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-   -   How to choose dojo if there are choices? (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5849)

suren 06-17-2004 12:00 PM

How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Dear experienced members,

I'm new in Aikido and I'm about to choose a dojo to start practicing and fortunately there is a wide choice of different dojos in my area (Silicon Valley, Fremont, CA). But I'll make this question broader, since I'm sure many new members may have it.

I'm lost in this variaty of choices!

I know this question is not a "politically correct" since you probably can't advertise one dojo (which will mean others are not so good) :) and this is also a question of ones taste, reasons, character, spirit and so on. I probably will need to go there and see myself anyway, but maybe you could help me to narrow my search.

I tryed the "dojo search" link on this site and it gave me 86 matches in 75 miles area around me.
All the items are sorted by the distance, but for me (and I'm sure for many others) that is not the reason we choose a particular dojo.
The other probably important parameter is Affiliation, and there are a number of organizations:
1.ASU
2. Aikikai
3. Ki Federation of Great Britain
4. Seidokan
5. Shugenkai International
6. Suginami
7. Pacific Aikido Federation
8. Takemusu Aikido Association
9. CAA (Division I, II, III)
10. AYANA
11. Aikikai Hombu
12. New School Aikido
13. Pacific Aikido Takemusukai, Michio Hikitsuchi
14. Aikido of San Jose
15. Hombu Dojo
16. USAF
17. USAF (West, East)
18. Takemusu Association
19. IYAF
20. TAA
21. JAA USA
22. Kokikai Aikido International
23. Ki Society
24. Seishin Aikido
25. Jiyushinkai
26. Kumano
27. Ten Chi Kai Association

Wow... There is also Style:

1. Aikikai
2. Iwama
3. Aikikai Hombu
4. Ki Aikido
5. Seidokan
6. Shugenkai Aikido
7. Yoshokai
8. Shingu
9. Kumano Juku
10. Yoshinkan Aikido
11. Tomiki
12. Shusekai
13. Kokikai
14. Shin Shin Toitsu
15. Seishin Aikido
16. Jiyushinkai

So I think you got what I mean by saying "I'm lost". Well not to narrow my search there is also probably the most important parameter (besides you) - the instructor. I will not list all of them, but beleave me there is a GREAT choice!

I'm not expecting any of you to describe me every aspect of all the associations and schools, but maybe you could shortly comment on them, like these styles are focused more on spiritutual and internal growth, these are more focused on physical, maybe there are associations, that are not eligible to affiliate? Any information will be a great help!

Please help me to narrow my search.
Thanks.

akiy 06-17-2004 12:09 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Here is my form letter when someone asks me to recommend a dojo. Hope it helps.

-- Jun

I can't give you a recommendation for any dojo in your area, but here are some suggestions to help you choose a dojo.
  • Go visit all of the dojo in your area within a reasonable driving distance and observe a few classes at each of them. As aikido is not just something to be taken up and tossed away like some brief hobby, I think it's worth the time to do this -- especially if you're thinking about enrolling your child in a class, for instance. Never go by the "reputation" of a dojo alone.
  • Watch how the teacher interacts with his/her students. Watch how the students interact with their teacher. Watch how the students interact with each other. See if you feel comfortable with the way all of these interactions play out. It's often said that you can tell the quality of any kind of school by its students...
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. Ask about the school's history and affiliation. Ask about the teacher's aikido history. Ask about the teacher's philosophy in doing aikido. See if any of their answers feels "different" than what you see being practiced and taught.
  • Do some research on aikido. Some good sites on the Internet include the Aikido FAQ <http://www.aikidofaq.com> and AikiWeb <http://www.aikiweb.com>.
Basically, a good yardstick to use if to think if the dojo itself is some place you want to be practicing for the next five years, probably at least two to three times a week.

In any case, you may want to try using the AikiWeb Dojo Search Engineto look for a dojo in your area: http://www.aikiweb.com/search

suren 06-17-2004 12:26 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Jun,

Thanks for your reply.
I will do all that you told, and that's pretty reasonable and I understand that, but in my reasonable driving distance there are more than 50 dojos and I don't want to jump into the first dojo that feels good at the second glance, since I hope Aikido will become one of the reasons I leave. Actually I was hoping for some guidance (some specifics of the schools to help me to match them with my character). Well, probably I'll need to visit every one of them.

