Getting Started In Takemusu Aikido

Getting Started in Aikido

Getting Started in Aikido

What do I need to start Aikido?

The Takemusu Aikido Association South Africa would like to make your introduction to Aikido as easy as possible, so we have put together the following online guide, aimed at providing you with the most important information you will need to take your first steps in Takemusu Aikido training!

Understanding Your Commitment

The first thing to remember is that Aikido is a difficult martial art to study, let alone master. For this reason, the first answer to the question “What do I need to start Aikido?” is: you will need to make a time commitment for regular class attendance and develop patience with yourself when it comes to learning Aikido technique.

If you have made the decision to start Aikido, then welcome! Your have taken your first steps into a much larger world…

First things first: you will need to set up time with the chief instructor of one of our schools you have selected to discuss your Aikido training and introductory classes. Please use the contact details provided to introduce yourself and request an appointment to meet and begin your study. You can also use your online contact form to send us your details and one of our intructors will contact you.

Membership Application

At all Takemusu Aikido schools, you will be required to complete an online membership application form. Your membership details will then be forwarded to your chief instructor, who will allocate you a membership number and provide you with membership and payment information. You will be required to sign an indemnity form to cover your chosen school against any liability that may occur as a result of your Aikido training.

Disclosure of Medical Information

Due to the nature of Aikido training, any existing medical conditions must be disclosed to your chief instructor before training may begin. You may be asked to provide a medical certificate from your doctor to confirm your are medically fit for Aikido training, depending on any existing conditions you may have. Examples of conditions that may affect your Aikido training are: any heart conditions, spinal cord injuries, back or neck injuries, knee or ankle injuries, hip or wrist injuries. While these conditions may not prevent you from taking part in Aikido class, failure to disclose these conditions may result in additional strain being placed on an existing injury.

Training Uniform

The standard training uniform for a beginner in Takemusu Aikido is called a keiko-gi. This is the standard karate or judo uniform available from sports stores and martial arts suppliers around the country. More traditional and high quality uniforms may be purchased from specialist online stores. Please talk to your chief instructor for more information.

Takemusu Aikido does not use the coloured-belt system for ranks below black belt like karate or judo does. Instead, students wear a white belt for all ranks below black belt, and a black belt with hakama for all black-belt ranks.

Some styles of Aikido may allow women of all ranks, or men from 1st kyu (ikkyu) rank, to wear a hakama, while other styles may allow students to wear different colour hakama. In Takemusu Aikido, hakama may only be worn by yudansha (black belt students) and the hakama may only be black.

Since we train on mats (called tatami in Japanese), no shoes are required for training when class is to be held inside the school (or dojo). However, comfortable sandals or shoes are required for weapons training if the class is held outdoors. No caps or sunglasses may be worn when training is held outdoors, though a good sunscreen is always recommended for the African sun!

Weapons Training

Takemusu Aikido emphasizes the same importance of tai-jutsu (empty-hand techniques) and buki-waza (weapons techniques), which includes the study of ken (sword) and jo (staff). O-Sensei, the Founder of Aikido, looked upon this unavoidable connection between tai-jutsu, ken and jo practice as a determining factor for studying Aikido and our training method is based on the punctual application of these principles.

Students are required to purchase their own set of ken and jo, which may be sourced through popular martial arts suppliers. More traditional and high quality weapons may be purchased from specialist online stores. Please talk to your chief instructor for more information.

Personal Appearance

Your personal appearance in class speaks volumes about you as a person. Always ensure that your keiko-gi is clean and has been ironed. Remember that in Aikido you train with a group of people and we should always respect those we train with.

Aikido is a martial art that uses holds and grabs to study self-defence. Make sure your fingernails and toenails are clean and cut, as they may pose a safety risk to your fellow students when you attack or execute techniques.

Watches, chains, earrings, bracelets and rings also pose a safety risk to your fellow students and should be removed before class. There are exceptions, such as a Medic Alert bracelet, but please check with your chief instructor before class.

If you wear spectacles, you may find that when you get thrown in Aikido they may pose a safety risk to yourself. Speak to your optometrist about using your spectacles during Aikido class and they may be able to assist you with a way to make sure they do not fall off when you are thrown. Alternatively, many students train without spectacles to ensure safety, but again please check with your chief instructor before class.

Arriving at the Dojo

Be on time. This is one of the most important aspects of dojo etiquette that students don’t fully understand. Being late for class is a sign of disrespect towards Aikido and your instructor. Check the class times for your chosen dojo and make sure you arrive at least 15 minutes before class officially starts. This is to ensure that you can get changed and prepare yourself for keiko with enough time to clear your mind and leave the day’s issues outside the dojo door. As the Japanese say, “Leave your issues with your shoes”.

The structure of an Aikido Class

Tai-jutsu (or empty-hand) classes are always structured the same. The first 10 minutes of the class are reserved for warm-up exercises. These exercises are designed to prepare your body for the rigorous training you are about to face. If you arrive late and miss the warm-ups, it will be a serious safety risk for you as your body is not warmed-up and prepared. Injuries may occur more easily without a proper warm-up before class.

After warm-ups, students should sit in seiza (seated in a kneeling position) in order of rank. Senior students will assist you in finding your place in the row and how to sit correctly in seiza. The instructor oficially opens the class with a ceremony called shinza-ni-rei. This bowing ceremony is designed to focus the students’ minds on the fact that the class has formally begun.

The class will then be guided by the instructor who will demonstrate techniques to be studied.

Sensei or Sempai?

In Takemusu Aikido, a clear distinction is made between the chief instructor, any assistant instructors, senior and junior students. As a rule of thumb, you always refer to the chief instructor as sensei and any student who is more senior in rank than you as sempai. Students lower in rank than you are referred to as kohai.

Enjoy Your Aikido Training!

To conclude this guide, we would like to share one of the most important things to remember in each and every class: enjoy your Aikido training! Aikido will teach you how to do things you never thought possible, so enjoy every step of the journey.

About Takemusu Aikido South Africa

The Takemusu Aikido Association South Africa (TAASA), formally Iwama Ryu™ South Africa, is a free group of black-belted practitioners of Aikido based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Our aim is to promote and spread the traditional teaching method of Morihiro Saito Sensei, direct student of the Founder of Aikido, to all communities in South Africa.