The term uchi deshi literally translates as "live-in student" and comes from the characters for "inside" (uchi) and "student" (deshi). The term is most commonly used in the martial arts but the term also applies to other disciplines such as carpentry or calligraphy. Traditionally, an uchi deshi would apprentice him or herself to a master teacher and live in the dojo or the home of the teacher, serving them all day every day. Today, many people referred to as uchi deshi do not actually live in the dojo but the term is still used to distinguish full-time apprentices from part-time students.
An uchi deshi's training does not only take place on the mats but through the way an uchi deshi conducts their daily life, he or she strives to cultivate a greater understanding of aikido techniques and spirit. Thus, at Ryu Dojo, an uchi deshi starts the day with aisatsu (formal greetings), followed by osoji (dojo cleaning). Uchi deshi also take their meals with Ando Sensei - by being close to, observing and obeying their teacher in his daily life an uchi deshi hopes to absorb as much as possible from their mentor.
As well as receiving a salary from Ryu Dojo, uchi deshi will also gain the necessary knowledge and skills, such as dojo administration and teaching techniques, which will enable them in the future to become independent teachers. By allowing uchi deshi to focus everyday wholeheartedly on aikido, the uchi deshi system aims to produce professional aikidoka who can help to disseminate the peaceful message of aikido throughout the world.
For a different view of the uchi deshi experience, please visit the uchi deshi blog.