Todd Allen wrote:
Ok I'm planning my trip to Japan at the end of the year and will be there for two months. I have been there before, and stayed for just under a month. However this time I will be immersing myself totally in the culture, as this year I'm studying Japanese and by the end I should have completed level 3 Japanese profeciency Exam.
These are the following things I want to do, and basically I'm asking people how I should go about. I'm wanting to train with the following people/places:
1. Seiseki Abe - not only train but also learn some calligraphy there with him.
2. Train with Miyako Fujitani - did that the first time - but wondering how I can get in touch with her as I've tried her email with no success.
3. Train with Saito Sensei - go and meet with him and explore the iwama area.
4. Isoyama Sensei at the Aikishrine.
5. And train with Anno Sensei of Hikitsuchi Sensei's disciple. Something which I've wanted to do for a very long time..
What is it about these teachers, or what is it from these teachers about which you care to learn?
Todd Allen wrote:
However not only train with these Sensei's but also become friendly with them if that makes sense. I'm aware of the cultural aspects of relationships with sensei and student, but was wondering what you guys thought. Thank you.
The first sentence and the second are contradictory in nature, and from my little bit of experience, especially so in Japan. If you want to endear yourself my recommendation is to train hard, be polite, keep your head low, your eyes open and your mouth... well you know.
Todd Allen wrote:
Any advice would be appreciated.
Sure, and feel free to take em or leave em as you see fit...
1. It is always better to have an introduction than not. This means that when at all possible, get to know someone at the dojo who can invite you in and introduce you to the teacher with whom you seek to train. This would be something you do before
you drop in.
2. Spend whatever time you have getting to know the senior students rather than the Sensei. You're apt to learn more, be invited back and be seen less as an outsider, which you will more than likely always be.
3. If invited out, pouring someone's beer, and if appropriate offering to buy a round of beer is a good way to touch the heart of other sincere (beer-loving) practitioners. (i.e. keep lots of yen in your pocket at all times!)
4. Let the Dojo-Cho know in advance not only when you will be training, but how long you will train at the dojo.
5. You might want to keep to yourself the idea that you are going to visit other particular dojo in the area. Of course, it could be to your benefit if someone at one dojo can introduce you to someone at one of the another dojo you are intending to visit. You simply have to feel this one out on your own.
6. When class is over, run (don't walk) to where the brooms are kept so that you help to sweep the mats.
7. Arrive early on your first day of training so that you have time to observe the silent protocol and culture of the dojo.
8. As you know from having already been to Japan, you are always being watched and observed at all times to see if you act like the foreigner that you are.
9. With regards to #8, above; Be yourself, because you will eventually be found out, sooner more probably than later.
10. When and if appropriate, ask as many questions as you find yourself formulating. It is not rude to ask questions, especially when asked if you have any questions... It is moments such as these that the Sensei will have an opportunity to provide answers to all of his Japanese students who might feel less comfortable asking such a question while still on the mat.
Like I said, "take em or leave em as you see fit..."