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Old 01-23-2017, 02:24 AM   #1
Cass
 
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A fresh face :)

Greetings!

I'm a pretty fresh Aikidoka who is an expat that started Aikido last September in Athens, though I am originally from England. I'm very enthusiastic about Aikido and I believe it will be a lifelong passion for me, I went from a really sedentary lifestyle to training 5 times per week. My knee did not agree with the lifestyle change so 3 weeks since I started have been designated to recovery from an injury that still gives me issues. I browsed AikiWeb since a month or two before I began and am also pretty active on the Aikido subreddit, but I've never got around to posting here!

I love everything aiki and have annoyed the hell out of my peers that do not train because I will not shut up about it. I'm part of a fairly large dojo training under Nykteris Sensei (5th Dan) and associated with Circle Tissier. Recently just completed my second seminar (first under Pascal Guillemin and yesterday my second under my sensei), feeling a bit sore but optimistic. I am the kind of student that is pretty annoying because I have a thousand questions and always want to ask or see something specific after class :P. Aikido means a lot to me on a mental level and has really helped me meet a lot of very different people, even if it does present its own challenges trying to train and learn in an environment where I am not very fluent in the language. Mystery kyu at the moment as we do not test until 1st kyu, I'll only know when I hit 3rd as that's when women get their hakama at my dojo .

I'm not sure what more there is to say,
I look forward to engaging with you all and sharing in this mutual passion!
Cass
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Old 01-23-2017, 06:21 AM   #2
Mary Eastland
 
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Re: A fresh face :)

Welcome, Cassia.

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Old 01-23-2017, 09:14 AM   #3
hunglea
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Re: A fresh face :)

Hi Cassia! Welcome to Aikido! That's great that you are training so enthusiastically!

Regarding the mystery kyu, how do the students feel about not testing until 1st kyu? Are there actually tests but the dojo doesn't have belt color changes? It's really interesting to me as I went through a kyu test and belt color system. I know some dojo's test at each kyu but keeps the white belt until 1st kyu.

There's no judgment on which system is better, I am just curious about how it is working out for you and your classmates.

Thank-you,

Hung
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Old 01-23-2017, 02:42 PM   #4
robin_jet_alt
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Re: A fresh face :)

Not testing, especially in the lower ranks, is not unheard of. At one of the dojos I trained at in Japan, I turned up with a high kyu rank in a different style. I just put on a white belt and trained and during the 4 years I was there, I never saw any gradings. Anyway, when I was going to move away 4 years later, sensei said "it's about time you got your black belt" so I got it. No test, no big deal, he just presented the certificate to me after class one day, although in the few months between saying its time to get my black belt and presenting the certificate, he used me as uke a whole lot. Anyway, horses for courses and all that...
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Old 01-23-2017, 04:50 PM   #5
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Re: A fresh face :)

Welcome!

Chris Sawyer
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Old 01-24-2017, 01:27 AM   #6
Cass
 
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Re: A fresh face :)

Thank you everyone for the warm welcome!

That's an interesting question actually, we don't do changes in belts or do tests at all before 1st kyu. My sensei believes that before 1st kyu it is more productive for beginners to focus on getting the feel for aikido rather than memorizing moves for a test. As I mentioned women get their hakamas at 3rd kyu and men at 1st, so women know where they stand before men do (and once you hit 2nd you are invited to come to the 1st kyu/shodan prep classes). As for how the students receive this, it varies. On the one hand there is no stress for memorizing everything, you just watch and repeat moves without having to recall any japanese. However it does make it more complicated if a visiting sensei comes that refers to techniques by name, as most before 2nd kyu are not very familiar with the terms.

