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Old 01-28-2001, 11:48 PM   #1
sceptoor
Dojo: http://ctr.usf.edu/aikido/
Location: Tampa, Fl
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Recently, my brother (whom is living temporarily in New Hampshire) said that when he gets back to Tampa, he wants to start training in Aikido with me. I told him, "Why wait??" and found some links to send him via e-mail regarding some dojos in his area. I'm not sure I'm happy with what I have found. Can anyone let me know what they think of these dojos based on their websites I have included below?? It's the senseis that "bother" me. The dojos that are not included with a website are listed with their general info, and I tend to lean towards them because they seem more formal and traditional. The University club concerns me because they seem to have more interest and training in Judo rather than Aikido, and therefore I am a little sceptical about their qualifications. http://www.dartmouth.edu/~aiki/

The other website is to a dojo that is founded by a sensei that seems to have dark interests. http://www.blacksword.net/








Dojo: <b>Kazoku Dojo</b>
Address: 52 Center Rd; Canterbury NH 03224

State: NH, United States

Phone: (603) 783-9829

Instructor(s): Michael Donnelly, 3rd dan; Peter Riendeau, 1st Dan

E-mail: riendeau@totalnetnh.net

Schedule: By appointment only

Affiliation: Shudokan Martial Arts Association

Updated: 11. Nov, 2000

Dojo: <b>Upper Valley Aikikai</b>
Address: Outback Barn, Thetford, NH

State: NH, United States

Phone: (603) 643 0792

Instructor(s): Michael Forman

E-mail: uvaikido@yahoo.com

Affiliation: USAF

Updated: 13. Mar, 2000

What do you think??

Chris
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Old 01-29-2001, 08:40 AM   #2
akiy
 
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The best thing that a person can do in evaluating any dojo (and something that I believe everyone should do, any way) is to go to the dojo in person, observing the classes, asking questions, and generally getting a "feel" for the place. See how the teacher acts towards his or her students. Watch how the students act toward their teacher. Observe how the students act towards each other.

Anything less than actively checking out the dojo rather than going by what their website or yellow pages ad shows is, in my mind, not enough...

-- Jun

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Old 01-29-2001, 11:04 AM   #3
sceptoor
Dojo: http://ctr.usf.edu/aikido/
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I certainly agree with that 100%, but one cannot visit every dojo in the nation before one makes his/her choice. I'm not suggesting he join a dojo based on what their web site says about them, or based on their yellow page ad or whatever, like you said, that's most certainly not enough. One should definately visit a couple or three dojos before making their choice, but you have to narrow down your choices some how, especially when some dojos post lots of info about their school and teachers. When extensive information is provided like that, one should be able to decide if it's even a dojo he/she would like to visit to begin with. Quite frankly, looking at the choices provided in the original post, I personally wouldn't join an Aikido dojo full of Judo instructors when I'm looking to learn Aikido, not Judo. I also wouldn't join a dojo whose founding instructor(Blacksword Aikido)boasts about his involvement in "Magic", even if he is a good teacher of the art, because I wouldn't want to subject myself to any pressures to join the "occult". If it weren't part of his teaching philosophy, and were strictly part of his personal life ONLY, I guess that would be fine, but then why even mention it on their dojo's website?? Furthermore, they talk about "standing grappling" in their Aikido(read the Journal section of their website). To me, grappling is NOT Aikido in any way, shape, or form.
I respect all forms of Martial Arts, so this is not an attempt to condescend Judo or any other form of MA, I'm just saying , all styles of Aikido may very a little bit, but Aikido is still Aikido, and Judo is still Judo, and so on, and so on, AND IT SHOULD REMAIN THAT WAY. I hope that didn't open a can of worms.....sorry if I offended any one, that's certainly not my intention.

Just my 2 cents. Any thoughts??

Chris

C. Martin

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Old 01-29-2001, 11:44 AM   #4
akiy
 
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Quote:
sceptoor wrote:
I certainly agree with that 100%, but one cannot visit every dojo in the nation before one makes his/her choice.
I didn't think I said anything of that sort...

However, I do feel that it's very much worth it for people to check out all of the dojo nearest them (and even those not too near) -- probably within a comfortable commuting distance (~1 hour or so). Back in the Bay Area, I started at a dojo which was a five minute drive from where I lived and ended up commuting to a dojo which was an hour away. (Of course, I also ended up moving about a thousand miles away for aikido, but that's another story.)

