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Old 08-24-2011, 08:55 AM   #1
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,219
United Kingdom
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Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

So here's the plan...

I am currently trying to work out the feasibility of taking a gap year to 18 months out, to travel the world as a full time aikido dojo bum.

Since discovering Aiki web 5/6 years ago, my eyes have been opened up to the wider world of aikido, all it's different types/styles and the aikidoka who practice. I have long thought it would make a great trip to get out there and meet some of the characters that frequent the forums. As well as find out for myself what each style feels like and has to offer. I know it will be a challenge, a massive learning experience as well as an adventure.

Now, I have loads of questions I need answering, that will help me with planning and most importantly budgeting. As well as questions that relate to etiquette and how to deal with the inevitable issues that might arise from both difference, status, rank etc.

There are many people from these boards that I definitely would like to meet and train with, as well as requests for recommendations of who I should search out in my quest.

A brief overview of my plan is as follows: May 2012 London>New York, buy a cheap campervan and travel in a meandering fashion, seeking out any aikido dojo on my way, dropping in, practicing (if possible) and moving on. I am thinking I may spend around 4/5 months doing this. I know there are plenty of dojos out there. October 2012, Los Angeles > New Zealand, about a month there, before moving onto Australia, some months there, before moving onto the relative inexpensiveness of SE Asia. Of course Japan is on my list in 2013, then possibly China and the long and tricky overland trip back to Europe.

I would like to blog the whole experience, with a view to possibly cobbling together a book at the end of it all, will anyone be interested in reading it?

At this stage all I would like to know what forum members think. I will be 56 when I leave, I will be spending all of my pension money/savings, and will return to start from scratch again (I've done 2 big trips before and swore I wouldn't come back to nothing again, but have found that, I now trust that everything will work out ok in the end, it usually does).

This post is already getting long and I haven't even started asking specific questions. I think the best thing for me to do is to start a new thread to address each question as some may be a bit complex.

I am about 80-90% sure that this will happen, there are a couple of circumstances that might change everything, if they happen they happen and I will change things a necessary.

So some of you reading this, may next year (or the year after) be getting a visit from a wandering Englishman with a camera, a notebook, an open mind, bags of curiosity and dodgy sense of humour.

What do you think? am I mad to do it or mad not to?

Regards

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 08-24-2011, 08:59 AM   #2
Marc Abrams
Dojo: Aikido Arts of Shin Budo Kai/ Bedford Hills, New York
Location: New York
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,302
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Mark:

My dojo doors are always open. My dojo would even host you to help you get your plans together when you arrive in the US.

Cordially,

Marc Abrams
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Old 08-24-2011, 09:01 AM   #3
chillzATL
Location: ATL
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

life is short, live it. If you find yourself Atlanta, Ga, look me up.
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Old 08-24-2011, 09:04 AM   #4
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
Location: Stamford Connecticut
Join Date: Nov 2010
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

I was just about to write that we might be able to have a dojo space by then or even have the house a bit tidier to invite for tea (my husband is a tea drinker, lots of Lipton tea is consumed) but in any case there are many dojo in this area. In fact, while I was logging in to post, Marc just sent you a reply!

We will be fascinated to read the threads you plan on adding, your blog of your travels, and your eventual book! My husband and I are just now getting back into training and enjoy Aiki Web very much.
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Old 08-24-2011, 09:08 AM   #5
gregstec
Dojo: Aiki Kurabu
Location: Elizabethtown, PA
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,110
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Great idea, if you can afford it - wish I could join you, but I don't think the wife would let me

Anyway, if you get to central PA, look me up - we can train at anytime.

Greg
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Old 08-24-2011, 09:11 AM   #6
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,219
United Kingdom
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Mark:

My dojo doors are always open. My dojo would even host you to help you get your plans together when you arrive in the US.

Cordially,

Marc Abrams
Hi Marc,

thank you for that kind offer, which may well be taken up, I appreciate it. You personally are one of the people I would like to meet, so thanks again for being the first to offer help.

I will be posting further questions soon.

