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Old 07-08-2013, 02:55 PM   #1
"torn"
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Aikido for all or one...

I have been practicing Aikido for about 15 years and enjoy it very much but, something has been bothering me for a while. I practice with a group we will call X. My Sensei is fantastic and I thoroughly enjoy practicing there. The problem is that he frowns heavily on practicing with other Aikido organizations and cross-training in other arts. I am very open to learning new things and different perspectives and am troubled by this attitude, Whenever I mention another art or shihan Z from organization Z the subject is changed or ignored. When I travel, I am constantly reminded to practice with only organization X. I understand that in Japanese culture you follow your sensei no matter what and jump when they say jump (I think.)
I am honor bound and owe my sensei a lot but where do I draw the line? I feel that my path is more open and would like to pursue other interests but at what cost? I feel that cross training in other arts or Aikido organizations would greatly benefit my Aikido not to mention broaden my horizons towards budo. This is a tough crossroads I am at now....any advice?
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Old 07-09-2013, 12:37 PM   #2
phitruong
Dojo: Charlotte Aikikai Agatsu Dojo
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

can't tell you what you should do, but if it was me, and my sensei said that sort of things, i would walk out. luckily, my sensei and the higher up in our org didn't have issue with cross training or training with other organizations. actually, they encouraged us to go and train. blending of one isn't really blending, right? isn't that the core principle of aikido, i.e. blend with everyone and everything?

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 07-09-2013, 01:54 PM   #3
Gerardo Torres
Location: SF Bay Area
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

I'm with Phi, I would walk out. I was blessed with a main aikido teacher who encourage us to try as many different teachers as possible, even different arts. One reason a teacher or organization might have to limit outside training or cross-training is to protect a certain organizational or dojo standard... but IME the main motivator is usually just political. It's good to have and protect a minimum technical standard; however by limiting exposure you will most likely end up with close-minded students with too limited a skillset unable to operate outside their paradigm, and this is particularly dangerous in an art without universal standards like aikido. The founder and most of his direct students cross-trained to some degree, it seems disingenuous and egotistical to limit the student and art growth by imposing limitations in this regard.
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Old 07-09-2013, 01:55 PM   #4
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

The "Japanese Culture" is not so clear cut. Many people in Japan study in other arts and dojos as an "open secret"- Done, but not talked about.

After 15 years of practicing, you are more than ready and capable of experiencing other styles and arts so as to integrate them into your own unique expression of budo. There is no good reason for your teacher to be so locked in to one way only for the students.

My own personal training began to make quantum leaps after I attended the Aiki Expo. Not only did I begin some really serious growth as a martial artist, but more importantly, I was able to begin to better grasp what my Aikido teacher was doing so that I could be a better student of his.

I run my own dojo now and I still train weekly with my original teacher (Imaizumi Sensei). I also train in and teach a style of Karate- Shindoryu (training in Japan several times a year directly under Ushiro Sensei), and train with Dan Harden as often as I can. I still look to experience other styles and teachers. I expose my students to my teachers, talk about what influences me and allow them to develop their own paths.

Life is short, so why allow other people to box you in?

Marc Abrams
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Old 07-09-2013, 02:10 PM   #5
"Terry B."
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

I haven't trained for 15 years, but I have trained long enough to know the tough spot you are in. Be with the same sensei for that amount of time is monumental and admirable. But, would I be wrong in saying a relationship lasting for so long isn't going to have a few bumps in the road along the way. But now you are at an important cross roads, asking what is the right decision.

I have heard of the type of the inflexible Aikido sensei who is very controlling not allowing students to cross train, visit other dojos or go to seminars. Many sensei's are insecure feeling they are the only one. Whether it is insecurity, or another reason you have to ask yourself after 15 years is this a healthy and productive relationship to be in? A relationship that doesn't let you grow and develop is stagnating.

You put allot of emphasis on your sensei, but what about you, don't you deserve to expand your horizons. Are you suppose to stuck in one place like the Bronte sisters never experiencing anything beyond the walls of your room, the dojo? A relationship is a two way street where both have needs and it is fair when one person in the relationship stifles the other.

The cross road you face is if you leave, you could burn the bridge of a 15 years relationship you value. By leaving, it means you violate a long held verbal contract between you and your sensei. By waiting until now to train elsewhere, your sensei may personally feel violated and hurt. Usually, the result isn't pretty and more risky when there is a long history, emotions run high, and feelings are hurt all the way around. After all, you are both human. If you stay you keep the relationship intact, but sacrifice your freedom, personal development and independence something you strongly seem to desire, I mean even crave. What is the direction to take isn't a easy decision for sure, or something taken lightly.

