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Old 12-29-2009, 04:32 AM   #1
yankeechick
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Angry Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Hi Guys,

I've spent the past few days surfing the internet, reading blogs, etc. Looking for positive information and input about aikido practice. After practicing aikido for more than two years, I think I am done with Aikido.

Why? I'm frustrated, naturally:

1. I joined an aikikai dojo recently. The "hours" needed to get ranking, is ridiculous. It is a way to ensure that the Aikikai get the money out of you. EVERY SINGLE instructor stated that my technique is strong that I should be more than a fifth kyu. Have I received my ranking yet? NO. So I have to follow dojo protocol and allow "sempai" students who are completely incorrect "instruct" me. Quite annoying to say the least.

I have seen WAY TOO MANY weak practitioners at very high levels. With all of the talk about authenticity, ethics, spirituality, etc., one would think that rank would be extended to those who are capable. I know someone who should be testing for his shodan, but he wasn't allowed to. AND the dojos screwed up his hours. What kind of foolishness is that?

2. I see a shodan performing morotetori kokyuho COMPLETELY incorrectly. He is never corrected. Is this because he is extremely wealthy? AND he is allowed to teach classes.

Am I pissed off? Yes. The Uchi Deshi are arrogant and obnoxious know it alls, who have no sense of customer service. The Shihans do nothing to moderate their behaviour.

We spend time bowing to a picture and all types of "respect" behaviors for O-Sensei (who deserves respect and recognition as the founder). But this man was not God.

3. These aikido practitioners have little or no knowledge about fundamental martial arts: how to effectively punch, how to evade/move away and blend, posture, breathing. Yet, these Aikikai charge $100 - 150 per month to "train". Try to get someone to teach proper ukemi, you might as well be looking for gold bullions. But if you are visiting, make sure you give the Shihan a gift; if they are going out for drinks and you want to be in, you'd better go to AND make sure that you buy them drinks....what a doggone joke.

4. Am I the only one who notices that folks are allowed to train in absolutely disgustingly dirty uniforms? I saw someone's uniform was so dirty is was black, on the back, the knees and sleeves.

5. I know there are folks out there who know that Martial Arts was introduced to the West, because it provided economic opportunity. NOT because of some need to share the wondeful values of eastern philosophy. It is apparent in the teachnig styles, the types of techniques shown and how westerners are treated by SOME traditionalists.

I guess, cash rules everything around me..C.R.E.A.M.

Yes, I'm pissed off with the hypocrisy, abject disrespect for the students by the Aikikai and obvious money centric activities. Read some of the blogs from folks who train, but can't get their ranking from the aikikai. I understand the system is set up like a university; it is very much like academia. It's all politics, not merit based.

At least be truthful. Keep the bullshido.

I would love to have suggestions from the community out there, if you know of non-aikikai dojos in the new york city area that are affordable.

Thanks again for reading my rant. I'm completely fed up.

Last edited by yankeechick : 12-29-2009 at 04:41 AM. Reason: misspelling
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Old 12-29-2009, 05:32 AM   #2
dps
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

There are many alternatives to the Aikikai. However your dojo may not representative of others in the Aikikai.

Where do you live at?

David
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Old 12-29-2009, 06:08 AM   #3
allowedcloud
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

By using the dojo search function, I was able to find no less than seven dojos within NYC of varying styles in less than a minute.

However, I suspect this isn't what you really wanted.
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:11 AM   #4
Shadowfax
 
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Ok... I understand your anger but I think it is directed at the wrong place. You really can't decide that all Aikiki members are the same that's just unfair. I train at an aikiki affiliated dojo, and it is nothing at all like what you describe.

Money certainly is not the rule for us. I pay far less than what you quote, for the privilege of training. The test fees seem reasonable, at least for kyu ranks. And I don't see anyone receive preferential treatment based on income. Actually I think I get a great amount of attention from the senseis and I am probably the lowest income person in my dojo.

