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Old 06-09-2006, 05:18 AM   #26
philipsmith
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Just to agree with Mr Ledyard.

"I don't agree with the politics" usually means "I'm not getting what I want from the association"; be that rank, position of authority or financial support.

Being independent is often an easy route to follow because you have complete freedom.

I remember a conversation where an aikido instructor said his dojo's teachers shouldn't be questioned because "I'm a Shihan [self appointed] and nobody tells me what to do"

In saying that I do know some independent dojos who are not concerned with rank etc.and are none the worse for that, but they are the exception.
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Old 06-09-2006, 07:33 AM   #27
happysod
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Quote:
I remember a conversation where an aikido instructor said his dojos teachers shouldn't be questioned because "I'm a Shihan [self appointed] and nobody tells me what to do"
In contrast, the general consensus within many "associated dojos" is you never question a shihan because well, he's a shihan - nothing need be stated, it's just understood...

I'm uneasy the implications that independent dojos occur through some lack of integrity on the part of the those who went independent. There are many reasons for leaving an association (or even being asked to leave) as some of the more "headline" dissociation's have shown. Note, I'm not saying the comment wasn't valid in some cases, but I don't believe it's the endemic reason. As for "complete freedom", believe me, it's a pain in the neck rather than a blessing and most independents in the UK normally adopt someone else's framework (often their parent association) rather than trying to build from the ground up.

The worry about stagnation is a valid one. However, I've met the odd non-independent dojo which has been even more insular than I thought was possible while remaining within an organization. So I'd put this down as more of an potential problem for all dojos, especially as most seminars are normally more open about heathens attending than in the past.
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Old 06-09-2006, 08:10 AM   #28
Jorge Garcia
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Quote:
Van Miranda wrote:
this thread is very timely...our dojo plans to be independent since we don't want to join any political war and that we simply want to practice in harmony but we hope to still be recognized and maintain our affiliation with hombu dojo....since being independent means we don't have any local affiliations anymore, will it not be possible for us to be recognized? if there's a way, i would appreciate exactly the steps as to how we can achieve this...I've read the regulations and just basing it on there, would be difficult to achieve this that's why I'm asking if anyone was able to achieve this and what exact course you have taken. thanks in advance ...
This is an interesting question. I don't know about anyone else but I do know of a way. If a teacher knows of a Shihan that lives in Japan and is willing to take you on as a student and make your dojo a branch dojo of the Japanese dojo, then you can be "independent" in the sense of not being part of a large organization and get your certificates from Hombu dojo. That teacher would have to come to the U.S. and test the students. I believe that Christopher Taw of Arlington Heights had this kind of an arrangement and I am know of others that have as well. The problem with this is the same reason that organizations rise up. That problem is that it is very expensive for a single dojo to pay to bring someone from Japan (airfare, hotel, meals and honorarium) and send them back twice a year. The other problem is that most dojos aren't large enough to have a major seminar in so you can't raise the money having a seminar in a dojo that fits 30 people like sardines because 30 people won't raise the funds you need. If you move to a larger venue, then you have to hope people from all affiliations will come to it but if they don't, then you are stuck with the bill of the place you rented, the advertising and all the other expenses involved. You could lose your shirt. As much as we like to think the "aiki" spirit is out there, the truth is that the organizations do privately discourage training across jurisdictional lines. Not universally, I know, but they do or the die hards in the hierarchy do. I know that by experience. I know some would disagree and will give me anecdotal evidence of their own Sensei and organization but this could make an interesting discussion. When we started having our Friendship Seminars, I did a lot of research and talked to a lot of people and we have found ways to make it financially viable and even successful but it was a leap of faith. I am grateful that things have worked out but it's a job for an independent dojo to do all that so they just tend to go the low road and be isolated and save the expense and issue all their own certificates and keep then cash to pay the bills.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 06-09-2006, 08:58 AM   #29
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Good topic.

I am an "independent kinda guy" right now. Mainly because where I am I have no organization around that studies what I want to study. I have a bunch of guys that we basically train MMA. Now it is not a free for all. We do train on our own in an informal arrangement with no prescribed curriculmn per se. But we are affiliate basically with the Modern Army Combatives Program (we are an active duty Army organization). We also have a Gracie Barra BJJ affiliiation through a Black belt in Italy.

On a personal note I maintain my ties with ASU through my dojo back in the states as best I can.