Is there a possibility to have a one on one talk outside the dojo between you and the sensei in private to make a compromise, a new contract? There is a chance no compromise will happen. The silver lining in that cloud is your perspective of your sensei changes. Change can be good, leading you to seeing the sensei in a different light. The benefit is the illumination of a new path to move forward on. It is not unreasonable to think the relationship has run it's course, and time to move on. Cutting ties is always difficult emotionally. I would be wrong, but as it stands now you are asking others if you should take an important risk associated with great value and merit. By the nature of reaching out to others maybe it is time for change of some kind.
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Old 07-09-2013, 02:46 PM   #6
sakumeikan
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I have been practicing Aikido for about 15 years and enjoy it very much but, something has been bothering me for a while. I practice with a group we will call X. My Sensei is fantastic and I thoroughly enjoy practicing there. The problem is that he frowns heavily on practicing with other Aikido organizations and cross-training in other arts. I am very open to learning new things and different perspectives and am troubled by this attitude, Whenever I mention another art or shihan Z from organization Z the subject is changed or ignored. When I travel, I am constantly reminded to practice with only organization X. I understand that in Japanese culture you follow your sensei no matter what and jump when they say jump (I think.)
I am honor bound and owe my sensei a lot but where do I draw the line? I feel that my path is more open and would like to pursue other interests but at what cost? I feel that cross training in other arts or Aikido organizations would greatly benefit my Aikido not to mention broaden my horizons towards budo. This is a tough crossroads I am at now....any advice?
dear anon user,
Speak to your sensei, explain your position.Ask for leave of absence,Train elsewhere and if possible remain in a cordial relationship with your teacher.If a talk with him/her is not a productive one, you can then decide your next course of action.Cheers, Joe.
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Old 07-09-2013, 02:47 PM   #7
"Just a thought"
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

My solution would not to make a hasty decision of walking away. I hear you saying ideally you would like your sensei to give you the ok to train elsewhere. At the same time allow you to continue training with him or her. I agree you need to first talk to your sensei and work something out first before bolting out the front door.

Before you talk to your sensei put yourself in his or her shoes. I don't think your sensei is a control freak. Let's consider there is a very good reason why he or she disapproves training outside the dojo. Here is one of many concerns I would think your sensei has, when going else where learn something different in a different way than what is taught in the class consider the impact it on his or her teaching credibility. Undermining a teacher purposely or not, when bring in different information, approaches, theories, or techniques needs to be considered by you. Put yourself in your sensei's shoes, understanding his position.

If you work something out where you don't effect your sensei's teaching and knowledge credibility in his class, maybe you don't have to leave. Give it time, don't expect it to happen in one meeting. You may have to meet several times over a period of time. Be patient, understanding, and willing to work something out.
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Old 07-09-2013, 02:53 PM   #8
PeterR
 
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
The "Japanese Culture" is not so clear cut. Many people in Japan study in other arts and dojos as an "open secret"- Done, but not talked about.
In Japan I was encouraged to cross-train. The dojo I trained at was full of people from other styles and many members did various things.

I really am not so sure where this impression comes from - not the first time I heard it.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 07-09-2013, 03:25 PM   #9
Krystal Locke
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

Is your sensei Japanese?

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I have been practicing Aikido for about 15 years and enjoy it very much but, something has been bothering me for a while. I practice with a group we will call X. My Sensei is fantastic and I thoroughly enjoy practicing there. The problem is that he frowns heavily on practicing with other Aikido organizations and cross-training in other arts. I am very open to learning new things and different perspectives and am troubled by this attitude, Whenever I mention another art or shihan Z from organization Z the subject is changed or ignored. When I travel, I am constantly reminded to practice with only organization X. I understand that in Japanese culture you follow your sensei no matter what and jump when they say jump (I think.)
I am honor bound and owe my sensei a lot but where do I draw the line? I feel that my path is more open and would like to pursue other interests but at what cost? I feel that cross training in other arts or Aikido organizations would greatly benefit my Aikido not to mention broaden my horizons towards budo. This is a tough crossroads I am at now....any advice?
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Old 07-09-2013, 03:29 PM   #10
"Torn"
IP Hash: e14ede68
Anonymous User
Re: Aikido for all or one...