I don't think the hour requirements are unfair at all and heck what are you in it for anyway? Is rank that important that you are unwilling to wait a few months to receive it? Shoot there are a few in my dojo whom I outrank ,at the moment, who help me to learn a great deal and of course far more who outrank me who are also valuable in helping me learn but only the sensei is doing the teaching. Rank is a nice way to see my own progress but its not everything. I can understand your frustration but I think you will have that no matter what rank you hold. There are always going to be people of lesser skill who have advice to give. Sometimes you just have to ignore them and train anyway. Sometimes it pays to listen to what they have to say, dump the pride and give their ideas a try.

And most certainly those I train with don't train in filth. I doubt it would be put up with at all if someone were to do so.

Rather than focus on hating aikiki itself why not simply go check out dojos of all affiliations and even those that have none and find a place that is more to your liking?

I am sure plenty of people here can make suggestions as to other places that will be better environments for you. But don't just write off all aikiki dojos because of one or two bad apples.
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:12 AM   #5
lbb
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Be careful about asking for a pure meritocracy -- you may get it!

Seriously, the "hours" system is not without its merits. For one thing, it prevents the "guaranteed two year black belt" phenomenon that plagues some other styles, where marginal students request a test (or are pressured to test) when they would be much better off forgetting the rank and concentrating on learning and developing their technique. Of course it's not perfect, but on the other hand, I doubt the intention was ever that students would test the day after they met their hours requirement for the next rank. At any given test, there are bound to be students that have just met their hours requirements, and others that met them some time ago -- I train at a small dojo, and this year was the first year that we had more than one kyu test within a calendar year. That's just how it goes.

But the hours debate is a bit of a red herring. Toss out the hours system, and you'll still have a situation where at any given test, there are people who were ready to test some time ago -- that is, unless you make the mistake in the other direction. Rank is never a 100% accurate indicator of someone's ability, no matter how you award it. So the question really is, apart from the words "fourth kyu" (or whatever rank it is that you believe you should have), are you getting what you want? Never mind what others are doing or how good (in your judgment) their technique is -- what is it that you want from your training, and are you getting it?

Suggested exercise: write down a series of "I want" statements. Be honest with yourself. It doesn't matter if some things seem small or shallow when you write them down -- maybe you'll look at them and discover that they're not so small for you, or maybe you'll look at them and find that you're able to let them go. What's on your list: rank? Recognition of your awesomeness? A better spot in the pecking order? Not having to take instruction from someone who (you believe) is doing things wrong? The hard truth is that you may not be able to get everything you want in a new dojo and a new association: if they do things differently, and you want their recognition, you're going to have to do things their way. But if what matters to you is being able to train and learn, then rank shouldn't be a consideration unless it excludes you from training. If "fifth kyu" in your dojo means "can't take weapons class" or "can only do these three techniques" or whatever, that's limiting. If, on the other hand, the training available to you is the same whether you're fifth kyu or fourth kyu, then you have to decide what matters -- the training or the words.
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:31 AM   #6
lbb
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
Ok... I understand your anger but I think it is directed at the wrong place. You really can't decide that all Aikiki members are the same that's just unfair. I train at an aikiki affiliated dojo, and it is nothing at all like what you describe..
Being a bit of a devil's advocate here, I can see where you or I would see things very differently than someone who had trained for two years in aikido Style X, and then joined a school of a different style. Depending on the styles in question, everything that you learned, down to basic footwork, may need to be modified. That's a really hard thing to do. Even if you're transitioning between two completely different styles of martial arts -- say, karate to aikido or vice versa -- many people don't understand why it's counterproductive to drag their old training behind them, and those that do still struggle with it. How much more difficult must it be to go from aikido Style X to aikido Style Y? Here you are, with two years of training under your belt, feeling like you've learned something and wanting to carry it forward...and you can't.

I think the solution is that you don't have to forget what you know, but you do have to suspend judgment about how it ought to be done. But, easier said than done, and very frustrating in the interim.
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:33 AM   #7
C. David Henderson
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

To the OP: Like Cherie's, my dojo is Aikikai. I think your generalizations don't hold true.

I also have to wonder whether martial arts really are for you. Your remarks seem impatient (two years isn't a long time training), shallow, and judgmental. But if that's the way you see it, you may be best off leaving.

