What do we do in a typical Aikido class?
The philosophy of aikido is to use the energy of an attack to neutralize an attacker. We work against strikes and grabs by blending with an attack and then controlling the attacker by taking her balance. Once balance is taken, it is easier to resolve the conflict by a throw or immobilizing pin.
Aikido students practice in pairs or small groups, taking turns being the attacker (called uke) and the defender (called nage). Since you will spend a good bit of time learning to fall properly and roll out of techniques, there is an aerobic exercise component to aikido practice. The intensity of practice can be adjusted depending upon your current level of fitness and ability to fall. At advanced levels, aikido is very dynamic; at early levels, we take great care in making sure students concentrate on the basics.
Classes begin with about 15 minutes of stretches, aikido specific movements, and rolling practice. Instructors will demonstrate a technique and then pair students off into practice groups. You may be paired off with other beginners, but more likely will be paired with a more experienced student who can help guide your technique. It is a very hands-on type of practice. We also utilize wooden weapons as part of aikido practice. The sword and staff are used to perform kata and paired exercises that are designed to teach principles that are equally applicable to empty handed techniques.
Aikido is taught as a traditional Japanese martial art. We place considerable emphasis on etiquette, both as a way of ensuring student safety and fostering self-discipline. We emphasize aikido’s philosophy of compassionate use of force and self-improvement through rigorous training in a non-competitive environment. Although our dojo comes from a lineage that included zen meditation in its practice, we do not have a formal meditation program. However, several of our members do sit informally. In our aikido practice we do emphasize awareness (“mushin”) and proper breathing (“kokyuho”).
How much are the dues and how often can I train?
Dues and class schedules are noted on our website and posted at the dojo. Your Aikido dues entitle you to train any time an Aikido class is offered, which is everyday.
When can I expect my first promotion test?
If you train on a regular basis, fulfill the requirement of two months and 20 hours of training and demonstrate readiness in class, you will probably be able to test for your first promotion test after two months of training.
How often do I test?
Testing is held quarterly. Refer to the AWA test requirement form. This form describes the minimum time between tests, required training hours, test techniques, and any service requirements. All rests are cumulative. You will note that as one progresses in rank, a longer waiting period between tests is required.
How long will it take for me to get a Black Belt?
It depends on a combination of several things. If you train on a regular basis, show readiness for each test after the required minimum time and training period, and test for each rank successfully, you will likely be able to test for shodan (black belt) after four to five years of training. Your advancement will depend on your skill, time, commitment, determination and testing success. Learning Aikido is a process, not a race. Some students may take 10 or 20 years before testing for shodan.
Do we give private lessons?
We generally encourage you to train in class. Private lessons can be arranged on a case by case situation.
As a beginner, what are the best classes for me to attend; how often should I come?
Generally, the first hour of a two hour class concentrates on basics. You are welcome to stay for the second hour and try some more advanced techniques if you feel comfortable. It is helpful to train at least twice a week.
Do I have to buy a gi, and where can I buy one from?
A gi is preferred. It may be purchased from our dojo.
How do I address the instructor while on the mat?
The instructor is addressed as "Sensei."
Can I wear my belt from my previous martial art class?
Usually you can wear your belt if it is from another Aikido organization. Please ask the instructor if the rank or belt is accepted in our dojo. You will not be able to wear your belt from another martial art like Karate, Judo or Tae Kwon Do.