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BJohnston
12-17-2009, 10:15 PM
Hey all, I'm a newbie. Not only to the art, but also to this forum. I've been searching for a place to study Aikido and have found a place to sit in on a class or 2. I don't have a ton of experience. A little Kenpo when I was a kid. A little Tai Chi a few years back. I've been reading and doing as much research as I can about Aikido. It strikes a chord within me and I'm ready to take the next step. However, don't really know what to look for in a good dojo. Could someone be so kind as to let me know what I should look for or be aware of while I'm there? Thank so much for your time.

Barry

Janet Rosen
12-17-2009, 10:52 PM
You might start by looking at aikiweb articles, like for instance
http://aikiweb.com/training/witt1.html

crbateman
12-18-2009, 04:52 AM
This topic comes up here often, so a subject search will be revealing to you. Here's a short list of my personal suggestions:

1) Relax.
2) "Sit in" at as many dojos as you can within a comfortable distance.
3) Try out a class or two when you can.
4) Check out reputations online for instructors and their "styles".
5) Relax some more.
6) Make the choice that "feels" right to you.
7) Don't be afraid to make a change if it turns out you need to.
8) Enjoy the journey.

Mark Uttech
12-18-2009, 06:20 AM
Onegaishimasu, I would say that a good dojo welcomes you to come and watch a class and doesn't have contracts.

In gassho,

Mark

BJohnston
12-18-2009, 08:36 AM
Thank you very much for the advice. I'm really looking forward to getting involved and taking the journey.

heathererandolph
12-18-2009, 10:37 AM
This article gives some insights on selecting a dojo: http://www.kokikai.org/articleDetail.php?recID=16

chillzATL
12-18-2009, 11:25 AM
First, know why you are training. Do you want to have fun, do you want to socalize, do you want to know learn to defend yourself?

Second, go watch a class. Does what they're doing appear to match your reasons for wanting to train? If so, next step.

Third, try a class and again, is what they're doing matching your reasons for training? If not, move on and find a new dojo. If so, you've probably found a dojo.

Don't be afraid to constantly reassess your reasons for being there and whether or not you're getting what you intended.

RED
12-18-2009, 06:03 PM
Certified teacher, from a known federation. (NOT billy-bob's federation of awesomeness, where billy-bob names himself grand shinhan master-dude. lol) With a reliable active class schedule, and dues that are reasonable.

dalen7
12-18-2009, 10:29 PM
Certified teacher, from a known federation.

What about the galactic federation in a galaxy far far away? :D

p.s.
So the title of grand shihan master-dude is already taken? :)

Kevin Flanagan
12-19-2009, 10:47 AM
Ditto to all the above.

My number one consideration, do you feel inspired to come back for more?

Aikido has been called "the never ending path." Inspiration and guidance are two of the most important parts of a good dojo.

Good luck and keep in touch.

George S. Ledyard
12-19-2009, 12:57 PM
Hey all, I'm a newbie. Not only to the art, but also to this forum. I've been searching for a place to study Aikido and have found a place to sit in on a class or 2. I don't have a ton of experience. A little Kenpo when I was a kid. A little Tai Chi a few years back. I've been reading and doing as much research as I can about Aikido. It strikes a chord within me and I'm ready to take the next step. However, don't really know what to look for in a good dojo. Could someone be so kind as to let me know what I should look for or be aware of while I'm there? Thank so much for your time.

Barry

1) Check out the senior students. Any teacher can talk a good line and sound impressive when you are new. Watch the seniors train. Do they look like the kind of people you want to be like. Are they arrogant? Do they train well with each other? Is there abuse going on towards the juniors or do the seniors seem interested in the progress of the folks under them? Are these folks you would want to hang out with. I don't care what the teacher "says" he is doing... the seniors reflect what is really being taught at the school.

2) talk to the students after class. get a feel for how often they train, how hard they train, etc. Ask yourself whether you can make that kind of commitment. Some schools expect more than others. Some are not much more than social clubs and others are "hard core". If the commitment you want to make is out of kilter with the school, you won't be happy. If you want to train hard and get really good you won't be happy with the "social club" school, nor will they be happy with you. If you want a nice place for a fun hobby once or twice a week and you join a hard core school, the fit won't work either. You will always feel like you aren't "measuring up" and you won't get the respect you'd like.