Good luck finding a dojo that suits you. I'm not optimistic. Hope I'm wrong. Don't think I am.
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Old 12-29-2009, 08:29 AM   #8
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Quote:
Antonia Williams wrote: View Post
After practicing aikido for more than two years, I think I am done with Aikido.
If you don't like aikido, quit. (Or change and practice another martial art.)
If you don't like your dojo, change the dojo.
If you don't like the aikikai, change the organisation.

But: Are you sure that your points of critique are about aikikai?

Quote:
1. I joined an aikikai dojo recently. The "hours" needed to get ranking, is ridiculous. It is a way to ensure that the Aikikai get the money out of you.
In our dojo which is aikikai, you have to practice a certain time, starting with half year up to one year (time increasing by graduation) until you can pass the next kyu test. It is required to train at least two hours ((60 Min.) twice a week.

Kyu tests are for free.

Quote:
EVERY SINGLE instructor stated that my technique is strong that I should be more than a fifth kyu. Have I received my ranking yet? NO.
Well, do you have enough of those ridicoulus hours?

Quote:
So I have to follow dojo protocol and allow "sempai" students who are completely incorrect "instruct" me.
How do you know a student is "completely incorrect"? I have never had a student being completely incorrect.
Except one time: I had a kohai who found someone's technique completely incorrect. I told him that this is the only thing you can be sure about being completely incorrect.

Quote:
I have seen WAY TOO MANY weak practitioners at very high levels. With all of the talk about authenticity, ethics, spirituality, etc., one would think that rank would be extended to those who are capable.
How do you define "weak"? How do you define "capable"?

Quote:
2. I see a shodan performing morotetori kokyuho COMPLETELY incorrectly. He is never corrected.
Completely incorrect?
I have about ten kihon-versions on my mind spontanousely. Without getting out of my chair an remembering other versions by trying. And that is only the aikiod of two aikikai shihan representing the same line of tradition within the aikikai.
How much versions of kihon do you know?

Quote:
Is this because he is extremely wealthy? AND he is allowed to teach classes.
I've never heard of someone not being corrected because of being wealthy.

Quote:
Am I pissed off? Yes. The Uchi Deshi are arrogant and obnoxious know it alls, who have no sense of customer service.
I had to look up "customer service" because I didn't trust my translation, but I was right.
Well, aikido is budo. Aikido is practiced in a dojo.
In this world a thing like "customer service" doesn't exist.
In this world the uchi deshi know it all.
That's it.

Quote:
We spend time bowing to a picture and all types of "respect" behaviors for O-Sensei (who deserves respect and recognition as the founder). But this man was not God.
He saw himself as the incarnation of a shintoistic god.
If he would be seen as a god in you dojo also you would bow in other ways than you certainly do.

Quote:
3. These aikido practitioners have little or no knowledge about fundamental martial arts: how to effectively punch, how to evade/move away and blend, posture, breathing.
I can't judge your sempai. My do have experience of other martial arts like judo, karate, kickboxing, german ju jutsu ...

Quote:
Yet, these Aikikai charge $100 - 150 per month to "train".
I practice in an aikikai dojo and I pay 12 Euro = 17.26812 US Dollar (12-29-09) per month to train.

Quote:
4. Am I the only one who notices that folks are allowed to train in absolutely disgustingly dirty uniforms? I saw someone's uniform was so dirty is was black, on the back, the knees and sleeves.
Heavy training causes those stains on those places. Not every person gets them. Depends on your sweat.
Whether or how you can wash them out is often discussed. The bleech you can get in Germany, mostly doesn't help.
Some of my training uniforms got those spots after three or four times of use. And I don't have enough money to by new gi every week or month.
So I too have some gi with such stains and sometimes can't avoid to wear them when I teach.

Quote:
5. I know there are folks out there who know that Martial Arts was introduced to the West, because it provided economic opportunity. NOT because of some need to share the wondeful values of eastern philosophy.
That's certainly true looking at aikido in the 50s and 60s. But that's a time long long ago.
We only have to pay fees to japan when passing a dan-graduation. That's all.
And certainly we have to pay our teachers.

