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Old 03-14-2006, 12:31 PM   #1
Zac Gochenour
Zac Gochenour's Avatar
Location: Arlington VA
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1
Hello from a Reluctant Aikidoka

Hello all!

A bit about me: I'm a 22 year old male and a new resident of Arlington, VA. I would like to become involved in studying a martial art and am carefully considering Aikido.

I have become aware of a number of aikido dojo in my area. The difference in dues is vast. I have narrowed my choices to 2: Northern Virginia Aikikai, a USAF dojo that practices twice a week and has practically no dues (but serious study of martial arts is definitely happening) and Aikido of Northern VA, an ASU dojo that has an incredible number of practices (at least once a day except Sunday, often twice due to a seperate class on weapons taught twice a week) but has dues of $75/mo. I am not sure what the significance of the federation affiliations are. Anyone who is local who can give me further insight than what can be seen at a one-class observation - your comments are very welcome.

My reluctance, however, comes from an injury I sustained as a teenager, when I was studying judo back home. I took a high fall and did not properly ukemi, and I dislocated my shoulder quite badly, doing permanet ligament damage. After I rehabbed the shoulder, I beame involved in my dojo again, until my sensei passed away in an accident. Since then I have not studied martial arts, but I have dislocated my shoulder twice, both swimming. After the first time I had orthoscopic surgery. After the second time my orthopedic surgeon said perhaps open surgery is necessary, particularly if it happens again, which he says it probably will. I have done my utmost to strengthen my delts and my shoulder stablizer muscles, but in a sense my shoulder still feels tight and weak, perhaps subconsciously. I have a large frame and stature (I'm 240 lbs), just to let you know. Now that I want to get involved in martial arts, I wonder how wise that is. On one hand, careful practice of ukemi should help me actually avoid further damage to my shoulder. On the other hand, it seems likely an overzealous nage will simply dislocate my shoulder (won't take much in a situation where pressure of any sort is being applied) and I question the wisdom of putting myself in a situation where harm seems certain. On the other hand, it makes me sick to my stomach to think that something I very much want to do in life is not going to happen because I'm injured - I hate that idea.

I've given some consideration to studying judo again instead, because I feel at least I won't have to fear my joints being attacked. I have also considered perhaps it is better for me to become involved in an art where there is no consideration of joints (Kendo perhaps? or a striking-only art). These arts, however, don't have the same appeal to me.

Comments are appreciated. Again - hello all.

Zac Gochenour
Arlington, VA
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Old 03-14-2006, 12:50 PM   #2
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
Location: Phila. Pa
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 4,614
Re: Hello from a Reluctant Aikidoka

If I was in your area I would probably study with Jim Sorrentino of Aikido of Northern VA. He has excellent skills, and I like the folks he hangs with. Just attended a seminar he helped to host with Ellis Amdur. Good folks, good training.

Not much to say about the shoulder other than stay safe, and keep strengthening it. Tap early.


Ron Tisdale
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 03-14-2006, 12:59 PM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,996
Re: Hello from a Reluctant Aikidoka

Training properly takes two people. If one is injured, it's up to the injured to make sure the other person knows about it. Sometimes, a piece of duct tape on the injured area works wonders to inform people. The other person must take care to not cause harm to the injury. If in doubt about some particular aspect of training, then go *slow*. Can't emphasize that enough. And if you go slow until you learn your limits, you can still study Aikido.

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Old 03-14-2006, 01:02 PM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,996
Re: Hello from a Reluctant Aikidoka

Ron Tisdale wrote:
If I was in your area I would probably study with Jim Sorrentino of Aikido of Northern VA. He has excellent skills, and I like the folks he hangs with. Just attended a seminar he helped to host with Ellis Amdur. Good folks, good training.

Not much to say about the shoulder other than stay safe, and keep strengthening it. Tap early.

Oh, wow! I forgot that Aikido of Northern VA hosted that. Yeah, I agree with Ron. I was there for the seminar, too. Great group of people and excellent training.

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Old 03-14-2006, 03:02 PM   #5
akiy's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 6,001
Re: Hello from a Reluctant Aikidoka

Hi Zachary,

Welcome to AikiWeb.

As far as choosing a dojo, here are two articles that may help in your search:


-- Jun

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Old 03-14-2006, 03:58 PM   #6
Michael O'Brien
Dojo: Nashville Aikikai
Location: Nashville, Tn
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 288
Re: Hello from a Reluctant Aikidoka

Hi Zac,

Welcome from Nashville, Tn.

Harmony does not mean that there are no conflicts,
for the dynamic spiral of existence embraces both extremes.
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Old 03-14-2006, 06:01 PM   #7
Dojo: North County Aikikai
Location: San Marcos, CA
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 72
Re: Hello from a Reluctant Aikidoka

Hi Zac. Welcome to the area! I no longer live in Arlington but was born in D.C. and raised in Arlington. I trained at Aikido of Northern Va. and it's predecessor Northern Virginia Budokan, before moving north to the suburbs of Philly. Anyways.... I never visited George Sakamoto at TJ but have heard good things about his Aikido. I can attest however of the quality of Aikido that you will receive at Aikido of Northern Virginia. Jimmy Sorrentino is an excellent human being and teacher. His pedigree is not bad either! Mike Laskey, one of Saotome Sensei's most senior students is also an active member and teacher at the dojo there. In addition, the school is supported by many other fine senior ASU teachers from Baltimore and Washington D.C.

As for the shoulder injury and studying Aikido. Having sustained a seperated shoulder from a Koshi fall some 8 years ago, I can affirm that you can indeed train around past, present and future injuries and scars. Through diligent practice of proper ukemi and learning to really listen to your body and not over stress vulnerable areas, you can do just fine.

If you happen to read this post prior to the St. Patty's day weekend, I highly encourage you to visit the dojo this weekend, for Frank Doran Sensei is leading a 3 day seminar, details of which can be found at the dojo's website.

If you join the dojo, I hope to see and train with you during one of my visits.

Good luck!
Garrett Fuller
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Old 03-14-2006, 10:19 PM   #8
Dojo: Shima Arashi Dojo
Location: Dorset (my luvvers! ohhhh arrrrr) uk
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 319
United Kingdom
Re: Hello from a Reluctant Aikidoka

I also havve vicious shoulder injury ... and when my dojo re-opens (closed due to lack of training area) I will carry on working on it nice and easy like!
em aka dory

Dance your cares away .... worry for another day ... let the music play .... down in fraggle rock!

when bored ... do as I do. Poke a patient!
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