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01-03-2006, 02:07 PM
Hi all,

I've recently started looking into martial arts to help me get back into shape and, after much research, decided that aikido might be something I want to pursue. I'm currently in the Philadelphia area and I'm planning on visiting some of the dojos nearby to see what the atmosphere is like and figure out if this is something I can really pursue for the long-term.

However, I would also like to get some info from people who go to these dojos, specifically the two nearest to my location (Philadelphia Aikikai and Aikido of Center City). Do the people who go to these dojos enjoy their time there? What is the relationship between sensei and students like? What about between students and students? What is the training like? Etc., etc.,

Obviously, I'm going to visit and figure these things out for myself. But I would just like some insight as to what to expect from people at Philly dojos currently. Thanks a lot.

Ron Tisdale
01-03-2006, 02:26 PM
I haven't trained at Donnovan Waite Sensei's dojo, but I have trained with him at a seminar, and his aikido is fantastic. Since I only trained with him that once, I can't really speak to what his dojo is like.

I have trained several times at the Philadelphia Aikikai under Henry Smith Sensei, and I love training there. They have always made me feel very welcome, and the training was always rigorous but safe. It should be noted that I am a yoshinkan guy, so do things a little strangely sometimes, but they always put up with me and just smile... :) One of their members just started posting here more, so maybe he'll join in. His name is Ed Shockley (a really nice and REALLY BIG) guy. ;)

You may want to consider trying the Doshinkan in Roxborough in your visits...but it is some distance away from the other two dojo you mentioned.

Ron (hope you enjoy aikido where-ever you train!)

Janet Rosen
01-03-2006, 02:50 PM
I haven't trained at Donnovan Waite Sensei's dojo, but I have trained with him at a seminar, and his aikido is fantastic. Since I only trained with him that once, I can't really speak to what his dojo is like.
Same here--on the basis of one seminar, I can say that were I to wake up and find myself in Philly, his is the dojo I'd visit first.

01-03-2006, 08:01 PM
I have not trained at Donovan Waite Sensei's dojo, either, but like others I've been to a seminar with him. And had the opportunity to train with him once at Winter Camp, my first Winter Camp and as a newbie. Also, since he's close to my sensei, he taught a class this past November at out dojo while he was in town visiting. During class and the seminar, he did a great job paying attention to all the students and you could easily approach him to ask a question. After the class he taught at my dojo in November, a couple of us from the dojo were invited to join him and my sensei for dinner. I got to talk with him about our mutual love of Star Wars, and joke around in general. Oh, his aikido is great, too.

I think you would enjoy training with him, but try out both schools anyhow and choose who you "gel with" better.

Fred L
01-04-2006, 01:23 PM
If you have a car, consider Banshinkan dojo under sensei Mark Dorfman. We are located in Broomall, which is about 20-30 mins outside of the city. Dorfman sensei is a Yondon with approximatel 25 years trraining (I beleieve). Classes are excellent and very low key/friendly.

Fred :p

Fred L
01-04-2006, 01:24 PM
Boy, I can't type...

01-04-2006, 01:48 PM
I have trained at Waite Sensei's dojo (sadly, he was out of town), and it is a nice dojo with good members. I have also attended seminars where Waite Sensei has been an instructor, and have enjoyed the training. He is also going to be a guest instructor at our dojo later this year, which should be another great opportunity.

01-04-2006, 02:46 PM
I'll second Fred's recommendation of Mark Dorfman's dojo. I had the opportunity to train with him a few years ago when he and his students visited our dojo near York, and I've bumped into him at a seminar or two over the past few years. In fact, I was priviledged to see his yondan test.

He and his students are a joy to train with. :D


01-22-2008, 09:44 PM
Ron Tisdale mentioned my dojo, Aikikai of Philadelphia, where he has been a welcome visitor. He and I have often shared ideas (or rather I picked his brain) both at our dojo and at seminars. I also have studied with Donovan Waite Shihan and have nothing but praise for him. Mostly I have encountered him at summer camp and seminars but I recently visited his dojo and they have just completed marvelous renovations especially to the visitors area. I suggest that anyone visiting Philadelphia should train at the dojo that suits their temperament but visit them all. It is possible to observe at most or pay a mat fee and experience the unique interpretations of the many gifted Sensei in our region. One of my long term plans is to create a citywide Aikido event. Yoshinkan, Aikikai and Kokikai all producing seminars/workshops on the same weekend. We are blessed here to have extremely competent and welcoming dojos in many styles of our art so one cannot really go wrong no matter where you visit. There are also extensive Aiki-weapons at manyn dojo. I hope this isn't seen as perjoritive but the one advantage of Aikikai Of Philadelphia and Doshinkan is that the founding sensei still teach class regularly. Waite sensei is so amazingly successful that he must be on the road frequently and I have little knowledge of the people who teach in his absence. Perhaps someone else can fill us in there or correct me if my impression is incorrect.

01-22-2008, 09:48 PM
One thing that I forgot. There is a small dojo in Norristown (25 minutes away) with a fine sensei, Jeff Bowden. He emphasizes niho giri and is very martial. Lower Providence Aikido is the name of the dojo and they are in a strip mall so parking is never a problem. I add this addendum because that is one of the few places with a noontime weekday class. (Mon & Wed).

01-22-2008, 10:19 PM
Resuscitated threads are always fun. I wonder if the original poster ever found his way into any of the 4 dojos mentioned. I have been to Aikido of Center City several times whilst Waite Sensei has been out&about. His senior instructors are no waste of time in themselves, and I drove ~45 miles up from my apartment in south Jersey. The nearest dojo to my apt. is only 3.5 miles away.

I have not yet, but would like to visit the Phili Aikikai, and I have meant to make some time to have a look-see at Yoshinkan, too.


Ron Tisdale
01-24-2008, 08:46 AM
Hi Mike, you are not in Rochester anynore?


09-25-2016, 07:30 PM
This was almost 9 years before I wrote this one again but Ron is one of the first dan who worked with me again after my stroke and when Shihan Henry Smith was still alive. I can talk and write again. (I started doing my bokken right away and now I am doing my sword Sundays once more!!! Shihan Henry Smith is no longer alive but he always wanted his aikido to grow and I believe he is happy. Seven days of aikido. Sword, jo...enough dan that we all can not test every week...and everyone still is friendly. Once I am driving longer again then I will see many of you at your dojos once more .