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Old 01-20-2005, 11:15 AM   #1
Location: Florida
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 8
Need advice/new guy to area's dojo

Hello everyone;
I am new to the forums so this will be my first post on here. First of all I find this forum very useful with lots of helpful information.

I would like to express some concerns as to practicing Aikido as a newer student. I had practiced in a dojo in the Central New York area for awhile and found that dojo a magnificent place to practice. As jobs and circumstances changed, I moved and traveled some before settling down again. I have found it difficult finding another dojo like the one I left in Central NY as this dojo was more family oriented. You walked into this dojo and the Sensei would walk up to you and genuinely ask you how you were doing, even if he just saw you the night before… very personable. It seemed as though he inspired everyone in his class to do the same, as that's how everyone there was. This is a large dojo as he has about 50 students that belong and everything flows together nicely. Students from as far away as Rochester drive down to participate on weekly basis, that's how satisfying it was to practice there.

After I have moved away, I can't seem to find anything like it anywhere. Now I know I probably shouldn't be comparing dojos, but I can't seem to find the same satisfaction that I had in the one I left in Central NY. One dojo I visited in Washington DC claimed that they weren't affiliated with any other organization and the head instructor rarely made an appearance while some of the less experienced students took over. I was looking for something that represented a little more authenticity than that so I never attended. I visited yet another dojo in the Florida Keys and found the head guy who was teaching there was an over weight heavy smoker. He had some other guy take over who would ridicule some of the students if they didn't get something right. That didn't impress me very much.

I am now attending a dojo here in the Florida area where I have settled down and having some difficulty with feeling welcomed. When I first signed up I asked the Sensei there what affiliation he was with. He mentioned that he once recognized by the U.S. Aikido Federation but they had some sort of disagreement and is no longer associated with them. There's a women that teaches one of the classes at this dojo where I now attend and the last time I was there she was demonstrating some forms (kata like) with a jo. She moved briskly through this demonstration while some of the newer students just stood not knowing what to think. The more experienced students followed along but as I stood there, thought to my self, "what about the other students who haven't seen this before?" After a couple of times doing this she looked back and it seemed as though she forgot that she had some less experienced students in her class. She then slowed things down a bit so some of her other students could catch on. It almost seemed that she was bothered by having to slow things down so others could learn. It wasn't long into this demonstration that one of the students with less experience pointed out that she was doing some of the steps in the wrong sequences.

Other things I have noticed is that they don't break things down into smaller steps or groups to help out some of the beginners like nikkyo and basic moves such as this. The dojo in Central NY not only broke things down into simple steps but also had some training books to help better understand these techniques. I don't see any of this practice where I am attending now, instead they seem to just do a demonstration and expect you to go for it. I have not confronted the Sensei as of yet and I will which is why I haven't named specifics. I really don't think that this is something that should be brought to someone's attention if they have been teaching for a number of years.

I have come to the realization that the last dojo in Central NY is probably a very difficult act to follow and perhaps I have my expectations too high, but shouldn't there be some sort of basics set fourth to help better understand the fundamentals of this magnificent art?

I have also noticed that several people on this forum will state that they need help with this technique or that form. Isn't that what class is for? I'm not trying to sarcastic, just trying to get better perspective on the quality of instruction that goes on in some dojos. I know at times I feel that my techniques could be much better while in class, yet the Sensei observes in a nonchalant manner without advising differently.

For some reason I feel empty after practice as to when I practiced in Central NY I felt rejuvenated in a way that can't be described. I apologize for such a lengthy post but need to hear some experienced feed back as well as get some of this off my chest.

Thanks for the unbendable ear.
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