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Robert Judson
01-29-2002, 06:52 PM
I'm trying to find the best Aikido dojo possible. Anyway, where I live, in the United States, there are many good choices, and I wanted to know if the dojo affiliations are important? If so, which is the best? Some of my possible choices:

USAF
Japan Aikido Association
Kokikai International
Capital Aikikai
ASU
Aikido America Intern/NAK
Fugakukai
Seidokan
Ki Society International
Aikikai

:freaky: - I love this face!

Abasan
01-29-2002, 09:45 PM
This may not be the answer you're looking for, especially coming from someone not living in the united states. But, I hope you understand why I give it anyway.

Learning aikido is not about holding up a banner and becoming 'One of Us'. Its about self realisation.

The banners (affiliations) don't mean much. More over, with any organisation of more than 2 members in it, politics would be predominant. Try and disregard all that, instead... go and find a good sensei that offers you something good (under any banner). Something more than just the same stuff everyone else is offering. If you have that opportunity anyway.

Robert Judson
01-29-2002, 10:04 PM
I understand, and appreciate your reply. I only inquired about the affiliations to know if there are more oppurtunities for growth, etc., with particular associations. I want as many oppurtunities as possible, without being shut out, because of the particular affiliation my dojo has.

Greg Jennings
01-29-2002, 10:18 PM
Originally posted by Robert Judson
I understand, and appreciate your reply. I only inquired about the affiliations to know if there are more oppurtunities for growth, etc., with particular associations. I want as many oppurtunities as possible, without being shut out, because of the particular affiliation my dojo has.

You'd be best served first narrowing the list to those dojo that, practically speaking, you'll commute to three more more classes per week.

Visit them all. Train with them if you can, observe if you can't. Make the rounds twice, if possible.

Pick the dojo with the instructor and students that you can commit to for the long haul.

That will make the difference to your growth. Their affiliation probably won't mean much at all. If you do get limited somehow, you can always switch dojo.

Best,

cbrf4zr2
01-29-2002, 10:22 PM
You will have (or not have) as many opportunities you want. Affiliation really doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot, unless you are concerned aboue getting rank. If you are concerned about getting rank, you might want to reanalyze why you are looking into any martial art.

I happen to belong to an AAA (Aikido Assoc. of Amer.) Dojo, but we will have people that stop in that are not AAA affiliated, pay a mat fee and train. I think there are a few people on this site that don't even have a regular Dojo.

Just find a place you feel comfortable, a place where you think you can learn, and a place that won't turn you into an Aikido zombie. In other words, make Aikido your art, and forget about affiliation, or style. All have their plusses, and all have their minuses, depedining on the individual. If they didn't do you think there would be as many styles or associations as there are?

Edward
01-30-2002, 12:47 AM
Hi!

I agree with Greg's post because when you have the luck to be able to chose between so many styles and affiliations, you should really use it and find what is best to you.

However, and I know what I will say will receive many objections, I personally would give Aikikai dojos a try first. Aikikai is the main line and is somehow the middle path kind of style with a little of every thing. It is also the largest Aikido organization and you will find dojos all around the world.

Moreover, if you're particularly intersted in weapons, Saito Sensei's Takemusu Aikido, which is also affiliated to Aikikai, would be an excellent choice.

I'm not saying that other styles are bad or anything, but as a beginner I would try the mainstream first.

I'm ready for the angry replies :grr:

Cheers,
Edward

Andy
01-30-2002, 08:19 AM
Originally posted by Edward
Moreover, if you're particularly intersted in weapons, Saito Sensei's Takemusu Aikido, which is also affiliated to Aikikai, would be an excellent choice.
If you're interested in weapons, go do a real weapons art like kenjutsu or other koryu, not aikido. It's rare to find aikido teachers, even shihan, who are well-versed in real weapons systems.

Affiliations only matter to those interested in politics.

Edward
01-30-2002, 09:47 AM
Originally posted by Andy

It's rare to find aikido teachers, even shihan, who are well-versed in real weapons systems.