Thank you for all your advice. Interesting enough my Sensei brings in many different Shihan for seminars with many different takes on our style of Aikido. Many of them are vastly different in their waza and outlook. So he encourages us to learn from these teachers but of course they are from our organization. So I think there is a form of control for the students to follow our "leader" of the organization and others who follow him as well. I find it interesting that my Sensei encourages to learn different ways of doing things yet other martial arts and organizations are taboo. I have been practicing for a while now and can see the weaknesses of only practicing our style.
Another conundrum is one of the groups I would like to practice with requires you to become a member of their organization, So in turn I would be a member of two "rival" groups. I am not sure if anyone has done that before. To many it may seem like a bad idea but in my quest for knowledge I am really wanting to try this. I am sure my Sensei would not like this very much.
I think talking to him is a good idea but I know it would be strongly discouraged to train in anything else. He is clear this "this" is the best style so why train in anything else. If I was told no then what? I keep deeply thinking about this and am really troubled by this situation.
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Old 07-09-2013, 04:02 PM   #11
"Just a thought"
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

Torn by giving information on this situation, it seems to me the best thing to do is reconsider your perspective. You are a veteran, your sensei is accommodating, and it sounds you sensei has a strong conviction. Don't you think than this is a matter of differing opinions? Your sensei has been at Aikido longer than you and has seen more of Aikido. He or she may have a good point, a point you haven't come to see.

As for your other problem, don't play with fire if you don't expect to be burned. A hugely important lesson, I learned when I was dating. Any good frat or like group do expect a level of loyalty and respect, and you been with your group for 15 years. Do you think it is unreasonable your group would, including the sensei would be upset that you trained with a rival group? In the work place that is a cause for losing your job. In at a higher level of organization like the government and military that is treason. Would it be bad to suggest some personal reflection and personal inventory to assess what you really want?

Broaden your scope, take a more dynamic attitude, it may help you make the right decision. A decision which could lead you to harmony and happiness. Good luck!
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Old 07-09-2013, 04:25 PM   #12
Keith Larman
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

Well, I'll toss in my 2 cents and say I've trained with sensei who didn't want you going anywhere else. That's fine depending on what you're doing. I find it odd in the context of Aikido, however, as it is such a big, wide, fluttering tent of things. And I can only think of a handful of people out there where I'd even want to do such a thing in that world.

In the world of koryu arts, well, that's a different issue with different factors.

I will also say the ones I've met who were adamant about "go no where else" were the ones who were most, um, how to say it, haunted by self-doubt themselves. I enjoy cross training. I enjoy getting out and learning new things. I do, however, recognize that if you're a teacher as well you need to be able to tread softly on issues of style specific methods and approaches, if for no other reason for the sake of the students.

But all that said I'm still somewhat baffled when I hear of people doing that. If you feel the need to go outside, well, it is your life and your training. If your concern with your sensei's position on the topic overrides that, well, that's a decision for you to make and not random strangers on the internet. So I'm not sure how anyone else is going to help you on this one.

Best of luck.

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Old 07-09-2013, 04:27 PM   #13
Keith Larman
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

I should add that a rank beginner should probably decide to devote some time and focus to their primary teacher. But after 15 years, well, you really should be in a position to deal with a little broadening of your perspective...

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Old 07-09-2013, 06:09 PM   #14
Malicat
Dojo: Suenaka-Ha Aikido of Bloomington
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I have been practicing Aikido for about 15 years and enjoy it very much but, something has been bothering me for a while. I practice with a group we will call X. My Sensei is fantastic and I thoroughly enjoy practicing there. The problem is that he frowns heavily on practicing with other Aikido organizations and cross-training in other arts. I am very open to learning new things and different perspectives and am troubled by this attitude, Whenever I mention another art or shihan Z from organization Z the subject is changed or ignored. When I travel, I am constantly reminded to practice with only organization X. I understand that in Japanese culture you follow your sensei no matter what and jump when they say jump (I think.)
I am honor bound and owe my sensei a lot but where do I draw the line? I feel that my path is more open and would like to pursue other interests but at what cost? I feel that cross training in other arts or Aikido organizations would greatly benefit my Aikido not to mention broaden my horizons towards budo. This is a tough crossroads I am at now....any advice?
It is the 15 years that throws me off, to be honest. Many of the dojo chos in our organization train two styles, Arnis and Tae Kwon Do to start with, and the head of our organization trained with Hohan Soken, so there are also several schools that train Hakutsuru. New students are forced to choose which style they want to start in, either Aikido, or the other one offered at the dojo, but after a certain level of training is reached, multiple training is allowed, and even encouraged. I was invited to join a Hakutsuru class at our Hombu dojo when I was visiting after about a year and a half of training in Aikido. The invitation, more so than any rank, is a compliment, and acknowledgement that you are beginning to get a good grasp on the basics. I've also studied with a teacher from a different style of Aikido due to the travel distance to my original dojo when I had to move, and my dojo cho encouraged it.

