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• HOW CAN I FIND THE RIGHT DOJO FOR ME?

It is very important to choose the right school to train in; in fact, the school is as important or even more important than the art you might choose. Any art is only is only as good as those teachers passing it along to you. The quality and attitude of a school will determine your entire experience of training.

Choose several schools in your area (you can’t learn an art if you can’t get to class!) and make appointments to watch a class and speak to the Chief Instructor. What impressions you get from visiting the school are very telling. Is the school clean, neat and organized? Are the students enjoying themselves while training seriously? Is everyone treated with equal respect? Does the philosophy of the Chief Instructor fit in with your goals? If you feel excited about the prospect of going back to a school to train – that’s the one.

• DOES AIKIDO WORK IN REAL LIFE?

What do you mean by “work”? Will you be able to defeat anyone foolish enough to attack you? It depends on many factors. Will you be much more prepared for anything that life may serve up to you? Absolutely!

Most people will never be in a serious altercation in their lives (hopefully), but if they are, experienced students will be way more prepared to take care of themselves than your average citizen. (I spent many years training in New York with police officers, detectives and club bouncers; they used aikido on their jobs almost every day and when they did, it worked like a charm!)

Aikido skills also translate into being able to deal with people on all levels, i.e.: angry friends, a difficult boss, negotiating at home and at work, attaining goals, raising kids, staying healthy – you know, almost everything!

• WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AIKIDO AND THE OTHER MARTIAL ARTS?

Like many of the martial arts, aikido is a Japanese self-defense system based on centuries-old samurai arts. What sets aikido apart from almost every other self-defense discipline is that its primary goal is to defuse any physical attack without harming the attacker – the objective is to not enter into the fight but rather to use balance and timing to redirect the attack to a safe ending (yes, it’s amazingly effective!).

Also, aikido has no tournaments or contests, instead relying on good, solid physical practice with partners to develop one’s mind and body.

• HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A BLACK BELT?

Exactly long enough! We adhere to the tradition of Black Belts for older teens and adults only (our Kids’ Programs have their own colored belt system). Students who train consistently and seriously can usually achieve their Black Belts in 4 -6 years.

We applaud the achievement while understanding that this rank is the beginning of serious training rather than the end.

• I’M AN OLDER NEW STUDENT – HOW OLD IS TOO OLD TO TRAIN?

There is no maximum age for training – it depends on your health, interest and desire. Everyone trains at their own rate and no one is asked to do something their body is not able to do. Of course, the ability to move around freely is necessary – this is a physical art.

• IS THERE A BEGINNER’S CLASS?

We don’t have a Beginners class. New students start in any regular class; in the class, they are given a private lesson with a senior student to help them get started. After that, they can attend any class, as they will be ably assisted by their partners and the instructors as they continue to train.

• DO YOU HAVE TO BE ATHLETIC OR IN GOOD SHAPE TO START?

No. You simply have to be ready, willing and able to train. The more consistent your training, the quicker you will be surprised at what you can do and how good you feel!

• IS AIKIDO A RELIGION?

Not at all. Although the Founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba (O-Sensei), was a very spiritual man, there is no religious aspect to the art. All the bowing that we do in the dojo is done out of respect for each other and for O-Sensei and has no religious meaning. However, there is a deep understanding that we are training our bodies, minds and spirits.

• DO YOU USE WEAPONS IN AIKIDO?

Weapons are an important part of aikido, as a lot of the movements of empty-handed techniques come from weapons movements, particularly the sword. We train with bokken (wooden katana or sword), jo (medium size wooden staff) and tanto (wooden knife).

• DO YOU TRAIN WITH STRIKES AND KICKS?

We train against a multitude of attacks, including strikes, grabs and multiple attacks, and, more rarely, against kicks. While it is impossible to include every imaginable attack one might face, our training leads to an organic and intuitive response to whatever might show up.

• IS AIKIDO GOOD FOR CHILDREN?

There is enormous value for children in aikido training. Their classes include real aikido techniques, both basic and then more advanced as they go along. We have found that our young students absorb the idea of “not-fighting” into their consciousness and are always surprising us with their real-life stories of stopping playground confrontations with an easy and creative grace.

Not to mention their growing ability to listen, focus, be respectful and learn with others.
And they have a blast!

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