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Old 06-09-2004, 04:33 PM   #1
"Anonymous"
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Training Dilemma

Hello all,

I have a training dilemma that I would like some opinions on so I may be able to make a more enlightened decision. I am posting anonymously so I can be very frank and avoid the possibility of offending anyone who may recognize themselves from this post - no one is perfect and we all have strong points as well as areas that can use enhancement. The intent of my post is not to 'bash' anyone, but to try to gain other perspectives on the issues I am presenting here.

My dilemma is with making a decision on which dojo to focus my training and energies on. Lately, I have been training at two different dojos, but I cannot continue that due to other demands on my free time. The dilemma results from the fact that each dojo has different positive aspects as well as different negative aspects.

First, let me present a little background on myself. I trained in Aikido quite a few years ago (over 20) and obtained the rank of Sankyu at that time. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to continue with my training until some months ago. I understand that being off the mat that long, I would have to start from the bottom and go forward from there. Although my technique may have been extremely rusty when I came back (still is to some extent) I still retained a good portion of Aikido in my mind and I know good technique when I see it and I know how good technique feels when it is done right since I been there before. Conversely, I generally know when my technique is weak and what needs attention accordingly. As with most things, you just need to work it out with more practice, etc.



Now to the dilemma. The one dojo, lets call that dojo 'A', is an affiliated dojo with a Nidan for Sensei that has very good and precise technique. The students consists of a seasoned Ikkyu, a couple Sankyus, some Gokyus, and a couple white belts. Training is high quality and intense. Sounds great, right? Well, maybe not. Here is the down side. Although the technique is high quality, there is too much focus on pointing out what one is doing wrong without a good balance between positive acknowledgment coupled with encouragement to do it again and try to correct this or correct that, etc. This happens with every performance of the technique and every senior student feels they have the need to do this to every junior student they work with. I believe they all feel they are being helpful, but this constant critique is very verbal and very lengthy in detail and explanation. I understand the need to point someone in the proper direction, but all that is required most of the time for students that are familiar with the principles is just a quick reminder to 'extend', 'keep weight down', or 'watch the muscle'; and then, allow the student to make the adjustment and try it again, etc. In addition, the Sensei has a tendency to go into too much detail on occasion and not allow the student to try it again right away so he can work it out. Personally, I find too much of this is distracting me from focusing on what I felt wrong with the technique so I can have the chance to try and work it myself. One other thing, on occasion, this Sensei has become angry and lashed out verbally to students who had made a mistake. I have a very big problem with this since it does not present a joyous and relaxed environment for the study of Aikido. Rarely do I leave this dojo feeling like I learned something and had fun. However, there is high quality technique here and the dojo is affiliated with one of the national Aikido associations.

As far as dojo 'B' is concerned, it is new and independent with a Nidan Sensei as well; who has been off the mat for a few years and has some rusty technique, but it is evident he knows Aikido. He has a very relaxed teaching style and students feel he is very approachable. As mentioned, this is a very new dojo (less than a year old) with very junior students; actually, I am Sempai at this time. Although the technique being presented here is not at the same quality level as dojo A's, the training focus is more on practicing the technique to gain improvement rather than the constant dissecting of your technique to point out all its flaws. Needlessly to say, the training environment is relaxed, friendly and all appear to be learning and improving their techniques. There is one teenage student that has only been on the mat for six weeks and looks to be ready for his Rokyu test - although the dojo is independent, the Sensei's background is ASU and he follows their guidelines for testing, etc. When I leave this dojo, I feel like I had fun and I am relaxed and look forward to the next session. In addition, I can relate very well with this Sensei and we both have similar views on what Aikido is and how its training should be approached.

So my dilemma is: do I want to go with dojo 'A' where my exposure to the higher quality technique, coupled with being part of an affiliated dojo, may present a better opportunity to advance in Aikido? Or do I go with dojo 'B' where I feel very comfortable and will most likely have the opportunity to progress at a more customized pace and level?

