Chester Aikido Club

Ryusuikan Dojo - Established 1979

Information

What to Wear

Beginners are not required to wear a keikogi (the traditional "white pyjamas" worn by practitioners of Aikido and many other martial arts).  A pair of tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt are fine.  However, shorts are not acceptable.

If you already own a keikogi then it should be worn with a white belt.  If you are unsure of the correct way to tie the keikogi or the obi (belt) then ask one of the senior students or an instructor before the class.  The style of Aikido we practice does not use a system of coloured belts for kyu grades.  All practitioners below the rank of shodan (the first black belt rank) wear a white belt.

In this dojo, Aikido practitioners are permitted to wear the traditional hakama(black over-trousers) when they reach the grade of 1st Dan.  Female practitioners may be permitted to wear a hakama after their first successful grading.

On your way from the changing room to the tatami (mat area), you should wear something on your feet.  It is considered a severe breach of etiquette to bring dirt onto the mat.  Whatever shoes you wear into the hall should then be removed and left at the edge of the mat.  Shoes are never permitted onto the mats.

Class Structure

The classes are intended to teach the skills that are essential for Aikido practice, and generally follow the following format:

  1. Thorough Warm-up, stretching all the joints

  2. Ukemi practice (forward, backward, and side rolls and falls)

  3. Taisabaki (body movement and balance-shifting exercises)

  4.  Aikido Techniques - both pins and throws

The Aikido training exercises and techniques that are demonstrated in class can look deceptively simple.  Do not be dismayed if you have difficulty performing the movements, keeping your balance and keeping your back straight at the same time.  It takes a lot of practice!

The students in most classes will be a mixture of standards from beginners through to more senior Aikido students; it is good to practice with people of all grades in the class.

Practice Points

The first few months of Aikido practice are possibly the most difficult.  There is so much to learn at once.  Be prepared for some difficulties along the way.  Some people get the odd bruise while learning the art ofUkemi (rolling and falling and receiving techniques); some people initially have difficulty sitting in Seiza (on their heels), some people skin their toes or knees, others have stiff joints from lack of exercise, and so on.  Be aware that the initial pains and aches you will feel are the signs that your body is getting into good condition - look on these as "development pains" - it is worth the effort!

Discipline and correct etiquette on the tatami are considered extremely important in the dojo.  This is not to please the instructor, but is part of the authentic traditional Aikido training process.  It is the same in all Aikido dojos throughout the World.  Good etiquette includes arriving in good time for all classes.

Never try to force a technique.  The object of Aikido training is not to get a person onto the ground by any means.  Respect the interests and condition of other people.

The instructor should be told immediately of any injuries, however slight.

If you have now, or have ever had, any physical injury which requires extra care be sure to inform the instructor before joining practice.

Do not expect everything to become clear to you in a short time.  It takes a period of practice before your body absorbs the basics.  Apply yourself to the process of training.

Grading

After completing 40 classes, you are eligible to do your first grading (6th kyu).

Aikido grades are non-competitive.  They are a means to advance your level of training and challenge yourself.  The grades are: 6th kyu, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st kyu (all white belt), shodan (1st Dan - black belt), 2nd Dan, and so on.  You must become a member of the British Aikido Federation (BAF) before you can take a grading.

Etiquette

  • Before entering the dojo have your keikogi (training suit) on and yourobi (belt) tied properly.  Just inside the dojo door, perform a standing bow towards the photograph of O Sensei (the founder of Aikido).  Go to the corner of the tatami (matted training area) and perform a kneeling bow, again to the photograph of O Sensei.
  • To perform the seated bow correctly, remain seated on your heels (seiza).  Place the left hand and then the right hand on the tatami in front of you so that the two thumbs and index fingers form a triangle.
  • When the Sensei (instructor) enters the dojo, all students should line up (in grade order) in seiza facing the photograph of O Sensei.
  • To start the class all the students will bow with the Sensei towards the photograph of O Sensei.  The Sensei will turn to the students and say“Onegaishimas” (please teach me, pronounced; on-ay-gayshi-mass) and bow, the class then returns the bow.
  • During the class, it is polite to perform a standing bow to your old and new partner.  If the instructor should teach you and your partner individually, it is proper to perform a bow afterwards.  While the instructor is working with your partner sit in seiza on the tatami.
  • Ensure that your keikogi remains tied properly during practice and that you remain adequately covered.
  • If you come to class late wait outside the dojo until the instructor is not demonstrating before entering.  Wait at the side of the tatami to ask Sensei’s permission to come onto the tatami, then perform the proper kneeling bow.
  • If you wish to leave early, it is polite to as the Sensei for permission to leave the class.  Perform the proper kneeling bow when leaving the tatami.
  • At the end of the class line up in a straight line as at the start of the class.  The instructor will bow towards the students and say “Domo arigato gozaimasita” (thank you for teaching me, pronounced; doe-mow ary-garto go-sigh-ee-mash-ta) the class then returns the bow.
  • To leave the dojo, perform standing and kneeling bows in a similar manner to when entering the dojo, but in reverse order.
  • Students should always wear zori (sandals) or some form of footwear to and from the tatami.
  • For the benefit of all, ensure that your keikogi is clean, in a good state of repair, finger and toenails are kept short, and long hair is tied back.  Keep a high standard of personal hygiene.