Taking part in an Aikido training session

In this section are answers to some questions you may have about taking part in an Aikido training session. If your question isn’t covered in this section, then please use the contact us form or alternatively come to one of the club training sessions and speak to one of the club instructors.

Please ensure that you inform the club instructor if you are taking any medication or have any injuries.

What should I wear?

Phil and Matt: Embu
Phil and Matt: Embu (London 2011)

If you already have a white Gi/Keikogi/Gogi (derived from keiko means practice, gi means dress or clothes) – this should be worn. If you don’t have a Gi, then to start with you can wear any loose fitting clothing such as track suit bottoms and a T-shirt and you can after a few weeks order a Gi from the club.

Long hair should be tied back and all jewellery removed.

Finally, as you will train barefoot you should bring some flip-flops to wear from the changing room to the edge of the mat as this prevents dust and dirt from being brought onto the Dojo mats.

Aikidoka as a training partner

In Aikido you train with another Aikidoka who is your training partner, NOT an opponent. Your training partner allows you to use his/her body so that you can learn the Aikido technique and they trust you to not take advantage and hurt them.

Don’t forget this because you’ll swap roles and you’ll be on the receiving end of the technique!

Dojo Etiquette

Although we train in a sports hall, the Japanese term for a training room is Dojo. The Dojo floor is covered with rubber mats.

There are a number of points when practising Aikido where it is customary to “bow”. The points are:

  • As you enter the Dojo;
  • As you leave the Dojo;
  • As you join the mats;
  • As you leave the mats;
  • As you start to practice an Aikido technique with your training partner;
  • After practising the Aikido technique with your training partner.

If the training session is already in progress, you should wait at the edge of the mat and wait for the instructor to invite you to join the mat.

Note: In Japan, bows are a done as both a greeting and an expression of thanks. Therefore, Aikidoka bow as a greeting before practising an Aikido technique and again after practice to thank their training partner.

What’s the structure of a typical Aikido training session?

This is an outline of a typical Aikido training session:

  • Warm-up;
  • Ukemi practice – Backward break fall, Forward/Backward roll, Rolling break fall;
  • Unsoku – foot movement exercise;
  • Tandoku-undo – Hand and foot movement exercise;
  • Aikido techniques – which could be from a Kata, free practice or preparation for competition.

A training session will be about one and a half hours long.

Some Aikido techniques use joint locks and so you will feel some discomfort as the lock is applied. If the pain of the lock gets too much for you, you should slap your thigh with your hand (if standing) and your training partner will slacken the hold. If you are on the lying on the Dojo mats, then you should slap the mat.

How do I get my black belt?

Kata demonstration
Kata demonstration

Bradford Tomiki Aikido Club, as a member of the British Aikido Association (BAA) follows the four BAA grading syllabuses.

The starting grade in the BAA is 7th Kyu (“red” belt). To gain subsequent grades or belts (white, yellow, green etc) and be promoted to Dan grade (black belt), you will need to pass a grading where you will demonstrate the required number of techniques for the grade to the required standard.

The BAA does not recognise the award of a Dan grade to young people under the age of 16 years and 6 months.

With each grade, the number of techniques that you need to demonstrate increases.

  • 6th Kyu (white belt) requires 5 techniques from the Randori-no-kata to be demonstrated;
  • 4th Kyu (orange belt) requires 14 techniques from the Randori-no-kata to be demonstrated;
  • 2th Kyu (blue belt) requires:
    • all 17 techniques from the Randori-no-kata
    • all 10 techniques from the Randori-no-kata-no-ura-waza
    • all 7 techniques from Shichi-hon-no-kuzushi
  • 1st Dan requires:
    • all 17 techniques from the Randori-no-kata
    • all 10 techniques from the Randori-no-kata-no-ura-waza
    • all 25 techniques from the Koryu dai Yon
    • the first 16 techniques from the Koryu dai San
  • 5th Dan requires demonstration of approximately 300 techniques from all the 7 kata in the BAA syllabus.

The BAA grading syllabus place an equal emphasis on Embu (Kata) and the demonstration of the application of the Kata techniques in the form of Kakarigeiko, Hikitategeiko and Toshu. You will need to pass both the kata and the application sections to pass a grading.

The BAA holds Dan gradings at the six approved National courses. Only Dan gradings achieved under the BAA syllabus at these venues will be approved by the BAA.

Details of the BAA grading syllabuses can be found here. Summary details of the BAA grading policy can be found here.