Competitiveness I believe exists in all dojos to a certain extent and removing the belt/testing system doesn't get rid of this tbh. If anything it can add a bit of a tense dynamic as nobody knows definitively how "good" the other aikidoka is, which can lead to friction with people with less experience trying to explain to others how to do things. In particular this happens when men from other dojos or that return to aikido partner with female aikidoka, I'm not really sure why. At seminars it can also be a bit confusing, partnering with a yudansha that has no idea where you are at can be daunting, if you are fluid in one technique they can assess you too highly and overwhelm you on another that you are less familiar with etc. We have beginners classes which you are kept in from anywhere to 4-10 months depending on the speed of your progression though, so that's another indication of your level, when you are permitted to enter the mixed class.

Despite these problems though, I like the system, as I believe it allows aikido to be more "pure" in that you aren't getting anxious about testing and it does remove a bit of the ego because not knowing for sure who is "better" makes it a more level playing field (unless you have an arrogant beginner, but well..). I think my sensei tends to keep people in line a bit as well, if he senses someone is feeling "mightier than thou" he will use them as uke more and correct minor issues in their technique more aggressively, so that tends to keep people humble :P.
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Old 01-25-2017, 10:07 PM   #7
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Re: A fresh face :)

Robin and Cass, thank-you for sharing your detailed thoughts on the kyu testing matter.
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Old 01-26-2017, 03:40 AM   #8
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: A fresh face :)

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
Thank you everyone for the warm welcome!
PAG. AikiWeb is a friendly website and Jun Akiyama is very accommodating. He very kindly agreed to publish my own research on the history of aikido here and this saved me the trouble of starting my own site.

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
That's an interesting question actually, we don't do changes in belts or do tests at all before 1st kyu. My sensei believes that before 1st kyu it is more productive for beginners to focus on getting the feel for aikido rather than memorizing moves for a test. As I mentioned women get their hakamas at 3rd kyu and men at 1st, so women know where they stand before men do (and once you hit 2nd you are invited to come to the 1st kyu/shodan prep classes). As for how the students receive this, it varies. On the one hand there is no stress for memorizing everything, you just watch and repeat moves without having to recall any japanese. However it does make it more complicated if a visiting sensei comes that refers to techniques by name, as most before 2nd kyu are not very familiar with the terms.
PAG. Well, I am the chief instructor at a fairly large general dojo in Japan and, of course, everything is done in Japanese. The students find the names just as difficult as anyone else in my experience (of the UK and the US, as well as Japan). For belts there is a broad distinction made between children and adults. Children start at 10th kyuu and work down (with coloured belts) to 5th kyuu, which is the first adult kyuu grade, where the belt -- and belts for subsequent kyuu grades -- are white. All students take tests and right from 10th kyuu the diplomas are signed by Doshu and are issued by the Aikikai.

I was once given a reason by a Japanese instructor in the UK why women wear the hakama from 3rd kyuu, which was that the keikogi worn in aikido is really intended for men, not for women. Well, we do not do this here: students of both sexes start wearing the hakama on reaching shodan and I think the belt and hakama are given by the dojo, along with the diploma and yudansha book. So it is really a clear rite of passage.

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
Competitiveness I believe exists in all dojos to a certain extent and removing the belt/testing system doesn't get rid of this tbh. If anything it can add a bit of a tense dynamic as nobody knows definitively how "good" the other aikidoka is, which can lead to friction with people with less experience trying to explain to others how to do things. In particular this happens when men from other dojos or that return to aikido partner with female aikidoka, I'm not really sure why. At seminars it can also be a bit confusing, partnering with a yudansha that has no idea where you are at can be daunting, if you are fluid in one technique they can assess you too highly and overwhelm you on another that you are less familiar with etc. We have beginners classes which you are kept in from anywhere to 4-10 months depending on the speed of your progression though, so that's another indication of your level, when you are permitted to enter the mixed class.
PAG. I do not really agree with you here. In my own dojo visitors are conspicuous and in general all the members have a pretty good idea where everyone is, in terms of level. We do have joint training seminars with other dojos, but I have found that the general while / black belt distinction, or hakama / no hakama is a reasonable guide to level of proficiency. We do have a few members who feel the need to 'explain' things, but these are yudansha and it is practically unheard of for a non-yudansha to explain a waza to a yudansha.

