Whats's with all the bowing?
Bowing shows respect and is Japanese custom. Beginners are not expected to know all the appropriate times to bow. Learn by watching what others do.
How should I address the instructor?
When in doubt, use "Sensei" which means "teacher" unless they ask you to call them by name.
How do I put on a gi?
The pants should be worn with the loops in front. The drawstring should be tightened, threaded through the loops, and then tied in a bow in front. For the gi top it is advisable to wear a t-shirt underneath. This will help absorb perspiration and preserve modesty. The gi top itself closes left over right. The right front cord should first be tied to the left side cord and then the left front cord tied to the right side cord. The belt keeps the top closed and should fit twice around, tying in front with a square or similar knot. We train in bare feet so keep them clean and wear zori (flip-flops) from the dressing room to the mat.
What if I have a question during class?You can:
- Ask your partner
- Wait until the instructor approaches you and ask
- Raise your hand if it can't wait
What if I have a question when I'm at home?You can:
- Ask your mentor if you have one
- Email your question to us
- Call us if the other two options don't work for you
What if I can't keep up?
Chances are, if you are new, you may fall behind in some areas. You must pace yourself and allow yourself to slow down, sit aside for part of the class, or excuse yourself from class and just watch. Communicate to the instructor what you are doing and why.
How can I be confident that the higher belts won't throw me around and hurt me?
Along with achieving higher belts comes responsibility. It is extremely bad form to hurt a beginner and is frowned upon in the extreme. It is also extremely rare. Usually it is the less experienced students who lack the control and knowledge to protect their partners. No one intentionally hurts another student, so your best defense is communication.
What if someone does hurt me?
We have this nifty practice called "tapping out". When a technique becomes painful, we communicate with our partners by tapping the mat or our bodies. Your partner is obliged to immediately back off. If you're being treated too roughly, you must tell your partner.
Won't the other students get frustrated working with clueless white belts like me?
This is a very common concern for beginners. The short answer: NO! The long answer: Our goal is to help you get good at aikido so that you will be an asset to the class and fun to play with. We all remember our many clumsy mistakes and awkwardness when we started. We remember how patient our partners were with us and how valuable that patience was. We learn by teaching as well as being taught. Helping new people is our duty, our learning and our pleasure. So, relax and greedily absorb all you can. Forgive yourself for your mistakes, try to find them amusing (WE do ) and allow yourself plenty of time to progress.
I feel like I'm holding my partners back. Shouldn't I pick another white belt to work with?
No! It's much more helpful for one person to know more than the other. Slowing down to help someone helps us too.
How will I remember everything taught in the class?
Good news, your mind doesn't have to. We are conditioning your subconscious and your muscles to learn and remember over time by working on material that overlaps and reinforces the previous lessons. We expect your mind to forget much in the beginning. Trust the process to bring it all together later.
Help! The instructor uses Japanese words. Why can't we just use English?
The answer will become apparent once you see how useless English is in this context. Like everything else you will learn by repetition. What you don't learn naturally, we will drill into you.
I am a little intimidated by the rolling. How should I handle this?You should:
- Move slowly - it is then much harder to hurt yourself even if you make mistakes.
- Report any discomfort to the instructor so they can help.
- Have patience and realize that some things take longer to learn than others.
Keep in mind that the ultimate fun of Aikido is in flying through the air safely, gracefully and effortlessly. It may seem an impossibility right now, but eventually everybody gets it. It's worth the patience and the effort.
What if the techniques I need for my first test aren't shown often enough for me to get them?
Usually they are shown often enough. But if you are still fuzzy on some things and your test date is looming, ask your mentor to help prepare you for your test. You can also ask the instructor before class if he would try to show the technique that gives you trouble. It may or may not fit into his lesson plan, but s/he will try.
What if I don't have a mentor yet?
Soon after you join the dojo you should begin to look around for someone, blue belt or higher, that could mentor you. It should be someone who trains when you train, someone you are comfortable with and work well with on the mat. There is a whole section in your member booklet about the Mentor Program. Check it out and ask someone to mentor you. This will be a very valuable resource in your training.
What if I am scheduled to test, but can't make it on the test day?
Inform Sensei and schedule a special test on a different day.
How will I know when I am ready to test?
You will be notified when you have nearly completed the minimum requirements for your next test. The expectation is that your training patterns will remain consistent and you will have completed the required material before the next test. On rare occasions a student falls through the cracks. You may ask your mentor or Sensei about the test requirements. If you feel you have met those requirements, ask why you haven't been scheduled to test. Your Member Booklet has complete information about the minimum requirements for each test. Check it out and keep in mind that these are minimum requirements.
What if I fail?
By and large, tests are a formality. You are proving, every day you train, that you have achieved the necessary requirements for your next rank. By the time you are asked to test, you have basically passed the test. On rare occasions, a student can fail a test by either going completely blank at test time, by doing techniques from some other martial art, by giving up in the middle, or by displaying improper attitude. These scenarios are extremely rare and would result in a rescheduling of your test.
This is a big dojo. When is the best time for me to train?
Classes can be crowded at times. It is hard to predict when people will come. After a few weeks here it will be apparent which classes work best for you. A crowded class can be fun and so can a small class. It is a good idea to see opportunities instead of disadvantages. Find ways to enjoy both.
Are the weapons and flyers classes appropriate for white belts?
The weapons class is open to all. White belts are encouraged to attend. The flyers class is open to all but appropriate only for those who can safely perform large ukemi (big roll) on both sides. If you aren't sure if you should attend, ask Sensei.
How big a deal is it to be late for class? How should I handle this?
It is preferable to be on time and desirable to get there early enough to warm up beforehand. But we recognize that life happens and lateness is generally not a big deal. If you are consistently late due to a work schedule or something you can't control, please tell the instructor about it so it won't be interpreted as disrespect.
When you arrive late, change quickly and quietly walk onto the edge of the mat and sit seiza. When the instructor invites you to join the class, just bow, stand and then join in.
Can I double/triple/dip?
On some days we have multiple classes. We do this to lighten the load for each individual class. At this time, we do not mind your attending two or three classes in a row. However, if the membership grows to the point where these classes are too crowded, we reserve the right to restrict the members to one class per night.
Can I use the dojo when there isn't a formal class?
Using the dojo unsupervised is inadvisable. This is why the dojo is closed except when classes are scheduled. You may come early and stay late as long as there is staff on hand if you want to warm up or practice on your own.
Can I get another gi or other aikido equipment through the dojo?
Yes! Just ask at the front desk. Whatever we don't have in stock can be ordered and received within days.
How can I use the dojo library?
The books and DVDs in the library can be looked over in the dojo but not taken out. The books and DVDs on the shelves in the lobby can be purchased at the front desk.