I am not one to follow the mold and path. Could careless about politics. Yes, I am also probably clever enough to start my own MMA Ryu style as well.

I have found there are some benefits to maintaining affliation with an organization. Also, very good reasons to pursue rank and testing through these established organizations. They offer a structure and standard, and mentorship.

My old karate sensei founded his own style based on the sum of his life experiences. He was somewhat of a prodigy in Karate. He truly developed and codified his own system! However, even he would travel to Japan to test for his promotions under JKA to ensure that he had a "check" on what he was doing.

I think it is possible to be non-parochial and have a mind of your own, and avoid group think, and be open to outside sources and still affiliate. If you are good enough at what you do for your art, you can isolate those skills to demonstrate them for the particular body that is evaluating you. If your chosen affliation is based on the right principles, then regardless of what you practice, you should not have issues with the affiliation.
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Old 06-09-2006, 09:49 AM   #30
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

I find it amusing when I hear of sayings like "We're independent because we don't like politics!". I guess what it sounds like to the outside party is that "We're independent because the politics didn't favor me/us!" Speaking as someone that trains at an independent dojo, there are always going to relational aspects that you must be sensitive to (that's part of the training), whether it's just the dynamic between you and your teacher, your sempai, kohai, etc.

I think the problem of stagnation is valid (but again, not exclusive to independents) -- but you can be an independent dojo and still go to seminars with associations or visit other affiliated dojo (or as was recently the case this year, a seminar that involved sponsorship by three different dojo- two different group affiliations and an independent dojo). It's ultimately the responsibility of the student to develop their practice and progress in their training. A good teacher provides you with the tools and shows you the path, but it's up to you follow it (whether you're an agoraphobe or a tourist).

Personally, right now, what matters to me are (not necessarily in order) my goals for training (I find I always need to have goals, whether it's to be able to do five more push-ups, tap out five people a night, or advance a rank), my relationship with my teacher and supporting my dojo. I think that, affiliated or otherwise, if you're meeting or exceeding your goals for training and the material is presented in an honest fashion (by people that have legitimate training backgrounds) -- then the rest of the progress is solely up to you.

Of course, you couuullllddd get in to that whole name-dropping thing of, "Well, I train with Shihan X and we've got the REEL AIKIDOUGH!", but that would probably spark an entirely different thread . . .
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Old 06-09-2006, 10:11 AM   #31
aikidoc
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Quote:
Van Miranda wrote:
we hope to still be recognized and maintain our affiliation with hombu dojo....since being independent means we don't have any local affiliations anymore, will it not be possible for us to be recognized? ...
If you are trying to maintain affiliation with the Aikikai Foundation there are some steps you have to take and it takes time. You need to have an organization in place and meet their criteria. The organization needs to be in place for 5 years. See the aikikai website for details. The latest aikikai regulations are at the following link: http://www.aikikai.or.jp/eng/index.htm
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Old 06-09-2006, 10:19 AM   #32
aikidoc
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

The issue of stagnation is especially important when independent dojos discourage their students from attending seminars not put on by the independent. There are a myriad of excuses and pressures used to discourage outside training. However, unless the instructors are seeking outside training stagnation will occur-unless they are good at upgrading their skills by themselves. As my students progress, I know it is a challenge to keep myself advancing so as to keep their skills moving ahead.
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Old 06-09-2006, 10:38 AM   #33
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Our independent dojo sensei promotes all students to attend any and all outside seminars and other learning sources. One of the reasons why he left his school was that his sensei didn't like it when students went to seminars presented by others. I personally love the training we get at our independent dojo and perhaps some day we will affilate with some organization if that is at all possible. In the meantime, I'll train hard and enjoy the time with my friends at the dojo.
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Old 06-09-2006, 10:58 AM   #34
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
The issue of stagnation is especially important when independent dojos discourage their students from attending seminars not put on by the independent. There are a myriad of excuses and pressures used to discourage outside training. However, unless the instructors are seeking outside training stagnation will occur-unless they are good at upgrading their skills by themselves. As my students progress, I know it is a challenge to keep myself advancing so as to keep their skills moving ahead.
Agreed, but again, I think that happens both inside and outside of independent groups -- and likely had more to do with the dojo/instructor than belonging (or not) to an organization.
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Old 06-09-2006, 12:19 PM   #35
gregstec
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote:
Agreed, but again, I think that happens both inside and outside of independent groups -- and likely had more to do with the dojo/instructor than belonging (or not) to an organization.
Absolutely right. I am somewhat of an Aikido gypsy that trains 'around' a lot. Currently, I train with an ASU affiliated club and I also train with Budd at the Itten dojo on occasion as well as attend seminars with other groups when I can. Stagnation can occur in any environment where new and different things are not encouraged.