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
Despite these problems though, I like the system, as I believe it allows aikido to be more "pure" in that you aren't getting anxious about testing and it does remove a bit of the ego because not knowing for sure who is "better" makes it a more level playing field (unless you have an arrogant beginner, but well..). I think my sensei tends to keep people in line a bit as well, if he senses someone is feeling "mightier than thou" he will use them as uke more and correct minor issues in their technique more aggressively, so that tends to keep people humble :P.
PAG. If I see a yudansha explaining a waza incorrectly to a beginner, I will usually stop the class and demonstrate the waza again, sometimes using the erring yudansha as my uke.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 01-26-2017 at 03:43 AM.

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Old 01-26-2017, 09:22 AM   #9
Cass
 
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Re: A fresh face :)

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
PAG. AikiWeb is a friendly website and Jun Akiyama is very accommodating. He very kindly agreed to publish my own research on the history of aikido here and this saved me the trouble of starting my own site.
I am quite familiar with your background sensei , I recently listened to one or two of your interviews with GuillaumeErard in fact! I found your talks very enlightening.

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
PAG. Well, I am the chief instructor at a fairly large general dojo in Japan and, of course, everything is done in Japanese. The students find the names just as difficult as anyone else in my experience (of the UK and the US, as well as Japan). For belts there is a broad distinction made between children and adults. Children start at 10th kyuu and work down (with coloured belts) to 5th kyuu, which is the first adult kyuu grade, where the belt -- and belts for subsequent kyuu grades -- are white. All students take tests and right from 10th kyuu the diplomas are signed by Doshu and are issued by the Aikikai.
I find this very interesting, do not the names translate directly to the description in Japenese? Like kata dori, ukemi, atemi etc. do they not translate literally? I understand that Nikkyo/Ikkyo/Sankyo and soforth are literally "the first technique" and "the second technique" so would be just as difficult to remember for Japanese but I was under the impression that the others were descriptive language.

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I was once given a reason by a Japanese instructor in the UK why women wear the hakama from 3rd kyuu, which was that the keikogi worn in aikido is really intended for men, not for women. Well, we do not do this here: students of both sexes start wearing the hakama on reaching shodan and I think the belt and hakama are given by the dojo, along with the diploma and yudansha book. So it is really a clear rite of passage.
I have read the same and other similar claims amongst that the keikogi was akin to undergarments so it was unseemly for a woman to go without. It is a little unofficial here for the women as one day sensei will just come and tell you that you are ready and can wear a hakama. Not so for the boys, who must pass their first exam. If anything I think women possibly have more difficulties with being assumed "lesser" than their male counterparts so perhaps it helps them gaining the hakama earlier in this regard.

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PAG. I do not really agree with you here. In my own dojo visitors are conspicuous and in general all the members have a pretty good idea where everyone is, in terms of level. We do have joint training seminars with other dojos, but I have found that the general while / black belt distinction, or hakama / no hakama is a reasonable guide to level of proficiency. We do have a few members who feel the need to 'explain' things, but these are yudansha and it is practically unheard of for a non-yudansha to explain a waza to a yudansha.
Out of interest do you separate your classes into skill or have everyone together? We have a beginner, mixed and yudansha classes. A fair few of our yudansha run their own dojos and only attend yudansha classes and seminars so do not mingle much with anyone toward the lower spectrum outside of seminars. Often this means that they have to judge on a first encounter if a white belt could be one month training or all the way up to 2nd kyu. This is my perception though on account of being given a rough time and struggling with yudansha at my last seminar, whereupon they told me "it is ok to struggle, you're only training one year", cue confusion and clarification that I am training 3 months, not a year. To my knowledge non-yudansha do not try to explain upwards often (if ever), but I am referring more to the beginner classes as that is where my experience so far with Aikido lies. Primarily I mean beginners of 1-3 months trying to explain to beginners 7-10 months due to no discerning belts. We have a lot of people that like to explain and normally it is taken lightly as it is only meant to help and only when someone struggles, but we do have a few that do it in a less friendly way.

