Aikido of Missoula is centered in downtown, close to the Missoula public library. On the second floor of its building, the dojo is accessed through a glass door on street level that can be easy to miss at first. Once upstairs, however, it is impossible to not know that you’ve found an Aikido dojo.
I had seen flyers for seminars while living in Seattle and knew that Montana has a thriving Aikido scene, so I was quite excited to train. While my scheduled unfortunately prevented me from attending the more populated weekend classes, I was able to join two midday classes, both of which were excellent.
One of the great joys of visiting so many dojos is feeling immediately welcomed as soon as I step on the mat. The Aikido family is large and welcoming and while I have heard of dojos dismissing the experience of visitors from another style, I have yet to experience it myself. Every aikidoka at Aikido of Missoula was a joy to train with and presented fluid, lovely Aikido of their own style.
Neither sensei spent a lot of time talking about fundamentals of points to look for during instruction, but gave advice on a personal level. Both classes were small (5 or fewer people), so perhaps that style of teaching would come out in a more populated environment. Instead, each sensei gave tips on a personal and as-needed basis, preferring to focus on learning through movement.
I can’t say that I walked out of either class with any “Aha!” ideas or moments, or any real key piece to mull over, but I did walk out feeling that good, true Aikido had just happened both times. I would be interested in attending a larger class to get a better feel for the dojo, teaching style, and student base and if I ever find myself in Missoula again I look forward to training.