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08-09-2005, 03:19 PM
Hello Everyone,
I'm 29 years old, live in NYC and recently joined an Aikido dojo in the city. I'm in decent shape physically-except I smoke. I have attended 3 classes already, but I am finding it very challenging to bring myself to go to class on a consistent basis-theres always an excuse. I am definitely nervous every time I have gone to the class so far- The dojo is very large, and the classes don't feel very personal(are they supposed to?). Actually I don't even participate with the class right now- I am off to the side and pretty much have to find a different experienced student to work with each time I come in. Once I'm in the dojo I try my best to work hard but i definitely feel so insecure and unsure throughout the training session.
I started Aikido because at the surface it appearered to be deeper and more traditional than a typical Karate dojo-unfortunately I feel like this dojo is so big that the Art and culture are not really touching me enough. It feels more like a gym class. Is this the way the class is supposed to be? Any tips on overcoming these issues? Am i expecting too much?

08-09-2005, 03:30 PM
Um... I would advise to check out other dojo's as well. I do not care much for a gym where instructor does not bother to constantly check if the new member does well and via that to personalize the instruction and make him stay:)

08-09-2005, 03:35 PM
Three classes is too soon to make a stay/leave decision. Different dojo have different flavors and different strengths. Attrition is a huge consideration and a tedious reality for people in dojo. They may be waiting to see if you stick around, their aloofness becoming a self-fulfilling proposition if you don't. I'd suggest sticking around. The one person who can make it worth your while might not have been in class with you yet.

Folks are often flattered to be asked for help and will usually tell you more than you wanted to know. So asking someone before/after class might help. The trick will be to get them to work with you rather than yammer (hint: Don't yammer at them.)

Funny the schedule/classes make no provisions for beginners...

08-09-2005, 03:49 PM
Thank you both for your responses. Whats a "yammer"?

Adam Alexander
08-09-2005, 03:58 PM
I like that sort of class...setting you off to the side and all.

Give you a chance to get the basics in without the pressure of the class itself.

I think the philosophical part is what you make it. I don't believe a person needs real close supervision at the beginning. Actually, I think a person only needs a tip or two per class.

08-09-2005, 04:38 PM
Jean wrote,

"Actually, I think a person only needs a tip or two per class."

I also think that to much info in the beginning can be overwhelming. Personally, I don't like big dojos with 15-30 plus students, its just to big. I find in these dojos, there is a lack of intimacy that definitely helps to customize Aikido to each (and every) unique person. Everybody will learn things in slightly different order, so the big generic classes can lead to overlooked faulty, or bad training habits.

08-09-2005, 05:14 PM
If you're really uncomfortable where you are, you can see if another dojo is a fit, like Jorgen suggested. NYC is a great place to pick and choose your dojo, because you do tend to have more choices in a city (use the dojo search on this site for a start). See if you can find one with a beginner's class. That way, everyone will be in the same boat as you, except for the more senior students, who will be going out of their way to help you.

At least that's how the beginner's classes I've attended have been.


08-09-2005, 05:38 PM
i am in my fourth lesson now and loving it, the instructors have gone out of there way to make sure i feel welcome even introduced me to the class on my first lesson constantly going around the class making sure everyone is doing the right thing always end up correcting me but hey its my fourth lesson i am just glad he takes the time to do so, so i know how you feel ref nervous ect i add my comments to assure you not all dojo,s are the same stick with it or check some others out i did first of all and am very happy with the choice i made.

08-09-2005, 06:01 PM
The nervousness is normal and will go away after a while. They probably have you off to the side learning the foundations. Out of curioscity what are they having you do?

I would stick it out for a month and if these issues keep coming up then I'd find a new place to train. If you are in NYC then you have options. You could probably find a smaller more "cozy" dojo prettty easily.

If you are a big person for tradition then maybe looking into some of the koryu (old Samurai schools) would be worth while. They tend to be a bit stern but have hot and cold running tradition and depth.

Good luck with finding what is right for you!

08-09-2005, 06:07 PM
Do you have to find the senior student to help you by yourself, or does the instructor assign someone?

Your description does sound a bit uncaring of a beginner, which is surprising. Perhaps they don't know how to deal with a beginner in a regular class. Have you spoken to the instructor about both your and their expectations of a beginner in the dojo? or any other classes which would be more appropriate?



08-10-2005, 01:00 AM
Hi Richard...

I trained intensively quite a few years ago and only last week returned to training in a new dojo. While a few of the people have been most welcoming, some of them give me the impression that they are just waiting to see if I will remain. ( I did try training there about six months ago for a few classes, but life intervened and I could not continue.)