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PAG. If I see a yudansha explaining a waza incorrectly to a beginner, I will usually stop the class and demonstrate the waza again, sometimes using the erring yudansha as my uke.
Likewise with my sensei, it is unfortunate that it happens from time to time as beginners will take what yudansha and hakama-wearers advise pretty much without question. Personally if I ever doubt what someone corrects me about (from any aikidoka) I will try to get the attention of the sensei for clarification.



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Old 01-26-2017, 12:34 PM   #10
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Re: A fresh face :)

Regarding training with others that one has just met...no assumptions should be made. The first few encounters should be slow and open...seeing where each person it at in their training process. Injuries can be avoided by getting to know each other in slow careful training.

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Old 01-26-2017, 03:16 PM   #11
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Re: A fresh face :)

Hmm odd, I wrote out a rather detailed response but it popped with an "awaiting moderation" message and never posted. I shall give my response though more succinct than I had been the first time I wrote it!

Hung - You have fueled quite the discussion! It is my pleasure, I am always interested in the insights and opinions of others.

PAG - I am familiar with your philosophy and experience, I've listened to a few interviews with you in fact! Thank you for sharing your insight, it is as enlightening as ever. I am surprised that Japanese students struggle with the names also, with Ikkyo/Nikkyo etc. I understand as they I believe translate as "the first/second technique" but regarding things like the grab or strike (katate dori, atemi) or ukemi (fall?) are they not descriptive words in japanese? Likewise are the waza not self explanatory? I am unfamiliar with much about wording so this is very interesting to me. I have heard similar to what you mention about the keikogi and hakama being a sign of modesty, as I recall Osensei believed that all students should wear a hakama and it only became restricted due to a shortage of material. That said, it is possibly helpful for women to wear them earlier as I have heard their skill is more frequently underestimated than their male counterparts.

In regards to estimation of skill, I think this depends. At my dojo we have split classes - beginner, mixed and yudansha. There are several yudansha that are dojo cho or instructors of their own dojos and as such only attend yudansha classes and seminars. It is often that they do not know the white belts or have a good sense of their progression when they meet. Last seminar I was given a hard time and was struggling because a yudansha believed I had been training for a year rather than 3 months, once I clarified things went much more smoothly (he went easier on me). Non-yudansha explaining to yudansha is not exactly what I mean, I don't know in those cases as I have no experience as a yudansha. But 1-3 month beginner explaining to another beginner that may be 7-12 months into training does occur due to no distinction in belts. It is usually well meaning but other times not so much. If I am instructed by any other student that I disagree with what they are saying (regardless of grade) I will usually stop the sensei to ask for clarification personally. We have many students of all levels that fancy themselves as would-be sensei and like to explain.

Mary - Totally agree, personally I go a little on the light side at first until I get a feel for the other aikidoka. I still go relatively fast but no dragging around. We unfortunately have a fair few "fragile" aikidoka who cannot be touched harder than feather light so that can be testing sometimes, but it is good to learn to adapt. We do have a few aikidoka that are the opposite of course, that feel the need to wrench you as hard as they can and can sometimes be very dangerous if they are beginners. Just last week I relayed several students concerns and even fear of training with one guy to my sensei, he does not take very kindly to this latter sort.



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Old 01-26-2017, 09:26 PM   #12
hunglea
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Re: A fresh face :)

Cass, are you sure you just started?! You seem to have a great deal of experience/understanding already!

Sometimes, I just want the ranking system to go away but it might cause more confusion per the examples in previous posts.