3) Finally, look at the Teacher and his qualifications. Do some research about who he trained with and for how long. Is he associated with a legitimate association? Independent can be fine as well but ask if they hold seminars and get regular input from outside the dojo group, otherwise the school will tend to be isolated. I would stay away from a dojo that has no associations and doesn't have outside input into the training (just my bias).

I'd beware the Martial Arts Hall of Fame people... Aikido doesn't have Sokes, Menkyo Kaidens, etc. I'd stay away from the 30 year old who has any 8th Dans, much less numerous high ranks in several arts.

Linda Eskin
12-19-2009, 02:11 PM
In addition to all the excellent advice you've already gotten, do a little searching on YouTube. I was very impressed with the informal videos I saw of the dojo I chose. (Here's my playlist for our dojo (http://www.youtube.com/user/LindaEskin#grid/user/A6A955EA6519AFDC), for instance.) Everyone appeared to be working very comfortably with each other, and having a good time. Having only had experience in a harder style art years ago I was surprised to see everyone laughing. I suppose I would've been impressed with any sort of Aikido (since I knew virtually nothing), but what I saw on the videos looked like what I wanted to be doing.

I didn't follow as diligent a process as others have suggested (although it probably would've been wise to have done so). I read everything on the Web site, saw few videos, and learned about the association/style affiliation, watched one class, and signed up. An iffy process, perhaps, but the right choice. :)

Good luck!

NagaBaba
12-19-2009, 02:22 PM
1) Check out the senior students. Any teacher can talk a good line and sound impressive when you are new. Watch the seniors train. Do they look like the kind of people you want to be like. Are they arrogant? Do they train well with each other? Is there abuse going on towards the juniors or do the seniors seem interested in the progress of the folks under them? Are these folks you would want to hang out with. I don't care what the teacher "says" he is doing... the seniors reflect what is really being taught at the school.

.
I think you need a lot of years of aikido training to distinguish between abusing juniors by seniors and pushing juniors beyond their limits. The same going for arrogance. Even the juniors in their own dojo can't judge it correctly.

So this advice to somebody who never practiced aikido is useless, sorry.

RED
12-19-2009, 02:45 PM
What about the galactic federation in a galaxy far far away? :D

p.s.
So the title of grand shihan master-dude is already taken? :)

I'm a rebel myself. :cool:

Yes, that title is taken... so is "Master Shihan 3rd-level half orc-paladin awesome-guy"-- that's me!:grr:

Shannon Frye
12-19-2009, 04:07 PM
Certified teacher, from a known federation. (NOT billy-bob's federation of awesomeness, where billy-bob names himself grand shinhan master-dude. lol) With a reliable active class schedule, and dues that are reasonable.

Oh jeeees, more of that "karate' mentality of "I train with a 5th degree from Federation X, cause a 3rd degree from Frederation Y is lower and can't possibly be as good."

While you don't want to train under someone who has declared themselves "grand master", don't overlook instructors who teach good art. Sometimes "FEDERATION MEMBER" means nothing more than politics and annual membership fees. :yuck:

Shannon Frye
12-19-2009, 04:11 PM
I think you need a lot of years of aikido training to distinguish between abusing juniors by seniors and pushing juniors beyond their limits. The same going for arrogance. Even the juniors in their own dojo can't judge it correctly.

So this advice to somebody who never practiced aikido is useless, sorry.

Sorry - I disagree. Stuck up is stuck up - regardless of rank.
A teacher will tote the 'company line". Perhaps senior students will as well, as they have a vested interest in "being senior", but it's a start. There's nothing wrong with seeing how personable, approachable, and humble the seniors can be (before joining). Might also want to chat with students who have been there a few months - to get their perspective as well.

But remember, in the end it's what YOU perceive and want that should matter most to you.

Good luck!:D

George S. Ledyard
12-19-2009, 11:31 PM
I think you need a lot of years of aikido training to distinguish between abusing juniors by seniors and pushing juniors beyond their limits. The same going for arrogance. Even the juniors in their own dojo can't judge it correctly.

So this advice to somebody who never practiced aikido is useless, sorry.

Szcepan,

Surprise, surprise! You and I differ on this... I think you actually have to train a few years to be stupid enough to suspend your common sense as to what is abusive and what is not. A brand new person who has not trained before will recognize it immediately. It's like the Emperor's New Clothes...
"Oh, that teacher is an abusive psycho..." "Oh. that 5th Dan is an arrogant asshole." It's actually very simple.