Quote:
It is apparent in the teachnig styles, the types of techniques shown and how westerners are treated by SOME traditionalists.
Ok: Very interesting. One of our shihan is french. One is Japanese and traditionalist. But his teaching is without fail.

Quote:
I guess, cash rules everything around me..C.R.E.A.M.
Well: You choose the world you live in. Not only regarding aikido.

hmm....
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Old 12-29-2009, 09:29 AM   #9
yankeechick
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Well, well,

I certainly do appreciate all the response; both positive and negative.

95% of the comments are helpful. Yes, I've asked myself why I train. I've been in martial arts for more than twenty years. I am not new, to martial arts. Nor am I looking for an unearned black belt. Aikido is a very complex art and the complexity is what makes it so interesting.

I choose aikido because learning body movement and blending is one of the best things I believe I can learn at this stage of my development. So, the answer to the valid question of why I train is because I enjoy the art.

I complained about the aikikai where I live. I have observed the environment for more than one year before I joined. I should also state that I trained in aikido many years ago for some years, but had to discontinue because I didn't have enough time to train.

I am happy to hear that other Aikikai operate differently. In NYC, however, it is almost impossible to find Aikido for less than the amounts I quoted. I've done the research and visited more than seven dojos.

So, I guess I should be clear: I seek an Aikido school that is less than $100 per month. If anyone knows of that in NYC, please drop a line.

To answer the question of leaving the other styles learned behind, the other perspective on that is that aikido is a style derived from O'Sensei's understanding of other styles (with other ideas integrated naturallly). My study of theose styles HELPS my understanding of Aikido. In fact, many sensei's have backgrounds in shotokan, goju-ryu, kung fu, jujutsu, judo. One can never leave what one learns behind, nor should they. It should all accumulate in a positive beneficial way.

The politics at my former dojo are very real and evident. I will not give additional specific details, because I choose not to personally indict someone.

Thank you all for your comments, and I hope more will come. I believe it's a worthwhile discussion.
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Old 12-29-2009, 09:39 AM   #10
Janet Rosen
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

In major metro areas $100/mo isn't unusual. Ever check out commercial space rental prices + insurance, utilities?

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 12-29-2009, 09:50 AM   #11
yankeechick
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Smile Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
Ok... I understand your anger but I think it is directed at the wrong place. You really can't decide that all Aikiki members are the same that's just unfair. I train at an aikiki affiliated dojo, and it is nothing at all like what you describe.

Money certainly is not the rule for us. I pay far less than what you quote, for the privilege of training. The test fees seem reasonable, at least for kyu ranks. And I don't see anyone receive preferential treatment based on income. Actually I think I get a great amount of attention from the senseis and I am probably the lowest income person in my dojo.

I don't think the hour requirements are unfair at all and heck what are you in it for anyway? Is rank that important that you are unwilling to wait a few months to receive it? Shoot there are a few in my dojo whom I outrank ,at the moment, who help me to learn a great deal and of course far more who outrank me who are also valuable in helping me learn but only the sensei is doing the teaching. Rank is a nice way to see my own progress but its not everything. I can understand your frustration but I think you will have that no matter what rank you hold. There are always going to be people of lesser skill who have advice to give. Sometimes you just have to ignore them and train anyway. Sometimes it pays to listen to what they have to say, dump the pride and give their ideas a try.

And most certainly those I train with don't train in filth. I doubt it would be put up with at all if someone were to do so.

Rather than focus on hating aikiki itself why not simply go check out dojos of all affiliations and even those that have none and find a place that is more to your liking?

I am sure plenty of people here can make suggestions as to other places that will be better environments for you. But don't just write off all aikiki dojos because of one or two bad apples.
----

Shadow fox,

Excellent advice. I agree with you. I am just fed up with this particular Aikikai and the ones I've investigated in my immediate area operate similarly, because they are directly connected.