Last edited by hunglea : 01-26-2017 at 09:30 PM.
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Old 01-27-2017, 01:37 AM   #13
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: A fresh face :)

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
I am surprised that Japanese students struggle with the names also, with Ikkyo/Nikkyo etc. I understand as they I believe translate as "the first/second technique" but regarding things like the grab or strike (katate dori, atemi) or ukemi (fall?) are they not descriptive words in japanese? Likewise are the waza not self explanatory?
PAG. This is what I thought until I came to live here and learned the language as it is spoken. Before I came here, the only variations in naming I had experienced were between the Aikikai and Shodokan, where the names for the same waza are different. But both go back to the same teacher: Morihei Ueshiba, who did not use names very often.

And the names themselves are very rough and ready. Very few were used by Morihei Ueshiba himself, but were coined as vaguely descriptive labels by his students, so that they could remember what he had shown them.

So ikkyou and nikyou are the first and second items in a numbered sequence, but the original names were ik-kajou and ni-kajou and it was Kisshomaru Ueshiba who appears to have decided on kyou, rather than -kajou.

Actually, naming is one of the devices that Kisshomaru used to transform the art into something that could become a global product and it is instructive to compare his early English book Aikido, with the two Japanese books from which it was put together. (This was actually a three-stage process, the middle stage being a Japanese version of the composite book, which was called Aikido Kyouhan [合気道教範], but this was later revised and was later rewritten in two volumes with a different title.)

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Old 01-29-2017, 03:52 PM   #14
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Re: A fresh face :)

Hung - Haha thank you! All smoke and mirrors I'm afraid, I am of the "aiki-obsessed" group at my dojo, so I am all talk and no walk . There are definitely pros and cons for having the ranking system in my eyes, honestly I am not sure which I prefer as I have not experienced an exam! Maybe once I take my 1st kyu I will be able to have a more informed opinion

PAG - Very interesting, this helps demonstrate I suppose why there is so much variance across different dojos regarding naming. Ultimately confusing but informative!



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Old 01-29-2017, 09:15 PM   #15
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: A fresh face :)

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post

Out of interest do you separate your classes into skill or have everyone together? We have a beginner, mixed and yudansha classes. A fair few of our yudansha run their own dojos and only attend yudansha classes and seminars so do not mingle much with anyone toward the lower spectrum outside of seminars. Often this means that they have to judge on a first encounter if a white belt could be one month training or all the way up to 2nd kyu. This is my perception though on account of being given a rough time and struggling with yudansha at my last seminar, whereupon they told me "it is ok to struggle, you're only training one year", cue confusion and clarification that I am training 3 months, not a year. To my knowledge non-yudansha do not try to explain upwards often (if ever), but I am referring more to the beginner classes as that is where my experience so far with Aikido lies. Primarily I mean beginners of 1-3 months trying to explain to beginners 7-10 months due to no discerning belts. We have a lot of people that like to explain and normally it is taken lightly as it is only meant to help and only when someone struggles, but we do have a few that do it in a less friendly way.
PAG. I am the chief instructor of the dojo, but it is part of a culture centre, with classes offered in a variety of subjects. The dojo is basically run by an old friend and training colleague of mine, who with his wife and kids, now grown up and all yudansha, run the dojo as an offshoot of another dojo with a long history. Culture centres can be found all over Japan and are usually attached to large shopping malls. So we vet the prospective students fairly carefully and we have some entire families training, just like my friend and colleague. Some of the younger members, for example, joined the dojo when they were at elementary school and have grown up through the system, so to speak. There is heavy emphasis on being a good member of the group, and so the individual explanation is done only when necessary. I teach weapons as an essential and integral part of the art, and so the little kids get used to handling a jo and bokken right from the beginning. I have a makiwara in my garden at home and so groups sometimes come along for extra training.

