Doing aikidō on the road

I titled this post "on the road" because sometimes I really feel as if I live on an airplane. If you're a die-hard traveller, you'll be instantly in synch with the concept. If not, imagine being away from home upward of 50% of the time. While I enjoy travelling to new and exotic places, sometimes it gets tiring and dull.

But aikidō has given me a new opportunity: now, before I travel, I look for shōdōkan aikidō venues in which I can train whilst away. This has been fun and, frankly, quite enlightening in a number of ways. After all, I started this blog precisely because I wanted to share my views about the venues I've visited and the great people I've met along the way.

As of this writing, at the end of 2006 and at the close of only my first year of practising aikidō, I've been a visitor to dojos in Wales, Scotland, Australia, three places in the United States, and two places in Japan. I plan to write more about these places and the people in them, but, for now, I'll simply say that visiting these clubs and meeting their members has been a fabulously rewarding experience. If you practise aikidō and you find yourself "on the road", like me, don't miss out on an opportunity to train!

But, I suppose I should say that it's through travelling that I have also found out some of the less desirable features of aikidō:
  • there seems to be a needless splintering-up of shōdōkan aikidō, some preferring the term "Tomiki aikidō" and others preferring to emphasize the links that Tomiki-sensei had with Waseda University;
  • in some parts of the world, shōdōkan clubs don't follow shōdōkan hombu's grading syllabus, which can lead to some awkward moments; and
  • kyū grade uniforms (obi colors) are not globally uniform, which can cause some confusion and, potentially, extra expense
One thing is common, however, and it is a very positive aspect:
  • every dan grade I have met is willing to go out of their way to help kyū grades attain proficiency in the art
To the extent I can, I ignore the politics. Frankly, one of the great things about being a kyū grade is that I couldn't get involved in the politics of aikidō even if I wanted to. But it does bear mention that I am aware of what goes on around me, and to that extent, observing the operation of shōdōkan aikidō is interesting.


Senshi said...

Good to come across your blog. I study the non-competitive "traditional" Aikido style. Take a look at my blog over at http://senshiwarrior.blogspot.com/

Scott Zrubek said...

I've only travelled to once spot where I had the time to sit in on an aikido class. It was interesting.

I train in a Tomiki-style that does not have competitions.