I'd taken some martial arts training in my college days, and was looking for a school (dojo) to get back into it. But I wanted something a little less formal, and a LOT less agressive. There are two basic types of Aikido - "hard" which puts more emphasis on the attack and disabling the opponent, and "soft" which puts the emphasis on defending without needing to cause harm, and immobilizing the opponent. Aikido of West Seattle teaches the "soft" variant. Anyone can come and watch a class, which is exactly what I did, and the main thing that stood out for me was the laughter that filled the dojo! That made my decision, and I signed up on the spot. Four years later, I'm still pleased as punch to be a student. Pam Cooper, the owner, is a fantastic teacher (you should see her with the children's classes, too!) And Mike, Rachelle, Andy and the other black-belts are incredibly supportive and caring. Interestingly, the techniques of Aikido are mental as well a physical, and can be translated into other areas of one's life, such as dealing with difficult co-workers, clients, or family members. Since the "soft" form of Aikido focuses on harmonizing with your opponent, you can take those "harmonizing" mental aspects and use them anywhere you go. (Even in rush hour traffic...) And I find myself using them more and more in the other areas of my life, to my benefit (and usually to the benefit of those I interact with). I rate Aikido of West Seattle as the most fun you can have doing martial arts!
Before I picked a martial art school, I went all over Seattle looking at all kinds of Kung Fu, Taekwondo, Aikido, and other Martial art schools. When I went and saw Sensei Minakami's school I knew it was very different. I knew it was the real deal. Joining the Minakami Karate Dojo was one of the best decisions of my life. I found important life lessons I could directly apply to make my life better. What I learned from Sensei Minakami has been more important to my life than my Graduate School years at the University of Washington. That was 35 years ago, and I have never regretted my decision. Sensei Minakami is world renown. The group they are associated with in Japan are world renown. So many martial art schools are so young these days that they lack insight to true martial art. Because of their lack of insight they end up teaching flash and fluff instead of substance. If you are looking for real martial arts handed down through Samurai families go to Minakami Karate Dojo.
This is a great gym any time you want to practice stand up or ground work. There are training cd's if you do not have a partner to work out with. There are over 10 freestanding bags, 2 extra long bags for low and high kicking, pads for pad work, jump ropes, gloves, head gear, foot gear, etc. All of the equipment is readily available and CLEAN! Every hour the mats and equipment are wiped down. The gym also has a list of rules which center around hygiene. It is also nice that the gym is connected to a martial arts supply store so you don't have to worry if you forgot some equipment or clothing to work out in. If you come during the class hours, you get first rate instruction on sport-jui-jitsu, judo, wing-chun do, boxing and other styles, at a pace that will make anyone push their limits! This is a great place for training and allows the flexibility of rising to whatever level your training goals are at: recreational or competitive.