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Old 02-07-2003, 01:49 PM   #1
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
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Question seminar etiquette

Hello all out there in aikiwebland,

What do you see as proper etiquette for attending a seminar that is outside your organization? If you are a dan grade, but it is not your group, do you come with whitebelt and no hakama? Do you introduce yourself to the teacher?

Planning on going to my first seminar outside my org. and I don't want to do anything wrong. Also don't want to get hurt and I don't know how this group takes ukemi and the direction of their throws, etc.

Advice, anctedotes are welcome.

best,

Rachel
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Old 02-07-2003, 02:01 PM   #2
siwilson
Dojo: Kenshinkai Yoshinkan Aikido
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Well, if they don't respect your dan grde, then they cannot respect your teacher. Go with your black belt and hakama. If they insist on a white belt, well, train (as that is what is important - training), but that is bad for them, as they probably will not train with you at your level, as well as for you for the same reason.

If you are a black belt then you should have good enough ukemi to cope with their technique!

Osu!
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Old 02-07-2003, 02:49 PM   #3
MikeE
 
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Most seminars are "open to everyone" that implies that they will respect your rank and affiliation.

I've had this conversation with a friend of mine who is a shodan in another style. he will show up in a whitel belt because he believes he doesn't understand the style he's visiting.

I told him that this was a form of ego, and just as bad as walking in an expecting them to accept your rank as yudansha.

To remove all ego and do the best thing, I try to ask a senior instructor for the dojo what they would prefer. That takes all the ego out of the equation. And some instructors will go either way.

I respect all Aikido yudansha when they come into my schools. And I also have them wear their proper rank and hakama because it is my responsibility to keep my students safe. And to have someone where their rank will never make one of my kyu ranks underestimate them and do something stupid...like get hurt.

Mike Ellefson
Midwest Center
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Old 02-07-2003, 03:07 PM   #4
Nick P.
 
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Rachel,

Last fall I attended my first seminar. Before even "booking" a space, I emailed the contact person asking if it was OK to attend, explained that the club I am part of doesn't wear hakama 'till shodan (presently ikkyu), and that we never, ever do weapons work. The contact (the Sensei of the club hosting the seminar) clarified what his organization's guidelines were, but pointed out that I should do what I think is best. That was the answer I was looking for (warm, respectful), and after talking to my Sensei about it, off I went.

I didn't bring the brown belt or hakama I obtained while living in another city (ASU for 3 months, never becoming a member), which in hindsite I should have brought along just in case.

IMHO, it is rude to not introduce yourself to everyone, especially the Sensei of the club. The person giving the seminar is sometimes hard to get close to, as they are the person everyone came to see! Still, better to try.

With respect, Si, if you are dan-ranked student you know it, and so will anyone who watchs you for 5 seconds, black belt/hakama or not.

People will train with you (or not) for all kinds of reasons. I prefer to be the person who didn't impose my rules on them, my hosts and fellow guests.

BTW, Jun's piece helped me alot

http://www.aikiweb.com/training/akiy6.html

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Old 02-07-2003, 03:08 PM   #5
siwilson
Dojo: Kenshinkai Yoshinkan Aikido
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Quote:
Michael Ellefson (MikeE) wrote:
I respect all Aikido yudansha when they come into my schools. And I also have them wear their proper rank and hakama because it is my responsibility to keep my students safe. And to have someone where their rank will never make one of my kyu ranks underestimate them and do something stupid...like get hurt.
Thanks Mike, I could not have put it better. Would you want your 1 week beginner training with a Dan Grade from another school who is wearing a white belt!!!
Quote:
Michael Ellefson (MikeE) wrote:
I've had this conversation with a friend of mine who is a shodan in another style. he will show up in a whitel belt because he believes he doesn't understand the style he's visiting.

I told him that this was a form of ego, and just as bad as walking in an expecting them to accept your rank as yudansha.
I remember having to talk a friend out of something similar when he got his Nidan. He wanted to ask my teacher if he could wear a white belt under his hakama instead of a black belt...

Like my Master said - "Show your true colour!"

Osu!
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Old 02-07-2003, 03:18 PM   #6
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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An aside to the comment above by Mr. Wilson; some dojos do not wear colored belts, even black, no matter the grade. At my previous dojo no one wore black belts. It is also common throughout the USAF in both the ER and WR that many yudansha wear white belts under their hakama. I think this varies from group to group however, and could be a matter of custom within the dojo. No one seems to mind either way.

