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Old 04-13-2005, 12:54 AM   #26
Chuck.Gordon
Location: Frederick, MD
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Hey, my attitude has always been 'if they don't want to train with me, it's their loss, screw 'em.'

The dojo in question may have some real easons for doing business like that, or they may just have a case of paranoid ego inflation. Dunno. In any case, it's their business and their choice.

IMHO: Dojo are not supposed to be public facilities. YMMV. Mine is not. It's pretty much an autocracy and I have final say over who steps on my mat or not. If they don't like it, I'll happily make reccomendations elsewhere.

Now, that said, I've never refused anyone who wanted to visit, but unless I know them or they come in with an introduction from someone I know and trust, I almost always make them watch at least one class before getting them onto the mat.

Over the years I've had some really fine folks visit the dojo, from all over the world (more than a handful from this board's membership, too). And the great majority were polite, played well with others, and a good time was had by all.

However, some years past, I also had some folks attempt dojo-yaburi, and the intrusions were disruptive, annoying and totally unfruitful for all concerned. That, however, isn't the reason I place such limits on visitors.

I want folks who visit to have an idea about what and how we do things on the mat before dropping them into the class. It's safer for them, safer for us. An observation class lets us get to know each other, too.

Chuck

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Old 04-13-2005, 12:55 AM   #27
PeterR
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Rupert - I tend to use the two terms interchangeably - Tomiki certainly called his style Shodokan. Not really that up on UK Aikido politics (why would I be) but the "Tomiki UK" groups still participate at international events and are part of the family. The kata and techniques are generally the same with any differences easily worked out.

I have over the years seen non-Tomiki folks (maybe I should have used that term) come and train but those tend to be particular circumstance. I do remember one time where the decision to allow some one to train was more trouble than it was worth.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 04-13-2005, 01:25 AM   #28
batemanb
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Quote:
Garrett Fuller wrote:
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...............

even small differences in training style can cause confusion or lead to accidents. Differences in break falls, 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.........

OK, I've cut some stuff out, not trying to take it out of context, but doesn't anyone else think that preferring a rank beginner for one session as opposed to someone with 1.5 years experience, regardless of style, is really just a cop out? There's bound to be differences, but FWIW in my experience, some experience is better than none .

Something I've noticed over the years when meeting people from different clubs and styles, is that they always focus on the differences in what's being done ("ooh, I've never seen that before.."), they never focus on the what's common, e.g. a nikyo is a nikyo, once you observe that, the differences in getting there (from what you do to what they do) become easier to overcome since the core principle is recognizable. Whenever I visit somewhere new, I always look at the technique first, then the outer movements.

Quote:
Senshincenter wrote:
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.
Currently we have two visitors training with us, one lad from Holland recently transferred to the area with his job, and another lad from Melbourne on temporary visit, also work related. Both are from different organisations, one from Sugano Sensei's line, the other from Iwama Ryu, neither of which are linked to our association. Both have been practicing for 4 years, one is a Shodan, the other is 4th Kyu.

The Iwama guy came for the first time this week and during keiko was partnered with one of our guys who happens to be going for shodan on Sunday. They were doing some ken dori and the Iwama guy was asked to do yokomen uchi, which he did, although it was gyaku yokomen uchi, so it came from the opposite way, it confused our guy for a couple of minutes, but nothing that couldn't be resolved quite effortlessly . The Sugano lad has looked at a few techniques, I can see his face questioning the differences (he mentions it after), but again he picks it up pretty quickly, without any major effort for me, and even if there was, that's not a problem because that is what the instructor is there for. It has been a pleasure to train with both of these lads, they offer a different perspective to training, which has been a challenge to some and a a revelation to others. They and anyone else are welcome to train at our dojo anytime.

rgds

Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 04-13-2005, 01:34 AM   #29
Chris Li
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Quote:
Shaun Ravens wrote:
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.
If you read the first post you'll see that the sniveling wasn't done by the 4th kyu. It was simply the story as related by their instructor. The letter seemed reasonable enough to me. Personally, the kind of stealthy approach you seem to be advocating seems much too complicated for me. I just go and present myself straightforwardly - I've never had any problem with that approach, even with conservative schools in Japan (never been refused by them, either).

