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Basic Aikido Training - Structure of a Class

The classes are intended to teach the skills that are essential for Aikido practice, and generally follow the following format:

Thorough Warm-up, stretching all the joints.

Ukemi practice (forward, backward, and side rolls and falls).

Taisabaki (body movement and balance-shifting exercises).

Basic Aikido Techniques - both pins and throws.

The Aikido training exercises and techniques that are demonstrated in class can look deceptively simple.  Do not be dismayed if you have difficulty performing the movements, keeping your balance and keeping your back straight at the same time.  It takes a lot of practice!

The instructor will demonstrate each technique or exercise a number of times.  A useful learning method is to focus on one aspect of the demonstration each time it is shown.  For example, the first time, see what is the attack (e.g. wrist-grip/strike, front or rear). The second time, observe the footwork.  The third time, observe the hand movements.  The fourth time, note the direction of the technique, and so on.

The basic classes cover the essential points of Aikido practice.  All of the exercises and training techniques in the basic classes are intended to develop flexibility, co-ordination, posture, balance, concentration, awareness and self-observation.  Aikido training also develops a strong and supple body, and the ability to relax and move effectively.

The students in most classes will be a mixture of standards from beginners through to more senior Aikido students; it is good to practice with people of all grades in the class.


Practice Points

The first few months of Aikido practice are possibly the most difficult.  There is so much to learn at once.  Be prepared for some difficulties along the way.  Some people get the odd bruise while learning the art of Ukemi (rolling and falling and receiving techniques); some people initially have difficulty sitting in Seiza (on their heels), some people skin their toes or knees, others have stiff joints from lack of exercise, and so on.  Be aware that the initial pains and aches you will feel are the signs that your body is getting into good condition - look on these as "development pains" - it is worth the effort!

Discipline and correct etiquette on the tatami are considered extremely important in the dojo.  This is not to please the instructor, but is part of the authentic traditional Aikido training process.  It is the same in all Aikido dojos throughout the World.  Good etiquette includes arriving in good time for all classes.

Never try to force a technique.  The object of Aikido training is not to get a person onto the ground by any means.  Respect the interests and condition of other people.

The instructor should be told immediately of any injuries, however slight.

If you have now, or have ever had, any physical injury which requires extra care be sure to inform the instructor before joining practice.

Do not expect everything to become clear to you in a short time.  It takes a period of practice before your body absorbs the basics.  Apply yourself to the process of training.

It is better not to eat for at least 1 hour before or after training.



Training Aikido

Aikido is one of the traditional Japanese self-defense disciplines originating from the ancient martial arts as they were taught and trained for centuries in Japan. Japan was for over a thousand years ravaged by power struggles and civil wars, which gave the country's warriors a chance to develop and refine their skills on the battlefield to the extent that these martial arts are by many seen as the most effective ones in the world, with or without weapons.

The purpose of the training conducted today is, of course, not to be able to survive on the literal battlefield, but it is justified to say that the training helps you handle conflicts and stress in your everyday life, helps you to be able to pursue challenges in life with an increased self-esteem and, certainly, helps you to be able to defend yourself if necessary. The training is, however, primarily meant to give you insight in how to avoid a conflict before there is one, or before it develops, to avoid resorting to violence.

The system of Aikido training can be seen as a trinity - a system resting on three legs: tai jutsu (unarmed techniques), aiki ken (sword training) and aiki jo (staff training). All three are of equal importance and requires the same amount of attention in everyday practice. Below is a short description of how daily practice is conducted in the three parts:


Tai jutsu - techniques performed unarmed


Unarmed techniques, being able to defend oneself without weapons, is probably what people come to think of first when discussing self-defense. This type of training is rather unique in Aikido, as it basically never involves two individuals attacking each other with full force, trying to find openings in the other's guard, thereby gaining the upper hand and emerging victorious. Instead, one person acts as the attacker, uke or uketori in Japanese, offering the other a strong and focused attack. The defender can then concentrate on improving his defense. The defender is commonly called nage. To put it short; one person attacks, and the other defends. This is usually done a few times, and then the roles of attacker and defender are switched.

The basic principle of the defense in Aikido is to absorb as much of the force of the attacker's attack as possible. To do this, one can't abruptly stop that force, but instead control it and lead it. Therefore, the typical Aikido technique often follows three steps. It begins with the defender moving out of the position where the attacker is the strongest. After that follows a balance break where you take control over the attacker. Finally, the technique is performed which maintains control, and completes the flow. Aikido techniques are always circular in form and are synchronized with a breathing technique called (kokkyu). The techniques are very powerful if executed correctly.

In everyday practice, training in pairs is the most common way to train, but not the only one. Others ways are: kakari geiko (training in groups, where students take turns defending themselves), jiyu waza (free training where several opponents take turns attacking) and ran dori (free training where several opponents attack simultaneously).

Aiki ken - traditional sword training

An essential part of Aikido training is the sword training. It's performed with a bokken - a wooden sword. A bokken has the same shape, weight and balance as a katana, the sword used by the Japanese warriors. The main purpose of the sword training is to build strength, learning to coordinate movement with breathing and to give good posture and balance. In sword training, much of the foundation of the strength and the circular movements needed to be able to understand the forces in the motions of the unarmed training is found.

Sword training is initially conducted individually with basic techniques called suburi. Later on one proceeds with more advanced exercises practiced in pairs. Techniques used to disarm are also trained.

Aikijo - staff training

A jo is a simple staff made out of wood, about 130 centimeters long and barely three centimeters in diameter. If the sword practice gives static training in weight and strength, then the staff training can be said to build movement and dynamics. The jo isn't limited by blade and handle like a sword; the entire staff is a weapon that isn't hindered in use by terms like up or down, forward or back. This makes the jo a weapon with infinite possibilities: one can swing or thrust, sweep or chop, perform locks or throws all based on the situation one is in.

The staff training, just like with a sword, starts with basic exercises (suburi) performed individually. In addition to these are kata - patterns practiced individually, where you train series of movements. When the basics are learned there are many different exercises to be practiced in pairs. Disarming techniques are also taught with the jo.