Frequently Asked Questions
How is Aikido different from other martial arts?
All martial arts have something to offer, but Aikido is unique in that the intended outcome of any conflict is for both people, the attacker and person being attacked, to walk away unharmed. In this way, we maintain respect for the dignity of ourselves and others, and neutralize aggression rather than perpetuating conflict by choosing to do harm.
We typically practice techniques in pairs, with one person taking the role of uke, the attacker, and nage, the person being attacked. Some of the attacks we practice responding to include strikes, grabs and attacks with the wooden practice weapons of sword, staff and knife. Whereas many arts would respond to an attack by blocking and striking, in a typical Aikido technique nage blends with the partner's attack redirecting his energy, safely finishing by controlling the attacker with a throw or pin.
What are the benefits of Aikido training?
Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of the art, said that "Aikido is medicine for a sick world." For practitioners, it is a path for refining the body (balance, flexibility and coordination), mind (self-confidence, concentration and responding to conflict proactively) and spirit (centering, positivity and peace). On top of that, it's fun and a great way to release the stress and tension of our hectic lives.
Is Aikido an effective form of self-defense?
Yes. That said, to become effective in a real-life physical conflict requires years of focused training, and even then nothing is guaranteed. If you're looking for immediate, practical skills, a self-defense course may better serve your purposes.
In a broader context, learning how to roll and fall safely will likely keep you from future injury. Furthermore, Aikido training tends to increase situational awareness and build self-confidence, reducing the likelihood of being targeted by those intending to do harm.
I'm older and a little out of shape—is Aikido right for me?
Aikido requires a minimal degree of physical fitness. Because we don't rely on brute force or extreme speed or flexibility, most people are able to train. In simplest terms, if you are able to get yourself down to the ground and back up again (which we do A LOT in Aikido), you'll be fine. If you can do this much, Aikido is a great way to get back in shape or improve overall fitness.
I'm new to Aikido and have no experience in martial arts—how do I get started?
There are two ways to start your training: A popular option is to join one of our 6-week beginners courses, offered seasonally throughout the year. These courses start with the very basics of how to bow and stand and build sequentially to provide you the skills and knowledge you'll need to successfully take part in general classes if you choose to continue.
For those of you looking to jump in feet first, anyone is welcome to join as a member giving you full access to our Aikido classes throughout the week. New practitioners should plan to attend as many beginners classes (Sundays from 3-4pm) to help them start learning basics. If you come to a general class and the techniques or ukemi are beyond you, we'll pull you aside and have you work on basics, which we are happy to do.
What should I wear?
If you're trying your first free class to see if Aikido is right for you, loose-fitting athletic wear like sweatpants and a t-shirt is appropriate. If you sign up for the 6-week beginners course or join as a member, either way you automatically receive a free training uniform (don't worry—we'll help you tie the belt!).