Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba. Aikido has its origins in traditional Japanese martial arts using weapons and unarmed techniques. By means of circular movement an attacker's force is diverted and turned back upon him. A variety of techniques may be applied to the attacker's arm joints; but although these can be extremely painful and induce immediate submission, they are not aimed at causing injury. Thus it is perhaps the most subtle and graceful of the various martial arts. Since Aikido techniques do not call for physical strength or aggressive spirit, it is practised by people of all ages or physical make-up.
For your first few classes, any loose clothing such as jogging pants and a sweatshirt (or t-shirt) will do. Once you decide to commit then you can buy a keikogi. You can purchase these from most sports and martial arts shops, although we recommend Nine Circles as they sell keikogi specifically designed for aikido (like this one: https://www.ninecircles.co.uk/aikido/aikido-clothing/aikido-gi/aikidogi-intermediate-500g-sashiko-ori/).
Your first class is free.
If you decide to keep coming after your first class then you will need insurance (don't worry, we'll give you the forms to fill out). Insurance costs £32 a year for adults (£25 unwaged) and £20 a year for juniors (under 18).
The cost for each class is as follows:
Adult concession £4.30
Junior concession £3.10
Non TLC card holders
It depends. Because 50% of Aikido practice involves being an uke (attacker), the amount of energy used in receiving technique is proportional to the energy put into the attack. Two athletic practitioners can burn a lot of calories very quickly with enthusiastic attacks, whereas an uke and tori (the person doing the technique) could also practise at a more sedate pace.
Aikido does involve a lot of being put down on the mat and having to get up again, which can be a lot more tiring than it looks! If you practise regularly then your fitness will improve, but you will also learn to expend your energy more efficiently.
There are some techniques that involve wrist locks (which we don't apply to juniors), so if you have any injuries then please speak to the instructor before practising. For the most part it's possible to train at a pace that is appropriate to you, but if you have any concerns about your ability to do physical exercise then please consult your doctor first.
We accept students from age 7 upwards. Because Aikido does not rely on strength for effectiveness it can be practised by people of all ages. Many senior aikidoka continue well into their 80s and 90s!
Aikido techniques can be deceptively simple or very complex. They require an understanding of balance, posture, timing, and knowing how to respond to physical contact. In order to develop these skills the practice starts with attacks that allow techniques to be practiced slowly and confidently so that understanding can be developed without serious risk of injury. Once a degree of competence has been achieved with basic contact the student can then progress to punches, kicks, chokes, multiple attacks, etc. However, these are still practiced with the same martial awareness and consideration for our training partner as the grabbing attacks.
Yes. Because movement in aikido is based on the sword, weapon practice with bokken and jo (wooden training sword and staff) is used to enhance understanding and development of the body techniques. These exercises are known as Aiki-Ken and Aiki-Jo. We do several weapons courses each year.
In addition there are some techniques which are practised based on knife attacks, for which we use a wooden training knife (known as a tanto).
There are 6 kyu grades before Shodan (1st Dan black belt). For kyu grades there is a minimum training requirement of 60 hours before you are eligible to take your first grading (for subsequent gradings the minimum requirement is 30 hours for juniors and 60 hours for seniors). Kyu grading courses are held twice yearly in the dojo. To be eligible for Shodan you must have held 1st kyu rank for at least 2 years. Dan gradings are conducted on national courses twice yearly. Ultimately, it is at the chief instructor's discretion as to when you take a grading.
In theory, an exceptional student could achieve Shodan in 5 years. However, the aim of training in aikido is not to pass grades, it is to perfect the art. There is a syllabus, but learning Aikido is not a box-ticking exercise. Gradings are an opportunity for you to demonstrate what you have learnt and for your instructor to evaluate your progress.
Ken Mon Kan is affiliated with Aikido World Headquarters in Tokyo through Te Shin Kai. This means that all the gradings are certified by the Aikikai (the world governing body for Aikido) and, as such, are recognised nationally and internationally. The Aikikai also ensures the standard and quality of our instructors' training methods.
You may also hear reference to Hombu - this is the name of the dojo at Aikido World Headquarters, but is often used as a shorthand for the Aikikai.