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Old 06-18-2009, 09:30 PM   #1
KRJ
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What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Hello everyone,

My wife and I made it out to the dojo that we were looking at and observed two classes. We've watched a lot Aikido clips on YouTube but that is the first time we saw it in person -- really neat stuff.

Everyone in the class was very friendly and appeared to be having a good time while training. They were getting ready for a test coming up, so we got to see a bunch of different stuff. (I keep calling it "stuff" because I don't know the names of any of the techniques yet). The instructor came and spoke with us, as well as few of the students, and they were ready to answer any questions we had. We like this dojo.

We are planning on going back tomorrow to watch a few more classes but this time I wanted to take back a few questions with us. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I might ask?

Thanks very much,
Kevin.

Last edited by KRJ : 06-18-2009 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:52 PM   #2
ninjaqutie
 
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Re: Newbie request.

It really depends on what you want.

If money is an issue, ask about fees, scholarships, family discounts, etc.

You may want to ask how often you can train with your monthly fee.

You may want to ask what you need to begin class and find out how much those things cost (gis, weapons, etc) Chances are you won't need weapons right away, but you may want a gi

You may want to see how many people teach the class and see each of them teach (to get an idea of their teaching styles).

Talk to students and get their perspectives about the class. Since you and your wife are joining, get some women's opinions as well.

You don't have to worry about this now, but you may want to find out eventually what you will need to advance in rank (time & techniques)

Also, if they happen to have a list of all the names of the techniques/terminology, that may help you as well.

Welcome to the world of aikido and good luck.
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:53 PM   #3
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Re: Newbie request.

Oh, and one more thing. If you and your wife have an injury, let them know. They will tell you what you can do and what they will do in class to work with and or around the problem.
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Old 06-18-2009, 11:56 PM   #4
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Re: Newbie request.

Sounds like you're off to a good start. Here are some more things to ask about, or look for:
- What other activities are offered? Are there guest-teacher seminars, or special-topic seminars by the sensei you met today? A retreat/campout in the fall? Other annual events? Do groups of students to go off to workshops together?
- What's the social atmosphere like? That might not be the most important thing, but if you're going to be hanging around with these folks for the next 10-20 years... :-) Are there picnics or other group activities? Do people go out for a beer together after class?
- How's the mat? Safe, and in good shape? (You're going to be doing a lot of landing on it.) Too hard could mean more bruises, or more tension from fear that falling may hurt. Too mushy and it could cause knee problems when your feet don't turn along with the rest of you.
- You might ask about the style or lineage of their Aikido. Some schools focus more on the energy and blending and harmony kinds of aspects (I hope someone who has been around longer than my 2 months will elaborate on this, and correct what I just said) while other schools are known for a "harder" style. No one style is "right" as long as it's a good match for your temperaments.
- This may seem trivial, but do students hang out before/after class, and is there a place to do that (lobby, parking lot, whatever)? If the dojo is in a school building (for instance) where they kick you out and lock the doors right after class it could be hard to get to know people, learn a little history and culture, etc. (I'm a big fan of houses with porches, for similar reasons.)
- Basic logistics: Convenient location, safe enough area, parking, hours that work for you, decent changing areas. If you need showers (going to work after class) do they have them?

That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Can't wait to hear how it goes.

Linda

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"Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train." - Morihei Ueshiba
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Old 06-19-2009, 07:42 AM   #5
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Re: Newbie request.

Hi Kevin,

It sounds like a good place, but I'd check the lineage or connections of the school, just in case -- if nothing else, look it up in this site's dojo directory and see if it's in there. There are cases of fly-by-nights inventing imaginary credentials and claiming to be aikido instructors, and if you don't have a martial arts background, they can be hard to tell from the real thing, so...just in case.

Other than that, I don't think there's much more to ask unless you have specific problems or concerns at this time. Make sure you know what the class schedule is, so that you won't be signing up for something where you can't make many classes. Make sure you address any issues with injuries or fitness that aren't in the normal spectrum. Then just show up and train. Don't concern yourself with rank or testing or seminars at this point (none of it means anything), don't create a lot of preconceptions about the experience...just go experience it.
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Old 06-19-2009, 09:33 AM   #6
Randy Sexton
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Plese click on "forums" then click on "Teaching" and scan down the page for the thread called:
"Top things to tell a new Aikido Student" which is a thread we started a while back and has GREAT ADVICE!

