Wadokai Aikido Martial Arts

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What exactly is Aikido?

"Ai" means harmony or to come together, "Ki" means spirit or energy", and "Do" literally means the path or way. Put together, "Aikido" literally means the way of spiritual harmony. By its nature, Aikido is a strictly self-defense, yet decisively effective, martial art that seeks to neutralize aggression through economic movements while preserving the attacker and defender.

Q: What are the basic principles of Aikido?

Aikido is the physical expression of a philosophy of peace. The central tenet is to neutralize an opponent�s attack by blending with and redirecting their energy. Thus, conflict is resolved in a harmonious way. The goal of the Aikido practitioner is to develop a relaxed awareness, allowing a harmonious response to any attack.

Q: What particular style or form of Aikido is taught?

Aikido of Suenaka-Ha Indiana teaches Suenaka-Ha Tetsugaku-Ho Aikido. Simply put, Suenaka-Ha Tetsugaku-Ho (Suenaka style, philosophical way) Aikido is a synthesis of Founder Morihei Ueshiba O’Sensei’s Aikido and that of Shin-Shin Toitsu Aikido founder Koichi Tohei Sensei. It is a system of self-defense designed to be street-effective, while paying equal attention to spiritual, mental and moral/ethical development.

Q: Could you please explain the significance of bowing and all these rules of etiquette?

The study of the martial arts begins and end with etiquette, and this particularly true at Aikido of Suenaka-Ha Indiana. We practice many methods of martial courtesy as a sign of respect to Suenaka Sensei and his teachers, and to ourselves.

In respect of bowing to the shomen (the front of the class with the picture of O’Sensei, all students are required to observe this particular formality irrespective of any conflicting personal beliefs. This is a simple demonstration of respect.

Some individuals may be uncomfortable at first and perhaps even overwhelmed by learning all of these intricacies of protocol. That’s fine, new students are allowed a certain period of time to learn our protocols and expectations. We find that those approach practice and participation with a humble attitude soon find themselves quickly and naturally adapting to these expectations.

Q: Do you offer a beginners’ class?

New students are always welcome to join at any time. Because the practice of Aikido requires a partner, you will be paired with a senior student or instructor to safely practice and learn techniques. All that we ask in return is a sincere desire and willingness to empty your cup to learn.

All students are strongly encouraged to participate at a level which they feel safe and comfortable. Instruction will be customized to address any physical limitations or challenges. It is important to keep in mind that regular, measured, practice will lead to measurable improvement over time.

Q: Is Aikido right for me?

Only you can decide if the study of Aikido is right for you. Many people, men and women, old and young alike, approach the study of Aikido from various backgrounds with different goals. Students of Aikido achieve these goals and more by learning to harmonize mind, body, and spirit. The practical benefits are many and can be applied not just in training, but in daily life.

Q: What differentiates your program from other schools?

Our program offers numerous benefits beyond basic self-defense techniques to also include personal wellness and improvement dimensions through Ki development. Our aim is to improve ourselves so we will not need to control or harm others.

In addition, one of the unique components to our program is a holistic approach to martial development and study. We are strong believers in the need to not just practice Aikido on the mat, but in every day life. As a community focused dojo, we participate in various activities such as food drives, disaster relief, and other such activities to provide an opportunity to learn and apply the principles of Aiki not only on the mat, but off the mat as well.

Q: I’m not very fit, will that be a problem?

Anyone can successfully study and practice Aikido. At the beginning, new students learn to fall safely and learn basic techniques under supervision from the instructors. As a student progresses, the amount of cardiovascular activity increases significantly. After a period of regular training, the new student will have gradually developed and be capable at performing at that level with confidence.

Before beginning practice, we recommend that you consult with your doctor to make sure that you do not have any hidden health risks. Also, please be advised that you will be constantly watched to make sure that you are not over doing it just because think you should be able to keep up with the rest of the class. Although being physically active helps, there is one thing you should know, and that is nothing gets you in shape for Aikido but Aikido.

