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Tonight on Paula's recmonedation I visited the Aikido of San Leandro.
There was an advanced class occuring along with a test. It was very interesting to watch the advanced people here, versus the advanced people elsewhere. The gap between the beginers and the advanced people seemed larger here than in the other dojos that I have visited. I was impressed with the skills of the advanced people here.
The thing that struck me most about this Dojo was that it was a serious place for Aikido. The people were enjoying it, but it was by far more serious than other dojos that I have been in, yet it lacked any militant quality. The physical dojo is well used, the equiptment here has been used a lot. The mat is patched in numberous places, and shiny not with new paint, but polished from the falls that have been taken on it.
The ratio of talk to do surprised me in this class of advanced people. I enjoyed that there was more talk than I expected.
The test was fun to watch, but oh there was so much Japanese to learn, and this on top of my Spanish studies!!! Maybe doing physical things and learning the words about them will be different than the total language lessons that I continue to work on for Spanish.
I don't get the Jo, and bokken at all. They seem strange to me. I can see that they could amplify movements etc, but overall I don't understand what purpose they serve, even less so after having watched people with them tonight. It appears to me that they are only used in forms, but that may be all that I have seen them in so far.
I found it hard to pin down the big Aikido at this dojo. The larger philosophy last night of the Aikido Institute was apparent, and was very much conveyed by Kim's discussions with me.
My gut is that this is probably the best Aikido dojo in the area for learning the physical art. A full time Sensei with some full time live in students brings an intensity not apparent in other dojos. I like it, and am intimidated by it at the same time. It definately seems like a place in which the limit of learning the art is with the student, not the Dojo.
I wish that I had better tools to assess the philosophical side of the dojo. This is an area that is of equal importance to me as the physical practice of the art.
This Dojo is definately in the running for me.
Tomorrow I am going to check out East Bay Aikido and see what they are like. Which is what I orignaly planed on doing tonight. Paula baited me into watching at Aikido of San Leandro with the idea of watching a test. I am glad that I did it was a good choice for the night.
I have been taking my spouse with me in my dojo visits. My goal in doing so has been to make sure that I am paying enough attention to intuition, something that I have been known in the past to give short shrift to. It was interesting that while she was also unable to connect with the philosophy of this dojo, it was the first time that she came away saying that she might be able to study there.