I completely agree that everyone has something to offer and learn. My frustration is because the sensei is dragging his feet and I have grown tired of it. But he never ceases to ask me for my dues, but is quite unresponsive to my requests. Someone else posted his/her frustration with "5th kyu shihans". That is what I am complaining about; not having to learn from someone, but is it too much to ask that the person know what in the heck he or she is talking about? LOL...that's my complaint.

the kyu is a barometer, a minimum standard to tell me if I have demonstrated an understanding in the eyes of those who understand the techniques on a deeper level than I presesntly do. that is what I am looking to find out.

thank you again.
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Old 12-29-2009, 09:53 AM   #12
lbb
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Quote:
Antonia Williams wrote: View Post
I am happy to hear that other Aikikai operate differently. In NYC, however, it is almost impossible to find Aikido for less than the amounts I quoted. I've done the research and visited more than seven dojos.
Antonia, they have to pay the rent. In New York, that's not going to be cheap. You might try checking for university clubs to see if there's one that you can train with, or maybe something that operates out of a community center or other public facility, but those are the only "dojos" where they don't have to pay a substantial chunk of change every month just to keep the doors open. Sure, there are dojos out there that charge a lot less, but you're not out there -- you're in the most expensive real estate market in the world. Given the economic realities, I don't think $100 a month is unreasonable.

Quote:
Antonia Williams wrote: View Post
To answer the question of leaving the other styles learned behind, the other perspective on that is that aikido is a style derived from O'Sensei's understanding of other styles (with other ideas integrated naturallly). My study of theose styles HELPS my understanding of Aikido. In fact, many sensei's have backgrounds in shotokan, goju-ryu, kung fu, jujutsu, judo. One can never leave what one learns behind, nor should they. It should all accumulate in a positive beneficial way.
...and we should all live together in peace and harmony, but somehow us fallible humans find it difficult to pull it off all the time. I have experience in three prior styles, and in my experience you do have to leave it all behind -- not in the sense of forgetting what you know, but in the sense of not assuming that you know how to do anything, and that you may have to relearn even the most basic things, because your new style does them differently.

As for the argument that perhaps your old style did them better...possibly true, but definitely irrelevant. You're not here to practice your old style. Even making the comparison is problematic: you're not going to have an instant understanding of the merits of the new way of doing things, so if you judge them on first viewing to be inferior to your old style, you've just given yourself an excuse to not get with the program. Ultimately, getting with the program is the only way to gain the understanding that allows you to appreciate the merits of doing things a different way.

Quote:
Antonia Williams wrote: View Post
The politics at my former dojo are very real and evident. I will not give additional specific details, because I choose not to personally indict someone.
That is no doubt a wise decision. So, maybe it's time to shop for a new dojo.
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Old 12-29-2009, 09:54 AM   #13
Shadowfax
 
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

A much more reasonable post than your first. I'm really glad you clarified those points since your original post gave some misleading impressions.

Considering the cost of living in NYC the fee does not surprise me. But I would not chalk that up to money being all powerful so much as a dojo trying to make ends meet. You did say in another post that a dojo you were visiting was having such difficulty. I think most of them do. I know mine certainly is not operating to make a profit.

I do have to agree with Janet that you do need to leave behind all that you learned formerly. Not forget it just go into the new training with a fresh mind as if you knew nothing. Later on as you grow you can blend the new with the old. Like the zen story goes you must empty your cup before you can ad more to it.

I hope you find what you are looking for.

Last edited by Shadowfax : 12-29-2009 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 12-29-2009, 10:02 AM   #14
yankeechick
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Be careful about asking for a pure meritocracy -- you may get it!

Seriously, the "hours" system is not without its merits. For one thing, it prevents the "guaranteed two year black belt" phenomenon that plagues some other styles, where marginal students request a test (or are pressured to test) when they would be much better off forgetting the rank and concentrating on learning and developing their technique. Of course it's not perfect, but on the other hand, I doubt the intention was ever that students would test the day after they met their hours requirement for the next rank. At any given test, there are bound to be students that have just met their hours requirements, and others that met them some time ago -- I train at a small dojo, and this year was the first year that we had more than one kyu test within a calendar year. That's just how it goes.

