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#348325 - 06/27/07 02:32 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Quote:

Anybody with the kind of skills it takes to be a "reviewer" should be able to distinguish "style" from "art", so regardless of whether the guy is Yoshinkan or Hombu, he should be able to see the movement, the footwork, and execution of the technique and know whether you're any good.


Have to agree with you here. Anyone with a modicum of skill would be able to see instantly whether you have the "goods" or not.

Not to blow my own trumpet, but when I was a lowly 2nd kyu, I went to a Rick Clark seminar at a Hapkido dojang - wearing my WHITE belt. Rick used me for a lot of the throwing techniques because he and I had worked out previously at an earlier seminar and he knew what I could do (and couldn't do).

The Hapkido 4th dan in charge of the school later came up to me and in front of another aikido black belt asked me to come back to teach his people how to do ukemi. Despite my protestations of lowly rank and the presence of another black belt, he wasn't interested and politely insisted that he would be happy to have me come teach his people how to do ukemi.

Likewise, when I picked up jujitsu a few years ago. The sensei not only insisted I should wear my aikido black belt but put me in the position of honorary assistant sensei (whatever that means?). I not only got to help out and assist everyone from white belt to brown belt, but I was also asked to sit on several grading panels - including one shodan grading.

The point is, anyone with a modicum of skill can distinguish "style" from "art". Whether the techniques look similar or not, and whether the names are different or not, anyone who understands that body movement, footwork, and technique execution are based on the same principles, would know instantly whether or not you have the "basics" down pat.

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#348326 - 06/27/07 12:19 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
aikidonut Offline
Member

Registered: 12/27/06
Posts: 100
Quote:

I disagree with you about the peer review thing. Anybody with the kind of skills it takes to be a "reviewer" should be able to distinguish "style" from "art", so regardless of whether the guy is Yoshinkan or Hombu,




I meant that at the minimum, it could ( not should ) be just peers from within, but yes, it's even better if a non affiliated person were to also be in the review, sure. I'm trying to say, yes, we don't have to have hombu everywhere.

I am only trying to establish a framework within which one could effectively say ,"yes" or "no" as to whether it was a "real" aikido dojo, for the general public/masses. Of course, this would not be able to distinguish schools that are really teaching aikido, that don't have recognition, and that would be the shortcoming of this method, I admit.

So, a "real" aikido dojo is where aikido is practiced, would be the answer. How one judges if it is or isn't aikido,is the heart of the matter.What do you look for first? Is it basic technique first, is it how the sensei moves ? . But how does someone who doesn't have your (WT) experience in the MA judge if it is or isn't? I wish that I had walked past that BS dojo's door way back when, before I paid them for a full year's in advance,but, I didn't know any better...I wasn't fortunate to have been raised to know good MA from bad.

I suppose you could say that that was part of my MA education, going to a nonsensical dojo w. actually, that encounter did force me to find what really was "real" aikido.

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#348327 - 06/27/07 08:31 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: aikidonut]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
All training is cumulative… not linear. If you learn in a “proper” Aikido dojo, with a shihan teaching and the structure of a formal school, that’s great… but everybody doesn’t have that available to them. I’ve trained in garages, gymnasiums, out in people’s yards, and in plenty of “proper” schools. I’ve trained in karate schools under the same circumstances. I’ve done jujutsu on the mats laid down in a wood shop.



Where you train isn’t nearly as important as “what” you train. I’ve probably read two dozen books on Aikido over the years, and most of them had the same information in different forms, but basically the same information… so what does that mean? Right… the information that repeats itself is important.



There was a lot of that tedious lineage crap in there as well, but principles and technical data isn’t included in lineage. All that tells you is who discovered “such and such” aspect of the technique, and while I respect all teachers efforts, I’m more interested in transmitting the information than giving credit for it.



You complained that you spent a year in a school and didn’t learn much, but I would beg to differ with you. It taught you something about what “wasn’t” Aikido, or wasn’t good technique, or whatever negative issues you found with training there. So you learned some things, even if they weren’t what you wanted or expected.



I’ve learned a lot from books, and even more when I could ask questions of a “live” teacher or sensei, but there’s a lot of information about Aikido out there that has to simply be tried to be learned. Martial arts teachers are “information in motion”, and sometimes you find it in proper schools, and sometimes on the mats in a wood shop. You simply have to be there, training with someone who has the knowledge.



I like “real” people, and those that are sharing their knowledge and understanding of martial arts are much more respected than those that “parade” their rank in front of you and remain too aloof to answer questions. I’ve trained in schools with both kinds, and while I learned whatever was taught at both places, I enjoyed the experience at the ones where the teachers were friendly and open to help me.