It's just from personal experience that it's often worth it to check out the possible options that are within your reach. I've heard it said (half tongue-in-cheek) by some people that a lot of people starting up in a martial art take more time choosing the kind of breakfast cereal they want at the supermarket than they do in choosing a
dojo.

Also, just because someone mentions an interest of theirs on a website doesn't mean that they'll be "pressuring" you to learn about it. My teacher enjoys making hakama but he hasn't pressured me into doing any sewing...

Just my thoughts.

-- Jun

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Old 01-29-2001, 01:05 PM   #5
REK
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Quote:
sceptoor wrote:
Furthermore, they talk about "standing grappling" in their Aikido(read the Journal section of their website). To me, grappling is NOT Aikido in any way, shape, or form.
I respect all forms of Martial Arts, so this is not an attempt to condescend Judo or any other form of MA, I'm just saying , all styles of Aikido may very a little bit, but Aikido is still Aikido, and Judo is still Judo, and so on, and so on, AND IT SHOULD REMAIN THAT WAY. I hope that didn't open a can of worms.....sorry if I offended any one, that's certainly not my intention.
I think I understand your sentiment, but we tend to adhere to something our shihan said several years ago: Aikido is the wrist and all other styles the fingers. I took that to mean that if you study Aikido, you will have intuitive knowledge that would help in any other style, not that Aikido was the ultimate martial art (please, god let's not get into that again). So why not a few sessions of ground work, sparring, kicking, screaming, running, cussing, shooting or whatever helps you realize all the ways Aikido can affect your understanding of other things?

(insert sound of a can of worms closing)

Rob

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Old 01-29-2001, 02:23 PM   #6
Erik
Location: Bay Area
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In regards to looking at different dojos. One of the things that will happen as you look at different places is that you will see them with different eyes as time goes on. You might be in awe and wonder at the first dojo you see but as you visit several the awe will be lessened and you can start to ask questions like "gee, do they ever clean the john?" Don't hesitate to visit more than once and I'd go so far as to say visit something you have no intention of doing just to see the difference. Every dojo is different every night. You might wander into something that makes you very uncomfortable and it's a fluke or vice versa.

Also pay serious attention to the commute. I too went from a 5 minute commute to over an hour and it's tough. I believe if it's even close to a draw between 2 schools you should probably take the easier commute. It doesn't take more than a few bad nights before you start questioning the wisdom of being in a car so much. My estimate for the coming year is somewhere around 400+ hours of car time just for Aikido. I will spend more time in a car than on the mat. I still have a long ways to go before I go 1,000 miles, however.

Check that, I'll reach that sometime in the next week or 2 for the year.
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Old 01-29-2001, 06:48 PM   #7
Mike Collins
Location: San Jose
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You can't train long distance, why would you consider committing to training without seeing the school (preferrably more than once), watching not just the teacher of the evening, but importantly, the chief instructor, and watching how folks seem to relate?

It's okay to take the long drive to train, but what is the hurry? Take the long drive to look first. If you don't see an Aikido teacher who seems like a good fit for you (and it's probably a good idea to give them several visits to establish that), train in another art. It is far more important to find the right teacher than the "best" art.

After several visits, if everyone in a given area is simply not right for you, consider being a "groupie" and following a great teacher around to seminars to get your true teaching, and training with a lesser teacher to hone yourself. Maybe you'll bring the level of training up if you are sincere enough.

If you decide to do this, you probably ought to make a sincere effort to train on the stuff each teacher is teaching at the time, but with an eye for the principles as taught by the teacher of your choice. I don't think any teacher would be less than pleased if your training is sincerely your best each time you get on the mat.

I forget sometimes how lucky I am to live where I live, and have access to the teachers who choose to teach here, if only a few times a year.
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Old 01-30-2001, 06:06 AM   #8
ian
 
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Sometimes two dojos doing different martial arts can be more similar than two dojos that claim to do the same martial art.

As above, always best to go to the nearest dojos and see if you like it. There are many aikido dojos I have been to which I think are totally rubbish, but that doesn't mean I don't like aikido.

