You should come in comfortable workout clothes and be prepared to remove jewelry, shoes, and potentially socks. You may want to bring a water bottle. Otherwise, just show up with a positive attitude!
There are no specific fitness requirements to attend classes at AKOC, as our classes are designed to accommodate students of all fitness levels and bodies. However this is a physical activity and participants should be prepared for standing, movement between standing and (safe) falling, and using muscles they may not be accustomed to. If you have specific injuries or limitations, let your instructor know before class so they can suggest appropriate modifications. You do not need any prior martial arts or other physical experience to start classes.
Will you win an MMA fight with aikido alone? Unlikely.
Will aikido teach you self-defense, confidence, poise, conflict resolution, balance, spacial awareness, and more? Absolutely!
If you are looking for an art that maximizes devastation of the opponent, aikido is not good for your needs. However, aikido includes many effective techniques that can be applied to real-world threats, as well as many "mat techniques" that reinforce basic principles of efficient and effective motion, even though they may not directly translate outside of dojo walls.
Aikido teaches many effective principles, including safe falling, maintaining poise in confrontational or otherwise stressful situations, and effective and efficient movement.
Why choose to practice aikido over other martial arts?
Aikido focuses on minimizing effort and force, and on allowing multiple options for self-defense. We focus on body mechanics and efficient movement rather than strength. Aikido involves mental as well as physical discipline, and can be applied in many ways over your life. If this sounds like something you're interested in, aikido is right for you!
Kokikai is a branch of aikido following the teachings of Maruyama Shuji Sensei. Maruyama Sensei lived in the US for decades, and shaped his aikido accordingly. Unlike some styles of aikido, Kokikai does not do any techniques from a kneeling position, because Americans rarely sit this way, and consequently do not have the muscles developed to sit that way safely for long periods of time. This highlights Maruyama Sensei's progressive approach to aikido - taking the most effective elements of traditional practice and adjusting them for a modern context.
The slogan of Kokikai Aikido is "Minimum Effort, Maximum Effect." We focus on leveraging the strength found through comfortable, natural motions and stances.
Dojos have very different strengths and personalities. Our dojo specializes in small, student-centered classes. Because we are a small group, you will get instruction personalized to your needs and interests. You may even occasionally get a private lesson if you are the only one to make it to class! Larger dojos have the advantage of multiple instructors and more bodies to practice with, but classes are less personalized.
Dojos can also differ in style of instruction, degree of formality, and more. If you are not sure what environment is right for you, try a dojo and see if the fit is right. Some things to pay attention to are:
Your sensei will be your guide on your aikido journey. The nature of aikido is that there is always room for improvement - this means your instructor is also a learner, or should be, in any dojo you enter. If you meet a blackbelt who claims to have all the answers, their progress has become stagnant!
Rather than seeing your sensei as infallible or already knowing all of the answers, see your sensei as someone who can help you find the answers. They are your guide, helping you up the mountain that they themselves are also climbing.