Saturday, August 14, 2010

aikido place #4: finally.

It only took me four months, but I found a place to train that's less than 2.5 hours from my house! It doesn't have a name, exactly, and the website is delightfully nonspecific, but the teacher is Jorge, a 4th dan from Argentina. He's really nice, and the classes talk about movement and blending and relaxation and everything (among other concepts completely absent from the Iwama places I went to).

It sounds like Jorge may end up being Aikikai Chile's representive in Region V, because there just isn't anyone else: it looks like it's all the Aiki Shu Ren association of Iwama style. Jorge finds this amusing, because he's been away from Aikikai for a couple decades, practicing Ki aikido, tai chi, karate, and a few other things he apparently has black belts in.

Did I mention people there actually move? And they smiled, as though they were enjoying themselves! Madness.

We all seemed to get along well, and I felt like I slotted in pretty well. There was only one other black belt there today, and my style is similar enough to theirs to be recognizable, and different enough to be interesting. Jorge reminds me of Neville, back at Aikido West, with his smiling commitment to study and his laughing semi-respect of aikido organizations. So, Tuesday and Saturday afternoons, I have a place to go.

As you've no doubt learned from my previous adventures trying to find a dojo, the cultural state of aikido in Chile is weird, at best. Tragic, at worst. Today I got some more detail about the relevant laws, explaining why GFU needed me to have a teaching license from somewhere "for the police" before I could teach there: if you teach a martial art, you still have to be licensed like you did during the dictatorship. And you still have to be licensed by the Army, which explains the certification letter from the Army that I saw in framed in a Brazilian jiu-jitsu dojo earlier in my quest. So any martial art, like aikido, tai chi, iaido, karate--

Oh, did I say "karate"? Sorry. The law carves out exceptions for karate, tae kwon do, judo, and kickboxing, calling them "sports."

To clarify: to teach aikido, which normally focuses on peaceful conflict resolution and is remarkably useless for wanton violence, you need a license from the military. To teach something that involves breaking boards with your bare hands: go to town! No restrictions.

But whatever. Yay!

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