This week's practice times:
Tuesday (Aikido - all) 19:30 - 21:00
Thursday (Aikido - all) 18:00 - 19:30
Friday (Aikido - advanced) 18:30 - 20:00
Sunday (Weapons / Aikido - all) 10:30 - 11:30 and 11:30 - 13:00

Class and Etiquette

 

Basic structure of a class

We are often asked about the structure of our classes. Sometimes we have special beginner workshops, but don´ t wait until then to begin! At general practice, all levels practice together, and everyone should adjust their technique to the level of their partner. This is actually an important aspect of training for everyone. A general rule of thumb is: Take care of your partner and yourself (e.g. don´ t injure others by training above their level; and don´ t risk injury by training above your own level, and be sure to let everyone know if you have special training needs -- training tape, a bandana, armband or other marker can be tied on an injured limb to help everyone remember.

The best way to check us out is to visit a class (either by watching or by participating), but many people like to know what to expect.

Here is some basic information:

When it is time for class to begin, everyone lines up (sitting in seiza, or kneeling) on the mat. The instructor then walks onto the mat, sits in seiza, claps twice, and everyone bows toward the front. (This is a Japanese tradition, but some people prefer not to clap. That´ s also fine.) The instructor then turns toward the class, and all bow, saying onegaishimasu ("oh-nay-guy-she-mahs" meaning "please teach me").

The instructor then leads everyone in a series of breathing, stretching and warm-ups exercises.

Everyone lines up in seiza again, and the instructor will call on someone to help demonstrate the first technique. If you have bad knees, you may sit cross-legged rather than kneeling during this time. After the demonstration, the class bows to the instructor, then each participant finds a partner to practice with (just turn toward someone and bow, saying onegaishimasu). You will be uke (receive the technique) four times (twice on each side), and then you will be nage (do the technique) four times, etc., until the instructor claps. Then everyone lines up in seiza again to study the next technique, and the rest of class continues this way. We usually change partners for every technique. If you find there is an odd number of students, the partnerless person should bow to a practising pair and say "onegaishimasu", and join them in practise.

At the end of class, everyone lines up in seiza and repeats the beginning bowing sequence. This time the when you bow to the instructor, you will say " Arigato gozaimasu" (Thank you very much for teaching me).

After the instructor leaves the mat, the next most senior person (sitting on the far right of the mat) will call "dojo rei", at which time everyone bows to the front of the dojo. You are then free to bow to the people you have trained with during the course of the session to thank them.

Then clear the mat as quickly and quietly as possible to make way for the next class.

Finally, remember that everyone was a beginner once! Our club founder, the late Jos Niehaus Sensei, placed strong emphasis on first learning to give good attacks and take good ukemi (rolling, etc.), in order to be able to practice at a higher level more quickly and thus able to improve in technique more quickly.

See also our Dojo Rules and Etiquette for more important information.

Uniforms

We recommend a judo or karate uniform (keiogi or gi) be worn to classes. This is the toughest and most practical piece of clothing to wear for martial arts practice. Track suits or gym tights are fine for the short term, but won´ t last long.

As a mark of seniority, all students who have reached black belt status (and women who have reached 2nd kyu status) are permitted to wear a hakama. Hakama is a kind of traditional Japanese pants (culottes) which we wear over our gi.

Our training also includes the use of traditional weapons, primarily wooden sword and staff (bokken and jo).

The club has a supply of weapons for use during class until members can purchase their own weapons.

You can order your uniforms and equipment through the club.

General dojo etiquette

  • When you enter or leave the dojo, perform a standing bow. When you step onto the mat, perform a seated bow.
  • Try to be warmed up, seated formally and in quiet contemplation, ready for class a few minutes before it starts.
  • Try to be on time for the formal ceremony opening class. If you are unavoidably late, wait formally seated beside the mat until the instructor signals permission for you to join class. Perform a formal seated bow as you get onto the mat and try not disrupt the class.
  • Try to sit in seiza during class. If you can´ t sit in seiza, you may sit cross-legged. Try to always sit upright with a straight back. Never sit with legs outstretched, and do not lean against anything. Try to be respectful and alert at all times.
  • On the mat the instructor is addressed as "Sensei" (teacher).
  • Try not to talk on the mat, as Aikido is learned by watching and experience.
  • Try not to correct or instruct your training partner. If you know the movement being studied and your partner doesn´ t, you may lead the person through it.
  • Never argue about technique, and respect partners who are more experienced.
  • Ask the sensei´ s permission before leaving the mat.
  • If you are too tired to practise a technique, move to the edge of the mat and sit in seiza until you are able to join class again.
  • When the end of a technique is signalled, stop immediately, bow to your partner and quickly line up in seiza.
  • If you need to ask sensei a question, go to sensei, perform a standing bow and wait for acknowledgement before speaking.
  • Be safe and respect your training partners: keep your finger nails and toe nails short and clean, no jewellery and no shoes.
  • It is everyone´ s responsibility to keep the dojo clean. Help to sweep the mat and clean the dojo, and wear sandals off the mat.
  • There should be no eating, drinking, smoking or chewing gum on or off the mat during practice, or on the mat at any time. Don´ t drink alcoholic beverages while wearing keiko-gi.

Ai-Ki-Do