I’m going to start by saying that this is a topic that I’ve wanted to talk about for a while. Way before MIA even really become a thing that people knew about and talked about, and certainly way before I created this website. I understand that just by the title of this post alone, there may be some die hard MIA (or what used to be?) fans out there that may get a little triggered. Listen, I can assure you I have absolutely nothing against MIA, hell, if anything I incorporated a good amount of the core elements from it my self. This post is not meant to bash or make fun of either “methods”, if you can even call them that. With that out of the way let’s just get started
AJATT vs MIA
What is (/was?) MIA and what is AJATT
Let’s start with MIA or the “Mass Immersion Approach”. MIA was a an “approach to acquiring foreign languages” as put by the founder him self, Matt vs Japan. MIA was constructed as a team effort made up of owner/founder Matt vs Japan, and the cofounder Yoga Pants, or Lucas (
god damnit, same name as me lol). MIA was also in a lot of ways the “successor” of AJATT. The founder Matt gained a lot of his ideas about language learning and his general method basically stemmed from the inspiration that AJATT had to offer. That being said, MIA and AJATT are very different in my opinion, which I will discuss in more detail later. There is definitely more I could go into but I think this sums it up enough. Now let’s talk about what AJATT was.
AJATT or All Japanese All The Time was a blog created by a guy who is known to this day as “Khatzumoto“. The blog was about how he learned Japanese to a fluent , and pretty damn decent level within 18 months by simply just living in Japanese (a.k.a Immersion). His moto was
Khatz (his nickname), had a very particular style of writing which was either a immediate turn off to some people or quite the opposite for others (more on this later). When most people think of AJATT they are referring to what’s known as the “table of contents” which was basically the heart of AJATT. Basically a compilation of articles stringed together in order to get YOU to start your own path to Japanese fluency with this pretty, (especially at the time) niche method. I think that’s a pretty decent start and analysis of what AJATT was on the surface so lets move on.
Why am I talking about this anyways?
I figured it would be good to point a few things out before I really move on. First, I am not making this because any of the recent “stuff“ that has gone on within the MIA community, or I guess what was the MIA community (we don’t know what the new name will be yet). In-fact, this goes way before MIA even starting gaining that much traction, or maybe even before it was really constructed. So, Why AM I talking about this. Why am I going out of my way to talk about this topic. Well to be honest, AJATT was really inspirational for me, and I will get on to why later but, I think that as much as people bash AJATT for one thing or another like, oh well, his writing style was awful and hard to read, or his site was just a general mess and difficult to navigate, or he was too “hardcore”, or he was too immature, whatever it may be. In my opinion AJATT did a lot “right” and a lot of what MIA lacked in my opinion AJATT had already incorporated. Perhaps by accident.
How I found AJATT then Matt Vs Japan.
As the text above states, when I found AJATT back in early 2018, MIA wasn’t really a thing. It was just Matt Vs Japan. So how DID I find the two, well I originally found AJATT, the first time surfing the internet and I think it was on reddit (I’m not quite sure since this was years ago now) I remember searching for ways to learn Japanese and stuff on the internet and coming across it one way or another, although, the first time I came across AJATT I actually didn’t think much of it at all. In-fact, I probably just skimmed over the poorly organized blog and then exited out of it practically immediately after. It wasn’t until the second time that I revisited it until I actually gave it a read then I was enlightened to the ways of AJATT and Khatz’s (in my opinion) hilarious sense of humor and down to earth personality. I later would find Matt Vs. Japan on Youtube probably in the recommended sidebar after watching some video. I can’t remember the first video of his that I watched, it was either the kanji one that he made and was really popular or the 3 hour video. Either way, once I found his channel I was immediately intrigued and watched literally all of his videos. My favorite being the 3 hour one, it just had so much juicy info and raw experience that was easy to relate to and he seemed like such a cool guy and I really looked up to him. At the time Matt still labeled all of his content under the “AJATT” tag, so like “AJATT tip” etc. Even though a lot of his content was original and wasn’t really discussed on the AJATT site he didn’t take any of the credit. Obviously this would change later on as Matt would end up meeting Yoga and the two would create MIA.
AJATT vs MIA
What was the “path” that MIA took.
