Student Guide

What is Aikido Class Like?

A person interested in training in Aikido should be ready to commit themselves to at least three hours of training (typically two classes) each week. A typical practice session would consist of several parts. Each session starts with general stretching and warm- up kinds of exercises. These are used to loosen the student's body for the physical practice ahead, and to relax their mind from the worries of the day just finished (or about to begin!).


Aiki Taisos are the second phase of a practice. These are a review of basic movements in Aikido. They are practiced as both a means of further preparation for physical activity, and learning the techniques themselves. It is said that, in order to become truly proficient at the Aiki Taisos, one must practice them "10,000 times". Unfortunately, the Japanese symbol for "10,000" is the same symbol for "infinite". All students, regardless of how many years they have been practicing or their rank, continue to learn the Aiki-taisos by beginning each practice session with them.


The third portion of practice consists of interactive training. During this phase (usually the longest portion of each class), Sensei (the teacher) will demonstrate an art to the students. Students watch the demonstration of the art, then practice (with one or more partners) until Sensei begins the next art. These practices typically begin with an attack from a practice partner. It may be a static grab (when one person "grabs and holds onto" another), a dynamic movement (grabbing, punching, or kicking), or some combination of the two. The Aikido art demonstrated may result in an immobilization (where the attacker is brought to the ground and neutralized), a projection (where the attacker's energy is redirected upon themselves so they are off- balanced and fall), or both. As skills are refined the attacker may begin to use weapons (a blunt object such as a stick, staff, knife, sword, or gun) in their attack. There may even be multiple attackers attacking simultaneously.


The last portion of each class consists of a short "cool-down" period. Students practice breathing and centering exercises. Time is allowed for sharing the impact Aikido has made on one's life. It is a time to gather together the learning that has taken place and prepare to bring it into the world after class ends. Aikido is not something that just happens in the Dojo. It extends into every facet of life.