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Old 01-27-2003, 08:15 AM   #1
Jeff Tibbetts
Dojo: Cedar River Aikikai
Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 142
choosing the right MA

Hi, everyone. I was talking to a cowroker about martial arts, and he mentioned that he wants to start taking something, but doesn't know what yet. I started asking him some questions about what he wants to learn, but I didn't want to just tell him to take Aikido right away as it may not be what he's looking for right now. So, for all of you with experience in other arts, what sort of art suits what sorts of personality types? I want to know what questions I should be asking him to point him in the right direction. Such as: quicker to be effective or a better long-term, more competition or cooperative learning, more philosophy or more physicality, ambiguous or explained instruction, etc. I just don't know enough about all the different arts out there. Also, does anyone know of a web resource that might do this for you, like a quiz or something. I live in a community without too many options, though, so that may limit him right there. Anyway, thanks in advance for any advice.

If the Nightingale doesn't sing-
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Old 01-27-2003, 11:59 AM   #2
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
Location: Baltimore
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 586
I usually let them lead the conversation, trying to listen very carefully to the questions that are being asked and being thorough (but not overly thorough) in the information I'm providing. Even if not everything I say means something to the person, they will notice the things that do mean something to them and follow those up with further questions. I tend to myself as more of an information resource and less of a consulting service, if that makes any sense.

Yours in Aiki
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Old 01-27-2003, 12:14 PM   #3
Janet Rosen
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Location: Left Coast
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,339
Hi. Remembering when I was looking for a m.a.: I didn't even know what questions to ask, and I had so little knowledge base that the questions people were asking ME didn't make much sense to me either. The only thing that finally worked was observing classes. This might be the best advice you can offer your friend

Janet Rosen
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 01-27-2003, 12:42 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 5,999
Janet Rosen wrote:
The only thing that finally worked was observing classes. This might be the best advice you can offer your friend
I'd have to agree. It's difficult, if not impossible, to gauge someone's personality, interests, and such to be able to recommend a martial art.

When someone asks me which aikido dojo I think would fit them, I always tell them to go visit at least a few aikido dojo. Heck, I often even tell them to go visit a few non-aikido dojo.

I'll include a form letter that I wrote a while back which I often send out to people asking for recommendations of aikido dojo in their area.

-- Jun


I can't give you a recommendation for any dojo in your area, but here are some suggestions to help you choose a dojo.
  • Go visit all of the dojo in your area within a reasonable driving distance and observe a few classes at each of them. As aikido is not just something to be taken up and tossed away like some brief hobby, I think it's worth the time to do this -- especially if you're thinking about enrolling your child in a class, for instance. Never go by the "reputation" of a dojo alone.
  • Watch how the teacher interacts with his/her students. Watch how the students interact with their teacher. Watch how the students interact with each other. See if you feel comfortable with the way all of these interactions play out. It's often said that you can tell the quality of any kind of school by its students...
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. Ask about the school's history and affiliation. Ask about the teacher's aikido history. Ask about the teacher's philosophy in doing aikido. See if any of their answers feels "different" than what you see being practiced and taught.
  • Do some research on aikido. Some good sites on the Internet include the Aikido FAQ <http://www.aikidofaq.com> and AikiWeb <http://www.aikiweb.com>.
Basically, a good yardstick to use if to think if the dojo itself is some place you want to be practicing for the next five years, probably at least two to three times a week.

In any case, you may want to try using the AikiWeb Dojo Search Engine

to look for a dojo in your area: http://www.aikiweb.com/search

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Old 01-27-2003, 01:02 PM   #5
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 53
Do symbol FYI - Martial Arts in Cedar Rapids

Here's a list of what I found in Cedar Rapids to inform future responses:

Taekwondo - very 'weighty' school/presence

Kum Do (Korean Sword)


Seigokan Goju Ryu Karatedo

Naha-te Karatedo

Aikikai Aikido (obviously!)

Kumazasa No Oshie Ju-Jitsu


I'm sure there are more without a web presence, but I think that's a fair variety of styles to choose from.

In general most of those styles are very disciplined, i.e. step out of line and you'll be doing push-ups, but that varies with each school/instructor.

Arnis is very free flowing and comprehensive in terms of integrating empty-hand and weapons - it probably has the most weapons instruction.

Taekwondo & Goju Ryu Karate both require a great deal of flexibility (high kicking) and the Taekwondo Dojang there definitely take competition very seriously.

Hapkido & Ju-Jitsu have a lot in common, but are culturally different. I would expect a plethora of weapons disarms with these.

Kum Do appears to be much like Kendo, but I'm not familiar with this Martial Art.

It may appear to you that there aren't many choices and that's ok; I originally wanted to take gymnastics (I was ~10), but I just couldn't do it, and since Aikido was offered as well, I switched even though I had no idea what it was. I'm so grateful I did.

So perhaps your Martial Art chooses you....

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