MIA from the very beginning took a very different path than AJATT, both Yoga and Matt came to the conclusion that they wanted to create their own approach that was much more comprehensive, easier to navigate, and more accessible to the public (for example, not just Japanese, but applicable to any language, which AJATT was too really, but because it had Japanese in the name it might’ve not come off that way). That being said, Matt and Yoga also did their fair share of bashing AJATT for what it wasn’t good at, but I mean, I don’t think AJATT ever “intended” to be what it became. I think Matt had a much more rigid, goal motivated approach. That being said, most of what MIA created was add-ons, for the longest time it never really had a comprehensible functioning website that was really even worth checking out, and this could be another thing that AJATT might’ve done better. And I’m sure some people may disagree with me on that because they might argue that at least the MIA site was more organized than AJATT or what not but, what I’m referring to is the actual content that was put on the web site. Most of the content on the MIA site was like a in-depth user guide for some of the addons that Matt and Yoga would create, I’m pretty sure Matt did have a plan on making this table of contents where he would split the language learning process into a certain amount of steps and go through and explain them all individually, but I’m pretty sure that never fully came to light. Matt has explicitly stated in the past that he himself is a “goal orientated” guy and so it makes sense that he and Yoga would go on create something much different than AJATT, something rigid, with more specific time frames and more tailored to people who want results over everything.
Where did MIA start to go wrong. My personal gripes
I guess I should’ve mentioned this earlier but some people might make the argument that, “well that’s just your opinion” or “that’s subjective not everyone agrees with that”, which I guess technically isn’t necessarily an invalid point. A lot of this IS my opinion. That being said, I’ve talked to a lot of people who agree with this opinion and all the “OG ajatters” out there who’ve gotten really fkin good all generally agree that them finding AJATT was a huge part of their success. So where did MIA go wrong, what did AJATT do that MIA didn’t, Well let’s first talk about the mentality of the two (Matt, and Khatzumoto). As I mentioned before Matt is a very goal motivated person, or at least that’s how it comes off and I’m pretty sure that’s what he himself would describe himself as. Now well there’s nothing particularly wrong with being a goal motivated person, I feel like with the efforts that MIA were trying to outgo, the methods in place just don’t work when trying to widespread a method as niche as language acquisition (which is still not something the public has caught on to yet). See, it’s kind of hard to explain what MIA failed to do with out comparing it TO AJATT, for one, AJATT had no boundaries like MIA did, Khatz was always real and his personality was so open. He spoke so freely that it was easy to relate with him. He wasn’t this *god* who just magically got good at Japanese after reading an entire libraries worth of books and studying rigorously for decades. He was a real dude in his early 20’s who was pretty immature (like most of us), who didn’t have loads of money or any special circumstance that would prompt him to have the tools TO get hella good, he just did whatever the fuck he wanted to, in Japanese. He liked Japan, liked Japanese shit, ya know, the anime, manga, video games, drama, you name it. Everything Japanese, and so he basically incorporated that into his life style, he created what he would describe the Immersion environment (creating an environment that prompts an almost 24/7 constant flow of immersion). I know this might seem like I’m just being a major fanboy of AJATT and not really explaining what it is that MIA did wrong but instead just explaining what I liked about AJATT, but listen, hear me out. For starters, even I myself, someone who connects with AJATT way more than I did with MIA, don’t like to call my self an “ajatter” I think its stupid, and tbh Khatz did a lot of shit that was really messed up like, practically scamming ppl for their money’s worth on really shitty products like silver spoon. That being said, when it comes down to it, all the major core ideas and “philosophy” if you want to call it that, that I got was from AJATT.
More focused on reaching the majority than actually getting you good.
