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Old 09-15-2003, 10:11 AM   #1
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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I posted these questions on e-budo as well...

In October, there will be a major event in Philadelphia, where two high ranking intructors, one from the Yoshinkan, one from the Aikikai, will be instructing jointly. You may read the invitation to this seminar from Yukio Utada Sensei here: http://www.e-budo.com/vbulletin/sho...?threadid=21450

In the past, a frequent topic of conversation has been the different 'styles' and organizations within aikido. I believe we are beginning to see major instructors in the US forming long term, lasting relationships with instructors from other organizations. The Aiki Expo in Las Vegas, under the leadership of Stanley Pranin, has had a lot to do with this 'cross-polinization'.

In truth, some of the students of these organizations have been reaching outside of their respective organizations for some time now. But the occation of highly respected leaders from very different backgrounds doing joint seminars seems to be something pretty new, at least to me.

What do other students think about these events?

Have you attended events like the Aiki-Expo in the past?

Do you see value in these events?

Will you attend them in the future?

I personally have found a wealth of information in other aikido "envirnonments". What about the rest of you?

I hope to see Korindo Aikido, Yoseikan Budo, Shodokan Aikido and others present in places where we haven't seen them before. The Aiki-Expo and the example set by Stanley Pranin is a great beginning...Where do we go from here, to bring the same dedication and commitment to enlarging and improving our arts across the US?

Ron Tisdale

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
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Old 09-15-2003, 11:10 AM   #2
akiy
 
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Hi Ron,

All good questions to think about. I've created a new thread from your very nice post in hopes of raising more discussion.

Over the past six years, I've been a part of an organizing committee to put together the sort of "cross-cultural" exchanges in the form of the Aikido-L Seminars. These Seminars have brought together many different instructors on the Aikido-L mailing list -- those from different "lineages" of aikido. Although not on the grand and epic scale of the Aiki Expo, I think these Aikido-L Seminars have done some good in developing a community of open individuals who are willing to invest their time and effort to share their experiences in this world of aikido.

Frankly, I personally think these sorts of exchanges are extremely valuable -- not only for those participating but, as you point out, for those who put on the events (eg the instructors themselves). There's something about seeing people, some of whose teachers probably wouldn't be found in the same room together, sitting at the same table laughing, reminiscing, and making plans to see each other again in the future.

If I may be so bold as to say so, I think there seems to be in many aikido circles a pervading sort of sense of aikido xenophobia. It seems as though many believe, "If it's not done the way we do it, it's done wrong." Ugh.

If aikido isn't about learning to understand people from seemingly disparate walks of life and cultivating the ability to appreciate and understand these differences (and, usually, see that these differences are actually minimal if not complementary or even non-existant), I don't know what it is.

Cross-affiliational and cross-organizational events allow these sorts of bridges to be built. This sort of open sharing of our experiences in these sorts of venues, both big and small, have enabled me to see the value of attending and/or helping organizee events such as the Aiki Expo, the Aikido-L Seminars, and the "friendship" seminars.

Behind the differences in our basic movements, our kamae, our terminology, our etiquette, and so on exist "real" people, after all.

Although I won't have a "table" this year, I hope to meet people at this upcoming weekend's Aiki Expo. Also, Ron, I'm looking forward to meeting and training with you in Philadelphia. And, of course, I'll also be in Toronto for this year's Aikido-L Seminar in November.

Do other folks here have any other thoughts on this subject?

-- Jun

PS: AikiWeb Seminar, any one? Just a thought...

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Old 09-15-2003, 12:06 PM   #3
Nick P.
 
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Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
If I may be so bold as to say so, I think there seems to be in many aikido circles a pervading sort of sense of aikido xenophobia. It seems as though many believe, "If it's not done the way we do it, it's done wrong." Ugh.

If aikido isn't about learning to understand people from seemingly disparate walks of life and cultivating the ability to appreciate and understand these differences (and, usually, see that these differences are actually minimal if not complementary or even non-existant), I don't know what it is.

Cross-affiliational and cross-organizational events allow these sorts of bridges to be built.