I look forward to it.

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 08-24-2011, 09:27 AM   #7
RonRagusa
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 679
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Hi Mark -

Kindly consider including a visit to the Berkshires in your plans. Mary and I would love to have you here as a stop on your journey.

Best,

Ron

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Old 08-24-2011, 09:32 AM   #8
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,816
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

In general, if you've got the funds and the time for it, why not?

In specific, if you've never had a smaller-scale adventure of this type, you might want to try a month's worth of this sort of thing a bit closer to home as a sort of warmup, to refine your travel skills, and also to find if this sort of thing is for you. A lot of people love the idea of travel before they do it, but home has a lot of comforts -- creature comforts, yes, but emotional comforts more importantly -- and many people find it too jarring to leave those comforts for an extended time. It's rare to do a trip like this one without at least occasional moments of uncertainty and loneliness, so it's good to find out what your comfort level is with such things before you buy that camper van.

One pragmatic note: you will need to register any vehicle you purchase, and in almost all states you will also be required to insure it. Check around to find out what the requirements are in various states -- you may find it significantly easier and/or cheaper to do it in a different state than New York.
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Old 08-24-2011, 09:34 AM   #9
jimbaker
Dojo: Aikido of Norfolk/ Aikido Society of Memphis
Location: Norfolk, VA
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 150
Antarctica
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

You're welcomed to stop here in Norfolk, VA, if you find yourself winding down the East coast.
Then again, yesterday we had an earthquake and this weekend we may get hit by a category 3 hurricane named Irene. But in between, it's a lovely place.
Oh, we also have beer.

JIM in Norfok

Jim Baker
Aikido of Norfolk
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Old 08-24-2011, 10:06 AM   #10
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,219
United Kingdom
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
In general, if you've got the funds and the time for it, why not?

In specific, if you've never had a smaller-scale adventure of this type, you might want to try a month's worth of this sort of thing a bit closer to home as a sort of warmup, to refine your travel skills, and also to find if this sort of thing is for you. A lot of people love the idea of travel before they do it, but home has a lot of comforts -- creature comforts, yes, but emotional comforts more importantly -- and many people find it too jarring to leave those comforts for an extended time. It's rare to do a trip like this one without at least occasional moments of uncertainty and loneliness, so it's good to find out what your comfort level is with such things before you buy that camper van.

One pragmatic note: you will need to register any vehicle you purchase, and in almost all states you will also be required to insure it. Check around to find out what the requirements are in various states -- you may find it significantly easier and/or cheaper to do it in a different state than New York.
Hi Mary,

thanks for the sound advice, appreciated. I have in the past travelled by road in the US 1990/91. My wife and I bought a Winnebago Indian and travelled USA, Canada Mexico and Guatemala for just over 18 months with 3 small children in tow, they were 4, 2 and 10 weeks old when we set off. So I am not phased too much by the enormity of it all (I also did London to Capetown in a VW bus, but that is another story)

I am really keen to find out more about the current vehicle/insurance requirements and the benefits of different state purchase. I bought the the winnebago in Florida and had to get a state Driving Licence to be able to insure it. I will post this as a specific question in another thread, as I will also need to know about selling on the West Coast.

Thanks for your response, maybe I'll see you on the trip.

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 08-24-2011, 10:16 AM   #11
tarik
 
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Dojo: Iwae Dojo
Location: Boulder Creek, CA
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote: View Post
So here's the plan...

So some of you reading this, may next year (or the year after) be getting a visit from a wandering Englishman with a camera, a notebook, an open mind, bags of curiosity and dodgy sense of humour.

What do you think? am I mad to do it or mad not to?
It sounds like a dream that would be worth living.

I love that you did a version this with your small children. My wife and I have discussed the possibility a time or two, particularly if I can work on the road in my current (or a future) job.

Best,

PS - We're a tiny place in CA, but you're certainly welcome to visit.

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 08-24-2011, 10:49 AM   #12
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,219
United Kingdom
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Hi all,

Jason - Atlanta is on my wish route,

Diana - If I find myself in Conn - I'll call so that you can get the kettle on!