If, after 15 years, you aren't good enough to learn from another organization, or study another art, I would be concerned about the level of teaching going on in your dojo. Since this is most likely not the case due to your dedication to your Sensei, I would worry about his (or her) reasons behind discouraging any other study. Unfortunately, I am probably too blunt, but my only advice would be to force a confrontation. Explain to your Sensei that you are frustrated, and you need an answer from him about the issue with other Aikido organizations and other martial arts, or you are going to have to look elsewhere for instruction, and set up a time in a few days for a personal discussion. Maybe he has a perfectly good reason that we aren't thinking of, or maybe he just hasn't fully thought it out either and those few days will give him time to reflect on his policy.

Hopefully this helps!

--Ashley
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Old 07-10-2013, 05:22 AM   #15
odudog
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

You should talk to your sensei to find out exactly why he only wants his students to stay within the org. I can think of the problems arising from using different verbiage to the sensei having troubles keeping everyone on the same page during practice. It is also possible that he wants to keep his style of aikido pure to its origins ala Saito sensei.

I train in another art as well as self study in other aikido styles from videos and youtube. It can slip into your practice while on the mat.
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:39 PM   #16
Dan Rubin
Dojo: Boulder Aikikai
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

Does your teacher object to your studying a different style of aikido, or to your studying with anyone from a different organization? For example, a teacher of Nihon Goshin aikido or Korindo aikido might be concerned about protecting that style from being corrupted by the influence of Ueshiba aikido, which is quite different, especially if you are a teacher in his style.

On the other hand, after 15 years of practice you should be able to understand how to use any newfound knowledge.

Last edited by Dan Rubin : 07-10-2013 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 07-14-2013, 01:10 PM   #17
"Torn"
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Torn by giving information on this situation, it seems to me the best thing to do is reconsider your perspective. You are a veteran, your sensei is accommodating, and it sounds you sensei has a strong conviction. Don't you think than this is a matter of differing opinions? Your sensei has been at Aikido longer than you and has seen more of Aikido. He or she may have a good point, a point you haven't come to see.

As for your other problem, don't play with fire if you don't expect to be burned. A hugely important lesson, I learned when I was dating. Any good frat or like group do expect a level of loyalty and respect, and you been with your group for 15 years. Do you think it is unreasonable your group would, including the sensei would be upset that you trained with a rival group? In the work place that is a cause for losing your job. In at a higher level of organization like the government and military that is treason. Would it be bad to suggest some personal reflection and personal inventory to assess what you really want?

Broaden your scope, take a more dynamic attitude, it may help you make the right decision. A decision which could lead you to harmony and happiness. Good luck!
Thank you for your opinion. I definitely understand your perspective and views. I in my own view I do not see this other group as a "rival". I try not to view any other groups as rivals but as other ways up the mountain. I think what I would like is a broader perspective and true harmonious view of Aikido rather than us against them. I am loyal to my Sensei and our group but I think my path and views are diverging in attitude and training. I am really bothered by this internally.
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Old 07-14-2013, 01:15 PM   #18
"Torn"
IP Hash: e14ede68
Anonymous User
Re: Aikido for all or one...

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
Well, I'll toss in my 2 cents and say I've trained with sensei who didn't want you going anywhere else. That's fine depending on what you're doing. I find it odd in the context of Aikido, however, as it is such a big, wide, fluttering tent of things. And I can only think of a handful of people out there where I'd even want to do such a thing in that world.

In the world of koryu arts, well, that's a different issue with different factors.

I will also say the ones I've met who were adamant about "go no where else" were the ones who were most, um, how to say it, haunted by self-doubt themselves. I enjoy cross training. I enjoy getting out and learning new things. I do, however, recognize that if you're a teacher as well you need to be able to tread softly on issues of style specific methods and approaches, if for no other reason for the sake of the students.

But all that said I'm still somewhat baffled when I hear of people doing that. If you feel the need to go outside, well, it is your life and your training. If your concern with your sensei's position on the topic overrides that, well, that's a decision for you to make and not random strangers on the internet. So I'm not sure how anyone else is going to help you on this one.