Behind the differences in our basic movements, our kamae, our terminology, our etiquette, and so on exist "real" people, after all.
I couldn't agree with you more. So far I thought the only way to get "exposure" to these kinds of "differences" was to go to a seminar or visit a dojo while away on a trip. Then upon returning to regular practice it was up to me to (attempt to) understand and then reconcile the differences I had seen.

The fact that highly skilled Shihans and Senseis get together and agree this might be a good thing to do on such a large scale...well, it puts a big grin on my face.

PS- Jun, when and where is the Toronto seminar? I looked in the Seminars section and could not find it. Thanks!
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Old 09-15-2003, 12:33 PM   #4
Ron Tisdale
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Thank you Jun for highlighting this topic. I think it is important to know that our teachers do watch to see the results of our exposure to other instructors and styles. It would seem that they feel the results have been positive. I think this will have an interesting affect on our aikido.

Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 09-15-2003, 01:45 PM   #5
Doug Mathieu
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Hi There

I really like the idea of a friendly and broad community of "Aikido" students who get along and can share experience and ideas.

I think if the seminar is organized on the onset as an experience tasting different flavours with the participants understanding that and having the maturity to balance new ideas against what their own organizatiuon and instructors teach then that is good.

One thing I feel deserves comment on is that I am not so sure Aikido groups are xenophobic as much as they struggle to maintain their own standards. Don't forget they split or set up their own organization for a reason which usually has to do with differences of opinion over training methods and what to emphasize.

I'm not so sure going to such a seminar would be good for all students until they are really grounded in the path of their own "style", etc.

I have gone to seminars and other Dojo's who follow a different school of training and I know enough to look for good ideas but also I realize if when I go back to regular training and started doing techniques "their" way I would have trouble with my Shihan. Not because he doesn't respect other styles but he has his personal ideas of the best way for his students to learn and apply Aikido.

Martial Arts still has a lot to do with the personal leadership of the Shihan.

This is not meant as a critism of cross sharing between Aikido Styles but maybe just a caution.

Regards
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Old 09-15-2003, 02:54 PM   #6
SeiserL
 
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Love cross-training and pollinization. It is encouraged in our school. We were at the Expo last year and will be again this weekend.

At first I was nervous about training with others off my home mat, not really sure of my ability. After some good times spent training with others I found the expereince to be very rewarding and enjoyable. Always look forward to it.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 09-15-2003, 03:17 PM   #7
Ron Tisdale
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Hi Douglas,

I understand the cautions you present. I think that is one of the things that has caused hesitation in the upper eschelons in the past. I also believe that over time, they have seen that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. It is important to remember a few things, no matter what level you are at:

1) when I train in another style, I do my best to do what they do...and accept that I won't be 'up to par' for the technique as I do it. I'm there to learn, not to show off my technique.

2) I work on what I learn when it is appropriate. after class, before class, on my own, with a few other people. Not during my instructor's teaching of our technique.

3) be mature

Ron

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Old 09-15-2003, 09:27 PM   #8
sanosuke
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Aiki Expo is like Aikiweb outside the web.
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Old 09-16-2003, 03:39 AM   #9
Yann Golanski
 
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Hum, read my last post to this thread: aiki seminar in York (UK) which involves teachers from Aiki-jijutsu, Shodokan and Aikikai coming to teach for the weekend.

I'll post a report here when the seminar is over. It's on the 17/18th of September, see web pages for details...

I started cross-trianing with both the Aikikai and the Shodokan organisation last year -- before my shodan as i needed the extra training. I found that both styles compliment eachother and I enjoy both of them greatly for they both shares the core ideals of Aikido. Well, in my not so humble opinion they do! ;>

Anyone else care to comment?

