Q: What is Aikido?
A: Aikido is a throw and joint lock based martial art. We focus on self-defense rather combat or sparring. In general, Aikido lacks striking aspects common to other martial arts. Because of this, most people are able to continue learning (or start learning) Aikido well past their physical prime. Aikido centers on self-growth rather than competition.
Q: What is Seidokan Aikido?
A: Seidokan is a specific style of Aikido. We focus on doing small movements that are quicker to create and harder to notice (and therefore counter.) As a style, we also place a strong emphasis on teaching. Seidokan Aikido believes that students and Sensei teach each other and help move the art forward.
Q: Will Aikido work as a Self-Defense (since it’s non-violent)?
A: This is a very common and legit concern people have; this probably stems from the fact that good Aikido looks fake. On the first questions, yes you can defend yourself without hurting your attacker. In fact, many people do this without ever realizing it; for example, a woman who feels she is being followed might turn around and verbally address her potential attacker- often this simple demonstration of self-confidence and awareness of environment is enough to dissuade someone with shady intentions.
Aikido takes this idea to the next step. Rather than turning a physical encounter into a contest between who can generate the most force, Aikido seeks to use and attacker’s energy against them. Punches are wrapped back into a joint lock (or confusingly extended into a forward throw) and are finished with a pin that uses physics rather than pain to restrain. A core concept in Aikido, this is often summed up as ‘never resisted, never defeated.’; this means that the non-violence is what makes Aikido effective. By never going against the body’s joints, or trying to stop and attack, the attacker is not able to resist an Aikido technique.
Q: How quickly will it become effective?
A: The short answer is probably about three years to five years. The zen answer is as soon as you apply the principles to your daily life to help prevent conflict. The first thing to define is what you mean by ‘effective’. If you are asking when you could withstand an attack unarmed from three armed Russian spies, it certainly isn’t going to be five years. On the other hand, students often vastly improve their posture, projection and awareness within the first year; to many people this is enough to start reducing their risk of attack. How often you train and how seriously will also effect this. If you have specific concerns, please contact us or come talk to an instructor.
Q: Why would you even want a non-violent self-defense? If a person attacks me, they deserve anything I do to them!
A: In the United States, statistically you are most likely to be attacked by someone you know. Often, it is a conscious choice by this person to try and harm you. However, there are legitimate circumstances when a loved one may accidentally try to hurt you. A common example is a grand parent with severe Alziehemiers or someone acting under misinformation. Aikido offers you the chance to defend yourself without inherently resorting to the most violent reaction you have.
Aikido is used by police enforcement for the main reason that it can help prevent lengthy legal battles centering over misuse of form. Good Aikido caught on camera often looks like the person just fell down and can hardly be considered ‘excessive’.
Finally, that not all conflicts are physical. You certainly can’t just clock your boss if they start yelling at you, even if it is unfair. Aikido seeks to avoid fights by recognizing early signs of conflict and working to either resolve them or deescalate.
Q: What is a class like?
A: While each instructor has their own specialties and style, Aikido classes follow a standard design. We start by warming up and stretching. After this we practice small Aikido movements called the Aiki-Taiso. Then we work on rolling (controlled falling). After this each teacher customs their lesson. At our base, we learn techniques from a specific attack. We also practice weapons kata and attacks from weapons.
Q: Can children/seniors/ women do Aikido?
A: Yes. Children usually practice the first hour of the class (family hour) until they become teenagers or more experienced. Seniors are advised to talk to their doctors before taking Aikido. While we are a gentle martial art, Aikido practice involves taking rolls and generally places stress on the knees.
Q: Wait, you didn’t say anything specific about women practicing Aikido!
A: Well, that’s because Aikido doesn’t really have a handicap for gender (or age.) Unlike a striking art which tends to favor larger, young males Aikido isn’t about generating muscular power, blocks or rapid movements. Aikido pulls more from one’s ability to judge distance, move effectively, create cohisive movements, and judge another person’s reactions.
Q: Do you need to have any experience in martial arts or Aikido to joim?
A: No. Most of our members join without any experience in a martial art. We welcome people at all levels of training at our dojo, ranging from someone who has never trained in Aikido to yudansha.
Q: Do I need to have a gi to join? What about weapons?
A: A training uniform is part of your first month of dues. Dogi are specifically made to deal with the wide range of motion you encounter in an Aikido class so they are very durable. We do not require new students to purchase training weapons.
No. Although most students buy a gi within their first semester, it is in no way required. Just wear comfortable clothes you can move well in. Senior students tend to purchase their own weapons to train at home, however we are able to lend weapons for students to practice with at the dojo.
Q: Do you have to attend all 3 practices a week? What if I am late or need to leave early?
A: Most students are not able to attend all three practices. Attending twice a week is the norm and will allow you to make normal growth in Aikido. If you are going to be late, come in and stretch and wait to be bowed in. If you have to leave early, please inform the Sensei before class and simply bow out when you must go.
Q: Will I get injured doing Aikido?
A: No matter what the activity (walking, cooking, driving or martial arts) there is always a risk of injury. In short, if you listen to your senior student and Sensei’s instruction, the chance of you hurting yourself in Aikido is very slim. Most people injure themselves in Aikido trying to prove they can resist a fall or joint lock.
Q: What are the dues for this dojo? Are there testing fees?
A: Our monthly dues are $40. Your first month will total $60 for dues, registration and training uniform. Students can also pay $90 for a three month block. Student and family rates are available. We do not charge testing fees.
Q: Is this a legitimate dojo?
A: Yes. Seidokan Aikido of SC is current on its membership dues to Seidokan Aikido World Headquarters. Seidokan Aikido is recognized by the hombu (home) dojo in Japan as an official style of Aikido.