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Old 08-10-2014, 02:40 PM   #1
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
Location: Oceanside, California
Join Date: Oct 2000
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Visiting Dojo

Last week I had to travel to Central California on business. After finishing my work, I had another night of layover time and I reached out to Chris Hein sensei of Aikido of Fresno. Hein sensei and his students welcomed me as a visitor and I had a wonderful time training in a different environment, in a different style and with people I'd never met before. While I could certainly single out the folks at Aikido of Fresno as terrific hosts, that really isn't my point in posting today.

For the past few years I've visited other dojo while working in their region. The visits have always allowed me to learn something new and different and make new friends while doing so. In addition to simply having fun, each occasion has been a valuable learning experience for me and given me the opportunity to steal something worth sharing at home.

Thursday evening I was having trouble replicating the koto gaeshi pin being demonstrated and I asked the instructor for help. Knowing that I was only going to be there one evening, he suggested that I just do what we do at home. I laughed and asked him how I could learn and steal the pin technique that way and he took the time to walk me through their way of doing the technique.

What I've learned from my travels is to contact the host dojo in advance to arrange a visit whenever possible, to bring an empty cup, try to do exactly what is being shown and taught, to be polite and courteous, to forget the phrase "In our dojo we do it that way" unless specifically asked, and to be grateful for the experience. If you are willing to do all that, you probably will be invited back and will develop new training partners and friends. To me, that is far better than a movie or watching TV in a motel room.

Hein sensei and his students are certainly great hosts and I am grateful to them for the warm welcome. I am also grateful for my visits in New Jersey, Nevada and other places too. Give it a try when travelling - you'll surely have a great experience.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 08-10-2014, 03:45 PM   #2
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: Visiting Dojo

Sounds like fun. Stop by if you are ever in the Berkshires.

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Old 08-10-2014, 05:39 PM   #3
kewms
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Re: Visiting Dojo

That's been my experience, too. I used to travel for work quite bit, and had the opportunity to visit many different dojos. Regardless of style differences or language barriers, I've never had an unpleasant experience.

Katherine
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Old 08-11-2014, 07:45 AM   #4
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Visiting Dojo

I'm on the road about 180 days a year and always bring a dogi. I almost always wear a white belt, and my travel dogi has no identifying patches (I've visited places where that's an issue).

One of the things I've noticed is many aikido dojo seem much more secular than other martial arts. I always try to follow the adage "do what you see, not what you know," a common phrase spoken at our seminars (where we almost always invite teachers from other styles). Invariably it's a learning process for me as I'm trying to do a technique I've done a certain way for over 15 years, and change it. I've noticed an attitude where some think there is only one correct way to do something. Not so much out of arrogance, but out of pure naïveté that there are other ways out there. Often students can't even name an organization other than there own.

I would encourage people to get out and experience other people's take on aikido, or even try other martial arts! It can be a frustrating experience, but also a rewarding one. Sharing and learning with new people is a great aspect of budo training.

If anyone is near the NW Ohio area, send me a PM if you want to train...it can be during class or anytime as we have access to the dojo all the time.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 08-11-2014, 10:10 AM   #5
Janet Rosen
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Re: Visiting Dojo

My experience echoes Michael and Katherine - I've always been made welcome, I've always had an overall good time and always walked out with something learned.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 08-11-2014, 08:34 PM   #6
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Visiting Dojo

If one of us visit a dojo we are generally expected to teach at least one or two things we learned while there. I like this concept because it makes what could simply be a good distraction and time killer while on the road, and ensures it as a learning experience. I don't think I need to regurgitate the "steal aikido" sayings as they seem to be a common sentiment amongst various senior instructors.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 08-11-2014, 08:37 PM   #7
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Visiting Dojo

One of the best schools I visited (and have revisited), the dojo cho basically catered class to gel with an upcoming test if mine, gave me DVDs of like five if his students' test of that rank (our syllabus is similar even though there are variances in our styles), we had sake toasts after every class, one of the students washed my dogi so I would t have to pay for my hotel to do it, and I got my dinner paid for as a bunch of us would go out after class. super awesome people!

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 08-11-2014, 11:44 PM   #8
Janet Rosen
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Re: Visiting Dojo

Quote:
Adam Huss wrote: View Post
If one of us visit a dojo we are generally expected to teach at least one or two things we learned while there. I like this concept because it makes what could simply be a good distraction and time killer while on the road, and ensures it as a learning experience. I don't think I need to regurgitate the "steal aikido" sayings as they seem to be a common sentiment amongst various senior instructors.
That's pretty cool!

