Frequently asked questions
I'm interested - How do I start?
Beginners are welcome at any time to classes and will be catered for with individual instruction and guidance from the class instructor and other senior students.
Your first class is free, subject to signing an Aikido Kenkyukai Membership Form and Martial Arts Contract. Just turn up and sign one on the day/evening (make sure you turn up early enough to complete the form before training.)
Please come in tracksuit pants and a T-shirt if you don't have a training Gi (uniform). You are also most welcome to come along and watch a training session to see if you like what we do.
How fit do beginners need to be?
While Aikido makes some physical demands of its practitioners, every effort is made to cater for individual needs. The instructor should be consulted at all times. However, it is reasonably aerobic and not recommended for people with severe medical conditions, such as heart problems. There are no restrictions regarding age.
What do I wear?
It is best for beginners to start training in a tee-shirt and light long trousers, such as tracksuit pants, as some of the training is carried out on the knees. Regular practitioners usually purchase a white Judo-style gi, which consists of a jacket and trousers.
The official uniform is a white uwagi (upper garment) and white shitabaki (pants) and a white obi (belt).
A hakama (special pleated pants) is generally not worn until yudansha (black belt) level. A standard uniform suitable for a beginner is around $50 - $100 (not including hakama).
Is Aikido religious?
Aikido is not a religious martial art. Although the art comes from a long tradition of Japanese martial arts that have used concepts from Buddhist and Shinto religions, the practice itself is not religious.
Why is there bowing in Aikido?
At the beginning and the end of the class students are asked to bow to the front of the dojo where a picture of O-Sensei is placed, and then bow to the instructor. This is simply a mark of respect, not a religious ritual. If your religious beliefs restrict you from bowing to anyone but God, please speak to the instructor and seek exemption from the bowing. In this case you will be asked to sit respectfully to the side of the class while the bowing is conducted.
What equipment or weapons will I need?
Training requires wooden training weapons - a staff (called a Jo), a sword (called a Bokken or Bokuto), and a knife (called a Tanto).
These weapons were traditionally made from Japanese white oak (preferred) but are also commonly available made from Chinese white oak or red oak. These other materials are acceptable but vary in quality. Homemade weapons (such as broom handles) are NOT acceptable as they can easily splinter or break and therefore represent a safety risk.
We recommend you first discuss any purchase with an instructor.
Can I watch or try a class before joining?
Yes. You are welcome to come and watch a class or jump straight in and try a session for free.
We simply ask that you:
1. check to make sure that there have not been any changes to the training;
2. arrive about 10 mins early to make the instructor aware of your interest;
3. complete a waiver so we comply with insurance record keeping requirements.
Do I have to have my own equipment?
We have some equipment for beginners to borrow during class however those taking up regular training will soon require their own equipment.
Instructors can provide guidance on what and where to purchase equipment.
Do you have classes for beginners?
We currently do not have separate classes or introductory courses for beginners. We have several instructors and/or senior students at almost every class and so are able to give individual assistance to beginners.
Do you have classes for women only?
We currently do not have separate classes for women however we do have female instructors or senior students who are willing to discuss their training experience with prospective students.
I already have my own equipment. Can I use it?
Yes. However this is subject to safety inspection by an instructor the first time you bring it.
Do you sell equipment or uniforms?
From time to time the club may make a bulk acquisition of some items to make available for students to purchase but as a general rule we do not keep stock on hand.
We recommend you first discuss any purchase with an instructor.
Are there any manuals or instruction books I need to purchase?
There is no official textbook for Aikido however there are numerous books that are useful resources.
These will come from various teaching lineages or have specific focus and, whilst may be useful generally, may not align with what your instructor is currently teaching. We therefore suggest you seek the recommendations of your instructor.
How long will it take to get a Black Belt?
Progress will depend on the individual in terms of commitment of time and skills acquisition.
Do I have to learn or speak Japanese?
Whilst there is some terminology used (just like any activity, sport or pastime) this can be easily learned through attendance at class.
There is no requirement to have proficiency in Japanese language.
Will training help my fitness?
Any physical activity has some general benefits, and training will contribute to some manner of conditioning and mobility improvement. However most training is focussed on precision and smoothness of techniques and there is limited focus on the development of cardio-vascular stamina.
I have some flexibility and/or mobility issues. Will I still be able to participate in training?
There is no expectation of perfect flexibility or mobility - students come to training with varying degrees of both.
Over time these can and generally will improve.
If you have pre-existing injuries that are affecting your flexibility and mobility, it is important to discuss this first with a medical practitioner.
Will training teach me self defence ?
Some of the skills that training develops over time, such as awareness, movement, distance, positioning, and timing, can be of benefit for self defence situations.
However if your primary motivation for training is wanting to learn self defence skills, your investment in time is better directed towards studying a legitimate specific self defence system.
Is Aikido training useful in MMA?
If your motivation for training is wanting to compete in MMA, your investment in time is better directed towards studying other sport fighting arts.
I have purchased a uniform. Will someone show me how to wear it?
The correct wearing of the uniform is part of the etiquette of Aikido. Some aspects of putting it on are confusing at first, some have subtle tricks, and some just take practise to get it just right for your body.
If you are not familiar with how to wear the uniform it is preferred that you wait until someone can show you.
If you arrive approx 15 minutes before the start of class and ask one of the other students for assistance they will show you. If you cannot arrive in time then you will be shown during the class.