Thank you Nick for your comments. I have already been in touch with the Chief Instructor from that dojo, and am going to go over tonight to watch class, and then do the seminar tomorrow if I feel it is appropriate. He was extremely gracious, and I look forward to meeting him. I agree with what you said about introducing yourself to the CI, and to as many people as you can, it is the most proper.

Every organization does things a bit differently, and even within an organization things can vary quite drastically.

Thank you all for your comments.

Rachel
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Old 02-07-2003, 03:19 PM   #7
siwilson
Dojo: Kenshinkai Yoshinkan Aikido
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Quote:
Nick Pittson (Nick P.) wrote:
With respect, Si, if you are dan-ranked student you know it, and so will anyone who watchs you for 5 seconds, black belt/hakama or not.
Nick, that is absolutely not true.

If I am training with a known fellow instructor (fitness & health permitting), you train differently to how you are with a (non-dan) student. I have been on both ends of this.

Both ways can be problematic.

Osu!
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Old 02-07-2003, 03:31 PM   #8
siwilson
Dojo: Kenshinkai Yoshinkan Aikido
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Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
An aside to the comment above by Mr. Wilson; some dojos do not wear colored belts, even black, no matter the grade. At my previous dojo no one wore black belts. It is also common throughout the USAF in both the ER and WR that many yudansha wear white belts under their hakama. I think this varies from group to group however, and could be a matter of custom within the dojo. No one seems to mind either way.


I have not always been a fan of the coloured belt system, but I do see its value. I would even say that it is of great value in cross training. In the above example, a coloured belt will stand out as a different organisation, but show their level.

For this reason, I have at times not had my hakama, to highlight that I am of a different school. On the other hand, in different arts, I have worn my hakama for the same reason.

Osu!
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Old 02-07-2003, 03:33 PM   #9
shihonage
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Re: seminar etiquette

Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
What do you see as proper etiquette for attending a seminar that is outside your organization?
1) Wear a green gi with purple hakama and a belt colored like a rainbow. This will save you from having to choose between white and black-and-white look.

2) Avoid training with kyu students. They're not worth your time, and practicing with them will slow down your learning process.

Remember, you're here to LEARN !

3) During randori, start chanting in Latin, and roll your eyes up. This will give you a necessary tactical advantage, also referred to as "ki".

4) Modify your ukemi to roll comfortably with your portable music player.

5) Bring a dozen of sticky notes which say "KICK ME !". Put a note on the back of every uke who in your opinion is not paying enough attention. This will be a good lesson about their openings.

6) Don't be afraid to expand your options and learn. When you're taking ukemi for a reputable shihan, make sure to suddenly scream "WHAT IF I HAD A GUN ?", and whip out your Colt .45 with the other hand.

7) Always take ukemi your way, because your instructor is the best.

Make sure to let everyone know that.

You have a right to be respected for your heritage, and be treated accordingly.
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Old 02-07-2003, 03:56 PM   #10
John Boswell
 
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Har har. Hardy har har.

/bonk Aleksey !! :P

You forgot the part about attacking the local Sensei to teach everyone that your budo is better. NOT!!

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Old 02-07-2003, 04:04 PM   #11
PhilJ
 
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I love point #2 up there, very good.

A little politeness goes a long way, I think. This isn't necessarily etiquette, but more of an "FYI" -- and then, permission, if you feel you need it.

Anyone I work with would be shocked to know my actual rank(s). I try to genuinely start a technique as though I've never seen it before, so I tend to sound like a "new person". It's hard, but I feel there is true value in approaching my learning that way, don't know why.

I can't buy the 5-minute rule unless you're psychic, or a Jedi.

Phillip Johnson
Enso Aikido Dojo, Burnsville, MN
An Aikido Bukou Dojo
http://www.aikidobukou.com
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Old 02-07-2003, 04:47 PM   #12
Nick P.
 
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Well said Aleksey!

Don't forget, you too have the right to do whatever you like wherever you go.

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Old 02-07-2003, 05:35 PM   #13
Erik
Location: Bay Area
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Re: Re: seminar etiquette

Quote:
1) Wear a green gi with purple hakama and a belt colored like a rainbow. This will save you from having to choose between white and black-and-white look.
I've seen the green and maybe even purple. No rainbow colors. I'm looking into a pink belt though. My tribute to Gene Lebell.
Quote:
2) Avoid training with kyu students. They're not worth your time, and practicing with them will slow down your learning process.

