FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
How is a Typical Class?
A beginner can start classes at anytime. A typical class begins with a series of warm-ups and stretching exercises, followed by ukemi or falling practice. There may be some breathing exercises to help calm the mind. You will note that not a lot of verbal instruction or talking occurs during class. Aikido is transmitted by observing and doing. The instructor will give some verbal explanation, but for the most part progress is made through actual training. If you are a beginner you will receive extra help from the instructor or senior students. During class students work out in cooperation with each other, learning when to lead and when to yield thereby increasing their sensitivity to varying attacks and attackers. The instructor will usually demonstrate a particular technique which the students then practice. Students switch roles between nage (person who executes the technique) and uke (person who receives the technique) after every forth execution of the technique. The students change partners throughout the course of the class with senior and junior students training together. The instructor will give specific and individual instruction as needed. Classes are geared to different levels, please check the current class schedule.
What is Ukemi?
Ukemi can be literally translated as “to receive with or through the body.” If you are Uke, you are the one attacking and then being thrown or pinned. Ukemi thus involves learning how to take the throws and pins without being injured. Ukemi is strongly emphasized in this dojo not only for safety purposes (you must learn how to protect yourself and fall safely), but also because it is a way to learn Aikido techniques from the inside-out. Ukemi is about staying connected, engaged and committed. It cultivates a sensitivity to constantly shifting attacks and attackers. It helps you to develop a strong center. Ukemi is not easy to learn especially as one gets older, but if you hang in there the rewards will become quickly evident. For many students, taking ukemi on the mat helps them to deal with the constant demands of daily life off the mat.
What weapons are practices?
Some classes are dedicated to weapons training. Instruction is given in the Jo (wooden staff), Boken (wooden practice sword) and tanto (wooden practice knife). This practice is not different from regular practice, however weapons’ training does intensify training in many ways. Proper distancing, lines of attack and defense, positioning and concentration are accentuated through this practice.
All students can begin weapons training. Instruction in Japanese Swordmanship (Iaido) is limited to students who gain permission from the instructor.
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. 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 (a divided skirt) when they reach the grade of 3rd kyu.
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 area. Whatever shoes you wear into the hall should then be removed and left at the edge of the mat area. Shoes are never permitted onto the mats.
How do I progress?
In Aikido, there are no competitions. Aikido is not a sport, but it is a Way, a path you choose to follow. Whether you are young or old, the path you take is your own.
There is a system of testing and ranking. The criteria for all tests are execution of specific techniques, a given number of training hours and a person’s commitment to training and understanding of all aspects of Aikido. We recommend that students attend class regularly in order gain the maximum benefit from classes, but everyone progresses at their own pace.
Membership to Masakatsu Aikido?
After three week introductory practice period, you will be expected to join as members. This is necessary for insurance and progression in grades. The yearly membership is £15.00 for adults and £7.50 for children. You will recieve a pass book, which holds the records of your grades.
How much does training cost?
For employed or those who can afford, the mat fee is £5.00 for a two hour practice session. Juniors/students or the unemployed have the concessionary fee of £3.00.
What accreditation do you have?
Masakatsu are members of Aikido Sa Kuru. Who in turn are members of the British Aikido Board (BAB). The BAB are the governing body for Aikido in the UK. We are also members of the sports council.