At A Glance
Answers to frequently asked questions:
- Yes, we are looking forward to seeing you around any time!
- Yes, you are still young enough to start learning Aikido. We admit from age 14, but there is no upper limit.
- Lessons are taught in German and English.
- Come to a free trial lesson. Only designated beginners' courses require a small fee.
- Start with any class, no prior application necessary. Each class is a self-contained unit. Please arrive 15 minutes early, so you have enough time to change and help us set up the mats.
- Come in comfortable sports gear (track suit trousers & t-shirt with sleeves) if you don't have a judo gi; we practise barefoot. Please bring slippers.
- Fees (club): membership fee at TW Weisskirchen sports club is 96 EUR per year (= 8 EUR/month), plus a sign-up fee of 12 EUR. Look up their website for details.
- Additionally we ask you for a one-time dojo sign-up fee of 18 EUR.
- Aikido uniforms and equipment can be purchased via the dojo.
Q & A
Q: What is that funny skirt that some Aikido people are wearing?
A: This divided skirt is a traditional Japanese piece of clothing, called the hakama. Most people in the Western world consider it as a part of the samurai outfit, though it is widely used in the Japanese society. In Aikido, the hakama is worn by advanced practitioners.
Q: What is that picture and why does everybody bow to it?
A: The picture marks the position of the kamiza, the "place of honour". In Aikido it is used as a focusing point for bowing and meditation. The picture is usually an image of Aikido's founder O-Sensei Ueshiba Morihei or a calligraphy, and the bow signifies the acceptance of the Aikido principles. In our culture it is neither part of a personality cult nor a sign of subordination or an act of religious worship.
Q: What about the weapons?
A: Aikido techniques are empty-handed techniques. But because many of the movements were originally developed from sword and staff fighting, we also train basic weapon techniques to work on aspects of posture, distance and timing. The most common weapons used are the bokken (wooden sword), jo (staff) and tanto (wooden knife).
Q: When do I get to fight?
A: In Aikido there are no competitions. Our aim is to continuously improve our skills and personality through exchange with other practitioners. Of course we need an attacker for training purposes (ideally a challenging one!), so there is no lack of action. However, Aikido does not prepare you for street fights.
Q: Can I get hurt?
A: Aikido teaches how to redirect and neutralise the power of an attack. You will not learn a single technique that aims at hurting your partner. Therefore accidents are very uncommon. Because the training is good for your health, most aikidoka continue to practise up until old age.
Q: How long until I become a master?
A: Aikido is a lifelong journey, a path to explore, which offers many epiphanies ("satori"), the building blocks of mastership. Generally, we consider the black belt exam as the beginning of a journey to master the art. If you practise very regularly, there is a good chance to obtain your black belt after about 5-6 years. This sounds like a lot fo time, but don't worry: it will be a fun ride from the start.
You may find more information about Aikido in our dojo guide (currently German-only).
Brief Introduction to Etiquette
In Aikido, etiquette is taken very seriously. The reason is that we do not consider it simply a formality, but we appreciate the meaning behind it. You are not following etiquette to please your partner or teacher, but for yourself.
Bows are a visual sign of etiquette:
- when entering the tatami (usually from a kneeling position): leave your daily routine behind, open your mind to Aikido practice and enter a state of inner calmness
- at the beginning of keiko to the kamiza: acknowledge the Aikido principles, promise yourself to practise attentively, confirm your readiness
- before each exercise to the teacher or partner (mutually): thank your teacher/partner for accepting you, promise to carry out the technique attentively and with your partner's well-being in mind
- after each exercise (mutually): thank your teacher/partner for what you have learned from him or her
- at the end of keiko to the kamiza: conclude the class in your mind, become calm
- when leaving the tatami (usually from a kneeling position): express gratefulness for your experience, make the transition in your mind to step back into the outside world
If the kamiza is already set up when you arrive, please also bow towards the kamiza right after you stepped over the threshold of the dojo's entrance; bow out before you leave. This is standard procedure in all dojos with fixed tatami/kamiza.
All bows are carried out calmly and consciously; the bow on entering and leaving the mats should last a little longer (take a deep breath and exhale slowly).
Please always wear clean clothes and wash your feet before class: we practise barefoot in a confined space, so that strong smells should be avoided. Do not drink alcohol before class, and give yourself enough time after larger meals. To avoid injuries take off watches and jewellery and keep finger and toe nails short.
Be on time. Try to arrive at the dojo a quarter of an hour before keiko begins. Should you be late, wait outside the tatami until the teacher gives you a sign to step on. If you need to leave the tatami, inform the teacher first.
Be quiet, attentive and respectful throughout class. When not busy with an exercise, kneel on the tatami (or sit cross-legged if you have knee issues). Keep an upright position - remember: your posture mirrors your mind.
In Aikido, we are on first-name terms. Only Japanese teachers are addressed as "sensei". In our dojo, teachers are always addressed by first names, independent of their rank.
You will find more information about etiquette in our dojo guide (currently German-only).
- Aikido = the way (do) to harmonise (ai) the partners' energy (ki)
- Dojo = place of practice (room or house)
- Tatami = mat
- Kamiza = place of honour (with picture)
- Keiko = class, training
- Onegai shimasu = a polite mutual "welcome" at the beginning of class; pronounced „onney-guy she-muss“
- Arigato gozaimashita = a polite mutual "thank you" at the end of class; pronounced „arigato gosai-mashta“
- Dozo! = please! (asking to start or continue something)
- Yame! = please stop! (prompt to stop current exercise)
- Owari Masho! = let us finish! (prompt to finish class)
- Hai! = yes, OK, understood; here! (in reply to being called up)
- Uke = partner who is thrown or pinned down (attacker)
- Tori = partner who carries out the technique (defender)