Remember, you're here to LEARN !
About a month before shodan I went to a seminar. I'd taken to wearing a white belt for some reason and the seminar was at a place which had colored belts. I noticed that the white belts distinctly worked with white belts. At one point I turned to a dan rank to bow, he saw my rank, and immediately turned the other way.

The whole experience sucked by the way.
Quote:
3) During randori, start chanting in Latin, and roll your eyes up. This will give you a necessary tactical advantage, also referred to as "ki".
As good a definition of ki as I've seen.
Quote:
4) Modify your ukemi to roll comfortably with your portable music player.
One teacher I know always brings one of those to class. When he does seminars he brings it along and you do aikido to music.
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Old 02-07-2003, 05:47 PM   #14
Erik
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Hi Rachel,

This is just me, but I'd show up black belt and all. If they've sent out fliers on the seminar then it's open season. If someone wanted me to take it off, I'd probably express an expletive which includes the word 'off', get back into my car and go home. I am assuming this is Aikikai, of course. It's not the belt that bothers me so much, but as Si said, it's the disrespect to the folks who gave me the rank.

For non-Aikikai aikido types I'm much more open to putting on a white belt. I'd probably check with them but it wouldn't bother me at all to put on a white belt for the Yoshinkai or Tomiki folks for instance. Still, for an open-seminar I think it would be in very poor taste for someone to make an issue of the color of one's belt.
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Old 02-07-2003, 09:48 PM   #15
L. Camejo
 
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Very interesting thread.

Not much to add really, just that in my experience, the Aikikai dojo I sometimes train with have no problem with my dan grade (even tho I stick out as the only black belt with no hakama).

Visited a new Yoshinkan dojo this week, and wearing a white belt there was no problem for me either.

I have no problem wearing either, to me a belt is for the purpose of holding your gi together. Any more meaning I attach to it has more to do with me and my abilities than the piece of cotton itself. If I have any questions, I ask the person in charge.

To me, non-recoginition of rank by certain groups is their prerogative and I don't see it as an insult to me or those who gave it to me.

I guess it goes back to a quote I remember by one of the Gracies - "The belt only covers 2 inches of your (tail), the rest you gotta back up with skill."

Wearing a white belt brings back memories of the early days and reminds me of the humility I should always approach training with. It also reminds me that even though I may be of a particular rank, there are always things to be learnt, sometimes from the total newbie who may react from instinct and not programming.

A mind open to learning is what I want when going to a seminar. Hence the color does not matter so much as my openness to the instruction. Of course if someone wants to test my ukemi skills I'm up for that too

Just some thoughts

L.C.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
http://www.tntaikido.org
http://www.mushinkan.ca
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Old 02-08-2003, 12:25 AM   #16
Kelly Allen
Dojo: Friends Dojo
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I have yet to go to a big seminar. I look forward to the opportunity to learn if ever one swings around to my neck of the woods. My biggest fear would be that I would be ignored by the higher ranks. Not that I mind working with my own rank. I just feel that part of going to a seminar is haveing the opportunity to work with all ranks.

As far as safety is concerned, why can't ppl when pairing up and bowing to each other also introduce themselves, state their rank, start the first two technics slow and find the speed thats appropriate?

Those high ranking ppl that refuse to work with kyu ranks are missing out on something. After all shouldn't one train as though they are going to use the technic on someone who doesn't know ukemi? Like the proverbial mugger who jumps out of a back alley at you. He's not going to follow the technic like a black belt, in which case your going to have to learn to lead that type of energy as well in order to make the technic work.

Jun where are you in this? I read a very good article you wrote on attending seminars. I'd really like to here what you have to say.
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Old 02-08-2003, 12:41 AM   #17
Matthieu
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Hi Rachel!

I have been to approximately half a dozen seminars in my life as an aikidoka and this is what I have learned so far...