The people who understand, understand prefectly.
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Old 09-16-2003, 06:19 AM   #10
deepsoup
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Quote:
Yann Golanski wrote:
I started cross-trianing with both the Aikikai and the Shodokan organisation last year -- before my shodan as i needed the extra training. I found that both styles compliment eachother and I enjoy both of them greatly for they both shares the core ideals of Aikido. Well, in my not so humble opinion they do! ;>

Anyone else care to comment?
Yes, of course aikido training complements aikido training, but I find there are limits to what the 'cross' training in a different style can do for your core style. That doesn't matter if your doing for fun and you enjoy it. But if you really want to progress in your 'core' style, it might be more productive to visit another teacher for a bit of extra training in your own style.

Especially if you have an extremely capable yondan teaching about an hour's drive away. Which brings me to...

Visit Sheffield on a Saturday morning! Scott teaches/leads a dan-grade class and packs in a lot of detail, there are usually only about 3-5 of us, and you'd be very welcome.

(As would anyone else from York graded ikkyu and up.)

b) You got the dates wrong there, didn't you? Surely you meant 27/28 Sept? I'll be there (I think - at least I'm sufficiently sure that I'll post you a cheque today.)

Regards

Sean
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Old 09-16-2003, 09:47 AM   #11
Yann Golanski
 
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Sean,

Yes, I got the dates wrong... I feel sheepish now. It is the 27th and 28th. Thanks for the check and cheque!

I must admit that when I train I do want to use my brains as well as my body. I am not teaching as we already have three teaching sensei. Which means that I am left in normal classes doing the same old stuff over and over again. Don't get me wrong, practice makes perfect but I sure like some novelty in what I do.

Of course, Scott's dojo is ``only'' an hour away by car and I should go there more often. But between work, social life and money it can get difficult to take most of a day to get there: two hours driving, two hours training, an hour social time... It's the day gone.

I think there's a new year resolution coming: train at Sheffield once a month!

It will be good to train with you again.

The people who understand, understand prefectly.
yann@york-aikido.org York Shodokan Aikido
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Old 09-16-2003, 11:26 AM   #12
akiy
 
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Douglas brings up some good counterpoints of visiting and training at a different dojo.

From my own experience (which will probably differ from others), I was lucky in starting at a very open dojo where training with other people was encouraged. About after a year or so of training there, I really started going around to many of the other dojo in the area as I was no longer a "member" of any one dojo. I also partook of as many seminars as I could in many different approaches to aikido. This diversity, for me at least, has proven to be beneficial in the long run as I now understand that there are plentiful ways of approaching the same principles as a student as well as being exposed to many different ways of demonstrating and/or teaching certain things.

I still stand by my feeling that many dojo/instructors/practitioners in aikido are "xenophobic," holding onto their assertion that what they do is inherently better (as in, "the way they do it is wrong") than others.

Of course, the way one practices will most likely be the "best" method of training for that person; if it weren't, why would one train in that method? As such, I do agree that organizations, affiliations, and styles exist due to people's thoughts that their method of teaching aikido is very much in accordance to their belief of teaching aikido in the most effective and efficient manner.

However, the "xenophobia" above more refers to practices within certain aikido cultures to insulate and, perhaps, isolate the students from other approaches of aikido. Too many times this came from a sense of insecurity of the instructor; other times, this came from the instructor not getting along with others.

Of course, if students do go "outside" their dojo to get other kinds of training, they should go back to the usual manner of training at their dojo. Fortunately for me, I feel I have the leeway where I currently train to emphasize different things -- in essence, I don't need to become a carbon copy of my teacher. As such, you may find me in the class of my main instructor doing something, for better or for worse, with a different "flavor" than what my teacher is doing. Others undoubtedly train at places where such explorations aren't as encouraged...

In any case, all of the above was taken from my own experience. As I said, I started wandering around quite early in my own aikido practice and have attended more than a few of these kinds of "cross-cultural" aikido seminars. From my own experience and from what I've seen so far, such events have been beneficial regardless of one's experience level and background...

-- Jun

PS: The information on the November 15th and 16th Aikido-L Seminar in Toronto will be posted here.

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Old 09-18-2003, 01:19 PM   #13
Doug Mathieu
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Hi Guys/Gals

Hi Ron, yes you added some good points. I too try as hard as I can to do what the other Dojo teachers and students do when I visit them.

