What is aikido?

Aikido is a martial way created and developed by Master Morihei Ueshiba (O Sensei) (1883 - 1969) as a natural expression of his spiritual development and lifetime of training in the martial arts. In the budo lineage, Aikido is practiced in the dojo as a martial art, while in daily life its applications for harmony and peace are much more far reaching. A highly respected and effective response to conflict, Aikido is an approach toward life that respects and promotes harmonious solutions.

Are there strikes/hits in Aikido?

Yes, but mostly no. Aikido is inherently a self defense art in which one avoids, blends with and ultimately aims to neutralize or redirect an aggressors energy. There are 'atemi' strikes in Aikido but these serve primarily to distract/unbalance one's opponent or force them to move in a certain manner so that Aikido's full bodily movement may be practiced.

Iā€™m worried about falling - how do i fall in aikido?

Don't worry, this is one of the first things you will learn how to do in Aikido as its essential to keep practicing safely and without injury.

How do i move up in rank?

After you have trained for a certain number of days, you may be eligible to take a test to achieve a higher rank. This is something you would discuss with a teacher or ask advice on from a Senpai (a more senior student).

are there kata in aikido?

Only in weapons training do you learn and practice what might be described as specific kata. The rest of Aikikai Aikido is open handed full contact movement which uses thousands of variations on about 20 techniques.

is it possible to practice aikido outside the dojo?

Certainly, by continuing to cultivate movement from your center or 'one-point' (two inches below the navel) as you walk and move.

what is the significance of bowing in aikido? Is it religious?

As a Japanese martial art, bowing is merely a practice to acknowledge and respect one's training partner, teachers and O Sensei's memory. It is also an inherent part of Japanese social culture. Just as we shake hands in Western society, the Japanese bow to one another. There is no Religious context to bowing in Aikido whatsoever.

aikido looks a bit choreographed. Is it?

One of Aikido's common and understandable misconceptions. Many observers feel Aikido is a little staged because they see an attacker rolling away rather than falling and staying down. In this sense, Aikido can appear to be staged. The reality however, is quite different. The attacker (or uke) has to move in a certain manner to simulate a movement that nage (the one defending against attack) is learning to cope with through whole system movement. Uke falls in a safe and planned manner so that he/she can get up and continue training. This aspect of the art is often misconstrued as not being a proper attack. The art of attacking and falling safely to get up and attack again (Ukemi) is half the art.

How can I prepare for class as a beginner?

Arrive early, change into some loose fitting clothing (T-shirt and track pants for instance) and stretch.