“Being a Totem Gaijin: 1” by Peter Goldsbury

The article below by Dr. Peter Goldsbury, Chairman of the International Aikido Federation, has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

I was attracted to Japanese culture in general as a result of practicing aikido, but I was attracted to direct, hands-on experience of Japanese culture by actually living in Japan, as a result of practicing aikido under the direction of Japanese teachers, who often talked of their experiences as direct deshi of the Founder. They talked of a world that I wanted to experience directly, for myself.

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  1. bruce baker says:

    So, the underlying politeness is a ruse for the caste system and the old … you are an outsider .. shut up and don’t embarrass yourself. Not much different for many behaviors around the world, but my positive thought would be …. steal as much knowledge as you can .. from whoever you can .. no matter where they come from, or who they are.

    Yeah, the token outsider … a political expedience at times, but at other times, a new set of eyes that makes some pretty keen observations .. but just do it quietly so the people in charge can present it as .. their idea when it is a good idea, right?

    Well, in the arena of,”..Ya do what ya gotta do to make it happen.” Good for you, Peter Goldsbury .. you make things happen, and you make a difference!

    And that is the point of the story .. sometimes ya just gotta go with custom, and work with the system, not against the system.

  2. you can certainly learn aikido in the USA. everyone i know who’s had an opportunity to study in Japan has accelerated their progress (and come back with fun stories). the aspect of being a foreigner just goes with the territory. it’s that way in most countries you might visit, just maybe more so in Japan.

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