Hmmmm..... are you sure?

guest1234
01-30-2002, 01:23 PM
I think he's saying that although many Aikido instructors may teach weapons, even emphasize weapons to illustrate Aikido and roots of techniques, they have not all had a lot of training in weapons arts, such as kendo, iaido, etc...although there are many who have... but I'd say if your goal was to actually learn weapons, do that art (Kendo, Iaido, etc)...

It is best, as everyone has said, to just go find where you best fit in...even dojos of the same style can vary a lot depending on the instructor(s) and students... you will get the most out of a situation that feels most right to you, and that you train in frequently. And what you want or need may even change with time. Have fun in your search, let us know when you've found your dojo!:)

Erik
01-30-2002, 02:06 PM
If affiliation doesn't mean much then how come most of us are affiliated? Why aren't we happily treading the roads of an independent? And, how come all the angst when some organization goes through the inevitable political struggle over absolutely nothing?

I think it matters.

guest1234
01-30-2002, 02:33 PM
I think it is more important to the instructor(s) than to the students. To the instructors either due to loyalty to their sensei, or a possible inducement to new students.

But it is more important to the student that they are able to learn at the dojo...having one that has a big name affiliation, but you can't learn there, or it's too far to get to often, just isn't as important I think.

What's the worst thing that happens, the student moves and has to start over in rank...I've done it more than once, and it's no big deal. Even staying in the same style doesn't preserve your rank...I moved dojos way overdue for testing, hit the next dojo of the same style, and was told I'd have to wait six months to test there (close to a year since my last test...)...just as well in the long run, it only took two months to decide it was not the place for me to test:rolleyes:

And I know you can name a famous sensei from a VERY well known affiliation that should not be anywhere near students.

Keith R Lee
01-30-2002, 03:01 PM
I am not sure affiliations matter so much to a beginner. Finding a dojo with a good sensei and a helpful and freindly student body is much more important. As Greg said: "Pick the dojo with the instructor and students that you can commit to for the long haul."
I think where affiliations start to matter is when one progresses in Aikido.

What if you have to move for your job, or are out of town for a couple of weeks and want to train? You look around for the local Aikido dojo, and one of your first thoughts is what style/affiliation? Style(moreso than affiliation, I would imagine) gives a long time student an idea of what they are getting into/looking for. If your background was Kokikai, would you feel comfortable joining/visiting a Yoshinkai dojo, or vice-versa? It is in these types of matters that I think affiliation/style matter. Not too important to a new student, but it can weigh on the decision of a long term one. Although hopefully, the long term student would take the opportunity to train with different styles in order to expand their knowledge of Aikido. Yet, not everyone is as open-minded as those who post in this forum, and would be willing to try new things.:p

Erik
01-30-2002, 03:35 PM
Originally posted by ca
I think it is more important to the instructor(s) than to the students. To the instructors either due to loyalty to their sensei, or a possible inducement to new students.

If the association is sub-standard, and let's be honest and say that some are, then where does that leave the student? All organizations are not good and all are not equally as good. If they are then I see no purpose to having them other than a $25/yr check to shihan's retirement fund.

My assumption is that if there are any valid reasons to belong to an association then one of them is the implied stamp of approval. In other words, the association implies a certain standard or a certain quality which should help comfort a prospective student.

guest1234
01-30-2002, 03:50 PM
The stamp of approval is a good point, but how does a new person decide which are substandard affiliations? Or any of us, for that matter? Folks have written in asking or talking about their senseis (implied that they were of well known stature) who treated them badly. One of the very finest I've ever seen only affiliated a few years ago, and was independent before that, as his sensei had been (I think he took over once that sensei died). Of course, it is just my opinion on his skill and teaching ability, but for me, that is what matters...I can learn from him. I've met those of higher rank that I can't bring myself to get on the mat with... Even those 'big name' associations now were once little groups, and before that, a single dojo. Where they lesser quality then? In the end, isn't the bond you have with the sensei/students more important than the name on the door?

daedalus
01-30-2002, 03:59 PM
I train at the headquarters of the Aikido Association International (AAI), sister organization of the Aikido Association of America. Here are my thoughts on "affiliations":

I've been to an unaffiliated dojo. The black belts were highly skilled and the dojo had a wonderfully friendly atmosphere. I'm going to assume that all unaffiliated dojos are not like this.

