How do I start Aikido?

The best way to find out if Aikido is suitable for you is to jump right in and participate in a class. All Riai Aikido schools offer at least two free classes for beginners, so there’s no reason not to give it a go. Check out locations and class schedules on our dojos page.

All our regular classes are suitable for beginners. Our instructors take into consideration who is attending and make sure that all levels and abilities are catered for.

It’s generally a good idea to phone the contact for the school in advance of your first class to confirm the class time and let them know you’re coming. If you’re unsure which age group is right for you, or have any other queries at all, don’t hesitate to phone the listed contact person for advice.

What to wear

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

What to expect

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/or practice in falls and rolls.  As a beginner just do your best to follow along with the exercises, you will be given individual tuition.

Once the preliminaries are over, the class typically alternates between demonstrations by the instructor and periods of partner practice.

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.

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.


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.

Remember – have fun and enjoy aikido!

Recently I migrated to New Zealand, I was very excited to see Aikido in Wellington and decided to join in after a year or so when I’ve settled but just couldn’t resist the first free classes at Riai Aikido.

Zahir Ahmad

Riai Aikido, Mt Cook, Wellington