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Old 04-07-2003, 10:00 AM   #1
Jeff Rice
 
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Dojo: Aikido Westchester
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Lightbulb Deciding on Aikido

Hi everyone,

You'll have to excuse me a little here, I'm rambling as I guess I'm formulating my thoughts. Please correct me if I reveal some misconceptions about aikido or martial arts in general. I took a very little bit of judo when I was a child but it was not right for me at that time. I'm completely inexperienced with aikido other than what I've read. I would love to hear any thoughts you might have on whether or not my goals are consistent for aikido and whether or not you have/had similar feelings or goals.

I've been trying to decide which MA is right for me. I am gravitating towards aikido but I still have some doubts -- I suppose that's normal and maybe these will be lessened when I actually start. I hope this week I will start while I still have the courage to overcome my doubts.

I'm torn between the various foci/advantages of different approaches. On the one hand, I admire and greatly respect the personal growth aspect of aikido and I think that it would fit very well into my stage of life and help me be a better person. On the other hand, it seems there are faster ways to learn self-defense than aikido and part of me wants to learn that too.

Part of me, perhaps with no truly rational basis, is attracted by the ability to hold my own in a fight (at least long enough to get away.) But when I try to get to the basis of this, it really seems to have very little grounding in reality. I've only been on 2 situations that could be described as a fight -- and those were years ago in my early teens. (once I was able to use my judo to put my attacker on the ground and make my escape, the other time I was blindsided but not really badly hurt.) So my thought is that it is silly to prepare study a MA that will prepare me for a fight that probably won't happen. I know aikido is at heart self-defense but my understanding is that it takes longer than most other techniques to really be able to become proficient enough to put up a reasonable defense.

What I really want is to cultivate some balance, both within myself and physically. Primarily I'm a runner, but I am starting to recognize that running is an escape for me. I like the individual nature and lack of spectators or structure in running, but I also recognize that it is a form of avoidance of those situations that make me uncomfortable. I feel very self-conscious physically, and one goal I have is to overcome this. It seems that aikido would be a very good (yet gentle?) way of doing this, both because of the physical confidence it will teach me and because of the group nature of the instruction.

The other aspects are more complicated. I want to learn some more emotional control, mainly dealing with confrontation and ego. I really have a problem with confrontation -- I get such a visceral reaction that I can't tell if I'm angry or really scared. (or both!) I would love to reach a place where I can be in a situation like this and be calm.

I also think I'm too proud, and too impatient. I don't want to get involved in a really militaristic MA (my friend does TKD and it seems too regimented and too physical) but I do want to develop enough self-confidence to accept humility as not a lessening of myself.

I guess writing this out has helped me clarify in my mind what I really want. I'd rather be prepared for my everyday life -- the inevitable conflict with a boss, coworker, friend or loved one that is a part of normal life -- than the rare chance of a physical confrontation in the subway. Sorry if it sounds like I'm writing off the self-defense aspect of aikido but it seems that other MAs are more focused on a fight than aikido is.

Well, thanks for sticking with me for this long. I really would appreciate any thoughts/tips/opinions you have.

Jeff
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Old 04-07-2003, 01:09 PM   #2
Paul Klembeck
Location: silicon valley
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If you really want to learn all you are likely to really need for self defense, go to RMCAT or participate in Fastdefense.com (or for women, model mugging). A weekend is enough for most reasonable self defence concerns.

For the rest, there is no alternative to visiting the local dojos and finding out if you like what you see. Aikido dojos range from very informal to totally regimented. They range from philosophical to kick butt.

Look and see what is really in your area, it may or may not meet your needs and expectations.

Paul Klembeck
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Old 04-07-2003, 01:44 PM   #3
bob_stra
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Re: Deciding on Aikido

Hi Jeff

3 things off the top of my head -

(1) what's to stop you from doing aikido plus XYZ if you feel the aikido isn't immediately self defence ready? Nothing.

(2) I think you'll find that "aikido"-ness has a lot to do with the people you train with and your own inquiries. It's probably coincidental to the actual aikido itself. (IMHO).

(3) Have you read these? I found them pretty useful.