I would advise sticking it out for the month. If your comfort level does not improve, you might want to consider checking out a few other dojos. Most good dojos will allow you to train your first time for free....if you explain your situation, they might let you try a few classes before committing.

In aikido, I am a firm believer that one should always feel welcomed to the mat. If the dojo does not extend that feeling, you might be better off seeking another place to train.


08-10-2005, 03:01 AM
Your life is not going to change in just 3 lessons. It is natural to be a little nervous about starting anything new, but thinking of excuses to avoid going to class might lead one to believe that you have not dedicated yourself enough to give it an honest try. It takes alot more dedication to walk the path than it does to sign the enrollment form.

Being "off to the side" for a while is sensible, rather than throwing you into more advanced training exercises before you have had the chance to properly learn to fall, and otherwise preparing yourself to train safely.

Most dojos have something resembling a "beginner's class", where you will be around others who are just as nervous as you, and with an instructor or senior student who is used to working with newbies. If your dojo does not have such a class, you might consider a different dojo, but only after you have given it a fair chance.

Do not let your nervousness get the best of you. Even the best among us strives to go into each class with an open "beginner's mind".

Lyle Bogin
08-10-2005, 08:48 AM
Brooklyn! Reprazent! (I live in brooklyn and train in Manhattan)

Have you sampled other NYC dojos *cough* that may be a bit smaller? Being off to the side is, IMO, a waste of time (unless that's where you really want to be).

I'll be at Shin Budo Kai from 6-7pm all week if you'd like to stop by. :)

At worst you'll feel even more confident about your current decision.

08-10-2005, 09:10 AM
Thanks for the reply Lyle. Where exactly are you located, I'll definitely stop by.

Ron Tisdale
08-10-2005, 11:03 AM
Personally, I am sometimes still nervous about training, even after 10 years. It can be really serious stuff...torquing joints, tossing people down, striking at each other...learn to live with it within reason. You have to determine what is within reason for you. Give it some time to get your sea legs. I'd say 6 months is good to get a base from which to make some decisions.

You may want to check out a smaller dojo, but the long term benefits of having many different body types to train with are pretty large.

In a medium to large class setting, brand new students are often off to the side with a senior learning some basics; ukemi (how to recieve the technique), basic movements (may vary between styles), basic introductory technique, etc. That's what happened when I first went to a yoshinkan dojo. They put me off to the side...I wasn't too happy about it either. I had already done some aikido, so it really annoyed me.

But I found out it was really the best thing. Ukemi can differ between styles rather drasticly, and by recieving personal training, you can avoid injuries. Styles that have a distinct method of movement need to get everyone on the same page...that time spent off to the side has large benefits if you invest yourself. It also helps to keep the regular class moving along well as you get to know the protocol, ukemi, basic movements, etc.

Keep training...after some time look around at what other dojo have to offer...don't give up.


Lyle Bogin
08-11-2005, 08:09 AM
Hey Richard,

77 8th Avenue, Lower Level, Manhattan

The southwest corner of 8th ave and 14th st, above the A,C,E, and L lines. The building looks like a bank and there's a salon called "NIKEL" above us.


You can ask for me if you like when you arrive, or speak to anybody with fancy pants on. I should be there by 5:30 tonight.

08-12-2005, 03:08 PM
When I started Aikido, I was Really nervous. Now, I'm a Yellow belt and loving it. My dojo is Compact, And I love it that way! When i joined the dojo, my Sensei was very kind and understanding. After awhile, Someone else joined and I was no longer the beginner.
I suggest that you might want to move if you feel too behind. I think that smaller classes are better. What happened to me was when I first joined, We did easier things for me. In smaller dojos, that happens more.
Good Luck! :D
:ai: :ki: :do:

08-13-2005, 01:32 AM
Ron Tisdale stated:

Personally, I am sometimes still nervous about training, even after 10 years.

Well, I have Ron beat...I am still nervous about training, and it has been over fifteen years! :-)

Of course, unlike Ron, I didn't train for most of those fifteen years, but I still have certain fears upon entering the mat....

I am still a firm believer in finding what fits. If you walk into a dojo and it feels wrong...leave. If you are ambivalent...train a few days. A good dojo should let you without the need of signing a contract. If it still feels ambivalent...its not the place for your aikido.

Without sounding too corney....after a month or so of training, walking into one's dojo should feel much like coming home....an automatic sense of welcome...of belonging....enthusiasm....excitement...

Just my humble opinion...


08-15-2005, 08:05 AM
Thank you all very much for your insight and comments. I have decided that tonite I will observe some classes at the new dojo recommended above. Hopefully it will have a smaller more personal feel.