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Syniq 01-03-2001 05:45 PM

Hi. I know you "old hands" must get sick of people like me asking what must seem like the same questions over and over (and I apologize in advance for doing just that). I, for one, am reading the posts and trying to figure it all out.

Some information about me: I do not live in a particularly dangerous city, and I am adept at avoiding fights. Call it diplomacy, call it cowardice, whatever--I still haven't had to attempt to use force to avoid a conflict. Also, I agree with (Nick, was it?)--if you just want to win a fight, gouge an eye or break a limb. Fight is over.

I have always viewed (and been taught to view) martial arts as a means to an end--that is, your first course of action is to run away. If you are unable to run away, then you try to get the other guy to lay down long enough to enable you to get away. Seems like a good idea, and has worked so far. But I am considering a MA because the day may come in which I am unable to get away. I want to be ready.

A friend of mine, who has a black belt (I forget what level--3rd, maybe?) suggested that I look at Aikido. While he is far from "World-class" level, I trust him; he has trained honestly for years, and at least to my mind represents what a trained MA should be. Therefore, I am considering this art.

I also looked at Tai Chi, but it was waaaay to slow for me--both in practice and "advancement"--not the racking up of belts, but rather the actual learning curve. Not my kind of art.

Included below, for your teeth-grinding pleasure, are some more newbie questions:


1. I'm a computer geek and my current physical activity amounts to refilling my coffee cup or grabbing another soda (but I drink Diet Pepsi--that counts for something, doesn't it?). I have tried Tae Kwon Do (as a child) and Shorin-ryu (as an adult), but both involve a great deal more physical activity (especially at the beginning)than I am really willing to deal with. From what I've seen on the board so far, Aikido seems to be a little less stenuous. I realize that to some extent this depends on the dojo, but no one would say that TKD is not physically demanding (if done properly); likewise, it seems that one would be able to make a generalization about Aikido. So--is Aikido (as it appears) a relatively less physically demanding art than most others?

2. I am considering learning Aikido for two reasons: a)self-defense, and b)because this is an art through which I can learn jodo. A few years ago I considered MA's, and weaponry (again, as self-defense), and jodo seemed the most useful. One is unlikely to find a pair of nunchuka lying on the sidwalk, and carrying a sword around is generally frowned upon by law enforcement officials. Locating a four-to-five-five foot stick in a pinch seems relatively easy, however. Is this a reasonable mindset/expectation for beginning study?

3. I am not actively seeking the meditative or spiritual aspects of Aikido, but I am not opposed to them, either. Should this spirituality be the primary reason for studying Aikido, or one of several, or is it a "side-effect"?

4. Is it at all possible to study Aikido alone, i.e. without taking a second mortgage for lessons?


I know there is a bunch of nonsense above these questions (I warned you!), but I am interested in not only answers but general comments. Do you see common newbie mistakes/misperceptions in my ramblings? Are there things that concern you? Do you simply think I'm a lunatic? :)

Thanks for your time.

Cody

leefr 01-04-2001 12:14 AM

I'm a newbie myself, so I'd like to respond to just your first question, since I also had some experience with Tae Kwon Do. I'll leave the other questions to better qualified people.

Any martial art, any sport can be either physically demanding or not depending entirely upon your application and effort. What makes aikido different from other martial arts like Tae Kwon Do(and which probably contributed to your impression that it's less strenuous) is the manner in which it's demanding.

As an adult male, unless you've consistently done some kind of conditioning/flexibility training, you're not going to find arts like Tae Kwon Do easy to do. You'll find tendons and muscles and joints in weird places screaming in protest at sudden exertion. It requires movement beyond what 'normal' life calls for. In Aikido, on the other hand, movements are 'natural' and rarely go beyond what any normal person can do. But then, so does running. Think you can run the marathon straight off? Probably not. But you can still walk to the local convenience store and back, right? That's pretty much what Aikido will be like. You can start off with just the ability to walk and the ability to stand up. How much you improve will depend entirely on your own commitment.

Good luck and hope this helps.

Kyung Yul Lee

Creature_of_the_id 01-04-2001 05:47 AM

beggining
 
Hi,
In my experience I have found that aikido is usually misunderstood unless someone is participating.
My advice to everyone is, give it a go for a few sessions, if it is not for you then it is not for you. but at least you have had the experience.

The amount of exercise involved depends very much on the class. It can become very tiring especially for intermediate grades when they are wanting to put in more energy but put it in via muscle power and so tire out quickly. at the beggining I have found that it is not so exahusting because you are slower and just trying to become co ordinated. and at higher grades even though it can be tyring it is not as stenuous as you have learned to apply the energy in the correct way. I have an instructor who is extremely fit and so sometimes classes can be extrememly exhausting.
it all depends on the instructor (and what type of mood he is in)

2. we dont do TOO much weapons work.. again, go along and find out.

3. my mind already tended towards the spiritual before I started aikido. but, I have witnessed that people who practice aikido, even though they may not be aware of it gain a certain out look on life. It doesnt have to be looked at as spiritual, just a benificial way of looking at things. aikido can change you quite dramaticaly over large periods without you noticing.

