Do I need to be young, strong, or athletic to practice Aikido?
No. Aikido focuses on redirecting attacks rather than meeting them head-on. As a result, we develop balance and perception rather than physical strength. Smaller or less muscular people can actually be at an advantage. Members of our dojo range from 6 years old to students in their 60's, 70's, and 80's.
Will Aikido teach me how to fight?
No. At the highest level, Aikido can be very effective for self defense, but this is not the primary purpose of its practice. Instead, it is a path for self-improvement. Our practice is rooted in traditional martial arts, but the techniques have been refined to rechannel attacks to nondestructive conclusions. Through this process, we learn to let go of both internal and external conflict. To read more about Aikido philosophy, click here.
How long does it take to learn Aikido?
Any amount of time. Right away, you will begin to learn how to fall safely and evade incoming attacks. If you choose to continue your training, you will find that there is always a deeper level of understanding, allowing for a lifetime of practice. Our chief instructor, Frank Doran Shihan, has been practicing daily since 1959. To read more about him, click here.
Is it OK to smile on the mat?
Yes! We try to maintain a good balance between traditional etiquette and a relaxed environment. A relaxed body and mind are necessary for correct Aikido technique. Because of this, we foster an atmosphere of warmth, friendship, and kindness.
Will I need to sign a contract?
No. Aikido West has been an educational nonprofit since 1978. We do not lock in students with any sort of contract... the only thing we will ask you to sign is a liability waiver. Instead, we seek to build a strong community of beginners and long-term practitioners. We invite new members to join us as our guest for their first month, free of charge.