The questions below where emailed to WAD and the posted replies are based on what I have observed over the past 35 years in martial arts.

Please free to email us any questions concerning Aikido that you have. Remember that the answers we post are our own personal views and/or opinion.

What is this new "Federation of TenShin Aikido" organization?

It is a new name to an old Luis Santos scam. Formerly know as the infamous "TenShin Aikido Federation" it is Santos attempt to regain an Aikido cash machine while trying to hide the fact the he, Luis Santos, forged Take Sensei's name to his Yondan (4th Dan) promotion certificate that he sent to the Aiki Kai.

Have you read the two letters from Steven Seagal concerning Luis Santos and who his students really are?

Yes I have read both letters and I believe Take Sensei says it all. Luis Santos did in fact forge Take Sensei's signature to obtain his 4th Dan from the Aiki Kai and as far as who has his blessings to teach under his flag the three names mentioned are it.

I noticed on another website they are claiming to teach pure TenShin aikido, is that true?

I know the website and organization you are referring to and "NO" there is no such thing as pure TenShin Aikido. In fact TenShin is what Take Sensei's aikido has been named but if anything it is a methodology. TenShin was the name of Take Sensei's original dojo nothing more..

Why is it you can charge such low monthly fees?

We are a non-profit association and the church donates the gymnasium to us for free. All of our instructors either have a job or own a business so they volunteer their time.

What about that one time joining fee to cover the cost of paper work?

This fee is nothing more then a revenue generator for the dojo your are joining. Ask them to waive this fee if they refuse to I would move on to the next dojo.

Is the monthly cost of the class based on the quality of instruction I will get?

Certainly not. It is solely based on what it takes for a commercial dojo to pay it's monthly bills and make a profit for the owner. Always checkout more then one dojo in your area before joining any particular dojo.

How do I know if I am getting a good instructor?

The instructor you choose should inspire you to train under him. We have always encouraged our students to check out other schools if they like. If we don't inspire and lead them we shouldn't be their instructor. This is also a good indicator of how good the instructor you are considering training under really is. If he doesn't want you to visit other schools for a variety of reasons, usually he bad mouths one or more of the other schools, chances are his instruction and leadership isn't very good or inspirational. Nothing is more laughable to me then an Instructor claiming you stole my student. First of all he doesn't own them and most importantly if he/she really inspired them as their instructor and leader they wouldn't leave him/her would they?

Can Aikido be a street effective martial art?

Yes it can, however the vast majority of Aikido being  taught today is not. If you are fortunate enough to live in the area of an Instructor who has studied under Steven Seagal Shihan you should try there first. Be sure that the instructor who represents himself as a Aikido instructor has received his black belt from Steven Seagal Shihan or one of his appropriate ranked black belts. Just because they may be affiliated with a legitimate TenShin Aikido Dojo  and instructor does not necessarily mean they are a good instructor by any means. Most importantly observe a class or two and visit other schools before deciding to join.

How do I know what school to join?

First: When you observe the instructor does he/she articulate the explanation of each and every technique so that you can understand what he/she is teaching or do they simply say do it this way. Second: Ask the instructor do demonstrate Jiyu Waza and Randori. Sense Aikido is designed to take on multiple attackers (3 or more) can the Instructor handle multiple attackers at full speed, not at half or slow speed. Third: Can the instructor execute the techniques he demonstrates at full speed with control and power. Any one can do a technique at slow speed and make it look good. Fourth: Be sure to check out some other schools in the area before making a decision.

Is an affiliation with a major federation or association important?

That depends on what you are trying to achieve. If all you want is a belt and bragging rights that you belong to such and such association then, yes. If you are learning a martial art to be able to defend your self and protect your family then no. You must decide on what is your primary objective. There are dojos in the US where you can get both but they are very few and very far in between.

As a women how do I find a good women's Aikido/self defense instructor?

This is the hardest of all questions to answer. I first recommend that you try to find a women instructor in Aikido or Aikijujitsu. Not one that is merely wearing a black belt but one who clearly understands the mechanics and strategies of a physical confrontation between a man and a women other then punch and kick.

What about dojo websites that have these long lineage lines are they better then the others?

