I have been out of the loop for the past 2 years, as I moved out to the hinterlands, a good hour away from the dojo where I normally practice. While I have managed to make it there occasionally, due to job and family constraints it has not been feasible to make it there even a couple of times a month. I am very frustrated to say the least.
So, my husband made the offer to practice with me at home. He's practiced only for a couple of years on and off, but is a good egg and willing to try. We don't exactly have the best space in the world for this, but do have a loft area in our house that measures about 14 x 14 and we have talked about putting mats down on the whole space and converting it into a home dojo for the two of us. Has anyone had experience having a place to practice in their own home, with limited training partners (we might be able to get friends out once in awhile)? If you have, how have you practiced?
At this point, just doing gentle pins is good (husband has bad knee, I no longer have an operational ACL brace and tore that ligament years ago so it is weak and the brace was a good source of stability). So, we can do a lot of basics without vigorous ukemi, but there is just the two of us. I would love to hear recommendations from anyone who has faced being in a place that practice at a dojo was just a bit logistically difficult and tried to do this from their home.
Any input is greatly appreciated!
I and my wife Karen have been practicing aikido and Roppokai in our garage dojo (9 Swain mats) once or twice a week for almost 4 years. We have also had Roppokai workshops 2 or 3 times a year (between 4 and 8 participants at a time). For safety reasons, we don't have two pairs throwing at the same time. Basic suwariwaza and non-throwing techniques work fine.
We don't teach at our dojo (though a weekly Roppokai study group meets at our place), as we teach aikido at a separate nearby dojo. Best part about a home dojo is that it is right there, you don't have to travel in rush hour traffic, and you can suit the training to the way you prefer - we sometimes like to sit in zazen before practice. It is good to have some experience before going out on your own like this, so one doesn't distort the techniques too much. Difficult part is it requires self-discipline - if you don't have any outside dojo to teach or train at, it requires self-discipline to even drag yourself to the garage.
One other thing is doing weapons work is harder - especially jo and iaido-type work unless you are mindful of short ceilings (our problem).
Overall, a very good experience. If you and your husband wish to do it, go for it - it is a good way to also work on skills that one is weak at, and patiently study techniques with an understanding partner - sometimes that may not happen in a dojo setting - we got an extra gymnastic mat so my wife could practice koshi nages on me for her nidan test!! We actually felt just two people training together has provided us many insights into techniques, and lack of partners was not a problem - again, supplement it with some outside training to refine waza, and to play with other body types.
Best regards and good luck
Jaideep Mukherjee, Ph. D.