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...ighlight=water

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...dont+AND+water
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Old 04-07-2003, 01:49 PM   #4
Eric Sotnak
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There is a difference between training in a martial art and learning techniques and strategies for self protection. Classical martial arts may include the latter, but are generally not limited thereto. The goal of a quick-and-dirty self-protection class is to attempt to promote a rapid elevation of one?s chances of surviving certain classes of threat situations. These classes select a few conceptually and physically simple techniques and strategies and (of necessity) pay little if any attention to considerations regarding how such techniques/strategies might be optimized or adapted to differing circumstances. There are also what might be characterized as self-protection systems that have as their primary goal the enhancement of self-protection capabilities, introducing variations on techniques/strategies, or multiple options against certain types of threat-situations. If one then begins to introduce training methods to optimize technique application, understanding of general principles underlying strategies, historical approaches to understanding techniques and strategies, philosophical ideals of moral or personal improvement, etc., the result increasingly resembles (or moves toward) classical martial arts training. In some cases, the enhancement of self-protection capabilities may become secondary or tertiary, with greater emphasis being placed on self-improvement/self-mastery, health, sport, or some other goal.
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Old 04-07-2003, 01:52 PM   #5
John Boswell
 
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Jeff,

First off, good idea to just start typing and talking out your thoughts. Its helps to get things off your chest like that, and I get that you had that happen.

Next, from what I read of you, your looking for more than just a "defense". You are wanting to improve yourself in many different aspects: dealing with yourself, co-workers, environment, etc. Out of all the martial arts I've seen, Aikido is the one I see that spills over into "everyday life" more than any other. *personal opinion*

Having been in Aikido now for one year, training about 3 times a week, I can tell you first hand that Aikido develops not just your martial ability and open your mind to defense for "fighting" but also helps develop your mental focus and confidence level as well. Because you train in Aikido as Nage (person reciving the attack) and Uke (person attacking) you develope a good sense of cooperation with others. You said:
Quote:
I'd rather be prepared for my everyday life -- the inevitable conflict with a boss, coworker, friend or loved one that is a part of normal life -- than the rare chance of a physical confrontation in the subway.
And that's the beauty of Aikido. By training and learning this "martial art" you develope over time a good sense of "blending" and "energy" and "one-point" and all the other things O'Sensei was trying to communicate.

It doesn't have to be anything mystical or mythical so long as you A) Be objective and try it with an open mind, B) Give it time (answers don't nessecarily come overnight) and C) Listen and Learn. Really try to observe what your instructors are showing you and listen to what they say. You can think they are right, wrong, whatever... but just give it a chance.

I think you will be pleasently surprised if you give Aikido a couple months, 2 to 3 times a week... and see what happens.

Good luck to you! And come back and keep us posted how it goes.

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Old 04-07-2003, 02:04 PM   #6
tedehara
 
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Let me preface these recommendations by saying that these are the places that I would think about practicing if I were in your location. I don't have extensive knowledge about schools in your area.

You could try the New York Ki-Aikido. Another place I would take a look at is New York Aikikai. Those would be my preferences.

Perhaps you would find more satisfaction with a harder type style. Pre-WWII Aikido is well exemplified by Yoshinkan Aikido and you can try to find out about it by emailing daitoryusa@aol.com in New York. Many people feel the earlier styles of Aikido addresses concerns of self-defense concisely.

Of course, Aikido came from O Sensei's interpetation of Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu. Maybe there is someone in your area who teaches it. You might also consider a style of Ju-Jitsu. The only problem with these arts is that they're less centralized as far as credentials for instructors. This makes it hard for the student to determine if the teacher is a dedicated martial artist or has simply bought a black belt and opened up a storefront business.

Go around, take a look and see what's there. Kick the tires and give it a test drive. You might also want to read this article.

It is not practice that makes perfect, it is correct practice that makes perfect.
About Ki
About You
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Old 04-07-2003, 02:45 PM   #7
Joe Jutsu
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Hey Jeff,

To me it sounds like Aikido would be a great fit for what you are looking for. Since you live in the New York area I would assume that you would have many different schools to choose from. If you have the time, I would go visit some of the schools closer to you, talk to the Sensei about your concerns and watch a class. If you don't like what you see, keep looking. Though, it is one thing watching somebody seem to magically fly through the air after an Aikido technique and being the uke receiving the technique! Only then will you really realize that it's not fake!

