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What is Aikido?

Aikido is a non-violent Japanese martial art which emphasizes protection for both oneself as well as the attacker. Where most martial arts operate from the premise of defeating an opponent, Aikido seeks rather to resolve conflict without causing serious injury to either person. While Aikido practice on the surface is a martial art, the founder of Aikido intended techniques to go beyond merely physical self defense. In his words techniques were meant as “...vehicles for the cultivation of life, knowledge, virtue, and good sense, not devices to throw and pin people.”

Is Aikido good for self defense?

Yes, Aikido has been used countless times in real self-defense situations, with many of it's technique's origins tracing back centuries to unarmed samurais having to defend themselves. That being said however, Aikido's purpose is not to create fighters or for use in competition, and the damaging nature of the historical techniques was removed in the creation of Aikido. Rather than teach you to fight, Aikido will prepare you to deal with real threats of physical violence, such as muggers and other potentially life threatening situations in such a way as to help keep you safe as well as legally and morally in the right. Those wishing to learn offensive techniques or to become better fighters would best be served by another art. Beyond this Aikido also addresses the long standing question of what a warrior does with his skills without a war. The philosophy and principles you learn through training will find use in your daily life, from resolving verbal conflict to being able to better stay connected with friends and family. In the tradition of great arts, Aikido strives to teach you not only how to defend your life, but also how to better live it.

What are classes like?

Our classes are held in a very fun and relaxed atmosphere. The founder of Aikido believed that the art should be practiced in a “vibrant and joyful manner,” and we strive to live up to this ideal every class. We specialize in smaller class sizes, which allows us to customize classes to the needs of the students, as well as provide more personalized instruction. The training itself is characterized by a non-competitive, helpful atmosphere. Each person takes turns being nage (thrower, one performing the technique), and uke (receiver, one who is playing the role of the attacker). In the adult classes we work on the techniques as well as going over the underlying principles and philosophy behind Aikido. In the children's classes we include fun games and activities that teach essential skills such as awareness, safety, cooperation, kindness, and confidence.

Is Aikido right for me or my child?

Aikido often attracts people who are looking for something a bit different than the other martial arts out there, are more interested in a defensive rather than offensive martial art, or even those who never really considered doing martial arts before, but still would like to learn some self defense skills or empowerment. On a purely technical side Aikido does not require the raw physical strength of many other arts, and as such it attracts a very diverse community. If you or your child is a bit nervous about the prospect of martial arts in general, we would encourage you to come in and try out a free class, or simply watch. We realize that martial arts, even a non-violent art such as Aikido, can be very intimidating for the potential new student. We have of course been that new student at one point ourselves, and are committed to providing a welcoming, fun and friendly learning atmosphere for you or your child.

What are the benefits of training in Aikido?

The benefits of training in Aikido are quite varied, often including both the physical and the mental. On the physical side students of Aikido gain increased fitness, flexibility, grace, as well as physical self defense skills. On the mental side students will have the opportunity to develop better conflict resolution skills, empowerment, heightened ability to cope with stress, lessened fear, as well as increased ease and confidence. And of course, Aikido is simply good fun as well!

What are Aikido’s physical techniques like?

Aikido’s techniques consist primarily of throws, joint locks, and pins, applied in such a manner that there is no collision or struggle. Aikido performed well is characterized by flowing, effortless, almost dance like movement and throws. You will learn not only to apply these techniques, but also safely receive these techniques when they are done to you during training (including getting down to the ground safely, and in more advanced training forward and backward rolls).

Who can train in Aikido?

Since Aikido’s techniques do not require raw physical strength, healthy people of nearly any fitness level would find themselves able to learn Aikido. Both men and women, young and old practice Aikido throughout the world. While physical aptitude is not a requirement, a friendly and non-competitive attitude towards other students and training is. Aikido will not train people to be fighters, so those seeking such skills would be best served elsewhere. We do not accept students who currently train in other martial arts, or mixed art fighters.

Will Aikido conflict with my religious beliefs?

While many embrace Aikido as a spiritual discipline, the philosophy and principles taught in class are not religious in nature, so they should not conflict with most people's religious beliefs. That being said Aikido does contain a strong moral philosophy and outlook on life, ascribing to principles such as non-violence and other high moral ideals. It does not however speak to the source of these ideals, and as such it has been embraced by practitioners of the world's varied religions and atheists alike. Aikido's primary purpose is in dealing with conflict and discord in the world, which the founder of the art intended to be something that would complement peoples' religious beliefs.

Are there tests in Aikido?

The founder of Aikido believed that “testing, competing with, and criticizing others only weakens and defeats you.” As such we do not have tests here, but rather follow the tradition of promotions. Promotions are community events designed to celebrate and showcase your progression in the art to yourself, your fellow students, as well as any friends or family you'd like to invite to watch. During a promotion you demonstrate the promotion techniques for your given rank, and are awarded your new rank (there are 7 kyus or ranks before black belt, symbolized with different colored belts)

What do I need to do to start?

New students are welcome at any time. If you think Aikido is something you'd like to persue, please feel free to come in and watch a class. Should it look like something you'd like to try out we offer a free introductory class. Starting out you can simply train in any comfortable, loose fitting clothes. Students wishing to continue training should purchase the traditional white training uniform known as a dogi. These can be purchased relatively cheaply through martial art supply stores, or directly through us. Adult students who feel themselves committed to Aikido are also welcome to wear a blue hakama, the traditional pleated skirt like garment worn by the Samurai, as well as practitioners of many martial arts including Aikido, Kyudo, Iaido, amongst others.