A statement has me wondering...

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by bluemtn, Nov 10, 2008.

  1. bluemtn

    bluemtn Senior Master

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    In class tonight, my instructor said that in the past, you used to be able to "visit" other dojangs while vacationing (as an example), but things are changing.

    Why is this occuring, do you think? Do you allow the occasional person to come and work out, even if they aren't affiliated with your dojo/ dojang/ etc.? What are the pros and cons of either visiting or someone else visiting?
     
  2. Twin Fist

    Twin Fist Grandmaster

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    it used to be that every school had high standards, and so you knew that:
    1) the person comming in had skills, and was safe
    2) they knew better than to try and steal your students
    3) they wouldnt sue


    none of those is true any more
     
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  3. bostonbomber

    bostonbomber Orange Belt

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    I go to Korea for work several times a year and I have visited dojangs there. The people are very hospitable and friendly. My art being Hung Ga might have something to do with it, they seem to enjoy seeing something different.
     
  4. Kacey

    Kacey Sr. Grandmaster

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    Whenever I can - which is, I admit, not very often.
     
  5. Blindside

    Blindside Senior Master

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    I always travel with a gear bag, I usually try to line something up ahead of time, but I've certainly called people randomly using the yellow pages. I've met alot of good people that way.

    Lamont
     
  6. pesilat

    pesilat 3rd Black Belt

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    Back in the late 90s I traveled a lot for work and everywhere I went I found people to train with. I trained with a Bujinkan group in Birmingham, a few FMA practitioners in San Francisco, some Combat Hapkido groups in Colorado ... and I could go on. I still regularly visit schools I've never previously been to and work out.

    I would actually say that the reverse of that instructor's statement is more true. Back in the late 70s & early 80s it was incredibly rare for people to visit other schools and if they did the reception they got was often less than warm. There was a lot of suspicion because challenges weren't uncommon - an instructor never knew if the visitor was going to throw down the gauntlet (so to speak) or not.

    In my experience, people are much more open minded now about cross training and visitors to their school. Of course, since you specifically used the term "dojang" then you may specifically be talking about the TKD (or, possibly, other Korean arts). I haven't been very involved with any of the Korean arts - except some very peripheral exposure to some Combat Hapkido folks and I was invited to teach there - in about 20 years. If this is a trend in these arts I'm not aware of it and don't know why it would be regressing - except that everything tends to be cyclical :)

    Mike
     
  7. Rich Parsons

    Rich Parsons A Student of Martial Arts

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    I have been known to visit people and to just say Hi.

    But I have run into issues as well.

    I agree this is what some or many are concerned about.

    We have had visitors, from the I will challenge you to the lets see if this will work, to can I watch.

    When visiting, and being 6'3" and 285-290 lbs and walking into a place I get the look(s) of:

    Oh My god is this guy going to attack us?
    Oh my god is this guy going to hurt me when I have to train with him?
    The Why are you here sir you are do not have any kids with you?

    and many more.
     
  8. I personally have not visited another school but we welcome anyone to come in and watch, we have had others (always prearranged) come in and train with us and the GM plans at least one big trip a year that you can go on where he always sets something up to train at another school. This year was Sicily the year before was Poland next year is China. One of these days maybe I'll be able to afford to go.
     
  9. zeeberex

    zeeberex Green Belt

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    Methinks you may be encountering some professional jealousy a/or politics between dojangs.
     
  10. Drac

    Drac Sr. Grandmaster

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    We occasionally invite people to come and train after "feeling them out"..This is a 2 fold purpose.

    1. To Expose them to Combat Hapkido.

    2. To maybe enroll a few more students.
     
  11. bluemtn

    bluemtn Senior Master

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    At my current dojang, we've had some visit (I haven't been there long, though). I think it's good to visit and have others visit, too. However, I was just wondering if anyone has had any negative experiences with this, and wanted to know if it was becoming "taboo" to visit nowadays... Personally, I've only known of one local instructor (not affiliated to where I go) to put other instructors down, which did sound a bit like jealousy to me...
     
  12. Nolerama

    Nolerama Master Black Belt

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    I've always found some of the most interesting people in the MAs when I travel, and seek out gyms/training groups that might accommodate me.

    As a traveler in an unfamiliar gym I've learned a few things (not just technique, which was awesome as well):

    -Learn. you're there not only to learn their training methods, but to learn the vibe of the gym you're visiting; sometimes, it's good to bring that vibe back to your home gym.

