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If I had an expectation it would have been that tonight's visit to East Bay Aikido would have finalized my decision to join at Aikido at San Leandro. It did not, as a matter of fact it made the decision on where to join a much more difficult one.
There is no doubt in my mind that Aikido at San Leandro is the most technically proficient dojo that I have been in. The level of intensity and training there last night awed me.
Tonight's visit to Tom's Dojo was interesting. The people there were friendly. Their style of training differed markedly from the traditional in that everyone was training for testing, and there was not the normal show, tell, and then practice. Rather it was everyone working on what they needed to work on initially in twos, then where needed in multiple Uke practice.
Tom was very involved with each of the students at the Dojo tonight. The Dojo was very comfortable. Tom's interaction with me was very open and intimate. I felt a part somehow even though I made it clear that I had no commitment any Dojo yet.
I began to notice some differences in some of the techniques that I had previously thought were all the same. This was neat, and unexpected. Something gained through observation which I would not have thought possible.
BIG Aikido was here in spades. Zen ideals seemed to reverberate around the room. This is very attractive to me. Zen is something that I have been a student of for quite a while, something that I strive for. Feeling it here was invigorating.
It was apparent that there was a deep respect between all of the people in the Dojo. However the respect was less formal. Everyone was having a good time and yet working hard on techniques and physically.
Again I watched a student learn and change during the class. I could see the point at which she "got it", and changed the way that she was doing a technique. It was good to watch how that happened, as I hope that I will be able to get some of this.
The Japanese was still there, and somewhat intimidating. I know that at some point you have to be able to tell where each of the words ends and the next begins. Someone please tell me that it doesn't take years!
I know that part of me that is a perfectionist is drawn to the technical precision and the intensity of the Aikido at San Leandro Dojo. Another part of me is drawn to East Bay Aikido and to Tom's teaching style and the immediate connection I had with him. Not to say that Tom's students were less technically proficient, they all seemed to know what they were doing, and to be working hard at being proficient. They were in some way less intense about it than at San Leandro. There was more laughter here than at any of the other Dojos that I have been at. This seems to me to be a good thing. Laughter provides a good mental glue to learning .
I am going to have to go back for another visit at the San Leandro Dojo. The Monday beginners class at 1830. This puts off choosing a Dojo and getting started until at least next Tuesday. I am anxious to start, but also realize that I am starting on a long journey; it is always better to understand the road as much as possible before you set out.