I only had a brief look at the sites but the first of the two sites mentioned doesn't seem to profess to be just aikido - aiki is not a word restricted to aikido (I think it is also a method of love-making; I think those classes would prove to be quite different). Therefore Aiki budo is not necessarily aikido.

Ian
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Old 01-30-2001, 06:08 AM   #9
ian
 
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Another point:

Chuang Tzu had the expression that people argue between 'hard and white'. Labels are just labels, they are useful guides but the experience is everything.

Ian
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Old 01-30-2001, 09:22 AM   #10
Gene McGloin
Dojo: Bond St. Dojo
Location: Bronx, NY
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Hi,

You didn't mention Monadnock Aikido in Keene, NH. I'm pretty sure that they are still around and they're good people. I don't have a map of New Hampshire around, and I'm not that familiar with the state, so I'm not sure if this is close to where your brother is. If he is close to Keene, he might also want to drive an extra 10 or 15 minutes into Brattleboro, VT. Don Hebert has an ASU dojo there. Don's dojo is listed at the ASU homepage and I believe that Monadnock Aikido can be contacted through the USAF homepage.

Gene
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Old 01-30-2001, 09:34 AM   #11
sceptoor
Dojo: http://ctr.usf.edu/aikido/
Location: Tampa, Fl
Join Date: Nov 2000
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Wink


I appreciate everyone's input, but here was my original post everyone.

Quote:
sceptoor wrote:
Recently, my brother (whom is living temporarily in New Hampshire) said that when he gets back to Tampa, he wants to start training in Aikido with me. I told him, "Why wait??" and found some links to send him via e-mail regarding some dojos in his area. I'm not sure I'm happy with what I have found. Can anyone let me know what they think of these dojos based on their websites I have included below?? It's the senseis that "bother" me. The dojos that are not included with a website are listed with their general info, and I tend to lean towards them because they seem more formal and traditional. The University club concerns me because they seem to have more interest and training in Judo rather than Aikido, and therefore I am a little sceptical about their qualifications. http://www.dartmouth.edu/~aiki/

The other website is to a dojo that is founded by a sensei that seems to have dark interests. http://www.blacksword.net/








Dojo: <b>Kazoku Dojo</b>
Address: 52 Center Rd; Canterbury NH 03224

State: NH, United States

Phone: (603) 783-9829

Instructor(s): Michael Donnelly, 3rd dan; Peter Riendeau, 1st Dan

E-mail: riendeau@totalnetnh.net

Schedule: By appointment only

Affiliation: Shudokan Martial Arts Association

Updated: 11. Nov, 2000

Dojo: <b>Upper Valley Aikikai</b>
Address: Outback Barn, Thetford, NH

State: NH, United States

Phone: (603) 643 0792

Instructor(s): Michael Forman

E-mail: uvaikido@yahoo.com

Affiliation: USAF

Updated: 13. Mar, 2000


What do you think??

Chris

I don't really understand how the thread turns into the misconception that I am looking for a dojo long distance. I e-mailed this information(above) to my brother in New Hampshire because HE is looking to get into a dojo.

I searched, found and am now training at my dojo of choice starting 4 months ago(thank you), and I feel fortunate for the senseis we have. This decision was mostly based on distance because, I visited all 4 of the dojos in my 75 mile radius and they all have very good senseis. My dojo is ASU(a branch of the St. Pete Aikikai), the St. Pete Akikai is ASU(John Messores), Hyde Park dojo is USAF, and the other one is a judo/Aikido school and I don't really remember their affilliation. Anyway, thank you for your responses, I just thought you guys would actually visit the links and share your opinion.

C. Martin

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Old 01-30-2001, 10:11 AM   #12
JO
Dojo: Aikikai de l'Université Laval
Location: Sainte-Catherine-de-la-J.-C., Québec
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I checked out the two links. The first, Dartmouth, I have no idea about and I am slightly curious what teacher-student chain limks them to O'sensei.
The second, the magician. I wouldn't be too worried about this guys religion, interest in the occult does not make one "dark" or a satanist (although I know some fundamentalist Christians who would disagree, and probably could not feel confortable at this guys dojo). As long as his religion stays off the mat, I wouldn't worry. Would you worry if his bio had said he was a Lutheran minister? From an aikido point of view it may be woth checking out. I checked the AAA web site and their claim of affiliation is true, which makes this dojo an Aikikai dojo (as for its quality, who knows?).
I personaly would be attracted to the USAF dojo because I am already a member of the USAF, for all I know I have already practiced with people from that dojo during seminars.

