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Old 09-23-2004, 08:43 AM   #1
Steve Kubien
Dojo: Renseikan
Location: Ajax, Ontario
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 19
Canada
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Proper etiquette

Hello all,

As I have stated before, I am new to aikido (1 month) and martial arts in general. My other major hobbie is woodworking and everywhere I go I look at the woodwork (cabinets, shelves, racks, moulding etc etc).

One thing I noticed at our dojo was that we do not have a rack for holding our tanto's (I think that's what the foot long wooden knife is called). Sensei allowed me to borrow one to take some measurements so I can build a rack for them. That's the kind of project I like the best; not for me but for someone who can use the piece and is not expecting it. A true gift from the heart. We have numerous racks for jo and bokken (long wooden sword?). This is my way of saying "Thank you!" to Sensei and the dojo for welcoming me with such open arms and helping me along my path.

Now getting to my question..... How do I present this gift to Sensei and/or the dojo? I would prefer to give it to him instead of making some sort of 'look-at-what-I-can-do!' type of scene. I have also noticed at the dojo (and at Sensei's home) that there is always an orange and some green plant cuttings beside the shindon. Is this a traditional sign of respect for the receiver, the dojo, Sensei, those who have passed before us....?

Any help you can offer me on the appropriate Japanese customs for such an occasion would be most welcome. I would very much like to do this right. Thanks.

Osu!

Steve Kubien
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Old 09-23-2004, 09:13 AM   #2
jxa127
Dojo: Itten Dojo -- Mechanicsburg, PA
Location: Harrisburg, PA
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 420
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Re: Proper etiquette

Steve,

I'm not sure there is any stricktly Japanese protocol for gift giving, and you're in Canada anyway. I would simply present the gift to him in private. Being simple and sincere is the best way, in my opinion.

Regards,

----
-Drew Ames
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Old 09-23-2004, 09:22 AM   #3
Bronson
 
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Dojo: Seiwa Dojo and Southside Dojo
Location: Battle Creek & Kalamazoo, MI
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Re: Proper etiquette

Sometimes the folks at my dojo will make stuff like that and just go to the dojo early and put it up. Things get done anonymously like that all the time.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 09-23-2004, 09:54 AM   #4
kung fu hamster
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 166
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Re: Proper etiquette

Hi,
Sorry but I disagree, I don't think people indiscriminately mount anything on the walls without permission. While it's true that students anonymously donate things, I believe they leave it up to the sensei/dojo cho to determine where the item will go. In our organization the directors are very particular about aesthetics, and especially about visual presentation of the dojo as a whole. Maybe I misunderstood your posts? If you don't just tell the director/sensei up front what you're making, then I think it's better to leave the item in the sensei's office with a note as to what the item is for and offer to mount it in the location that the sensei wishes. Our teacher's are not shy about letting us know whether or not they have other ideas regarding such items, and particularly about style etc. And while the students at our dojo have surprised our teachers on occasion with gifts, we left it up to them as to disposition and placement.
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Old 09-23-2004, 10:10 AM   #5
Steve Kubien
Dojo: Renseikan
Location: Ajax, Ontario
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 19
Canada
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Re: Proper etiquette

My Sensei knows I am making the rack. He was reluctant to allow me to remove a tanto from the dojo for fear of it getting lost or damaged. When I told him why I wanted to borrow it, he seemed pleased at the idea. I am new enough to this dojo that I would not dream of hanging something without permission. Not my style but to each his/her own....

So, any other thoughts on the fruit and greenery? As I said, I would like to present this in a traditional Japanese way (for my own education if nothing else). I suppose I could do things the Canadian way but that mean bringing beer and pancakes into the dojo. I would also have to replace the jo's with hockey sticks.


Steve Kubien
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Old 09-23-2004, 10:18 AM   #6
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
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Japan
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Re: Proper etiquette

Hello,

I do not think there is any traditional Japanese way of presenting a knife rack to a dojo. If I were your teacher, I would hold a brief ceremony after regular practice and you would present it then. I would officially thank you, we would all clap, and hang it up somewhere.