But the hours debate is a bit of a red herring. Toss out the hours system, and you'll still have a situation where at any given test, there are people who were ready to test some time ago -- that is, unless you make the mistake in the other direction. Rank is never a 100% accurate indicator of someone's ability, no matter how you award it. So the question really is, apart from the words "fourth kyu" (or whatever rank it is that you believe you should have), are you getting what you want? Never mind what others are doing or how good (in your judgment) their technique is -- what is it that you want from your training, and are you getting it?

Suggested exercise: write down a series of "I want" statements. Be honest with yourself. It doesn't matter if some things seem small or shallow when you write them down -- maybe you'll look at them and discover that they're not so small for you, or maybe you'll look at them and find that you're able to let them go. What's on your list: rank? Recognition of your awesomeness? A better spot in the pecking order? Not having to take instruction from someone who (you believe) is doing things wrong? The hard truth is that you may not be able to get everything you want in a new dojo and a new association: if they do things differently, and you want their recognition, you're going to have to do things their way. But if what matters to you is being able to train and learn, then rank shouldn't be a consideration unless it excludes you from training. If "fifth kyu" in your dojo means "can't take weapons class" or "can only do these three techniques" or whatever, that's limiting. If, on the other hand, the training available to you is the same whether you're fifth kyu or fourth kyu, then you have to decide what matters -- the training or the words.
----
More excellent advice. Thank you. I am concerned about the rank, because there are certain seminars (by some instructors) that one can't participate in unless one is 3rd kyu or above. As you probably know, once you begin to train (and enjoy it) you realise that each time you perform a technique it is different. To me, that's what makes this particular style interesting and worthwhile. There are so many sublties. I focus my training on the opening, balance and kokyuho. I don't know when I will fully understand it, my understanding changes each time I perform a technique.

thanks again.
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Old 12-29-2009, 10:06 AM   #15
MM
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Quote:
Antonia Williams wrote: View Post
To answer the question of leaving the other styles learned behind, the other perspective on that is that aikido is a style derived from O'Sensei's understanding of other styles (with other ideas integrated naturallly).
Perhaps a more in depth study of Ueshiba Morihei would benefit your search. Ueshiba's aikido is more along the lines of 90-95% modified Daito ryu. Even in his old age, he is seen on video doing stock Daito ryu techniques. The aiki behind his phenomenal skills came from Takeda, who is the founder of Daito ryu.

I would suggest Ellis Amdur's book Hidden in Plain Sight, Stan Pranin's Aikido Journal Back Issue DVD, and Peter Goldsbury's TIE columns here on Aikiweb as a start.

I don't know about price in the NYC area, but if I were looking to train in a martial art, I would start with Howard Popkin and the Roppokai. It's a Daito ryu school.

http://www.popkinbrognaselfdefense.c...6/Default.aspx

Howard is a great guy, great teacher, and has skill. After that, I'd probably consider Marc Abrams, but it's a little bit outside NYC.

http://www.aasbk.com/

Course, I'm biased because Marc is training with Dan Harden. The other consideration for you is that Marc also trains with Ushiro in karate. So, if you're looking for aikido, karate, and aiki, then Marc's dojo is a very good choice.

As Joshua Landin posted, the search function here will give you other choices. If there was a Jiyushinkai dojo in the area, I'd point you there. Great group of people in that organization.

Best of luck in your search.
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Old 12-29-2009, 10:32 AM   #16
chillzATL
Location: ATL
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

It seems your primary problem is that you feel you're better than your current rank and want to be fast-tracked to whatever rank you feel you deserve. You don't want to have to wait and jump through the hoops of an inexperienced person.

Did you really expect it to be any other way? In most martial arts, not asking about rank is rule #1, 2 and 3. You've likely made it obvious that you feel this way and that could play a big part in why you haven't been recognized. In our organization, which is not Aikikai affiliated, you would be made to wait even longer with that attitude. I honestly don't think you're going to find it any different anywhere else.

Even if you do find a dojo that recognizes your ability and ranks you more quickly than an inexperienced person, what difference is that going to make? You're still going to be pissed if you have to take instruction from someone who, in your eyes, isn't as good as you. Will you just be less pissed if you have a different color on your belt?
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Old 12-29-2009, 10:49 AM   #17
Aikibu
Dojo: West Wind Dojo Santa Monica California
Location: Malibu, California
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

You said it Antonia....

in so many words...The talk does not match the walk at your current Dojo...

