What is Aikido?

Adapted from Wikipedia:

"The word "aikido" is formed of three kanji (Japanese characters derived from Chinese):

The interpretation of the term aiki refers to the martial arts principle or tactic of blending with an attacker's movements for the purpose of controlling their actions with minimal effort. One applies aiki by understanding the rhythm and intent of the attacker to find the optimal position and timing to apply a counter-technique. Historically, aiki was mastered for the purpose of killing; however in aikido one seeks to control an aggressor without causing harm. The founder of aikido declared: "To control aggression without inflicting injury is the Art of Peace."

A common translation of the word "aikido" means "The Way of Harmony of the Spirit," and as such, the goal of the aikido practitioner is not to kill or seriously injure one's opponent, but rather to use only that level of force which the situation calls for. Hence, aikido is an extremely practical form of self-defense (both physically and legally) in the world we live in today. It doesn't require large size or great strength, which makes it an ideal martial art for women and people of all ages.

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Morihei Ueshiba - Founder of Aikido

Adapted with permission from the Aikido FAQ:

"Aikido's founder, Morihei Ueshiba, was born in Japan on December 14, 1883. As a boy, he often saw local thugs beat up his father for political reasons. He set out to make himself strong so that he could take revenge. He devoted himself to hard physical conditioning and eventually to the practice of martial arts, receiving certificates of mastery in several styles of jujutsu, fencing, and spear fighting. In spite of his impressive physical and martial capabilities, however, he felt very dissatisfied. He began delving into religions in hopes of finding a deeper significance to life, all the while continuing to pursue his studies of budo, or the martial arts. By combining his martial training with his religious and political ideologies, he created the modern martial art of Aikido. Ueshiba decided on the name "Aikido" in 1942 (before that he called his martial art "aikibudo" and "aikinomichi").

On the technical side, Aikido is rooted in several styles of jujutsu (from which modern judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is also derived), in particular Daito ryu aikijujutsu, as well as sword and spear fighting arts. Oversimplifying somewhat, we may say that Aikido takes the joint locks and throws from jujutsu and combines them with the body movements of sword and spear fighting. However, we must also realize that many Aikido techniques are the result of Master Ueshiba's own innovation.

On the religious side, Ueshiba was a devotee of one of Japan's so-called "new religions," Omoto-kyo. Omoto-kyo was (and is) part neo-Shintoism, and part socio-political idealism. One goal of Omoto-kyo has been the unification of all humanity in a single "heavenly kingdom on earth" where all religions would be united under the banner of Omoto-kyo. It is impossible sufficiently to understand many of O Sensei's writings and sayings without keeping the influence of Omoto-kyo firmly in mind.

...At the core of almost all philosophical interpretations of Aikido, however, we may identify at least two fundamental threads:

For more detailed information about Morihei Ueshiba, please visit the Wikipedia article.

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Getting Started in the Adults Program

Aikido practice is fundamentally friendly and cooperative (though still challenging), and previous martial arts experience is not required to begin practice. In aikido we practice with each other, not against each other.

Visitors are encouraged to stop by and watch classes and, when ready, attend a free class. If you would like to take a free class, we ask that you watch at least one class first; then, you should approach one of the students (before class begins), introduce yourself and sign a waiver. That's about it! Enjoy the class.

You'll need to wear a gi (white Japanese martial arts uniform) or gym clothes such as sweatpants and a T-shirt (no shorts or jewelry, please). If you'd like, we can order high quality uniforms for you at a discounted price; just ask!

There are no "beginners'" classes; new students simply begin attending the classes they like. For the first couple of classes you will receive personalized instruction, generally from one of the Aikido Academy's more experienced students. You will quickly practicing with everyone else as a regular student in no time at all.

Of course, with any physical activity it helps to be in reasonable physical shape, but this is not a requirement. The instructors and students will work with you to keep you challenged but will never force you to do anything you are uncomfortable with. As you train, you will improve your flexibility, balance, and coordination.

Currently there are three types of adult classes: a Fundamentals class which focuses on the building blocks of aikido (posture, focus, stance, coordination, ukemi, etc.); an Open class that expands upon the Fundamentals and is tailored for the individuals in the class; and Supplementary classes such as weapons and ground work. You are free to attend any of these. Check our Aikido Programs for more information.

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Fees

The Aikido Academy will not force you to sign any contracts. New students are entitled to a free class; after that, you pay either a daily mat fee ($12 for each day you practice) or a monthly membership fee. If you plan to practice more than once a week, the monthly rate will probably be more economical.

The Aikido Academy is first and foremost about the training; if there are extreme circumstances, we will work with you to establish reasonable alternatives.

A complete description of our fees can be found here.

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Getting Started in the Juniors Program

Anyone interested in our Juniors Program is encouraged to come and watch a class, but parents, don't be surprised if your son or daughter wants to do more than watch. As long as the waiver is filled out, kids are welcome to jump right in with the class and try it out. What better way to know whether they like it or not? Of course there is no obligation to join the program.

If your child does join, there are a couple things parents should know. For the first class, try to show up a few minutes early to meet the instructors. No, they don't need any special uniform to start; just comfortable clothing like sweat pants or jeans and a T-shirt will suffice. Shorts aren't a good idea because bare knees may get skinned up on the mat. Sandals or any easily-removed shoes are good because we practice barefooted. Oh, yeah, and and try not to come straight from the sandbox. Nobody likes sand on the mat!

When you're ready, a uniform (known as a "gi") is available to purchase, or you can pick one up at any martial arts supply for about twenty dollars. Beyond that, there is no other special equipment that needs to be purchased.

Water and usually lemonade are in plentiful supply at the dojo so you don't need to bring any refreshments. There's plenty of spectator seating and parents are more than welcome to stay and watch. We even have wireless internet offered at no extra charge, so you can bring your laptop. If you have any other questions about the program, don't hesitate to ask one of the teaching staff.

For more information about our Juniors Program, please click here. For our fees and schedule, please click here. Top