There are a few things to know about Aikido, and one is that the word Aikido means The Way of Harmony and Spirit. It does not mean learning to fight.
It is a self-defense art, not a competitive sport. It is trained for protection, giving you a lifetime of confidence it can also be a spiritual path, plus keeping you fit, in mind, and body.
We train with each other helping our partner to understand how our body moves with natural movement and not to go against the laws of nature.
You need to train simply, not fighting your partner, because we can only have one thought in mind. If you become the attacker with the wrong intentions, you will never reach a great understanding of the art.
When asked to hold your partners, hold with full good intentions. When asked to strike, just do this; do not add aggressive thoughts changing the correct flow of Aikido.
Do not make your partner struggle, once the movement starts, go with the movement helping them to achieve the technique they are trying to perform. In doing so, we can all advance quickly.
We must learn how to receive and take a fall, this is called Ukemi. It means to receive technique from your partner, allowing you to feel what it should be like when it’s your turn, and by repeating the movement with ease.
Training in the Dojo is not the same as in the street. Why? Because a real attacker will not be able to take the correct steps to save themselves and they will feel the devastating power that comes from the real thing. If you were to not learn ukemi, you could not train because your body would be injured many times over.
An onlooker watching may think that the person receiving the throw is jumping or it is not real. Those who train soon know that nothing is fake.
Always have clean clothes and clean body when training, keep your nails (hand and feet) short. This saves cuts to other student’s.
If you need to ask Sensei (Teacher) questions, leave them until the class is over, the whole point of training is to watch and train; your first thoughts are the correct ones. To study this way you will learn more quickly if you ask questions all the time you will never work on your thoughts and feelings, in a real situation you will be too slow because you have become used to someone else making your decisions.
A student trains three to five years twice a week, may achieve 1st Dan black belt, however, if one lives as Uchideshi it may be obtained in one year.
It is a slow martial art to learn the reason being that you must become perfect in mind and body, as you will soon learn in the weeks and months to come. The more you know, the more you understand how clumsy we are in flowing movements, especially with speed in our techniques.
These are the main points to consider. The art is not for everyone, and it is not a better art than any other, it will either suit or not, simple as that.
You can do Aikido from any age until any age you do it to your best ability.
We all have too much strength in our body and our mind. We are too powerful inherited from birth, and our life’s aim should be to suppress this until it has vanished if you do not you will not reach a level of enlightenment that you should be searching for.
Remember it is an art for life! Your life and no-one else’s, so always train with this in mind. And, of course, there more that a few things to know about Aikido which you will learn along the path.
If you need to fight in life, find another art.
Sensei Tony Sargeant. 6th Dan Aikikai Hombu Japan