What do I wear to class?

Wear something loose fitting and comfortable, e.g. track pants and a t-shirt.

What do I bring to class?

Just yourself and be ready to have fun!

How are the classes structured?

Classes typically begin with a period of warm-up exercises, sometimes followed by exercises in the basic stances and footwork central to most Aikido techniques, and practice in falls and rolls. As a beginner  you will be given individual tuition.

I have a medical condition or injury. Can I still participate in class?

Training safely is our number one priority. If you have any injury or health condition that you think may affect your training let your instructor know.

You are the best judge of what’s right for you. If you are uncomfortable with an exercise or technique, discuss it with your training partner or instructor. It’s always your right to sit it out if you’re not comfortable.

Why do some people bow when they enter the Dojo?

It’s a sign of respect for the Dojo (training space). As Aikido is a Japanese martial art there are some etiquette rules that have come from Japan. Teachers will explain the important rules as you start training.

What age can children start Aikido?

Children generally start from age 7. There are children’s classes in the Auckland Learning Centre, West Auckland and Wellington City, and other Dojos sometime accept children and young people as well.

What else might I need to know?

To ensure the dojo is an enjoyable, safe and effective place to learn and explore the art of Aikido, we observe a few basic rules of etiquette. Your instructor will help you with these to start with.

At the start and end of class we line up in seiza (kneeling) in order of seniority and bow once to the front of the dojo, then once to our instructor. This signifies respect and gratitude to the founder of Aikido, the many teachers who have carried on the art, and to our instructor. It is the only time you need to line up according to grade.

We bow to each training partner before commencing training. This reminds us we are offering each other a chance to train and that we should respect the opportunity by training with respect and care for each other’s safety.

When you really think about it, there is no ‘winner’ in a physical confrontation. Even if you are the guy still standing where is the long term payoff in injuring someone else? Of course, you don’t want to be the loser. But the cool thing about Aikido is that it provides a path for defending yourself while keeping the actual conflict to a minimum.

Mark Sleeman

Riai Aikido Learning Centre