We have 8 instructors, who have been training in Aikido an average of over 15 years, ranging from 29 to 10. Many of our instructors trained in other martial arts for decades before finding Aikido. More info about our instructors can be found on our website (see below).
We are a non-profit organization (officially a 501(c)(3) charity) dedicated to teaching Aikido. None of our instructors recieve any compensation. We all do it for the love of our art.
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For all classes, we adjust the lessons to the students present. If we have a class with all beginners, the class will be taught at a beginner level. If we have all advanced students, it will be taught for that level.
If we have a mix (as is usually the case), the class material will be presented in such a way that it can be worked on by all students. Typically, we'll pair up more advanced students with less advanced students, so they can adjust the lesson as needed, with guidance from Sensei.
If we have enough students present, a new student might be paired up with an advanced student for their whole first class, to work on basic lessons, off to one side.
Personally, I (Jesse Spears) have been training in martial arts and sports since 1984, when I started taking Tae Kwon Do as a college student. I've been learning Aikido since 2002.
I've been teaching Aikido since 2004: first as a stand in when another instructor was late, or absent, and later progressing on to more responsibility over time. I earned my Shodan in 2010, and started teaching a regularly scheduled class about 2 years later.
I earned my Nidan (second degree black belt) in 2014, and my Sandan (third degree black belt) in 2018.
I regularly attend seminars with very senior teachers, including: Hiroshi Ikeda Sensei (2-3 times a year), Mary Heiny Sensei (1/year), Greg Olsen Sensei (1/year). Recently I attended my first 2 seminars with Lisa Tomoleoni Sensei (head of our parent organization, Aikido Shimbokukai), and hope to train with her more in the future. I've also attended seminars taught by Mitsuge Saotome Sensei, Tres Hofmeister Sensei, Raso Hultgren Sensei, and Wendy Palmer Sensei. All of these teachers are 6th or 7th dan in Aikido. I've trained with countless others at 5th dan or lower (if you care, ask me in person and I can list off some more ;).
Our standard class fees are $85/month for adults, with an initial sign up of $200 (which includes the first 3 months of training and a uniform). This allows you to train in all scheduled classes (although we have an occasional Saturday morning class that is only open to advanced students).
We have discounted rates for a variety of things, such as students/teens, veterans, first responders, couples, families, and we also run specials from time to time for special occasions.
See our website for more details: http://southaustinaikido.com/cost/
We currently work with adults of all ages, teens (13-17), and kids (6-12).
We have worked with a number of people that have studied other arts, and are looking for something different.
We have also worked with veterans, some with PTSD.
If you have issues we should know about, please let us know. We'll do our best to work around any physical or emotional difficulties :)
A recent event at our dojo was a seminar with Lisa Tomoleoni Sensei, which also included 6 black belt tests of various levels (5 of them for our instructors).
Observe a class (or many).
Watch how they teach, and how they treat their students (particularly the newer ones).
Look for someone that's not reliant on physical strength, or pain compliance. Unfortunately, that's not an easy thing to determine from sight without some experience in Aikido.
Look for a dojo that has happy people in it. If the students aren't laughing and having a good time, the energy on the mat is probably negative. Happy students makes learning a lot more enjoyable.
What do you want to get from your training?