Best,

Chris

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Old 04-13-2005, 03:16 AM   #30
xuzen
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Hi all,

From the reply, the dojo-cho seems very diplomatic. It is their dojo; so I guess it is their rule, nothing much to fuss about. My guess is that they may have bad experienced wrt such kind of 'intrusions', so they pre-emptively try to avoid possible 'intrusion'.

Having said the above, in my place, aikido is not a popular MA relative to say, karate, tae kwon do etc. We rarely get visitors, and if we do, only a small percentage will want to try out the class. Those who try, only a small percentage will stay on to their first grading. Given such small number, it is quite unlikely we will turn down curious visitors or other school aikido practitioners. Besides, it is a good break from our normal routine.

Boon.

SHOMEN-ATE (TM), the solution to 90% of aikido and life's problems.
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Old 04-13-2005, 05:35 AM   #31
Dazzler
Dojo: Templegate Dojo, bristol & Bristol North Aikido Dojo
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Hi all

I cannot see any circumstance where we would refuse a visitor in one of our open classes.

It is up to the club in question of course, but anyone is welcome in our dojo especially someone that takes the trouble to write in advance.

To say that the person may attack differently causing confusion to me is quite funny.

Would you say to a street attacker..."stop! thats not the correct way to stab me?".

If your aikido is so inflexible that it only works when the attack and response are rigidly drilled...then (lights blue touchpaper and stands back....) maybe it isn't aikido at all!

IMHO !

D
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Old 04-13-2005, 05:58 AM   #32
batemanb
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote:
Would you say to a street attacker..."stop! thats not the correct way to stab me?".
Almost word for word what I was thinking when writing my post above

rgds

Bryan

A difficult problem is easily solved by asking yourself the question, "Just how would the Lone Ranger handle this?"
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Old 04-13-2005, 06:23 AM   #33
fullerfury
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Interesting rant Shaun. You explore some valid angles, but I believe you are stretching a bit, but none the less very provocative.

Nick, no the student did not respond to the email and did not go visit the dojo while away on business. I believe he opted for an evening at a local blues club instead.

-Garrett
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Old 04-13-2005, 07:41 AM   #34
Ron Tisdale
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Quote:
Would you say to a street attacker..."stop! thats not the correct way to stab me?".
I'm not sure that's the point of the statement. In training, you want the freedom to attack strongly, but the surity of going to work the next day...so a recognizable pattern/reigi/protocol may often be preferred. I do know that I'm pushing against the tide here, and personally, would prefer an open dojo myself.

But I am aware of the motivations for this type of thing, and I am not anxious to tar the dojo in question with some of the negative brushes used here quite so quickly. With so little information to go on, I don't think I have enough to make a decision about the response one way or another. I also remember dojo yaburi type situations, karateka coming in actually asking for a challenge...some openly, some not. While its always interesting to see how these things play out, its also a waste of time...and it does carry a certain amount of real risk.

Ron

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 04-13-2005 at 07:45 AM.

Ron Tisdale
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Old 04-13-2005, 08:11 AM   #35
Dazzler
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Hear what you are saying Ron. To a certain extent I agree that its necessary to follow some controlled and planned development path - we certainly try to work this way.

But if you apply that thinking too literally wouldn't it exclude any unknowns ...eg beginners?

My take is that anyone is welcome...if they don't behave then they leave.

Never experienced any problems with this.

Dont get me wrong...I'm not endorsing an 'anything goes free for all' in the dojo.

But some variations from within the aikido community or even outside aren't at all bad...none of us is too perfect to benefit from exposure to some others and hopefully we are willing to share what we have too..

