What's involved in training in Aikido?
A normal class is about one and a half hours long and can include:
• Stretching and calisthenics
• Basic rolling and breakfalls
• Traditional Aikido techniques
• Weapons training
- Bokken (wooden sword)
- Jo (wooden staff)
- Tanto (wooden knife)
• Misogi Breathing
Do women train in Aikido?
We have many women training, both senior black belt and junior grades. We have numerous female instructors. Some dojos have more women training than others. Women are encouraged to train in Aikido, we do not discriminate on the basis of gender.
What clothes do I need to wear? Do I need to buy a uniform to start?
We understand that a gi can be expensive for someone who isn't sure they'll want to continue. Acceptable clothing for a beginner is loose, comfortable sports type wear. It should have full leg and arm covering. No shorts or leotards please. This is mainly for safety - the clothing protects you against mat burns, bumps and scrapes. Remove jewellery, watches, earrings, rings, hard hair clips and so on before class. Any cuts or wounds should be covered by adhesive tape. Hands and feet should be clean and washed, nails trimmed if necessary.
You'll find that Aikido is very hard on normal clothes, which is why we wear a martial arts gi which is built to last. The usual type is a judo-style ribbed gi, not the canvas karate-style gi. Either white or unbleached is fine.
Always buy a gi far too large as they shrink when washed! When new the sleeves should cover your wrists. Ask the shopkeeper if you are uncertain. Wash it once before your first class - to get out some of the stiffness.
When do I get to wear the black skirt (hakama)?
The black skirt or hakama is worn when you reach black belt level. Many clubs ask or allow women to wear hakama at earlier levels. Ask your instructor. The 'skirt' represents formal Japanese clothing which all many males wore in previous times and was part of their daily wear.
How long does it take to get a black belt?
A similar question would be 'How long does it take to learn to play the piano?' Having said that, a student who trains seriously might be nominated to attend a black belt grading after five years or so. The gradings are held twice a year at the national events.
Is there a minimum age to start?
Aikido training is very vigorous and can be hard on the joints. Some dojos run special childrens' courses where special care is taken and all the students are in our Junior category. If you are younger than about 15 you should speak to the instructor to seek his/her opinion before starting in an adult class.
Is there a maximum age to start?
Speak to your instructor if you think you may be too old to start training. Obviously you need to have the physical capability to exercise at a reasonable pace but Aikido is suitable to people of most ages.