In the words of the great Bob Dylan, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

Hope you have a great holiday season!
- George

Shadowfax
12-20-2009, 06:48 AM
When I was interviewing for my current job the one thing I made sure to do before I accepted toe position was to chat with the employees and observe them at work. Their general attitude told me a lot about the person they worked for.

When I was looking at joining a dojo for the first time I carefully observed the general spirit and attitude of the other students there as well as that of the teachers.

I'm more sensitive than most to the emotional state of people but, the majority of people can pick up the general feel and attitude of people around them enough to know if a place is the right atmosphere for their needs. It does not take training to use what is actually very much a part of our human instinct.

Tinyboy344
12-20-2009, 08:16 AM
I'm a rebel myself. :cool:

Yes, that title is taken... so is "Master Shihan 3rd-level half orc-paladin awesome-guy"-- that's me!:grr:

Orc-Paladin??? Omg, you play WoW? Which server? :D

Amir Krause
12-20-2009, 08:51 AM
Certified teacher, from a known federation. (NOT billy-bob's federation of awesomeness, where billy-bob names himself grand shinhan master-dude. lol) With a reliable active class schedule, and dues that are reasonable.

How is he supposed to know which federations are "known" while he is a beginner?
You do know this criteria may force him to miss great teachers who are independent or belong in "less known" federations?

While there are some frauds out there, the above criteria is way too restrictive and favors those with better connections to some other teacher over one who may be more knowledgeable but disconnected (possibly even just at current time).

Amir

George S. Ledyard
12-20-2009, 11:16 AM
How is he supposed to know which federations are "known" while he is a beginner?
You do know this criteria may force him to miss great teachers who are independent or belong in "less known" federations?

While there are some frauds out there, the above criteria is way too restrictive and favors those with better connections to some other teacher over one who may be more knowledgeable but disconnected (possibly even just at current time).

Amir

Hi Amir,
I agree with you that association with an organization means little or nothing. It might if there were a requirement that a teacher attend a certain amount of training with the top teachers of the organization in order to stay certified...

The Systema folks do this. Pretty much anyone can set up a Study Group. But if you see their group listed on the website, you know they are getting up to Toronto to train with Vlad and attending seminars around the country with his senior students. If they don't see you at the training events, they take your name off the list of approved groups.

As far as I am concerned, the Aikido organizations should do this. Ours, for instance, requires attendance at some events for promotion. That's fine, but often teachers who are content to remain at the same rank for years at a time, don't get out to train much. I think anyone running a dojo should be required to attend a camp every year and attend a certain number of seminars or they get de-certified.

However, I am unaware of any major organizations that do this. So membership doesn't mean much. Ask how often they hold seminars with high level instructors from outside. How often do the teacher and instructors go off to the various Camps? This directly impacts their teaching.It's really about whom one train ed under and for how long.

Additionally, you can look at the program. Is it in a community center or do they have an actual dedicated dojo space? How long have they been there? That will not tell you much about their technical skill, but it does say something about the teacher's ability to create a viable dojo community. There are some technically excellent teachers around who aren't good businessmen or good motivators. There are some technically mediocre teachers around who are fantastic organizers and motivators. Larger doesn't necessarily mean better, just more popular. That may be ok with you, it may not.

How long has the teacher been teaching? How long has the dojo been there? Is the teacher professional? All of these factors come to play. None is of critical importance alone but they create an overall impression. The highest level teachers are often known outside their dojos. You can look on-line to see if they are teaching seminars around the country. That tells you something about their technical ability, in some cases about their teaching ability, but it's not necessarily all positive. A teacher with a strong national following travels a lot. That means you have to look at who is holding the fort while he or she is gone... so you are back to looking at the seniors once again. As a Beginner you are likely to be spending more time with them anyway. I don't actually teach the Beginner level classes at my dojo; I have some really excellent instructors who do that. I am fortunate to have some very experienced students who can do that.

But no, organizational affiliation is about the least important factor I think. Shop for a teacher, not a style, not an organization, but a teacher. That's the best way in my opinion.

lbb
12-20-2009, 01:11 PM
Szcepan,

Surprise, surprise! You and I differ on this... I think you actually have to train a few years to be stupid enough to suspend your common sense as to what is abusive and what is not. A brand new person who has not trained before will recognize it immediately. It's like the Emperor's New Clothes...
"Oh, that teacher is an abusive psycho..." "Oh. that 5th Dan is an arrogant asshole." It's actually very simple.

