Frequently Asked Questions
How is Aikido different from judo, karate and other martial arts?
Aikido is purely defensive. We do not practice punching and kicking each other, nor do we have tournaments or competitions. All Aikido training is “hands on”, partner practice. Using evasive measures, we utilize the attackers’ own force to either throw or subdue him using a wide range of takedowns and joint manipulations.
Does it require great strength to be effective?
No. Because we don’t meet force with force, it is not necessary to be stronger than your assailant. Some of the most powerful Aikido practitioners are small in stature but strong in spirit. Aikido is practiced world wide by both men and women, adults and children.
What are the health benefits of Aikido practice?
Since Aikido does not rely on physical strength, our practice does not increase one’s muscle mass. However, the practice is excellent aerobic training and it enhances flexibility and stamina. We place great emphasis on “centering”, learning to remain calm under pressure and controlling our “ki” energy. (“ki” is roughly translated as life force. In China it is called “chi” and in the yoga systems of India, it is known as “prana”.) This energy can be cultivated and strengthened through serious practice well into the practitioners’ senior years. Some of the most powerful Aikidoka are elderly and small in stature.
If there are no competitions, how does one gauge their progress and proficiency in the art?
Because Aikido is purely defensive, competition is impossible. In addition, many of our techniques would not be allowed in competition for safety reasons. While Aikido holds to a non-violent ethic, the techniques can be quite devastating to an attacker whose intent is to kill or maim the practitioner. Practicing some of our most powerful techniques with a partner who resists or attempts to thwart the technique could have serious consequences. During tests, demonstrations and regular practice, more advanced students frequently must perform against up to five attackers. There are no rules and one’s ability to remain calm under pressure is severely put to the test.
What about rank?
As charter members of the USAF, we subscribe the their standardized ranking system. For adults, there are six white belt or “kyu” ranks, each with specified requirements. These tests are administered by the Instructors of the Aikido Center several times per year. Black Belt (Dan) ranks are awarded by the Shihan (master level) Instructors of the USAF and approved by Hombu Dojo and Ueshiba Moriteru Sensei, Tokyo , Japan. Rank is not easy to obtain in our system. It takes a minimum of seven years to reach the first level of black belt. There are ten degrees of black belt with tenth degree being virtually un-attainable. (For example, our two top ranked instructors have each been practicing for over thirty years and have reached the rank of sixth dan. Until recently, this level of achievement was unheard of outside of Japan.)
There is a lot of bowing and other seemingly ritual behavior. Is Aikido a religion?
No. People of all faiths and belief systems practice Aikido. Our current membership includes Buddhists, Jews, Muslims and Southern Baptists. The ritual of bowing is simply a traditional Japanese way of showing respect for ones’ partners, teachers and those in the past whose efforts made our practice possible.
Do you offer beginners course?
No, new students may begin training at any time. We have found through years of experience that grouping all of our new students together inhibits rather than enhances their progress. When a new person joins us, they are paired up with a senior student who acts as a mentor, taking the beginner aside and working with them individually until the new person can be integrated safely into the class. Aikido is not easy to learn. Your body will be asked to do things it has never done before so we strongly suggest that you commit to at least three months of practice when you first begin. Aikido is a “path” or way of life, not just a series of “tricks” to be learned in “ten easy lessons”. Those who stick with it, however, reap remarkable benefits in their daily lives.
Can families train together?
Yes. While we do not allow children into our adult classes, parents are allowed to train in the childrens’ classes.
How many classes am I allowed to attend?
As many as you can stand! We offer adult classes seven days per week and all adult students are welcome in all classes. Therefore, you can set you own schedule and attend as often as you like. Like anything else, the more frequently you train, the faster you will progress but we encourage students to take a long term approach to their practice. Most people practice two or three times per week.
Who are the Instructors and what are their qualifications?
Because we are one of the oldest Aikido schools in the nation, we are fortunate to have many high ranking members/instructors. All of our Instructors are unpaid volunteers with many years of experience. See our Instructors’ bios for more info.
How much does it cost to join?
The dues are $95 per month for adults, $45 for each additional family member. Childrens’ dues are $85 for the first child and $40 for each sibling. See our dues page for specifics.
If you have further questions, we encourage you call our Chief Instructor, George Kennedy during business hours at 770-449-6333