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ahogue
05-31-2005, 02:12 PM
Hello everyone,

I live in the East Bay (near San Francisco) and am excited about the prospect of getting into Aikido. Apart from a few months of instruction when I was about 13 I am an absolute beginner. After scouring this site and other sources I still have a few questions and hope to get some advice here. If any of this is repetitive, I apologize.

1) The dojo:

There are really only two dojos that I will practically be able to get out to 3 or more days a week. One is Berkeley Aikikai of Shibata sensei and the other is the Aikido Institute of Oakland. I see that Shibata is mentioned frequently on boards and appears to have a reputation as a good but rather rough teacher. Anyone have any experience with his dojo or especially the Institute?

I will of course be visiting them, but wondered if others who know what they are talking about had any thoughts.

2) Health:

I'm not sure, but I think I might have something a bit wrong with my back. Basically, when I walk down the street I often times hear a clicking sound in my head. Maybe I'm just being a hypochondriac, but I am a little worried about getting thrown around all the time. Does anyone have thoughts on Aikido training for those who may have some form of back trouble?

3) Fitness:

Though it is a secondary reason for my interest in learning a MA, I do need to get back into shape. In general, what can one expect from Aikido training both in its physical requirements and in its sufficiency for getting one into good physical shape? Should I consider some form of supplementary training, or would 3-4 days a week of classes likely be enough?

Thanks!
Alan

bkedelen
05-31-2005, 02:44 PM
A battle plan rarely survives the first encounter with the enemy. Start by showing up at your dojo.

tedehara
05-31-2005, 04:26 PM
If you have any questions about your health, you should get a check-up from your physician before starting any exercise program.

You could try a few weeks in the dojo and use that experience to figure out any supplemental training you might need.

Good luck!

:)

DevinHammer
05-31-2005, 07:04 PM
Fitness:
If you're going to be attending a beginner's class for the first couple months you should be fine initially. However, the transition to the general classes can be a shock to the system because the pace can be much more intense. So you might supplement your activity during the second month of your beginner course to make that transition a little easier. Once you've adjusted, a 3-4 day/week schedule works for me.

Erik
05-31-2005, 11:44 PM
There are really only two dojos that I will practically be able to get out to 3 or more days a week. One is Berkeley Aikikai of Shibata sensei and the other is the Aikido Institute of Oakland. I see that Shibata is mentioned frequently on boards and appears to have a reputation as a good but rather rough teacher. Anyone have any experience with his dojo or especially the Institute?

If you can get to those then there are several more you can get to representing a broad array of styles. You can't walk down the street in the East Bay without tripping over an aikido dojo. Hence, I'm not sure why you would be limited to those two unless you don't have a car or something. And, amongst the other dojos there are some which, in my opinion, are on par with those mentioned although those two are probably the most well-known.

As to the specific places in question they both have well earned reputations. You have to decide on what you want and whether or not they meet your requirements.

No comment on the back thing other than a seconded on the doctor.

Though it is a secondary reason for my interest in learning a MA, I do need to get back into shape. In general, what can one expect from Aikido training both in its physical requirements and in its sufficiency for getting one into good physical shape? Should I consider some form of supplementary training, or would 3-4 days a week of classes likely be enough?

It depends. Amongst the many schools in the Berkeley area I predict, with certainty, that in some the physical requirements would get you in excellent shape, in others, you would need to supplement, to even get a workout. A well-designed and thought out program of physical training can never hurt.

JamesDavid
06-01-2005, 06:30 PM
Hello Allan,
Most of the replies you have will have been from long time aikido practitioners, so I thought you might like some advice from someone who has only been practicing for a few months.

Find a dojo that feels good!! The way people relate to each other and the respect they show to sensei and the dojo. This was my primary concern. Find a place that you can imagine belonging to…that is belonging to the community of the dogo..

I went to a dojo to have a look. Much the way you propose to do, the place had an awesome feel to it so I just joined. As a beginner things just won’t make sense. The only way is just to do what you are told. They still don’t to me. But we have one up on the old timers. You get to learn the Kihon Dosa for the first time!!! What a thrill!! The heart of aikido…now there is a learning curve…

As for the back, as someone who has broken their back in two places I can say that it is not necessarily going to be a problem. If it is, get physio help, do this while you are young so that you can build muscles and stabilize the area or whatever the physio says to do. Oh, make sure it’s a sports physio. Many physiotherapists don’t understand that being able to walk around isn’t good enough. You want to be treated like an athlete. You will have many things that will seem to be stopping you from performing your best at aikido. Truth is you will never be 100%. There will always be some niggling injury, sore legs, you may be overworked outside the dojo…and so on…you have to work around these things. At our dojo some of the students, if they are injured or too sick to practice, will come along and just watch…

As for fitness. The first time I went to aikido I ended up with blurred vision and total exhaustion!! Just push yourself as hard as you can (without getting blurred vision!) and wait for the improvement. Which I might add comes mostly from better capacity to do technique efficiently than cardio improvement. If you have a lot of chub, losing it may help, but there are plenty of people who don’t.

In general find a dojo where you can do what we all do when we get worried or things aren’t quite right…. ASK SENSEI!!

ahogue
06-02-2005, 03:00 PM
Thanks very much everyone, this is helpful and encouraging.

Though I hate to put it off, I suppose I will see my doctor before joining, just to be safe.