In regards to your concerns that it takes awhile for Aikido to work "on the street," I don't think your concerns are entirely unfounded. It is important to remember though, that (ideally) you are learning the techniques to learn Aikido, not the other way around. That said, within the first eight months of taking Aikido, I was faced with two situations where I had to defend myself. I live in a college town, with a lot of belligerant drunks (but go Jayhawks!!). Anyway, I found that my Aikido training had already greatly improved my ability to remain calm, and the emphasis on keeping maai, or proper distance, were two tools that kept me out of harm's way. Did I blend with a punch and deliver a beautiful koteoroshi (kotegaeishi)? Well, no,I did not actually do any techniques at all. But I was able to ikkyo away a strike to my head, in one instance, and in the other instance keeping distance was enough. Sure, I was not defending myself against an accomplished martial artist or anything, thank god, but Aikido doesn't train fighters, and it does not sound like you want to become a fighter Jeff.

Sorry for rambling, good luck to you. As long as you can find something that feels right for you, I'm sure it is the right thing.

Peace.
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Old 04-07-2003, 08:59 PM   #8
Jeff Rice
 
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Smile Thanks for your kind replies...

Thanks for your thoughtful replies.

There is what (appears) to be a nice dojo just north of me in White Plains, so I'm planning on going up there later this week to try things out.

And as a funny coincidence, I mentioned this to a friend and coworker of mine (who takes TDK, and is partially responsible for this whole idea) today and she smiled and asked why I wasn't talking to the guy who works 2 doors down from us and happens to be a dan (of some degree, not sure what) in Ki Aikido. It's a funny world.

There are lots of options still to explore... Yoshinkan possibly, and others. Although the lack of a conveniently located dojo is a disadvantage. There are lots of options in Manhattan but I'm afraid the hassle of getting there might become an issue. (I'm close enough to the city to pay their taxes but too far to be able to get in quickly! )

I've been watching a bunch of aikido videos tonight... I know it takes a long time for things to look that elegant and flowing, but it is just soooo darn impressive.

Jeff
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Old 04-07-2003, 09:51 PM   #9
PeterR
 
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Hey I visited White Plains to visit a fellow Tomiki stylist. Perhaps you are talking about

http://www.geocities.com/yama_arashi_aikido/

If so please pass my regards on to Alex.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 04-08-2003, 06:11 AM   #10
Jeff Rice
 
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Actually, I didn't know about that dojo. They don't seem to be listed in most of the directories I've seen. (probably because I've been looking in Aikikai listings??)

I was talking about Aikido Westchester:

http://www.aikidoofwestchester.com/index.htm.

Actually it's only about 1 block from Yama Arashi Dojo.

Jeff
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Old 04-08-2003, 06:19 AM   #11
rachmass
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
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Jeff,

The teacher there is Douglas Firestone, and he is really wonderful!!! I would highly recommend you give them a try. A friend of mine has just moved there and will be starting new at that dojo (he's been training for 15 years, not new to aikido). There are a lot of really good folks in that dojo.

You are one lucky fellow to be so close to such a good dojo.

best on this,

Rachel
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Old 04-08-2003, 07:11 AM   #12
Michael Neal
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If you want a faster route to self defense I would take up Judo again. Aikido does take a really long time to learn. Or you could take both like me. For me personally, Aikido is a longer path that I think will pay off after a number of years while Judo gives me quicker self defense skills.
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Old 04-08-2003, 07:15 AM   #13
Veers
 
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[Jedi mind trick]You will listen to Rachel...[/Jedi mind trick]

:]

And I wish you best...I started aikido last week and though it's a slow learning process (as most things are), it was incredibly fun and I'm sure down the road will be more benifits than just being fun.

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
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Old 04-08-2003, 08:27 AM   #14
Jeff Rice
 
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[quote="Jonathan Lyons (Veers)"][Jedi mind trick]You will listen to Rachel...[/Jedi mind trick]

Jedi mind tricks! Oh cool, that wasn't in any of the information on Aikido I read. This is going to be more fun than I expected!

I called Aikido Westchester a few minutes ago, and will either go up tonight or tomorrow.

Jeff
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Old 04-08-2003, 09:08 AM   #15
rachmass
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Glad that Jonathan's Jedi mind trick worked for you, and that you are going to go try aikido. Hope you enjoy it, and please let us all know what you thought.
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Old 04-08-2003, 10:40 AM   #16
Iwa
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Hello, I'm new here, I've been practicing aikido for more than a year now, and believe me, if I can learn, anyone can! It can be very difficult sometimes, often frustrating, but it's worth it, so GOOD LUCK! Just be careful to find a good dojo.

