It is completely natural for a beginner to have questions about Aikido classes and what a first class might be like. This is a guide of what to expect and what to do during your first Aikido lesson.
Some people may feel nervous coming to their first class, as with starting anything new. You will find us a welcoming and supportive dojo open to all.
Aikido is a self-defence martial art which focuses on developing a strong and centred (balanced) position from which you can use the attacker’s strength against them. One of the first things you will be shown is how to stand in ‘Kamae’ and sit in ‘Seiza’ these are the starting points for Aikido.
Kamae is our stable standing position and Seiza is the kneeling position from which we bow or in Japanese ‘Rei’.
We then look at the six basic movements called ‘Kihon Dosa’, these six basic movements make up all Aikido techniques and movements giving you a great foundation to quickly learn the basics.
Students arrive at the dojo 15 minutes before the lesson starts, allowing us to put out the mats and to get changed. You should make sure that you ready to train and focused as safe practice is a priority.
The class kneel in grade order and wait quietly. Once the instructor has entered the mat and knelt down at the front, the highest-ranking student will call “Shinzen Ni Rei” this means Bow to the front; and then “Sensei Ni Rei” bow to the teacher. This is the formal start to the beginners lesson which is an hour long.
As a group we then warm up and stretch, following a set traditional Japanese routine. After the warm up we will help you to learn Kamae (standing) and Seiza (kneeling) positions, before moving on to Kihon Dosa (the six basic movements). Depending on how you progress you may then move on to a basic technique giving you further insight in to learning Aikido.
You will train in pairs in your first lesson with a more senior student who will help and guide you through the movements and postures of Aikido. The instructor or ‘Sensei’ will be helping you with your positions and posture and will correct as required.
What To Wear
In Aikido Classes it is best to wear loose fitting clothing such as track suit bottoms and a t-shirt, avoid shorts and vest tops or any metal fastenings. If you have a Dogi (Japanese training outfit) from other practice by all means you can wear that. You will not need anything for your feet as we train bare footed.
Part of training is to show respect to your teacher, your fellow students, the dojo, and the lesson itself. This helps to focus the mind and create a good environment for training. We do this by:
- Bowing when entering or leaving the dojo.
- Ensuring we do not bring distractions into the dojo; phones are turned off, no chewing gum etc.
- Removing shoes before walking onto the mats.
- Avoiding general chat once the lesson has started.
- Following instructions from the instructor quickly and responding to questions from Sensei politely. You will hear the phrase ‘Osu’ often used, which is a way of responding to instruction and requests.
- Wait for an appropriate moments to ask questions.
- Bringing a focused attitude to the mat and accepting feedback from Sensei.
- No careless training, safe practice is a priority
- If we wish to leave the mat, ask Sensei first.
- Train in clean and appropriate clothes. Removing all jewellery and tying back long hair.
- Show respect to everyone you train with.
Feel free to ask any questions before you come to our Aikido Classes for your first free lesson.