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Frequently Asked Questions

Is aikido realistic for self-defense?

Yes, aikido is a very effective form of self-defense, however being defensive does not mean being passive, aikido techniques require an active attack. Find a martial art that fits your personality and philosophy, that you can stay with for many years. It can take considerable time and effort to gain street effectiveness in aikido or any other martial art.

Does it take longer to learn aikido, than other martial arts?

The short answer is yes. How long it takes, like many skills, depends on individual dedication and commitment. How long would it take for you to master a musical instrument? If you react to a dangerous situation with disproportionate tension, fear or anger, no amount of training will help you. Aikido teaches a relaxed awareness and emphasizes blending with, rather than blocking and stopping an attack, making it ideal for defending against more powerful or multiple aggressors.

Is aikido better than other martial arts?

There is no answer to this question. Kung Fu, Karate, Tae Kwon do, all emphasize powerful strikes and competitions as a training method. Aikido uses strikes to distract and/or impact sensitive nerves. Judo and Ju Jitsu often involve more grappling than Aikido in a one on one situations. Aikido emphasizes multiple attacks, not getting bogged down with one attacker. As for effectiveness that depends upon a person’s disposition. If you are best suited for Judo for example than that art will be the most effective for you. Aikido, while characterized as defensive in some circles, can be quite offensive and deadly. However, these aspects are not emphasized.

There is a lot of bowing, is this a martial art or a religion?

This is a Japanese martial art and is taught in traditional manner, bowing is part of the proper etiquette. The rituals are a way of expressing respect towards aikido, your partners, your teacher and yourself. There is no religion involved, just as a cast bowing to an audience at the end of a performance has no religious connotations.

Aikido looks choreographed, why doesn’t the attacker fight more?

As aikido students progress and both nage, the thrower and uke, the one being thrown, learn to protect themselves. With experience, the attacks become faster and the resistance greater, creating a realistic scenario. Many of the techniques are dangerous if someone resists. If uke does not fight the movement nage is able to put considerable power into the technique without fear of injuring uke. To reach this level of proficiency takes time, in the meantime, partners cooperate with each other as they practice towards that goal.

Are there competitions in aikido?

O Sensei felt that competition was incompatible with the principles of Aikido, therefore the majority of Aikido schools do not have competitions or tournaments. Aikido does not use competitions for a few primary reasons. Competitions require rules, which are not present in actual self-defense conditions. The competition also tends to encourage a desire to win, to defeat, to dominate, destroy or overpower another human being. All being directly opposed to the underlying principles of Aikido, as it relates to the elimination of the selfish ego. A mutual relationship of partners, not opponents is necessary to minimize the chance of injury while practicing potentially dangerous techniques.

How do you attain rank in aikido, how long does it take to become a black belt?

By testing according to United States Aikido Federation guidelines, these are published and readily available for viewing. There are two belts in aikido, white and black. Students progress through the white belt kyu ranks 5th thru 1st, then the black belt dan ranks. Aikido is a challenging martial art and someone should expect to train for 5 to 7 years to achieve black belt rank. Shodan the 1st back belt, literally means, “beginning”, not that aikido has been mastered. Aikido involves more than techniques, it can become a way of life, a method of personal transformation.

I am interested, can I try a class?

An introductory course is available to give a brief Aikido experience. Aikido requires patience to learn and a commitment to the process. Realistically a minimum of two months or about twelve classes will normally allow you to decide if aikido is right for you.

Why does he fall down for her?

An aikido throw can look so improbably smooth and effortless that it is easy to believe it is faked. It isn’t – it’s physics. The laws of physics are as strictly enforced at aikido schools as they are at ski slopes. If you have ever been a beginning skier, you know from painful experience just how devastating those forces can be. Saying the attacker fell down “for” the aikidoist is like saying that the beginning skier fell down “for” the mountain. The advanced skier has learned to use these forces; a small shift in weight or position determines whether the skier crashes into a tree or swooshes effortlessly through a turn and down the slope. An accomplished skier flying across the snow is as improbable to the frustrated beginner as an accomplished aikidoist flying across the mat – but neither one is faking. Courtesy of Carol M. Shifflett 17 May 1997.

I want to join, what do I have to do?

When you have decided that you would like to begin learning aikido, you should call to arrange a suitable time to come by the dojo, programs will be explained, and questions answered. Although not a requirement to start, it is recommended that you purchase a white gi, karate or judo.

How physically demanding are the classes?

Due to the nature of aikido, students from their teens to 70s can practice together. As you watch a class, you will see a full spectrum of older to newer students. Students practicing slowly, to very energetic workouts by cooperative pairs, going full-out. Aikido is an excellent activity to give you a full body workout. There is room in the dojo for the whole spectrum and you are invited to find your place, your pace and your own reasons for practicing aikido.