Thanks anyway :)

Ron Tisdale 06-17-2004 12:35 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Since you say you used to study karate you might like a pretty strong/physical/martial practice (these are cliches, and not really accurate, but the best I can think of). Try USAF West (under Chiba Shihan), Yoshokai (I don't know who's teaching in that area, but the founder would be Kushida Sensei), or Yoshinkan (I think that would be Jaques Payet in that area). I would visit at least one school with a "softer" style just for comparison as you may like it. Maybe someone else can recommend something or someone like that. FYI yoshinkan tends to focus a lot on form and step by step learning at the beginning (kind of similar in some ways to some approaches to karate) and using the basic movements (kamae, body change, elbow power, afterclass exercise) to power the technique. Yoshokai would be much the same (Kushida Sensei split off from the yoshinkan). I personally really like the form of the 4th to 5th dans under Chiba Sensei that I've seen. Made me feel right at home.

You may want to check out the aikido faq (a link should be posted around here somewhere) to check out how certain styles advertise themselves, then check out the teachers in the area from the ones you find most interesting.

You could also do a google search on the style/school/teacher and check out the common knowledge on them that way.

Good luck
Ron

suren 06-17-2004 01:09 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Thanks Ron. I will.

AsimHanif 06-17-2004 01:32 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
I would definitely agree with Jun recommendations. I would also IMHO its more about finding a good teacher than any particular style. By good I mean one that fits your needs- feels right to you. Also consider distance, allowing yourself the opportunity to train. Time management counts in this busy world.
I think Ron makes a good point if that's what you are looking for. I also found after years of doing "hard style" I needed to do something soft for a while to balance myself and gain another perspective.
I would say look for an instructor as you would a physician. Don't go because its close (although it helps). Shop around to find what you really want.
Just my two cents.
Asim

suren 06-17-2004 01:44 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Ron, I found the place in aikidofaq you were talking about.

http://www.aikidofaq.com/introduction.html

It describes differences between Yoseikan/Yoshinkan/Aikikai/Iwama/Ki schools/Tomiki.
BTW, now I'm just wandering, what those other names mean?
Hombu/Seidokan/Shugenkai/Yoshokai/Shingu/Kumano Juku/Shusekai/Kokikai/Seishin/Jiyushinkai
I guess they are branches of more generic schools in Aikido. If so, could somebody sort them, please? Exuse me my curiosity :)

DarkShodan 06-17-2004 02:02 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
I would agree with what people are saying (aikikai), that you should try several dojos in your area (aikikai) and see which one feels right for you (aikikai). Everyone is different and is looking for something different in Aikido (aikikai). Chose a style (aikikai) and an instructor (aikikai) who is very passionate about Aikido (aikikai) and who teaches because he loves the art (aikikai) and don't let anyone else sway you (aikikai).

Greg Jennings 06-17-2004 02:20 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
I wonder how many people remember the Gulf War skits by Chevy Chase as "Major Subliminal".

Best,

suren 06-17-2004 02:40 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Thanks Lloyd, I'll try (aikikai) schools in my area hopefully I can find a (aikikai) teacher that matches me :D

Janet Rosen 06-17-2004 03:11 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
So....where have you ended up training, Suren?

suren 06-17-2004 03:17 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
I haven't ended up yet. BTW my last post was a joke :) I'll search all the schools in my area. Greg gave me some suggestions about schools in Fremont and Palo Alto.

kironin 06-17-2004 03:26 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Quote:

Suren Baghdasaryan wrote:
Ron, I found the place in aikidofaq you were talking about.

http://www.aikidofaq.com/introduction.html

It describes differences between Yoseikan/Yoshinkan/Aikikai/Iwama/Ki schools/Tomiki.

by the way those generalized discriptions are not that good in reference to individual schools. The Ki Society section for example besides being out of date is almost complete nonsense IMO in reference to U.S. schools. It's really talking about things going on at the HQ in Japan and doesn't really help understand what goes on at a dojo near you. That's why Jun's advice to visit schools is the best advice.


Quote:

BTW, now I'm just wandering, what those other names mean?
Hombu/Seidokan/Shugenkai/Yoshokai/Shingu/Kumano Juku/Shusekai/Kokikai/Seishin/Jiyushinkai
I guess they are branches of more generic schools in Aikido. If so, could somebody sort them, please? Exuse me my curiosity :)
Hombu meand Headquarters. ? could be direct student of Kato Sensei, an 8th dan at Hombu Aikikai or some other direct link - means they are bypassing the US based Aikikai organizations.

Seidokan, founded by the late Rod Kobayashi Sensei, who was Chief Instructor for Ki Society on the West Coast, and a student of Tohei Sensei. Their HQ is in California.

Yoshokai, from the land of Yo I assume, a branch off of Yoshinkan

Kokikai - Maruyama Sensei who was a student of Tohei Sensei and a chief instructor at one time in Ki Society in 1970's.