And yet, given how training in a dojo differs from its closest analogs in popular culture (a gym or an exercise class), isn't it also quite possible for a novice to err in the other direction? Gyms don't expect their members to help clean the building; exercise classes don't have a hierarchy of rank. How often does a novice misunderstand these practices as arrogant or abusive?

George S. Ledyard
12-20-2009, 01:24 PM
And yet, given how training in a dojo differs from its closest analogs in popular culture (a gym or an exercise class), isn't it also quite possible for a novice to err in the other direction? Gyms don't expect their members to help clean the building; exercise classes don't have a hierarchy of rank. How often does a novice misunderstand these practices as arrogant or abusive?
Well, I am assuming that, like any place I have trained, someone goes over and talks to the prospective student and explains how these things work and why. If they still feel they shouldn't have to clean or they don't wish to respect the seniors, I don't want them anyway. They can go be someone else's problem.

Shadowfax
12-20-2009, 01:25 PM
Well....speaking as a beginner.

One would hope that the person would do some research and get to understand what practicing a martial art is all about. I mean personally, I talked to some people who have had experience in MA. Did a lot of reading and research on line and asked questions for weeks before I ever went out looking for a dojo. By the time I went I had a pretty good idea what the basic principles were behind Aikido, what basic etiquette might be expected and what questions to ask the sensei teaching the class. I corresponded with Sensei Jones several times by email before attending my first class and I took an introduction class and several regular classes before I made the descision to join the dojo.

One should hope that all beginners ( really taking on anything new not just a MA.) would do this sort of thing. Considering he joined Aikiweb and asked the question that began this thread I think that might be what our OP is also in the process of doing.

I was fortunate to have a good friend who also runs a dojo who gave me a lot of the information and tools I needed in order to find the right place for me to train. In the absence of that I would hope that the experienced members here on Aikiweb could fill that role.

Shannon Frye
12-20-2009, 03:25 PM
I know it's more targeted towards "children's programs", but there is a great book that I recommend to my student's parents called :
The Parent's Guide to Martial Arts.

http://www.amazon.com/Parents-Guide-Martial-Debra-Fritsch/dp/1880336227

A lot of the info in that book can easily be applied by an adult seeking a dojo.

NagaBaba
12-20-2009, 03:50 PM
Sorry - I disagree. Stuck up is stuck up - regardless of rank.
A teacher will tote the 'company line". Perhaps senior students will as well, as they have a vested interest in "being senior", but it's a start. There's nothing wrong with seeing how personable, approachable, and humble the seniors can be (before joining). Might also want to chat with students who have been there a few months - to get their perspective as well.

But remember, in the end it's what YOU perceive and want that should matter most to you.

Good luck!:D
I'm not sure I understand you well....
Anyway, many of "approachable, and humble seniors" I have seen, the reason was they can't practice seriously so they talk a lot instead :D

NagaBaba
12-20-2009, 04:08 PM
Szcepan,

Surprise, surprise! You and I differ on this... I think you actually have to train a few years to be stupid enough to suspend your common sense as to what is abusive and what is not. A brand new person who has not trained before will recognize it immediately. It's like the Emperor's New Clothes...
"Oh, that teacher is an abusive psycho..." "Oh. that 5th Dan is an arrogant asshole." It's actually very simple.

In the words of the great Bob Dylan, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."



Hope you have a great holiday season!
- George
As you surly know, traditionally, more you see commitment in junior practice, more severe is a teacher with him. That is how a teacher express his love and respect to him. I don't think anyone out of dojo will understand it. In fact, it is very rare that even advanced beginners with few years of training understand it. This is particular behavior in the context of Budo and 'common sense' is no help, as the context is not known.

I also strongly believe, that a gap between the advanced students and beginners is so important, that the understanding of aikido by advanced students can be easily taken for arrogance by beginners.I don't know how to explain it better - beginners can see only superficial external form\behavior.
Someone with no aikido training at all, has noting(no tools, no training experience necessary) to judge advanced students.
Happy holidays for you too!

RED
12-20-2009, 07:46 PM
Orc-Paladin??? Omg, you play WoW? Which server? :D

..not anymore...lol I got a full-time job now that involves customer service :cool:

RED
12-20-2009, 07:55 PM
Oh jeeees, more of that "karate' mentality of "I train with a 5th degree from Federation X, cause a 3rd degree from Frederation Y is lower and can't possibly be as good."

