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binature 05-02-2002 05:41 PM

Choosing a Dojo

I am going to join a dojo and begin practicing next week and need some advice. I have observed classes at three different dojos and have narrowed my choice down to two. One dojo seems more rigorous and straight forward while the other is a little more informal but has a great unified feeling to it. I spoke with the head instructors of both dojos. Both of them were nice, but I felt so comforatble with the one at the more informal dojo that I felt that I could ask him for a suggestion as to which dojo to join and he would give me an honest recommendation. Just the fact that my perception of him allows that level comfort would seem that his dojo would be a natural choice, but the techniques and training session I observed at the other dojo has me torn between the two. Just looking for some suggestions. If people would like to know the dojos, I'll list them but I didn't think it was necessary. Lastly, I know this is a very personal choice but any help would be appreciated. Thanks

MaylandL 05-02-2002 07:21 PM


If you havent already, you can find more information about dojo selection on

Other considerations if you're torn between two dojos are: fees, whether you would enjoy training with the people there, whether the way they train and what they train meets what you want to get out of aikido, closeness to where you live and ease of getting to the dojo.

Hope this helps and all the best for your training

Brian Crowley 05-02-2002 08:04 PM

I listed a few ideas you might want to consider below. I have moved several times and had to go through this process each time.

1. Keep visiting the classes until you have a better idea. I sometimes came back 3-4 times to the same dojo just to watch different classes. This way you get a good sense of the style and the types of people who train in it. If they will let you join in for a while without signing up take them up on it. You are not taking advantage, you are honestly trying to see if it is the right fit.

2. Try not to feel like the decison you make now is "final". Try one class for a month. If it satisfies you - great - if not maybe try the other next month. Or maybe try the other in any event - just so you are better informed.

3. My experience has been that if I feel comfortable with a dojo/instructor, it usually means that the other members share some common ideas & attitudes with me. Therefore, I think the fact that you feel more comfortable in one is probably very important. Just one of many factors, I'm sure, but don't underestimate it. I tend to think it is one of the more important factors !

Good luck !


Bronson 05-02-2002 11:45 PM

This will end up sounding like one of those friend of a friend stories :p

My first aikido instructors father was a karate instructor. One of his higher ranking students (yondan I believe, but don't quote me)was relocated to Germany because of work. When he got to Germany he went to a dojo that did the same style of karate that he held rank in. He said he didn't feel welcome and that he just didn't like the "feel" of the place. He ended up wandering into an iaido dojo, was made to feel very welcome and really liked the people there. By the time he left Germany he was a nidan in iaido.

I would agree with Brian. All else being close to equal (dues, schedule, etc), if one dojo has an atmosphere that better suits you I personally would go with that one.

But that's just me,

Edward 05-02-2002 11:47 PM

It is quite difficult to constitute a clear idea about the 2 dojos just from your post. So I agree with the above suggestion to try both. You can join 1 dojo for 1 month, then switch to the other for another month. After that you'll be able to decide.

However, my personal opinion, which is usually not very popular, is to go for the hard training and strict etiquette option. Aikido purpose is not to make friendships nor to enjoy time with the guys. You will end-up making friends anyway, but I mean this is not the purpose. If you are serious about practicing aikido, then the choice is obvious.


PeterR 05-03-2002 01:45 AM

Or if you are young and enthusiastic go to both for a month and make your decision then.

tedehara 05-03-2002 11:11 AM

Choosing a Dojo
I suggest you take a closer look at the students in both dojos.
  • You'll have to get along with them as classmates. How do they interact with each other?
  • How good are they, as you can best understand, as aikidoists?
It is often said that students are reflections of the instructor. The instructor could be an excellent aikidoist, but a poor teacher and this would appear in the quality of the students.

Jim23 05-03-2002 01:56 PM

Definitely consider all aspects, like skill level, people, location, atmosphere, etc., etc.

Here's what I did. I checked out five and tried three before I decided. Don't feel you need to rush and decide after one or two classes (but don't wear out your welcome either) - if you're pressured to join any one class, don't. And don't make any long-term commitments to begin with, like paying for six months or a year in advance - many people drop out after a month or so.

One benefit I found with trying a few different dojo, is that I can drop in to visit/train with them all (probably could anyway).


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