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Old 01-16-2001, 02:55 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 168
I'm interested to hear what sort of dojos are out there that people train at. I think very often we picture the people posting on these boards within our own dojo (or am I the only one that does that?). I read of a discussion between two students, and I picture a place in my home dojo where that might occur. So what are your dojos like?

At my dojo we have about 2200 sq. ft. of mat space (with 30 feet ceilings), we have 1.5 hr classes four nights a week with four different black belts, and class sizes range from 7-8, to upwards of 28-30. It's strange, but we have a sort of strata of rank - many in the 1st and 2nd kyu ranks, many in the 6th and 7th kyu ranks, and a derth between.


It's a sad irony: In U's satori, he forgot every technique he ever knew; since then, generations of doka have spent their whole careers trying to remember.
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Old 01-16-2001, 03:39 PM   #2
akiy's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 6,052
Let's see...

Our dojo has a little bit under 3000 square feet of mat space. If I remember correctly, the total area of our dojo is somewhere around 5000 square feet. We have dressing rooms for men and women with toilet and shower facilities. Our upper level section overlooks our mat space and has four futon (for overnight guests) as well as a separate guest room.

We have about 28 hours of training for adults and 6 hours for children per week. We sometimes split the mat into two sections (1/3rd and 2/3rd) for concurrent classes. Our evening classes usually have at least 20 students and can run upwards of 50 students ranging from 6th kyu to 6th dan with everyone in between.

We host four seminars at our dojo (Spring, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Winter) which can draw upwards of 120+ people on the mat. Our Summer Camp usually draws about 200 people, though.

We get a lot of visitors from other places coming through our dojo. Everyone from any dojo regarless of affiliation and/or style is welcome, of course. Observation of classes and seminars are always open and free of charge.

-- Jun

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Old 01-16-2001, 04:39 PM   #3
Location: Los Angeles
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 59
Our dojo is a training dojo for future Senseis, so it's a pretty unique atmosphere.
Everyone is rather close, and it is kind of an extended family. Classes run seven
days a week, roughly 1.5 hours per class. The dojo itself is about 600 sq feet, with
a 30ft ceiling. Tatami, shomen and the like are in good shape, albeit worn
We practice with a mindset of mutual respect, learning from one another, and
above all, non lethal techniques. The focus is on blending, and down, down, down,
to the ground. Always down.

-When two blades cross points,
There's no need to withdraw.
The master swordsman
Is like the lotus blooming in the fire.
Such a person has inside of them
A heaven soaring spirit.
- Tozan Ryokan
4th verse on the 5 ranks
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Old 01-16-2001, 05:29 PM   #4
Location: Bay Area
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 1,200
We are set up in a church and practice where folks will be sitting for mass on Sunday or whenever they do it. We roll in twice a week (why I train at different dojos), put out the mats, go at it for a couple of hours, put the mats away and repeat. We are something of an order of magnitude less than 3,000 square feet which is a good thing if you are putting mats out every night. We roll out our shomen as well. Nothing fancy.

Culturally, we are one of the looser dojos around. We bow in on our own, not as a group, although we usually bow out as a group. Gozaimashing is done so seldom that I have to think about it at other dojos and my bowing would be considered loose by more strident folks. My formative years in Aikido were more structured so I'm usually ok as long I'm thinking about it.

I was trying to remember if I've ever seen a technique taught from the beginning to the end and I must say that I can only remember it happening one night and it was a night I taught. So, I'm not joking when I talk about 24 hours of jiu waza (randori to some). We have recently instituted a beginning class and it will be interesting to see if a more technical emphasis appears but I'm doubting it. I really wonder how many people we lose because there isn't anything to grab onto at first.

It's probably a 60/40 split between mudansha/yudansha excepting that the yudansha have tended towards sporadic behavior of late (myself included). Rank is also handled a bit differently where I am in that it just doesn't happen very fast. Our last 2 sandan promotions probably had close to 50 years of combined time on the mat. The last 2 nidan promotions were, I believe, a combined 35 years, although one of them had some gappage.

It's a unique animal.

