A Typical Class, What to Expect and What is Expected
The First class
The dojo is open at least 15 minutes before
each class, be early. If you are not a UCM student and just want to observe a class, let the front desk
know and come watch. If you arrive early the instructors will be
able to meet with you and answer any questions you may have.
When you start classes allow for time to register and get
acquainted with the facilities. Remove your shoes at the door or by
the shoe cubby. Do not walk on the mats with shoes on. If you have sandals, flip flops, or zori, place them
on the edge of the mat pointing out from the mat. When you step onto the mat, bow.
Before class, take time to relax and indulge in the physical or mental preparation
which suits you best.
Your first class will be a bit bewildering - don't worry, we've all been there. In general, do as
the others do. Normally, someone will be assigned to lead you through the warm-up exercises
and will teach you the rudiments of falling. Someone else will work with you on the techniques.
Classes follow a standard structure. First the mats are rolled out and the kamidana set up, then...
||Approximately 3-5 minutes before the official
start of class, students should line up and sit quietly in
seiza. We bow in unison to the
kamidana. Then sensei turns to the
class and all bow again. This is a traditional Japanese custom to show
respect, but has no religious connotation.
||We stretch to loosen the body and prepare ourselves for the exercises
to come. This includes basic stretches of the legs, arms, and body, as
well as Aikido-specific stretches of the wrists.
||One person techniques. These are often the basis for techniques we do,
and sometimes involve breathing exercises. Usually involves rolling
practice. Could be considered an extension of stretching.
||Partner techniques. Techniques are demonstrated and discussed before
the class as a whole practices them. Asking questions during a demonstration
is encouraged. Several techniques may be practiced each session.
||Breathing techniques are used to calm the individual and bring focus
to the mind and the days activities.
||Sitting seiza we bow to the kamidana and sensei again, then gather in a
circle and bow to each other to show respect and thanks to our partners.
While in circle is the time to ask questions, get more details about a
technique, and hear club announcements.
You will feel very goofy and confused. Welcome to our world, just enjoy the ride. Don't
worry about if you are doing something wrong, and don't apologize
for doing it wrong (unless there is a serious injury). You'll be doing it wrong for some time.
We've all been there.
At this time we put everything up, as this is a shared space. If you want to join in with the people cleaning and straightening the dojo,
simply ask how
they do it.
Now is a good time to ask any questions you may have. You're officially an aikidoka!
What to Expect
Aikido practice begins the moment you enter
For this reason students should endeavor to observe proper etiquette
at all times (for more on etiquette, read the
Student Handbook). It is proper to bow when entering and leaving
the dojo, and when coming onto and leaving the mat.
Aikido training encompasses more than techniques. Training in aikido includes observation
and modification of both physical and psychological patterns of thought and behavior. In
particular, you must pay attention to the way you react to various sorts of circumstances.
Thus part of aikido training is the cultivation of (self-) awareness.
The following point is very important: Aikido training is a cooperative, not competitive,
experience. Techniques are learned through training with a partner, not an opponent. You
must always be careful to practice in such a way that you temper the speed and power of your
technique in accordance with the abilities of your partner. Your partner is lending his/her
body to you for you to practice on - it is not unreasonable to expect you to take good care
of what has been lent you. Just the same, it is acceptable, and
encouraged, to speak up if your partner is treating you in a way
that is inappropriate.
Aikido training may sometimes be very frustrating. Learning to cope with this frustration
is also a part of your training. Practitioners need to observe themselves in order to
determine the root of their frustration and dissatisfaction with their progress. Sometimes
the cause is a tendency to compare oneself too closely with other students. Notice, however,
that this is itself a form of competition. It is a fine thing to admire the talents of others
and to strive to emulate them, but care should be taken not to allow comparisons with others
to foster resentment, or excessive self-criticism.
Expect to sweat, and to do many things outside
your comfort zone. You will find that soon these things do not
bother you anymore, and your comfort zone has expanded.
If you have experienced a violent assault in the past, especially a sexual
one, let the instructors know. It may be embarrassing, but it is
important. You will be in close proximity to
others, often, in situations that will be very uncomfortable. It's best that we
know before we have someone inadvertently attack you in a similar
manner. Aside from straightforward, direct attacks, aikido routinely
practices attacks from behind, chokes, and while being restrained.
At Central we provide quality training, and ensure all students get
what they need to progress. Your sensei are here to help you, and
they will do their best. Our instructors provide training and
support to all members without bias or prejudice. The instructors at
Central have been known to go above and beyond for their students,
both on and off the mat. It doesn't matter if you are their best
friend, or if you can barely tolerate each other off the mat, on
the mat you are a priority. We will support you as best we can in
all your aikido endeavors, and often off the mat as well. You are
not alone here.
Student Handbook and follow it. It is your guide to the dojo and
What is Expected
We expect you to make mistakes. Lots of
them. We have all been there. We've all had our first class, first
week, first month. We are not judging you, we are all learning. If
you knew it all, there'd be no need to take classes.
Aikido is not a religion but it remains deeply influenced by
traditional Japanese values. A centerpiece is Rei, which means "appreciation and
respect", but is essentially bowing and etiquette. It is expected
you will stumble through etiquette for quiet some time, even the
more experienced students mess up occasionally. This is fine, there
will be no beheadings. Just the same, we do expect you to
continually try to improve. Etiquette is an important part of
training, in ways you wont understand at first.
The only way to advance in aikido is through regular and continued training.
Attendance is not mandatory, but keep in mind that in order to improve in aikido, one
probably needs to practice at least twice a week. In addition, insofar as aikido
provides a way of cultivating self-discipline, such self-discipline begins with regular
Your training is your responsibility, and it only works if all
are involved. While the instructors are
skilled, they are few. They can not see to everyone individually at
all times. For this reason dojo employ a standard of Japanese
culture - the Senpai/Kohai relationship. As an aikidoka, you are
expected to look after your fellow comrades. Even from day one.
Senior students (senpai) mentor and help direct kohai (junior
students). New students are expected to help out. Before long, you
will find you are no longer a new student, and others are looking
to you for guidance. That said, no one is going to take you by hand
and baby you through anything. You have to do it, we will do our
best to guide you.
Be on time to classes, and pay your dues. All in the dojo,
regardless of age, are expected to be and/or act like adults. This
includes tending to your obligations. We should not have to chase
you for a month to get your dues. But, we will remove you from the
mat for not paying.
On the same notion, if we are holding a workshop, special class,
seminar or attending one, you need to keep track of these events on
your own. The instructors are very busy, and not here to be your
Administration & Maintenance
Central Aikido is a non-profit association, open to all and
whose purpose is the benefit of its members. Anybody joining a class becomes a
member de facto. Assets of the dojo belong to Central Aikido or the
Central Missouri. Officers are chosen at general dojo meetings.
The dojo has no employees. Instructors and officers of Central Aikido are unpaid
volunteers. Membership fees pay for our general expenses. Monthly
fees are due at the first of the month and it is your job to know
when you owe. Please help the
management of the dojo by renewing your membership on time.
The dojo needs to be maintained and kept immaculately clean. This is everyone's
responsibility. The instructors provide your training, and in many
cases have paid large sums of money for the equipment you use, help
maintain it and keep it clean. If you see one of them vacuuming,
step up to take over. They have other things they need to be
attending to. The mats need special care and must be thoroughly
vacuumed at least once a week,
usually before the Monday class. No permission is required to help
with cleaning. Observe others, ask
questions to the sensei or senior students who will be glad to oblige.