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Old 10-11-2013, 07:26 AM   #1
Peter Boylan
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How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

I just came back from a trip to train in some koryu arts in Japan. The atmosphere in the dojo there is always remarkable to me because of the calm and respectful way everyone treats each other. Is the atmosphere in your dojo as respectful as it should be? I describe my experience in Japan at
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2013/10/...ou-see-in.html

Peter Boylan
Mugendo Budogu LLC
Budo Books, Videos, Equipment from Japan
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Old 10-11-2013, 08:42 AM   #2
Cliff Judge
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
I just came back from a trip to train in some koryu arts in Japan. The atmosphere in the dojo there is always remarkable to me because of the calm and respectful way everyone treats each other. Is the atmosphere in your dojo as respectful as it should be? I describe my experience in Japan at
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2013/10/...ou-see-in.html
What movies are you referring to in the title of your post?

Iaido and jodo training in Japan is going to be different than Aikido training in Japan, or even jujutsu training in Japan, for reasons ranging from cultural to practical. It may be neither possible nor a good idea to conduct Aikido training in a similar atmosphere.

Sounds like a great trip though!
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Old 10-11-2013, 09:38 AM   #3
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Pretty formal. We have a protocol for everything we do on the mat. If I have something I want to say, I'm careful of the timing and considerate of the instructor's authority over the students.

Paul Huber Sensei is a very down-to-Earth guy, but being Aiki children of Kit Hathaway Sensei, we all consider we're representing her reputation among other Aikidoka and the public. So observing proper dojo etiquette is a matter of honoring her. She's outspoken, too. So that only counts for how we behave on the mat.
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Old 10-11-2013, 11:10 AM   #4
tarik
 
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Do you really mean respectful or do you mean formal?

They are not the same.

The atmosphere in my personal dojo is fairly informal, although we do bow in and out, and bow to one another when we begin and end kata. We laugh, talk, tell jokes, sometimes cuss, and test one another constantly.

I also sometimes allow my children onto the mat even during adult class as long as they are respectful, don't interrupt, and remain out of the danger zone, but if they begin testing those rules, they have to leave immediately.

I consider it a respectful environment, although I occasionally wish for a little more formality and a nicer looking dojo (it's been stuck in mid-remodel for years due to lack of funds).

I know that how I run my dojo would be considered disrespectful to the art by some in other parts of the aikido world, but I am not accountable to them, only to my teacher, my students, and myself. Except as a curiosity, I don't really care how other people run their dojo unless I am visiting and need to know in order to be polite.

Best,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:11 PM   #5
Peter Boylan
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

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Tarik Ghbeish wrote: View Post
Do you really mean respectful or do you mean formal?

They are not the same.
I'm definitely looking for respectful. The dojo where I train in Japan tend to be very formal at the beginning and end of practice, and less so in the middle. There is a lot of bowing going on, but it's Japan, so it goes with the local culture. How we interact we each other is fairly informal, but extremely respectful of everyone.

I've been in dojo outside Japan that were formal but managed to be disrespectful of the students. Formal does NOT equal respectful.

Peter Boylan
Mugendo Budogu LLC
Budo Books, Videos, Equipment from Japan
http://www.budogu.com
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:24 PM   #6
Cliff Judge
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Peter,

Could you explain a little more about what a dojo without a respectful atmosphere might look like? I think what you are getting at is that the sort of Cobra Mai dojo from the original Karate Kid where "THERE IS NO WEAKNESS IN THIS DOJO!" is the opposite of the respectful environment you are describing. But I think the difference between the iaido and jodo dojo you trained at and one where the instructors are displeased if the students don't bark "OSU!" properly is more a matter of where the formality sits in the training.

I think this conversation sort of moves into the realm of, some Japanese martial arts picked up these militaristic / nationalistic features at the front end of the 20th century and that became a part of their traditions. And also there's a thing about hazing people into a group in Japanese culture that exists in companies and schools.
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Old 10-11-2013, 01:49 PM   #7
lbb
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Yeah...there's respectful, there's formal, and there's solemn. Probably some overlap, but they are different things.
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Old 10-11-2013, 01:51 PM   #8
Peter Boylan
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

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Peter,

Could you explain a little more about what a dojo without a respectful atmosphere might look like?
Hi Cliff,

I'm thinking about dojo where the the teachers may be abusive, whether they are loud about it, or quiet and just hurt students when they can to prove they are "better" than the students. Teachers who ignore students that need instruction and play favorites. Teachers who expect to be treated like lords while they pour disgust on any student who can't handle what the teacher chooses to dish out. I've seen all too much of that.

I've also seen dojo where the students were not expected to be respectful to their fellow students, so there would be bullying and and brutality between students and groups of students.

The whole Cobra Kai thing is actually something I haven't run into, but these others, abusive teachers and abusive students, that I've seen far too often. I've

Peter Boylan
Mugendo Budogu LLC
Budo Books, Videos, Equipment from Japan
http://www.budogu.com
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Old 10-11-2013, 02:23 PM   #9
Cliff Judge
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
Hi Cliff,

I'm thinking about dojo where the the teachers may be abusive, whether they are loud about it, or quiet and just hurt students when they can to prove they are "better" than the students. Teachers who ignore students that need instruction and play favorites. Teachers who expect to be treated like lords while they pour disgust on any student who can't handle what the teacher chooses to dish out. I've seen all too much of that.

