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Old 10-02-2017, 03:47 PM   #1
Cass
 
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Uchi deshi and relationships

So a kind of open question here, I'm interested in eventually being uchi deshi for a few months after I get my shodan (a while off yet) abroad. I am however in a 7 year long relationship with a non-aikidoka (though he starts this month!) who is my fiance. Has anyone here done such a program while being in a relationship? What was your experience?



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Old 10-02-2017, 09:39 PM   #2
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

Haven't done that kind of program. Don't even know where or how you would do it these days. I think Kobayashi sensei offers something like that in Japan, but I'm not sure...

Anyway, I have been in a long distance relationship, and yes, it survived a few months (well one of them did. The other one didn't, but oh well...)
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Old 10-02-2017, 09:56 PM   #3
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

Well, if he starts this month - take him along with you when you go :-)

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Old 10-03-2017, 07:10 AM   #4
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

If shodan is a while away -- you've been training about a year, correct? -- it might make more sense to think about what you would want to get out of an uchideshi program (hypothetically; you can take it as fact that your perspective will have changed dramatically by the time you get there), and then look at the reality of various uchideshi programs. Who offers them, what are they like, what are their terms, etc. There is such a thing as sotodeshi; why does being uchideshi appeal to you?
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Old 10-03-2017, 01:14 PM   #5
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

We'll see how it goes on the fiance enjoying training - he is very skeptical and more or less just picking up aikido because he wants to do something to get fitter. Either way though I doubt he will end up wanting to do a program like that.

As for what I want from an uchi deshi program or similar the gist is basically that I love the art, I want to do it in an immersive way and have just the basics of life and aikido in my life for a time and see how that goes. Also I hear that uchi deshi programs typically have more involvement from the sensei in regards to the personal development of their student, which is key. To be honest it's entirely possible it may end up being a soto deshi situation, because all of the senseis that I am interested in do not seem to offer the opportunity for uchi deshi (Christian Tissier and his students, Yoko Okamoto, Matsuko Minegishi, Ryuji Shirakawa to same the ones I'm most keen on). Also it seems that anyone that opts to follow aikido as a life path and potential career (carefully said, I am not expecting to become a sensei anytime soon) undertakes a program such as these to be considered a serious practitioner. But mostly I want to do it for the love and to "escape" life and responsibilities for a while and just do what I enjoy.

And yes, training a little over a year now, I am roughly 3rd kyu now, expecting to take my 1st kyu next year and shodan either half a year or a full year after that. Not expectation so much from ambition or what I want so much as what I've been told by my sensei and our preparation sensei (who teaches students for exams) in terms of the timeline. I would be willing to do the program before shodan if I think I am ready, but I want a really firm grasp on the basics before I undertake it to get the most value out of the depth of the training.

Re long distance relationships, my fiance and I were long distance for the first year of our relationship but since then have been together every day. If anything I think it would be helpful as a way of both of us finding our independence again as well, but I have heard from many that this sort of thing is a "make of break" type deal.



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Old 10-04-2017, 11:12 AM   #6
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
As for what I want from an uchi deshi program or similar the gist is basically that I love the art, I want to do it in an immersive way and have just the basics of life and aikido in my life for a time and see how that goes.
Have you been to summer camp, or any other shorter-term immersive experience? This may be a good place to start.

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
And yes, training a little over a year now, I am roughly 3rd kyu now, expecting to take my 1st kyu next year and shodan either half a year or a full year after that.
So shodan in two and a half years? That's moving along briskly. Uchideshi programs are of varying duration and don't necessarily have anything to do with rank as such, nor does being shodan necessarily have anything to do with one's suitability for such a program, so if you're interested in it, might as well get started now. Is there a reason you're not considering the uchideshi program at Athens Aikido?
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Old 10-04-2017, 09:51 PM   #7
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

Cass,

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
it seems that anyone that opts to follow aikido as a life path and potential career (carefully said, I am not expecting to become a sensei anytime soon) undertakes a program such as these to be considered a serious practitioner.
That's a VERY broad generalization you make, and one that I could give many counterexamples to. A number of the senior teachers in USAF have not been uchi deshi with Yamada Sensei. My understanding is that almost none of Saotome Sensei's senior students have undertaken/completed an uchi deshi program. Many of the people in the two groups I've just mentioned would easily fall in your category of "opting to follow aikido as a life path" and some definitely have pursued it as a potential career. ALL of them would be considered serious practitioners.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't consider participating in an uchi deshi program. But I think it is important to make that decision for reasons that are both right for you and sound. Overly broad and inaccurate generalizations like the one you made aren't, in my experience, a good basis for making sound decisions.

