FAQ | Aikido
Q. Do I need to be young or in good shape to practice Aikido?
A. Aikido is truly an art for all ages and people. Students have started Aikido well into the second half of their life, and its techniques can be modified as the student gets older or experiences physical restrictions. Of course, the earlier you start, the more years you’ll have to enjoy Aikido!
Q. Are there any physical limitations that would prevent me from learning Aikido?
A. Not really. The more important thing is your attitude and willingness to try along with a commitment to work toward your goals over the long term.
Q. Does Aikido have tournaments or competitions?
A. Unlike many martial arts, Aikido as a rule doesn’t have competitions. Instead, Aikido is about bettering yourself and becoming the best Aikidoka (student of Aikido) that you can become. Instead of comparing yourself with others in class, do the best that you are able to do and put your unique stamp on your Aikido.
In addition, Aikido is a cooperative martial art. We work with training partners, not opponents or adversaries. We don’t spar; we practice. The spirit behind Aikido is to bring a physical attack or conflict to the most harmonious conclusion possible. That said, Aikido is not dance or movement for movement’s sake. Aikido is a serious martial art with serious self-protection aspects that can cause injury.
Q. How long will it take before I am good at Aikido?
A. Just as with any art or skill that’s worth mastering, learning Aikido takes time. You probably wouldn’t expect to be an accomplished piano player after taking a year of lessons, and so it is with Aikido. As with any worthwhile endeavor in life, be it learning to play a musical instrument, earning recognition in a profession, or raising children to be good members of society, Aikido takes commitment, dedication, persistence, and practice. Your understanding of Aikido deepens the longer you practice. The more you know, the more you realize there is still to learn, yet that prospect is exciting, not daunting. The study of Aikido truly can last a lifetime.
Q. I see there’s a lot of throwing in Aikido. Is the person being thrown considered the loser? And shouldn’t I try to avoid being thrown?
A. This may be true in other martial arts, but not in Aikido. Aikido is about working with your training partner, and you are either being thrown or throwing 50% of the time. Being effective at both roles is part of being a good partner and enables you and your partner to learn and continue to improve. Neither is more important than the other, and the partner throwing is not the winner.
Q. Are there any secrets to learning Aikido?
A. The only “secret” is coming to class regularly, dedicating yourself to practice, and sticking with it. Like much of life, you get out of it what you put into it!
Q. What will I learn in class?
A. In a nutshell, you’ll learn a variety of techniques and movements that can be used in a variety of ways. Simply put, Aikido is nearly infinite in the possible responses to any given attack. As your skills progress, you will be brought to the next level as you are ready. For a more detailed explanation of what you’ll experience in a typical class, please see the Aikido: New Student Practice Tips
For many students, simply learning to roll with confidence is one of the biggest benefits of their introduction into Aikido training. This new skill becomes second nature and has helped students avoid injury from falls on the ice, while hiking over rough ground, or walking over uneven sidewalks and curbs in the city.
Q. How effective is Aikido for self-defense?
A. Aikido is a defensive martial art rather than a method of self-defense geared to neutralizing specific attacks such as someone grabbing you, pulling a knife, throwing a punch, and so on. If you are looking for self-defense techniques to be used in specific situations, there are many good programs available.
Many of the ideas taught in Aikido, including getting off the line of attack and not using muscle to overpower your attacker but rather movements to unbalance them, can be effective in self-defense situations when used by experienced students, but this is not the sole aim of practicing Aikido.
However, one of the most important methods of staying safe is not getting into a bad situation in the first place. Aikido helps you develop a greater awareness of your surroundings (and eventually the actions/intentions of others). This awareness enables you to avoid putting yourself into a risky situation to begin with. As someone once said, if you plan for the unexpected, it’s no longer unexpected.
Q. What else can I learn from Aikido?
A. That’s really up to you. However, many students find that the more internal aspects of Aikido and the culture of the dojo (school)— which upholds courtesy, etiquette, dedication, sincerity, and respect, among other things—become as important as the training itself. These students seek to live the rest of their “off-the-mat” life with the same values as those practiced on the mat in the dojo. The tenets of being a good Aikido student and training partner can extend to all areas of life, including work, home, relationships, and so on. If you let it, Aikido just might help you be a little better person!