This was another big problem that I think MIA faced, when MIA first started, there was this idea to have two different “paths” one path that would be more for the average joe who worked the 9-5 and had a family or some shit, and therefor he couldn’t grind Japanese 24/7, so just a generic path that would still get you *good* but not really that good, or not that good, that fast. Then there was the (I forget what they called it) but, pretty much the *hard core* path, that was honestly only slightly different in terms of what you did, but pretty different in terms of “how MUCH” you did. Now to be honest, I didn’t think this was that bad of an idea, I mean, you get the best out of both worlds, let’s say you’re really passionate about learning Japanese but also don’t WANT or maybe don’t have the time, to dedicate multiple hours a day, well then there’s a certain path for you, and then there’s the certain path for the opposite, the person who has the time, and is very passionate and wants to get really fkin good so he grinds Japanese 24/7. I mean, in a way this stuff is kidna self explanatory so I don’t even see why you would have mention “do less if you don’t have the time it’s okay”. But regardless, Matt, or I guess MIA, would eventually end up giving up this plan entirely and going the mainstream way which is complete and utter moderation, to reach the vast majority of people easier. This was the time when Matt starting getting way more viewers, way more traffic to his channel, so it makes sense that he would want to grow even more and lets be honest people don’t like to hear the truth what people want to hear is a blurred out version of the truth that involves them having to put in maybe a third of the work to get relatively the same results as some of these people who have gotten really good. In summary, MIA took off the “hard core” path (or whatever it was called, I forget), and just kept one path, which would sum up all of MIA and that was the moderate path. I mean, It’s still a lot more realistic than other “methods” out there talking about you do 20 minutes of kanji a day, study some genki 1 and then in like 6 months or something you will be a god at Japanese. No, definitely more realistic than that, but still no where near what AJATT was, which in my opinion, is how it should be. Down to the point.
Why AJATT was so goddamn good
Look, I’m just gonna say it. AJATT was gold, I mean, seriously. A gold mine, a treasure, and I’m saying “was” as if it’s not now but in all reality AJATT is STILL, even now, amazing. you could literally go from zero to really fuckin good if you have even some passion for learning Japanese just by reading AJATT. Looking back at it, Khatz was a genius. Obviously he didn’t create all the ideas, and it wasn’t like he was the first to mention most of the methods, but in my opinion, he created the standard, his wicky personality, outlandish analogies, down to earth and sometimes even overly honest persona. He was relatable, not special. It was easy to compare yourself to him because he never gave the impression that he was somehow “magically” better than you in some way you had no power to change. When you read Khatz’s articles, it feels like he is writing to him self, like most of his jokes and sense of humor and way of understanding things is something that only he himself intuitively understands but once you as the reader catch on to that everything starts to just “make sense”.
Moderiation, aka Nothing in Moderation.
One of my favorite posts that Khatzumoto made was the notorious “All In Moderation?” post, before reading AJATT and becoming “red-pilled” into his mentality, everywhere I looked, whether it be about language learning, or virtually anything really, It seems like society is so stuck out not being out of the “norm”. It’s almost forbidden to over perform or spend more than a few hours a day studying or practicing anything. A lot of people would rather call something “too hardcore” and not give it any consideration, than actually give it a fair try and stick with it because that actually takes effort. Khatz made the process of spending copious hours a day, (as close to 24/7) a fun and enjoyable thing. In-fact, Khatz was all about fun it might as well has been his moto. It wasn’t about the results, it was about the journey, the process, getting good IS fun. How to do the shit that you’ve always been doing that’s FUN and get rlly good at Japanese just by doing it. Something about that, just the practicality of it all. I mean, compared to MIA, a result based approach focused mainly on add-ons, efficiency and production. Doesn’t sound too fun does it?
- Sense of humor
- down to earth personality
- no bull shit, keeping it real
- selling you on fun. The key is in the pudding ( or in doing fun shit )
AJATT vs MIA
So In conclusion obviously MIA and AJATT weren’t designed to be the same and just aren’t, lets face it. That being said if there is anything that I would want you (the reader) to take away from this, incredibly drawn out, and unorganized post, it is, take AJATT for what it is, not what people shit on it for, not the poor organized site, not the seemingly deceptive author or had to make some cash so created some sketchy looking services, none of that. AJATT has a lot of really good useful and interesting perspective, It did something that in my honest opinion MIA didn’t even come close to doing. Don’t just listen to what I have to say, if you don’t believe me go give it a read, hell, every once in awhile I re-read it myself because it’s motivational. It lifts my spirits to be honest. It’s also nostalgic, I can remember over a couple years ago finding the site for the first time and giving it a proper read and how intrigued I was from the get go.
(EXTRA) My good friend Max is a really good artist and just started his own little character logo design gig (he’s the one who created the amazing character logo on this site), he’s a really good friend of mine and he’s really good at art and character design, if you would be interested here’s a link to his gig (he’s providing really good pricing)
Check him out here: https://www.fiverr.com/maxwellross
Thanks for reading
ps: sorry for my awful writing and horrible organization, I plan on making much higher quality posts in the future so please stay tuned and stick with me :3