Notes for Beginners

  1. How do I start?
    • Show up and watch at least one class.
    • Sign a liability waiver. People do injure themselves and others practicing martial arts. While aikido does not have actual sparring, it is a physical activity.
    • Monday and Thursday first class are aimed at beginners.
    • Attend two classes for free.
    • Pay your first monthly dues. We will prorate the first month.
  2. What are the club dues?
    • Membership is $85 per month paid to Baltimore Aikido and put in the dues box at the dojo. Checks or cash in a labeled envelope are accepted. There are envelopes below the dues box for this purpose.
    • We have a reduced rate for couples who live together: $147 for the two of you.
    • The monthy dues cover the yearly dues to ASU.
    • When you test for rank you will pay a fee to Aikido Schools of Ueshiba. It is $35 for kyu ranks, but dan ranks vary based on current exchange rates with Japan.
  3. What do I wear?
    • Start with loose clothing such as sweat pants and shirt. You will want your knees and elbows covered. Please be sure to remove all jewelry.
    • Purchase an inexpensive white gi. Both karate- and judo-style uniforms are fine. Start with a cheap one. You will wear it out and can buy nicer equipment if you wish.
    • Once you pass your first test, you should buy a hakama, a pleated split skirt traditionally worn by Japanese samurai. Normal colors today are navy and black. They are available in different blends and weights of fabric. As with a gi, start with an inexpensive one. Prices range from $50 to $250.
    • Please wash your clothing regularly. It is considered disrespectful to the art and to your fellow aikidoka to come onto the mat dirty or smelly.
  4. How often should I come to the dojo?
    • Most people start with two to three days a week. Especially as a beginner, do not over-practice and injure yourself.
  5. It seems confusing, what should I concentrate on?
    • The most important thing for a beginner to do is to learn how to fall easily and confidently. Then you can enjoy flying around the mat with the rest of us.
  6. What should I avoid?
    • Over-enthusiasm usually results in beginner burnout or injury. Aikido is a long-time study. Have patience and let your body adapt.
  7. What can I study at home?
    • Senior students can show you different skill exercises such as tenkan, rowing exercise and suburi weapons practice. If you find a combination of core training (yoga, pilates, etc.), aerobics, and weights that suits you, it will increase your general health for the rest of your life.
  8. What about the various weapons?
    • We use wooden practice swords called bokken. Tsuba, or sword guards, are helpful and come with some models.
    • Jo are slender wooden staffs that come up to your armpit or shoulder.
    • Shinai are split bamboo practice swords. We use ones covered with leather, based on a traditional Japanese design.
    • Do not use someone else's weapons unless the owner specifically lends them to you.
    • The dojo has a few communal weapons, so do not rush out and buy everything at once. Extremely cheap and thin weapons do not usually last long and can be dangerous . Extra heavy weapons get in the way of your practice unless you are very strong and adept. All weapons break eventually if you use them. Splintery weapons are a danger to both you and your partner. Treat your weapons respectfully and replace them as needed.
  9. Where do I buy this stuff?
    • Kiyota Company, Inc. at 2326 North Charles Street in Baltimore has a very large selection of martial arts supplies, weapons and books. It is in a basement store front. The door is sometimes locked during open hours, but if you knock, Mr. Kiyota will let you in.