Friday, May 14, 2010

maybe why it's not so big here

At the Y yesterday I finally plowed through my shyness--I know, hard to tell by looking at me, isn't it? it's also why I take so long to call you the first time--and went to see the Sports Director to ask about offering aikido classes. The Y had an aikido class, and it's still on the website with a broken link, but the desk lady told me they hadn't had aikido in about 4 years.

The director, Mr. Valderrama, said that they were the first to offer aikido in Valparaíso, and it was hugely popular. They had so many people that they were ready to buy tatami mats, which would probably have been a relatively permanent installation, since they're a pain to move around. (If you're using tatami in an aikido dojo, you usually put it on some kind of a sprung floor and then cover it with rubberized canvas or something. It's not exactly like falling into a pile of pillows, but it gets the job done.)

He said, and I had to double-check this a few times to make sure I heard right, that "aikido" is a registered trademark in Chile, belonging to Aikikai Chile, and that their head at the time, Jorge Rojo, had said that if they wanted to put "aikido" on their building or materials, they had to pay money to the organization. I think they may have wanted some control over the instruction as well, I'm not sure.

It's sad that someone would take something that was intended to be shared, that can be such a positive force in the world, and limit its growth for money. And it's absurd that you could trademark the name of a martial art you didn't create.

Then again, I wonder if that's the full story. Does the Iwama dojo in Viña that I went to pay some kind of fee, with their disdain of anything named "Aikikai"? The other dojo in Viña I haven't been to yet? I don't know.

But it looks like I won't be teaching aikido at the Y, at least.

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