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Old 04-12-2005, 01:41 PM   #1
fullerfury
Dojo: Aikido Suimei
Location: Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 72
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May I come visit your dojo?

Hello. A student of mine recently took a business trip and was eager to visit and practice at a local dojo while away. I recommended he notify the dojo of his intentions prior to his departure on his trip. I was a bit shocked by the reply.

While I respect the feelings and sentiment behind it and understand the wariness of a visiting aikidoka from a foreign dojo, it still left me with a deflated feeling.

Below is the original correspondence from my student to the dojo followed by their reply. I have omitted any names and affiliations of the other dojo.


---------------------------
Good morning.

I am a member of Aikido Suimei of Phoenixville, PA and will be
traveling to <somewhere in USA> next week for business. If time permits I would like to visit your dojo to practice with you if that would be ok with you.

Aikido Suimei is an ASU organization of which I am a member.
I've been practicing aikido for 1.5 years now and hold the rank of
4th Kyu. I look forward to hearing from you and hope that a visit with you is possible.

Peace,

Pete

------------------- Response ---------------------
Dear Pete,

It is always nice to hear from fellow Aikido students traveling in the
area.

As you may be aware, we practice a style of aikido at least somewhat
different than what you have trained in. Although we always welcome
visitors to come and watch our classes, we have found it better to
avoid
having students of other styles "drop-in" for just a few classes.
Though I
am sure that your style and your study are both accomplished and
honorable,
even small differences in training style can cause confusion or lead to
accidents. Differences in breakfalls, rituals for initiations,
striking/blocking, or throwing techniques can present opportunities for
miscommunication and possible injury.

If a student of another style of any martial art were interested in
training
long term and starting as a rank beginner, they are of course welcomed.
However, for such a short period, we would prefer you to visit and
watch
rather than participate.

If you would like to visit our dojo, please let me know and we will
make
sure that the instructors on that evening know you are coming and have
an
opportunity to meet and talk with you.

In a Spirit of Harmony,
Teacher from <somewhere in USA> dojo
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Old 04-12-2005, 01:58 PM   #2
Jory Boling
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

"we have found it better to
avoid
having students of other styles"

it would be interesting to know exactly what kinds of things happened that caused them to find it better. we have visitors all the time for 1-2 classes at our dojo. and the one time i visited a dinstinctively different dojo (on a work trip) i was welcomed and invited to come back any time. hopefully that is the case at most dojos.
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Old 04-12-2005, 02:07 PM   #3
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

While I understand your surprise and disappointment, I can also understand the response. Some places have a definate way of doing things that can be percieved as quite different from the general expectations in aikido. I know people that think if I do a straight arm shihonage they think I'm trying to hurt them on purpose...but where I train, that is just a rather commonly done variation. Imagine my surprise if I do that technique to someone and they jump up and try to smack me for it! Small differences can make a huge difference sometimes.

Personally, I've learned to be very cautious at first when taking ukemi or performing techniques in a strange environment. I almost always let the other person set the level, I almost always pattern the technique shown REALLY slowly first to see if I'm missing something, etc. Even as a yudansha, I take instruction/suggestons from the white belts if they have it...after all, they've trained in that dojo much more than I.

I wouldn't let this bother you that much. And this kind of response is exactly why I try to notify the dojo ahead of time about my visit. So far, I have had nothing but warm receptions...

Oh, I think I met you at a embukai the AKI dojo in the area had. Hope you're doing well.

Best,
Ron

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 04-12-2005 at 02:12 PM.

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 04-12-2005, 02:07 PM   #4
deepsoup
Dojo: Sheffield Shodokan Dojo
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Yep, definitely seems weird to me. I'd be interested to hear what happened too.
Quote:
However, for such a short period, we would prefer you to visit and watch rather than participate.
Not my idea of a good night out.

Sean
x
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Old 04-12-2005, 02:09 PM   #5
Cyrijl
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

they are afraid that:
1-he might be dojo busting
2-he might be better than them

I think, from my experience, that this mentality seems prevalent in Aikido more so than some other arts. (i mean at the coule of dojos i went to and the ppl i have talked to...nothing innate about aikido) There is always a passive agressive response to situations. Anger is repressed and comes out like this. He could have just said "No, we don't accept others students for liability reasons." Instead he goes on this meaningless meandering explanation. It is sad. Everyone can teach someone something and everyone can learn from someone.*

I am starting a a non-aikido school this week and the instructor told me about how students from other schools sometimes try to come there just to prove themselves. Fortunately, he has a ringer he uses in just such occassions.

