For my CIP I decided to find an aikido dojo. I’ve practiced aikido at home in Hawaii since I was nine, so it felt only right to continue my practice in Japan where aikido was founded. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was for it to feel so different.
Of course there was a difference in style, which took some getting used to, but I was surprised that even the beginners were already really used to that style. Back at home, the beginners generally take a while to get used to the movements and move pretty awkwardly for a while, but here, it’s obvious that the first thing that beginners learn how to do is to move according to the style’s logic. I think that’s a really good way to teach and I’ll probably start incorporate it when I go back to teaching the children’s class at home. I think, though, that this difference comes from the fact that in Japan people tend to appreciate instructions a lot more than in America and tend to deviate less from what they’re told despite the initial uncomfortableness of the movement.
Another thing I noticed that was different, which maybe has more to do with this specific situation than with differences between aikido in Japan and America, is that at my Kyoto dojo, the main sensei is female, which has seemed to attract proportionately more women than normal aikido classes. Truly, there are far more women in my classes here than any other classes I’ve been to with male head instructors. Despite that, however, the class dynamic is no different. There are still people who I prefer practicing with, people who are too gentle, and people who are too rough. Although I previously ascribed rough practice to males, I have found here that in a female-dominated situation, the women have filled that role.
My experience with Aikido Kyoto has been nothing but positive, and I will definitely be keeping with it next semester as well.