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Which martial art to learn first?

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2 hours ago, RisenPhoenix said:

I'm sure there are more, but the three big styles of aikido seem to be Aikikai, Yoshinkan, and Kokikai, the last one I assume being the style your local school is teaching.  @sarakingdom has experience in kokikai, so she'll be able to tell me if I'm wrong.  But at the end of the day, aikido is all more or less the same, just slight variants on things.  Philosophical application probably differs, too, but that's a universal trait for martial arts - philosophy of application is different by school, even in the same style.


Gosh, it's very generous to call Kokikai one of the big three, but I'm not sure it is.  (I mean, totally the best, of course, but not one of the big three.) ;) I think Ki Society (Koichi Tohei's organization) is the third of the big three, it's pretty huge.  Ki-Aikido is Ki Society.  What it has in common with Kokikai is that they're both more modern flavors of aikido, founded by some of the younger students of the aikido founder.


The way I tend to explain all the styles is this: Aikido was founded by a guy named Ueshiba in the early 20th century, as his variation on a related military style he'd studied.  In the early days, he was basically teaching his students that military style, and as time went on, his personal style got a bit more flowing and he focused increasingly on the ethics of conflict.  And then WWII happened, and the huge impact of that, plus the philosophical way he was trending anyway, resulted in explicitly turning it into a pacifist art.  (Making aikido 1) unique for being a pacifist martial art, a phrase that makes some of the other martial arts out there giggle, and 2) an art that went from "literally used by literal samurai" to "an explicitly pacifist art for the modern post-war world" in the span of one single teacher-student generation, which is both bizarrely fast and also quite a natural evolution.)  The deal with all the aikido styles is that he was graduating senior students that whole time to found their own schools, so you get styles founded by early students influenced by the very martial end of the range (like Yoshinkan aikido) and styles founded by later students influenced by the philosophically gentler end of the range (like Ki Society and Kokikai).  Aikikai is the style headed by Ueshiba's son (and now grandson) out of the official central dojo, so it's got a little extra "officialness", but they all coexist pretty happily.


In practice, it's not a huge difference.  Aikido is still aikido, Yoshinkan and Ki Society both have the same techniques and language, and philosophy and so on.  But the nuances are a little different, things like subtle changes in the techniques or the basic feel of the motions or training philosophy.  Sometimes you'll feel all, "yes, we're totally doing the same art taught by the same founder", and at others you'll really feel the distance that art travelled between 1920 and 1960.  And, like RP says, the ethos of the dojo itself can vary a lot, even within a style.  Dojos carry a lot of personality, of the head of the dojo as well as of his teachers.


Ki Society tends to be very flowing, gentle aikido.  ("Gentle" in aikido doesn't mean you can't hurt or get hurt doing it, and doesn't refer to the effectiveness or effort of a technique versus a rough technique.  Soft and hard aikido are qualitative differences in the physical motions and in the mental approach.)  My understanding is that Ki aikido is very focused on personal development, and they put a lot of emphasis on related personal-improvement activities, like meditation and breathing and so on.  (My impression is that there's a lot of variation at the dojo level, with some more deeply into the new-age-ier aspects of it than others, so there's a big element of personal fit with the instructor and local dojo.)  It's an influence on a lot of the "younger" styles of aikido, because the founder of Ki Society was one of Ueshiba's instructors in the last couple of decades of his life, and taught most of his youngest students.

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I'm just re-starting my martial arts study after many years. I studied go shin do karate as a teen for about 3 years and I boxed and took some basic judo in the military .

I want both practical self defense AND the art itself. I'm thinking Krav Maga and/ or gracie jiu-jitsu, but Id welcome some feedback in what to look for in these dojo's.

I have intro classes coming up in both 

Thanks much


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Hello Kill Shot,


In my experience, the instructors and the general mood of the place should be your main concern when trying to find a new class.


You're thinking about Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Excellent.


Now look for locations where you might train and try a couple times. Most gyms/dojos allow prospective students several free lessons. You can then have a proper opinion to know if the place suits you. Is the training intensity good for you ? Do you get well with the instructors/other students ? Do you enjoy the lessons ? Does the art corresponds to what you imagined/wanted ? Are the training hours compatibles with your work/family ?


I hope you'll find the right place for you


Good luck



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