Best of luck.
Thank you very much for your advice. I am happy to see others that have a open attitude towards "others" outside of your group. I do feel that my path is one of a ronin sometimes as I am the only one in the dojo with this attitude. Loyalty vs your own path....
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Old 07-14-2013, 01:20 PM   #19
Janet Rosen
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Thank you very much for your advice. I am happy to see others that have a open attitude towards "others" outside of your group. I do feel that my path is one of a ronin sometimes as I am the only one in the dojo with this attitude. Loyalty vs your own path....
Some folks end up that route for a while until they find a new compatible "home"

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 07-14-2013, 01:23 PM   #20
"Torn"
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

Quote:
Mike Braxton wrote: View Post
You should talk to your sensei to find out exactly why he only wants his students to stay within the org. I can think of the problems arising from using different verbiage to the sensei having troubles keeping everyone on the same page during practice. It is also possible that he wants to keep his style of aikido pure to its origins ala Saito sensei.

I train in another art as well as self study in other aikido styles from videos and youtube. It can slip into your practice while on the mat.
I dont see that talk going very well. lol. I do see my Sensei wanting to transmit his teaching of his teacher purely to his students. But there is so much out there, isnt there much more to learn than this senior Shihan's style? Its not as if I am refusing to learn his style but I would like to learn more from others as much as possible.
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Old 07-14-2013, 01:31 PM   #21
"Torn"
IP Hash: e14ede68
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

Quote:
Dan Rubin wrote: View Post
Does your teacher object to your studying a different style of aikido, or to your studying with anyone from a different organization? For example, a teacher of Nihon Goshin aikido or Korindo aikido might be concerned about protecting that style from being corrupted by the influence of Ueshiba aikido, which is quite different, especially if you are a teacher in his style.

On the other hand, after 15 years of practice you should be able to understand how to use any newfound knowledge.
I would say that my Sensei is loyal to organization X and only X. Other organizations are not talked about or referenced. I understand the need to follow your teacher for a while especially when you are a beginner as it may be confusing to learn at that stage.
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Old 07-14-2013, 01:40 PM   #22
"Torn"
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

I think some of my problem is trying to decipher my own intentions. Is this an ego thing? Is it a valid subject? Am I ready? Maybe it is all of these above. All I know is that Aikido supposedly is the art of harmony, right? Where is the harmony? Are we harmonious as long as we stay in our group? It seems to me that real harmony or love does not discriminate against anyone or organization. Do I really have this progressive attitude or am I a clown with high hopes of a tarnished dream?
I wonder if Aikido is really what I am looking for sometimes...
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Old 07-14-2013, 04:27 PM   #23
Cady Goldfield
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

After 15 years, a person has enough experiential wisdom to determine whether a particular art or discipline is right for him/her, and also to train in other arts without any problems. A sensei who frowns on this, seems like a controlling or jealous person who doesn't want his or her students to mature and pursue further development for their own benefit. Either that, or it's a money thing...
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Old 07-14-2013, 05:41 PM   #24
"Torn"
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

Quote:
Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
After 15 years, a person has enough experiential wisdom to determine whether a particular art or discipline is right for him/her, and also to train in other arts without any problems. A sensei who frowns on this, seems like a controlling or jealous person who doesn't want his or her students to mature and pursue further development for their own benefit. Either that, or it's a money thing...
I dont think its a money thing at all. I think perhaps it is more of a "property" thing. I think sometimes students are seen as a commodity in the dojo and the Sensei is the owner. Or another perspective is a Father or Mother to children. I do feel there is a sense of ownership there but at what cost? Is the child supposed to become your clone? Are you to shield this child from other perspectives and views? Being a parent also I see some of the reasons why this may be happening but what is different is I am an adult. I will always be grateful for my time and training with my sensei but, the world is bigger than this organization or dojo.
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Old 07-14-2013, 07:06 PM   #25
odudog
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Re: Aikido for all or one...

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
I dont see that talk going very well. lol. I do see my Sensei wanting to transmit his teaching of his teacher purely to his students. But there is so much out there, isnt there much more to learn than this senior Shihan's style? Its not as if I am refusing to learn his style but I would like to learn more from others as much as possible.
Don't talk. Listen. Ask his reasons why for not going outside the org then just listen for a clear definitive reasons. The "talk" won't go well if you turn it into a discussion.
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