Greg - I will almost certainly be passing through PA so will do

Ron - You and Mary are definitely on my people to see list, I'll be in touch.

Jim - Beer is our preferred fluid replacement therapy after practice here in the UK, I look forward to sharing a cold one with you.

Tarik - California is on my places to go list. I will look you up, but maybe you will be on the road yourself (kids are really easy to travel with, if they are young enough, I'm not sure I would attempt it with teenagers though!)

thanks all for the invites, it will make my trip planning easier if I have specific people to see on the way.

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:12 AM   #13
Eva Antonia
Dojo: CERIA
Location: Brussels
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 209
Belgium
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Dear Mark,

if your route comprises Brussels, Baku, Istanbul, Abidjan or Odense, please let me know. I'm training regularly in the first three cities and have aikido friends in the two others, who are all very welcoming.
You could also try the aikido group on www.couchsurfing.org (and you would find some aikiweb acquaintances over there...).

Best regards,

Eva
(currently with a camper van in Istanbul)
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:47 AM   #14
Gary Petrison
Dojo: Aikido of Hilo
Location: Hilo, Hawaii
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 6
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Why you skip Hawaii?
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Old 08-24-2011, 12:03 PM   #15
Nicholas Eschenbruch
Dojo: TV Denzlingen
Location: Freiburg
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 308
Germany
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Hi Mark,

what a great and courageous plan!

If you feel like coming to Freiburg, Germany, please feel invited and send a pm now or later.

I also recommend you visit Kayla Feder in Berkeley, California, and Patrick Cassidy in Montreux, Switzerland, both very inspiring teachers who have dojos that accommodate uchideshi for any length of time from a day or two to some years. (And both very attractive places to visit, I have been.)

Let me know if I can be of any help in this, now or later.

Nicholas
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Old 08-24-2011, 12:17 PM   #16
Richard Stevens
Location: Indianapolis
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 165
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Sounds like a great adventure. I would definitely follow your blog and it sounds like it would make a great book as well.
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Old 08-24-2011, 12:31 PM   #17
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,816
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote: View Post
Thanks for your response, maybe I'll see you on the trip.
I hope so! I'm in the same general neck of the woods as the other Mary (and Ron), although when you go to drive it, you'll find that it's not a fast drive (scenic as all get-out, though). Give a holler when plans get more solid, you'd be most welcome (and I'll stand you a beverage at the People's Pint)!
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Old 08-24-2011, 12:45 PM   #18
Budd
 
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Dojo: Taikyoku Budo
Location: Williamsville, NY
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Hi Mark,

If you get an itch to see the sights of the Buffalo/Niagara Falls area (perhaps more the latter than former) then let me know. I am in the throes of putting together a small public class, but otherwise it's just me working out some crazy ideas for an aikido group/style/curriculum.

Best,
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Old 08-24-2011, 01:38 PM   #19
FiuzA
 
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Dojo: CNG/Parede
Location: Cascais, Portugal
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Portugal
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Hello Mark,

Quote:
Mark Freeman wrote: View Post
I would like to blog the whole experience, with a view to possibly cobbling together a book at the end of it all, will anyone be interested in reading it?
I would definitely read both!

Please remember to visit Portugal as well. Even if aikido-wise Portugal may not be world class (at a first impression), sure the rest of it will compensate.

Feel free to PM me if you'd like to ask something about training here.

Cheers!

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Old 08-24-2011, 01:50 PM   #20
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
Location: Oceanside, California
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 1,134
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Mark,

If you get to Southern California, we are located in Vista, about 30 minutes north of San Diego and we have a place on the mat for you already and beer in the fridge for after class. Feel free to PM me for specific contact info.

Also, selling a vehicle in California is generally no big deal. The dealers, particularly for an RV will give you the lowest price, so it is advisible to sell to a private party if you have the time and inclination. The buyer will have to get it smog checked before it can be registered in California, and there are many more smog check facilities than there are dojo here.