I have found too there are points that can register better with me when presented in a different context so even if I may not perform a technique in a new way I did get a better understanding of some principle because it was demonstrated to me differently.

Jun, I suppose as in many other things there can be different reasons for isolating students. Its to bad when it comes from insecurity.

I consider myself very lucky in that our Shihan will say to us at times what he shows us could be done another way and it is not wrong just different.

He will even talk about how it was done pre-war vs. what is favoured now, etc.
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Old 09-18-2003, 05:46 PM   #14
Janet Rosen
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I helped organize and attended the first aikido-l seminar in 1998 when I was 5th or 4th kyu. Its true that I did not take away much technical knowledge from the variety of styles that were presented. But maybe more importantly, I took away a real appreciation of the fact that these varieties EXIST, that they are all indeed valid aikido, that when done by senior folk they all look pretty alike, and that one big difference in "style" is didactic: how are basics taught? Since my instructor was firmly and vocally in the camp that there was only one aikido worth doing, that of the Shihans in his style, I might have gone years without seeing through that fallacy.

Janet Rosen
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Old 09-18-2003, 05:47 PM   #15
Janet Rosen
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Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote:
Since my instructor was firmly and vocally in the camp that there was only one aikido worth doing, that of the Shihans in his style, I might have gone years without seeing through that fallacy.
um, should mention that I also found a different instructor....

Janet Rosen
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Old 09-19-2003, 11:53 AM   #16
BKimpel
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Ron, your post is very timely.

I have been struggling with a lot of the bad things that are happening in Aikido right now (yes political issues mostly), trying to justify how I can be a better man in an organization that is acting like children. I have asked people what we can do to help resolve these issues (after all, there is no organization without it's members, and in that we have some "leverage" over how or Aikido organizations operate and act) on the Aiki Journal forum for that very reason.

I see these Cross "Pollinization" events as you call them, the first steps toward (1) bridging gaps in our Aikido organizations, and (2) responding to its members needs.

Like it has been said on this and other forums, we (the practitioners) already seek out different teachers, in different styles, and harbor no "political" agendas -- we just want to learn as much as we can. The fact that our sensei are beginning to take heed (they have known it for a long time, but knowing and acting are two different things) is very promising.

One step at a time these sorts of events, and mindsets in general, will serve to strengthen and re-fuse Aikido into one whole again. Maybe the task feels as hard as getting the earth to spin, but she is spinning!

And anyone that suggests that beginners shouldn't participate or they will get confused is missing the point -- experts MUST participate because they ARE confused!

Bruce

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Old 09-25-2003, 11:50 AM   #17
Ron Tisdale
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Hi Bruce, good to read you here. I also think it important for beginners so that they can start building exposure and relationships with people from other styles. So what if they are confused for a couple of classes or days...I was confused all the time when I started, it didn't matter what style.

The point is the attitude change, and the relationships. These two things are seeds that continue to grow throughtout the students tenure in aikido. And I think the fruits are well worth while.

Ron

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Old 10-11-2003, 05:43 PM   #18
Aviv
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If we look to the natural world, successfull cross-pollinization can occur in organisms of the same species. We can think of aikido as a species under the genus martial arts.

Metaphors aside, it is with this thought in mind that the Fredericksburg Aikido Club is hosting an all-Virginia Aikido Friendship Seminar on Saturday, November 1st.

Senior instructors form the major aikido organizations represented in Virginia will instruct this interesting seminar at a neutral venue, Thornburg Middle School Gym near Fredericksburg, Virginia. Imagine how we can expand our understanding of Aikido by looking at it from a variety of knowledgeable viewpoints in one training session? Each class will focus on the teachings of the different Aikido lineages.

Common Ground 2003 is a day for practitioners of Aikido to come together and experience the diversity of Virginia's Aikido Resources. Advance Registration is strongly suggested. Registration form and more info are at www.gashuku.net

Peace, Aviv Goldsmith
Aikido in Fredericksburg
www.aikidoinfredericksburg.org
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