View Full Version : Any Suggestions?

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Alex R.
11-30-2004, 02:45 PM
Hello everyone. I have been researching Aikido for a few months, and have decided that I would really like to begin training. I most likely won't be starting until after the Holidays due to a busy schedule, but I was wondering if there are any suggestions that anyone would have. Are there any stretches/exercises you recommend before beginning to train? Any things to watch out for? Anything you wish you'd known before you started to train? Also, how long did it take you before you began to feel "comfortable" training? Also, is anyone familiar with any dojos in Southern New England? I know there have been many posts similar to this, but I figure I'll just throw one more out there. Thank you all for any suggestions/tips/advice you may have, and best wishes to you all.

sunny liberti
11-30-2004, 03:21 PM

Sorry I'm somewhat short on time, but I'll do my best...

Dojo in southern NE... I'm quite partial to Gleason Sensei's crowd. My husband teaches at 4 different CT dojos under Gleason Sensei, who is in Boston. There is a Western MA dojo that I highly recommend. Without knowing specifically where you are it's hard to narrow down. (You can PM me if you're uncomforatble posting it...)

Dojos are all very individual. You really should check out all that are near you to see which jive with what you're looking for. Also, PLEASE check out credentials!! There are many charlatans. Get the backstory. Talk to as many students as will chat with you. Ask those who have been around the scene a while. Some questions (not a complete list, by any means):

1. What is the best thing about this teacher / dojo?
2. What is the worst?
3. Do students here get injured often?

Ask the teacher who s/he trains with. They should still be learning under 5-6 dans (legitimate ranking). If they tell you that frequent injury is inevitable in aikido, run away. Yes, we get hurt. But if everyone is having knee surgery, or you look and see every member has red tape somewhere on their person, that dojo is reckless. Hard and serious training does NOT equal injury.

As for prepatory exercises, I like yoga and pilates. It's gotten me through pregnancy and car accident injuries when I couldn't train. That's a good way to get the body moving from the right places.

What I wish I'd known... I was fortunate to go to a world-class teacher right off the bat. Others happen upon terrible places and eventually work their way to a better teacher. I was very naive about what is out there. It was an eye-opener for me to travel to other dojos. There are many,many wonderful dojos and aikidoka out there - find them! Beware of those who talk about the money first, or try to sell you on how fast you will get a black belt.

I'm not sure anyone ever feels 100% comfortable with their practice, but that's kinda the point. We are growing. It's inherently uncomforable. If you start to feel very proficient, you're getting stagnant. Prepare to feel completely inept, vulnerable and scared. And oh, yea, bruised! Some dojos require that you reach a certain level of proficiency at ukemi (protecting youself) in a certain timeframe. That scares some new folks. Others (like my husband) let people decide when they will learn to roll. One new student was adament for 2 years that she would NEVER do that flippy stuff. One day she asked us to show her how to roll. Many dojos would've forced her to do it or leave long before that.

Sorry about the novel. I hope I answered your questions somewhat. Please feel free to PM me and I'll chat as much as you want...

11-30-2004, 04:16 PM

Try doing some searches for many of the questions that you've asked; you should find a lot of information.

As far as looking for a dojo, here's my "form letter" on the subject when people ask me about finding a "good" dojo near them.

-- Jun

I can't give you a recommendation for any dojo in your area, but here are some suggestions to help you choose a dojo.
Go visit all of the dojo in your area within a reasonable driving distance and observe a few classes at each of them. As aikido is not just something to be taken up and tossed away like some brief hobby, I think it's worth the time to do this -- especially if you're thinking about enrolling your child in a class, for instance. Never go by the "reputation" of a dojo alone.
Watch how the teacher interacts with his/her students. Watch how the students interact with their teacher. Watch how the students interact with each other. See if you feel comfortable with the way all of these interactions play out. It's often said that you can tell the quality of any kind of school by its students...
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Ask about the school's history and affiliation. Ask about the teacher's aikido history. Ask about the teacher's philosophy in doing aikido. See if any of their answers feels "different" than what you see being practiced and taught.
Do some research on aikido. Some good sites on the Internet include the Aikido FAQ <http://www.aikidofaq.com> and AikiWeb <http://www.aikiweb.com>.

Basically, a good yardstick to use if to think if the dojo itself is some place you want to be practicing for the next five years, probably at least two to three times a week.

In any case, you may want to try using the AikiWeb Dojo Search Engine to look for a dojo in your area:


Hope this helps.


Alex R.
11-30-2004, 04:18 PM
Thank you very much for your post. While CT is a bit far for me to travel {I'm in Massachusetts, close to the RI border}, I will take that into consideration. Also, thank you very much for your other suggestions. And nice meeting you!

Alex R.
11-30-2004, 04:19 PM
Thank you very much, Jun. And nice meeting you, too.

sunny liberti
11-30-2004, 04:26 PM
I went to HS in Taunton - made the drive to Brookline 5 times a week while I lived there...

There are great dojos all around you, just don't know which is closest... There's a place in RI near the southern most coast (the name escapes me) and another awesome teacher in Newport, I think.

Again, PM me if you're not comfortable posting specifics about your location...

And nice to meet you too!

Holly Nesbeitt
12-01-2004, 11:06 AM
Hi, Alex. Well, you're in a very good place for aikido! You have lots of options - let me recommend a couple.

I live in Providence and train at New England Aikikai (Cambridge, http://www.neaikikai.org) and one of its branch dojos, Brown-RISD Aikido (Providence, http://www.usafaikido.com). I'd highly recommend checking both out. They're both wonderful dojos.

A little background on each: NEA was founded decades ago by Kanai sensei, one of the original uchi deshi of O Sensei. Although he passed away last spring, the dojo is still going strong, with classes taught by his senior students (6th and 5th dans). It's a big dojo, well over a hundred members, and there are classes offered just about any time you could wish (evenings, weekends, early morning, noon).

Brown-RISD Aikido is about 10 years old. Our teacher there has been practicing about 18 years at NEA. It's a smaller dojo (a "big" class for us is 20 people), and a lot of fun. Though we're run through the universities, you do have to be a student at either to join; classes are open to the community.

Whenever you have time, please feel free to come and visit either! You would be most welcome in both places. Please PM me if you want any more info.

As far as other preparation for aikido goes - do you do anything for exercise right now? If you don't get a lot of exercise, I'd recommend something basic and easy, like walking or jogging or swimming. You can practice aikido no matter what your level of fitness, but the more fit you are, the more you'll enjoy it.

Alex R.
12-01-2004, 03:27 PM
Thanks a lot for the information...I'll be looking into NE Aikikai. I've actually located a couple dojos in Providence that I would like to check out...the commute would certainly be easier into Providence than Boston for me. Anyway, thanks again for the information, and nice meeting you