Doc

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will"
Gandhi
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Old 06-19-2009, 09:52 AM   #7
maynard
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Kevin,

You should ask when you can start. I was the "other" guy that came up and spoke with you and your wife briefly after class on Monday, I believe it was.

We don't have any set start dates and we don't require a gi to train for the first little while. I think most of that stuff is in our fliers or the spiral notebook by the door.

Incidentally, the chief instructor will be away, teaching a seminar in Las Vegas and someone will be filling in for him. I won't be there tonight either due to other commitments.

If you and your wife are really interested, the best thing to do is try it out. In the beginning, you're welcome to come to any of the classes that have 'Beginner' in the description, which is Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Hope to see you on the mat soon, if you have any questions, feel free to pm me here.

Regards,

John
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Old 06-19-2009, 04:56 PM   #8
Kevin Karr
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Here is the most important question of them all:

If Sensei keeps drinking does that mean I have to keep drinking, too?
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Old 06-19-2009, 10:33 PM   #9
KRJ
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Good evening everyone,

Thank you for the replies -- they were all very helpful.

We went and watched a weapons class and an intermediate class. More cool stuff -- they were doing a lot of sword work -- what exactly, I couldn't tell you though.

Ashley: Thank you for the good advice. We picked up a flier this evening that had a bunch of this information in it. The cool thing is that (experience considered) it is possible to eventually go to every class for the same monthly fee.

Linda: People hung out and cleaned the dojo after class. Lots of conversation and more sword practice! The instructor spent a lot of time answering my questions. I'll keep the other things that you mentioned in mind while checking the school out further.

Mary: Good suggestion. I took your advice and looked the dojo up and found it here. The official link is: http://theaikidodojo.com I'm a MA wannabe but the place "rings true" based on what I saw at the school and read on the site. I think I got lucky finding the place.

Randy: Thanks for the link. I've already read through it. Based on the suggestions, my wife and I are going to pick up some new sweats to take our first class in.

John: How are things? My wife and I are planning to go to this Sunday's class (I have school tomorrow morning so we can't make that one). Andy told me that we will learning some basic footwork and how to fall. So, maybe we will see you then!

Kevin: - I'd like to hear to the story behind that question!

Thanks again everyone!

Kevin.
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Old 06-20-2009, 08:49 AM   #10
KRJ
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

That's odd...the book that I typed up isn't posted. Hm.

I'll retype the response a little later (I'm sneaking this post in during a lecture at school -- I almost got busted!) as I do not want to seem ungrateful.

Thanks,
Kevin.
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Old 06-20-2009, 12:19 PM   #11
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Just go take a few classes. You will know pretty quickly whether it is for you or not. BTW its a whole lot of fun.

I'm not so up on asking questions right away. Fortunately most of them were answered for me by reading my Dojo's website pages, reading here on aikiweb, and listening to the instructors during and after the classes. They did a great job of letting me know what to expect.
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Old 06-20-2009, 02:12 PM   #12
lbb
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Quote:
Kevin Karr wrote: View Post
If Sensei keeps drinking does that mean I have to keep drinking, too?
No, but he may make fun of you when you cut yourself off.
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Old 06-20-2009, 07:07 PM   #13
maynard
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Kevin,

I won't see you on Sunday. Family commitments for father's day, but there should be some folks around to help you out. I'll see you at some point.

John.
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Old 06-20-2009, 10:32 PM   #14
ninjaqutie
 
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Glad you got most of the information you needed. Have fun and 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 06-21-2009, 07:24 AM   #15
KRJ
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Thanks again everyone for your help. We are about ready to go and will be stepping out the door soon. I have this weird, nervous "first day of school" feeling.

Kevin.
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Old 06-21-2009, 07:26 AM   #16
crbateman
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Kevin, you are looking at an excellent dojo, with excellent instructors and part of a top-notch organization. This will let you be at ease about many of the questions a newbie might otherwise need to ask.

Best advice now is to jump in and start swimming. The questions you need to ask once you start will reveal themselves to you. That said, consider that you may want to see how much and how easily you absorb the training before you simply ask for answers. This is because you may benefit more from experiencing the answers, rather than just hearing them. The meaning of this suggestion will become more clear to you the longer you train.

Another way to gain perspective about Aikido is to explore the history of the art and its major participants, as well as their philosophical takes on it (and believe me, they're not all the same...). To truly be a student of the art is not limited to spending a few hours a week on the mat.
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Old 06-21-2009, 08:18 PM   #17
KRJ
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Well, we are in!