(*in a general sense)
jzf

Last edited by Cyrijl : 04-12-2005 at 02:16 PM.

melior est canis vivus leone mortuo
Bog svsami!!!
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Old 04-12-2005, 02:11 PM   #6
senshincenter
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

A very keen sense, Jory, great you picked up on that. That is a very good question you raised.

Still, perhaps the true word they mean to use is "easier." Such that they really mean, "we have found it EASIER to avoid having students of other styles "drop-in" for just a few classes."

dmv

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
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Old 04-12-2005, 02:25 PM   #7
kironin
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

what a bunch of wussy B.S.


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Old 04-12-2005, 02:33 PM   #8
Rod Yabut
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

That's terrible that their dojo functions that way.
Everytime I go on business trips, I've always brought my gear and expect to practice. Although I've only followed protocol (calling ahead for permission) only once or twice, I've shown up at another dojo unannounced everytime and they welcome me as their own.
The good thing is that they provided you with the courtesy of explaining.

Rod
"Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything." -- Miyagi Sensei
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Old 04-12-2005, 02:51 PM   #9
rob_liberti
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Connecticut
Location: East Haven, CT
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Maybe they shouldn't call their school "aikido" if it is so different. I train with people from other aikido orientations all of the time. Give me a break - fast or slow, dynamic or static, atemi happy or dance the night away, who cares it is only a few classes... If they are bold enough to say that to you in an email, it seems like they should be bold enough to let you come and just tell you what is expected of you while training aikido in their place. And if you actually cause some problems then they should be bold enough to tell you to please sit out.

In my opinion, if someone wants to visit Connecticut they can come train with me. If you don't like my classes because you want something else, I'd be happy to help you get to one of the many other dojos in the area that might be more to your liking - I might just decide to try to train with you there for a night or two.

Rob
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Old 04-12-2005, 03:25 PM   #10
Greg Jennings
Dojo: WPAFB JiuJitsu Group
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

I wonder if the response would have been different if the proposed visitor had been, say, a sandan?

Best regards,

Greg Jennings
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Old 04-12-2005, 04:08 PM   #11
Cyrijl
Join Date: Aug 2002
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

I still think my answer is probably the most likely....they were either afraid he'd cause trouble or he would be alot better then the comparabel ranks at the school, come here and tell everyone how bad they were and how their aikido was weak and sissylike

melior est canis vivus leone mortuo
Bog svsami!!!
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Old 04-12-2005, 04:36 PM   #12
JAHsattva
Location: kansas city
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

"I've been practicing aikido for 1.5 years now and hold the rank of
4th Kyu"

this is what scared them.

if he would have just stated 4th kyu, they wouldn't have passed judgement.

but 4th kyu in 1.5 years sounds like your traveling a fast path through aikido.
because some dojo start at 5th or 6th kyu.

i could be wrong but , this part of the message made me think so.

don't sweat it , i would go exploring in the mountains or woods and be a solo practitioner on vacation.

sounds like a rare occasion to be turned down .
maybe the next vacation will be more welcoming.
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Old 04-12-2005, 04:53 PM   #13
the slayer
Dojo: kaa headquarters
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

are dojo will welcome you we have visitors from holland bulgaria brighton etc i also phoned up brighton dojo when i was going on holiday and asked if i could train their for one night and they also welcomed me even thot heres was slightly different i still learnt a few things and had a good time and i think jason may be right they may have been scared of because are dojo starts at 6th kyu and it takes some of us a while to get the grades.but if you are coming to england one time call ahead to the komyokan aikido headquarters sensei ezra will welcome you
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Old 04-12-2005, 05:34 PM   #14
senshincenter
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Yeah, but I think most instructors know that rank and duration of training are totally relative and thus nearly meaningless. For example, if a person told me he/she had been training for 1.5 years, I still would have no idea how well they moved (or not) until I actually saw them. And I wouldn't expect to know until I did see them. The same thing would go for their rank - even if they said they were a 3rd dan. I mean, after a while, you figure out that a person can say they have been training 10 or 20 years and still not have that mean a darn thing - so while I guess it is possible, I would be a little surprised to hear that a dojocho felt they could interpret anything from rank and/or stated duration of training. I think it's just protocol that we mention these things when visiting new dojo but I don't think it's actually carrying with it any kind of significance and/or meaning - at least not the kind where you start turning folks away. Therefore, I would suggest the dojocho in question just turns everyone away - even when rank and duration of training seem to correspond to his/her own.

Last edited by senshincenter : 04-12-2005 at 05:41 PM.

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
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Old 04-12-2005, 06:38 PM   #15
Don_Modesto
Dojo: Messores Sensei (Largo, Fl.)
Location: Florida
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

People seem offended at the dojo in question. I'm not. They sound like a serious bunch. I'm guessing Iwama, maybe, or Chiba's dojo. Whatever. Visitors may contribute nothing other than variety. At higher levels this is interesting and useful; at 4th KYU, it's only a damned distraction. This is before we factor in possible unctuous demeanors...