I would appreciate comments and opinions from the Aikido community on how they view the above issues and what their decision might be. I welcome all comment and I would appreciate if you could include your age and level of Aikido experience along with your comments. Every thing is relative to some extent - therefore, I would be interested in knowing how the young, old, new, and more experienced view these issues from their perspectives.




Thank you in advance for your comments.
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Old 06-09-2004, 06:19 PM   #2
kironin
 
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Re: Training Dilemma

It sounds like you want to go with dojo B.

What are the reasons sensei of dojo B is independent from ASU ?
Does he just have a lapsed membership or are the bridges burned ?

Does sensei of dojo B have any intentions of seeking out more experienced teachers to train with ? That is, has he thought of ways of
bringing himself above where he was and keep progressing now that he
has decided to run a club ? If he is just satisfied with how he is, then you might be happy for a while but then get really bored.

How does he feel about you attending seminars by more senior people ?
for example ASU seminars (see the first questions) ?

Sensei A clearly seems to have issues from your account. What I am wondering is does Sensei B also have issues. A nidan being independent and giving out ranks is a little strange.

It sounds like you would be a lot happier practicing at dojo B. Would attending seminars be enough to get what you want from dojo A - "exposure to high quality technique" ? Is attending seminars possible ?
after all you said the students are progressing at B- so as time goes on - your argument for choosing dojo A should become weaker and weaker.

best of luck on your decision,
Craig

Last edited by kironin : 06-09-2004 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 06-09-2004, 09:49 PM   #3
aikidoc
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Re: Training Dilemma

Many organizations allow their dojo chos to promote up to ikkyu so that is not so strange.

I would examine my goals first and see which fulfils your needs best. A training environment more conducive to learning is probably the safer way to go. If the negativity is dragging on your ability to learn, the precise technique won't be of much use.
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Old 06-09-2004, 11:40 PM   #4
xuzen
 
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Re: Training Dilemma

Dear Anonymous,

Your heart has already decided on Dojo B, yes? You are asking for people to confirm on your decision, yes? Your choice reflects your training objectives. Is it for relaxation, social, fun? Or are your serious about your aikido and you want to progress to be a serious practitioner (a future hanshi perhaps). Your decision is ultimately never a bad one. Sticking with a dojo is like marriage, if you cannot cope with your partner, then the marriage can be hell, if you feel happy all the time, then you have found a good dojo. The good part about dojo is you can leave anytime if you don't like it anymore, unlike marriage.

Tell you about myself; I stopped training in Aikido for 3 - 4 years at one time, due to work (traveling salesman) and further studies commitment. After completing my studies and moving to a more stationary job, I started training again. So I went dojo shopping. The first Aikido dojo I attended, were a reputable one, run by a veteran practitioner and well-known. After a year, I felt that the training became too regimented, somewhat akin to army boot camp (I exaggerated a little). There was no room for creativity. Also there were too many sempai and hierarchy, IMHO tend to stifle creativity (You may discount my view here).

Later, I quit and did not do aikido for a little while. But I live and breathe aikido, it just runs in my veins so the urge was strong, I went dojo shopping again. I manage to find another dojo. I have stayed with this current one for 2 years now, and I am going for my shodan this coming Saturday. This current dojo is the anti-thesis of my former dojo. Atmosphere is more relax and hierarchy is not prioritized. I may be a sempai there but I gladly train with any white-belters. Overall I love it. According to my sensei, when he was training under Sensei Gozo Shoda in the late 60's, the atmosphere was like this (My sensei was there, I wasn't, so I took his word). The great teacher himself will chit-chat amongst his students after class. It was this that my current sensei wishes to maintain.

Sorry Mr Anonymous, I tend to babble. But to cut it short, I think I am doing OK. I can hold my own against equal ranking aikidoka in terms of technique, and I am having a good time at this dojo. So good luck with your decision, remember if you don't like it, go to another. Don't put up with what you don't feel comfortable with.

