Q & A
Q: What martial arts does The Aikibudokan offer?
A: We offer Tomiki Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu/Aikido, Kodokan Judo, and Jojutsu (a combative weapons art).
Q: What is Tomiki Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu?
A: Tomiki was one of the most talented students that O'Sensei Ueshiba had during the pre-WW II era and was considered a living encyclopedia of Ueshiba's original techniques and art form. Tomiki was a primary contributor to Ueshiba's 1st book titled Budo Renshu which documented early Aiki-Ju-Jutsu & Aikibudo. Tomiki learned the art form during his time with Ueshiba in both Japan and Manchuria. The Tomiki Ryu therefore is much closer to the original Aiki-Jujutsu/Aikibudo than it is to the softer forms of today's Aikido.
Q: So how is Tomiki Ryu different from other styles of Aikido?
A: Tomiki was a professor of Pedagogy at Waseda University and organized a teaching and learning curriculum. We start you with the basics, show how each technique relates to other techniques, and you progress in an organized fashion to advanced work. Other styles sometimes do not have a set pathway to learning but instead teach sporadically with no easily discernible learning flow..
Q: Is Aiki-Jujutsu/Aikido like karate or other martial arts?
A: No. Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing, Krav Maga, Muy Thai tend to focus on methods of punching, hitting, or kicking the attacker. Aiki-Jutsu/Aikido uses striking and pushing, joint locks and throwing techniques to defend against the attacker, and since off-balancing the attacker is part of how it works it does not depend upon brute strength to be effective.
Q: Do you offer children's classes?
A: No. We do not accept any students under the age of 14-15. We teach based on physical maturity and ability to work with adults and teenagers are accepted on a case-by-case basis with the involvement and permission of their parents or guardians.
Q: Am I too old to start classes?
A: No. Absolutely not. Any age can easily learn. Younger students can work as hard as they want while older students can work at a pace adequate for them. We have students who are age 15-16 and others who continue to train into their 60's, 70's, and 80's. One of the things that makes our classes unique is that they are designed so that physical size and strength are not as important as in other types of martial arts. Aiki-Jujutsu/Aikido in particular focuses on using an attacker's momentum against him so you can use Aikido effectively at any age, size, or strength level.
Q: Am I too out-of-shape to start training?
A: We have students al all different sizes, levels of fitness and ability. Our dojo allows you to work at your own pace and comfort level and gradually improve your physical conditioning over time as you learn and gain skills.
Q. Do you do competitions?
No. Here is a quote from the first man to defeat the Japanese that offers a good explanation as to why competition is not all it appears. ....... Anton Geesink the great Dutch judo champion was once interviewed about the training with which he defeated the previously “undefeatable” Japanese. He said, “The Japanese have devoted themselves to the study of judo for competition. They have gone to extraordinary lengths to develop winning contestants and fine champions. I, on the other hand, have never trained for competition in my life. All I have ever done is trained in judo as a way of life, exactly as Dr. Kano taught. While the Japanese were devising competitive strategies, I was in the dojo, practicing basics and kata. I defeated the Japanese because I know judo better than the Japanese. The ‘secret’ is to train every day in the basics. This will make you unbeatable.”
Q: How do I join?
A: Visit the dojo and watch a class. A senior instructor will sit with you and explain everything and answer any questions that you have.
Q: Is there a try-out I can take to make up my mind?
A: Yes. Come watch a class and we'll invite you back for a three to four week free trial period. Then, once you decide to join us the first month classes are free.
Q: Is there any type of registration fee?
A: Yes. The first month is free but you pay a small registration fee that takes care of the first month of training and provides you with a gi (training uniform with coat, pants & belt) and a beginners training manual. Then regular billing for classes start the second month.
Q: Do you use contracts?
A: No. We use monthly billing and do not use contracts or finance agreements of any kind. By using simple monthly billing only it makes it easier for everyone.
Q: Should I have prior experience in Aikido or any of the martial arts before I start?
A: No. It is not necessary to have any prior martial arts experience. We take all beginning students and pair them with an advanced student, usually a black belt, so that you receive on-on-one instruction beginning with the first class you attend. Over time, you'll learn the basics and then gradually move into more advanced work.
Q: Besides self-defense, what other benefits can training offer me?
A: There are many other benefits to martial arts training besides the self-defense skills. The emphasis on learning to fall safely is invaluable, especially as we grow older. Many of our students have shared that their training has prevented them from serious injury in a "real-life" fall. Training will develop improved balance and flexibility, as well as increased overall fitness. And perhaps most important, is the development of greater self-confidence and the friendships that you will develop by working and training with the other students and instructors.
Q: How often should I attend class to train?
A: We offer 3 beginner/intermediate classes in Aikido per week and we'd like to see you at every one of them. You'll learn faster, progress faster, and be promoted faster. However, with that said and with life being what it is with jobs, family, and the unanticipated things that keep you busy we recommend that you average two classes a week. Pick two sessions that fit your schedule, put them in your calendar, and try to follow that calendaring. Then, if the week works in your favor and it looks like you can make an extra class please do. Remember that our monthly class fee is all inclusive and covers every class that we offer in the art that you are training in.
Q: Do you "require" students to attend a certain number of classes and training sessions?
A: No. There is no "requirement" per se but we definitely want you to train and progress so we encourage you to make as many sessions as your schedule may allow.
Q: How long will it take to earn my black belt?
A: If you attend classes on a regular basis of 2 to 3 times a week then it should take about 2 1/2 to 3 years. If you don't train very often and regularly skip classes then it will obviously take longer than that. 2 to 3 years is a pretty standard length of training time to make 1st degree black belt both in the US and in Japan.
Q: If I want to train only in the weapons work (the Jojutsu) then do I also have to train in Judo or Aiki-Jujutsu both?
A: No. Most of our Jojutsu players are also Aikido students but we have several Jojutsu players who train only in Jojutsu for example so you can do one art form and not the other.
Q. Can I train in everything (Aiki-Jujutsu, Judo, Jojutsu)?
A. Yes but there are two caveats. First, training in more than one martial art will of course increase the monthly class fee that you are billed for. Second, we recommend that you start in one art and then after establishing a firm schedule you look at the second. The issue is that unless your schedule is very flexible you may find yourself restricted on time meaning that you may not be able to spend enough time in any art form to progress. Each takes a minimal amount of class time in training before any progress will be seen.