I looked for over a year...Visited over 2 dozen LA Area Aikido Dojo's until I found one...

On the flip side of that coin...we have had a ton of folks visit us and only a few stayed...

Finding a good practice is a very personal and it can be very hard....

Please keep looking...

William Hazen
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Old 12-29-2009, 12:16 PM   #18
ninjaqutie
 
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Dojo: Searching for a new home
Location: Delaware (<3 still in Oregon!)
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Sorry to hear about your troubles. I have to agree with the others that your monthly dues are not bad considering where you live. My dojo is almost $75 a month and that is the going rate for most aikido dojos in the area and we are in a rural area of southern Oregon. If I went to Portland, I would easily expect the dues to be higher then what I pay now.

You state you have been looking for over a year, have you actually went and watched these classes or tried the classes at the other dojo? Sometimes a teaching style of an instructor can make a world of a difference. Good luck.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 12-29-2009, 02:42 PM   #19
yankeechick
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Quote:
Jason Casteel wrote: View Post
It seems your primary problem is that you feel you're better than your current rank and want to be fast-tracked to whatever rank you feel you deserve. You don't want to have to wait and jump through the hoops of an inexperienced person.

Did you really expect it to be any other way? In most martial arts, not asking about rank is rule #1, 2 and 3. You've likely made it obvious that you feel this way and that could play a big part in why you haven't been recognized. In our organization, which is not Aikikai affiliated, you would be made to wait even longer with that attitude. I honestly don't think you're going to find it any different anywhere else.

Even if you do find a dojo that recognizes your ability and ranks you more quickly than an inexperienced person, what difference is that going to make? You're still going to be pissed if you have to take instruction from someone who, in your eyes, isn't as good as you. Will you just be less pissed if you have a different color on your belt?
-------------

Please re-read my comments.
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Old 12-29-2009, 03:13 PM   #20
yankeechick
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Smile Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Hello All,

Thank you all for your input. On a positive note, I like the style - I just have trouble with the politics. The comments about the price of real estate are well taken. Rent makes a difference.

I needed rant and thank you all for bringing me back to reality.

Thanks to Mark Murray for the reading suggestions. I got some good info as a result of my rant!

For those who think that it is about not wanting to learn from others, the issue when one is teaching is that one needs to understand the principles of what one attempts to teach. For example, kokyuho is a breath move; not pushing and shoving. Irimi nage is entering; not bumping into someone in a forceful way to overpower the person with your advancing move. From my studies Aikido is about unbalancing and re-directing, NOT overpowering.

I believe most who have offered such helpful insight, would understand why a person who is learning would be frustrated at being corrected by someone performing the movements in ways that are against what O'Sensei documented in his training manual before 1938. Also, I should say that many times those inexperienced people don't know what they are correcting. They just say "That is not the way to do it", then proceed to show you the incorrect way. Then one understands that the person correcting you, doesn't know the "right" way either.

To be honest, I really hate it when someone is "showing" me how to push and pull or overpower someone with strength, instead of using the nuances of the technique to blend, with the body movements. Not to mention, that pushing and pulling is extremely detrimental to one's joints during practice. This is much of the basis for my rant of not wanting to be instructed by those who doen't know what they are doing.

I offer this critique, because as someone who coaches and trains folks professionally and for pleasure - it is extremely important that instructor be mindful of what they are actually teaching vs. what is intended to be taught.

Many thanks for the input, here. I will definitely integrate it into my decision making process. Heck, I might even stay where I am, now that I've received some additional perspectives.

The search continues! All the best and hey - let's be careful out there....(smile)
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Old 12-29-2009, 03:43 PM   #21
yankeechick
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Perhaps a more in depth study of Ueshiba Morihei would benefit your search. Ueshiba's aikido is more along the lines of 90-95% modified Daito ryu. Even in his old age, he is seen on video doing stock Daito ryu techniques. The aiki behind his phenomenal skills came from Takeda, who is the founder of Daito ryu.