While you don't want to train under someone who has declared themselves "grand master", don't overlook instructors who teach good art. Sometimes "FEDERATION MEMBER" means nothing more than politics and annual membership fees. :yuck:

Sounds like some one comes from a non-affiliate. :cool: LMAO

When I suggested an affiliation background I was suggesting a federation has standards for testing. The two affiliations on my side of the country in which I'm referring to have connection directly back to Hombu dojo. Thus your black belt is accepted there, is issued from there, and the standards for those belts are stated strictly. There are no second year nidans allowed basically. (And yes I have ran into second year 14 year old nidans in non-affiliated clubs before.)

In a nutshell, the mentality of the art is preserved because of those standards of excellence.

And as for membership fees.... that pays for the liability insurance. As a student of pre-law I can appreciate that sort of initiative. :cool:

Shannon Frye
12-20-2009, 08:28 PM
Non-affiliated depends on what your interpretation is - who more do I need to be affiliated with?

Safe bet that none of my students will ever visit Japan, and could care less where their rank is 'accepted'. Even if they visit another local dojo, their 'rank' may not be accepted, but their knowledge cannot be ignored. Guess I'm very fortunate to attract students that aren't in it just for the rank.

Even though we are not affiliated with Japan, we hold to the same testing standards as USAF. We learn more than that, but we maintain that as a minimum, to ensure that standards are upheld. Just because we are independent doesn't mean we ave 6 yr old yudansha, or 'make it up as you go along' rank requirements.

Does membership payments that go overseas actually get you insurance? Thought it was just tribute that you never see again. Most sensei I know have their own insurance, as "Federation Fees" don't cover it. It's just lost money sent away to ensure that you can brag about what group you are allowed to pay your way into.

ps. Did that pose hurt your neck? (hehe) I have to try and recreate it every time I see your pic, and it cramped a time or two!!

pss - My little smiley faces aren't being inserted where i want them - probably a browser error. Nothing above said with anything but good humor and good intentions

Sounds like some one comes from a non-affiliate. :cool: LMAO

In a nutshell, the mentality of the art is preserved because of those standards of excellence.

And as for membership fees.... that pays for the liability insurance. As a student of pre-law I can appreciate that sort of initiative. :cool:

RED
12-20-2009, 08:47 PM
Non-affiliated depends on what your interpretation is - who more do I need to be affiliated with?

Safe bet that none of my students will ever visit Japan, and could care less where their rank is 'accepted'. Even if they visit another local dojo, their 'rank' may not be accepted, but their knowledge cannot be ignored. Guess I'm very fortunate to attract students that aren't in it just for the rank.

Even though we are not affiliated with Japan, we hold to the same testing standards as USAF. We learn more than that, but we maintain that as a minimum, to ensure that standards are upheld. Just because we are independent doesn't mean we ave 6 yr old yudansha, or 'make it up as you go along' rank requirements.

Does membership payments that go overseas actually get you insurance? Thought it was just tribute that you never see again. Most sensei I know have their own insurance, as "Federation Fees" don't cover it. It's just lost money sent away to ensure that you can brag about what group you are allowed to pay your way into.

ps. Did that pose hurt your neck? (hehe) I have to try and recreate it every time I see your pic, and it cramped a time or two!!

pss - My little smiley faces aren't being inserted where i want them - probably a browser error. Nothing above said with anything but good humor and good intentions

It is less about rank, and more about standards for the art.
I am a USAF member, I pay 30 dollars a year to be a my federation. My 30 dollars is for two reasons primarily: liability insurance forthe federation(I pay for my insurance with my dojo dues), and for the budget of my federation. With that budget they have to pay out salaries to the Shihans(who are fulltime teachers.) and they pay for misc upkeep.

With that said, just because some one down loads what USAF's test requirements are, does not mean the test is being held to USAF standards. Ikkyo is a USAF 5th kyu requirement...however there is still a bad way and good way to do ikkyo. A certified USAF instructor is the only person that would know if that ikkyo was to their federation's standards, and to their shihan's standards. Downloading our testing requirements don't mean much in that regards. lol

I believe in a good federation because I believe specifically that my federation protects the art. I can trace my instructor within 2 degrees of separation to O'sensei. Andmy federation is commissioned by Hombu, therefore I know the Aikido I learn is the Aikido the Doshu is in support of.

Shannon Frye
12-20-2009, 10:05 PM
Federation insurance and Federation budget, Federation salaries... Hard enough to support the family here, but add to that a Federation? Don't think so. (though I admit, $30 is small compared to some other arts).

I like how USAF requ's went from 'their's to 'ours'. Does that $30 buy ownership of the techniques too?