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Old 01-30-2017, 06:53 AM   #16
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Re: A fresh face :)

Cass - how is your knee injury healing up? A lot of Aikido people have bad knees and shoulders. I have a crummy right shoulder from overzealous break falls/highfalls from when I first started :/ Please take it easy on the body so you can enjoy a long training career!

PAG - would you be able to share your vetting process? I am curious because we just started implementing something similar a year ago. People get a week free trial. The instructors observe and the student will speak with the instructors after the week for some Q&A. Permission will be granted for official membership if there's no display of obvious abusive tendencies or outright arrogance. I am worried sometimes that it might be too draconian and would put off new students. Cass, would you be intimidated by such a system when dojo searching? Thank-you.
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Old 01-30-2017, 07:49 AM   #17
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Re: A fresh face :)

I would like to hear of the vetting process too! I haven't heard of a dojo picking and choosing its members before, even at Hombu it seems that as long as you come with a letter of recommendation you are welcome to train. With the exception of becoming an uchi deshi it always seemed to me like the students always choose the dojo rather than vice versa. I'm honestly not sure if it would put me off, I am a little shy at first so I would likely be very nervous but it would depend on how it was phrased. If it were implicit that I was being judged/trialed for membership I would more worry about my performance and behaviour which can make things worse. If it is rarely excluding people - just those that are abusive or too egotistical etc. - I think it would be better to be on a case-by-case basis of if someone is unsuitable just telling them early on, rather than putting everyone through the process. However if the sensei in question was the one I wanted, the one who's style I related to the most, I would be ultimately fine with the trial. It just depends on exclusivity to a certain extent - if you have something to offer that another dojo does not, be it that you're the only one in the area or have a high dan/renowned instructor or are the only one of a specific style (i.e. Yoshinkan) in the area that is a bit different and you can maybe be more selective if you have the popularity.

Regarding the knee it has been much better recently, thanks for asking! It was hurting lightly for about a month but only when it was becoming a real hindrance did I pay it any mind. I went to several doctors about it who reckoned it was a torn meniscus and of course wanted me to stop aikido for a while - the worst outcome. I stopped for a week before returning for a week and overdoing it (til the point of failure) my mistake for being overzealous! Poor ukemi, focusing on primarily one knee for getting up and excessive practicing shikko walking are to blame I think. Took 2 weeks more off over Christmas off training and only had very minor soreness since then, til about 2 weeks ago when it went away altogether. I am more careful now in my training since I was a bit nonplussed before about having knee issues at such a young age, now that I know they are susceptible to injury I aim to be more careful .

I wasn't aware that shoulders also presented a problem for a lot of aikidoka, though now that I think of it it does make sense. Last Saturday I tried highfalls for the first time and I slammed my shoulders a bit and they were pretty sore, so I can definitely see how doing those a lot can cause problems! Have you seen a doctor about yours? I suppose all of these problems can be accounted for in technique to a certain extent, change of form etc. to alleviate the strain on each. A little seems unavoidable though.



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Old 01-30-2017, 03:13 PM   #18
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Re: A fresh face :)

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Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
I wasn't aware that shoulders also presented a problem for a lot of aikidoka, though now that I think of it it does make sense. Last Saturday I tried highfalls for the first time and I slammed my shoulders a bit and they were pretty sore, so I can definitely see how doing those a lot can cause problems! Have you seen a doctor about yours? I suppose all of these problems can be accounted for in technique to a certain extent, change of form etc. to alleviate the strain on each. A little seems unavoidable though.
The thing with high breakfalls is that if they are done well, they shouldn't cause any soreness or injury. The trouble is that at the beginning, you have to do a lot of bad ones before you get it right. Even when you are good at them, you do the occasional bad one.
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Old 01-31-2017, 01:32 AM   #19
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: A fresh face :)