And then the daily life of the dojo would resume, new knife-rack included.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
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Hiroshima, Japan
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Old 09-23-2004, 10:29 AM   #7
John Boswell
 
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Dojo: Aikido of Midland
Location: Midland, Texas
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Re: Proper etiquette

Hiya Steve ! (and welcome to Aikido!)

It is my understanding that the fruit and plants that you see at the head of the dojo... that those are offerings to the "gods" or Kami of the shinto religon. Don't quote me, I am no authority. I will relate one story I read from Gozo Shioda Sensei from his book,"Aikido Shugyo."

Shioda Sensei was a live in student of O'Sensei. Students like this would live with their instructor and help care for the household, cook, clean, etc. as well as train. One night, Shioda was asleep along with others in the main room of the house. He awoke to the sound of a very loud "Kiai!" When the lights came on, the students all saw O'Sensei standing by the offering of fruit and such with a bokken in his hands. On the ground was a dead rat that had been sneaking a bite to eat from the offering. O'Sensei was furious that even HE knew the rat was there even though he was sleeping several rooms away and the students in the SAME room did not hear the rat.

O'Sensei took the offering he made to the Kami very seriously. I would check with your instructor first before contributing such an offering. Each dojo has their own beliefs and traditions. Being westerners... we get things skewed all the time from the way the may REALLY be in Japan. As for offering the gift of the tanto rack, that's a cool thought! Very gracious of you to do that! Just give it to your instructor at a time before class and keep things simple. Your instructor will tell you if he wants it hung and where.

Good luck in your training! Enjoy it... aikido is a blast!!

PS: Sensei Goldsbury posted while I was typing. Steve... note that Sensei is currently living in Japan. You'd be doing very well listening to his advice!

Last edited by John Boswell : 09-23-2004 at 10:34 AM.

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Old 09-23-2004, 11:08 AM   #8
Steve Kubien
Dojo: Renseikan
Location: Ajax, Ontario
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 19
Canada
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Thank you to all

I appreciate everybody's feedback. I had a feeling that the 'fuit and greenery' may have some religious connection but I wasn't sure. I will present it to Jardine Sensei in private....when I get it finished!

Again, thanks.

Steve Kubien
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Old 09-23-2004, 11:17 AM   #9
Amendes
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 130
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Talking Re: Proper etiquette

Quote:
Steve Kubien wrote:
My Sensei knows I am making the rack. He was reluctant to allow me to remove a tanto from the dojo for fear of it getting lost or damaged. When I told him why I wanted to borrow it, he seemed pleased at the idea. I am new enough to this dojo that I would not dream of hanging something without permission. Not my style but to each his/her own....

So, any other thoughts on the fruit and greenery? As I said, I would like to present this in a traditional Japanese way (for my own education if nothing else). I suppose I could do things the Canadian way but that mean bringing beer and pancakes into the dojo. I would also have to replace the jo's with hockey sticks.


Steve Kubien

LOL. Yeah beer and hockey sticks are good, just remember to never drink the beer while wearing your training GI as it is considered improper dojo etiquette to drink in a training uniform. :-P BTW if you wanna do something more traditional but still Canadian buy him some Sing Tao beer.

Sorry I couldn't resist the witty response as I am Canadian as well.

As for the fruit if your not sure ask a senior. We never give sensi fruits. However one Japanesse lady gave him some sort of plants once.
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Old 09-23-2004, 02:09 PM   #10
Bronson
 
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Dojo: Seiwa Dojo and Southside Dojo
Location: Battle Creek & Kalamazoo, MI
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Re: Proper etiquette

Quote:
Linda Morimoto wrote:
Sorry but I disagree, I don't think people indiscriminately mount anything on the walls without permission.
Hi Linda,

Actually I agree with you. I didn't make it all clear in my first post that on those occasions when something gets done anonymously it's usually replacing something that already exists, like making and mounting a new weapons rack in the same location as the old one. If it's a brand new thing then we usually follow something along the lines of what Peter G. said.

Sorry for the confusion.

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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