Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Is there a beginner class for people who have never done this before?

No, but you will get individual attention from the instructor and senior students the first few times you come to class. After that, we practice in pairs and you will soon find that we adjust the level and pace of training depending on the ability of our partners. Beginners are a normal part of the mix in our one room schoolhouse.

What is training like?

Each class starts with a series of warm up exercises to get us stretched out and loosened up. We practice falling down and rolling, ("ukemi"), that we use when we receive the techniques. The teacher, ("sensei"), will demonstrate a technique and the students will pair off and take turns being the person doing the technique, ("nage" or "tori"), and being the person that initially attacks, ("uke"). The uke is trusting their body to you for your practice, so take care not to injure them. If you play rough, remember that it will soon be their turn to throw you. As you and your partner increase in training level you will be able to throw safely with greater force until eventually you can throw with everything you've got. The more practical result of this training is the ability to receive a throw like this routinely and without injury. You might someday use Aikido in a physical confrontation, but it is far more likely that you will use it when you fall off your bike.

Is a high level of strength or stamina required? Does it hurt?

You set your own pace in class, and your partner will cooperate while you are learning techniques so very little strength is required. If you push yourself Aikido can be an excellent workout, increasing strength, flexibility and endurance. We do use holds that can be painful if applied strongly, but these are applied gradually so the uke can signal submission by tapping, at which point the nage will immediately stop. If you have a low threshold of pain you can tap as soon as the hold is applied. As your training progresses you can let the stretches go farther before tapping and may even start to like some of them. If you are really delicate and have no tolerance for pain this is probably not something you want to do.

Will I be able to defend myself?

There is no universal method for fast and effective self defense in all situations. You may have many attackers, that may be larger and stonger than you, trained in martial arts, armed to the teeth, and tracking your movements waiting for a good time and place. If this is the world you live in you need military weapons and training, but for the rest of us the appropriate level of force is much lower. Aikido techniques can be used to prevent unruly people from hurting themselves or others without necessarily destroying them. Our daily practice helps us develop confidence and body conditioning so we are not intimidated by a little rough handling, as well as improving situational awareness that can help us avoid confrontations before they develop. Even people that carry guns on a daily basis can benefit from Aikido training because it provides a range of alternatives to the use of deadly force.

How is testing done?

There are no competitions in Aikido, so grading is not based on contests. You must accumulate knowledge of a quantity of techniques, and must show qualitative improvement as your rank increases. You will surely need to demonstrate techniques at the level you are testing for, but you may also be called on to show you still know material from earlier tests.