These are the answers to some commonly-asked questions. If you do not see your particular question here, please contact our instructors and they will be happy to help you.
Health and Safety
We take every precaution to ensure that your training takes place in a safe environment. Before you are allowed to participate in techniques that require you to fall, you are taught to fall safely and painlessly. However, as with any sport, accidents do occasionally happen. In the case of any injury, you should stop immediately and inform an instructor. You will not be asked to do anything that jeopardizes your health and well-being or the health and well-being of the other students.
Mats vary by school. Our school floor is a raised plywood platform supported by tires for added resilience. The plywood is topped with Japanese style mats ('tatami') with a foam core covered with a green vinyl protective coating. This provides a forgiving surface, and flexes enough to provide safety during falls. No shoes are ever worn on the mat.
Aikido is based on harmony, and we strive to provide a harmonious, friendly, encouraging, and supportive setting. Many students who train with us tell us they specifically chose our dojo because of how comfortable they feel with us. Aikido practitioners tend to be people who care about others and feel a sense of community, and we carry this motivation through to our classes.
We do not require a doctor's permission to train, however it is recommended that you consult with your doctor before undertaking any physical exercise routine.
We do not discriminate against anyone with disabilities, and we are pleased that you are interested in our school and welcome you! Aikido can be physically strenuous, however, and we want to ensure a safe training environment for you. We recommend you consult a physician prior to enrolling, and we will be happy to speak with you and your doctor about the requirements of aikido training.
Students at our school begin at many levels of physical fitness. We encourage everyone to train at the level of their ability, both for their safety and their enjoyment. However, aikido training can be fairly strenuous, and if you have any doubts about your physical ability to participate, please speak with an instructor and/or your doctor to determine if you can safely train.
Learning & Progression
Our adult aikido ranks progress through five white belts (5th kyu ('gokyu') to 1st kyu ('ikkyu')), and then through ten black belts (1st dan ('shodan') to 10th dan ('judan')). We also have eight ki ranks ('shokyu' to 'kaiden'). Children wear colored belts starting with white and progressing through yellow, orange, green, blue, and purple. By the time children are ready for advanced rank they are generally training in the adult classes.
Everyone trains and progresses at different rates, so your advancement is dependent on your motivation, your class attendance, and your aptitude. With consistent and motivated training, the average time from the introductory class to a black belt rank can be approximately five to seven years. It is important to keep in mind that black belt rank is not the end goal, and in fact it indicates only that you have attained the basics and are ready to be a serious student.
Many of our students come to aikido from other arts. In some ways, this may help you, as you may have already developed a strong sense of your body and how it moves, as well as the mindset to train confidently. Aikido is not like most other arts, however, and most find that the specifics of their previous training do not widely apply to aikido. Ultimately, your ability to advance in your understanding and practice of aikido will depend on your ability to train with a 'beginner's mind', and to leave what you have learned elsewhere outside the dojo. We encourage you to study aikido, and we treat all students at a level commensurate with their ability.
Because of its emphasis on ki training and the uniqueness of Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido compared to other styles, all official ranks in our dojo must be conferred by the Ki Society International. However, previous training in other styles of aikido may assist you in advancing more rapidly than the average student.
We welcome attendance by any Ki Society members! It is best to contact an instructor to let us know when you will be in town and what day(s) you would like to attend class. We would need a signed release form that can be filled out before class, and would ask for a small mat fee donation.
The skirt is called a 'hakama' and is actually a very wide pair of pants. It is worn by instructors and those holding black belt (dan) rank. They are commonly black, but other colors (most commonly dark blue) are available. Hakama are worn in aikido, kyudo, kendo, and iaido, but subtle variations in the tailoring often exist between the styles to accommodate for differences in movement.
Aikido is almost entirely a throwing art. There are a few techniques that make use of a strike, but often this is more to provide distraction than injury. The goal of aikido is a peaceful but effective end to conflict, and as such, it is a defensive art relying on turning your opponents' aggression to a neutral conclusion.
We do not teach board-breaking in aikido. However, learning to coordinate your mind and body will help you in your pursuit of board-breaking excellence. More importantly, we hope you will learn to use your improved mind/body coordination in daily life.
Scheduling & Attendance
Certainly! We appreciate visitors and will be happy to answer any questions they may have. As a courtesy to the instructors and the other students, we do request that visitors do not interrupt the training, limit unnecessary talking and movement, and turn off mobile phones and pagers during class.
Yes, please do! We encourage everyone to find out as much as they can about our school. You are welcome to watch our classes anytime, and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Yes, ki classes are offered separately from the combined Ki-Aikido program. Please see our current fee listing for rates for specific programs.
The introductory program is designed to teach you some of the fundamentals of aikido in an organized progression. As these basics are essential to safe practice for both you and the other students, it is better for you to begin training with this planned curriculum. However, we understand the limitations of scheduling training time, and we accept new students at any Introductory class (Tuesday at 7 pm). This can be more challenging for a new student, but all of our students know how to welcome beginners. We encourage you to speak with an instructor regarding your particular situation.
You do not need to know Japanese prior to training. However, the techniques and etiquette practices make use of Japanese words or phrases, and you will pick these up over time. Since these words are used in every class they will become familiar to you, and we have words lists for those who benefit from visual learning.
Any loose durable clothing with long sleeves and legs will suffice for beginning students. Most students in the introductory program wear long sleeve t-shirts and warm-up pants. Eventually, most students do purchase a uniform called an 'aikido dogi' (or simply 'gi'), but we do not require this to continue your practice. You may purchase an aikido gi independently, or you may order one through our school. Orders are placed when sufficient quantities are reached, and you are welcome to train in loose clothing until your gi arrives.