Best regards,
Boon.
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Old 06-09-2004, 11:54 PM   #5
Infamousapa
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Re: Training Dilemma

I Think You Wrote To Much..anonymous...just Go With Whats Right.
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Old 06-10-2004, 12:30 AM   #6
Janet Rosen
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Re: Training Dilemma

As we often read here, it's what actually happens on the mat that is the training. I'd "take curtain B" for sure.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 06-10-2004, 01:57 AM   #7
tiyler_durden
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Re: Training Dilemma

Dear Anonymous User,

When I read your piece I thought I was reading my own piece form my first day back at Aikido.
I too left the mat for a long time and when I returned I found that the level and training of most if not all Dojo's in my area where not what I expected.
The level and training is all different and new and not what I at all liked nor wanted.

I searched and found 2 that where like you explained.One was very technical and affiliated and the other brand new and not so big.

I stayed with the smaller Dojo and even though it is not at all like my old Dojo I still come out thinking I had a great lesson and learned something in that lesson.

When I read your piece I see the following statement about Dojo A "Rarely do I leave this dojo feeling like I learned something and had fun". Why go there if you gained nothing form the experience? People who are more technically minded and enjoy discussions over this are more likely to enjoy these type of lessons and In my humble opinion,you are not!

Yet when I read the statement for Dojo B I read the following "When I leave this dojo, I feel like I had fun and I am relaxed and look forward to the next session. In addition, I can relate very well with this Sensei and we both have similar views on what Aikido is and how its training should be approached."

This is a much larger response about the Dojo and I think and feel form this statement that you do enjoy the training style and also have fun and feel that this is the right choice yet you are a little worried that it is not a big and affiliated Dojo,you feel that quality comes in this package as you are a man who knows what he pays for,IMHO.

I feel you should chose Dojo B as it feels good and I also feel you could also grow well in this environment and who knows what the future holds.

I hope I have stated clearly what I feel in my opinion form you post and that you take from it what you will.

Thank you,

Tiyler Durden

"Deal with the faults as gently a your own"
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Old 06-10-2004, 03:02 AM   #8
ruthmc
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Re: Training Dilemma

I agree - go for B!!

At your level you don't need to worry about high technical ability - that's what you worry about just before your shodan test

Train where you're happy - develop your Aikido by visiting other dojos, seminars, books, and of course the Web if you feel you need more than you're getting from your dojo.

Happy training!

Ruth
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Old 06-10-2004, 03:22 AM   #9
PeterR
 
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Re: Training Dilemma

Quote:
Ruth McWilliam wrote:
At your level you don't need to worry about high technical ability - that's what you worry about just before your shodan test
Bad habits form early and stay with you. There is something to be said for going with technique and having someone instill that early.

I would still go for B - probably because I would despise this constant critique is very verbal and very lengthy in detail and explanation.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 06-10-2004, 03:50 AM   #10
Hagen Seibert
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Re: Training Dilemma

ok, everbody votes for B so someone has to jump to the aid of A

I can very well imagine that constant criticism and correcting is getting on one´s nerves, especially when it leaves no room for your own trial and playing. So if everybody is so particular about correct forms it will sometime start to hinder your development.
But: At Sankyu level this is not the case as you would still be struggling with technique itself.
So you still can learn something at A.

Secondly, aikido is also about managing conflict. So maybe there´s another thing you might learn at A. What would happen if you told you training partner frankly that his bickering is getting on your nerves or more politely that you wish to try something which may be incorrect but you need to feel it, thank you....

Thus, if technique styles at A and B were not too different I would still visit A and not make a decision based on exclusive either ... or...
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Old 06-10-2004, 08:57 AM   #11
BLangille
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Re: Training Dilemma

At which dojo to you think your presence would make the greatest impact? Do you think you could help address the negative aspects that you have noted?
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Old 06-10-2004, 11:39 AM   #12
"Anonymous"
IP Hash: 9bd7d4e4
Anonymous User
Re: Training Dilemma

Quote:
Craig Hocker wrote:
It sounds like you want to go with dojo B.
That obvious?