[Edited by Erik on January 16, 2001 at 05:34pm]
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Old 01-16-2001, 08:15 PM   #5
Dojo: Long Beach State Univ. Seidokan Aikido Club
Location: Torrance, CA
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 13

Our dojo is really a gymnastics room. It's about 1500sq feet, give or take. It's also very springy. I'd say I've been spoiled by it.
We are fairly relaxed when it comes to the formal traditions, you can usually find us by following the sounds of laughter. We bow in and out as a group and bow a bunch of times in between.
We practice 3 time a week; 2 hours Mon and Thurs, and 3 hours Wed. Anywhere from 5-15 people show up, and the difficulty of the classes depend on the amount of new people we have. Our shomen consists of picture of Kobayashi Sensei and a pair of balance beams.

Best advise I've ever received:
"Don't just stand there, do SOMETHING! The fact that you may have failed doesn't matter, it's HOW you failed. Go down swingin'."

Scott Tanaka
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Old 01-17-2001, 03:31 AM   #6
Dojo: Augsburg/Haunstetten
Location: Germany
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 69
Hi Tim!

I'm from Germany and I train in a couple of different dojos. But all teachers have the same teacher (my teacher). So it's like a family of dojos. Most of them are gymnastics rooms and we have to lay and remove the mats every time. We also have a picture of OSensei and of Master Noquet as Shomen. Most have about 100 - 110 square meters (sorry, don't know how many square feet). There's only one permanent Dojo. It's a small barrack with 2 changing rooms (including showers), toilets, a small kitchen, a room without mats (used for Tae Kwon Do and gymnastics) and a room permanently filled with mats. It's all wooden and very homelike (?).
My main Dojo is 1/3 of the big sports hall of the University. We usually have 100 square meters and every half year a new beginners class with about 20 - 30 students. Friday is an advanced class with 10 students. Last year we held our christmas course there with 140 participants and 700 square meters of mats. We had 2/3 of the hall. Was very good.

Maybe you now have a vision of the dojos.

By the way: Jun, thanks for this fantastic site here. Where do you train?

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Old 01-17-2001, 06:37 AM   #7
ian's Avatar
Dojo: University of Ulster, Coleriane
Location: Northern Ireland
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 1,654
Our dojo is a sports hall, but being European it is a metric size (50m x 100m approx). Its pretty large and has more mats than we need!

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Old 01-17-2001, 08:48 AM   #8
Location: Chicago, IL
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 432
Our dojo is currently in a temporary space until we complete the buildout of our permanent location, which we purchased last year. Our temporary space has about 2,000 sq. ft. of mat space, 15 ft. ceilings, with a small reception area, two offices, and separate men's and women's locker rooms, both with showers. We have a permanent shomen with pictures of O Sensei, the late Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba, current Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba, Rinjiro Shirata Sensei, Kissaburo Osawa Sensei, and our dojo's late founding sensei.

Our new space is going to have about 4,100 sq. ft. of mat space, 25 ft. ceilings, two offices, a reception area, separate men's and women's locker rooms (both with showers and bathrooms), and a lounge area. As you can imagine, we are anxious to get into the new space.

We have approximately 100 active members, and offer classes seven days a week, with at least two evening classes on weekdays, and one children's and one adults class on each weekend. The evening classes usually have anywhere from 15-40 students. Classes are taught by 12 senior students of our late founding sensei, including our Dojo Cho.

Robert Cronin
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Old 01-25-2001, 03:47 AM   #9
JJF's Avatar
Dojo: Vestfyn Aikikai Denmark
Location: Vissenbjerg
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 803
Our dojo is rather small - about 700 square feets if my math dosen't fail me and it has got to concrete pillars in the middle of the area. Very good for practicing attention to your suroundings when trowing somebody

We have practice monday to thursday evening and occasionally morning practice on a day by day basis. We have a core of people with a fairly good attendence (about 15 persons - app. 25 percent Blackbelts) and 20-35 persons that practice a little more on and off.

The interior of our dojo is not exactly impressive, but we have a nice bunch of people with a very kind and helpfull attitude.

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 01-25-2001, 06:46 AM   #10
Dojo: Lunds Aikidoklubb
Location: Lund, Sweden
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 273

We have our own dojo in a basement. About 900-1000 sqr feet. Ceiling just as high so I (5"9') can do shomen uchikomi straight if I bend my knees bigtime. 3½ h training mon-thu and 2½ h fri. We focus alot on Riai so we train jo and ken about 30-40 % of the time (one session each evening, at least). About 130 members and maybe 30-40 active in their training, ranging from 5 - 20 each session. We have very focused classes but still have a smile on our faces, our senseis and sempais make sure of that.