I like the deep resources that an affiliated dojo can bring to your training, and I also like the opportunity to explore some of the unique perspectives and quality instruction that can be found in an independent dojo; which can be found at the Itten dojo. Bottom line is that you make the most of whatever training you are involved in at the given moment. If it gets to the point of stagnation, it may just be you and not necessarily the dojo.

Greg Steckel
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Old 06-09-2006, 12:45 PM   #36
Budd
 
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Hi Greg -- hope to see you on the mat, soon!

Just for clarification as well, when Greg says he trains with me, we're both just students practicing under the instruction of the dojocho. I don't want anyone to get an incorrect impression that I'm any kind of teacher -- just a student that loves to train at Itten.
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Old 06-09-2006, 12:57 PM   #37
gregstec
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote:
Hi Greg -- hope to see you on the mat, soon!

Just for clarification as well, when Greg says he trains with me, we're both just students practicing under the instruction of the dojocho. I don't want anyone to get an incorrect impression that I'm any kind of teacher -- just a student that loves to train at Itten.
But I always learn something from you every time you jam me into the mat Will try to stop in next Thursday...

Greg S
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Old 06-09-2006, 11:56 PM   #38
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

What is an independent dojo?

We are an independent dojo. Check out the link below - in the signature.

We could never run the program we do in a federation - simply impossible. In short, and personally, I see it as: for some there is the temple and/or the temple system, and for others only a hut will do. We are a hut - or try to be a hut. Anyone can join us, anyone can leave - any time, and for any reason - returning whenever, however. Temples have always had the walls - not huts.

Historically, the thing with such huts is that they have never equated insulation with stagnation. I do not either. In fact, such huts have always associated isolation with penetration (i.e. insight) - institutional support and broad exposure with superficiality. I think this has been the case in martial arts history as well - penetration comes from insulation (or near insulation), not from broad exposure. The latter idea has only gained prominence fairly recently, in my opinion. Nevertheless, it remains a tough argument to sell if one really thinks about it. Why? Because when you think about it, things like seminars and camps can really only touch the most superficial aspects of the art - that's probably always been true, and that's why there probably has always been huts. Just a quick note to say I can't swallow this idea that isolation leads stagnation and that broad exposure leads to deep insight and/or meaningful progress. I believe the opposite to be true.


thanks,
dmv

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
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Old 06-10-2006, 08:10 AM   #39
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Quote:
David Yap wrote:
I just heard that one of our local dojo affiliated with Aikikai had declared itself as an independent dojo and I believe that it is the first and only independent aikido dojo in my country.

What exactly is an independent dojo? My brief understanding of the term "independent" is that the organisation or instructor concerned is non-affiliated to anyone or body (i.e. Aikikai or others) and it/he/she runs the organisation/dojo according to its/his/her objectives including setting the syllabus and gradings and issuing of ranks including dan grades.

Any independents out there care to enlighten me on the variations to my understanding above.

Regards

David
Hello David,

I have read through this thread and would like to establish one point. Was there any aikido in Malaysia before Mr Jun Yamada came and established the Aikikai Malaysia in Kuching, Sarawak? At the present time I believe that there are four groups in Malaysia recognised by the Aikikai. It is perhaps indelicate to ask this, but am I right in thinking that the four Aikikai groups, and any other groups that practise aikido that is recognisably Aikikai, are offshoots of Mr Yamada's original organization?

P A Goldsbury
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Old 06-10-2006, 10:01 AM   #40
aikidoc
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Quote:
David Valadez wrote:
Just a quick note to say I can't swallow this idea that isolation leads stagnation and that broad exposure leads to deep insight and/or meaningful progress. I believe the opposite to be true.
dmv
I understand you points of view. However, my point is that if you are not expanding your knowledge by participating with the rest of the aikido world your options for development are limited. Especially if you are not being mentored by someone of greater knowledge. Sure, you can expand your knowledge by buying tapes and reading books and experimenting with what you see. I do that all the time. Sometimes it helps me move in the right direction, sometimes not. This same issue, to me at least, can become a problem when you isolate yourself purely under one umbrella or instructor as well. You are exposed to only that perspective. Your instructor may be providing you with everything you need and that is all good. However, you are limited by that base of knowledge unless you push the envelope by yourself.
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Old 06-10-2006, 10:25 PM   #41
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

