Aikido Classes at Meirokan are divided into three types – all three require a valid waiver signed.
Aikido is known for its open-hand defensive techniques, and they form the basis for the mental, weapon, and freestyle techniques learned during advanced training.
Open-hand techniques are primarily performed in a standing position, and focus on maintaining your ability to keep moving and handle additional opponents. As Aikido is not a sport, the techniques were developed with the assumption that it would not be a fair fight; while we do what we can to avoid injury during class, we also teach our techniques on the assumption of multiple attackers, potentially armed, and where there are no referees.
While Atemi (striking) is not a primary goal in Aikido, we teach hard strikes and proper striking form; as our techniques rely on energy from an attacker, we require our training partners to strike hard and with intention if we want to learn how to defend ourselves.
Gozo Shioda said “Atemi are 70% of a real fight”; we practice technique to learn how to maintain awareness or our bodies and surroundings, and to focus our strength into a single action. This was echoed by Mike Tyson when he visited the Yoshinkan Hombu, and noted that Shioda’s method of delivering power from his hips was the same as he used to throw punches in boxing.
Our focus is on diffusing aggression without harm, and extending this training to our ability to handle challenging situations in all aspects of life; by learning how to handle hard strikes and redirect their power, we minimize the chance that we will have to inflict our own.
Aikido training involves three classes of weapon, all of which are taught at Meirokan. We run separate weapon classes, usually immediately after Open Hand classes.
Aikido movements are based on traditional Japanese Samurai combat techniques, and as such are deeply rooted in the tradition of the sword. We train using bokken, a hardwood practice sword, and focus on both basic striking and open-handed defence against sword attack.
The short staff is one of the most practical of the traditional weapons. Many common objects (a broom, for example) are simple stand-ins for the short staff, making it a practical training exercise to work with this weapon. Additionally, the physical extension and distance of the staff is an excellent tool for ensuring you are executing techniques from the hara (centre), rather than using the strength of your arms.
Like the jo, the knife is a practical training tool, which helps prepare students for the types of risks they could face in real-world situations, and helps to learn to approach even dangerous situations with a calm and controlled demeanor.
For parents considering martial arts as an activity for children, Aikido is an excellent option. With our focus on non-violent solutions to conflict and teaching self-control, it is an opportunity to allow children to learn a martial art without encouraging violence.
Generally, Aikido kids classes are for ages 6-12; while we have taught students younger than 6, most do not have the patience and focus required for Aikido lessons to be effective.
Around 13, we find kids are less interested in (and tolerant of) spending time with the younger kids, and are ready to train in the Youth / Adult class. Again, this is on a case-by-case basis, and we are happy to discuss your child’s needs with you and find the right solution.
Aikido helps kids to develop their sense of balance and body awareness, develops self confidence, and provides a valuable structured activity.
The formal nature of the dojo environment helps kids learn respect, and exposes them to cultural practices beyond what they see in their school life.