Jiyushinkai - organization founded by Chuck Clark Sensei, who was a senior student of Tomiki Sensei - does not hold competitions like main
Tomiki style (Shodokan Aikido) does. Main dojo is in Arizona.

Shingu - no idea :D
Kumano Juku - ?
Shusekai ?
Seishin ?

Have you tried Google ?
looked at their websites ?

Craig

kironin 06-17-2004 03:41 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Quote:

Suren Baghdasaryan wrote:
Wow... There is also Style:

doing a cluster analysis :)

In reality that is

(A)
1. Aikikai 2. Iwama 3. Aikikai Hombu
8. Shingu 9. Kumano Juku 15. Seishin Aikido


(B)
4. Ki Aikido 5. Seidokan 6. Shugenkai Aikido
13. Kokikai 14. Shin Shin Toitsu


(C)
10. Yoshinkan Aikido 7. Yoshokai


(D)
11. Tomiki 16. Jiyushinkai


(E)
independent school 12. Shusekai

suren 06-17-2004 04:28 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Thanks for very detailed description Craig :)

Bronson 06-18-2004 02:27 AM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Quote:

Ron Tisdale wrote:
I would visit at least one school with a "softer" style just for comparison as you may like it. Maybe someone else can recommend something or someone like that.

Absoulutley agree with Jun. Visit the different dojo. I'd not worry about affliliation and find a credible teacher that fits with you.

But since Ron suggested it, here's a link to the Seidokan Aikido Homepage :)

Good luck,

Bronson

PeterR 06-18-2004 03:28 AM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Quote:

Craig Hocker wrote:
Jiyushinkai - organization founded by Chuck Clark Sensei, who was a senior student of Tomiki Sensei - does not hold competitions like main
Tomiki style (Shodokan Aikido) does. Main dojo is in Arizona.

Craig - I like Chuck, like what he writes, like his attitude, appreciate his knowledge. I have also never heard him claim to be a senior student of Tomiki. Is he?

I know its splittling hairs but senior student is a loaded term.

Absolutely no disrespect to Chuck - who I would train with in a heart beat.

Ron Tisdale 06-18-2004 06:49 AM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Thanks for the addition Bronson and Craig. I do think its important to try different sides of the fence...I just tried to stick with characterizing (poorly I might add) what I know. :) Suren, do make sure you get a wide variety of teachers in your search...and after five years or so, whatever you decide, be willing to look around again and search for the value in other styles methodologies. I can be very helpfull to your aikido.

Best,
Ron

suren 06-23-2004 11:37 AM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
For those who is interested. I ended up in Aikido of Silicon Valley http://www.aikidoofsiliconvalley.com The instructor I have seen so far is Michael O'Quin and I know Bill Witt is the head instructor and he teaches there once a week. My first experience was interesting and I will continue there.
There are dojos closer to me, but they do not have morning classes and this one has 6-7AM class that is very convenient.
BTW, this dojo is in Sunnyvale, and not in Palo Alto as "dojo search" says.

Janet Rosen 06-23-2004 01:04 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Quote:

Suren Baghdasaryan wrote:
For those who is interested. I ended up in Aikido of Silicon Valley http://www.aikidoofsiliconvalley.com

Congratulations, Suren! Happy training to you.

suren 06-23-2004 01:32 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Thanks.

kironin 06-23-2004 03:28 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Quote:

Peter Rehse wrote:
Craig - I like Chuck, like what he writes, like his attitude, appreciate his knowledge. I have also never heard him claim to be a senior student of Tomiki. Is he?

I just sort of assumed someone in it 50 years was somehow.

I really don't know. I didn't want to spend a lot of time on that post. He certainly reflects well on that lineage.

Craig


ps.
Hey Jun, I think this Smilie icon needs to be relabeled "choke" :crazy:

kironin 06-23-2004 03:52 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Suren, sounds lika good place to train. I liked Bill Witt Sensei as a teacher the one seminar I went to by him.

6:30-7:30 AM classes 5 times a week
:drool:
drool, drool, drool,...

Craig

suren 06-23-2004 06:33 PM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Well, actually 7 times a week. Sorry, 6:30-7:30 AM is correct time.
Craig, what is drool, drool, drool,...?
If you mean 1 hour is too short for a class, I 100% agree, but I really can't attend additionally the evening class since I need some time to spend with my children.

Greg Jennings 06-24-2004 07:37 AM

Re: How to choose dojo if there are choices?
 
Suren,

I pretty sure Craig is NOT saying that the class is too short. Perhaps he's drooling with envy.

At any rate, I'm sure you will like Witt Sensei. I used to trade e-mails with him some and he came across as a practical but very nice man. Please tell him that we spoke.

Best regards,


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