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04-07-2010, 12:04 PM
I live in South Africa 10 km from johannesburg airport. I have friends in all kinds of martial arts: karate, judo, tai kwan do (don't know if that's spelled right) etc. But aikido sounds a lot more interesting so I would like to know what your opinion is about aikido and what style would be best for a beginner. If it's possible any recomendations of dojo's would be more than welcome but now I would just like to find out more about aikido itself and what people who use it think about it.

04-07-2010, 12:12 PM
check out these links:

Then go to one or two of the schools and check out a class.

Good luck.

04-08-2010, 06:40 AM
Christo, if you've got that many martial arts that are convenient to you, I'd say you owe it to yourself to visit as many schools as you can (including multiple schools of the same style) and observe classes. Don't just wander in, watch for a couple of minutes and leave -- observe an entire class, if at all possible. Ask yourself if it looks like something you'd like to do. Then meet the people -- students and instructor -- and ask yourself if they seem like people that you'd like to train with. That's really the best method for picking a style and school -- that and personal recommendations.

Peter Gombeski
04-25-2010, 02:09 PM
With so many choices, I think you'd be best served by assessing the quality of instruction at each dojo. As much as I enjoy Aikido, I would rather learn some other art from a great teacher than Aikido from a lesser one.

Something to consider is the style of practice. Aikido is almost always practiced with a partner. Even so, it is not as strenuous as MMA or boxing training might be. So if you enjoy interactive training instead of kata-based training, then Aikido might be a good fit. Equally important is the emphasis on breathing technique, ki, and ukemi (falling) - 3 factors which I think distinguish Aikido.

I second the recommendation to go in and view classes.

Enjoy the journey!

Peter Gombeski

04-25-2010, 03:21 PM
This school is a sister organization to my own... so it is the only school I can recommend, because it is the only school I'm familiar with.
They are recongnized by Hombu and their instructors have good creds.

04-25-2010, 08:22 PM
Aikido... endlessly fascinating. :D That's pretty much what I think about it.

What about aikido appeals to you more than other arts?

As for picking a style etc. The advice you have above is the same I received. Forget about style for now. Go visit lots of dojos and see where you feel at home. There are as many opinions about which style is best as there are styles. The fellow that got me into aikido does yoshinkan and swears his is the best way. I find that the aikiki dojo I train in is just perfect for what I need.

04-27-2010, 01:30 AM
Keep in mind one significant difference: Aikido is not, and will never be, competative. You will not go to tournaments and you will not win trophys. You also will not learn to beat people up or even how best to defend yourself in a street fight. You will learn to have complete control over your body and your environment. You will learn what it means to harmonize yourself with those around you.

This is why I chose Aikido. I can only speak as someone at the beginning of the path, not from one that has travelled it.

04-27-2010, 01:48 PM
Keep in mind one significant difference: Aikido is not, and will never be, competative.

Unless it's Tomiki style (Shodokan) of course!
I even feel like a lot of the time that someone decides against aikido, they might have been really happy in a Tomiki school. So it's worth checking out.

04-29-2010, 12:04 AM
Christo, I can tell you what brought me there - as a beginner like yourself.

My background is a boxing one. It may sound quaint or weird to say the least, because boxing seems on the exact opposite of the gamut.
This is, imho, what makes aikido and boxing close: they are the 2 extremes, so as far as one is interested in the extreme, one may well be interested in both.

I consider Aikido the most ambitious way of fighting (some will say of not fighting - I will come to that shortly).
Firstly, you have a chance to revert an habit: normally you _oppose_ your strength to your opponent: in Aikido you do the exact contrary, you follow his/her strength, with the intention of making your opponent lose his balance: you add a tad to his (her) momentuum and you unbalance or project.
If he pushes, you don't push back: you move out of the way or you pull.
if he pulls, you don't resist: you yield and push in his direction.

This, to a few gives the impression it is not fighting. I can't tell you how puzzling adopting these mere principles (even without knowing any technique) can be for your opponent: it is as if you are making fighting impossible. This is why they say it's not fighting, however that is a misconception to my boxing background: indeed, you're fighting, only with principles that dissimulate you're doing it.

However, if you choose Aikido, keep in mind one thing: whatever degree of bad reputation as far as effectivenes aikido may have accrued over time, does not rest on aikido's shoulders as far as responsibility is concerned: it entirely and squarely rests on Ukes shoulders - Ukes are the attackers.

The way they attack is so complacent, they help you so much to do the technique, and their attacks are so unrealistic (even once you're supposed being able to master or nearly master a technique) that they are actually not helping you to learn: they are building your COFFIN.

Be very very diffident of techniques like iriminage made in a dojo: applied to a determined opponent, you may find out they do nothing. They work mostly only on Ukes that help you for the purpose.
If you are interested in aikido not only as a theory but also as a way of fighting, you need to find somebody who will attack you somewhat more realistically, eventually.

So, in short, keep this in mind: whatever you may find bad on an aikido dojo, has all come out of the way Ukes (attackers) behave. They took away from aikido its martial side, and also the defenders got used to mild approaches (you may easily find guys complaining as soon as you do an Ikkyo slightly more energical - it is not that you put force in it, they are simply unused to guys that move with some dynamism).

This is not going to be so in any dojo, but be aware that in most dojos this the the one issue you may find.

Get a decent uke, over time.