Quote:
What are the reasons sensei of dojo B is independent from ASU ?
Does he just have a lapsed membership or are the bridges burned ?
Not sure about the reasons, but I do not think any bridges were burned. I believe he just could not commit to a regular schedule for a while due to job requirements, etc



Quote:
Does sensei of dojo B have any intentions of seeking out more experienced teachers to train with ? That is, has he thought of ways of
bringing himself above where he was and keep progressing now that he
has decided to run a club ? If he is just satisfied with how he is, then you might be happy for a while but then get really bored.
I believe he may, but he has not talked much about it.



Quote:
How does he feel about you attending seminars by more senior people ?
for example ASU seminars (see the first questions) ?
This he has talked about and he strongly recommends seminars as well as visiting other dojos to help expand Aikido exposure.

Thanks for your input -
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Old 06-10-2004, 11:44 AM   #13
"Anonymous"
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Anonymous User
Re: Training Dilemma

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
I would examine my goals first and see which fulfils your needs best. A training environment more conducive to learning is probably the safer way to go. If the negativity is dragging on your ability to learn, the precise technique won't be of much use.
Very good point - no matter how much quality is available, the training environment must be conducive to learning to allow proper reception of the knowledge.

Thanks
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Old 06-10-2004, 11:52 AM   #14
"Anonymous"
IP Hash: 9bd7d4e4
Anonymous User
Re: Training Dilemma

Quote:
Boon Soh wrote:
Sticking with a dojo is like marriage, if you cannot cope with your partner, then the marriage can be hell, if you feel happy all the time, then you have found a good dojo. The good part about dojo is you can leave anytime if you don't like it anymore, unlike marriage.
Interesting analogy - Regardless of how easy it is to leave the dojo relationship, it is a relationship nonetheless, and as with all relationships, it is always difficult to break. However, one must go where one feels one must go - Karma, I guess.

Thanks for your comments.
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Old 06-10-2004, 12:00 PM   #15
"Anonymous"
IP Hash: 9bd7d4e4
Anonymous User
Smile Re: Training Dilemma

Quote:
Tony Sapa wrote:
I Think You Wrote To Much..anonymous...just Go With Whats Right.
It was a little lengthy; wasn't it. You are absolutely right - you must always go with what's right, but your right is always a mirrored left… (sorry, could not resist that one)

Thanks for the input.
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Old 06-10-2004, 12:03 PM   #16
"Anonymous"
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Re: Training Dilemma

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote:
As we often read here, it's what actually happens on the mat that is the training. I'd "take curtain B" for sure.
I agree, thanks!
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Old 06-10-2004, 12:12 PM   #17
"Anonymous"
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Anonymous User
Re: Training Dilemma

Quote:
Tiyler Durden wrote:
I hope I have stated clearly what I feel in my opinion form you post and that you take from it what you will.

Thank you,

Tiyler Durden
Your opinion was very clearly stated and I appreciate you taking the time to submit it. I agree, you should do what makes you feel good. Although I am a somewhat technical person, I do not delve into low level technical discussion just for the sake of the discussion; there must be an ultimate objective and the discussion points should lead you there.
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Old 06-10-2004, 12:17 PM   #18
"Anonymous"
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Re: Training Dilemma

Quote:
Ruth McWilliam wrote:

Train where you're happy - develop your Aikido by visiting other dojos, seminars, books, and of course the Web if you feel you need more than you're getting from your dojo.
Thanks for the advice - I do intend to do seminars as well as visit other dojos when I can, kind of an Aikido gypsy of sorts.
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Old 06-10-2004, 12:33 PM   #19
"Anonymous"
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Anonymous User
Re: Training Dilemma

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
Bad habits form early and stay with you. There is something to be said for going with technique and having someone instill that early.
I understand the danger of bad habits taking root early. However, just because the overall level of technique between these two dojos is different, that does not mean that dojo 'A' is perfect in their teaching of the techniques and dojo 'B' is all wrong. On occasion, students in dojo 'A' will correct me on a technique because I did a variation that they never saw. To them I am wrong and they are right; but this is not true - no one is wrong, just different.