Where I teach / train we accomodate and embrace differences....especially as in the example of this thread where the guy went out of his way to politely check that it was ok to train. Theres always something to be learned.

Not looking to tar anyone...unless I have missed it I think the names etc have been excluded...just giving my thoughts for those that run dojos to consider.

Cheers

D
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Old 04-13-2005, 08:50 AM   #36
Ron Tisdale
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

And good thoughts too. One thing to consider...he went out of his way to politely ask if he could attend...so shouldn't he be just as polite when the answer is one he didn't expect? If you ask the question with an agenda, you may not like the answer. My solution if you are not willing to live with the answer is don't ask.

As to taking that position too literally, the responder made it clear that beginners *are* welcome. So I think the 'too literaly' supposition doesn't apply.

Best,
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 04-13-2005, 09:17 AM   #37
Dazzler
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
One thing to consider...he went out of his way to politely ask if he could attend...so shouldn't he be just as polite when the answer is one he didn't expect? If you ask the question with an agenda, you may not like the answer. My solution if you are not willing to live with the answer is don't ask.
Rather spookily I said almost those exact words when discussing a student last night who asked if he was ready to grade.

He didn't like the answer either.

Good point...I guess its still a free country after all.

Cheers

D
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Old 04-13-2005, 09:22 AM   #38
Ron Tisdale
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Quote:
Craig Hocker wrote:
what a bunch of wussy B.S.

And

Quote:
As a teacher, my experience has been that many beginners especially those that have never done any other martial art to a significant extent can be really hurt by being thrown in to cross-style situations. The confusion can erode their confidence in learning aikido at all. Physical injury is highly possible given the differences in ukemi (what little they know at this point), my own experience in cross-styles training and Ellis Amdur's essays would really give me pause in suggesting to a beginner that it's a good thing or important for their training at that point to attend other style seminars or dojos.
Suggest a contradiction to me...could you clarify a bit?

Thanks,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 04-13-2005, 09:23 AM   #39
Ron Tisdale
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Quote:
Rather spookily ...


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 04-13-2005, 09:48 AM   #40
Justin Gaar
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Ki Symbol Re: May I come visit your dojo?

In the end i always miss a good thread. Anyway,
Quote:
Maybe they shouldn't call their school "aikido" if it is so different.
Ahh but it must be Aikido. There are always different affiliations, different foundations, different ways of doing things. Remember the old "If we were all the same" complex? But might i say, i would research the kind of style the foreign dojo is a part of before i ask to participate in it.

If you arrest a mime, do you have tell him he has the right to remain silent?
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Old 04-13-2005, 10:28 AM   #41
kironin
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote:
Suggest a contradiction to me...could you clarify a bit?
Thanks,
Ron
no contradiction.



in the case that started this thread, the teacher is obviously okay with the student visiting this dojo on his trip.

the quote you give is reasoning in the context of whether I as a teacher encourage beginners to visit other schools. I don't. At the same time, if they are going on a trip and say they plan to visit a school, I never say they can't. I will probably ask if there is a program related to ours in the area, or see if I can find info about the school mentioned on the web, or if know people in that city or state, make inquiries about dojos in that area (I have done all of these.). The more confidence I have in their skills the less protective I become.

On the other side, I welcome any one to visit our classes and certainly have had various inexperienced traveling aikido students of various backgrounds visit.

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Old 04-13-2005, 10:31 AM   #42
Ron Tisdale
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Thanks, that's clear now! (context, ron, context!)

RT

Ron Tisdale
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Old 04-13-2005, 11:21 AM   #43
Rod Yabut
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

My second two cents…

While sharing seminar experiences, I remember a fellow aikidoka telling me that he went to a seminar once where a group from one dojo just practiced amongst themselves. It wasn't their choice because by their sensei actions, he made it a point that they practice amongst themselves and not with the general seminar attendees.
In retrospect, it is their preference - and their "loss" for not exploring the possibilities of their aikido and losing the opportunity to try it with on a different body type. So this same mentality may apply to this unwelcoming dojo.