4. As a martial art it cannot be studied alone, in my view. as it is all about the moment of intent between uke and nage. the foot movements and ukemi (falls) can be practiced alone. but the techniques are a little more tricky.
One of aikidos main benifits for me is that it is social, that it is about interaction. I wouldnt want to study it alone, I cant imagine it being half as fun.

anyways....

Kev
:)

Aikidoka2000 01-04-2001 08:36 AM

Welcome to Aikido!
Here is a pretty comprehensive Q&A I happened upon.
I hope this helps!
-Tomu
http://www.aikidomissoula.com/Q&A.html

akiy 01-04-2001 09:35 AM

Quote:

Syniq wrote:
So--is Aikido (as it appears) a relatively less physically demanding art than most others?
It depends on what you really consider "physically demanding." I remember a story about a student who went up to Saotome sensei and asked for tips on how to train in a more physically demanding way. Saotome sensei told him to go stand on one leg for an hour...

That aside, aikido training can be extremely demanding. There have been times when people have had to run off the mat to throw up -- I hear (although it may have been a joke) they used to have an "uke bucket" here for people to do so after being uke for our main instructor for an hour.

One thing that happens in aikido, I think though, is that people get a lot more efficient in their movement as they get more experienced. Although I may be working with the same person for an hour, if he or she is more experienced, I'll notice that they'll be a lot less tired by the end of class; they are more effective in not getting tired by doing "the right thing" during their movements, both as nage and uke...

Quote:

2. I am considering learning Aikido for two reasons: a)self-defense, and b)because this is an art through which I can learn jodo.
Please don't confuse what people call "aiki-jo" with jodo. As far as I'm concerned, they're totally different beasts. Unless the aikido instructor has had proper training in something like Shinto Muso Ryu jodo and is teaching it as such, you'll most likely not be learning jodo in an aikido class. (A lot of people will say that the intent in jodo is a bit counter to that of aikido, too.)

I don't consider the weapons training most frequently in aikido to be a "real" weapons system. Many shihan I have encountered warn students that they are not training to become swordsmen but aikidoka. I would have to agree. Although one may become more proficient in using a stick in a "real" situation, that's not what the weapons training is about in my mind...

Quote:

3. I am not actively seeking the meditative or spiritual aspects of Aikido, but I am not opposed to them, either. Should this spirituality be the primary reason for studying Aikido, or one of several, or is it a "side-effect"?
Some will consider the spiritual aspect to be the main thing in aikido. Others will treat it as a side benefit of training. Still some others will say that training and the spiritual aspects are non-divisible.

I don't think it's necessary to seek out the "meditative or spiritual aspects" of aikido. But, many people whom I've met have gone into aikido just for the physical stuff and have found the spiritual within...

Quote:

4. Is it at all possible to study Aikido alone, i.e. without taking a second mortgage for lessons?
In my mind, no, it's not possible to study aikido by oneself.

Do you really think that you need a "second mortgage" for dues? How much are the dues where you're looking? Our dues are $70 a month which comes out to less than $2/hour of training for me...

-- Jun

Syniq 01-04-2001 02:05 PM

Thanks and more thoughts
 
Thanks for the answers. They have helped. I have contacted a Sensei in town who might be able to teach me both Aikido and Muso Ryu Jodo--which is probably more what I am after. I like the jo, as I said, but I certainly believe in empty-hand fighting.

As far as the cost--I agree that $2/hour isn't bad. But when you add up class fees ($60-70/month), gi ($100-$200) and possibly practice weapons ($200-400), you come out with a sum well in excess of $1000. I realize that I may not be required to purchase all of this stuff in advance, or even in the first month, but it's still something that must be considered.

After much reading, some thinking and more reading, I have come up with (what else?)--more questions!

Does anyone have an opinion on Fugakukai? I couldn't find anything praising it as a style, or condemning it, or in fact treating it any differently than any other style of Aikido. I took this as a good sign.

On the same note--the Karl Geis Organization? Any experiences?

On promotion--I'm a little perplexed how it works. I know it's basically based on accumulated practice time and technical knowledge/proficiency, but any guidelines about the thresholds? I am by no means looking for a black belt in a week; but promotion/advancement serves not only to recognize a student's achievement but to also encourage the student. And encouragement is a good thing.

What sort of questions should I ask of a Sensei? What should I look for in a dojo? What are the signs of a bad Sensei? What do you dislike in a Sensei?

Sorry again for the inane questions, and thank you for your patient and knowledgable answers.


Cody





Nick 01-04-2001 08:11 PM

Gi $100-200? We get our Mizuno for 40 a pop, and those things are wonderful... as for bokken, you can get a good white oak bokken and jo for about a hundred bucks... call the Kiyota Company.

As for what you want to look for in a sensei-- long answer, someone you respect, someone you respect whom does not ask you to respect them, someone who you feel has strong technique, someone who you feel holds characteristics in their technique and personality that you don't have, and are willing to work for.

Short answer-- role model.