Jonathan Olson
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Old 01-31-2001, 09:52 PM   #13
Speireag
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Vermont
Location: New Hampshire
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Quote:
sceptoor wrote:
Recently, my brother (whom is living temporarily in New Hampshire) said that when he gets back to Tampa, he wants to start training in Aikido with me. I told him, "Why wait??" and found some links to send him via e-mail regarding some dojos in his area.
I live in New Hampshire, right on the border with Vermont. I practice at Shobu Aikido of Vermont, in Woodstock, Vermont. In my limited experience, it is an excellent dojo, and I consider myself very fortunate to be learning there. You don't say where your brother is in New Hampshire, but if he's in the Upper Valley area tell him to come over for a visit.

Quote:
The University club concerns me because they seem to have more interest and training in Judo rather than Aikido, and therefore I am a little sceptical about their qualifications. http://www.dartmouth.edu/~aiki/
I know a very little about that club. One of their sempai is a friend of mine, but I have never seen them practice. He and I have practiced together once or twice, and his technique is very good. I've learned good tips from him. However, it doesn't feel like what I'm looking for, so I've never been tempted to attend, especially since I have my regular dojo to go to.

Quote:
The other website is to a dojo that is founded by a sensei that seems to have dark interests. http://www.blacksword.net/
His site mentions that he is a founding member of this area's branch of the Skeptical Inquirer. If that's the case, then it's a strong indication that he approaches claims of magic rationally and skeptically. I wouldn't worry on that score. On the other hand, I am always wary of someone who seems to claim too much expertise, and he claims quite a lot, including three specialties in legal practice in two different states! His knowledge may be extensive, but such a summary does not give the impression of depth.

The other dojos I know nothing about, though I didn't know about the one in Thetford. That's not far from here. I'll have to check it out.

-Speireag.

Speireag Alden
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Old 01-31-2001, 10:12 PM   #14
Erik
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Quote:
sceptoor wrote:
I don't really understand how the thread turns into the misconception that I am looking for a dojo long distance. I e-mailed this information(above) to my brother in New Hampshire because HE is looking to get into a dojo.
Sorry, I'm often guilty of thread misdirection. I'm used to a different format where that sort of thing flows more smoothly.

[Edited by Erik on February 1, 2001 at 12:27am]
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Old 02-01-2001, 04:07 AM   #15
Chris
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Dartmouth Aikido link - Sensei Takeji Tomita

Hi everyone!

Perhaps I can help to clarify the Darmouth College Aikido lineage as it appears on their web site.

I have taken a look at the site and seen that Mr Pristow cites Shihan Takeji Tomita under the Aikido section of his group.
As an aside, I have also noticed in the last couple of days that the words "main influence" have been removed from the site. I will not speculate as to what this might mean.

I can speak about Sensei Tomita as his official representative in the UK.

Sensei Tomita studied with 'O'-Sensei and Saito Sensei (9th Dan guardian of the Aiki Shrine and head of the Iwama Dojo).
In 1996 he was nominated as Aikido representative for IMAF.
You can view his bio on my website at http://www.geocities.com/~aikidodojo/tomita.htm

I know has travelled to the USA on several occasions over the years to teach.
I do not know if he has a representative in the USA and whether Mr Pristow and him are currently in any kind of contact and therefore cannot comment on what Mr Pristow may or may not be doing in his Aikido practice.

I would, however, be able to verify any information directly with Tomita Sensei if this is required.



[Edited by chris on February 1, 2001 at 05:58am]

Chris Tozer
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Old 02-01-2001, 07:23 AM   #16
JO
Dojo: Aikikai de l'Université Laval
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I don't know where in New Hampshire your brother is living, but I found three other dojos (not in your original post) in three different cities (Sanbornton, Keene and Portsmouth) of New Hampshire. I found them in the dojo listings of my last Aikido-east (USAF-east) newsletter. The details and contact info can be found on the USAF web site http://www.usaikifed.com

It does not seem that choice is lacking in the state of New Hampshire when it comes to aikido!

Jonathan Olson
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