Welcome to the AikiWeb Forums.
As to the question of which dojo, here's a form letter that I usually send when people ask me
that question. I hope it helps.
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 Engine
to look for a dojo in your area: http://www.aikiweb.com/search