Frequently Asked Questions

What is Aikido?

It is as much philosophy as martial art. Technically, it is related to Japanese jujitsu (hand to hand combat techniques), by using joint-locks, pins and throws.

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Are there any physical limitations to practicing Aikido?

The level of intensity at which you train is based on your ability to perform the techniques safely. The best environment for learning is found in the student's "comfort zone." As you progress physically and technically in aikido you will naturally increase your training intensity, but always commensurate to your ability. If you have any health concerns however, you should make these known to the instructor prior to practice.

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What does an Aikido class consist of?

Classes always start with stretching and warming up exercises followed by practicing defensive falling and rolling. Classes can include conditioning exercises, footwork, balance and simple grasping and striking attacks that lead into the practice of techniques.

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What does the word Aikido mean?

The most accepted translation is: “Way of peace and harmony."

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What if I don’t know how to fall?

Then you will learn at your own pace in a safe environment.

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Can Aikido be used for self-defense?

Yes. Aikido is practiced as a defensive martial art. The basic techniques revolve around defending yourself from various attacks or multiple attackers. The techniques conclude with the attack completely neutralized.

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Is Aikido good exercise?

Yes. You will be moving, falling, rolling, sitting, kneeling, sweating and breathing hard for the time you are in class.

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How do I advance in Aikido?

To advance in Aikido requires a certain number of hours of training and an examination to demonstrate the techniques you are expected to know at a specific level. There is no competition or ”sparring” to advance.

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Are there ‘belts’ in Aikido?

Yes. Adults at North County Aikikai wear white belts for kyu ranks (5th – 1st kyu) and black belts for dan ranks (1st degree, 2nd, etc). Children’s belts are colored and relate to their rank.

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How long does it take to get a black belt in Aikido?

For adults there are five ranks (kyu ranks) prior to shodan, the first black belt level. A specified number of hours of training are required for each rank. From the beginning of training through the first black belt requires a minimum of 800 hours of training. Practitioners typically train 12-15 hours a month. The progression from beginner to black belt is a very personal journey which makes it nearly impossible to give an estimate for completion. Each student is encouraged to train at their own speed and arrive at shodan in their own time.

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Where can I see an Aikido competition?

There is no competition in Aikido. However, demonstrations can be viewed easily on YouTube and other video websites. Additionally, for practitioners there are periodic seminars to attend that are announced on the calendar of this website.

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Are there age limitations in Aikido?

It is difficult to say. If there are limitations it is more to do with your body and not necessarily your age. The founder himself taught and practiced into his eighties. We also have many children from 6 years old and up.

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Where does Aikido come from?

Aikido originated in Japan. The founder of the art was Morihei Ueshiba. He mastered several martial arts, including swordsmanship and ju jitsu. Although the techniques have roots in ancient Japan, aikido as a cohesive martial art was born in post WWII Japan.

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Why do we bow?

Bowing shows respect to the dojo, the teacher and your partner. It is not a religious gesture.

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Can I watch a class or two to see if this is what I want to do?

Yes. You are encouraged to do so especially if you have any reservations or have never seen Aikido practiced before.

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What equipment do I need?

Simple sweat pants/shirt are enough to begin. Although you will need a practice uniform (keiko gi) once committed to monthly classes. Later, a bokken (wooden sword) and jo (short staff) will also contribute to your studies.

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Is Aikido dangerous?

Aikido is a martial art. Safety is strictly followed during practice, but like all martial arts or any physical exercise, an element of physical danger exists.

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How is weapons/Iaido training related to Aikido?

Aikido techniques stem from actual hand-to-hand combat experience. It is important to understand how your body uses tools such as swords and knives to understand the movements of Aikido. It is also an added challenge that helps us refine our posture, balance and movements.

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Is Aikido a religion, a philosophy?

Aikido is first a martial art, but from the techniques emerges a philosophic system of peace and conflict resolution. While many customs in the dojo have origins in Shinto and Zen Buddhist traditions, it is not a religion.

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Is the school accredited?

Yes. It is part of Birankai International, the umbrella organization for schools under the guidance of T.K. Chiba, Shihan (master teacher). Birankai is affiliated with Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo. Crane Sensei studied directly under T.K. Chiba Shihan and her dojo is therefore directly affiliated through Birankai. Her shihan title is registered with Aikikai Hombu and Birankai NA.

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What is your dojo’s connection with O’Sensei, the founder of Aikido?

We have direct lineage to the founder of Aikido, Ueshiba Morihei, through his direct disciple, T.K. Chiba, Shihan, the teacher of our sensei, Coryl Crane, Shihan.

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