I've also seen dojo where the students were not expected to be respectful to their fellow students, so there would be bullying and and brutality between students and groups of students.

The whole Cobra Kai thing is actually something I haven't run into, but these others, abusive teachers and abusive students, that I've seen far too often. I've
Even if you just look at traditional schools or any art in Japan, there is a gray line between "shugyo" and "stanford prison experiment."
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Old 10-11-2013, 03:41 PM   #10
SeaGrass
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

I experienced the same atmosphere after making the switch from aikido to koryu. The atmosphere in our koryu dojo is like what Peter described, lots of laughter even though the training is intense and the techniques are threatening. We are formal and casual at the same time, no ego, no passive aggressiveness like I've seen in aikido. We respect everyone in our dojo and in the kai, I think it has something to do with the defined goal of preserving the art, putting the art and kai above oneself.
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Old 10-11-2013, 11:05 PM   #11
Anjisan
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Do symbol Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Peter,

Could you explain a little more about what a dojo without a respectful atmosphere might look like? I think what you are getting at is that the sort of Cobra Mai dojo from the original Karate Kid where "THERE IS NO WEAKNESS IN THIS DOJO!" is the opposite of the respectful environment you are describing. But I think the difference between the iaido and jodo dojo you trained at and one where the instructors are displeased if the students don't bark "OSU!" properly is more a matter of where the formality sits in the training.

I think this conversation sort of moves into the realm of, some Japanese martial arts picked up these militaristic / nationalistic features at the front end of the 20th century and that became a part of their traditions. And also there's a thing about hazing people into a group in Japanese culture that exists in companies and schools.
Some examples of common disrespect may include standing when sensei is explaining something to a paired couple, standing with one's hands on one's hips, talking while a technique is being demonstrated, looking out the window while a technique is being shown, very junior students instructing their partners to name but just a few that I've noticed over the years and which drive me absolutely crazy whether I'm teaching or not.
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Old 10-12-2013, 04:29 AM   #12
Mark Uttech
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Onegaishimasu, the things Jason Rudolph brings up are common signs of disrespect. If it is a new group of beginning students, dojo etiquette hasn't been taught or learned yet. When we sign up to take a class at a dojo, we should be interested in learning and not thinking about other things. Learning to pay attention is an actual part of practice and makes all the difference in the world to both, teacher and student. My two cents.
In gassho,

Mark

- Right combination works wonders -
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Old 10-12-2013, 10:10 AM   #13
tarik
 
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Quote:
Jason Rudolph wrote: View Post
Some examples of common disrespect may include standing when sensei is explaining something to a paired couple, standing with one's hands on one's hips,
Not disrespectful, IMO, although I was once reprimanded for it by a senior even after being told explicitly by her senior to continue training unless sensei asked us to stop and pay attention. Unless sensei asks people to stop and pay attention, we are expected to keep training.

Quote:
Jason Rudolph wrote: View Post
talking while a technique is being demonstrated, looking out the window while a technique is being shown,
Definitely, disrespectful.

Quote:
Jason Rudolph wrote: View Post
very junior students instructing their partners to name but just a few that I've noticed over the years and which drive me absolutely crazy whether I'm teaching or not.
This one is more difficult. We train all our partners, juniors and seniors, to test and offer feedback, but definitely not instruction. But then what is considered instruction differs and needs to be taught itself.

:-)

Tarik

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 10-12-2013, 01:20 PM   #14
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Kit San would say, "It's possible to be too formal, but you can't be too respectful."
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Old 10-12-2013, 01:37 PM   #15
hughrbeyer
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Standing while sensei was working with your partner was standard protocol in my first dojo (Tomiki style). A sort of "parade rest" stance was preferred. Senior practitioners in that system also liked being called 'sir'.

With over 20 years on the mat, I've adopted a fatalistic attitude towards dojo etiquette. Even now, I occasionally get confronted with an etiquette rule I've never heard before. I nod, smile, and do it as long as the person who cares about it is around--otherwise, I do what makes sense to me.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 10-12-2013, 02:32 PM   #16
Malicat
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Quote:
Bill Danosky wrote: View Post
Kit San would say, "It's possible to be too formal, but you can't be too respectful."
I like that quote. We do have a few hard and fast rules of formality where we train, no standing with crossed arms, no hands on hips, when the instructor is teaching, sit in seiza or crosslegged, that sort of thing. But I honestly can't imagine an Aikido class without laughter. Aikido is a joy to me, and to everyone else I train with, That always comes through with smiles and laughter.

--Ashley
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Old 10-13-2013, 03:14 PM   #17
PaulF
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

We train regularly at three different dojos in the same society, the degree of etiquette observed varies from one to the other, and within each depending on who shows up, but they are all generally respectful, albeit with a fair amount of informality and good humour mixed in. I think I'd feel very at home in Tarik's dojo.
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Old 10-13-2013, 04:58 PM   #18
Stephen Nichol
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Quote:
Jason Rudolph wrote: View Post
...looking out the window while a technique is being shown...
You people get windows!

