What's the difference between Aikido and other martial arts with more familiar names like Karate or Taekwondo?
Karate and Taekwondo schools can be found in any shopping center in San Diego. The vast majority of them focus on a competitive relationship with conflict, and solutions that mainly involve blocking and hitting. Aikido focuses on circular movement, and favors application that blends with attack and redirects it. Aikido teaches us to work WITH the conditions of conflict rather than against them. It is a practice that is non-resistant, which is a claim that the more generic martial arts cannot credibly make. While all the arts value a warrior spirit, Aikido fosters one that is peaceful in nature. Ask yourself..."What message do I want to take away from my training, or pass on to my children?" The mature answer is contained in the principles and practice of Aikido. There is also a difference in how Aikido of San Diego is run in comparison to most karate and Taekwondo schools. Most martial arts studios will pressure you to make a long-term financial commitment. At Aikido of San Diego, your financial commitment is month-to-month and you are treated like a member of a community.
How long does it take to get a black belt?
On average, about 5-6 years. Sometimes it's less, and sometimes more. It really depends on your level of commitment. The journey begins with a single step, and then another one, and so on. It's best not to look at the journey as a long process to a destination, but rather an enjoyable day-to-day investment in yourself.
Can I try out a class before I join the dojo?
Sorry, but not on an open basis as a beginner. We do offer a free public service workshop called This is Aikido. It's offered on the first Friday evening of each month. Otherwise, you are invited to observe as many classes as you like and ask as many questions as you can think of. Experienced Aikidoists who are visiting from other dojos are welcome with a $15 mat fee.
Do you offer any discounts, like for families, etcetera?
We offer family registrations a monthly $10 discount / additional individual. We do not offer any discounts to any other groups/classifications. Our membership fees are not negotiable.
How long will it take until I'm proficient?
That depends on what you mean, and there's no way of predicting how long it takes anyone to reach any level of proficiencywhether that's from the perspective of self-defense or personal growth. If you're interested in becoming a living expression of Aikido then simply embrace its lessons on and off the mat, and it will come. When you view the path and the destination as one, then any impatience surrounding the question disappears.
I would be starting at an older age and I'm a little worried about falling, rolling, and stuff like that. How would I fit in?
Everyone is expected to train at a level accessible to their partner. Learning how to receive technique is part of Aikido practice. You learn it and incorporate it at your own level and pace. More "athletic" or experienced training partners also benefit by using their time with you to improve the clarity and sensitivity of their skills. Aikido is inclusive by nature and that is reflected in the Aikido of San Diego community.
What "style" of Aikido do you practice?
Do you know what a "style" is? It's a self-imposed boundary on the bigger picture. Aikido of San Diego does not subscribe to any "style" of Aikido. The Founder didn't, and we don't either. We believe that stylistic Aikido equals limitations. With that said, we do have a distinct lineage and connection to the Founder, Morihei Ueshiba. Aikido of San Diego is connected to the Aikido World Headquarters (Aikikai) through active membership in the California Aikido Association under Shihan Robert Nadeaua direct disciple of Ueshiba. If it interests you, you are welcome to discuss the Chief Instructor's training background and lineage with him personally.
I just want to learn how to protect myself from anything as quickly as possible. Is Aikido of San Diego for me?
Probably not. Aikido is a very effective approach to conflict. If you did join us, though, you should understand that you're never going to be invulnerable. If there's a pressing reason you believe you need to defend yourself now, then there are plenty of simple, intensive self-defense classes to take. It's a mistake to see self-defense and martial arts as exactly the same thing. Self-defense is an objective, and a martial art like Aikido is a warrior's journey into personally uncharted waters. Aikido can be used very aggressively if you choose to do so in an assault situation, but it's primarily intended to help us develop as more dimensional and self-aware people. It should be understood that things generally don't happen overnight. Improvement happens better when you're enjoying the practice, displaying some patience, and trusting the path. Aikido is a wonderful tool, but it doesn't reveal its best expression through anxious lenses.