How do I get started? Typically, one would observe a class or two to get a clearer idea of what Aikido practice is like, and to decide whether to begin Aikido training. If you feel Aikido is right for you, then you can sign up at any time and begin practice immediately.
Should I take a trial class? We don’t think that a trial class is particularly useful in making your decision about whether to begin Aikido training. It's usually better to observe a class. Aikido is challenging, especially during the first two to three months when you are learning the basics. Because it usually takes this long to complete the initial phase of training, it can be hard to appreciate Aikido in one class. However, if you feel you can't make a decision otherwise, you can take a trial class at no charge.
Are there separate beginners classes? There are two "Beginners/Basics" classes each week. These classes focus on basic movements and techniques, but are open to students of all levels. Beginners may also start in the mixed level classes. In either case, we will work with you individually while you learn the most basic movements and techniques. After the first few classes, you will be able to follow most movements, but at a slow pace. This is the traditional way of teaching beginners in Aikido, and although it might seem intimidating at first, it does work and provides and smooth path for progress.
What fees are involved? Membership fees are paid monthly and entitle the student to take all classes (except Iaido). There also is a one-time registration fee. Please call or come visit the dojo for more information about fees.
What equipment do I need? You will need a standard medium weight white Judo style practice uniform, or “gi”. That is the only required equipment. (You can purchase a gi at Framingham Aikikai.) Women usually wear a white t-shirt or tank top under their gi.
How often should I practice? You should come as often as you can. If you need a benchmark, think of practicing two to three times per week. Maintaining a certain frequency of practice allows faster learning. Other than that, you make your own schedule.
Are there ranks? There are ranks, six ranks of white belt and ten ranks of black belt. However we do not use the colored belt system that is prevalent in other martial arts. Students start unranked. White belt ranks go from 5th kyu to 1st kyu. The next rank, shodan (1st dan), means first degree black belt, and then progresses to, second degree, third degree, etc. What do the ranks mean?A person’s rank, in a general sense, indicates how much one has trained and how well one knows the basic techniques of Aikido, both in the role of the attacker (uke) or the defender (nage). How does one advance in rank?One advances in rank by periodically taking tests. Testing follows the guidelines of the United States Aikido Federation. The test consists of demonstrating a set of techniques and also, frequently, taking ukemi (being the attacker) for other student's tests. Each test also requires that the student must have practiced for a proscribed number of days since beginning, or one's last test. Once you have practiced the required number of days, you are eligible to test. One must then obtain the permission of one's instructor. The tests get increasingly complex at higher ranks. To achieve the rank of Shodan (first degree black belt) one must practice steadily and seriously for approximately five to six years.
Are there competitions? There are no competitions in Aikido. Aikido's techniques are such that competition gets in the way. Students help each other better themselves instead of competing.
Are there classes for children? Framingham Aikikai has a children’s class that meets four times per week. It is aimed at ages seven through twelve, but children outside those ages can be admitted with the approval of the Chief Instructor. By the age of thirteen or so, most teenagers can successfully practice in the adult classes, and the adults program at Framingham Aikikai usually includes a good number of such students.