    -Follow their rules/tradition, and don't openly compare their training style with your home training style; you're a visitor and you don't want to rock their boat. however, if the instructor asks, then it's okay.

    -Represent. Being an annoying know-it-all while visiting another gym will ensure you won't get an invite on a future visit. Represent your home gym well by respecting the gym you're visiting. You're not just a MA student, you're a goodwill ambassador.

    -Talk to the gym leader/head coach/etc prior to your visit. Explain your situation as a visitor, and make sure that they have enough room for you. Dropping by all of a sudden can cramp some peoples' style. Be respectful of another's time table. On the same note, research the quality/intensity of their training style. Coming from a little/no contact gym to a full contact, functional fighting gym might surprise all involved. Some places also ask for a drop-in fee. Make sure you're not a deadbeat and pay up for their time, as well as yours.

    -Be friendly. Have fun. Support your MA.

    -Upon returning to your home gym, bring up some interesting methods from your visit.

    -Always call/write the instructor you visited and thank him/her for your experience. Extend an open invitation to your home gym if they're even in your neck of the woods.

    My $.02
     
  13. theletch1

    theletch1 Grandmaster

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    We've always had good luck with visitors. We've had guys from other styles of aikido and even a kempo practitioner come train with us. All of our visitors have been happy to exchange techniques and ideas with us and several have made a habit of coming to visit on a yearly basis as they vacation in our area. Twin Fist, sadly, is right on with his list, though. It's a sign of our changing times I think.
     
  14. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

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    Back in the 60's and 70's, especially in New York, it wasn't done much. It was taken as a challenge. A challenger might even put it that way:Think I'll go over there, and pay them a visit. I was lucky, in that I had permission from my teachers to study with other teachers because I was in boarding school. When I was in college, and looking around for someone to train with, I wasn't exactly welcomed at a few places-they took my presence and prior training as a challenge of some sort-though not in any judo dojo, and a few others of note....

    Later, attitudes like this cooled-I travel a lot, and I'm usually welcomed at other places, and by other styles. There are a few places I go regularly, and I'm usually welcomed back. This is especially true for MMA gyms, but also with some more traditional styles. I think it (the don't visit attitude) takes place more within a style now, for reasons like the ones TwinFist mentioned, but also because of money and politics. There's a group I train with that does this a lot: "Don't train with X sensei, because he's not doing what the head guy says he should do. We're the ones doing what the head guy says we should do. Don't train with Y sensei, because he's ugly and his mother dresses him funny....."
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2008
  15. pesilat

    pesilat 3rd Black Belt

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    I'd second these pointers. They have served me well - though I never tried to put them into words and probably wouldn't have done as good a job as Nolerama did.

    Mike
     
  16. pesilat

    pesilat 3rd Black Belt

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    I haven't had any negative experiences, per se. I have had some "WTF?" moments but not necessarily negative.

    Once while visiting a school where a friend of mine trained the instructor started bad-mouthing my instructor. Not blatant insults just insinuations. I told the guy, "Look. I'm here to hang out with my friend and get some training in. You've never met my instructor so nothing you say is going to have any bearing on my perceptions of him. You're just parroting stuff you've heard from others - and you have no idea what kind of agenda they might have. Why don't you come visit my school and watch or attend a class with my instructor. Then you'll have something to base an opinion on. If you still feel he's somehow lacking, fine. You're welcome to your opinion. If you say anything else about my instructor I'll leave." He didn't and we finished the class without further problem. Ironically, aside from being an overly impressionable follower who was too quick to toe the political lines that his instructors wanted, he was a nice guy and a decent martial artist.

    Last year I visited a school out in CA. I was in the area visiting some friends and noticed the school. I looked up their class schedule online and showed up about 15 minutes prior to their class the next evening. I approached the instructor and explained that I was in town visiting and, as a fellow Silat practitioner, I had heard of the system they taught but I'd never seen it firsthand so I wondered if I could participate in the class or at least watch. The instructor was obviously a little reluctant but let me participate in the class. Afterward we talked for a bit and she said, "I was a little worried about your intentions but you were very respectful and I appreciate it." I asked why she was worried. She said, "Well, we don't ever visit other schools or instructors and it seemed a little strange to me that you'd want to." I asked why 'they' don't visit other schools or instructors. She said, "We consider it a sign of disrespect to our instructors and system."

    Personally, I've always thought that was a little strange. I also think the idea that someone can "steal" students is somewhat warped.