I can see a visiting beginner being a distraction because you don't know they're how good their ukemi is. But here he announced his rank and years of training - with this you'd expect that he's fairly comfortable with the training that he's had -- even as bold as to go into another dojo by himself. At 4th kyu, this person should have "some" ability to take ukemi. In my book, their fair game to take in some extra cranks and higher break falls. No distraction there. Like we used to say at my former dojo, the darker the belt… the harder your thrown!

Rod
"Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything." -- Miyagi Sensei
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Old 04-13-2005, 01:36 PM   #44
deepsoup
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
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.
I wouldn't be upset either, but I don't think I'd bother to visit a club once just to watch a class. (Like the 4th kyu in question, I think I'd have gone off to find the blues club instead.)

The way you do things at Himeji is much more my cup of tea.

Quote:
Not really that up on UK Aikido politics (why would I be)
Best way. I think I'd prefer to be less up on the politics than I am.

Sean
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Old 04-13-2005, 04:48 PM   #45
Aiki.Ronin
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

[quote=Sean Orchard]I wouldn't be upset either, but I don't think I'd bother to visit a club once just to watch a class. (Like the 4th kyu in question, I think I'd have gone off to find the blues club instead.)

Even though most of us aren't in Japan or living by their cultural norms I do find the concept of visiting and watching and being persistent to be more positive and effective than just walking away after a potential first rejection. Yeah if I was in town somewhere for a day and they wanted me to only watch I might be tempted to simply leave and hit a club. That's not a problem for me though since I like going out to clubs much later than most dojos are open...

Basically what I'm saying is that it takes time to gain trust from people. Think about it, you are asking a complete stranger to let you lay your hands on them, and possibly endangering them (or yourself). My experience (mainly while traveling to seminars I have no affiliation with) is that it takes a day or so for people to get to know who you are and what you're about, but after that happens I have made new friends and learned a lot.

(Thanks goes out to the nice folks at the ASU dojos in San Antonio and Austin, and also Sensei Lynn Fabia and her students in Dallas and Shreveport)

Sorry for the long post!
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Old 04-13-2005, 06:35 PM   #46
senshincenter
 
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Quote:
Rod Yabut wrote:
My second two cents…

While sharing seminar experiences, I remember a fellow aikidoka telling me that he went to a seminar once where a group from one dojo just practiced amongst themselves. It wasn't their choice because by their sensei actions, he made it a point that they practice amongst themselves and not with the general seminar attendees.
In retrospect, it is their preference - and their "loss" for not exploring the possibilities of their aikido and losing the opportunity to try it with on a different body type. So this same mentality may apply to this unwelcoming dojo.

I believe I may know of the dojo you are referring too. They were all very serious Aikido students. It wasn't so much that they had standing orders to train with only themselves but that they were more prone to train with equally serious Aikido students. At a seminar, you can tell who is a serious student and who is not - pretty much at first glance. Serious Aikido students sit in seiza differently, they walk differently, their body looks different, they move differently, they have a different gaze, etc. If you fit the bill, these folks would train with you - quite reguarly - even if you weren't from their dojo. If you weren't as serious as them, sure, I saw them often "politely" turn away from you in order to bow in to one of their own or to another serious Aikido student from another dojo. For some reason, that makes sense to me, especially because it is not so easy to train seriously at a seminar - especially some of the bigger ones. It also makes sense to me because I know for a fact that their dojo was always open to visitors that wanted to train with them there.

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 04-13-2005, 07:11 PM   #47
maikerus
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

About two years ago a friend of mine who studied Aikikai in Japan invited me along to his dojo to take a look. I brought my dogi (with white belt) just in case I would be able to train.

We asked the instructor if I could watch the class or if it would be okay for me to train. I said that I had been training in Yoshinkan for 20 years and was interested in training with them to learn from what they were doing.

