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How to Train for Aikido

So just how do you train in Aikido? First of all, you need three things to practice Aikido: someone to teach you, a place to practice in, and people to practice with. There is a lot of information available on Aikido, through web sites, books, and videos, but nothing can replace actual instruction and practice. First of all, find a place that offers Aikido instruction in your area. This might be an actual dojo; a high school, community college, university, Parks District, YMCA, or community center. You might find Aikido being offered as a five- to ten-week introductory class, or as an ongoing class. It may be a college credit course, adult education class, or leisure learning program.

Aikido in actionPractice with Fierce Joy
The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, said one should always “practice with fierce joy”. In other words, be intense, but have fun. Being intense means concentrating on what you are doing with full awareness, giving the training your full effort, expressing your energy vibrantly and strongly.

Once you have found one or more places that offer Aikido instruction, contact them for more information. It is best to visit the location in person; this way you can meet the instructor, see the other students and how the classes are conducted, and get a feel for the energy of the dojo. Because this is a place you may be spending some time, it is important that you feel comfortable with the place and the people. If it doesn’t feel good, trust your instincts and continue looking.

When in class, keep an open mind and try your best to do the things you are shown. If the instructor tells you to do something, and you aren’t sure you can, try it anyway. Watch closely and pay attention to how your own body feels as you do the technique or have the technique done on you – both sides are equally important. Keep an open mind – don’t be limited by previous conditioning.

Between classes, especially if you are only attending once per week, you should practice the basic “aiki taiso” (body movement) exercises, the stances, and the breathing that you will learn in class. You can even move through the techniques you’re learning (feet here, hands here, turning like so), imagining the opponent attacking as they did in class.

Whenever possible, attend Aikido training seminars in your area, or regional or national camps. Seminars are 2-3 day events conducted by a high-ranking instructor. Generally they begin Friday evening and finish midday Sunday. These 10-12 hour events give students at all levels an opportunity for intensive training with a wide range of people. You will find your skills improving by leaps and bounds after attending such an event. Camps are longer term and draw a larger number of people from a larger region. They tend to last from 4-7 days.

Now, go have fun!

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