I can trace my instructors lineage right back to the same O'Sensei that you can.

A Federation is a good thing - maintaining quality of the art is important. But don't look down on everyone else because they are not a part of YOUR Federation.
"And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

It is less about rank, and more about standards for the art.
I am a USAF member, I pay 30 dollars a year to be a my federation. My 30 dollars is for two reasons primarily: liability insurance forthe federation(I pay for my insurance with my dojo dues), and for the budget of my federation. With that budget they have to pay out salaries to the Shihans(who are fulltime teachers.) and they pay for misc upkeep.

With that said, just because some one down loads what USAF's test requirements are, does not mean the test is being held to USAF standards. Ikkyo is a USAF 5th kyu requirement...however there is still a bad way and good way to do ikkyo. A certified USAF instructor is the only person that would know if that ikkyo was to their federation's standards, and to their shihan's standards. Downloading our testing requirements don't mean much in that regards. lol

I believe in a good federation because I believe specifically that my federation protects the art. I can trace my instructor within 2 degrees of separation to O'sensei. Andmy federation is commissioned by Hombu, therefore I know the Aikido I learn is the Aikido the Doshu is in support of.

lbb
12-21-2009, 07:31 AM
I imagine that the OP is finding this pro-federation/anti-federation squabble very informative. Just what information is being conveyed, however, is something we probably don't want to dwell on.

RED
12-21-2009, 08:48 AM
Its not looking down on anything. It is just a more globalized view.

Shannon Frye
12-21-2009, 09:31 AM
I imagine that the OP is finding this pro-federation/anti-federation squabble very informative. Just what information is being conveyed, however, is something we probably don't want to dwell on.

I'm sure the OP may be interested in hearing from non-Federations dojos, specially when they are so talked down on by other posters (or preferably suggested as unfavorable). I get tired of the "better than you" complex just because someone pays money to belong to a certain club. And I'm not anti-Federation. Best wishes to Hombu.

Sorry that any discusssion that doesn't interest you is considered a "sqwabble" - I thought we had a discussion going. :confused: There are other topics to view, Mary. (lol)

George S. Ledyard
12-21-2009, 10:44 AM
As you surly know, traditionally, more you see commitment in junior practice, more severe is a teacher with him. That is how a teacher express his love and respect to him. I don't think anyone out of dojo will understand it. In fact, it is very rare that even advanced beginners with few years of training understand it. This is particular behavior in the context of Budo and 'common sense' is no help, as the context is not known.

I also strongly believe, that a gap between the advanced students and beginners is so important, that the understanding of aikido by advanced students can be easily taken for arrogance by beginners.I don't know how to explain it better - beginners can see only superficial external form\behavior.
Someone with no aikido training at all, has noting(no tools, no training experience necessary) to judge advanced students.
Happy holidays for you too!

I have seen many products of this "tough love" system. Basically, abused children grow up to be abusers. But Ellis wrote a whole book which covered this at length... no need for me to cover all that ground again. Suffice it to say that there has been a level of violence accepted as normal in Aikido that simply doesn't exist in many of the other arts. You simply don't see this in the koryu, which are supposed to be the "combat" arts. I was there at the Aiki Expo when a prominent Aikido teacher talked about purposely injuring students as part of their training. That is TOTAL bullshit. An occasion deserving of Glock 19 waza as far as I am concerned... "shihonage this , succka" Ok, clearly not an "evolved" response... unlikely to forward the goal of World Peace. But a satisfying fantasy that I only feel a tiny bit guilty about having...

RED
12-21-2009, 10:49 AM
I actually get the opposite view. LOL Every time I mention I'm in a federation on this site,I get a slue of people with a chip on their shoulders discrediting me for the fact I belong to the USAF.

George S. Ledyard
12-21-2009, 11:03 AM
I actually get the opposite view. LOL Every time I mention I'm in a federation on this site,I get a slue of people with a chip on their shoulders discrediting me for the fact I belong to the USAF.

Maggie,
I don't think that's the gist of what they intend to be saying... I don't see an anti USAF bias here rather than a certain insecurity about being independent that causes some folks to be a bit defensive. I wouldn't worry about it. Organization affiliations have their good aspects and not so good aspects just as being independent can be a liberating situation or the last resort for those who don't play well with others. Totally depends on the individual.

Personally, from what I have seen, each organization does certain things well and others not very well. I don't see any as being better than the others. It's really about who your teacher is, who is his or her teacher. The rest is all about how the art gets transmitted to the masses. Important, since there are so many folks training now, but not having any inherent value that transfers to the members just because they are members.