I can follow this - it appears to make sense - but only on the surface. However, if you really think about it, nothing supports it - even history doesn't support it. The greats, in whatever field, have done the exact opposite - adopting pure isolation or great spans of isolation - having these periods be the moments of their greatest growth and advancement. If we were dealing with a finite thing, then maybe. Like if Aikido had some sort of finite value like 100 - yes, seeing more of 100 gets you closer to 100. However, Aikido, like other arts, is infinite - it has no finite value. Having 10 of infinity is no different in terms of completion than having 20 or 80 of infinity. When it comes to infinity you don't gain by amassing more of anything - not even exposure. You only need one thing, and from that one thing, you pierce it until you find the infinity in that one thing. This is why depth is more important than breath when it comes to all art forms - especially a martial art like Aikido. If anything decreases one's chance for gaining knowledge (or insight or wisdom - which are better words here) it is to hold that knowledge is gained in the same way that finite and material things - like money - are gained. Broadness cannot help but to limit one's depth of understanding.

Of course I'm talking about a period in one's training - after a capacity for self-responsibility has set in. But even before that, I would not hold that broad exposure can lead to the kind of insight that isolation can. Of course, I'm not picturing some newbie that is going to discover "Aikido" for himself. However, I would I also say that some newbie that is trying to discover it via camps and seminars, etc., is no better off - that is to say, capable of only so much depth (i.e. superficial insights).

Another way of looking at this is this way: Once, Aikido training was very isolated. Many Aikido greats came out of that system. It was quite impressive - especially if you think of it in terms of ratios. Today, Aikido is taught very broadly - where are the greats coming out of that system?

David M. Valadez
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Old 06-11-2006, 11:11 AM   #42
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Hello David,

I have read through this thread and would like to establish one point. Was there any aikido in Malaysia before Mr Jun Yamada came and established the Aikikai Malaysia in Kuching, Sarawak? At the present time I believe that there are four groups in Malaysia recognized by the Aikikai. It is perhaps indelicate to ask this, but am I right in thinking that the four Aikikai groups, and any other groups that practise aikido that is recognisably Aikikai, are offshoots of Mr Yamada's original organization?
Hi Prof. Goldsbury,

I thought that this thread (started in Oct'03) has been closed. The independent dojo in question has since been "re-affiliated" with Aikikai Hombu via Etsuji Horii shihan of Senda dojo in Kobe. For strange reason(s) IMO the aikikai community here is amongst the unharmonious lot. The number of aikikai practitioners in the whole country average about 500~600 at any time.

Malaysia is geographically divided by the South China Sea - West (or Peninsula) Malaysia and East Malaysia (comprising the states of Sarawak and Sabah on the Borneo island). Here is a brief history of aikido in West Malaysia:

Aikido was first introduced in Seremban, West Malaysia by Thamby Rajah sensei after obtaining his black belt from Gozo Shioda in Tokyo, Japan in 1959. Thamby sensei is also the first Malaysian to receive a black belt from Kodokan Judo, Japan. While in Japan, he had also trained at the Japan Karate Association.

In the 1969, Michael Tham, his student, started Aikikai NS in Seremban after training at the Aikikai Hombu dojo in Tokyo. In 1975, Michael Tham started the KL YMCA Aikido Club. In 1982, Michael Tham retired from Aikido and the stewardship of the KL YMCA Aikido Club was passed to his senior student, George Lo. George Lo had initially trained aikido under Seiichi Sugano during his student days in Australia. This would be in the late 1970's as Sugano shihan had already left Australia for Belgium by early 1979. In 1988, George Lo migrated to Australia and Tee Cheng Sum was appointed the chief instructor at the KL YMCA Aikido Club. Tee Cheng Sum was also primarily responsible for the propagation of aikido in the Klang Valley starting in 1993 with opening of new dojo and the establishment of the Malaysia Aikido Association in 1994. It is interesting to note that most of the instructors in West Malaysia have had their roots in KL YMCA Aikido Club.

