When we start a new activity, the first few weeks are always the hardest. Adjustment is needed as we adapt to a new environment and get used to new friends, customs and behaviours. With this post, we hope to help you settle in quickly and smoothly. Here you will find information about Aikido, but if you want to know more ask your prospective instructor!
History of Aikido
Aikido is a Martial style that was developed by Morihei Ueshiba, an experienced Japanese Master of several Martial Arts. Aikido people call him O’Sensei, the Great Master. Aikido was founded in the first half of the 20th century, but it is rooted in some very old Ju-Jitsu traditions.
Aikido and Self-Defence
In our modern society, it is not acceptable to take the law into our own hands. If we are attacked or someone is stealing from us, we don’t have the right to injure or kill him. What we can legally do instead is use reasonable force to defend ourselves when attacked. In Aikido people are taught how to use minimum force against aggression. In our training, you will learn how to move out of the line of the attack, blend with the attack, redirect it and control it. If the idea of defending yourself without becoming violent appeals you, Aikido is your answer.
Also consider this: while the vast majority of people have a slim chance of being physically attacked, most people experience emotional attacks or attacks in the business world on a daily basis. To apply Aikido principles in these situations is obviously of great benefit.
Aikido in relation to health and fitness
Aikido training will help you develop smooth and natural movements. It will also improve your balance and coordination. In our classes students learn at their own pace, therefore fitness, strength, flexibility and stamina are built up in a gradual and natural way. In Aikido you will be able to train at a pace that will provide you with aerobic exercise and a complete physical workout.
After making Aikido a part of their weekly routine, most students report significant health improvements, and normally find they have more energy for everyday life.
Apart from the physical benefits, Aikido also improves concentration and mental alertness.
The philosophy of Aikido
The central concept in Aikido is that we try to defend ourselves using minimum force. We try not to harm the attacker or to inflict less pain as possible, while other martial styles consider acceptable to injure or kill an opponent. The aim is to defeat aggression, not the aggressor. In order to do this, in Aikido you will learn how to acknowledge and control your own aggressive instincts.
Aikido training teaches how to integrate mind and body to obtain physical power. At a higher level it becomes a path of personal development that can be used to develop spiritual or psychological integrity.
What happens in an Aikido class?
Aikido lessons across the globe follow the same pattern. Training starts with bowing between students and instructor to salute each other the Japanese way. This is also showing mutual respect and our readiness to begin training.
Next are the preliminaries, which consist of special breathing exercises and smooth stretches and warm-ups. Verbal explanations are kept at a minimum, hence fore students have to pay attention to what the teacher and the other students are doing and do their best to copy it.
After stretching and warming up, the class is shown how to fall safely by rolling forward and backward. The last part of the preliminaries includes the practice of the basic Aikido steps and some more complex exercise to foster good balance and coordination.
The rest of the class, usually about two thirds of the total time, is spent training in pairs. Your teacher will explain a technique showing it with an experienced club member, while the others sit and watch. After the explanation is finished, the class will pair off, or form groups, to practice the movement. Everyone is strictly required to adhere to the instructions given and to execute the techniques in the safest possible way.
What do I wear?
At the beginning, in most clubs you are allowed to wear a t-shirt and track suit bottoms. This is to avoid spending money on a suit while you’re just checking to see if you would like to learn Aikido or not. When you decide that you would like to commit to regular training, you will be required to buy an Aikido white suit. This is called a keikogi, it is generally inexpensive and can take a lot of rough wear without needing to be replaced.
Ensure that you don’t forget anything sharp or hard in your pockets and remove jewellery, belt and watch before stepping onto the mats. You will be asked to do this in the interests of your own safety and that of your training partners.
The black wide skirt that you see worn by the most senior students is called hakama. It is part of the Japanese traditional dress and in Aikido is worn after reaching black belt level.
Aikido Training guidelines
- Give your full and undivided attention to the explanations, but do not worry if you’re not totally sure about how to do the movement. Just try to repeat what in your understanding was shown. With time and practice it will become a lot easier to distinguish and repeat the different exercise. If you are stuck, however, ask the teacher to help you.
- Learn how to attack properly, react in an active way, blend and roll safely. All this is as important as learning how to perform the techniques.
- Make sure you have a good time, relaxing and enjoying your practice. Mistakes are normal and acceptable, as they are a natural part of learning in all fields.
- The teacher is responsible for correcting the students, not you. Do not correct your training partners, as they are allowed to make mistakes, just like you.
- While applying a technique, respect yourself and your training partner.
- When you train with someone you don’t know, go nice and easy until you get used to each other. Everyone reacts differently to the same solicitation.
- To make steady progress and enjoy the full benefits of Aikido, give yourself a weekly routine of training and stick to it.
- It is strictly forbidden to train under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Copyright Simone Chierchini ©2006
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Aikido Italia Network is one of the main Aikido and Budo sites in Italy and beyond. Researching and creating content for this virtual Aiki temple of ours requires a lot of time and resources. If you can, when you are finished reading one of our articles, donate € 1.00 to Aikido Italia Network. It is a very small contribution, but we would accept it with gratitude. If you don’t want to do it, it’s okay. Aikido Italia Network is and will always remain free and we will always be delighted to have you here. Thanks! Simone Chierchini, Founder of Aikido Italia Network