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Old 10-05-2017, 06:40 AM   #8
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

Hello,

While you are deciding what to do and where to do it, it might help if you study some history. Here is a little morsel.

I was once in a conversation with Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba. I think it was at some IAF meeting held at the Hombu Dojo and I had been living in Japan for a few years by then. Doshu told me he was very happy that he could communicate with me in his own language and invited me to ask him questions--any questions. In aikido, you never look a gift horse in the mouth, especially one with the stature of the founder's son and heir. So, I asked him if he had any uchi-deshi and was quite astonished when he said No. By way of clarification, he added that his father, Morihei Ueshiba had uchi-deshi, but only before World War II. After World War II, he stopped the practice and he, Kisshomaru, never had uchi-deshi. Of course, there were some students who trained intensively and lived in the dojo, but he thought it would be wrong to call them uchi-deshi. Only those students who had a close, direct, and intensive training relationship with the founder himself, at the Kobukan Dojo or at the Omoto dojo in Takeda, could be termed uchi-deshi. Even Morihiro Saito, who trained in Iwama, could not be called an uchi-deshi, since he commuted to the dojo from his house on his days off from work. (Saito Sensei once told me this himself.)

What Kisshomaru Doshu told me was an uncomfortable corrective to statements made by some of my own teachers, namely, that, "I was an uchi-deshi of the Founder." These teachers joined the Hombu either in the closing years of World War II or not long afterwards and were strictly deshi of Kisshomaru, since Morihei Ueshiba was holed up in Iwama and rarely visited Tokyo. Did they lie to me? No, since they were not telling me something they knew to be false. This became clear from a conversation a few years later with a shihan who regularly visited Hiroshima. His name was Sadateru Arikawa and he entered the Hombu around 1948. I told him what Kisshomaru had told me and he was quite uncomfortable. He did not want to tell me that Doshu had spoken falsely; on the other hand, he mentioned a few students who trained intensively and lived in the dojo and so were uchi deshi in all but name.

Are you good at stealing waza? There is an established Japanese term for this, so I assume that the practice was common. Another shihan, Hiroshi Tada, told me that this was Morihei Ueshiba's preferred way of teaching. Nothing was ever offered on a plate, with the result that you had to become good at stealing scraps from the table, in order to progress.

Before I came to Japan, none of the dojos where I trained accepted uchi-deshi and, in any case, I was a student doing a Ph.D. and had no intention of becoming a professional aikido teacher. However, this did not prevent me from taking as many classes as I could, usually once or twice each day. This daily training continued here in Japan, but I was a university professor, so I could not become an uchi-deshi anyway. In Japan, hardly any dojos accept uchi-deshi. The Aikikai Hombu does not and outside the Hombu there are very few professional aikido teachers.

In Morihei Ueshiba's time, students sought to become his uchi-deshi because of his reputation as a budo expert. This is somewhat different from becoming an uchi-deshi in a dojo.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 10-05-2017 at 06:43 AM.

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Old 10-07-2017, 07:25 AM   #9
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
Also it seems that anyone that opts to follow aikido as a life path and potential career (carefully said, I am not expecting to become a sensei anytime soon) undertakes a program such as these to be considered a serious practitioner.
Not true. Anybody who intends to become a good Sensei in Aikido hones his skills on his own. No matter who the instructor is (be it an uchideshi program or not) nobody can help you become a better Aikidoka if you don't posses the need and mindset to achieve it. Sure they can help you but they can also do irreversible damage to the way you interpret Aikido and years of hard work can go down the drain.

Quote:
But mostly I want to do it for the love and to "escape" life and responsibilities for a while and just do what I enjoy.
A yes, the daydreamers paradise.