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Hung Le wrote: View Post
PAG - would you be able to share your vetting process? I am curious because we just started implementing something similar a year ago. People get a week free trial. The instructors observe and the student will speak with the instructors after the week for some Q&A. Permission will be granted for official membership if there's no display of obvious abusive tendencies or outright arrogance. I am worried sometimes that it might be too draconian and would put off new students. Cass, would you be intimidated by such a system when dojo searching? Thank-you.
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Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
I would like to hear of the vetting process too! I haven't heard of a dojo picking and choosing its members before, even at Hombu it seems that as long as you come with a letter of recommendation you are welcome to train. With the exception of becoming an uchi deshi it always seemed to me like the students always choose the dojo rather than vice versa. I'm honestly not sure if it would put me off, I am a little shy at first so I would likely be very nervous but it would depend on how it was phrased. If it were implicit that I was being judged/trialed for membership, I would more worry about my performance and behaviour which can make things worse. If it is rarely excluding people - just those that are abusive or too egotistical etc. - I think it would be better to be on a case-by-case basis of if someone is unsuitable just telling them early on, rather than putting everyone through the process. However, if the sensei in question was the one I wanted, the one who's style I related to the most, I would be ultimately fine with the trial. It just depends on exclusivity to a certain extent - if you have something to offer that another dojo does not, be it that you're the only one in the area or have a high dan/renowned instructor or are the only one of a specific style (i.e. Yoshinkan) in the area that is a bit different and you can maybe be more selective if you have the popularity.
PAG. Well, we need to look at some history again.

When Morihei Ueshiba opened his dojo in Tokyo, he vetted potential members very carefully. Before this, in Ayabe, he taught members of the Omoto sect, of which he was also a member, and a few problems arose: the new religion and Ueshiba’s rough bujutsu did not prove an entirely seamless match. As Japan embarked on her military conquests in Asia, the intake in the Tokyo dojo diminished, as potential recruits were called up, and Ueshiba had to widen the pool of potential members.

In 1942, Morihei Ueshiba moved to Iwama and after Japan’s defeat in 1945, he called his practice aiki-farming. Initially, the main aim was to train, but later he did so in such a way that it did not attract the attention of the Occupation authorities. He had ordered Kisshomaru to maintain the Tokyo dojo and Kisshomaru did so, even when the air raids caused much damage. Eventually, training had to stop there and the dojo became a place of refuge, but it was never abandoned and was gradually reopened in the 1950s. At some point Morihei Ueshiba was asked about rules for training and he gave the rules that have become part of aikido holy writ. They can be found quite easily, but the last rule seems to me to require some ‘interpretation’ if not straight fudging:

Here is the rule in Japanese:

「六、合気道は心身を鍛練し至誠の人を作るを目的とし、また技はことごとく秘伝なるを以て徒に他人に公開し或は市井無頼の徒の悪用を避くべし。」

This appears on p. 12 of 「規範合気道基本編」, written by Kisshomaru Ueshiba and his son Moriteru and published in 1997. (There is an English translation of this book, which I thought I had. I cannot find it and so I have had to use the Japanese original.)

Various English translations have been made of these rules and they are accessible on the Internet. An early translation appears on p.174 of Kisshomaru Ueshiba’s book, Aikido, the edition I have being published in 1973:

“6) The purpose of Aikido is to train both body and mind and to make a man sincere. All Aikido arts are secret in nature and are not to be revealed publicly, nor taught to rogues who will use them for evil purposes.”

A need was soon felt for some interpretation and in the same work Kisshomaru gives a more detailed interpretation of these rules. Here is his interpretation of Rule 6:

“Lastly, the aim of Aikido is not merely to produce a strong man, but to create an integrated person. Any educated person knows how brute strength is meaningless in the present day of advanced civilization. For these reasons the Master forbade Aikido to be misused and severely cautioned everyone. He would not permit the publication of his techniques and required introductions and guarantees for each student.” (Op.cit., p. 176.)

