Aikido FAQ

  1. What is Aikido?
  2. How is Aikido Useful?
  3. Is Aikido practice dangerous?
  4. Is Aikido violent?
  5. How are Aikido classes different from classes in other martial arts?
  6. What does non-competition mean?
  7. What is the lineage of the senseis?
  8. How much prior martial-arts experience do I need to begin practice?
  9. I plan on losing a few pounds before starting. Do I need to be super fit before I start?

What is Aikido?

Aikido is a Japanese martial-art with roots in the battlefields of 14th century, feudal Japan. Aikido practitioners (“Aikidoka”) apply learned body structure and movement to redirect the attacker’s energy and strength to negate differences in height, weight, age, strength, and gender. It is practiced against both armed and unarmed attackers and is primarily defensive. The founder of the art, Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), referred to deferentially as “O-Sensei,” transformed the traditional arts from which Aikido derives into a peaceful martial/art that focuses on throwing or immobilizing opponents without having to injure them. It’s an integrated mind/body workout.

How is Aikido Useful?

In addition to benefiting from self-defense training, practitioners of Aikido (“Aikidoka”) benefit, among other things, from learning how to fall safely and handle other types of forces without injury. Aikido is a healthful activity that builds body integrity, flexibility, and coordination and general wellbeing, and can help students become physically fit. Aikidoka often continue to practice well into advanced age. Aikido can also be a powerful transformational tool, with practitioners developing internal calm and learning to stay balanced, present, and fluid when engaging with others in stressful or confrontational situations. Many find that the practice improves their self-confidence and self-respect and leads to self-discovery, in addition to increasing their situational awareness and improving their personal safety. Also, our class topics include practical applications of Aikido and various aspects of personal safety and protection based on law-enforcement experience.

Is Aikido practice dangerous?

A primary emphasis, especially early in training, is teaching students how to remain safe. This includes falling and receiving attacks and techniques safely. We follow a strict etiquette when it comes to how students treat each other to remain safe. Also, while you’ll see more advanced students taking impressive rolls and falls, they work up to these slowly, and students work at each other’s ability level.

Is Aikido violent?

Quite the opposite actually. The founder of Aikido developed it as a martial art of peace. Its techniques can neutralize and stop an attack while keeping the opponent from getting injured. Police forces in Japan practice Aikido so that they can protect against, subdue, and arrest perpetrators without damaging them. Also, Aikido students learn to handle aggression without using aggression. Long-time Aikido practitioners tend to become calmer, less perturbed by outside aggression, and more peaceful people in general.

How are Aikido classes different from classes in other martial arts?

Aikido is an art of self-defense, and its techniques mainly involve throws and pins that are practiced at a level that is safe for both participants. Most often, students take turns attacking, usually one-on-one, but often with several attackers against a student who applies the techniques. There are tests that reflect progress that students make in their skill and understanding of the martial art; their primary purpose is to ensure transmittal of the technical details in this complex art. Also, we have solo and paired conditioning and internal power practice that is done in class and can be performed at home.

What does non-competition mean?

Unlike many other modern martial-arts, our style of Aikido never made the transformation from a practical, Samurai art to a modern sport. Aikido is not based on scoring points or winning one-on-one matches following preset rules. While our practice in the dojo is practiced at a level that each student can handle, Aikido techniques are designed for handling multiple attackers who are not subject to sporting rules and may attack in unpredictable ways. Since competition among the students is not the goal, students strive to improve each other’s level of practice and ability.

What is the lineage of the senseis?

We are fortunate at the Aikido Arts of Shin-Budo Kai NY dojo (“AASBK”) that we have a very direct lineage from O-Sensei, Aikido’s founder through Shizuo Imaizumi, Shihan, and Marc Abrams, Sensei. AASBK’s regular teachers, Bruce May and Brad Gould Senseis, are second/third-generation students of Aikido and benefit from a direct transmission of the art and continue their training with Imaizumi and Abrams, Senseis.

How much prior martial-arts experience do I need to begin practice?

None. Some make their first foray into martial arts by joining our class. Others already have black belts in Aikido or other martial arts, including grappling, striking, and weapons-based arts; or are experts in western martial-arts such as wrestling.

I plan on losing a few pounds before starting. Do I need to be super fit before I start?

Generally, no. We work at each student’s level, based on his or her physical fitness and skill. Aikido is a beneficial activity both for people who don’t otherwise exercise regularly and for those who are very fit.