While lineages show who taught who, usually from O'Sensei on down to the current Dojo-Cho, this really means very little. When it comes to how good the instructor is that will be teaching you all the lineage in the world won't make him a good or bad instructor. You must evaluate the instructor for who he is not where his lineage traces up the line to. Many bad instructors have great lineage lines but little else. Again I recommend that you check out several dojos in the area before deciding on any one particular dojo.  Basing your decision to join a dojo because of their lineage is never a good idea.

What is TenShin Budo Kai Aikido?

TenShin Budo Kai is a dojo, nothing more. Our basic Aikido draws heavily from Steven Seagal Shihan's Aikido commonly referred to as TenShin Aikido Methodology. The atemi (kicks and punches) are based on Isshinryu Karate. We also drew upon some Aikijujitsu, and Small Circle Jujitsu techniques as well. The over all mission of TenShin Budo Kai Dojo is to provide it's students with the most practical form street martial arts keeping some tradition for good measure.

Which is better to study under a 1st degree or 5th degree black belt?

This is the most common of all mistakes a new or prospective student makes. Picking a dojo to train at based on what degree black belt the instructor holds. I recommend you consider and first read "How do I know if I am getting a good instructor?" Rank should be your last consideration. I personally can think of many cases around the Greater Puget Sound area where an instructor's rank (most of which are 3rd, 4th, and 5th dans)  completely misleads the prospective new student. In fact in the last 8 years I can personally think of only two times where an Aikido instructors abilities definitely matched or in this one case exceed the rank he holds. When I attend Isoyama Shihan seminars.

As an fellow instructor, how do you keep students from leaving your school?

You can't nor should you try. In February, 2005, WAD, sadly enough, no longer was affiliated with a particular Aikido federation. Two of our best students, one who came over from another school in our local area that was also affiliated with this federation, wanted to continue their ranking and affiliation with this federation. He went back to the other school and some one very dear to me wanted to obtain a Shodan under this federation and I encouraged this individual to go the other school as well. Both of them knew that they would only receive quality instruction when the head of the federation gives seminars here twice a year the rest of the time they would be on their own. The instructor himself at the other dojo only has kyu ranking under this federation as do the two students who transferred over to the other dojo, however these two students are by far better then the instructor at the other dojo.

Since the loss of these two students we have had eight new students join our dojo, these students are very gifted and learn very quickly so in a very short time we will more then replace the talent of the ones who left. This doesn't mean we won't miss them.

My advise to you is as an instructor you should worry more about being a good instructor and inspirational leader as well as continually working on perfecting the quality of instruction you provide. Everything else will take care of its self.

How often should a  student be allowed to test for their next belt rank?

More often then naught in a commercial dojo you are tested based on the number of days you are in attendance rather than how well you know the next belt testing requirements.

I have personally witnessed an instructor show his students the promotion test requirements the first hour of class and then test them next hour of class. Even though his students were not able to perform the techniques adequately, and pass them to collect his testing fees..

Belt testing fees are a stable source of revenue for most commercial dojos. That is why they test their students on an attendance bases rather then how well they perform the techniques required for testing.

WAA students test only when they have reached a level of proficiency with the techniques that are required for their next belt rank. There is a minimum time between belt rank testing. Not only that but we require them to be able to perform all of the past belt rank testing requirements as well.

Recently I have seen some local dojos in the Tacoma area that do not post their monthly class fee, why is that?

The primary reason is that their monthly fees probably exceed $75.00 per month and people surfing the net looking for an Aikido school in Tacoma, Washington, or any other city and state, will not visit that dojo because of price. Price is always a concern but I still recommend that you check out the dojo (school) as well as several other dojos (schools) in your area before deciding on a school to train at. However, if money is your number one concern then call for a monthly price quote and if they won't give it to you over the telephone find another school.

I have seen the TenShin Aikido Federation (TAF) on different websites. Is the TAF recognized by Steven Seagal?

You have asked the most controversial question that I can think of today. We were an affiliate dojo under Santos Sensei during the TAF's inception and we were told by Santos Sensei that Take Sensei approved it but we were never given any kind of written proof. Since we left the TAF we have talked with several other individuals who would have more knowledge then I.

I recommend you contact Angulo Sensei at his website at www.tenshindojo.com, also read his FAQ section and/or contact Clough Sensei by e-mail at dojocho@aikidoyoshindojo.com. These two individuals can give you first hand information concerning the TAF.