Aikido practice begins the moment you enter the dojo. Trainees ought to endeavor to observe proper etiquette at all times.
The only way to advance in aikido is through regular and continued training. Attendance is not mandatory, but keep in mind that in order to improve in aikido, one probably needs to practice at least twice a week. In addition, insofar as aikido provides a way of cultivating self-discipline, such self-discipline begins with regular attendance.
Aikido training encompasses more than techniques. Training in aikido includes observation and modification of both physical and psychological patterns of thought and behavior. In particular, you must pay attention to the way you react to various sorts of circumstances. Thus part of aikido training is the cultivation of (self)awareness.
The following point is very important: Aikido training is a cooperative, not competitive, enterprise. Techniques are learned through training with a partner, not an opponent. You must always be careful to practice in such a way that you temper the speed and power of your technique in accordance with the abilities of your partner. Your partner is lending his/her body to you for you to practice on -- it is not unreasonable to expect you to take good care of what has been lent you.
Aikido training may sometimes be very frustrating. Learning to cope with this frustration is also a part of aikido training. Practitioners need to observe themselves in order to determine the root of their frustration and dissatisfaction with their progress. Sometimes the cause is a tendency to compare oneself too closely with other trainees. Notice, however, that this is itself a form of competition. It is a fine thing to admire the talents of others and to strive to emulate them, but care should be taken not to allow comparisons with others to foster resentment, or excessive self-criticism.
The three principal weapons used in aikido training are the JO (staff), TANTO (knife), and BOKKEN (sword). There are many reasons for weapons training in aikido.
- Many aikido movements are derived from classical weapons arts. There is thus a historical rationale for learning weapons movements.
- Weapons training is helpful for learning proper "MA AI," or distancing.
- Many advanced aikido techniques involve defenses against weapons. In order to ensure that such techniques can be practiced safely, it is important for students to know how to attack properly with weapons, and to defend against such attacks.
- There are often important principles of aikido movement and technique that may be more easily demonstrated by the use of weapons than without.
- Training in weapons kata is a way of facilitating understanding of general principles of aikido movement.
- Weapons training can add an element of intensity to aikido practice, especially in practicing defenses against weapons attacks.
- Training with weapons provides aikidoka with an opportunity to develop a kind of responsiveness and sensitivity to the movements and actions of others within a format that is usually highly structured. In addition, it is often easier to discard competitive mindsets when engaged in weapons training, making it easier to focus on cognitive development.
- Weapons training is an excellent way to learn principles governing lines of attack and defense. All aikido techniques begin with the defender moving off the line of attack and then creating a new line (often a non-straight line) for application of an aikido technique.
Uniforms can be obtained from many locations. We have a mail-order catalogue from the Kiyota Company.
Text on this page excerpted from The Aikido Primer by Eric Sotnak.