The Art of Aikido is based upon strong traditions to help youngsters learn. Students learn how to control their movements, and how to work with others in practising the Art.
Aikido is not a sport and is practised cooperatively not in competition. But like a sport, students enjoy physical exercise whilst learning special skills. Like a sport, there are rules in Aikido. These rules are called ‘etiquette’ and begin with the bow. The Japanese word for bow is ‘rei’. The bow is a show of respect for the Art, for your teachers and fellow students.
Students of Aikido are ranked by experience and skill. A beginner starts at 8th kyu (8th rank) and gradually makes their way to 1st kyu. The next level up is ‘shodan’ or the first level when the student is no longer a beginner. At this time the student is awarded their black belt.
In class, students take turns practising techniques on each other. In addition to learning how to apply wrist locks and throws, students learn how to receive techniques safely by learning how to fall in different ways.
Aikido students wear a special uniform for practice called a ‘do-gi’. The do-gi has white pants & jacket, with a coloured belt showing the student’s rank. Aikido is practised on soft mats to prevent injuries. More senior Aikido students also practice with wooden swords & wooden sticks.
The place where Aikido is taught is called a ‘dojo’. The dojo is a special place and once inside, students must follow the rules of the dojo. To show respect for their place of learning, students of Aikido bow upon entering or exiting the dojo.
The teachers in the dojo are called ‘Sensei’, and each has many years experience as students of Aikido themselves. Both men & women can be Sensei, and are very dedicated to their students and the Art of Aikido.