Quote:
And yes, training a little over a year now, I am roughly 3rd kyu now, expecting to take my 1st kyu next year and shodan either half a year or a full year after that. Not expectation so much from ambition or what I want so much as what I've been told by my sensei and our preparation sensei (who teaches students for exams) in terms of the timeline. I would be willing to do the program before shodan if I think I am ready, but I want a really firm grasp on the basics before I undertake it to get the most value out of the depth of the training.
Observe the bold parts of your text. To many insecurities about the future, you must have a clear picture in your head otherwise your Aikido will not prosper in the way you intend it to.

While we are on the subject, what is the direction in which is your Aikido headed? If you have one of course?
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Old 10-07-2017, 04:24 PM   #10
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

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Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Have you been to summer camp, or any other shorter-term immersive experience? This may be a good place to start.

So shodan in two and a half years? That's moving along briskly. Uchideshi programs are of varying duration and don't necessarily have anything to do with rank as such, nor does being shodan necessarily have anything to do with one's suitability for such a program, so if you're interested in it, might as well get started now. Is there a reason you're not considering the uchideshi program at Athens Aikido?
Yes, I went to our dojo's annual summer camp (1 week long) a few months ago, I enjoyed it greatly. I'll also be attending a dojo trip to Tissier's international seminar next month in Belgrade. There are unfortunately no such programs in Greece and my dojo offers the most amount of sessions in the country (that is, 1 or 2 hours a day). Shodan is a little arbitrary, I agree, that's more of a generalization of around then I feel I should have advanced enough to make the most of it. For reference re progression I have trained 8-12 hours every week for the past year, so that's likely why the time frame seems a little faster than normal. Starting right now is difficult for me due to other commitments also, so next year sometime should hopefully be more suitable (and I think I would be more prepared).

I'll admit that my "senseis usually have been uchi deshi" is a broad generalization and not meant to be a rule, nor the sole reason. From listening to various talks about the program though it does sound like something that will greatly help in aikido advancement (with the right teacher).

Thank you for the information Peter, that's very enlightening, but a little confusing also. By technicality alone would not any student that studied and lived in the dojo be considered "uchi deshi"? After all it does mean inside-student no?

Quote:
Igor Vojnović wrote: View Post
Observe the bold parts of your text. To many insecurities about the future, you must have a clear picture in your head otherwise your Aikido will not prosper in the way you intend it to.

While we are on the subject, what is the direction in which is your Aikido headed? If you have one of course?
I can clarify a little which might help. I say roughly because at my dojo we only test at 1st kyu and above, so I cannot say with certainty what my grade is at the moment. We have time minimums regarding exams for 1st kyu and shodan, with shodan typically being a minimum of 3 years but we do (on occasion) break that rule for unusual cases. My sensei and the preparation sensei have both hinted that this will likely happen in my case, but I have no real control over that (other than to delay it if I desire). I can't see the future with how confident I will become and at what time I will feel fully comfortable on the mat.

Regarding my direction though, that's a bit of a broad question. I go a bit against the popular ideal in my dojo and like to try a little bit of everything that appeals. I've been to 8 seminars so far of various styles but mostly I do find I enjoy the Aikido of Tissier more than most others. I would like to add some more sincere atemi into that mix though (think of combining all the senseis I mentioned in my second post, that would be the perfect aikido to me). I enjoy being uke a lot, if anything I consider it more important than being nage. I've had a little teaching experience by going regularly to the beginners classes to assist the main sensei, it's been a fun experience. I'd like to spend some time as an uke to an experienced shihan (I have been fortunate to be demo uke for Tissier and Endo during their visits, wonderful opportunities but brief), possibly as part of their attache. It seems possible to me to have that desire fulfilled as an uchi deshi also. After refinement the plan would be to return to my home dojo, there are often opportunities to teach in the beginners classes as I've been doing. I'll always be open to trying any senseis that I happen to come across in my travels, you never know what influence you'll find in that. Further than that it's hard to say, I can't say if years down the line my opinion will be the same and I'll still want to be a sensei one day or when I will be ready.