Iwa
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Old 04-08-2003, 01:13 PM   #17
William Boyd
Dojo: Aikido of Reno
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All I can say is what I tell my frends at work. come in to the dojo and watch a class and see if Aikido is right for you. Good luck and have fun look for the right dojo.
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Old 04-08-2003, 07:11 PM   #18
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Michael Neal wrote:
If you want a faster route to self defense I would take up Judo again. Aikido does take a really long time to learn. Or you could take both like me. For me personally, Aikido is a longer path that I think will pay off after a number of years while Judo gives me quicker self defense skills.
Michael

Take a look at the Instructor profile of Alex who as a Shodokan (Tomiki) person does shiai. If self defence is what you are after I would go there. I remember walking down the streets of New York in some pretty tough looking areas with Alex having no worries. I had my Rotweiler right beside me. He's one of the toughest people I know.

Self defence effective Aikido can be taught as quickly as anything - it just depends on the training approach.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 04-09-2003, 07:49 AM   #19
Michael Neal
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Quote:
Peter Rehse (PeterR) wrote:
Michael

Take a look at the Instructor profile of Alex who as a Shodokan (Tomiki) person does shiai. If self defence is what you are after I would go there. I remember walking down the streets of New York in some pretty tough looking areas with Alex having no worries. I had my Rotweiler right beside me. He's one of the toughest people I know.

Self defence effective Aikido can be taught as quickly as anything - it just depends on the training approach.
I have learned alot of self defense at my Aikido dojo, I have actually used some of it successfully in Judo. However, it does take much longer to learn an Aikido throw when compared to a Judo throw. I think I could use almost all the Judo I have learned in a street situation where I would want to avoid trying some Aikido techniques that I know would be much more difficult for me to pull off. I have nothing against these Aikido techniques, it is just that I don't have the skill yet to use many of them succesfully.
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Old 04-09-2003, 02:40 PM   #20
Jeff Rice
 
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I went up to Westchester Aikido last night, and liked it. The class is a good size, and has enough really good folks to learn from as well as some beginners to learn with. I stayed the whole class to watch, and talked to Sensei Firestone afterwards a bit, as well as some of the students.

Soooo... I'm going "for real" tonight. I'm nervous about it, which is normal I guess. I'm hoping to go a couple times a week, especially right now, since that seems like the quickest way to get over my initial worries and learn the ropes. It's uncomfortable right now being such a neophyte but the only way to get over that is to plough through it.

So wish me luck! I'll let you know how it goes.

Jeff
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Old 04-09-2003, 02:46 PM   #21
rachmass
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Hey Jeff,

I am glad you went there and met Firestone Sensei and felt good about the class. You will most likely have a great experience there, and you've come across a highly qualified teacher and a good dojo. Look for a Mr. Fitzpatrick when you start training regularly, and tell him that Rachel says "hi".

best,

Rachel
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Old 04-09-2003, 06:37 PM   #22
PeterR
 
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Quote:
Michael Neal wrote:
I would want to avoid trying some Aikido techniques that I know would be much more difficult for me to pull off. I have nothing against these Aikido techniques, it is just that I don't have the skill yet to use many of them succesfully.
Potential for a whole new thread here. If I was teaching Aikido primarily for self defense with reasonable competence in less than a year I would reduce the nuber of techniques to a select few and drill.

New thread in General - what would those techniqes be?

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 04-10-2003, 09:48 PM   #23
Jeff Rice
 
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Thanks to everyone for their useful comments.

I had my first class last night, and really had a good time. I was fairly nervous before hand but everyone made me feel very comfortable and welcome.

I spent most of the evening doing forward and backwards rolls (and became glad I waited until after class to eat dinner... for some reason nausea wasn't something I'd expected!) But towards the end I got to try out some actual techniques (can't tell you their names yet...) although I know those were probably very very poorly done since I could barely figure out which direction to fall. If it weren't for gravity, I'm not sure I could have found the mat at that point.

So now the work begins, but I'm excited and pleased to be over the one of the most significant hurdles (at least for me) -- starting.

Jeff
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Old 04-11-2003, 01:01 AM   #24
JJF
 
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Good for you Jeff - now beat that next hurdle: stick with it! It's not as easy as one should think.

A bit of advise: some months from now, when you hit the first 'flat' area and feel you don't progress at all - think back to this very fist time on the mat. I bet when you get to that point, you will surely have a pretty good idear of the direction towards the mat

Have fun!

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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