Anyway, I wish there were more USAF folks on this site. They represent a major component of American Aikido and it would be great if some of the Federation seniors were contributing here. It's very nice that you are here contributing.
- George

lbb
12-21-2009, 11:12 AM
Sorry that any discusssion that doesn't interest you is considered a "sqwabble" - I thought we had a discussion going. :confused: There are other topics to view, Mary. (lol)

It's got nothing to do with whether I'm interested in it or not, and everything to do with how the "discussion" proceeds. OP asked for information on what to look for in checking out a new dojo, and I think got a bit more than that. The conversation devolved (IMO) into something that would better be described as a squabble than a reasoned discussion, taking a rather personal tone at times, with the participants reading disparagement into each other's words. I think that someone who's seen a little of dojo politics and federation/anti-federation politics could sort it all out easily enough, but what is someone who's new to it going to think?

RED
12-21-2009, 11:14 AM
Maggie,
I don't think that's the gist of what they intend to be saying... I don't see an anti USAF bias here rather than a certain insecurity about being independent that causes some folks to be a bit defensive. I wouldn't worry about it. Organization affiliations have their good aspects and not so good aspects just as being independent can be a liberating situation or the last resort for those who don't play well with others. Totally depends on the individual.

Personally, from what I have seen, each organization does certain things well and others not very well. I don't see any as being better than the others. It's really about who your teacher is, who is his or her teacher. The rest is all about how the art gets transmitted to the masses. Important, since there are so many folks training now, but not having any inherent value that transfers to the members just because they are members.

Anyway, I wish there were more USAF folks on this site. They represent a major component of American Aikido and it would be great if some of the Federation seniors were contributing here. It's very nice that you are here contributing.
- George

I think there is a fear that federation students don't take independent schools seriously. Which is typically not the case. I've seen independent schools that are positive and genuine, and I've seen independent schools with 30 year old ex- USAF 4th kyus naming themselves grand shihan. The extremes make me weary until I see what the school teaches.
I think the fear is that Federation students will lump every school in together.

NagaBaba
12-21-2009, 01:11 PM
I have seen many products of this "tough love" system. Basically, abused children grow up to be abusers. But Ellis wrote a whole book which covered this at length... no need for me to cover all that ground again. Suffice it to say that there has been a level of violence accepted as normal in Aikido that simply doesn't exist in many of the other arts. You simply don't see this in the koryu, which are supposed to be the "combat" arts. I was there at the Aiki Expo when a prominent Aikido teacher talked about purposely injuring students as part of their training. That is TOTAL bullshit. An occasion deserving of Glock 19 waza as far as I am concerned... "shihonage this , succka" Ok, clearly not an "evolved" response... unlikely to forward the goal of World Peace. But a satisfying fantasy that I only feel a tiny bit guilty about having...
Hi George,
Don't get excited too much ;) Not everywhere Glock-waza is legal, as in your corner of the world...From above description looks like you have never seen serious practice. I have no idea what kind of 'prominent teachers' were invited to Aiki Expo...........

I had impression your teacher trained you exactly the way I wrote. But may be my impression was wrong. May be he was nice and gently with you. :confused: :eek:

Linda Eskin
12-21-2009, 01:51 PM
As someone more clever than myself said a few months back, "popping some popcorn and pulling up a chair." :p

BJohnston
12-21-2009, 02:24 PM
Hey all, thought I'd give you an update. You guys have been absolutely awesome, btw! A lot of really helpful info and tips. Thank you very much for your time. I did a ton of research, reading, watching vids...etc...before sitting in on my first class. I went to my first class with the intention of sitting and watching. I was asked if I wanted to join in and practice with the class. I felt very at home. Everyone was very open, kind, and helpful. I decided to go ahead and join the dojo. I'm really excited about the path that I have chosen. I'm a little older than most in the class...34, but I feel like age isn't important. Of course I would have loved to have done this earlier in life, but the important thing is that I've started. I'll be posting plenty questions in the future I'm quite sure.
Thanks again for the support and helpful information.

