New Schedule and Location for 2016

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Aiki "right now" trumps "right" aikido

A buddy of mine wrote me an email asking what I think about a situation.  Seems someone told him that he should go a thousand miles out of his way in order to get training from the best aikido teacher in the country instead of going to the lower-ranked local instructor for regular training.
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Reminds me of a situation we had in college.  We had our club established and running for several years, and a new guy moved to town - a shodan in another organization.  He boldly came forward and wanted us to loan him our mats so that he could teach a class his way.  We politely declined and suggested that he come practice with us, to which he politely declined, responding, "No, I'd rather not do aikido than do aikido your way."
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This sort of inane, mind-boggling snobbery crops up every so often.
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We've been over this same thing before in the form of "Which martial art is best," and the answer is the same for this new question, "What is the best kind of aikido to do."  My standard answer comes in four parts...
  • The best aikido is the one that you enjoy enough to practice regularly.  If you can't practice regularly then you'll have a really hard time improving.
  • Local is better than exotic.  You can practice all the time with the local guys.  You might only be able to travel to NeverLand to see the #1 sensei once a year (or once a decade... or once in a lifetime)
  • Relationships matter more than the #1 sensei's absolute skill level.  If the head guy is a jerk that you can't stand being around, then your aikido career would be more successful if you practice regularly with people that you like.
  • You don't have to have the BEST aikido (as if there was such a thing) - you just have to have an environment that will make you better than you are today.
So, in short, aikido "right here right now" trumps aikido "done the right way." Find a local, accessible club where you like the people, and train regularly to try to make yourself a little bit better tomorrow than you were yesterday.  The rest of the "which one is best" nonsense will sort itself out.
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Patrick Parker