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Old 07-09-2007, 09:34 AM   #1
Sam Feinson
Location: Arlington, VA
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 6
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Hello! A question about choosing a dojo...

I'm entiely new to aikido, although not to martial arts. Back in college I studied kendo for about a year. In the two years since, I wasn't able to keep it going, mostly due to logistics with work and living.

Now I find myself in Arlington, VA with a more forgiving schedule. While there are a few kendo dojos in my general area, I live much closer to three aikido dojos. As I am without a car, this seems like an excellent opportunity to find out more about aikido. I enjoyed kendo very much, and if I find the means -- both time for travel and money for bogu -- I could see myself doing both.

The tricky part... I have three dojos from which to choose! The three closest to me are Aikido of Arlington, Northern Virginia Aikikai, and Aikido of Northern Virginia. While I've read a couple of articles on choosing a dojo, I know what I liked and didn't like about my kendo dojo back in college, and I plan on visiting all three before signing up somewhere, the task of picking one is a little daunting.

Does anyone have specific insight on these three dojos? They each seem, on the surface, to have various strengths and weaknesses. Any information would be very appreciated.
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Old 07-09-2007, 09:49 AM   #2
gstevens
 
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Dojo: Aikido Of San Leandro
Location: Alameda
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 47
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Re: Hello! A question about choosing a dojo...

Visit all of them and figure out which one resounds with what you want in your training. Even watching you can find out a lot.

Aikido is a physical practice at least on the base level, take your physical being to all three and let it help decide.

Guy
:-)
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Old 07-09-2007, 10:09 AM   #3
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
Location: Midland Texas
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 1,652
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Re: Hello! A question about choosing a dojo...

You have 3 groups all with slightly different styles:
Northern Virginia Aikikai is Sakamoto-6th dan USAF
Aikido of Northern Virginia is Sorrentino-5th dan ASU
Aikido of Arlington is a 3 rd dan instructor affiliated with CAA-Iwama style.

All are affiliated with the Aikikai
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Old 07-09-2007, 10:15 AM   #4
gdandscompserv
 
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Join Date: Sep 2004
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Re: Hello! A question about choosing a dojo...

Don't know the geography very well but I would highly recommend this dojo:
http://www.oki-aikikai.com/home.html
It appears that it's fairly close to Arlington.
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Old 07-09-2007, 10:21 AM   #5
odudog
Dojo: Dale City Aikikai
Location: VA
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 375
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Re: Hello! A question about choosing a dojo...

All 3 dojos are headed up by very good Senseis. Aikido of Arlington is Iwama style, Aikido of Northern Virginia is ASU style, and Northern Virginia Aikikai is Aikikai style. The first dojo practices 6 days a week, the second 4 days a week, and the third 2 days a week.

I am partial to Northern Viriginia Aikikai for the Sensei is in charge of the group that I belong to. I work out of a satellite dojo in Dale City {weekend classes & close to Potomac Mills Mall} about 30 minutes south of Arlington via 95. We are able to train at each others dojo at no extra cost.
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Old 07-09-2007, 11:03 AM   #6
Sam Feinson
Location: Arlington, VA
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 6
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Re: Hello! A question about choosing a dojo...

Thank you, everyone, for your responses.

Quote:
John Riggs wrote: View Post
You have 3 groups all with slightly different styles:
Northern Virginia Aikikai is Sakamoto-6th dan USAF
Aikido of Northern Virginia is Sorrentino-5th dan ASU
Aikido of Arlington is a 3 rd dan instructor affiliated with CAA-Iwama style.

All are affiliated with the Aikikai
How do these styles differ? From their respective websites, all I can gather is that Iwama style focuses more on static techniques at the beginning and might include more weapons training.

Quote:
odudog wrote:
I am partial to Northern Viriginia Aikikai for the Sensei is in charge of the group that I belong to. I work out of a satellite dojo in Dale City {weekend classes & close to Potomac Mills Mall} about 30 minutes south of Arlington via 95. We are able to train at each others dojo at no extra cost.
Is there anything in particular about his sensei that you especially like?

Like you said, Guy, the only way to really tell is to give 'em all a try! A little knowledge beforehand always makes me feel a little more prepared, though.
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Old 07-09-2007, 11:22 AM   #7
odudog
Dojo: Dale City Aikikai
Location: VA
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 375
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Re: Hello! A question about choosing a dojo...

I won't answer on the differences between the styles. I have my own opinion, but there are people on this board way more qualified than me to answer this. Although, Iwama does put a lot more emphasis on weapons training.

The dojo that I joined {10 min. from my house} just so happened to be under Sakamoto's guidance. So I'm partial only because that is what I know. However, when I visited the Honbu dojo in Tokyo and was being questioned by Doshu on who is my instructor etc... I don't know if Doshu knows Sakamoto or not, but responding with Sakamoto sure helped with getting me passed the door and getting some other things there as well.
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Old 07-09-2007, 11:36 AM   #8
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
Dojo: Yoshokai; looking into judo
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 424
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Re: Hello! A question about choosing a dojo...

I've trained at Aikido of Arlington (www.aikidoofarlington.com), and found it to be a good dojo. As a correction, Yvonne-sensei is 4th dan. (She's very good.) I'd likely be training there right now myself still, but I'm principally a Yoshokai person, and decided to start training that again with a friend who's moved to the area. (And also to practice BJJ and such.)

It's a very small dojo, which means you'll get a great deal of personal attention. I've had a couple classes where I was the only student, which was -amazing-. Usually there are about 10 people per class. It's kind of casual, which can be good or bad depending on what works for you. Slightly older crowd, and there's no conditioning to speak of.

All in all, I would give it a solid thumbs-up. Especially if you live in Arlington.

Last edited by Paul Sanderson-Cimino : 07-09-2007 at 11:46 AM. Reason: fixed link
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Old 07-09-2007, 11:46 AM   #9
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
Dojo: Yoshokai; looking into judo
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 424
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Re: Hello! A question about choosing a dojo...

Another plus of Aikido of Arlington: the schedule.

http://www.aikidoofarlington.com/schedule.html

You can train aikido 5 days a week there.
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Old 07-09-2007, 03:36 PM   #10
Eric Webber
Dojo: Aikido West Reading
Location: Reading, Pa
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 261
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Re: Hello! A question about choosing a dojo...

Hi Sam,

I've read the reviews above and thought I'd throw one in for Aikido of Northern Va., I've trained there a number of times for seminars and classes in the past number of years. The dojo is headed by Jim Sorrentino Sensei, but Mike Lasky Sensei also teaches there. Between them there is some very significant martial arts training, aikido and otherwise. It is a very martially oriented dojo, definitely not aikido-lite. This is not to say that the members do not take care of each other on the mat - it is a very safe place to train; just know that they are serious about the martial aspect of aikido.

Jimmy Sensei is an excellent teacher, he has a great heart and spirit about him. I don't know Lasky Sensei well, but I know he has a tremendous knowledge of aikido, and specifically of the weapons kata taught in the ASU, and has been training for many years.

Jimmy Sensei also occasionally brings in teachers from other organzations and other traditions to help broaden his students' view of training. It is definitely worth a try if you are visiting dojos.

Best of luck in your search,

eric

Last edited by Eric Webber : 07-09-2007 at 03:40 PM.
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