I was surprised, but not insulted, when he said no. What bothered me was when he started to rant about how Aikido wasn't a game and I shouldn't of thought to even come to ask to train. I apologized and asked it was okay for me to watch the class. That was fine, so I sat in seiza and watched the 2 hour class and picked up a lot of interesting variations from my style that way.

That being said, last Saturday I taught a class where there was:

1 Tomiki guy from the UK
1 Aikikai guy (training for 3 months in Japan)
1 Aikikai guy (trained for over a year in Japan, but stopped 3 years ago)
1 Aikijujitsu instructor who has been training Yoshinkan for about 2 years now
1 beginner guy who studied Kung Fu and Karate but this was his first time trying Aikido.
3 Yoshinkan people who had only studied Yoshinkan (two of them with me - one for almost 3 years and the other for about 18 months - and one university nidan who joined our club about 2 years ago, but has been training for about 6 years now)

It was a really fun class. Our schedule called for teaching hijishime and that's what we did, albeit very carefully <grin>

I find that as long as people come to try what you are teaching there is no problem. Discussions about how "we do it this way" or "why don't you do this" are better left for after the class, although some questions do make sense during class. Admittedly, it is difficult for people to do things different from what they are used to, but I have found that that is why they are there, so there is no friction involved in correcting them just as you would any other student.

cheers,

--Michael

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Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 04-14-2005, 12:27 AM   #48
darin
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

I think its a good idea to watch a class or two before joining in. You can get an idea of the level of the students, ettiquite, dojo rules and the instructor's personality. If your going to train then I recommend bringing along a white belt unless your of the same style or the instructor recognizes your rank.

In my school I make all new students, regardless of experience and rank in other styles, start from white belt (even if they are wearing their own coloured belt). Its a good way of getting rid of those people from other styles who are there hoping to get a quick black belt or convert my students to their style or looking to test out their techniques. The ones who do stay realize that its only for a short time as they rise through the ranks quickly because I actually do recognize past experience.
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Old 04-14-2005, 07:12 AM   #49
happysod
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

Quote:
If you weren't as serious as them, sure, I saw them often "politely" turn away from you in order to bow in to one of their own or to another serious Aikido student from another dojo
Good to know there's a perfectly acceptable reason for arrogance, presumption and keeping to a clique...

As for the "watching a class first" in the original post, while the arguments put forward for it are reasonable, I can't help thinking that a dojo with this policy is going to miss out on those souls who are only around for a week (or less) on business who just want to train while traveling. OK, this may be some peoples choice and wish, but I find the idea that a single drop-in student is either
a) a distraction to the entire dojo or
b) not worth opening your doors to

both risible and rather sad. To me it just smacks of a touch of fear of the unknown on the part of that dojo and doesn't really provide me with a good impression of the quality of either the instructors (at dealing with people) or the aikido (I'd tend towards the it must be cultish crap).

[free plug]
Oh well, if anyone's in London for a visit and fancy prancing around on the mat with a frivolous bunch of ki-wusses, feel free to drop in. You may not like or accept what we do but you're more than welcome to try it out.
[/free plug]
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Old 04-14-2005, 08:03 AM   #50
rob_liberti
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Connecticut
Location: East Haven, CT
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 1,402
United_States
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Re: May I come visit your dojo?

At seminars, sometimes you go there to meet up with someone you won't be able to work out with anywhere else for a long time and so I respect that. But in normal class, I find it very distateful. Well, this looks like an opportunity for free therapy. When I first went to a class in Boston, it would happen so often that I would be sitting between two "serious students". - No joke, I mean it, they were indeed very serious at the time. When the teacher finished demonstrating, the two students around me would bow to each other and leave me to fend for myself. So I did. Years later, I find it telling that of the 6 serious stendents who did not behave that way 5 of them are still around. I'm still around, and NONE of those serious students (at the time) who only worked out with each other are still around. YMMV.

Rob
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