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03-09-2002, 10:02 PM
I'll start from the beginning. I was assaulted 3 weeks ago by a guy and two girls and since my hubby and I have been talking about getting a gun. Last night after being scared out of my wits because of a prank caller I decided I didn't want to live like this..being scared someone is going to hurt me again. So I decided that I wanted to join Aikido not only for self defense but for fitness, a break from my kids, and to build my confidence..which has been shot since I was assaulted. I am the type of girl that knows I can kick ass and I have many times when I needed too but when that guy hit me I felt helpless...and I never want to feel like that again. Now for my questions. I am wondering how often are classes usually, what are the general price ranges(not that it really matters), and what kind of benefits have all of you noticed since getting involved in it. I hope you are able to enlighten me. Thank you for listening to me babble.. :)

03-10-2002, 12:01 AM
Hello Lisa

I hope that your doing ok and recovering. I cant begin to understand the emotions and thoughts that you must be going through right now.

As for your questions, it really depends on the dojos that are in your area. Some dojos could have classes 7days a week and some have less than that. It really depends on whether is a professional martials arts school or not.

If your question is also about how many times you should train, that depends on your other commitments and priorities in your life. I started training twice a week and am now training four times a week. Fortunately I have a very wonderful and understanding wife and she sometimes comes with me to the dojo. Personally I think you probably would need to train twice a week to make progress. Maybe some of the other forum members would have other comments and thoughts about this.

I am not sure about dojo fees in the States but in Australia, you usually have to pay a joining fee, a training fee, fees for grading and in some cases a mat fee. I am lucky in the dojos that I train at. I only have to pay a training fee of $50AUD a month and a fee for gradings. There's no set average as such and its best to ask around and see what fits within your budget.

I started with the phone book followed by visits to dojos. Usually they allow a trail lesson free of charge. I usually ask the sensei or senior students what other dojos are around. I also did an internet search for local dojos. The questions that I would ask is when I visited the dojos are:
- What styles do you practice;
- How often are training times;
- Who has the sensei trained with and for how long;
- What are the fees and when are they due.

The location of the dojo is probably an important consideration too. You probably wouldnt want the dojo to be too far out of the way for you, especially if you have a hectic and busy lifestyle.

I am sure the other forum members can help with some questions as well. I would suggest that you give yourself time to give some of the dojos a trial to see if you like the style, the way the sensei teaches, the state and condition of the dojo and its facilities, the general atmosphere and mood of training and the friendliness of the aikidoka there. I think that if you're going to be paying good money and taking time out of your busy schedule, you might as well enjoy going there and being with the people you would be training with. In that way its more likely that you'll continue with aikido.

Just a word of caution and something for you to consider regarding self defense. Aikido and other martial arts, for that matter, do not lend themselves to self defense when you first start training and for quite a while after. IT takes time and aikido is a hard martial to learn from a self defence perspective. IF you're looking for some quick results you may be better off doing a specific self defence course. Even then nothing is foolproof especially if weapons is involved. I hope that other forum members can provide further thoughts on this matter.

I have been involved in situations where I have had to defend my self and in those situations I think I was very lucky there was only one person and no weapons was involved and I managed to get out of those situations with very minor briuses.

As for the benefits, general health and fitness, a sense of calm and focus (except when I get in trouble with my wife and my teenage son bugs the living daylights out of me :p ), a sense of self confidence and a sense of achievement that I am actually doing something that I couldnt do in the past. That's very satisfying.

I do hope that you give aikido a try and that you are able to move on from what you are feeling now. Good luck with your search and I hope that aikido can help.

03-10-2002, 01:41 AM
I have actually already arranged to take a self defense course through the military. One of my husbands co workers teaches it and has offered to teach me free of charge. I know that Aikido was not going to be a short commitment for me. This may sound funny but since I adopted my Akita and started researching Japan and such I have wanted to get more involved with such things as Feng Shui, meditation and accupuncture..but I also want something with more structure then these things.My husband trained in Jujitsu for many years and stopped after he failed his black belt for lack of self control, the girl had kicked him hard enough to break his cup and as he was bringing his arm down it hit her in the collar bone and broke it...I don't think it was lack of self control but thats my opinion. Thank you for your reply though...I was keeping an eye on my thread cause I am an impatient woman at times...I hope to learn lots from all of you!! :)

03-10-2002, 03:09 AM
Hello Lisa,

It sounds like you've had a wake-up call about the reality of self-defense.