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Old 10-07-2017, 07:25 PM   #11
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
Thank you for the information Peter, that's very enlightening, but a little confusing also. By technicality alone would not any student that studied and lived in the dojo be considered "uchi deshi"? After all it does mean inside-student no?
I think your question actually underlines the point I was making. If you simply connect the translations of uchi and deshi, you have 'inside student.' So, you are right at the level of basic translation, but no one ever uses the term at this level, and when Chiba Sensei told me that he had been an 'uchi-deshi of O Sensei', he implied a whole lot more than the basic translation would ever indicate.

Probably a better translation than 'live-in student' would be 'apprentice' and the closest analogy would be an apprentice to an expert in cooking. Consider an expert who completely redefined a certain type of cuisine and branched out in many original and interesting directions. Moreover, this expert had a guru, who taught him that cookery was fundamentally a spiritual art and that his daily training at the stove in the kitchen was really a communication with the divine. He really was one with the Culinary Universe.

Three Michelin stars would not even begin to do justice to his cooking skills, which by now were becoming legendary, but the three Michelin stars assumes that the expert was a chef, at a restaurant, and this is what his wealthy patrons urged him to become. The result was that he opened a city restaurant, which he called The Food Laboratory, though it was also known by other names, such as Chez Ueshiba. The Food Laboratory became famous as a restaurant, but it really was a food laboratory, as its name indicated, not a mere location for customers to eat, though it did cater for these also. The fame of The Food Laboratory was based entirely on the genius skills of its creator. Eventually, the chef attracted apprentices and they wanted to learn his skills especially because of his fame as a craftsman chef. These first-generation apprentices learned their skills and eventually opened their own establishments, but their fame always depended on the fact that they had learned their skills at the hands of the original expert.

At some point a crisis arose and the master chef moved to another location, deep in the countryside, and opened another establishment. At this new location he really branched out and researched in more new directions, but he was a family man and he ordered his son to keep The Food Laboratory going in his absence. The son had been an apprentice and had learned some of his father's legendary skills, but it was always a moot point whether these skills actually matched those of his father. In any case, the son shunned the limelight and was content to run the establishment in his father's shadow.

The crisis passed, but the master chef preferred to stay in his rural location and visited The Food Laboratory only occasionally. These visits increased as he got older and also attracted prospective apprentices. However, they were really apprentices of the restaurant, and not personal students of the master chef. One of these, named Chiba, was actually sent to the master chef's rural establishment for special training. These second-generation apprentices eventually opened their own establishments, many of these abroad. The son, however, always denied that he had apprentices of his own. The restaurant, also, became less of a 'living' food laboratory than an establishment that claimed to maintain the legendary culinary arts taught by the original founder of the restaurant.

I think you can see where I am going with this analogy, but I think it serves to explain why the term uchi-deshi has a certain cachet and, more importantly, to explain the tension that exists between being an uchi-deshi of a particular person and being an uchi-deshi of a dojo, where there are many teachers, all considered to be of similar proficiency.

Best wishes,

PAG

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 10-07-2017 at 07:32 PM.

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Old 10-09-2017, 09:49 AM   #12
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

Quote:
Cassia Rose Heatley wrote: View Post
For reference re progression I have trained 8-12 hours every week for the past year, so that's likely why the time frame seems a little faster than normal.
"Crash programs fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month." - Werner von Braun

We're not answering your original question (about relationships), but I hope you'll forgive us - honestly, it seems like it's not the most important question to be asking. I think there's always a real danger of getting too invested in an experience that you hope to have in the future -- a danger (or rather, a likelihood) that it will not turn out to be like what you think it will be, and a near certainty that you won't be the person you are now when you get to that point. My boss studied to be a doctor, premed and then medical school, head down, totally focused on the goal. Year three of medical school, he finally lifted his head enough to realize that being a doctor wasn't what he wanted. You'd be surprised at how many people fall into this trap, letting the goal they chose at some point in the past drive them to do things that no longer make sense in the present. My boss was one of the wise ones: he got out of that program, became an audio engineer, and now he owns a software company. He's happy. Most people would have looked at how far they worked to get that far and stayed with it, not understanding the concept of sunk costs.