Jakob Blomquist
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Old 01-25-2001, 09:16 AM   #11
Dojo: Ki-Shin-Kai
Location: Bristol, UK
Join Date: Jan 2001
Posts: 6
Most martial arts in the UK seem to be done in sports centres. My dojo is in a new sports centre in the middle of a new housing estate. The dojo itself is a room upstairs with about 18 feet by 30 feet of matting and a small space a the door end for visitors/spectators and shoes.

The room is only available for one evening a week as it is used by other arts all week. However our association has other classes running in other locations all within a 10 mile radius, all on different nights. So in theory you could attend 4 different classes with four different teachers. Two others are in different sport centres and the fourth is the University class held in their gym.

Becuase the class is so new we are mainly ungraded and 5 kyu, with a few 4th and 3 kyu from other classes in the area. We only have one other black belt who is a guest from another class who has now become a regular. One of the nice things about the class being so new and a lot of people starting at the same time is that people have always had to help each other, so now when a new member starts they get as much help learning as they want.

Sensei is what I would call 'old school' in that he teaches Aikido with bits of AikiJitsu, Judo, self defence. He also has a black belt in JuJitsu and his sensei used to teach self defence to the army, so we get a very practical lesson with a lot of real world applications.

One of the advantages to holding the class in a sport centre is that the bar is still open when we finish and most of the class stays and chats over a pint until we get kicked out at closing time. This makes for a very friendly atmosphere.
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Old 01-25-2001, 09:29 AM   #12
akiy's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 6,052
Hi Frugal,

Please be sure to sign your post with your real name as it is a Forum rule. Thank you.

-- Jun

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Old 01-25-2001, 01:18 PM   #13
Dojo: Pacific Aikido Kensankai
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 32
We practise out of a community center. About 750 sq feet of mat space. We're lucky in that we have straw tatami mats (quite hard). We train Mon - Sat for one and a half hours. About 40 - 50 active members with 8 - 20 on the mat on any given night. Our teacher is a small, very stong japanese woman who began her training with Suganuma Sensei in Fukuoka. When she smiles or speaks she fills the dojo with her presence so all of us there are very lucky! We tend to have visitors from Fukuoka training with us more often than not. One couple in town going to school for several years and another woman visiting for six months. Training is vigorous and safe and, like most dojos, most everyone leaves with a smile on their face.

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Old 01-26-2001, 12:26 AM   #14
Dojo: http://ctr.usf.edu/aikido/
Location: Tampa, Fl
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 100
Our dojo is located at the University of South Florida. It is located in the recreation center on campus. It's about 1200 square feet. It has hardwood floors, but has rollout gym mats. I have never trained on a canvas mat before. http://ctr.usf.edu/aikido/

Our dojo meets three nights per week, and we get a fair amount of beginners, myself being one of them. Our senseis are very dedicated to the art, and very formal. They are students at the St. Petersburg Aikikai(ASU), chief instructor is John Messores sensei(6th Dan). Here is his dojo. http://ctr.usf.edu/aikido/dojo/dojo.htm

I consider myself very fortunate to be under the intruction of Joe Oglesby http://home1.gte.net/nexialjo/ , and Evelyne Williams, as they have been very meticulous and specific in their teaching, and I feel I have learned a great deal from them, although I haven't even tested for my 6th kyu yet. Whomever takes their place will have big shoes to fill.

Christopher Martin
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Old 01-26-2001, 07:22 AM   #15
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 168
Jun, this might be a good poll... to see what sort of mat space people have. Break the answers down by five hundreds:

less than 500 sq ft (~50 sq meters)
501-1000 (up to ~100 sq m)
1001-1500 (up to ~150 sq m)
1501-2000 (up to ~200 sq m)
2001-2500 (up to ~250 sq m)
2501-3000 (up to ~300 sq m)
3001-3500 (up to ~350 sq m)
3501-4000 (up to ~400 sq m)
more than 4000 sq ft (more than 400 sq m)


It's a sad irony: In U's satori, he forgot every technique he ever knew; since then, generations of doka have spent their whole careers trying to remember.
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Old 01-26-2001, 09:04 AM   #16
akiy's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 6,052
Magma wrote:
Jun, this might be a good poll...
Interesting -- I may have to ask that in the future. Thanks for the suggestion!

-- Jun

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