What do you look for in a dojo/martial arts instructor?

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What do you look for in a dojo/martial arts instructor?

Postby Daniel » Sun Jul 04, 2004 2:40 pm

Well, I plan to start up Aikido again, but I want to make sure that I get in with a good dojo. My last sensei was a nice guy and all, but I didn't feel like he was really all that interested in teaching me. I don't really feel like I was progressing much during the last few months I was with him. So I want to know what to look for in a good dojo/sensei. Any suggestions?
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Postby Mary » Sun Jul 04, 2004 8:44 pm

Well, I hope Tom contributes to this, because he really knows his stuff!

I think the most important thing is that you respect your sensei, and feel that s/he respects you. The dojo I go to is extremely good in as much as Josh is focussed and disciplined, and expects no less of his students - however, there are a lot of people in it, and maybe he cannot pay us each the individual attention we could do with. On the other hand, he demands that we train as hard as we can, and pushes us to do our best. I like Josh's moral attitude as well, and the fact that he gets the individuals in the class to take responsiblity for their own training.

You don't have to like your sensei, you just have to respect them.

Other than that, you really need to talk to those who have done martial arts for yonks - I am sure they will stand up and shout howdy.
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Postby ctchrinthry » Mon Jul 05, 2004 3:20 am

I look for lots of feedback. I don't want to do 1000 reps of seio-nage, i want to do a hundred, then be told that my posture is awful ( then i can do 900 more with better posture ).

My most recent judo school, i went to for ~6 months and i didn't feel that i was being shown anything. I was just getting beat up and learning to cheat and do bad judo. So i quit.

The one before that, both of the senseis used to rip on me in class but i kept going because the rips were productive "don't do the move they way that hanley knucklehead did, with your arms straight." I ended up with a really positive relationship with those guys and i miss 'em.

My old aikido school, i got shown and learned a lot.

The other thing is safety. No reason to get hurt, because that will stop you from training. Soreness and bruises, on the other hand, build character.
At this or that twist of it I feel my slippery self eluding me, gliding into deeper and darker waters than I care to probe.
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Postby wannalift » Mon Jul 05, 2004 5:58 am

one thing that really sold me on my instructors is that they both told me go and check out other martial arts schools before choosing one they feel has the most to offer. my advice would be:
-do not join a school that makes you sign contracts.
-actually request info on their instructor.
-ask some of the other students their experience.
overall i would say just be patient and check out all the schools around you before you decide.
~david
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Postby pandiriver » Mon Jul 05, 2004 10:28 am

yes.. openess to other arts is important to me.

other than that I look for instructors that seem to know what they are talking about (the whys and hows) and knows how to teach. Some can explain what you are doing wrong in just two words while others can ramble on forever without really explaining anything.

but I do agree with Mary here - with sensis/sifus/instructors it is more about respect and trusting that they know how to teach you and what it is all about, actually finding someone you like is just a bonus (I am in luck here - everyone in the organisation I am in are excellent people it seems =)), and hey - they even made me sign a contract when I joined (saying I would get kicked out of I used what I had been taught when it was not necessary and so on).


it really seems easier to what to avoid - instructors that have no respect for any other art and refuse to answer questions on the level you are asking them, and the bookworms with techniques right from the book but no idea about practical application - scary stuff!
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Re: What do you look for in a dojo/martial arts instructor?

Postby GenTDuke » Mon Jul 05, 2004 5:23 pm

[quote="Daniel"]Well, I plan to start up Aikido again, but I want to make sure that I get in with a good dojo. My last sensei was a nice guy and all, but I didn't feel like he was really all that interested in teaching me. I don't really feel like I was progressing much during the last few months I was with him. So I want to know what to look for in a good dojo/sensei. Any suggestions?


If you only want to do Akido you will have some trouble, it is hard to find good instructors in all the different schools of martial arts.

I would say that you should not be afraid to try a new style as if the instructor is good it does not realy matter, in martial arts first impressions are generaly correct: try doing one lesson in many schools and check the atmosphere and attitudes, if you dont click with the instructor or he has a god complex I would aviod that one. Some instructors are not very good but have the right attitude; it will take time to find somewhere worth training, over here from my experience only one in ten clubs is worth training in.
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Postby prenna » Mon Jul 05, 2004 5:37 pm

I would suggest the following:

- look at the high grade students and see if they are any good
- look at how the beginners are taught, make sure they are taught the basics well and given a lot of time
- Ask about gradings, if they seem to give away belts like toffees go somewhere else
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Postby pandiriver » Thu Jul 08, 2004 4:35 pm

I've been thinking some more on this thread... depends a lot on what you are looking for - go check some dojos out, feel the vibe, talk to the instructors and students and find out what they're all about, and try 'em all out - if they won't let you try for free I'd leave anyway :wink:
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Postby Daniel » Thu Jul 15, 2004 2:53 am

I took Tom's advice and checked out a different martial art style, but one still relatively close to my own. This was a traditional Hapkido dojang. I really liked the style. I have gone to a few less traditional Hapkido classes before and I didn't really get it. While traditional in their own way they just incorporates more than one style--like Tae Kwan Do and Kuk Sol Won (sp?). Don't get me wrong, I respect other styles of martial art, but this more traditional Hapkido class used a lot of the Aikido concepts I was use to. Also, I liked how the instructor managed the class, very energetic and hands on. Anyway, I'm going back tomorrow and hope to take part in the class this time.

On the downside the classes are a little expensive and are scheduled at the same time as the Aikido classes I'm considering joining. I would really like to do both.

-Daniel
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Postby pandiriver » Thu Jul 15, 2004 2:17 pm

ya.. that sucks.. when classes are at the same time. that is the same thing that keeps me from taking up BJJ :? Guess I'll have to move to Copenhagen and practice GAP instead 8)
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Postby Myrddin » Fri Jul 30, 2004 5:13 am

What I look for in an instructor:
patience
enthusiasm
concern for wellbeing of his/her students
Veganism (I wish!)

Adam
"Morality dictates that I live Vegan"
Earth Crisis
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Postby Daniel » Sat Jul 31, 2004 8:44 pm

Well, I checked out the Aikido dojo and was sorely disappointed. There didn't seem to be very much--as Adam said--enthusiasm. Best way I can describe this Aikido dojo is "Dead fish eyes." :shock:

Students with higher ranks than I seemed to be struggling with the basics. It was so mechanical; nothing flowed. And this is Aikido--everything should flow!

Was definitely more impressed with the Hapkido dojang that I visited earlier. Might still check out some other Aikido dojos in the area. If I can't find a good Aikido dojo I'll just do Hapkido.
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