I've been to an Aikikai dojo. The students were disrespectful to their sensei and hardly had any intention in their technique. I'm going to assume that all Aikikai dojos are not like this.

I've been to an ASU dojo. The students weren't very highly skilled, but they were some of the most eager learners that I've ever seen. I'm going to assume that all ASU dojos are not like this.

Affiliation? Means nothing. Quality of instruction varys from dojo to dojo (and usually from sensei to sensei). Look for a skilled, friendly teacher and eager, friendly students. Everything else will follow accordingly.

MaylandL
01-30-2002, 07:35 PM
Hello

I concur with the comments raised on this thread. All the comments and suggestions about the quality of teaching, distance to the dojo etc are good tips to keep in mind.

Being knee high to a grasshopper, I chose a style and sensei that I could relate to. I have two dojos (both are aikikai) that I train at and both sensei's have similar body size and shape to me. It's easier for me to understand how to do the techniques if I can observe how they move and generate the power if they have similar body size to me.

I chose aikikai because I felt most comfortable with the style after having tried yoseikan. THere wasnt a lot of choice when I started doing aikido. I'm having a look at yoshinkan and tomiki at the moment. It's mainly curiosity and an interest in the different styles of aikido. I will be staying with aikikai.

May I suggest that you try out as many aikido styles as you can before selecting your preferred style. I think the rapport that you can establish with the sensei and aikidoka at the dojo is also important. Lets face it you'll be spending time with them at least twice a week, so you might as well enjoy their company.

Hope this helps and good luck in the search for a dojo and sensei :)

guest1234
01-30-2002, 10:23 PM
It's nice if the sensei is roughly your size, but only my first one was even close (and he was still quite a bit bigger). I now consider it a challenge to transpose a technique in my head (or through repeated trials and error on the mat)...adjusting for much shorter arm length, or the fact that my hand won't reach halfway around most wrists or hands is the biggest obstacle.

The other night one of our rokyudans was demonstrating something his sensei had shown recently...I was partnered with the other rokyudan, who while not the mountain the first is, is still good sized, esp. compared to me...and I was definately not getting it. I was having an impossible time figuring out how to get in close enough to uke to do the technique without putting my face in harms way, and muttered that just as we had to sit down. He agreed (probably humoring me), saying it might be easier for larger nages...as we sat down I sighed 'yeah, I'd go with that if [blank] Sensei weren't about my height...'.

And while most partners complain there is NO WAY they can get small enough to do certain techniques with me, two of my largest teachers are able to do things like slip under my arm in a yokomen attack, or get under my center in koshinage...darned if those sensei's don't change size before our very eyes...

cbrf4zr2
01-30-2002, 10:34 PM
Originally posted by ca

And while most partners complain there is NO WAY they can get small enough to do certain techniques with me, two of my largest teachers are able to do things like slip under my arm in a yokomen attack, or get under my center in koshinage...darned if those sensei's don't change size before our very eyes...


Of course there are ways do do that...it's called suwariwaza/hanmi hantachi :D
I know how it is...I'm 6-2 and well taller than all but 2 others in our Dojo. Luckily for me, both of them have Dan ranking. But I really do hate having to go down on my knees to try and do shihonage on most of the class.

guest1234
01-30-2002, 10:58 PM
:cool: :eek: Oh, hi Ed!

Actually, I have several instructors 6'2-6'4 do shihonage and NOT get down on their knees...they just made me grow to the very tips of my tippy toes.

What amazed me the most on the yokomenuchi duck with one was not just his height, but he is also a mountain of muscle...don't know how he got everything (shoulders and all) tucked under and back up in time...oh well, another 40 years and maybe I will understand:D

MaylandL
01-31-2002, 01:54 AM
I now consider it a challenge to transpose a technique in my head (or through repeated trials and error on the mat)...adjusting for much shorter arm length, or the fact that my hand won't reach halfway around most wrists or hands is the biggest obstacle.