I would suggest Ellis Amdur's book Hidden in Plain Sight, Stan Pranin's Aikido Journal Back Issue DVD, and Peter Goldsbury's TIE columns here on Aikiweb as a start.

I don't know about price in the NYC area, but if I were looking to train in a martial art, I would start with Howard Popkin and the Roppokai. It's a Daito ryu school.

http://www.popkinbrognaselfdefense.c...6/Default.aspx

Howard is a great guy, great teacher, and has skill. After that, I'd probably consider Marc Abrams, but it's a little bit outside NYC.

http://www.aasbk.com/

Course, I'm biased because Marc is training with Dan Harden. The other consideration for you is that Marc also trains with Ushiro in karate. So, if you're looking for aikido, karate, and aiki, then Marc's dojo is a very good choice.

As Joshua Landin posted, the search function here will give you other choices. If there was a Jiyushinkai dojo in the area, I'd point you there. Great group of people in that organization.

Best of luck in your search.
--------------

Mark,

You are correct about the Daito-ryu roots (but you already knew that - smile). I've watched some of O'Sensei's videos on that wondeful thing called "Youtube" LOL.

I also watched the National Geographic program on Aikido. I prefer Aikido, because the principle of resolution and blending is important to me. We know there are many ways to resolve and blend with something. My previous Martial Art training has helped me understand some distinctions between the earlier Martial arts and O'Sensei's art. For example, Goju-ryu is a hard-soft style; the circularity of Aikdio definitely clarifes the difference between hard and soft that is practiced in Goju-ryu (the Okinawan style, that is). Shotokan is very linear; That distinction is made clear in Shodokan Aikido. I watched a video of Ah Lee, demonstrating the basic techniques of aikido (shodokan style), more linear - but still circular; because it is the circularity and the rounded angular approach that creates the opening or position for an aikido movement. I think this is clear when one reads the "Dynamic Sphere".

I am open to critique here. I really appreciate your suggestions. I always like to get new things to read or watch.

Best,

The Yankee Chick (Yes, I'm a Yankee fan!)
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Old 12-29-2009, 05:12 PM   #22
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

You need to check out Howard Popkin or Marc Abrams. Forget for the time being what the art is called. Check them out, see what you think of the practice and the people, then worry about the name of the art.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:35 PM   #23
Don_Modesto
Dojo: Messores Sensei (Largo, Fl.)
Location: Florida
Join Date: Mar 2001
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
You need to check out Howard Popkin or Marc Abrams. Forget for the time being what the art is called. Check them out, see what you think of the practice and the people, then worry about the name of the art.

Best,
Ron
Seconded.

(Hi, Ron!)

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
------------------------
http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:43 PM   #24
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
Join Date: Jun 2002
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Hi Don! Happy almost...

You can also find Doshinkan (comes from Yoshinkan) aikido in New York...check out www.doshinkan-aikido.org for affiliated schools in NY.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 12-30-2009, 12:34 AM   #25
Gregory Pinkerton
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Re: Looking for alternative to Aikikai

Quote:
Antonia Williams wrote: View Post
----
More excellent advice. Thank you. I am concerned about the rank, because there are certain seminars (by some instructors) that one can't participate in unless one is 3rd kyu or above.

thanks again.
I don't think I saw anyone address this. (But I might be mistaken.) Anyway, if you want to go to a seminar and rank is the issue. Try talking to the host or the person teaching and ask them what they're looking for requirement wise. (Basic weapons work? Basic knowledge of weapons kata? Just able to do ukemi safely? Etc.) If they say you can't partake, ask if you can watch. (Then bring a notepad.)

As for 5th kyu corrections. It can be annoying, even though they may genuinely want to help. I've found, "well I'm not sure (untrue), let's see what the other people are doing". Works well. Although you could always say "Thank you for the advice, but I'm doing it this way, ok?" As long as uke is able to handle things safely, I don't think doing something different then they do is a problem.

But sometimes I see what they're doing, which is different then what the instructor is doing, and sometimes you want to play with it because hey it's something I have'nt seen before. I'd want to test it out a bit. (Although I think this generally doesn't happen with new folks unless they have a background in something else.)
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