B

mathewjgano
12-21-2009, 02:42 PM
I like what Ledyard sensei said about finding a good teacher above all. Once you have some of those, their respective arts become almost meaningless in my view. That said, you also have to start somewhere. You may not know what is best for you until you've spent some time gaining that allmighty experience.
My main piece of advice is not to let people pressure you into defining your own practice. Take whatever people tell you as food for thought, but digest it on your own...that's kind of the nature of learning anything, as I see it...regardless of whether you're learning Aikido or learning what kind of Aikido you want your practice to be. I've studied at two very good schools in my opinion and neither put pressure on me other than to do my best at following my personal goals. That's the mark of a good school or teacher as I see it.
With that in mind I'd like to reinforce the idea that schools which demand long-term commitment before you get to taste what it's like might be problematic.

I just saw your recent post:
....Congratulations on finding a place to train!
Gambatte!

George S. Ledyard
12-21-2009, 05:37 PM
Hi George,
Don't get excited too much ;) Not everywhere Glock-waza is legal, as in your corner of the world...From above description looks like you have never seen serious practice. I have no idea what kind of 'prominent teachers' were invited to Aiki Expo...........

I had impression your teacher trained you exactly the way I wrote. But may be my impression was wrong. May be he was nice and gently with you. :confused: :eek:

33 Years of training under Saotome Sensei and Ikeda Sensei, I have NEVER been injured by either one. Sure, my nose got a bit flattened, I've had my ribs "touched" with some vigor, I've had a few locks put on that didn't leave any doubt about how fast I wanted to get to the floor... But not once was I injured. I have never seen either one of them purposefully hurt an uke. One of the few things that would get you banished from the DC dojo when I was there was hurting people. It was expected that you learn control. Period.

In my younger days I trained plenty hard, taken some ukemi that just about made me wet my pants. But my teachers always threw you in the cleanest way possible, so even someone with my mediocre ukemi skills and super tanker size always came out unhurt.

Aikido training is a cooperative process. If I offer my arm to my teacher so that he can demonstrate a technique, I expect that it is treated with respect. Someone wants to see if they can break my arm, we're going to do that outside in the parking lot. Then we can see... I have no problem going outside. But the dojo is a place for practice and there needs to be trust that my dojo family is at my back. I don't think the student should have to worry about being injured by his fellow family members. That's nothing but a dysfunctional family dynamic. Folks who do that should be in therapy and I won't train with them nor will I allow folks like that in my dojo. They have to stand outside and invite me to play.

lbb
12-22-2009, 05:03 AM
Hey all, thought I'd give you an update. You guys have been absolutely awesome, btw! A lot of really helpful info and tips. Thank you very much for your time. I did a ton of research, reading, watching vids...etc...before sitting in on my first class...

Barry, congrats for finding a place where you feel comfortable training, and welcome!

NagaBaba
12-22-2009, 06:34 AM
. I have never seen either one of them purposefully hurt an uke. .

......hmhm.....communication over internet is difficult. I don't remember where I said that serious practice means 'purposefully hurt an uke'? Or you are reading too much in my post, or you are applying some misleading concepts to the terms I'm using in my writing.

I'll try to explain myself better .

Beginners are not study aikido - they are doing some kind of conditioning. Advanced students can only study aikido when a teacher is able to create training environment where there is a sense of danger, threat. Only in such environment there is a chance for spiritual transformation and spiritual grow. That is one of the reasons O sensei choose martial techniques from Daito ryu as a vehicle in this journey. Otherwise he could use dance, or any other body expression where a danger is not involved. If a teacher is not creating such propitious environment for practice even students with very long history of training will still do merely physical conditioning to the end of their life.

The line between such environment and abuse is very thin, and it is very difficult to understand for ppl from outside what happens without knowing well the teaching methodology of the teacher and his relations with students.

I can give an example: -- ppl who were involved in war, or other life dangerous events practice and understand aikido very differently then students without such experience. Because they faced dangers or death, their spiritual development is on much higher level.

Amir Krause
12-22-2009, 07:54 AM
As you surly know, traditionally, more you see commitment in junior practice, more severe is a teacher with him. That is how a teacher express his love and respect to him. I don't think anyone out of dojo will understand it. In fact, it is very rare that even advanced beginners with few years of training understand it. This is particular behavior in the context of Budo and 'common sense' is no help, as the context is not known.



As you surly know, a teacher can be strict and demanding without being abusive, and vice versa.

Insisting on the smallest detail, requesting lots of repetitions, and demonstrating a lot with some student as Uke is not abusive. These are all traits of demanding.

Causing bodily harm (not just pain), causing pain while totally disregarding the students slaps (indicating a request to stop), continuously demeaning the person (for a beginner, do not confuse with treatment of advanced students in special cases as a check for their Ego) ... is abusive.

Amir