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  • switching dojos?

    Hi All,

    This is a bit sensitive possibly, so I thought I'd ask around on this board for advice before I speak to a sensei/make a decision.

    I started kendo about 5 years back, but due to work and life circumstances, I haven't been able to regularly attend all the time, with a few long lapses in regular practice. I also had started at one club, but moved to another a few months later because of distance/work timing not allowing me to attend practice punctually at my original club. Now I've moved to another part of the city, and am much closer to my original dojo (where I did 3 months of total noob training), and two others, and now the one I regularly was attending is one of the furthest ones from me. All the dojos are great, I have no other reasons to switch other than distance and time in transit, and tuition fee differences. Surprisingly one is quite expensive compared with normal kendo dues, paying for more practices available per week, which I most likely at this point can't take advantage of.

    I really would like to resume kendo, I really miss it, but time and distance and expense are making me consider switching home dojos. Have any of you done this? Is it bad form? Is there etiquette I should be aware of? Any advice? When I first switched I was pretty unaware about it being a problem, only being 3 months in or so.

    Thank you all!

    PS: Before people ask, yes I'm very busy with work/family. I know many of you travel very far to train, but I need to maximize my time/save money as much as possible.

  • #2
    Most sensei are understanding. If you explain to the sensei of the dojo you can no longer go to what you just posted then that should be acceptable and courteous. The worst is disappearing, not saying anything then being seen inexplicably with another dojo.

    Having said that, sometimes it's worth sticking to a sensei, particularly a very senior one, in order to get a deeper experience of what that sensei can offer. Though it's not so evident in kendo as it is in other related arts like iaido or koryu, your "lineage" has an impact in your kendo development. Here is a thought provoking article on this matter: http://kenshi247.net/blog/2011/12/15...our-kendo-dna/

    So another way to see it is, are you maximizing your time/money in terms of getting the best teaching?

    But if it's a choice between being able to practice and not being able to practice or you know that traveling across town is a much worse option, well then you have to do what you have to do. And ultimately you have to decide your balance between budo and the other parts of your life.

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    • #3
      Practicality of training should never inhibit you from going to a dojo that is closer and allows you to do more kendo. Any sensei should understand this. Ultimately, the goal for you should be to practice kendo as much as you can and if that means switching dojos, then so be it.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Scott H View Post
        Practicality of training should never inhibit you from going to a dojo that is closer and allows you to do more kendo. Any sensei should understand this. Ultimately, the goal for you should be to practice kendo as much as you can and if that means switching dojos, then so be it.
        Number of times you practice should never outweight the quality of instruction. Financially wise most dojos don't pay their instructors and maybe the difference in dues is accounted for renting the space. Most instructors never want financial reasons to be the reason why someone has to quit or switch dojos. So they might be willing to work with you to come up with another rate or there could be non-monetary ways you can help them i.e. webmaster. Myself I usually spend an hour in traffic to drive to practice from work and about 30 minutes to drive home from practice. You would have to create your decision tree and your family situation to make your final decision. Goodluck

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Toshiro Mifune View Post
          Number of times you practice should never outweight the quality of instruction.
          I agree with the rest of your points and the general idea, but this can't be true. Otherwise most of us should be flying to Japan once a year to train under a hachidan rather than using the same money to train 2-3 times a week at our dojos. At some point the ability to make it to class is more important than the specific instruction, although obviously in a perfect world it would be nice to have both. Personally, I'd add some to my commute for better instruction, but I'm not sure I'd do it if it meant going only once a week or once every two weeks as opposed to 2-3 times per week.

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          • #6
            Well, OK. I concede the point about the quantity versus quality, but I was going under the assumption that most kendo dojos will always have quality instruction to a certain degree. At least that is my experience. I've moved internationally a fair amount since I've started kendo and have changed dojos because of those moves on each occasion. Every time I've changed dojo I've always found that each had something to offer.

            Yes, some had higher ranking sensei than others, and yes some dojos "felt" better than others, but at the end of it all, there was quality to be found in all. Perhaps others have had different experiences, but I've yet to hear a story about a really bad dojo or terrible teacher. Seems to me that due to the nature of the kendo community, "bad" dojos, or sensei, aren't allowed to exist within the community for long.

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            • #7
              RE jjcruiser: I think the Japan example you gave is a little extreme. As some people are really good at kendo but just don't have the experience or ability to teach. You can define quality of instruction many ways but most people aren't ready to move to Japan just to learn kendo.

              RE ScottH: Yes CA there is a good amount of dojos to choose from and that might not be the case elsewhere in the US. If there are not that many dojos a well advertised Fake MC Kendo Dojo can still be sucessful in some parts of the US. I've seen a Fake Kumdo Dojo with at least 10 or more students with a "9th Dan" in Kumdo. He did many demonstrations, "certified$$" people as yondan and a decent web presence.
              http://www.koreanmartialartsinc.com/kumdo.html
              http://www.koreankumdofederation.com/

              Another recommendation for time in transit would be possibly talking to your employer and working out some alternate work schedule or if it would be possible to telework depending your profession. Often people who telework sometimes get more done then people who are in the office 5 days a week.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by jjcruiser View Post
                Otherwise most of us should be flying to Japan once a year to train under a hachidan rather than using the same money to train 2-3 times a week at our dojos.
                Having had keiko with a hachidan or two here in Tokyo I would say this is only appropriate if:

                - You are high enough grade to take advantage of what the hachidan can offer over say a nanadan/rokudan/godan.

                - Have a close enough relationship to the hachidan that they give you more than basic body mechanics advice (not my case since I only get perhaps one 3min keiko with a hachidan every month or so).

                With sensei I only see occassionally, I tend to get the same technical advice from hachidan as I do from nanadan, rokudan and godan (e.g. "mae mae", "masugu masugu", "ookii ookii"). The real gem advice that goes beyond this comes from the sensei who I train with regularly (two nanadan in my case) and who can see my daily progression (or lack thereof). This is why I say taking into consideration what you can get out of the teacher should be a strong factor (though not only one) that goes into the decision.
                Last edited by dillon; 3rd February 2012, 11:12 AM.

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                • #9
                  1. Talk to Sensei, explain situation
                  2. Start training at new closer dojo as much as possible
                  3. Visit old dojo/sensei whenever you have spare time/cash
                  4. Problem solved, Easy

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