View Full Version : Which dojo?
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10-22-2007, 09:48 AM
Hi to all,
I'm a new member of this forum and am very new to aikido myself. I live in Toronto and am hoping to start my training before the end of this month. Of all the dojos I have looked into, I've narrowed it down to two dojos that are feasible based on distance from my university (I'm a second year student). Now, one of them is a Yoshinkan dojo led by a very very qualified instructor with numerous awards and certifications (Takeshi Kimeda Sensei 8th Dan) and the other is a Aikikai dojo that is led by another sensei whom I have heard through word of mouth is also very talented (Robert Zimmerman Sensei 5th Dan). I have yet to visit these dojos and see how they train in order to determine which I like better, but I get the feeling that I wouldn't know what I'm supposed to look for when I go there. I've read a lot about Yoshinkan style, how they train vs. how typical Aikikai trains and I seem to like it alot. However, the Aikikai dojo offers a lot more flexibility in terms of the services they offer: right off the bat, beginners are allowed to attend bokken and jo classes whereas the Yoshinkan dojo does not seem to allow this until the students have developed a certain familiarity with aikido and is also much more expensive since I am required to purchase the equipment in the Yoshinkan dojo and can borrow it in the Aikikai dojo. So now I'm confused where to start, as Aikido takes a very long time to master and I don't want to start in the wrong place. Does missing out on the bokken and jo classes put me at a disadvantage? If I like Yoshinkan, should I stick with it even though the dojo is a bit more strict than the Aikikai dojo (with regulations and class flexibility)? Should price be affecting my decision? Has anyone been to these dojos to be able to give me an opinion?
Any help is appreciated, Thanks alot
10-22-2007, 10:06 AM
Seriously though, I would recommend you try them both.
10-22-2007, 10:57 AM
Well, it really depends upon what you want out of Aikido. Yoshinkan and Aikikai utilize different training methodologies. Although, in all fairness, Aikikai is more an organization than a specific style. Thus, Aikikai can range anywhere from interpretive dance-like stuff all the way to near aikijujutsu.
First, get down there and visit both dojo at least twice. Make sure you observe the beginner's class at each as well as the advanced class. How they treat beginners tells you a lot about the teaching methodology and the attitudes going on. Do they treat newbies well, or do they just merely tolerate them? Is safety emphasized? If there is an apparent disregard for safety...don't go there! Remember: it's your neck!
Second, the official position on weapons training in Aikido is that there is no official position. O'Sensei never codified a weapons syllabus. Hence, every Aikido organization has it's own weapons syllabus (or lack thereof). There's pros & cons to both positions you speak of.
Third, not knowing your age, I will say that the most important thing for me is: could I, as a grown man, learn from this instructor? That's completely your call. Don't let ranks, reputation and crisp, powerful technique determine it alone. Trust your gut. Do you "like" him? Is the guy a jerk? Do you think you can trust him? Most folks usually know within 30 seconds of conversation with a complete stranger if they "like" them enough to sufficiently get along with them.
See if you can try out a couple of classes at each dojo.
10-22-2007, 03:51 PM
Your lucky to be in a position where you have a choice. I would go to both sets of classes and then go by what feels best for you.
In addition to the above though I personally would also be asking myself..
How happy do the students look? Are they treated well and is safety the most important thing being emphasised.
How helpful is the class to new bargainer's. If your pretty much left to get on with it then that would be causing major alarm bells to be ringing very loudly.
Does the Sensei allow people to ask questions to clarify things? How well does he explain moves and what is expected from you
how good is the program offered, does it fit into what you want out of aikido?
Sure cost should be considered, if your expected to buy a load of equipment off the bat without even knowing if aikido and you are going to fit that would have me raising eyebrows.
Also what is going to be more convenient for you, if its going to be stressful actually getting there if there's another dojo closer I would also take that into account.
My own opinion on weapons training is you need to be able to grasp the basics before you can consider weapons, if your trying to disarm people before you can roll/pin/do the strikes properly then your trying to run before you can even sit up. Once you get a handle on the basics then maybe consider the weapons classes as chances are your going to get confused and frustrated quickly.
10-22-2007, 03:58 PM
Check out each dojo "culture" to see which is a better fit for YOU.
10-23-2007, 10:29 AM
One of the dojos you mentioned is where I've been training for a couple of years now (Toronto Aikikai -- personally I like it a lot). I'd go and just watch a couple of classes at both places -- that's free, no committment required, most places seem happy enough to have visitors (in our case there's even a couch to watch from :) ). See if it when you watch you find yourself thinking 'cool -- I want to do that, that looks fun' or whatever (of course take note what level of class you're watching too :) ).
If you want you can also try a class (again I don't know the details at the other place but you can ask them it they have anything like that there -- here you can try one free class without signing up for anything, so there's nothing really to lose by using it -- you pretty much just show up 15 minutes before one of the beginner's classes, with sweatpants and a T-shirt or something similar).
PS -- Bob Sensei is actually 6th dan + shihan, if it matters. He teaches all the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday classes, if you wanted to meet him specifically. Again, I think he's a great teacher, but then I wouldn't really be surprised if Kimeda Sensei is too.
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