Hello to everyone
This is a awesome forum. I wanted to hear from folks on what was the motivating factor(s) to why you chose the Sensi or Dojo you currently train? What is your opinion of the style/affiliation(AAA,KI, etc) you practice? And has the art improved you as a person?
That is a long story.
I started doing Karate in February, 1985 at Utica College. I then started reading on the martial arts and read about Aikido and O Sensei's feats. I flunked out of Utica in the spring of '86; that Fall, I continued Shito-Ryu karate at Cornell University (at that time, Utica and Cornell were in the same organization which has since fallen apart), and I started taking classes at Tompkins Cortland Community College. I noted in the phys ed section that there was an Aikido class, and I started training in Seidokan Aikido under Sensei Jim Wallace while continuing karate.
In 1988, I quit Aikido because for a variety of technical reasons as well as bumping heads with a senior. But I continued practicing the wrist stretches on my own. Although I joke about it,
I believe Aikido got in my blood. I continued to buy books on it. I looked up Sensei Jm after he mover away; he kept recommending Cornell Aikido, although I wanted to stick with my original teacher as much as possible. He was at Colgate for while although I have since lost touch with him.
I did go to a Cornell Aikido demosntration once, and the breakfalls they did seemed too intense for me! So I put that on the back burner...... although it comes into the story again later.
Fast Forward to 2004. By then I had continued in shito-ryu, although the dojo chaged hands and organization. I also saw Shotokan and TKD when I went to University of Maine. And in 1997, I began training in Filipino Kali at East West Martial arts under Guro Kevin Seaman and Guro Andy Astle. I also did Tai Chi there on Friday nights with my mother. One thing they drilled into me, by accident or design was their open-minded attitude to all arts --- that everything has its strengths and weaknesses as long as you know what they are; that it is ok for an art to specialize. In 2003, East West closed its doors and Guro Andy went to Full Life Fitness, owned and operated by the Tai Chi teacher who'd been in Cortland. Wouldn't you know it? They had and Aikido class! So the temptation to rejoin came back.
Now, I must confess to a pesonal foible: I am the opposite of impulsive. I can debate and deliberate on something for a lllllooooooooonnnnnnngggggggggggggg
time before I do it if ever do it at all. And I might never have got back into Aikido if it wasn't for the fact that the dojo had the crash mats and which we in the Kali/Serak class needed for our throws. And at first, we had them. The a sign appeared on the pile of tatami: "Please do not use without permission from the Aikido head instructor."
! We thought we'd had it, so we stopped using them. But we still had to do our throws! The floor at Full Life had some give, but it was no fun to land on. So people in the class (including me) began to badger Guro Andy into asking the Aikido instructor for permission to use the mats. He kept forgettng .... understandable since he lost his job at that time. But we kept at it.
So it was by now March of 2004 (I think) and I was on vacation in Ottawa and I though, Ok, that's it. I'd planned to check out the Aikido class in the summer after Cornell Karate wrapped, but I start going on Fridays after I get home.
(At that time, Aikido was MWF at 6-7:30 and Kali was TF 7:30-9 [theoretically], so they were back-to-back on Fridays.) The sight of me leaving when he arrives might nudge Andy into asking the Aikido teacher for the mats.
I was on the phone with Andy and somehow it came up.
"Know what we fell on last night?" Andy asked. "Not that floor. The mats! Turns out the sign wasn't aimed at us. Someone had been scuffing them up, but I assured him it wasn't us.We have permission again."
"Oh, great," said, "so I don't have to take Aikido until--"
"You're going to take Aikido!? That's great. That's wonderful."
"No, that's nuts! With everything else I do, I'll be wiped out at the end of the week."
"No, no, do it, do it! You'll be a better martial artist."
So, the Friday after I got back, I resumed Aikido. All those years of doing wrist stretches left me with flexible wrists which the then ikkyu now shodan who led the practice noted (although I haven't had the heart to tell him in person -- Sorry, Ian!). I have continued plugging away ever since. It is the sweatiest thing I do now, but I love it! The dojo is US Aikido Federation, so affiliated with Yamada Sensei, but Larry Sensei's "style" si all over the map as far as I can tell. And we've been to semianrs with Endo Sensei in Toronto. Blame the JKD universe for getting me potty about seminars before returning to Aikido! What has it done for me as a person and a martial artist? No idea. (Andy keeps saying I am hard to throw, but I don't know if that can be attributed to Aikido.) And I don't care. As long as they keep letting me in, I'll keep coming!
And Cornell Aikido? Turns out Finger Lakes Aikido and Cornell are very tight, so much so some people mistakenly consider them the same dojo. So after havng been scared off by their tobu ukemi years ago, I end up back there for semars and/or when I can't get my fix --- er, regular pracitice at FLA.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
[Dan Inosanto] Does that answer your question? What was your question? [/Dan Inosanto]