And so, may I recommend Senshido (www.senshido.com).

They're located somewhere in Canada, and they have some of the most honest,dedicated self-defense instructors ever.

Please do yourself a favor and check out the Articles/Confrontations section of their site.
As well as their little forum.

The wealth of useful information over there is overwhelming.

Please do not try and substitute Aikido training for reality self-defense because it is anything BUT.

We don't study the entire psychological phase of a real confrontation, which actually decides the outcome of the said confrontation.

We do not go through scenarios where we would verbally difuse situations, or practice in street clothing.

We do not really experiment and let it all out, we do not take into account the release of andrenaline which erases all your fine motor skills during a real confrontation, and we do not practice using improvised weapons.

Self-defense is an entirely different ballgame, and although physical movements of Aikido can be a very helpful asset in that department, it is NOT, by far, a complete self-defense course. Or a self-defense course at all.

EDIT: If anything, you should take the military course that the gentleman you mentioned has generously offered to you.
It may not be too far off from an actual self-defense course.

EDIT#2: Aikido does have many benefits to it, cardiovascular and self-defense ones included.

03-12-2002, 03:18 AM
Hi Lisa,

I thought I'd put my two bits in as the first female aikidoka to respond to your post :)

I have actually already arranged to take a self defense course through the military. One of my husbands co workers teaches it and has offered to teach me free of charge. I know that Aikido was not going to be a short commitment for me.

Does that mean that you'll also take up aikido? Either way, I think you've made a good decision. The self-defense course will give you some skills that will help you feel (and be) safer. If you decdie to learn aikido, knowing that it will be may years before you become a skillful martial artist, then you will eventually become just that...and in the meantime, it will help your fitness and teach you many other skills than just being able to defend yourself.

I've been training for 4 years now and while I have a long (long, long) way to go before I'd feel confident if attacked, I do feel that I'd comport myself a lot better than I could have previously.

Meanwhile, I learn something new every time I go to the dojo and I'm keeping fit and having fun at the same time (no 55kg woman could say that it isn't fun to throw someone twice their size across the room!)

Cheers, Fiona.

03-12-2002, 04:44 AM
Hi Lisa,

I am sorry something so terrible happened to you, and I sincerely hope you are doing better now. I would encourage you to think about a visit with a professional counselor, even if it is just once. I'm pretty sure Canada has a good national health care system, but even in place like the US (for others who might be reading this) you can usually find something affordable through local womens groups or shelters. It is sometime difficult for freinds and family to listen to what a loved one went through without themselves getting too involved to actually help. Even small damages to self esteem, if left to themselves, can become enormous over time.

The rest of the questions most folks answered. I've seen costs vary from free to $80/month, and price doesn't always mean quality. Classes vary from every night to twice a week availabilty---I like places I can train frequently, but those with families are often lucky to get 2-3 times a week. You might also look for places that teach children as well, they often have family package deals and you all could enjoy the benefits of Aikido (plus you will get more chances to be on the mat). It will not be a quick road to self defense, but it is a good road for rebuilding what you lost. But the best thing to do is check out the phone book (business whites and yellow pages), the dojo locator on this web, martial arts stores for locations of dojos, and then go visit.

I hope you find what you need.
Colleen :)

03-13-2002, 12:50 PM
I went to my first class on Monday and was amazed at what the kids could do. As for going to counselling, I think I will be fine I just have to build myself back up again...it takes time but I have done it before so I think I can do it again. NOw can anyone explain exactly what a 4th Dan is and a 6thDen in Kenjutsu and Jodo? I know it may seem silly but I have no clue what this means and if it is good or not and I feel a little silly asking my sensei.

03-13-2002, 01:22 PM

You shouldn't feel silly asking your sensei that question; but, since you asked I'll give you some insight. Most Aikido dojo (and other martial arts) follow a system of ranking. Rank levels below black belt are known as "kyu" and usually progress from 6th or 5th kyu down to 1st kyu. The lower the kyu level, the higher the ranking. Black belt ranks begin at Shodan (1st level or degree) and progress to Judan (10th level or degree).

Someone who is a 4th Dan (Yondan) in Aikido would therefore be of a higher ranking than someone who is 1st Dan (Shodan) and would therefore be expected to have more experience and time in the art.

Please keep in mind though, that ranking varies greatly from organization to organization. Someone who is a 4th Dan in one organization may only be considered a 1st Dan in another. The same can be said of the kyu rank levels.

Congratulations on attending your first class, I hope you enjoy your training.