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Personally, I've learned to be very cautious at first when taking ukemi or performing techniques in a strange environment. I almost always let the other person set the level, I almost always pattern the technique shown REALLY slowly first to see if I'm missing something, etc.
Me, too.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
------------------------
http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 04-12-2005, 07:13 PM   #16
senshincenter
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

When I trained at Chiba Sensei's dojo, we had visitors, from everywhere, with all kinds of rank, come on by to train. Some came for a while, some came for one day. Before that I trained at two Western Region dojo (Chiba Sensei affiliated) and again it was the same thing - all welcome, always.

I think allowing visitors into one's dojo is not necessarily about trying to gain something from them directly. It seems to be more about what we as a group and as individuals gain (and learn) as we take on the responsibility of host. As we understand this responsibility at our dojo, we don't have a mat fee, etc., and we try and do a lot to fulfill this role of host as fully as we can - even providing food and board whenever needed. For us, we don't take on this role of host because some visitor is going to or can teach us something we don't know and/or should know. So, personally, what I try and do is to take the role of "host" as seriously as I can. I wouldn't consider myself being serious regarding the benefit of hosting visitors because I turn away a lower rank/1.5 year old practitioner.

I'm not out to try and tell anyone what they should do, and certainly not what the dojocho in question should have done - to each his/her own. This is just more what we do and have done.

david

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
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Old 04-12-2005, 07:25 PM   #17
Mashu
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

If they don't like visitors I wonder how they treat new people? When I was a kyu rank I visited different ASU and AikiKai dojo and they were always very gracious and I was grateful for the chance to see different styles and levels. Best to skip the dojo in question.
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Old 04-12-2005, 07:35 PM   #18
fullerfury
Dojo: Aikido Suimei
Location: Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Hi Ron. I remember my visit to the North Wales dojo fondly and remember you as well.

In truth my main reason for posting this correspondence was for a point of discussion. While I was a bit taken back by the reply my student received, I am not really all that surprised, even if I said as such.

Every chance I get I pack a dogi when on vacation or work related travel. I have only had great experiences( Aikido of Dallas and The Dojo in LA run by Sensei Robert Bryner come to mind ) when I have been fortunate enough to find a new dojo to lay some sweat down in, if only briefly.
I have also only had very positive experiences when visitors from other local organizations and States have come to train with me. In both cases, I have always ended up learning something new.

I also find it hard to believe, especially from what appears on paper as a well established school ( one with numerous yudansha on the teaching staff of level of at least 3rd dan ) that the school in question would not be able to monitor 1 4th kyu on the mat for one session.

It is a shame that the students of that school are not exposed to other flavors of Aikido.

-Garrett
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Old 04-12-2005, 09:13 PM   #19
Chris Li
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote:
People seem offended at the dojo in question. I'm not. They sound like a serious bunch. I'm guessing Iwama, maybe, or Chiba's dojo. Whatever. Visitors may contribute nothing other than variety. At higher levels this is interesting and useful; at 4th KYU, it's only a damned distraction. This is before we factor in possible unctuous demeanors...
That's what I say - it's all about what's in it for me!

Truthfully, visitors can often be a distraction and a hassle - but I prefer the atmosphere in open dojos.

Best,

Chris

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Old 04-12-2005, 09:37 PM   #20
Nick P.
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Visiting other dojos is like a mini-seminar; those "hosting" are suddenly confronted with a whole new variable element in their midst, and the "visitor" is surrounded by complete unknowns. A true opportunity for everyone to really practice some blending.

Their loss for not welcoming your traveling student. For the record, what was your student's reaction, and did they eventually find a place to train while on the trip?

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Old 04-12-2005, 09:51 PM   #21
PeterR
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Quote:
Sean Orchard wrote:
Yep, definitely seems weird to me. I'd be interested to hear what happened too.

Not my idea of a good night out.

Sean
x
Hi Sean;

Shodokan Honbu would prefer non-Shodokan people to watch also. I understand this perfectly as there is a definite rhythm to the training.

At Shodokan Himeji no one watches (you are dragged out onto the mat) - first time visitors don't pay either. My little contribution to the Aikido world even though it cuts the flow of training.

Still that is a choice I make and would not get upset if a group declined my participation for the reasons that group stated.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 04-12-2005, 09:55 PM   #22
giriasis
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Because of our location, Ft. Lauderdale, we get a lot of visitors of all levels and have not found visitors to be distracting or a hassel. If anything you get to train with someone who practices in a different manner to learn lessons you don't typically get to learn. We don't turn people away because of style/ association. In the five years I've been training here, I have seen my sensei welcome visitors outside our association from ASU, AAA, Iwama, Aikikai Hombu, Nihon Goshin Aikido, Sand Drift Martial Arts, and Yoshinkan. It's always interesting to train with someone who has a different "style" than you.