In a multi-discipline seminar, I strongly recommend that you bring the highest ranking belt that you have. Usually, there is an implicite competition among the participants to see who is better. Hence, higher ranking student will often reject you for not being of their rank. (I have been refused the previliged to train in aikido with an 4th dan Karateka because I wasn't a yudansha even though the person teaching the seminar was using me as a uke! )

In an all aikido seminar, wear what ever belt you fell most confortable. The implicite competition does not seem to exist among aikidokas even if they are from different style/dojo Most aikidokas I have trained with from other style where very happy to train with somebody else as long as that person was ready to train dilligently. After all, I believe that it is O'sensei that said do not look for the differences, but look for what is alike!

Hopefully this will help you a little

Osu!

When you learn to love hell, you will be in heaven
-Golas
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Old 02-08-2003, 12:57 AM   #18
Bogeyman
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I am fortunate enough to get to train with several different organizations and have always been told to wear my rank and hakama. The comment usually attached is that we are all studying the same art why should we treat others as different or lesser just because they or of a different lineage? Maybe I am just thick headed but I have to agree with this.

E
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Old 02-08-2003, 08:26 AM   #19
MikeE
 
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Yes Eric, you are thick headed.

I thought you were going to Ken's Seminar this weekend?

Mike Ellefson
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Old 02-08-2003, 08:44 AM   #20
Andrew Wilson
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Just an aside. I once had an opportunity to train in capoeira with a rather well known mestre. Everytime we went to seminars outside of our groupo, I would run into people with an entirely different belt system. In fact, there was absolutly NO congruence between groupo's. So what we had to do, was simply treat everyone with respect, assume they knew enough to handle themselves in the roda, and be carefull not to hurt them if they didnt. Mestre efriam always said that it was both of our responsibilities to take care of each other. One person should move, the other person should be looking. If someone gets hurt, it is generally due to a lack of either side of this.

granted this is not aikido, but I think it has roots in the same principals. belts/rank are great an all, but in reality it is ability that determines what a person can/cant do right?

as for aikido seminars, I have yet to attend a seminar, but plan to soon. Since it is inside our organization I would imagine it would be fine to wear my belt. I only have one, and I need to keep my gi shut

"The wise man, after learning something new, is afraid to learn anything more until he has put his first lesson into practice." - Tzu Lu
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Old 02-08-2003, 10:18 AM   #21
mike lee
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skill, not rank

I wore a white belt and a hakama when I began training at a new dojo in Asia. After one year of training, the shihan asked me how long I had been shodan. I said ten years. He said, "Now you're nidan." After that, I wore my black belt.
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Old 02-08-2003, 02:32 PM   #22
rachmass
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Hi all,

I went to a couple of classes today at the seminar, and the CI and the Guest Instructor were both extremely gracious and kind and I enjoyed myself very much. Introduced myself to both of them last night and asked if it would be okay to train. As I said, they were both very nice.

The dojo where the seminar was being held has been open for less than two years, and almost all the students have been training less than a year. They were all doing excedingly well, which I think is a great reflection on their teacher. They were also very welcoming.

Even though I was not able to follow along with what they were doing, try as I might, I think it was a good experience, and now I know another aikido dojo an hour away that I can gladly tell people about who live in that area. I definately think that making relationships with other aikidoka is important.
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Old 02-08-2003, 05:39 PM   #23
Nick P.
 
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I am very happy for you Rachel, and thanks for bringing back some great memories and for whetting my seminar appetite.

Hope to meet you one day out there on the big tatami of life.

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Old 02-08-2003, 08:16 PM   #24
rachmass
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You too Nick! Will you be at the seminar at Bertiaume Sensei's dojo (in Montreal) in May? I am hoping to be able to be there.

best,

Rachel
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Old 02-09-2003, 04:49 AM   #25
MaylandL
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Re: seminar etiquette

Quote:
Rachel Massey (rachmass) wrote:
...

What do you see as proper etiquette for attending a seminar that is outside your organization? If you are a dan grade, but it is not your group, do you come with whitebelt and no hakama? Do you introduce yourself to the teacher?
Hello Rachel

I give the organiser a call to ask them about the etiquette and their dojo do's and don'ts. The seminars usually say whether they are open to aikidoka of other styles.

As for training at the seminar, I do the technqies and exercises the way they do them. Sometimes, there's no difference and other times I feel like a fish out of water. But at the end of the day, I feel that I have learned someting that I didnt know before the seminar. I guess that's why I attend the seminar

Hope this helps and enjoy the seminar.

Last edited by MaylandL : 02-09-2003 at 04:51 AM.

Mayland
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