Q: I am concerned that I will slow the class down because of my skill level

No need to worry about slowing the class down, because you will be paired with a senior student who will be more than glad to work out with you at your level. One of our favorite thoughts is that, when one teaches, two learn. Your presence on the mat challenges our ability to teach what we know, and this challenge helps to grows us as much as it does to help you.

Q: How often am I expected to practice?

Regular attendance of at least two classes a week is expected and will lead to measurable improvement. While the occasional absence is understandable, one must train regularly and with determination to make meaningful progress. Further, students must maintain this focus over time to advance in the study of Aikido.

The first step in your journey is to make up your mind. You must decide to make your training a high priority in your life, not just something you do for entertainment or a diversion whenever you lack something more interesting to do... As you progress, the discipline and dedication of your training will set you apart. You will begin to approach all of life with a martial artist’s outlook. Over time, your entire attitude and personality will evolve. But this kind of fundamental improvement of your character cannot occur without a strong determination to train, even when you don’t feel like it — especially when you don’t feel like it.
M. Shimabukuro

Q: I would like to start to Aikido but I feel that I am too old

Please, put that thought out of your mind. You are never too young or too old to practice Aikido. However, in order to practice at our dojo, we request that you be at least 16 years old. The average student age in this dojo is in the mid to late 30’s and in our organization we have quite a few students and instructors over 50.

Q: Do you offer a kids class?

No. Our minimum age to train is 16 and we do not have an upper age limit. Keep in mind that any student under 18 years of age is welcome with the provision that a parent/guardian also participates.

Please note, as with any student new student irrespective of age, we will evaluate the 'fit' of the student to our program within the first weeks of participation. If perhaps our program does not meet the needs of a student, we may suggest other martial art programs which may be a better fit.

Q: Can people with physical limitation practice Aikido?

Yes! There are wonder examples of people who have achieved their black belts with all sorts of physical limitations. As instructor I personally welcome the opportunity to have such students on our mat. Actually, Aikido Suenaka-Ha Indiana is an equal opportunity organization, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, ethnic group, age, sexual orientation or physical abilities.

Q: Although I am interested in Aikido, I was wondering if this is really the best form of self defense to study?

It is not fair to compare one form of martial art to another. You really have to determine why you are interested in studying any form of self defense: are you pursuing self defense studies for safety reason or because you are in imminent danger? Spend some time and do your research. Each form of self defense is going to have pros and cons. However, if you meet an instructor and they tell you that they offer fool-proof style of self defense you might want to rethink joining that school.

Q: Do I need any special clothing or uniform?

Beginning students are encourage to wear loose-fitting clothing such as a long t-shirt and sweats that allow for comfortable movement. Shorts are not recommended, due to tumbling and groundwork activities.

After a short while, new students will be asked to purchase their own training keiko-gi which is a all-white Aikido or Judo uniform. These may be purchased from the dojo or another source, the usual cost begins around $50.

Visiting students or students with previous experience are asked to wear an all-white Aikido or Karate style dogi with white belt.

Q: Can I stop in for a visit to watch a class or participate?

Visitors are always welcome to stop by for a visit to observe a class. Seating is provided and the instructors and students are keen to welcome you and answer any questions you may have regarding study. Optionally, you can choose to participate and try a class for free after an initial orientation and signing of release forms.

You will notice that everyone on the mat is supportive of your efforts to gain an understanding of the principles and techniques of Aikido. In addition, expected to challenge yourself which part of the natural learning process. By the way, you should also expect to laugh, have a good time and sweat.

Q: What is your minimum age to train? Do you have a kids program

The minimum age to train is 16 years old and there will be no exceptions to this rule. This is due to the nature of physical development that is still occurring up to about 16 years of age. Specifically, because our art employs a number of joint locks and submissions, the otherwise natural development and fusing of bones could be at risk. While some Aikido programs may change their teaching curriculum for youth, we instead focus on teaching technique that can be relied upon and is not compromised in any way.

Please note, the minimum age to train is 16 years with the provision they are studying with one of their parents.