03-13-2002, 01:28 PM
Originally posted by CanadianLisa

NOw can anyone explain exactly what a 4th Dan is and a 6thDen in Kenjutsu and Jodo?

Many of the gendai budo (new budo, usually referring to Japanese martial systems organized or created after Meiji -- but not necessarily -- yes, it's complex ...) use a ranking system based on kyu and dan grades.

Kyu are the ranks from beginner through first black belt. Many systems use six kyu (but some use as many as 10). Kyu ranks begin high (rokkyu, sixth kyu, would be beginner and ikkyu, 1st kyu, would be more advanced). Some systems use colored belts or various flavors, but white green and brow is pretty basic.

One ranking schema (not universal by any means):

Rokkyu -- 6th kyu -- white belt
Gokyu -- 5th kyu -- white belt
Yonkyu -- 4th kyu -- green belt
Sankyu -- 3rd kyu -- green belt
Nikyu -- 2nd kyu -- brown belt
Ikkyu -- 1st kyu -- brown belt

Dan grades are the black belt ranks. There are 10 dan grades in most Japanese budo. And despite what some western budo folks would have you believe, the black belt is not the mark of an expert, only of a serious beginner. Dan grade begin at 1 and go up. Shodan is lowest, judan is highest.

Some systems let higher dan-grade folks wear red or red and white belts, but that's not common in the aikido world.

That said, a 4th dan (yodan or yondan) is someone who's been at it for a while and is apparently serious about training and may be tapped to teach. In the west, sometimes, ranks tend to be inflated ('Ours goes to 11!!!') but at yodan, IMHO, the holder should be able to perform the system's basics acceptably and to transmit same to students.

I feel a little silly asking my sensei.

Shouldn't. That's what the teacher is THERE for. No one comes into the dojo knowing everything.


03-13-2002, 01:44 PM
Now does anyone know who Kurita Sensei and Ueshiba Sensei are? My sensei mentions these two people in his pamphlet but I have no clue who they are and if its a load of crock. Are there different types of Aikido? The name of this kind is Aikido Seikikai. Is this a reliable style? Joining forums like this, I think, are the best ways to get varied opinions and to learn more...and I am really wanting to learn more..:)

03-13-2002, 02:00 PM
Hi !
I don't know who Kurita Sensei is, but O Sensei Ueshiba is the founder of Aikido. His grandson Morihiro Ueshiba is the current Doshu. I know two styles in Aikido, but there can be more (I don't know either) : Aikikai, Tomiki's style...
I hope you will train and enjoy as much as I do !

03-13-2002, 02:39 PM
ok, so now it is starting to make sense to me now :) He said that he travelled to japan to take an accelerated apprentice program so that he could attain the formal teachings that were taught by Ueshiba Sensei. It also says that he is only one of three who have received formal authorization to teach Aikido in the USA via the Seikikai Organization....it sounds good to me though :)

03-13-2002, 02:39 PM
Originally posted by CanadianLisa

Now does anyone know who Kurita Sensei and Ueshiba Sensei are?

There is a Kurita Sensei teaching aikido in Mexico, IIRC. Carlos Escobar is one of his deshi. I know there are some branches of the Kurita lineage in Texas, but Wash. state may be a different Kurita. Ask your teacher.

Ueshiba Morihei was a lifelong student and teacher of budo, mostly Daito Ryu jujutsu. His legacy includes Aikikai-style aikido as well as Ki Society, Yoshinkan, the Tomiki offshoots and perhaps a few smaller branches.

He was a brilliant martial artist who synthesized jujutsu and philosophy into the art you are now studying. He was not a demi-god or a saint, but he was a funny, weird, powerful, enigmatic, fascinating old man who left the world something very interesting and precious.

The name of this kind is Aikido Seikikai. Is this a reliable style?

Dunno. Never heard of Seikikai specifically. Ask your teacher what the derivation is and how it's connected or derived from the Aikikai. Aikikai is the organization headed by the Ueshiba family, a loose coalition of aikido schools all descended from that line.

Also ask him what the name means and see if he (she?) knows what the kanji are that are used to make the name.

The other offshoots of aikido have seperated from the mainstream sometime in the past, for various reasons. Ki Society is under Koichi Tohei, once chief instructor at Aikikai's main dojo (called hombu dojo by many).

Yoshinkan came from Gozo Shioda, one of Ueshiba's oldest students; don't recall who's head of that organization nowadays.