Maybe the hardest thing to learn is that you don't learn everything at once. We all want to see someone fluidly and smoothly gliding through Aikido techniques and then do likewise, but it takes time to develop those qualities. "Doing a technique" correctly is more than just the "mechanical movements" or the 'blending', it is the entire concept of the technique done with understanding.

Much of my aiki-jujutsu movements just look like a "wave" of my wrist, but are dynamic in throwing or knocking someone off balance. I didn't learn that all at once, but from years of doing things "like that" and understanding the feel of it when it worked and when it didn't.

Think of it like thrashing wheat... you beat and beat the wheat until you can take away the stalks and blow away the chaff. What is left is the essence you are working for. One blow won't dislodge the kernels, or separate it from the stalks... it takes doing it over and over until it finally gives way.

I have to say that I learn something from everyone I train with... whether its a new technique, or simply the knowledge that they don't know anything... so no training is wasted. It accumulates over the years. It also becomes easier the more knowledge you accumulate... but it's not "lineage" incantations or the like, it's "body knowledge", for martial arts are learned through the body.

I can't iron a shirt all at one time either... I have to take one sleeve at a time... one cuff at a time, and one part of the collar at a time. That's how you will develop your Aikido as well... one part and piece at a time as you understand it.

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#348328 - 06/27/07 09:04 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: aikidonut]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Quote:

I meant that at the minimum, it could ( not should ) be just peers from within, but yes, it's even better if a non affiliated person were to also be in the review, sure.


I believe that was the premise for the formation of the ATAMA (now ITAMA) in '81 - to provide teaching certification and independent peer review and advancement for those, who for whatever reason, could not obtain either thru traditional means.

Since the '60s, structural changes have been occurring within the MA industry to address these very issues you raise. The problem is, multiple independent organizations have been set up to address the same issues. As an example, ITAMA has a chapter here in Australia headed up by Barry Bradshaw 10th dan. There is the MA Board in Victoria on which Sensei Bradshaw also sits. Then there is the MAIA whose board is headed by Sifu Walt Missingham.

So we have at least 3 (and there are more than that!) independent organizations addressing the very issue of shonky backyard operators purporting to teach martial arts without any formal teaching qualifications, none of which talk to each other.

On the other side of the equation, we have various style-based independent federated organizations that tend to be largely territorial. Wherever you have organizations, politics is inevitable. You only have to look at the history of Aikido to see that.

So, one way is to look at the person's teaching qualifications - whether such qualifications were certified by the parent organization or some other independent organization. Most registered training organizations have to undergo stringent education standards imposed by the Government, so some of the guesswork is taken out for you.

Quote:

I am only trying to establish a framework within which one could effectively say ,"yes" or "no" as to whether it was a "real" aikido dojo, for the general public/masses. Of course, this would not be able to distinguish schools that are really teaching aikido, that don't have recognition, and that would be the shortcoming of this method, I admit.


Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Largely because that would first require a definition of what is "aikido"? Even now, nearly 40 years after the founder's passing, the aikido community is still undecided what that really means. Whilst people like Frank Doran, Richard Strozzi Heckler, John Stevens, Thomas Crum, and Bill Gleason have written books for the Western audience, it is still largely their interpretation of what THEIR Aikido has taught them.

So, in general, the term cæveat emptor usually applies. The problem of course is, how would the "uneducated" know the difference? And I'll address this below.

Quote:

So, a "real" aikido dojo is where aikido is practiced, would be the answer. How one judges if it is or isn't aikido,is the heart of the matter.What do you look for first? Is it basic technique first, is it how the sensei moves ? . But how does someone who doesn't have your (WT) experience in the MA judge if it is or isn't? I wish that I had walked past that BS dojo's door way back when, before I paid them for a full year's in advance,but, I didn't know any better...I wasn't fortunate to have been raised to know good MA from bad.


The only way to truly know what is good and what is mediocre, is to constantly improve yourself. Training consistently, and training with other stylists is the only answer. There is no shortcut. Listening to what other people, who have been around a little bit longer, have to say, and make up your own mind. That goes for everything else - not just martial arts.

For example, if you wanted to buy a used car, you wouldn't go straight to the salesman in the caryard. You'd talk to someone you knew well enough and whose judgment you would trust, when it comes to these matters. You'd talk to your mechanic, or your brother-in-law who is a car enthusiast, or even the revhead kid next door.

Quote:

I suppose you could say that that was part of my MA education, going to a nonsensical dojo w. actually, that encounter did force me to find what really was "real" aikido.


It's all part of the journey, my friend. Part of the purpose of these forums, are for people like yourself to canvas the opinions of others who have traveled the path before you. People who know the twists and turns, the forks and junctions, the hazards and pitfalls ahead, and the shortcuts.