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 08-12-2014, 05:47 AM   #9
Greg Jennings
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Re: Visiting Dojo

Besides that which has been mentioned, I've always thought that aikido was "about making a connection". What better way to make connections that to visit other dojo.

Greg Jennings
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Old 08-12-2014, 06:30 AM   #10
Adam Huss
 
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Re: Visiting Dojo

Quote:
Greg Jennings wrote: View Post
Besides that which has been mentioned, I've always thought that aikido was "about making a connection". What better way to make connections that to visit other dojo.
as well as visiting with others outside the dojo. Last seminar we received a bit of a speech about how training doesn't stop when you leave the mat!

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 08-23-2014, 09:44 AM   #11
Edgecrusher
 
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Re: Visiting Dojo

Any opportunity to travel either business or pleasure, visiting a dojo is fun and educational. Like seminars, they open you up to different approaches and philosophies. That is excellent and I am glad you had a positive experience.
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Old 08-24-2014, 03:09 PM   #12
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
Location: Oceanside, California
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Re: Visiting Dojo

Oh, I did have yet another positive experience. My whole point of writing my original post was to mention what a treat it is to visit other dojo while travelling. Meeting new people and learning a different way is always so much better than a night in a motel room or movie theater. Always a great experience.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 08-24-2014, 03:14 PM   #13
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
Location: Oceanside, California
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Re: Visiting Dojo

On another note, I hope all is OK with Janet and her group after the big earthquake last night.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 08-24-2014, 06:43 PM   #14
Walter Martindale
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Re: Visiting Dojo

Once, visiting Gisborne New Zealand, I was given the phone number of sensei Alan Wade (rokudan Aikikai) who has a dojo in that coastal town. I was conducting a rowing coaching course for the local clubs, finishing up at about noon on Sunday.
Alan got his dojo together for a Sunday afternoon training session - when they didn't normally meet - so that I could have a session with them. I was rather surprised at the number of people who turned out for a non-regularly-scheduled practice, but it was a bunch of fun, I was introduced to some new bokken kata and their relationship with empty hand aikido.
Good aikido, very good sensei. Amazing place to visit on the coast of the North Island.
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Old 09-14-2014, 10:45 PM   #15
Shannon Frye
Dojo: Aikido Fellowship of VA / Chesapeake Va
Location: Virginia
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Re: Visiting Dojo

I recently had the great experience to visit a dojo in Tennessee while on vacation. It was of a style that I had no experience in , and was very curious about. After watching my techniques for a few minutes, the head instructor asked if I wanted to use the class time just to practice away from home, or to learn their style. I replied that I can practice anytime back home, but this was a rare opportunity to learn something different.

For the rest of the class, he was very particular about even the smallest of details, to make sure I noted/appreciated them. Also told stories about his experiences with the master of that style. It was great!

"In the end there can be only one"

www.AikidoFellowship.com
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Old 09-15-2014, 02:05 AM   #16
Eva Antonia
Dojo: CERIA
Location: Brussels
Join Date: Apr 2008
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Re: Visiting Dojo

Dear all,

I'm also pretty often away, and even if I always travel light, I still throw in aikido clothing, now also adding an enormous orthesis due to recent ACL surgery.

My best experiences were Azerbaijan (Baku), Côte d'Ivoire (Abidjan) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (Sarajevo), because people were incredibly hospitable and friendly, and I always had the impression they were really glad to see me and share experience, even if there is probably not very much valid experience to be given from my side. The sensei in Sarajevo gave my colleague and me a sightseeing tour in the evening and invited us to some local beer house we'd never have seen without him; the Abidjan people always go to some restaurant after lesson, and it's there where I ate the best Chinese food I ever tasted (small Chinese restaurant at the exit of Cocody universiy), and in Azerbaijan they are not only hospitable but also have very demanding and dynamic successive lessons so you can do aikido for four hours if you have time and stamina...

Last week I tried to go to some aikido lessons in Bujumbura, Burundi, but it turned out that the sensei had withdrawn from teaching due to old age, and that the course was replaced by judo lessons. So I got an introduction to judo, which was fine and helped me to get a grasp of some new falls. And I failed to get any indication of where the Ouagadougou dojo can be found when going to Burkina Faso, which I found irritating - they announce an annual international seminar on the web, but no address and no contact data :-(

I've always wanted to return that hospitability and invite people to our dojo, but somehow visitors from outside Belgium are rare. But at least I could bring some friends to train in my Turkish dojo, where they were also treated very, very well by the sensei; the guy even gave a brand new gi as a present to one Polish fellow that didn't have one in his luggage.

All this blabber just to tell you that I agree completely - aikido traveling is great, you learn and share a lot, and if you travel frequently, it's the only way not to lose practice.

Best regards,

Eva
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