With flamboyant throws and locks look painful, for beginners Aikido class entering for the first time can be quite daunting. The truth is that all martial arts, Aikido is probably one of the most friendly and hospitable.
When I got my first demonstration of Aikido noticed I was about 16 years old and has been sampled more art schools ‘traditional’ martial arts such as Karate and Tae kwondo but the practice of long words down my memory long sequence of movements is really not for me!
Then I met people in strange black pants (Hakamas as I later learned they were called) easy to throw together on a mat and the twists and turns I was captured by the grace and rhythm of it all. It was so far from any other martial art I practice, but I was hooked.
For the first few lessons of the Sensei has told me to wear comfortable clothes as they are no use to invest in (heavy white robes worn by judo players) Gi unless I’m seriously interested in continuing. So sports pants and T-shirt-light fine. I was also advised to bring a pair of slippers for walking around the mat.
One thing that can be captured from the beginner is that Aikido is a traditional martial arts dojo and thus largely still maintain some etiquette rules, such as leaving your slippers away from the mat and bend (or ray’ing) and when you leave the mat. Most practices also usually start with a quick bow to O’Sensei. Sensei you must tell you about this, but it is not unusual for them to just leave it out! Little intelligent observation and chat with some of your new classmates must ensure that you take these things after the first few lessons and you surely will not be reprimanded for not following them if you are new.
Heating is very important in Aikido, so once you get on the mat and you’re done with your bent usually start with 20-30 minutes of breathing exercises and pieces. This is a very important part of the exercise as it not only ensures that the risk of injury, but also that you are familiar with the breathing of the ‘center’ of your (slightly below your solar plexus), which is an important element of Aikido.
After preheating practice sessions, and long practice very much what it is. You spend the next hour and a half watching Sensei selection techniques with a partner (uke) then you yourself can practice with a partner. If the class is an odd number that you may end up practicing in the 3, but it is common that it will only be the two of you take turns assuming the role of attacker and defender.
The great thing about the practice is that you will be encouraged to exchange partners for each technique. This ensures that you get to practice a variety of different body types and abilities. The core of the practice is that the technique is embedded into your muscle memory and it becomes second nature, so that you instinctively take them out in the real world should you ever need to do.
If you have a great video on YouTube Aikido you will find that they hardly sweating, or even appear to move in some cases. This is because after 30, 40 50 years of engineering practice so ingrained that they are almost clairvoyant ability to predict attacks before they happen, and according to position themselves to develop.
Classes will usually end up with more flex and last words of Sensei on how he felt the class went and all the other updates to the club.
And that’s it, your first exercise – done!