Aikido's founder, Morihei Ueshiba O Sensei, developed his art based on the principles of "budo" (the martial arts). In budo, if a warrior loses, they are killed or crippled. This is not the case with sporting competitions where opponents are bound by rules and are permitted to continue for the duration of the match.
Aikido is practiced with an awareness of this element of life and death, although we do not physically harm one another during practice. This aspect of aikido makes it unique to other martial arts and it is best experienced rather than explained.
Unlike many martial arts schools, we do not require students to sign long-term contracts. Our pricing is a flat fee per month and it entitles a student to train as many classes per week as they choose.
We do, however, require students to pay with auto-draft at the beginning of each month so we can pay our business expenses in a timely manner. Our instructors do not make money for teaching and dues are paid to keep the dojo open so everyone can practice.
To get started, contact the dojo and let us know you are coming to class. We will make sure you are introduced to everyone and that someone is assigned to you as a mentor (or "senpai" in Japanese). You are welcomed to try a class for free. If you like our practice and wish to join, you will have the option to purchase a uniform at that time.
While dues are generally collected at the beginning of each month, students are free to start at any time at a pro-rated rate.
Our dojo is not a "belt factory." Students are encouraged to focus on daily practice and their own personal development, rather than rank or competition with other students.
That being said, aikido practice does rely on a set curriculum of kihon waza (basic techniques) that are used as milestones for students' development. Generally, white belt testing is conducted twice a year during a regular class at the dojo. Black belt testing generally takes place at annual seminars under the supervision of our organization's head instructors.
While testing is not required – nor is it mandatory in order for students to be promoted – it is the standard measure used by our teachers, our organization, and the Aikikai Hombu Dojo (World Headquarters) in order to distinguish a student's dedication to aikido. Therefore, students are encouraged to test regularly and special attention is given to prepare them adequately for their required levels of examination.