However, it is no substitute for a good teacher. The question remains, how to find a good teacher? I believe that style, art or system is less important than finding someone who can guide you on the path, so that you can be a good student.

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#348329 - 06/27/07 09:15 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: aikidonut]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Arrgh... wristtwister beat me to it. As my jujitsu sensei said to me "You can ALWAYS learn something from someone else". Good or bad, you always learn something....

Everytime I read something wristtwister posts, I can see what the difference in 25+ years experience makes. And I learnt something today.

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#348330 - 06/27/07 09:51 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
Prolific

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Quote by wristtwister -

Quote:

and most of them had the same information in different forms, but basically the same information… so what does that mean? Right… the information that repeats itself is important.




Grady, that is an excellent point. That "repeated" info is generally what guides me in my own studies of martial arts in general.
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#348331 - 06/28/07 06:27 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: eyrie]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Sorry, Grasshopper...

Perspectives change with time as well. My thought at the time was that the important point was that you don't learn it all at once... it all comes in pieces. If you broke techniques into pieces, you might learn "this part" tonight, and "that part" next time... and keep accumulating "parts" until you have a viable option. It just takes time to sort out the

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#348332 - 06/28/07 06:36 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: MattJ]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Just for information, I consider this forum part of my dojo training studies too. Bouncing ideas off other people is important in the learning process, and a "perspective" check on my own thoughts at times.

If you teach, it takes more than just a bank of techniques to throw at your students... it takes some perspective of how they think and what is going on around them. Remember that our dojo where I train is basically a "kickboxing school", and the traditional side of things is very small.

I find it interesting that usually after a couple of years, we find the kickboxing students watching what we do, and trying to copy it (usually badly) in their classes. I really think sometimes we're like the two-headed turtle that they keep around as an oddity.

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#348333 - 06/28/07 11:49 AM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: wristtwister]
aikidonut Offline
Member

Registered: 12/27/06
Posts: 100
Thanks for the points you made, WT and eyrie, I know
they're culled from years of sweat,pain,and experience. I'm trying to get there too.

Quote:

If you learn in a “proper” Aikido dojo, with a shihan teaching and the structure of a formal school, that’s great… but everybody doesn’t have that available to them.




actually, for the first 8 years, we were itinerant practitioners. We would find a sublet, then lose it for one reason or another , i would hook us up with another, etc...
The constants that we had were:

a shihan
a serviceable mat
a picture of O Sensei.

one place was a karate dojo that had been on the decline for years. We had to go out into the alley to change. Needless to say, there was no toilet, and barely a curtain.

Now we've gotten lucky, someone in the dojo sprung for the money, and we're trying to make a go of it. It's a semi humble place, no mirrors, no calligraphy ( only original artwork donated to sensei, including calligraphy by O Sensei himself,that's waiting to be preserved professionally and framed.) No fancy stuff, just what we need. I hope it stays afloat, as you know , you don't get rich teaching aikido.

Our sensei doesn't care for money, or for fame, he doesn't really want us on the 'net either, hence no further videos until later. We had tried the 'net to publicize him,to get the recognition we feel he deserves, we feel he is a true treasure, but I suppose,for now,until he says ok, we don't get to share him with the rest of the world.

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#348334 - 06/28/07 05:46 PM Re: What is a "real Aikido dojo"? [Re: aikidonut]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Mark,
one of the most successful dojos I was ever in touch with, was one in Raleigh, NC that was a "training cooperative". They had converted an old mill into several training halls, and built a number of one room apartments in it. They also had some "larger" apartments that were rented to help cover the mortgage on the building and for uchideshi's to live in.

When they had seminars, you simply booked a room with them, and paid your fees to the dojo rather than renting a motel room, and many times, the rooms were free. They divided the monthly bills among the students and deshis in the school, and as the student body grew, the cost per student went down.

I totally understand dojo openings and closings from sublets, etc. because its tough to get enough space to use in the first place, and many of the places you rent won't let you remodel or put in change rooms, bathrooms, showers, etc. to make training comfortable. I've been in a lot of them where you had to go to the nearest restaurant to go to the bathroom, all because the landlord wouldn't let the dojo put in plumbing.

We no longer have O'Sensei's picture or Prof. Kano's pictures on our walls because there is so much "mixed use" of the facility that the frames kept getting broken (weekly). I like having those things up, but they aren't really necessary either. I have his mission in my mind, and some of the principles in my technique, so I can pay my respects when I come home.

The best thing that can happen to your school is longevity. If you can stay in one place and have some consistency in where you're located, it will help a lot.

Good luck.

_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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