The Tomiki flavor comes from another long-time student who created a teaching methodology melding aikido and judo concepts.

Joining forums like this, I think, are the best ways to get varied opinions and to learn more...and I am really wanting to learn more..:)

Good. It pays to do your research. Use Aikiweb and other similar forums to learn and compare notes. You might consider joining the aikido electronic mailing list (Aikido-L), but be prepared for high-volume e-mail traffic. No, really HIGH volume. Go to www.aikido-l.org for more info. Another forum to discuss aikido is at www.e-budo.com. Under the forums section, go to Gendai Budo and then to Aikido.

Another great way to get info is to ask your teacher or senior students.

If they can't or won't answer your questions, find out why.


03-13-2002, 02:43 PM
I've taught two women who came to Aikido training for reasons similar to your own. They had been assaulted and wanted to regain a sense of control over themselves and their environment. They thought a martial art would also help them deal with feelings of fear. etc. arising from their terrible experiences.

I think there are some mistakes that they made in their thinking about what to do with what happened to them. First, these women wanted to arm themselves against possible future attacks immediately. Aikido doesn't acomplish this well. It takes many years to apply techniques effectively in a non-structured situation. Better to get a gun, or knife, or pepper spray.

Effective self-defense begins with being willing to act immediately in a violent way toward an attacker. Once this is in place, self defense does not require years of training. A well-placed kick in the groin, or poke in the eye, or twist of a finger works very well in most assault situations. But Aikido training will not necessarily foster this mindset in you. I know some advanced Aikidoka who recoil from the thought of seriously hurting anyone for any reason.

Well, I must leave suddenly so I will have to finish this later. Think carefully about what you are trying to gain from Aikido training. You might be better served doing something else.

03-13-2002, 02:49 PM
I am currently with an Akita Email list and I get an average of about 100 emails a day....but the information and love for these wonderful dogs is why I have stayed with this list...now what kind of volume are we looking at with the Aikido List.

Bruce Baker
03-13-2002, 04:43 PM
Before I calmed down, and got into Aikido, I would help my first teacher as the uke for demonstrations for womens self defense classes. Having a high tolerance for pain, made it much easier to endure the hair pulling, the gouging, the poking, and many other dirty tricks that involve womens self defense. This is not Aikido, but it does bring awareness to how the body can be affected with very little pressure to make it move in ways you want, and ways your attacker/attackers do not want to move.

Everything you do in Aikido will make moves more effective, but while you learn, you might consider making yourself less vulnerable with awareness, planning, and attending some womens self defense classes. Knowledge is a wonderful thing, if you have it ... but when you don't, it is easier to be a victim.

If you find a teacher who has practiced Aikido, and teaches womens self defense classes, then that is ideal ... but not always possible. So, look in the phone book, ask around, and you should find the self defense you need. It couldn't hurt when you do start Aikido, as it will make you more aware of what to look for as you learn.

Meanwhile, pepperspray, small blunt weapons that enforce your striking power on your keychain, and planning/ awareness should help.

03-13-2002, 05:09 PM
I think I meantioned it already but I have already enrolled in a women's self defense course wiht one of my husbands co-worker who runs a self defense course for the military here in Washington.

03-13-2002, 11:54 PM
Sounds great that you have found an interest in aikido. I hope you are enjoying it. Your instructor sounds very good especially considering their 4th dan rank, and if you enjoy the environment and respect him/her and the classmates I would suggest sticking with it. Aikido is a very interesting and powerful art.

Personally, I study in the kokikai style(never heard of your style). Our system is considered much more a martial art rather than spiritual(not that it doesn't foster this.. it just doesn't focus on it.. ours focuses more on the self-defense, although I study it more for the spiritual :) ). We don't start from pre-derived stances, but rather assume a very natural and relaxed way of being. So, we start in positions where someone attacks us as we are simply standing in a hamni, or would grab our wrist/shoulder as we walked past. Those sorts of ideas. We stress minimal effort with maximum result. Considering this, I figured you may want to look into it a bit, as it is a style of aikido geared more towards self-defense rather than a spiritual pursuit, although with any style of aikido you will get a bit of both.

In any case, enjoy all you learn and have fun doing it!! That's what is truly important. Happiness. For a happy mind is a positive one.

Good luck on your pursuits,

P.S. WA(Washington?) has 2 kokikai dojos at least.. Seattle and Univ. of Wash... www.kokikai.org can explain our style much better than myself. Kokikai derived from the Ki society.