    In my personal experience I've met quite a few great martial artists. I haven't trained with any of them. My reasons for not training with them had nothing to do with their skill/ability/personality. They were great people and phenomenal martial artists. My reasons were purely personal and, more often than not, it boiled down to the fact that I was completely happy with my instructor and training.

    Since I know this from personal experience, I don't take it personally when someone doesn't want to train with me. There are a lot of reasons that someone might choose to train with someone other than me - and none of them have anything to do with anything I'm doing wrong or lacking.

    People are going to train with whoever they want unless that instructor turns them down. No one can "steal" my students. If they choose to train with someone else, so be it.

    Same goes for "stealing" techniques or material. So what if someone comes in and learns a technique from me. Unless they put in the "dirt time" to develop that technique for themselves then it'll never amount to anything more than a parlor trick in their tool box - if it gains that much status.

    Anyway ... I've rambled long enough :) I'll put my soap box back in the corner.

    Mike
     
  17. hkfuie

    hkfuie Purple Belt

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    For me, this has been something I have struggled with: Unfortunately, I have seen instructors I respect treat visitors with suspicion. I have also heard them trash others' skills. I think this is truly sad.

    There ARE people who talk trash about other people, especially in the martial arts, I believe, and that is what I consider the darkside of martial arts.

    I think this is the reason many are suspicious of outsiders. They don't want to risk being treated shabbily by someone who has some need to belittle others. And often just the possibility that someone will do that leads them to strike pre-emptively - at least that was what I observed.

    But not every place is like that. I have visited some places that are very open and welcoming and respectful of visitors. I am always trying to build my community of martial arts friends and these are the types of places I love to visit.

    The pros? Building a community of martial artist friends, learning something new, having a good time training, mixing up your training just a little, learning about different types of martial arts, experiencing the difference between hard/soft styles, finding out what other styles are about...I am sure I have not exhausted the list.

    The cons? Possibly a bad experience, but this can be avoided by contacting them first, then using your gut when you arrive. You can always bow right back out the door and try somewhere else.
     
  18. Carol

    Carol Crazy like a...

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    I've had very good luck visiting other schools. I make arrangements in advance. If I know someone at the school, I often ask for their assistance in introducing me to the instructor, so the sensei knows that I have good reason to visit the school.

    When that hasn't been possible, I've sent a school a short e-mail from my work e-mail account introducing myself and describing why I'd like to visit. My work e-mail account shows my name, my employer, my title, my work phone....if anyone wanted to check up on me, they could.

    So far, each of my e-mails has been returned with an instructor welcoming me to the school. When I was on the road a few weeks ago...I wrote a school that I was not familiar with, that taught a style I was not familiar with (Japanese). I got to the school and was warmly welcomed by the sensei I had corresponded with.....and the head of the organization who said he wanted to make a point of meeting me after I had driven so far to visit the area. :eek:
     
  19. SamT

    SamT Orange Belt

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    My dojang is a part of the American Tang Soo Do Karate Institute. We're encouraged to visit other dojangs if we're in the area, but first have to have our instructors contact the other instructor.

    However, my instructor is extremely open and happy to take visitors. The way he sees it, it's a chance to expose TSD or the way he teaches it to someone else, and expose the students to someone new. Some of it's marketing too, as he gives interested people one free class.

    Personally, I havn't visited any other dojangs or dojos, and honestly don't feel like my skill level (9th Gup) is anywhere near enough to represent my school somewhere else.
     
  20. Deaf Smith

    Deaf Smith Master of Arts

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    While back I was at the Chapman Academy in Columbus Mo. for a class. At night I went to a TKD place and asked if I could train with them. While they said yes I think they watched me carfully when I did my bag work before the class started (I like getting there early and warming up by doing bag work.. I hate just standing there waiting for a class to start!)

    After a while the instructor remarked to me that I was there for a workout, right? I suspect they were worried I was going to sort of challenge them to make them look bad in front of their students, which I can assure you I have zero interest in that kid of display of poor conduct, or some other stupidity.

    Yes many a dojo worries about being sued. So I tell them I'll sign any release they have. I also assure them I am not out for a fight or anything like that.

    So far, being polite and obeying their rules as worked out for me. I find on trips it's fun to bring one set of traditonal martial arts uniforms and another plan Nike workout duds so I can work out at many different places.

    Oh, I also just wear my plain old black belt. Not the five stripper. Again, I'm not there to show people up or challenge them so I keep it low key.

    Deaf123
     

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