West Huntspill Aikido club

Traditional Aikido practised with an open mind and heart.

'Fear and anger lead to the dark side' - Obi Wan Kenobi

 

Basic practise

In order to give you an idea of what to expect an outline of an average class may help here. Firstly we do ask that when possible (work & family permitting) you turn up early enough to get changed, help put out the mats and still allow a punctual start. Please see the section on etiquette to understand further what will be required of you.

For your first lesson wear loose comfortable clothing, if you decide that Aikido is for you then we can supply the 'angry white pyjamas' at a discounted price.

In our club the wearing of Hakama (traditional pleated over trousers) is by invitation, usually around the time of the first grading when the student has shown that they wish to study seriously. They are not worn, as with some clubs, as an indicator of rank.

We use a coloured belt system to reward progress and diligent study as we have found this builds self confidence in your knowledge. N.B ego maniacs will have theirs surgically removed.

 

Bow in

The class lines up sitting in seiza (kneeling) facing the Sensei (instructor) and a moments silence is observed. This allows you to calm your thoughts, slow your breathing putting aside the problems and issues of your day and prepare yourself for the practise to come.

The Sensei turns to face the Kamiza and a rei (Bow) is made.

The Sensei then makes rei to the class which is returned.

The class will then start.

 

Warm ups.

We perform a basic set of warm up exercises to prepare the body and mind for the practise to come. The objective of these is NOT extreme stretching or body building, if you wish to stretch do it at the class end when you are fully warmed up. This is just to loosen and warm the joints and muscles and allow the flexibility to enable us to practise without injury. Aikido focuses on wrist manipulation so these include specialised exercises to increase the wrists flexibility and strength.

 

Basic form and ukemi practise

Normally we would then practise certain body movements that form the basis of many Aikido techniques, followed by instruction and practise of ukemi (break fall techniques) which allow us to train to receive the Aikido techniques at full force without injury.

We place great store on correct ukemi and it is a major part of our syllabus. In fact we treat it as a martial art in its own right as without it Aikido can neither be learnt or performed.

You will learn over time to take falls and throws from all angles and roll to your feet. (we use mats but yes they work outside also). It perhaps should be noted that since starting Aikido, the times either of us have been required to skilfully fight off sword wielding ninja's has been .. we admit .. limited. However tripping over our own feet has occured on many an occasion, occasionally falling down steps and rolling to our feet with a certain panache, indeed without dropping the briefcase! In the real world this may well be the most useful aspect you are taught.

On a more serious note Aikido and ukemi are inextricably intertwined, you cannot learn Aikido with a partner who is scared of the break fall. They will not attack you with full intention and focus if their mind is worried about what comes next. So this is an important part of our study and whilst many find this the biggest hurdle to start with, it does takes time to become proficient but it will happen we promise.

 

Practise

The Sensei will then take the class and demonstrate techniques, which the students will then practise with partners or group, changing each time to expose themselves to different body types, shapes, ability level and attitudes. Males and females practise together and women may prefer to wear a white T shirt under their Gi. The minimum age that we will accept as a student is 18.

 

To finish

The students will kneel in a circle and make rei to each other to demonstrate thanks for the trust and help given to each other during the practise. They will then line up facing the Sensei. They will make rei to him and then in turn to the kamiza.

The Sensei will then make any announcements and dismiss the class.

As an aside, help is always appreciated in putting away the mats and usually this is an excellent opportunity to consider buying your Sensei a beer :) we are fortunate in being a few minutes from a very nice pub and whilst not compulsory, joining in an after class social and talking over the events of the evening can aid your Aikido growth (honest! and make mine a Butcombes, - John)

“Legends do tell of various UK Sensei’s who honed their powers of centre to such an extent, that they were able to pass out ram rod vertically without spilling their beer”