I'll read the blog and buy the book too.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 08-24-2011, 02:33 PM   #21
Janet Rosen
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

on the road north of San Francisco I'm two hours north in a small town with great food, organic brewpub, small dojo, and guestroom with private bath!

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 08-24-2011, 03:25 PM   #22
phitruong
Dojo: Charlotte Aikikai Agatsu Dojo
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

was going to say "me too", but realize that we are nobody important, and don't have anything other than free room and board, and aikido beating free of charge.
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Old 08-24-2011, 04:13 PM   #23
crbateman
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Sounds like a grand adventure! As you can already see from the responses here, you will find a wealth of interesting people only too willing to share with you.

I can offer a couple of suggestions: I have found most folks are as curious as you are, but never assume that everybody will want to know how you do it at home. Best to stay humble, smile a lot, and wait for folks to ask before you say too much. Also, make it a rule to offer a mat fee everywhere you go, out of politeness and respect (although you won't get many takers). Always show up showered and with a clean dogi, and keep the nails short. Try to gauge how hard or soft the training is in each dojo, and do your best to emulate. Always thank the seniors and the sensei after you are finished. Keep a journal, and maybe take some photographs (with prior permission, of course).

I know most of this stuff is common sense, but still bears saying. Just try to keep in mind how you would like to be treated by visitors in your own dojo.

Oh, and most importantly... relax and have fun!
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Old 08-24-2011, 04:25 PM   #24
DanielR
Location: New York
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 158
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Well, Mark, since you're flying into NYC... Bond Street Dojo, 214 West 29th street between 7th and 8th ave! The building doesn't allow overnight stays unfortunately, but we can recommend some inexpensive lodging (by Manhattan standards of course...), and will be delighted to practice with you!
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Old 08-24-2011, 06:29 PM   #25
Mark Freeman
Dojo: Dartington
Location: Devon
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,219
United Kingdom
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Re: Mark's potentially big adventure? (MBA)

Hi again all,

thank you for your words of encouragement and offers of practice, places to stay and after practice beers!

I know I will feel bad that I won't get to see everyone who writes, but I will do my best to see as many as I can.

Eva - if all goes to plan I will be coming back overland through Asia to Europe, so I will be in touch, but it may not be for a while.thanks for the link I will check it out.

Gary - I would love to stop off in Hawaii, but I think it does add massively to the cost, I will ask the agent what deals are available, it has always been a desire of mine to surf in Hawaii.

Nicholas - thanks for the recommendations, I will definitely look up Kayla as SF will be part of my route, I'll stay in touch.

Richard - thanks, I have one follower and made a sale already, yay!

Mary - I look forward to that beverage in the Marxist sounding drinking establishment.

Budd - not sure if I will make it up that far, but if I do, I'll be in touch.

Andre - thanks for being the second customer for the book (move over JK Rowling), Portugal may not be on the itinerary for this trip, but I would like to get out there at some point, thanks for the support.

Michael - more beer waiting, I like it. Thanks for the heads up re the smog checks I will probably have more detailed questions for another thread. And another book sale I'm starting to feel like an author!

Janet - I will almost certainly be travelling south down the west coast, so look out for a thristy traveller in need of a shower!

Phi - if I didn't know and love your sense of humour I would think you were being serious. I will do all I can to drop by and take that kindly offered beating from you!

Clark - thanks for the sage advice, just what I need. I will post a more detailed question regarding the points you raise in another thread. I may well make it down to Florida just to have a peek at your book collection.

Daniel - thanks for the invite, you may have to be gentle with me as I will be brand new at that point, I'll be in touch nearer the time.

Thanks everyone, I know that if I can pull it off (Phi, there is a lead in for a joke for you, if ever I saw one ), it will be an amazing trip and it will be made so by the people I meet and practice with on the way. Sightseeing and places of interest are incidental to the main purpose. I know I will learn so much and make many friends.

I will be posting a few more questions soon.

regards,

Mark

Success is having what you want. Happiness is wanting what you have.
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