Well, I trained at the Budokai last night. I was right in my earlier assumption: it's a Kodenkan (Danzan Ryu) Jujitsu dojo, which uses elements of Judo, Karate, and Aikido. i.e. their groundwork is adapted from Judo newaza, their punches and kicks are from Karate, joint locks and "harmonizing" throws from Aikido. Something REALLY ironic? The style of Aikido they practice is Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido: KI AIKIDO! I about fell over when I heard that. They're affiliated with Jujitsu America (where their dan ranks come from), and also a major Karate organization (I didn't catch which one) and USJA (so my rank DOES transfer there). I'm not sure where they're affiliated, Aikido-wise. I can't imagine the Ki No Kenyukai allowing them as an affiliate dojo, so they may be unaffiliated, or . . .?
In any case, the dojo environment is friendly, fun, intense, and thriving. On a lazy Monday night, there were 6 yudansha and 7 mudansha, most of whom were rank beginners or low kyu grades. The dans are a mix ranging from about 25 to 60 years old. There were even women practicing, which I haven't seen in a dojo in years: one yudansha and one mudansha.
The techniques we did were . . . well, very powerful (i.e. lots of power used, lots of muscle + focus on proper technique for leverage). We also did everything static, starting from a grab or a choke. For those that care, we were working on the "Yawara" syllabus. Here's a link if you're interested:
In any case, pretty basic stuff. I watched the yudansha doing a bit of playing around before and after class, and they were doing mostly close quarters work. When I asked the head instructor how the arts were integrated, he told me pretty much what I paraphrased above: they use whatever fits the situation they're in (though he did say they offer rank in each art, as well. I'm going to check more into that - he could have just meant Judo and Karate, since this particular dojo competes in both arts, I believe). In response to questions about ma ai, he said that the bulk of their work is close quarters, and mostly standing. Again, they do practice Judo-ish newaza, so they do some ground work, but the bulk of the art is close in stand up stuff. BTW, this is just my impression from one 90 minute class, so if there is anyone out there who has trained in this art that would like to clarify, I'd really appreciate it.
In any case, there are no clear cut decisions for me: I was half hoping the Budokai would be a dojo full of jerks, so the decision would be made for me. As it sits, I'm agonizing over the decision to stay with the Ki Society or go with Jujitsu. Truth be told, I'd love to train in both, but the classes are at exactly the same times. Go figure. When I "found" Aikido (my old dojo), I thought I had finally found the perfect art for me. . . but Ki Aikido as it's practiced in my current dojo isn't the kind of intense practice I loved in my old dojo. AND (as noted in my earlier posts), there's just not enough of it going around: 35-45 minutes twice a week doesn't cut it for me. Especially when I'm not usually breaking a sweat. Again, I'm not bashing Ki Aikido - I find the aikido there terrifyingly efficient, and very powerful.
Ack. I really am agonizing. I feel like I'm trying to decide whether I should break up with my girlfriend!
In any case, this dilemma is really forcing me to examine my training goals, which can't be a bad thing, right? I'll most likely post my decision here at the end of the month, in case there's anyone who cares which way I go.
Thanks very much for all the advice, and carefully considered opinions.