What is a typical Aikido class like? A typical class begins with stretching exercises. Then the instructor demonstrates techniques and the students take partners and try to duplicate the instructor's movements as best they can. During practice, partners take turns performing the technique (being the “nage”) receiving the technique (being the “uke”). The instructor observes the students as they practice and gives personal instruction, often consisting of bringing the student's attention to important points or common mistakes.
Are there seminars or special practice sessions? Daily practice is supplemented by Aikido seminars, i.e. practice sessions that extend over one or more days. Seminars are very valuable to the training of an Aikido student. At seminars, one trains with students and instructors from other dojos, as well as study with our Shihan or Master Instructors. There are also other special Aikido events such as the annual week-long Aikido Summer Camp.
Can you practice Aikido at home? The proper place to practice is on the mat at the dojo. It's generally not a good idea to practice elsewhere, especially without an instructor there to provide guidance. However, there are some kata (motions and forms) and stretching exercises that students can do on their own.
Does Aikido practice hurt? Like any kind of physical activity, Aikido training can create some element of pain, most often typical muscle soreness. Aikido practice in general is conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect and should be pleasant to all students. Partners work together, practicing at a pace and intensity level that will be safe for both. The main point is to execute techniques correctly, and typically that means doing them relatively slowly for some time. Over time, students can maintain precision at higher speeds. Therefore, advanced students may practice with more intensity than beginners, but that doesn't mean that a beginner should feel the need to practice with that level of intensity. Aikido students are encouraged to progress at a comfortable rate they define for themselves.