So, definitely, find a uchideshi program and try it out. It's not a lifetime commitment, probably just a few months, so there might be no relationship issues at all. Experience the program, and don't impose any narrative on it. Just experience it as it is, and then see where that takes you. You may come out of it realizing that being a sensei isn't what you thought it would be, or that it's not for you --
and that's ok. Your time will not have been wasted, it's just what you have to do to come to the understanding of where you need to go. Aikido is part of life - maybe an important part, but it's only one thing that you will do with your life.
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Old 10-09-2017, 10:19 PM   #13
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

Cass - 12 hours a week sounds good but is not enough if you want to get good fast.

Every morning do some exercises, footwork, bokken and jo work, and go through your Aikido repertoire (waza) on your own from various attacks - for about an hour. Create your own routine. It is great for memory and your brain. Also, it will help you develop your own style and not be a clone. That would be an extra 7 hours a week ... but beware ... it is addictive. After a while, you will be surprised at your own improvement. I can't get to the dojo so often these days but I still train by myself - it is invaluable. I still go through my Judo waza, and I haven't done Judo for 19 years. I do something by myself every day: Jujtusu / WingChun / Aikido ... etc. I don't want to lose what I learned.

I am currently learning guitar: 2 to 3 hours a day for the last 3.5 years. It is paying off but I am still miles away from where I want to be. But it is good fun so it doesn't really matter.

And just ... get on a plane and go to Japan if that is what you want to do.

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Old 10-10-2017, 02:52 AM   #14
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

Rupert talks a whole lot of sense.

Since I moved from place to place frequently, I trained with many teachers, all taught by O Sensei, but all somewhat different and so my own style of aikido evolved: it was never cultivated.

In addition, I should add something to the analogy I made earlier, of aikido with cooking. There is a difference which was explored in some detail by Aristotle, in his theories of action. If the activity ends in a product, like a meal, the activity becomes parasitic on the quality of the product. However, if the activity ends in a skill, there is no product other than the activity itself, so the goal of the activity lies purely in the degree to which one excels in the activity. So there is you and the activity, with the teacher being an intermediary.

Finally, there is one qualification I would make to Rupert's post. By all means get on a plane and come to Japan, but do not have any expectations about what you are likely to find. Sure, there is plenty of aikido, but hardly any uchi-deshi programs. I found a good dojo with a good teacher here and was able to train almost every day, but this does not always happen.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 10-11-2017, 05:14 AM   #15
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

It's interesting I think that the discussion has become one about Uchi-deshi training rather than the threat (or otherwise) to a relationship from regular committed training; which I understood to be at least part of the original question.
I can only give you my experience.
Although never an uchi-deshi of any teacher I did take the opportunity to travel and stayed for short periods (few weeks) at dojos in America and Europe as well as attending Summer Schools as often as I could. This seemed to work well for me - coupled with regular training at my home dojo- in terms of my Aikido development.
As far as relationships go; though; a life-long commitment to anything puts a strain on personal relationships. I am extremely lucky to have maintained a 30+ year marriage while still training several times per week; but it needs some compromise from both parties (especially the non-Aikidoka).
Good luck with whatever you choose to do in both Aikido and life.
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Old 10-11-2017, 10:13 AM   #16
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

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I=
As far as relationships go; though; a life-long commitment to anything puts a strain on personal relationships. I am extremely lucky to have maintained a 30+ year marriage while still training several times per week; but it needs some compromise from both parties (especially the non-Aikidoka).
Good luck with whatever you choose to do in both Aikido and life.
I think that's true, but there are certainly many worse things one can do with one's time than practice aikido or budo regularly. Personally, I think that if someone has the passion, and if there's a possibility to be uchi deshi for a while: go for it. You'll learn a lot and you might not have the chance in the future. As for uchi deshi opportunities, there are la fair few out there. I think Jaques Payet does one in Kyoto that looks very interesting.

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Old 10-11-2017, 10:38 AM   #17
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Re: Uchi deshi and relationships

Here's a brilliant piece about becoming an uchi deshi. I wasn't strictly an uch deshi, but I trained pretty intensely in Japan for a while and this really helped me out living and training.

http://www.budoyoseikan.com/eng/shih...kinews95.shtml
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