I have the same problem...I've got small hands and some of the ukes have large wrists and family sized fridge physiques.

It was really enlightening when a sensei (7th Dan) was visiting the dojo and conducted an intensive seminar over the easter period in 2000. He said he would never use certain techniques, such as yonkyo, on large people in an actual defence situation because of the size and height relationship created many challenges for vertically challenged ( ;) )aikidoka.

He was about 5 ft tall and some of the aikidoka he trained were close to 7ft tall and built like outdoor brick dunnies (er aussie colloquial for cyclone/hurricane proof toilets). The interesting thing was that he could do the techniques very effectively and with very controlled power on the large aikidoka.

I asked him about that and he said there are subtle variations and changes in emphasis and focus in the technique. Ultimately it comes back to aikido fundamentals of centre/posture/ki, movement and technique. Its the challenge for the aikidoka to adjust and be sensitive to where the balance of the uke is the weakest. :confused:

I wanted to bow and say "thank you Master Yoda" but thought it was better to respectfully bow and say "domo arigato sensei":)

I kinda muddle through with it at the moment but I aspire to his level of skill and presence (aka ki). Yay the joy of learning aikido :D

I wonder if size does matter or just present different challenges and advantages for the practice of aikido. May be I should start a thread of this ;)

cbrf4zr2
01-31-2002, 12:49 PM
Colleen...

I don't HAVE to go down to my knees to do some techniques, but we have more students right now with no rank that show on a regular basis (haven't ever tested) than we do ranked students. I don't really want to break them with shihonage. So, I go real slow, and one point we tend to hit on is keeping your head up, and somewhat of a "vertical" spine at most times. So to be nice, and to emphasize the point of not getting your arms above your head or behind you, I will often go to one knee.

PeterPhilippson
01-31-2002, 01:01 PM
Originally posted by ca
I think it is more important to the instructor(s) than to the students. To the instructors either due to loyalty to their sensei, or a possible inducement to new students.

The importance of affiliation for me is the training in teaching, the support of my sensei, who regularly comes to teach at my club, and corrects the mistakes I make with my students, the arrangements for insurance, the links (through the British Aikido Board) with other dojos and other organisations, etc.

I am not alone, but well-supported.

Peter

David Humm
02-07-2002, 04:42 PM
Affiliation IS a very important aspect.

I realise there are many organisations around the world who offer quality instruction (and long may they continue to do so) However, if one is looking to study the tradtitional Aikikai style I would suggest you join an organisation that has recongnition to Hombu Dojo. In doing so you can be assured your training follows the guidlines set by the very source of our discipline.

The current poll set by Jun concerning the dilution of the art over generations has a direct connection with affiliation. Without guidence from those associated with their respective Hombu Dojo's, the quality of our art will slowly dilute as it is altered through human nature etc, etc.

Quality and purity are IMHO very important aspects to be considered when looking for an organisation to call 'home'

Chris Li
02-07-2002, 05:41 PM
Originally posted by Dave Humm
Affiliation IS a very important aspect.

I realise there are many organisations around the world who offer quality instruction (and long may they continue to do so) However, if one is looking to study the tradtitional Aikikai style I would suggest you join an organisation that has recongnition to Hombu Dojo. In doing so you can be assured your training follows the guidlines set by the very source of our discipline.

The current poll set by Jun concerning the dilution of the art over generations has a direct connection with affiliation. Without guidence from those associated with their respective Hombu Dojo's, the quality of our art will slowly dilute as it is altered through human nature etc, etc.

Quality and purity are IMHO very important aspects to be considered when looking for an organisation to call 'home'

Hmm, from what I can see there isn't really all that much of an "Aikikai" style. The Aikikai is really an umbrella group that encompasses a large number of varying styles that are sometimes only loosely related.