I have not gone back and checked the Japanese originals, reworked for Kisshomaru’s book, but he leaves unstated any explanation of the changes he made. There were major differences between his own attitude and that of his father—and he gives some explanation of these elsewhere, in his autobiography (not translated into English). There was certainly a difference between the intense training, tight control, and hothouse atmosphere of the prewar Kobukan dojo and the more relaxed conditions of the postwar Hombu, and the quest for “rogues and those who will use the arts for evil purposes” was not done openly, if at all. (There is some irony here, for the dojo where I started training in Hiroshima had originally opened as a front for a yakuza (gangster) organization and had to close suddenly. It restarted in the city budo gymnasium, with kendo on one floor and aikido / judo on the floor above.)

After the war, there was a difference in regime and expectations for the special students, like N Tamura, Y Yamada and K Chiba, and for the more ordinary practitioners, but it was a major part of Kisshomaru’s postwar aims to make aikido available to everyone as a ‘peaceful’ martial way, and the ‘special’ students who went to live abroad after the war, went to ‘victor’ countries like the US, France and the UK.

In the present-day Hombu, there is no preliminary vetting at all, as far as I can see; students become members at the office window, next to the main entrance, by filling in a form, paying the requisite fees, and being issued with an Aikikai membership card. To practice, they sign in, change, and then enter the dojo, either the beginners’ class or the general adult classes.

In my own dojo there is some vetting, but this is done in the following way. As the senior instructor, I am not supposed to be concerned with mundane matters like registration, and this is done by my colleague. He has as much experience in aikido as I have and I am called on to advise or decide, only if he is unsure whether the prospective member will fit. In any case, if the student is a complete beginner, he/she initially takes part in the beginner / children’s class and does not come into my hands until it is time for the rank of 5th kyuu. Yudansha are handled differently, but if the yudansha is Japanese, he/she will need to produce the yudansha book and give details of previous training and especially of the shihan who awarded the last dan rank. If I need to check, I can easily do so by telephone. So, unless the student is a yudansha, there is no way he/she can begin training in my classes straightaway, without first going to the beginners’ class and learning some basic skills like ukemi.

The system works quite well, but the children's beginners' class is regimented in a way that people outside Japan might find too restrictive, even when adjustments are made for age differences.

Best wishes -- and apologies for the length...

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 01-31-2017 at 01:35 AM.

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Old 01-31-2017, 04:04 AM   #20
shuckser
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Re: A fresh face :)

Apologies for my ignorance and being off-topic, but what is PAG?
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Old 01-31-2017, 04:09 AM   #21
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: A fresh face :)

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Conan Theobald wrote: View Post
Apologies for my ignorance and being off-topic, but what is PAG?
Sorry, PAG stands for Peter A Goldsbury, who is me. I use it when replying to lengthy and split quotes to make sure that people are clear who is replying and where the quote stops and the response begins.

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Old 01-31-2017, 09:58 AM   #22
shuckser
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Re: A fresh face :)

Ah, I see. A good idea indeed for long posts!

I can tell you Urban Dictionary offered some interesting definitions...
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Old 02-03-2017, 07:06 AM   #23
hunglea
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Re: A fresh face :)

Thank-you Cass and PAG for your insights!
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Old 02-04-2017, 12:19 PM   #24
Janet Rosen
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Re: A fresh face :)

Re shoulders injury: a very common beginner's injury is "shoulder separation" of the AC joint where clavicle meets sternum during forward roll, most often from landing ON it (roll should start behind this spot) either from having "unbendable arm" collapse because well, nobody starts out being able to do unbendable arm, or from "jumping forward" even if starting from kneeling and landing on it.

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Old 02-06-2017, 10:31 AM   #25
Dan Rubin
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Re: A fresh face :)

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Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Re shoulders injury: a very common beginner's injury is "shoulder separation" of the AC joint where clavicle meets sternum during forward roll....
I think you mean where the clavicle meets the scapular. If you land where the clavicle meets the sternum it wasn't a forward roll, it was a forward SPLAT!
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