The class was awesome -- I'm a little sore from rolling around and feel like I have two left feet but the experience has left me (and my wife) wanting more.

Everyone in the class really helped us out a lot and everyone was really kind and understanding. We look forward to training here for a long time. The trick will be to work it into the schedule (I'm attending school and my wife is getting ready to start her classes).

We want to go back either tomorrow or Wednesday but are planning to see how sore we *really* are tomorrow.

Clark: I you have a few titles regarding the history of Aikido that you wouldn't mind sharing, please let me know. I am always looking for good books to read.

Thanks again everyone,
Kevin.
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Old 06-21-2009, 09:35 PM   #18
ninjaqutie
 
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Glad to hear your first class went well. Just to let you know, you will be sore even after months and years of training. I have bruises so often that I might as well have tattoos! If your wife is anything like me, then she may be discouraged from wearing skirts and such. I haven't worn a skirt or tank top in months because I don't want people thinking I am a battered wife! HAHA.

~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 06-21-2009, 09:56 PM   #19
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Congratulations on a good start.

I book I enjoyed reading recently, which includes a bit of history, and a lot of interesting general information (not how-to techniques) is "In The Dojo - A guide to the rituals and etiquette of the Japanese martial arts" by Dave Lowry.

Linda

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Old 06-22-2009, 06:42 AM   #20
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Quote:
The questions you need to ask once you start will reveal themselves to you. That said, consider that you may want to see how much and how easily you absorb the training before you simply ask for answers. This is because you may benefit more from experiencing the answers, rather than just hearing them.
This has been my exact experience. Most times I really don't understand what I am trying to accomplish until I feel it come right during class. For me to understand a physical thing like Aikido I have to physically feel what correct is.

So glad you and your wife went and had a good time. I felt the same way my first few classes. Its been about a month now and instead of talking myself into going to the Dojo, I look forward to it all day. I only wish my other commitments allowed for me to make more than two classes a week.
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Old 06-22-2009, 02:18 PM   #21
crbateman
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Kevin, don't worry too much about the soreness. It's normal when you start, but particularly in younger people, will tend to lessen or disappear once your bodies get used to the shocks you are absorbing, and your rolls and other techniques get better.

As for books, look for anything by Stan Pranin, John Stevens, Bill Gleason, Ellis Amdur, or Thomas Crum for historical and philosophical content. Other specific titles to read for these aspects are "Remembering O'Sensei", "Aikido Shugyo", "A Life in Aikido" and "Aikido: Yurusu Budo", to name a few...

Also, don't forget to read everything published by the leader of your own organization, Mitsugi Saotome Shihan. This man is a living legend in his own right, the last uchideshi of O'Sensei, and personally responsible for the lifelong training of some of the finest teachers I have ever met, such as Hiroshi Ikeda, Dennis Hooker, George Ledyard, and your own John Messores, among others.

Beyond that, there is a whole library of other very fine books, although many lean more to the technical side than the historical or philosophical. You can see pictures, summaries, and many reviews in the Bibliography section at aikidojournal.com. There are new books coming out almost every month, and if you're a reader, there will always be something for you to latch onto.

But the best advice I can give is to gobble up the experiences ahead of you in the dojo. It will have its ups and downs, but there will always be energy, fellowship and positive vibes to be absorbed (with the caveat that you yourselves need to pay it forward to those who follow you along the way). It's about the journey, so relax and enjoy the ride.
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Old 06-22-2009, 02:57 PM   #22
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

I'd take it easy on the books, myself -- and I love to read. It's just that a lot of what is written won't make sense without the experience of training.
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Old 06-22-2009, 03:49 PM   #23
crbateman
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
I'd take it easy on the books, myself -- and I love to read. It's just that a lot of what is written won't make sense without the experience of training.
Mary, I intentionally left the subject of technical content alone for the moment, as your concern about contextual relevancy is a valid one. But history and philosophy are not so constrained. It's never too soon to learn about them, and the energy and curiosity that come with new beginnings can be put to good use now.
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Old 06-22-2009, 03:56 PM   #24
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

What ever you do DON'T ask "Does Aikido work in a real fight!"

AND don't fall for "here pull my finger".

Other than that, don't stress too hard about it and have fun!

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Old 06-22-2009, 04:31 PM   #25
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Re: What Should I Ask as a Newbie?

generally speaking
; you could ask about the teachers view of ki, aiki, aikido and cosmology and how much a ‘belief structure' effects the way he practices aikido. and how he teaches it.
Josh
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