Credit must be given to the late Foo Chee Juan sensei. A student of Michael Tham, he had also trained and obtained his 2nd Dan at Aikikai Hombu, Tokyo. Following the departure of George Lo to Australia, almost all the senior students from KL YMCA Aikido Club (including C S Tee and Marcus Chan) also seek his instructions at his Aikido Academy dojo in Seremban.

Jun Yamada shihan was dispatched by Aikikai Foundation to propagate aikido to the East Malaysian state of Sarawak in 1970. Hence, majority of his students are based in East Malaysia. In 2002, he moved from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur when he was appointed the chief instructor for aikido at the Royal Malaysian Police Training Center (PULAPOL).

Currently there are 3 organizations recognized by Aikikai Hombu, namely:

Aikikai Malaysia Sdn Bhd under Jun Yamada, the resident shihan in Malaysia.
Aikikai Malaysia Association, AMA, whose president is Haji Haneef. Jun Yamada shihan resigned as the Technical Director of this association in 2005. (The reason for his resignation is clearly spelled out on his website)
Malaysia Aikido Association, MAA, which is presently led by Low Thian Seng. This association is run by instructors who were originally from the KL YMCA Aikido dojo - a dojo under the AMA umbrella. MAA's Technical Director is Seiichi Sugano shihan of NY Aikikai.

There is also a dojo located in the state of Johore which is under the supervision of T Sugawara shihan. However, I have no information on its status of Aikikai Hombu recognition. The only independent is the Seishinkai group under Tee Cheng Sum sensei. Tee sensei was a founder and the immediate past president of MAA.

AMA is the sole organization recognised by the IAF (at this time). I have been told that MAA would also be getting a recognition from IAF. Hence, I have posted a question on IAF forum as to whether IAF has amended its "one country-one representation" rule. A question that has been left unanswered.

I am not aware of the history of aikido in East Malaysia. I was told that a few Sarawakians did train in Japan in the 1960s. The question is whether they did establish aikido in Sawarak upon their returns.

Regards

David Y
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Old 06-11-2006, 06:00 PM   #43
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Quote:
David Yap wrote:
Hi Prof. Goldsbury,

AMA is the sole organization recognised by the IAF (at this time). I have been told that MAA would also be getting a recognition from IAF. Hence, I have posted a question on IAF forum as to whether IAF has amended its "one country-one representation" rule. A question that has been left unanswered.

I am not aware of the history of aikido in East Malaysia. I was told that a few Sarawakians did train in Japan in the 1960s. The question is whether they did establish aikido in Sawarak upon their returns.

Regards

David Y
Hello David,

Many thanks for your detailed answer. I have answered the question you posed on the IAF website.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 06-13-2006, 05:59 AM   #44
David Yap
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Hello David,

Many thanks for your detailed answer. I have answered the question you posed on the IAF website.

Best wishes,
Thanks, Prof, for the reply.

David
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Old 06-13-2006, 05:09 PM   #45
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

An independant dojo, disregarding financial ownership, is a dojo free of having affiliations of any kind with another dojo or headquater.. This means that the dojo inquestion is not under the rules and regulations of another dojo or headquater.

In a nutshell this can be determined by asking "Is the dojo affiliated or not affiliated"?
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Old 11-06-2011, 11:39 AM   #46
LinTal
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

For what it's worth in this discussion, we're an independant dojo too. Not too sure how all that works, happened long before my time. Something about mainstream styling.

Still Aikikai though, but we have oversight from a sensei in NZ. Maybe you can piggyback with another dojo's affiliation if you need to? I keep hearing of more groups considering this.

The world changes when you do.
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:57 PM   #47
Janet Rosen
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Why is this being resurrected five years after the OP had a very specific question from three years before that that had been resolved already!?!?

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Old 11-06-2011, 09:15 PM   #48
hughrbeyer
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Brainssss.... BRAINSSSSSS....
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Old 11-07-2011, 07:18 AM   #49
LinTal
Dojo: Aikido Terrey Hills
Location: Sydney
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 120
Australia
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
Brainssss.... BRAINSSSSSS....
Secret's out!

Sorry folks, should have checked te date before responding to the list.

The world changes when you do.
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:22 PM   #50
David Yap
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 561
Malaysia
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Re: What exactly is an independent dojo?

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Why is this being resurrected five years after the OP had a very specific question from three years before that that had been resolved already!?!?
Originally posted during my 10th year in aikido (2003) and thread was revived 3 years later and now. Perhaps it will be resurrected in 2013 to mark my 20th year
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