The guidelines themselves are very loose - for example, very few foreign organizations (and not even many domestic ones) follow the exact guidelines used at hombu for testing and promotion. Mostly they use them as a start and then add on or adjust as they see fit.

Best,

Chris

Erik
02-07-2002, 05:55 PM
Originally posted by PeterPhilippson
The importance of affiliation for me is the training in teaching, the support of my sensei, who regularly comes to teach at my club, and corrects the mistakes I make with my students, the arrangements for insurance, the links (through the British Aikido Board) with other dojos and other organisations, etc.

I am not alone, but well-supported.


I'd meant to respond to this post earlier but spaced it out. These, in my opinion, are the areas that an association could help out with. I'm sure that it's possible to get informal, and maybe even formal in some cases, help in terms of running a school but this sort of strength in organization often seems to me to be lacking here in the US.

I wonder if this is just a function of how things are done in Europe. From reading this and other boards it seems the Europeans are more tightly woven into the government and their organizations than we in the US. Or am I wrong on this one?

deepsoup
02-07-2002, 06:27 PM
Originally posted by Dave Humm
Quality and purity are IMHO very important aspects to be considered when looking for an organisation to call 'home'

Quality is undeniably important, purity probably less so. (It depends on whether you're a purist or not, I suppose.)

However, who goes out looking for an organisation to call 'home'? A beginning student goes out looking for a dojo and an instructor, not an 'organisation'. And a smart one finds the best instructor they can train with regularly, regardless of affiliation, and to a certain extent, regardless of style too.

If you are suggesting that every dojo affiliated to the Aikikai is superior to every dojo that isn't, I'm afraid you are very much talking out of your hat.

Sean
x

mle
02-07-2002, 07:59 PM
Originally posted by Edward


Hmmmm..... are you sure?

Yes. With a FEW real exceptions (Nishio and Chiba come to mind, and I understand Kimeda's a real closet koryu weapons bunny these days)

Take a good look at some real weapons systems (Shinto Muso Ryu, Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, Toda Ha Buko Ryu, Yagyu Ryu for instance, but there are many more) and get back to us.

Chuck (posting on Emily's account.)

mle
02-07-2002, 08:14 PM
Chuck is posting on Emily's account ...

Originally posted by Robert Judson
I'm trying to find the best Aikido dojo possible. Anyway, where I live, in the United States, there are many good choices, and I wanted to know if the dojo affiliations are important? If so, which is the best? Some of my possible choices:


Depends. What do YOU want/need from your training?

Visit the dojo you have nearby, watch several classes, talk to the teacher, talk to the students, find a place where you can offer something back (and that ain't just dues) as well as take something from.

Wanna fly? Wanna study the esoteric side? Want something fun to do on a Saturday night? Looking for love in all the wrong dojo (don't laugh, I know of folks who train because they get to meet MOTOS -- or MOTSS as the case may be)?

Find a place you'll actually show up for class more than 2 or 3 times.

Do your research (this is a good start!).

Ki Society, Seidokan and Kokikai are often classified as 'soft' aikido, but I'll tell you (I"m a jujutsu guy, too) one of the aikidoka I have most respect for was the late George Simcox, head of the Virginia Ki Society before he passed. That man could throw me any time I grabbed him and any way I attacked.

Yoshinkan/Yoshokai are often classified as highly technical and rigid, but a Yosh godan friend of mine in Toronto (Philip Akin) can be incredibly soft and smooth and fluid.

USAF is a BROAD category that emcompasses Western, Eastern and Midwestern regions. Three diffeent branches with very different approaches. All Aikikai.

ASU is Saotome's organization (also Aikikai, by the way) and is also pretty broad in approach. One of my very favorite American aikido teachers is Dennis Hooker of SHindai Aikikai in Fla. That ole wardog is a wonderful man, a great teacher and a generally nice guy.

All the aikido organizations you named have their strong points and their shortcomings. Find something you'll enjoy, something you can relate to, something you will contribute to.

And then, there's the GOOD stuff -- KORYU!!!

Let us know how your search goes.

Chuck