We hope you find the following guidance helpful in your learning. You may also like to investigate the links section below or see our glossary of aikido terms.
Classes are planned in order to cover the skills and knowledge that are essential for aikido practice. Classes generally follow a standard format:
- Preparation of the dojo – laying of the mats, setting up the Kamiza
- Opening Rei – Welcome, introductory announcements
- Warm-up exercises including stretches for all the joints
- Ukemi (forward, backward and side rolls – the art of safe falling)
- Tai sabaki (body movement exercises)
- Aikido techniques with partner(s)
- Closing Rei – Closing announcements, farewell and thank you
- Closing the dojo – clearing away the mats and general tidying
Students will be a mix from beginners through to more senior aikido students, although the instructor may adapt the instructions according to the experience of those training, or may ‘split the mat’ allowing different groups to focus on different things.
It is good to practice with people of all grades during the class, and to demonstrate gratitude to your training partner through rei (a bow).
Please read our dojo Safety information document.
The instructor should be told immediately of any injuries, however slight. If you have now, or have ever had, any physical injury which requires extra care be sure to inform the instructor before joining practice.
For the benefit of all, ensure that your keikogi is clean, in a good state of repair, finger and toenails are kept short, and long hair is tied back. Keep a high standard of personal hygiene. Work with each other to maintain the dojo in a safe, clean and neat condition.
Advice for novices
Everyone started somewhere: do not worry if things seem confusing, strange or unusual. Aikido originated in Japan and it reflects some Japanese traditions. This includes the use of Japanese names for techniques, equipment and clothing. We follow traditional Japanese etiquette. If you’re unsure just copy everyone else until you pick it up!
Keep your mind open and give it a go. You can ask questions at an appropriate time as they come up. Three general points:
Beginning of the class. We endeavour keep the mat (tatami) clean, so therefore: shoes are never worn on the mat. Sandals (zori) are left neatly at the edge of the mat before you step on and you put them back on as you leave the mat. This keeps feet and the tatami clean. Everyone helps to put the mats down and prepare the dojo before the class and tidy up afterward: there are some basic rules to this, so ask to be shown.
Preparing your mind and body for learning. At the beginning of class perform warm-up exercises if you know how and kneel formally in seiza and in quiet meditation. Rid your mind of difficulties, problems and stresses and prepare for study. Kneel formally along the edge of the mat in grade order (novices at the left side, senior grades at the right side of the mat when viewed from the rear of the dojo facing the picture of O’Sensei). This is the correct way to sit whilst on the tatami: although if you have a knee injury, you should sit cross-legged. Don’t sit with legs outstretched.
Demonstrate respect for others. Respect your Sensei, your partners and the dojo. You show this by bowing when Sensei has finished demonstrating, bowing when you meet your partner and when you enter/leave the mat, etc.
Take time to read the following further information documents:
Entering the Dojo
Have your keikogi (top) on and obi (belt) tied properly. Just inside the door, perform a bow towards the photograph of O’Sensei. Go to the corner of the tatami (mat) and perform a kneeling bow, again towards the photograph of O’Sensei.
Remain seated on your heels. Place the left hand then the right hand on the tatami in front of you so that the two thumbs and index fingers form a triangle.
When the Sensei, or appointed instructor enters the dojo all members should line up in the sitting position facing the photograph of O’Sensei.
All bow with Sensei towards the photograph of O’Sensei, then return Sensei’s bow, saying “Onegaishimas” (“Please teach me”). Follow his lead during warm-up exercises.
Perform a standing bow to your old and new partner. If the instructor should teach you and your partner individually, it is proper to perform a bow afterwards. While the instructor is working with your partner, kneel on the tatami.
Make sure your keikogi remains tied properly during practice and that you remain adequately covered.
Coming Late to Class / Leaving Early
Wait before entering or leaving the dojo until the instructor is not demonstrating. Wait at the side of the tatami to ask Sensei’s permission to come onto the tatami. Perform the proper kneeling bow.
When leaving early go to Sensei and ask permission to leave the class. Perform the proper kneeling bow before leaving the tatami.
When indicated by Sensei, line up, in a straight line, as at the start of class. Bow to Sensei. It is polite to say “Domo arigato gozaimashita” (“Thank you”). Allow Sensei to leave the tatami first. It is also polite to thank your partners.
Leaving the Dojo
Perform kneeling and standing bows in a similar manner to when entering the dojo, but in reverse order.
Wear zori (footwear) to and from the tatami.
Wash your keikogi at least once a week. Keep it in a good state of repair.
Extracted from the British Aikido Federation Records Book
Members of the British Aikido Federation, on payment of a premium as part of the British Aikido Federation annual membership fee, are covered by ‘member-to-member liability and personal accident insurance’ when training at an affiliated club. No other insurance is provided or implied by membership.
Like all insurance schemes, there are important conditions and limitations to the British Aikido Federation scheme which may mean that the scheme does not apply to an individual in whole or part. Personal circumstances vary so each person is responsible for deciding if the scheme is applicable and suitable to them: see further information on insurance on the Joint Aikikai Council website.
The following external links provided are to other websites (and they will open in a new browser window). The content of these sites is not the responsibility of Malvern Aikido, but we hope you find them of use:
- Aikikai Foundation Parent organisation for the development and expansion of Aikido worldwide and Hombu Dojo
- International Aikido Federation A federation of aikido organizations affiliated to the Aikikai Foundation
- Joint Aikikai Council Umbrella organisation that represents in the UK the five groups that are recognised by the Hombu Dojo
- British Aikido Federation Malvern Aikido is a member of the British Aikido Federation
General information on Aikido
- Aikiweb Repository and dissemination point for aikido information
- Aikido Journal Blog and resource site
- Aikido Hombu Resource site
- Aikido FAQ Resource site
- How to pronounce Japanese aikido terms and phrases: audio files from Aikiweb
Aikido Clothing, equipment and other supplies
Nine Circles Club members receive a discount on the prices published on the website. Orders must be made through Paul Adkins Sensei.
There are many good books on aikido, and there are a few that are not good. Some recommended books to borrow from your local library or for purchase:
- Atkinson, Rupert (2005), Discovering Aikido: Principles for Practical Learning ISBN 978-1861267401 – also available online
- Dobson, Terry (1992), It’s a Lot Like Dancing: Aikido Journey ISBN 978-1883319021
- Saotome, Mitsugi (1989), The Principles of Aikido ISBN 978-0877734093
- Saito, Morihiro (1974), Traditional Aikido: Sword Stick Body Arts (Vol.1 Basic Techniques) ISBN 978-0870402661
- Ueshiba, Morihei (1992), Budo: Teachings of the Founder of Aikido ISBN 978-1568364872
- Ueshiba, Moriteru (2002), Best Aikido: The Fundamentals ISBN 978-4770027621
- Ueshiba, Moriteru (2003), The Aikido Master Course ISBN 978-477002764
- Westbrook, Adele & Ratti, Oscar (2001), Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere: An Illustrated Introduction ISBN 978-0804832847