Quote:
I would still go for B - probably because I would despise this constant critique is very verbal and very lengthy in detail and explanation.
This is a very annoying part of dojo A's environment. Even if they were always right all the time, you do not need to hear it constantly - you need time to make adjustments and work it out.

Thanks for your comments
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Old 06-10-2004, 12:47 PM   #20
"Anonymous"
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Re: Training Dilemma

Quote:
Hagen Seibert wrote:
Thus, if technique styles at A and B were not too different I would still visit A and not make a decision based on exclusive either ... or...
You make some good points with your comments. I feel I do well with conflict management (it is the part of Aikido that stayed with me all those years off the mat) I have not directly voiced my concerns about the constant correction, but I have communicated in other ways that should lead to less opportunity for them to get into the critique mode - for example: "You are absolutely right, lets try it again- grab my wrist" I was hoping after a while this would lead to more action and less talk.

Although I stated I needed to decide between the two, I did not rule out the occasional visit - especially since dojo A has a good weapons class once a week and dojo B is just stating to establish weapons training.
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Old 06-10-2004, 01:00 PM   #21
"Anonymous"
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Anonymous User
Re: Training Dilemma

Quote:
Brian Langille wrote:
At which dojo to you think your presence would make the greatest impact? Do you think you could help address the negative aspects that you have noted?
Good question. Although all the members and Sensei of dojo A are roughly half my age, I should be able to make some sort of impact form an older person's position. However, this dojo suffers from 'belt blindness' Senior belts always know better than junior belts. However at dojo B, there is more of an age spread; although I am still the oldest. But as mentioned, this is a very new dojo and I am the Sempai - so I am able to make an impact. It may be due to their respect for acknowledgment of me having more Aikido experience then them, or just from being older. There is one other thing about dojo B, the sensei on occasion asks for my opinion on aikido related issues - this never happens at dojo A.
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Old 06-10-2004, 02:51 PM   #22
kironin
 
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Re: Training Dilemma

Quote:
This he has talked about and he strongly recommends seminars as well as visiting other dojos to help expand Aikido exposure.

Thanks for your input -

Well, I see no reason why you haven't already decided to put your energy and commitment into dojo B. That sounds like the home for you. That's certainly where I would go if I was in your position!

life's too short! get on with it!


your welcome,
Craig


ps. as to considering martyring yourself at the alter of conflict management at dojo A - don't. just don't. you are not paying to be a martyr and no-one is going to thank you as a junior student for trying to change the culture of the dojo that they have chosen to practice at AND again life is way too short.
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Old 06-10-2004, 07:00 PM   #23
PeterR
 
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Re: Training Dilemma

Quote:
Craig Hocker wrote:
ps. as to considering martyring yourself at the alter of conflict management at dojo A - don't. just don't. you are not paying to be a martyr and no-one is going to thank you as a junior student for trying to change the culture of the dojo that they have chosen to practice at AND again life is way too short.
Yes and yes again.

I was going to get all caustic about that (I've been in that mood lately) but .... what Craig said.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 06-10-2004, 09:36 PM   #24
"Anonymous"
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Anonymous User
Re: Training Dilemma

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
Yes and yes again.

I was going to get all caustic about that (I've been in that mood lately) but .... what Craig said.
Absolutely agree with that - I am not the martyr type. I am a live and let live type of person - if we can share some beliefs fine - if not, it is goodbye and have a nice life, etc. However, I also believe in giving things a chance as well.
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Old 06-10-2004, 10:44 PM   #25
Janet Rosen
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Re: Training Dilemma

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
Yes and yes again.
I was going to get all caustic about that (I've been in that mood lately) but .... what Craig said.
LOL! Now what are the odds that Craig, Peter R and I would wish to express ourselves with just the same words!!! Must be a blue moon out there....

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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