Anne Marie Giri
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Old 04-12-2005, 10:29 PM   #23
Lan Powers
Dojo: Aikido of Midland, Midland TX
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Here in the middle of no-where there aren't enough training opportunities anyway....everywhere I have visited was thrilled(seemingly at least) to have a new face.
Even the largest dojos I've been a visitor at were warm and open to seeing/meeting you there.

To each their own though.
Lan

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Old 04-12-2005, 10:52 PM   #24
Misogi-no-Gyo
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Mercilessly
Of course, in any given situation it is always easier looking at the other guy for what is wrong. Please don't take this the wrong way, but personally I think there was a critical error in the way that you went about it. Being from NY, it reminds me of the herds of mid-westerners who come into Manhattan walking around looking up at everything like it is the first time they ever saw a building, or standing on a street corner just looking around and around like they are completely lost, or something... Of course, they could simply be from Jersey, but... You see it doesn't matter if it is the first time you have seen a tall building, or if you are lost, or if you are from New Jersey... because it is always about perception and not reality. In the cases I mentioned these innocent people are just walking advertisements that scream, "Please rob me, I'm not from these here parts..." What I am saying is, it has to be all martial arts, all the time, even especially on the initial way upon which you approach things (deashi mixed with shizen-ni).

Sure you were trying to be polite (commendable) by giving them notice. From a martial arts perspective though, you showed them your opening, you telegraphed your intended attack plan and they simply shut you down like the way a BJJ expert puts someone in a triangle choke and squeezes the dickens out of em - mercilessly.

Now I am not saying that you were wrong. What I am saying is that it is better to examine your own approach and figure out how to reach your goal rather than having someone else control the situation from the get go. Training is a circle whereby you first look at what your opponent did, but you then must look at what you did, or did not do when faced with that situation. Improvement comes when you can develop alternate routes or paths which you can take when confronted with what has formerly shut you down. For all I know what you did say may have set off some pretty loud bells due to the fact that the last guy who visited his dojo from your school broke the wrist of one of his students, or worse, broke his own wrist. Maybe the dojo-cho's wife used to date your sensei and there is still some bad blood. He could simply hate your teacher, your style, or your shihan for any number of reasons and is just trying to be polite by brushing you off with some excuse about outsiders... You just can't know, and thus you should never put the details out there upon which you may unfortunately find yourself hanging.

For example, you could have called them anonymously and said you would like to know if it is possible to watch class. Having the information, you could have gone down there and said that a former student of theirs, someone whose name you can't quite remember said if you are ever in town to make sure you go there and train with them. Realizing that you came all that way based upon a referral of one of their former students, even if he had been mistaken might make it difficult for them to say no to you, especially while you are standing there with a twenty dollar bill out to cover the training fees. You could have also said that you may be moving into town next month and that you wanted to find a dojo at which you could immediately start training when and if you settled in. In that situation, a potential student, even one with some different experiences is a much more attractive prospect upon which to direct their energies. I am not advocating lying, mind you, but if your goal is to train and pick up some new experiences, there certainly is a way of achieving it if you are creative.

There is little to be gained by coming to the board, sniveling and looking for sympathy. Maybe that is just what 4th kyu students with 1.5 years of aikido do at your dojo. Of course, maybe that is what these guys were afraid of happening, only after the fact. Who knows? Not I. What I do know is investing your energies into avenues that move you forward towards achieving your personal training goals is always a better option. Having just said that, I am quick to admit that, for you, coming here maybe a first step in doing just that. So on the hope that your journey of a thousand miles has already begun, I wish you all the best in you future pursuits.



.

Last edited by Misogi-no-Gyo : 04-12-2005 at 10:58 PM.

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Old 04-13-2005, 12:03 AM   #25
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
Hi Sean;

Shodokan Honbu would prefer non-Shodokan people to watch also. I understand this perfectly as there is a definite rhythm to the training.
I went to Shodokan Hombu in Osaka for a week or so in 1989 - and they let me train. Admittedly, I was shodan of the UK Tomiki system but to be sure, it was quite different, and interestingly so.

Since that time, several UK people have become more involved in Shodokan - to the extent that in the UK it caused a rift. Now, there are basically two Tomiki styles - one is the original UK Tomiki style, and the other consists of those who follow the Shodokan directly. I know people on both sides, and some in-betweens. As far as I know, members of the 'other' are always allowed to train if they turn up.

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