only thing most people seems to really want from each other is respect. If I provide everything someone wants and needs, but don't respect them, they tend to not respect me and view my gifts as only given out of self-regard...which some folks argue is the only reason anyone does anything, but that's another topic. Conversely, if I give nothing but genuine respect, most people seem more than content.
I know a typical argument against using somewhat traditional Japanese respect in America/not-Japan is: you're in America, act like an American...to which I have to reply I've been in many homes that acted nothing like each other (in America; filled with Americans), with all kinds of notions on what was "proper," and I've come to the conclusion that it's a matter of taste...particularly in multi-cultural America. Ethics/respectful behavior is a matter of taste. If it doesn't suit you to hop on one leg in the parking lot, you won't do it...and you probably shouldn't. Me? I try to find a purpose to everything and I've found that in so doing I tend to find one and that makes all kinds of "ridiculous" behavior quite rational and useful....and it usually begins and ends with rei.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 07-15-2009 at 05:12 PM.

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Old 07-15-2009, 06:12 PM   #15
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
Many people believe respect is a thing that has to be earned...and I agree to a point, but I think a big part of the interpersonal issues within the Human Condition come from the notion of respect and so I've adopted the stance that I will try to show respect to all people (not always good at this ) and that I will do my best to do so in a way that is most familiar to them.
For me, the respect for someone unknown to me is there immediately; they have clean slates. As soon as I even smell disrespect from them, my respect ebbs. If respect from people continues to decrease, especially for no apparent or logical reason, I don't respect them.

You may be saying the same thing with incorrect words, when you say "respect is a thing that has to be earned." Wording it that way seems like something I would tell myself if I had a "fear-mind" and pseudo-confidence.

Drew
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Old 07-15-2009, 06:58 PM   #16
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote: View Post
For me, the respect for someone unknown to me is there immediately; they have clean slates. As soon as I even smell disrespect from them, my respect ebbs. If respect from people continues to decrease, especially for no apparent or logical reason, I don't respect them.

You may be saying the same thing with incorrect words, when you say "respect is a thing that has to be earned." Wording it that way seems like something I would tell myself if I had a "fear-mind" and pseudo-confidence.

Drew
What I meant was that, to some folks, respect isn't something you begin with. It sounds like you and I take a different view on that point. Generally, I think respect and etiquette are often "reap what you sow" kinds of things...and I get the impression that in one case at least, that's what the blogger was describing.
I also believe in the power of forgiveness which is why I also try not to let disrespect bug me too much. I wouldn't have one of my best friends if I did.

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Old 07-15-2009, 08:49 PM   #17
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

I differ slightly on the subject of respect.
I think it is possible and acceptable to have respect, love and admire those who do not reciprocate these actions.

First off, I don't think that respect is an emotion, it is a choice-- an action. In my opinion it is important to separate my personal emotions of recent or anger when dealing with people. I choose to show respect for a man that is respectable, and if that man does not reciprocate that respect I need to examine myself. Maybe there is a reason? If a man I admire does not consider me admirable, maybe parts of me are less than admirable?

In my opinion, when we put conditions upon the respect we express it ceases to be genuine respect. If I only respect those who fancy me a nice guy I have just made my expression of respect all about me! The respect I show is not about me, it is about acknowledging the greatness in others and aspiring to learn that greatness.
And I think regardless if you are a 6th kyu or a shihan, you have something of greatness that can be respected and aspired after.
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Old 07-15-2009, 10:49 PM   #18
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote:
Many people believe respect is a thing that has to be earned...and I agree to a point, but I think a big part of the interpersonal issues within the Human Condition come from the notion of respect and so I've adopted the stance that I will try to show respect to all
Drew, I don't see where Matthew stated that respect is a thing that has to be earned, but I do see where he made an observation about both a common perception of respect, and his own practices.
Quote:
Drew Gardner wrote:
Wording it that way seems like something I would tell myself if I had a "fear-mind" and pseudo-confidence.
So would this be you informing Matthew of his fear-mind and pseudo-confidence? Just curious..
Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote:
I also believe in the power of forgiveness which is why I also try not to let disrespect bug me too much
This must come in handy; especially on the intarwebs, where no one is quite the master of words they take themselves for.

michael.

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Old 07-16-2009, 09:50 AM   #19
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

I know Tonya and am a relative beginner who is training at NY Aikikai. The overparsing of Tonya's post here is creating some nonsense. I get treated very well as a beginner at NY Aikikai, and of course there are a couple of people who are a little too intense, or who have a hard time working with beginners.

That's life!

Deshi choose to have a very narrow frame of reference for a period of time, and that intense focus is an interesting and valid thing to write about. It's easy if you have a much broader perspective and no real information about the dojo to read a lot into the post. But I think it's wiser to understand the source and the point of the post. The post did not come from NY Aikikai's website. It came from a blog called "Diary of an Uchi Deshi." It's obviously unofficial, obviously biographical.
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Old 07-16-2009, 10:59 AM   #20
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

Quote:
Mike Logan wrote: View Post
This must come in handy; especially on the intarwebs, where no one is quite the master of words they take themselves for.

michael.
What!? I speak (er...type) perfectly every time! I only make mistakes to, uh, you know, show people what not to do...yeaaaah! That's the ticket!
Ok, ok...I did make a grammatical mistake one time, but I assure you the semantics were outstanding!
Now that the goofing off is out of my system:
Now that I've read the blog I just want to say I think it's a good list of information. It's got some good rule of thumb observations. I don't think it's particularly telling about the NY Aikikai; and the ambiguity of whether number 8 is about guests or regulars seems beside the point, which is the behavior itself. Some folks aren't always aware of how rough they can be and it's good to respect the particular tastes of your training partner...as she said, if you want to beat the snot out of each other, just don't get blood on the mat.

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Old 10-20-2009, 12:50 AM   #21
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Re: "New York Aikikai Etiquette"

I am late to the thread, but here are a few thoughts:

1. Tonya's blog is well writen and expressive of her observations at a place where she trains intensely (as an uchi deshi).

2. What she describes is common for most established dojos. The Shihan don't want their newer students injured, or abused. It's bad for business and it creates a bad training spirit in the dojo.

3. Every dojo I've ever seen in the past twenty five years has its share of students who think it's a good thing to be tough and rough up the new comer. It takes a strong character and an intelligent mind to put a stop to this type of boorish behavior.

4. If anything, I think the NY Aikikai understands that it wishes to minimize injuries and let visitors know that there is a policy not to abuse people.

It all sounds good to me. Thanks Tonya for the education. BTW, she no longer posts to "diary of an uchi deshi". It seems to have ended in September.

Train hard and train safely, fellow aikidosa!
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