Nick

Greg Jennings 01-04-2001 08:28 PM

Hi Syniq,

I haven't been around a while and am not yet caught up on reading the forum. Please pardon anything that's already been addressed.

First, most of your aikido training must be with a partner. A huge part of aikido training is learning to feel your partner. Can't do that along.

Second, your cost estimate is _way_ high. You can get a good basic judo gi from Kiyota for around $40. Many, I dare say most, dojo won't require you to purchase weapons up front, if ever.

Depending on the area, you could find a dojo with tuition considerably cheaper than $70/month. It just depends on the dojo and their situation.

Our dojo, as an extreme example, is completely free. All we ask is that the members are dedicated to their training. Oddly, the free tuition doesn't turn out to be a bonus for the 99% of the people we talk to.

Go try Aikido somewhere. If your finances are very lean, talk to the Sensei. They will very probably find a way for you to offset the tuition cost.

Erik 01-04-2001 09:26 PM

Re: Thanks and more thoughts
 
Quote:

Syniq wrote:
As far as the cost--I agree that $2/hour isn't bad. But when you add up class fees ($60-70/month), gi ($100-$200) and possibly practice weapons ($200-400), you come out with a sum well in excess of $1000.
I actually spend more than this but mine is all in driving, commute and ancilliary costs. As a beginner your out of pocket costs should be way less than this as everyone else has pointed out.

Quote:

On promotion--I'm a little perplexed how it works. I know it's basically based on accumulated practice time and technical knowledge/proficiency, but any guidelines about the thresholds? I am by no means looking for a black belt in a week; but promotion/advancement serves not only to recognize a student's achievement but to also encourage the student. And encouragement is a good thing.
Ask and ye shall learn it's different everywhere you go.

Quote:

What sort of questions should I ask of a Sensei? What should I look for in a dojo? What are the signs of a bad Sensei? What do you dislike in a Sensei?
Hell if I know. I think the biggest thing is if you are comfortable with the students and the teacher. You will put both your body and psyche at risk (sounds more dramatic than it maybe is) when you get on the mat so you need to feel safe. I think you'll know this when you feel it and don't be afraid to watch more than one class and visit other dojos.

One thing I do know is that I don't expect to find role models in my Aikido teachers. Your teacher is simply a teacher. Just as human failings exist with high school and whatever teachers they also exist with your Aikido teachers. Maybe another way to look at it is to try and find someone who embodied the things you liked in a school teacher and look for that in an Aikido teacher. God forbid I use some of the folks I've learned from as role models. Maybe as anti-role models?

shadow 01-04-2001 11:57 PM

[quote]akiy wrote:
[b]

I don't consider the weapons training most frequently in aikido to be a "real" weapons system. Many shihan I have encountered warn students that they are not training to become swordsmen but aikidoka. I would have to agree. Although one may become more proficient in using a stick in a "real" situation, that's not what the weapons training is about in my mind...
[quote]

what do you think the weapons training is about then?

Syniq 01-05-2001 07:24 AM

Thanks again
 
Thanks again to all of you for your patience and answers. They have been useful.

I found a woman who seems to fit the bill. 3rd Dan Aikido and 2nd or 3rd Dan Muso Ryo Jodo. And I talked to her last night--one of the nicest people I have ever met. As usual, a *little* less thinking and a little more doing proves to be useful.

And apparently you folks were right--my cost estimates were *way* high. The gi I saw in an online catalogue must have been the "fancy-pants" gi (no pun intended), because Heather said that the gi she has are about $40-50. I'll also check out Kiyota and see what they have.


<self-disclosure>

It's not so much that finances are lean as it is that I have, on occasions far too numerous to mention, started something and not finished it. Being wary, therefore, I did not want to lay out a huge sum of money if it looks like I won't (be able to) continue with this.

</self-disclosure>

Heather said what you folks were basically saying about Jodo--that the use of the Jo in Aikido is mostly defense. She said that once one reaches a green belt, one may begin to study Muso Ryu Jodo. So that's what we're aiming for (as I'd like to learn both "armed" and empty-hand defense).

So, in case you're wondering, I'll be signing on in the next week or so, and (on Heather's urging) I've talked my wife into giving it a try.

Thanks again for everything, and know that even if I do not post (since I have little knowledge from which to speak), I will be reading the boards.

Cody

akiy 01-05-2001 09:14 AM

Quote:

shadow wrote:
what do you think the weapons training is about then?
Just another way to develop aikido principles.

-- Jun

Chocolateuke 01-07-2001 04:52 PM

Hi my gi ( i have 2) was about 60 bucks from the teacher. ( my second one was half price!) as a 16 year old stubbern teen I have to pay my fees ( i am not braging okay ) of 60 bucks which is very cheap. i have looked at other dojos and prices were sky high. look around see teacher and watch a class you will get an idea of if you want to train their or not. another thing is weapons training is another way to learn the empty hand movements. it shows the hand hip and center movements amplified! also once your on and hate the first few lessons because all you do is fall hang on there teh good stuff is yet to cum!


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