Lucky.

Respectfulness is paramount over formalities. I prefer being respectful but comfortable when training with others. Bowing at the begining of class and after. After sensei shows a technique and then to your partner and again after practicing that technique is all very easy and comfortable. Even using Onegaishimasu and Domo arigato gozaimashita... even saying it the equivalent in English is fine. This all conveys perhaps the minimum levels in some aspects but I find it does enough to show that you respect your dojo, your sensei, your training partners and hopefully yourself. Being able to laugh when it happens is good for a positive atmosphere and knowing when to be quiet so everyone can focus on what sensei is saying and demonstrating is common sense as well...

As mentioned some places have their 'group policy' for why you have to bow a certain way before or after sensei/sempai, back a certain stiffness, angle, right hand before left going down elbows to the mat, the left hand before right coming back up... eyes a certain level, feet move a certain way when approaching, disengaging, hand at your sides thumbs covered/tucked in... yes the lists can go on and on... especially if you factor in when you are supposed to breath in or out during all of this. This sort of thing can be fun if you want to see if you can learn it and repeat it but I find that for me personally, being able to perform that level of formality all of the time would be an atmosphere killer no matter how many times I smiled to my partners... as that can be not allowed either.

So it can get to a point where it gets to be almost counter productive to just training.
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Old 10-13-2013, 07:41 PM   #19
Janet Rosen
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Finding certain standing stances disrespectful is definitely not universal; I've trained in a number if dojo where it was simply expected you would be quiet and attentive. Ditto falling into seiza when the instructor is working with one pair of training partners; many dojo have a policy that, as the instructor is actively moving among groups, the other students should continue training or else no training would take place.
No right or wrong, just observing norms and "when in Rome"...

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Old 10-13-2013, 07:57 PM   #20
Basia Halliop
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

I think I agree with Janet that the details of how we show respect or disrespect aren't universal.

Intent matters. If you know that a certain behaviour is asked for by your teacher and others and is considered to be a sign of respect, then deliberately not doing it may be a sign of disrespect, but if it isn't the expected custom where you are, or if you are unaware of or don't really understand the custom or its importance to the person you're talking to, then not following it may not mean anything.

I like the many little rituals we have in aikido class and I think the formality has a purpose, but I also think it's a dangerous mistake to confuse formality and respect.
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Old 10-14-2013, 07:42 AM   #21
kivawolfspeaker
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Another sign of disrespect, although I think it for the most part unintentional, is checking one's cell phone during class. I understand emergency situations happen, but still the focus should be on training, not what missed calls you might have.

"Die biting the throat." #12 of The Gnoll Credo
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Old 10-14-2013, 09:09 AM   #22
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Quote:
Jen Wilcher wrote: View Post
Another sign of disrespect, although I think it for the most part unintentional, is checking one's cell phone during class. I understand emergency situations happen, but still the focus should be on training, not what missed calls you might have.
We have a few members who are medical professionals and occasionally on call for emergencies, and who leave their phone at the side of the mat for that reason -- but apart from that, who does this?
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Old 10-14-2013, 09:38 AM   #23
kivawolfspeaker
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
We have a few members who are medical professionals and occasionally on call for emergencies, and who leave their phone at the side of the mat for that reason -- but apart from that, who does this?
It's possible that this person is in a position like that and is on call for work, but it still feels somewhat disrespectful to those who are training with them.

"Die biting the throat." #12 of The Gnoll Credo
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Old 10-14-2013, 11:34 AM   #24
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Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Quote:
Jen Wilcher wrote: View Post
It's possible that this person is in a position like that and is on call for work, but it still feels somewhat disrespectful to those who are training with them.
Heck yes, if they didn't bother to explain the circumstances. OTOH, if this happened at my dojo...well, I can't conceive of anyone doing it under any other circumstances, and they'd definitely have it on silent (so they would have to check). Do you think it's still disrespectful? Do you think that on-call people should simply not train?

We also have some people who often come late to class because of their work/family situations. This is tolerated because it's understood that they're doing their best to get there as soon as they can (and are, in fact, working harder to get to the dojo than the rest of us). I know that at some dojos, this simply wouldn't be tolerated for any reason. Do others feel that this is disrespectful?
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Old 10-14-2013, 11:57 AM   #25
Anjisan
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Eek! Re: How respectful is the atmosphere in your dojo?

Quote:
Jen Wilcher wrote: View Post
Another sign of disrespect, although I think it for the most part unintentional, is checking one's cell phone during class. I understand emergency situations happen, but still the focus should be on training, not what missed calls you might have.
Well Jen I happen to have a child on the spectrum of Autism and many issues have come up from time to time with child care providers and at school so I for one do occasionally check my phone and everyone who has been around a while knows exactly why. I have not noticed that to be an issue however at the dojo with the rank and file, at least during the classes I have attended or taught. So obviously with the appropriate permission and understanding it may not be so bad.
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