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FAQ - Frequently asked Questions

Question

Answer

What is Aikido?

Aikido is a Japanese martial art based on the principle of ki – the harmony or balance of energy. In aikido, we seek to overcome an attacker by first blending with the incoming attack, then redirecting its energy.

It’s a particularly well-suited martial art for ladies to practice, as it doesn’t rely on pure physical strength; in fact, muscle power can often be a disadvantage! Instead, aikido practitioners use ki to take an attacker’s balance and then control his or her movement. Read more

Who can take part?

Do you need to be physically fit?

With Covid risks whilst we are taking precautions our classes are only open to adults and those over 16, are fully vaccinated and take a lateral flow test before a class. Older people should weigh the risks to make an informed decision. See what our precautions are and how the style of the class else where on this site.

Classes are coached to suit students’ abilities and fitness levels, so there’s no need to have a pre-existing fitness level or any martial arts experience to join in. Aikido is an activity where, at first, a willingness to try is much more important than physical fitness!

All of our classes are mixed-gender, so that students learn to practice with people of all shapes and sizes. Every aikido practitioner is different!

Where do the classes take place?

All classes are at Altrincham Leisure Centre, Oakfield Road, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA15 8EW

When do classes take place?

Prior to lockdown we ran a number of classes. Classes have been closed for 18 months. We have now opened a class of 90 minutes running from 16:45 on Sunday for adults & those 16yrs +. We are planning to run a second class when numbers recover.

What about classes for younger students?

For the time being participants need to be adult or 16+, fully vaccinated and have a negative lateral flow test before attending a class. Coaching resource and number on the mat are additional factors

What happens in a typical class?

Classes start with gentle stretching and warmup exercises. We then carry out some basic body movement (tai sabaki) exercises, which allow us to practice the basic steps of avoidance and blending that underpin all aikido techniques.

Next, the instructor (sensei) will demonstrate techniques that students practice in pairs or small groups. Instructors will always modify the lesson plan of a class to suit the abilities and experience levels of the students in attendance.

How do I start?

Need to sort forms and other admin matters out before attending a class. We no longer accept people turning up unannounced because of Covid precautions

During your first few sessions you will be taught basic breakfall (ukemi) techniques, as well as movements for avoidance and blending. You will also work with other students to practice pinning and projection techniques.

Don’t worry if you don’t remember much at first! You’ll learn a lot, so it may seem a bit foggy, but gradually you’ll find that you start recognising things from earlier classes. You’ll quickly find that you remember more than you thought you did!

Do I need any special clothing or equipment to start?

No special clothing or equipment is required to begin with.

You don’t need anything special to start aikido. We recommend you wear something loose and un-comfortable like a tracksuit – just please try to avoid anything that might restrict movement or cause injury (like prominent zippers or buttons).

If you decide you’d like to continue aikido, you will have the option of buying a gi (suit) whenever you would like. (We recommend Judo suits) Gi, weapons and other equipment are available from the club at discounted prices.

Do I need to do any preparation before attending classes?

No specific preparation is required - a willingness to try is important.

Do you have grades in Aikido?

Yes, Aikido has a formal grading structure that takes students from beginner level through the six kyu grades and then on to dan (black belt) grades. We don’t use coloured belts – all students wear white belts until they achieve their first dan grade. Students who have reached, or are close to reaching, their first dan grade also wear hakama, wide black Japanese trousers that may look a bit like a skirt at first glance. If you ever have difficulty understanding something on the mat, practice with someone wearing a hakama!

As you settle into the club and build your skill level, you can start to work toward your first grading. Most students begin this process after 40 to 60 hours of training.

How will I be treated as a beginner?

You will be welcomed onto the mat after sorting your paperwork and will practice alongside and with other students.

During your first sessions you will be taught basic breakfall (ukemi) techniques; blending and avoidance movements. You will also work with other students practising various pinning and projection techniques.

We also provide at your first class our Beginner's Booklet that gives greater detail about us and Aikido.

Your forms need accepting before you attend your first class. We will email you back with arrangements. We will check the forms and Covid Pass and confirm when you may start your first class.

Are there any Aikido competitions?

Our club practices traditional Aikido which builds defensive skills and so there are no competitions.

We rely on working with partners so that the attacker (nage) and defender (uke) work in unison to develop and perfect techniques.

Do I need a background in Martial Arts?

Absolutely not.

I am not very fit - can I practise Aikido

Aikido can be vigorous but classes tend to run at much lower levels particularly so for beginners - it's the quality of the movements that are important and to grasp those the speed of movements is much lower.

Your fitness will improve class on class.

Can I practise at home to improve?

It's really hard to practise at home --- especially when starting out except for some of the turning movements and solo weapon work.

I can't remember what was taught in my first class is this normal?

Yes - It can seem like a fog at first - but gradually you find you repeat items from earlier classes and then have the satisfaction of feeling you know something; and the fog starts to lift. 

Why do we train with Weapons?

Defending against weapons is part of Aikido and is part of our defensive system. We use jo (staff), bokken (wooden practice sword) and tanto (wooden practice knife).

Learning weapons will enhance your aikido by increasing your spatial awareness and improving body movement and posture. It also helps you to develop an understanding of lines of attack and the defences needed.

Why are some people on the mat wearing black skirts?

This is a hakama. It is Japenese style wide trousers/culottes. The hakama is a sign of status. It is worn by 1st kyu students and Dan Grades. Dan Grade hakama wearers are teachers/coaches.

Why do we bow / significance of the bow?

We line up formally at the beginning and the end of the class facing the sensei and kamiza (a picture of aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba, also called O Sensei). This is a gesture of respect and also allows the sensei to see the class in advance of teaching.

We bow on entering and leaving the dojo and to each other during practice out of respect. We also bow at the start and the end of the class to kamiza.

Aikido nikkyo technique