Interested in Starting Aikido?
Are you interested in Aikido and want to understand more before trying it out? Below is a list of the most common questions asked by new dojo members. Answers given by Coleman Sensei, Shidoin at Kokoro Kai dojo.
What is Aikido?
This is such a huge question. Aikido is from Japan and was born on the Samurai training grounds when the need for quick, decisive conflict-ending techniques and movements were necessary. Back then, as now, training included both empty hand lessons as well as weapons training such as sword, knife and staff.
Aikido is a system of throws and locks, using the force of attack to affect balance. It has been modernised in such a way that we can train and learn safely but still be effective.
What is Takemusu Aikido?
There are lots of ‘styles’ beneath the Aikido umbrella. In Takemusu Aikido we stay as close as we possibly can to the teachings of the founder, O’Sensei and Saito Sensei-his close assistant. In the words of Saito Sensei: you must be effective.
Traditional dojo etiquette is also followed. Correct behaviours and attitudes are expected from everyone within the dojo.
What can I get from learning Aikido?
Great question! The student needs to understand what it is they are looking for in order to even ask this question. Aikido has many layers from spirituality and deep technical lessons to hard physical work-outs and effective martial training.
A good Sensei will be able to talk with you and understand your needs, ultimately gearing your learning to suit you.
Is it easy to learn Aikido?
No. Aikido is well recognised as not being easy to learn. That’s just one reason why it has so much value.
How long does it take to learn Aikido?
The basic movements will start to take shape inside of a couple of months. After that I don’t think that there’s a definitive answer. One should simply try ones hardest in every session, that way you get the most out. Your Sensei will advise you of your progress.
Is Aikido effective in a street fight?
Yes. I have first hand experience of this myself.
Is Aikido good for self defence?
Yes, as mentioned above.
There are countless stories of how one defends oneself. Your effectiveness in these types of situations are purely down to two things: How good your Sensei is and how you apply yourself to your training. You must not blame the art if you’re not a reliable and dedicated student.
Will Aikido teach me how to protect myself against weapons?
To some extent. Aikido practitioners, or “Aikidoka" are not magicians. If your Sensei starts waving their hands around and students start falling over then get up and walk out as you’re being mis-sold. Aikido will however teach you about movement and the dynamics of given situations that can give you advantages if needed.
What sort of weapons are used?
Predominantly we use weapons that are made from wood, which still hurt if you lose focus and get hit, but are much safer than their metal counterparts.
We use Bokuta, these look like a katana. The sword used by Samurai but are much safer. Next to this we use a Tanto, or dagger. This looks like a Bokuta but it’s around 10 inches long. We also use a Jo, a Woden staff that is 4 feet long - it looks similar to a broom handle.
Other weapons occasionally come into use too. But those are during advanced classes.
Is there punching and kicks in Aikido?
Yes. Some people these days say that Aikido is purely defensive and without strikes, however the founder himself used to say that Aikido is 90% atemi - or effective striking. This has been repeated by many of the old teachers including Chiba Sensei himself.
Is learning Aikido safe?
Aikido is as safe as any other martial art is to learn. I have seen several accidents, but they are mostly due to students not concentrating when they should have been. We don’t go around beating each other up in our dojo. Nor have I seen this in any other Aikido dojo.
Am I likely to be injured doing Aikido?
Not really, no. However, Aikido is a martial art and there will be some physical hardship along your journey, and potentially the occasional knock too.
Do you get thrown in Aikido?
Yes. Many Aikido techniques involve throws. Our syllabus is gauged so that beginners techniques don’t involve being thrown. Part of our training syllabus includes learning how to fall safely, or in other words to ‘receive’ the technique as safely as possible.
Can anyone do Aikido?
There are very few people who cannot in some way benefit.
Am I too old or too young for Aikido?
There is no upper age limit, but there are things that we do not teach to children.
Can I try it out to see if Aikido is for me?
Absolutely! Many people have said that actually starting is one of the hardest parts of the training. Entering a dojo for the first time can a be pretty daunting prospect and puts many off even before they’ve begun. But remember that everyone in the dojo has been there and done that, so come along. Everyone is made to feel welcome.
What is a normal Aikido lesson like?
We follow a traditional format. We open the class formally and begin with the same technique. After this, each lesson is planned out by Sensei beforehand depending on their class/students needs.
What will happen at my first Aikido lesson?
In our dojo you will be received and welcomed in, I will then spend some time with you going over who’s who and what to do. After that I will go over some basics with you. In this lesson it’s perfectly normal to feel like there’s a lot to learn.
What should I wear for Aikido?
Students generally wear a heavyweight do-gi. Advanced and female students wear a hakama which is a traditional Japanese garment worn over the legs. As a beginner, loose clothing such as joggers or sportswear is a good choice. Please don’t wear anything with zips or jewellery. Shorts are also a bad idea. Classes are in bare feet so please bring flip flops to wear off of the mat.
Do I need to know Japanese to learn Aikido?
Not at all. We use the Japanese terms for the techniques but they are simple enough to learn.
Will Aikido help me improve my fitness?
It can do yes. But again this is dependant on how you choose to train.
Is Aikido like other martial arts?
No. The challenges that you’ll face on your Aikido journey are not like other martial arts. Expect to hear yourself say “how on Earth did you do that?” a fair few times!
Does Aikido have coloured belts and what do they mean?
In our dojo we only have two colours, white and black. We use the traditional Kyu grade system, only changing your belt when you become a Shodan, or black belt.
Other dojos may use a coloured belt system if they wish to do so, using the different colours to represent different kyu grades.
I have done other martial arts. Will this help learning Aikido?
Only terms of how martial arts classes run and dojo etiquette. It’s unlikely that you’ll have any advantage over any other beginner.
Which is the right Aikido dojo for me?
Have a look around and see how you feel at the dojo. "Are the students looking like they’re practicing in a way that you’re hoping to train, and are they respected" are always good questions to ask when visiting a dojo.
What can I do to learn more about Aikido?
The best way to learn about Aikido is to get on the tatami (training mat). Nothing replaces actual physical experience. You learn better while you’re doing.
At our dojo we have plenty of resources within our social media groups and this website.
What is ki?
Ki is something that can’t be measured. Ki is not something that can be taught, or learned but we all have it, it can be cultivated and strengthened though. Ki is that thing that you draw upon to get you through those tough times. Ki can be harnessed to improve yourself. Ki be understood as sentiment, emotion, sincerity and spirit.
It is important to emancipate oneself from ego in order to improve upon ones own Ki.
Find out more
Beginners classes are Tuesday 7pm - 9:30pm at Ponsanooth Hall, TR3 7EE. Please feel free to contact us via email or phone, for more information about the dojo or Aikido.
Tel: 07423 123935