How does an aikido class take place?
A regular aikido class starts with warming up, breathing techniques and light stretching. Then you usually do some falling technique, before the instructor shows different exercises and techniques that are done in pairs. In aikido, you should try your best to observe what the instructor shows and continue working with the technique from the level you are at. It is common to change partners between exercises, and make sure to include everyone in the training. The training starts and ends with everyone bowing to each other and to the instructor.
What does it cost?
The training fee varies from dojo to dojo and depends on the training program and renting costs. It is generally between 300 and 600 NOK per month. Children pay about half price, around 200-300 NOK / month. In addition, you should calculate approximately 500 NOK for a simple beginner suit.
What kind of equipment do you need?
In aikido, you wear a white suit (keikogi) and train barefoot, but you can easily show up at the first training in sweatpants and a t-shirt. After a few gradings, you also get to wear a hakama, the traditional Japanese trousers. Sometimes we use a wooden knife, stick or sword, and most dojos have weapons you can borrow.
Why all the bowing?
The class usually starts with bowing to the founder of aikido and to the instructor, then you bow to the partner you train with. Bowing is an expression of respect and is very common in martial arts and in Japanese culture in general.
Are there gradings?
Yes. At a grading, you get the opportunity to show the proficiency you have acquired, and it is a good motivation for continued progress.
Only white and black belts are traditionally used. Degrees for white belt start at 6.kyu and up to 1.kyu, then you graduate from 1st dan up to 4th dan with black belt. In Norway, we use hakama from 3.kyu. From 5.dan and up, there is no ordinary grading, but grades that are given by recommendation according to a number of criteria.
For children aged 7-15 years, we use a separate grading system that varies somewhat depending on where you train.
Is there competition in aikido?
No, there is no competition in aikido. The purpose is to neutralize the attack without harming, by harmonizing with the partner. The goal is to win over yourself rather than over others.
Is aikido similar to other martial arts?
The technical foundation of aikido is mainly based on traditional forms of jujutsu, and therefore has common origins with other modern styles such as judo and Brazilian jujutsu (BJJ). Aikido also has a lot of inspiration from Japanese sword schools and thus has elements in common with kendo and iaido. Aikido also has some features in common with Korean hapkido.
When can I start?
Some dojos start beginner classes at the end of January and August, but many dojos also have continuous admission. Free trial classes are often given to beginners. Get in touch and ask!