View Full Version : Wanted for a Beginner: Information, Suggestions, ?

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03-19-2002, 01:30 PM
Hi All,

First, thanks for lots of interesting posts all over this forum. I just started practicing Aikido in February and I am still having a terrific time.

I am able to practice twice each week (sometimes 3x) and I would like ideas on things that I can do at home in between. So far, I have only thought of stretching exercises on our limited carpet space. These are helpful because at age 38 I am not as limber as in my "youth."

The promotion details in my dojo require at least 6 months of practice before testing for 5th kyu. I am not looking for shortcuts or anything but I am looking for information that might help me assimilate some of the technique names, etc. I am still at the stage where I wish that sensei would demonstrate twice as long as he/she does. I find that there is usually always something that I didn't pick up - uke footwork, nage footwork, nage hand positions, etc. Anyway, I think that if I knew what yokomen uchi shiho nage (for example) was, then I could concentrate on doing instead of wondering. I did attend my first testing session last week where four folks tested successfully for 3rd kyu. I found it an inspiration and am eager to get to the point where my instructor will ask me if I plan to test "next time."

Actually, any suggestions on how to keep this effort exciting and enjoyable without imposing too much burden on my family would be greatly appreciated. I am looking forward to continuing Aikido for a long time.

As an aside, for any other science fiction fans out there, my first introduction to Aikido was through Steven Gould's book "Helm." I like it a lot and my copy is currently on loan to one of my instructors.

Bruce Baker
03-19-2002, 04:05 PM
I know how you feel ... I didn't start any Martial Arts until my mid thirties, it was like being in a foreign land?

There will be many classes of immitation, without really catching the names of what the teacher is saying. It is expected in the first six months to a year, so don't get all flustered about it ... it is no big thing. Just hearing the words and seeing the techniques will become familiar friends to you as time goes on.

The quickest way to learn many of the techniques of aikido is to learn to Saguri strikes with bokken, count to five in Japanese, and not do more than your body allows.

Stretching will take longer, healing will take longer, and your mind will absorb things into a logical means of explaination rather than accepting everything at face value? Your best friends in early training will be to hang loose (feel the motion and power of technique without resisting unnaturally), using the oblique angles found in the eight point exercise for throws, and learning to use the power of your body from the hips rather than individual hands/ arms/ legs?

Still, after many years of injuries, I too must remember I am not a twentyfive year old kid, but nearly twice that today ... funny how the mind forgets until the body screams in pain? But when you start laughing because you feel the harmony of a technique, and can do it almost as well as the best person in your class can, you realize ... ten thousand more times ... and that sucker just might be mine for life!

I kind of wish I had started Aikido before forty, instead of after forty, I might actually have learned to control my anger sooner with a practice that is fun.

Enjoy your studies, and check back in a couple of months to let us know how it is going.

Oh, Yeah ... Make notes with English/ Japanese descriptions until terms become second nature. You are learning a new language.

03-19-2002, 05:33 PM
I would suggest NOT learning what yokomenuchi shiho nage was, and then doing it, during class, as the point is learning to watch what is done and be able to repeat the movements yourself...now, recognizing that what you are seeing is yokomenuchi shiho nage, and telling yourself that, is OK, as long as your brain doesn't then shut off. I call this yudansha disease, noticible most often in senior students who, as soon as they partner up with you, give you a funny look and say 'now what are we doing?' Or similarly, who do a yokomenuch shihonage, just not the one sensei just did...

As for learning so you can practice later, you undoubtedly mean you want to practice the basic version that will be tested at your kyu level. Find a senior partner willing to spend a few minutes before or after class with you, and work on a technique from your test list. Take notes on what he taught you, the foot work, thumb up or down, etc, what ever helps you recall. Hopefully next to the name of the technique (on your list or in your notebook). Review this several times over the next few days. Then add another.

When I first started, I would be practicing the techniques with Harvey, my imaginary uke, in the hallways between patients, or out on the flight line on a maintenence delay, etc... and at home I'd put on music with a nice beat and practice...I still hear certain songs in my head when I do certain techniques. Well, OK, I still practice in the hallways, and still use music.:p But then, it has not been that long since I started...

03-19-2002, 05:38 PM
Oh, and where I was 'raised' in Aikido, you would then owe the senior student two things, or three actually:
1. sincere thanks for his help
2. an offer to uke for him if there was something he wanted to practice (which is actually a good deal for you, pay attention and you will learn a lot from it if he uses you)
3. a debt to the next 'generation' to help them as he helped you
:) good luck, hope some of this was helpful

03-19-2002, 06:11 PM
Ki exercises--they're amazing little movements that are so simple, and yet so helpful. When I'm at home, and itching to train, but don't have a class until such and such a day :(, I move the coffee table in my living room, and do lots and lots of ki exercises. They help so much with movements like pivoting and hip motions which can then be utilized in technique. They are also great for when you want to concentrate on weight underside. If you don't know how to do them, here's a link: http://www.bodymindandmodem.com/KiEx/KiEx.html

If you simply want to work on technique, I have spent much time doing open-handed techniques, as Colleen suggested, and it helps to get it straight in your mind, so it's easier to remember the next time you do it in class.
Happy training,

03-20-2002, 12:46 AM
Ki exercises, what a great suggestion. And breathing, you don't even have to move any furniture!

The not imposing on your family made me think of another warning...avoid the temptation to use a wife rather than an imaginary uke, unless she volunteers (even then, you might just use this interest as a way to get her to join class). Most of us, at one time or another, have enticed a friend or spouse to 'grab me here'---most reactions to having a technique applied to them by a beginner when the friend/wife doesn't know ukemi has not been favorable. One girlfriend of mine whould grab my wrist and say OUCH OUCH OUCH at the same time. 'I haven't done anything yet," I'd protest. "Yeah, but you're going to and I don't want you to" she'd reply.

03-20-2002, 03:30 AM
Hello Wayne, welcome the wonderfully frustrating world of aikido ;) I would like ideas on things that I can do at home in between.

I don't know about your style/dojo but in ours we have a set of warm up exercises called aiki-taiso. They help teach basic body movements and most of ours relate directly to techniques that we do. If you can learn the aiki-taiso well it makes the techniques that much easier. A common phrase uttered with mock amazement in our dojo is "oh, it's just like the aiki-taiso" when sensei explains something and the student finally "gets it".

As for learning names of techniques I'd say give it time but then I'd be a hypocrite :rolleyes: I wanted to know what everything was called, right now! On my first day my sensei handed out a short lexicon of terms commonly used in aikido and our style/dojo specifically. I took it and made flash cards that I would carry with me to help me learn. I think the biggest thing that helped me learn the names of things was that I tried to learn the root words and then later strung them together. Example: katate (a single hand) dori (grab) irimi (entering) nage (throw). After I got a decent handle on the root words I would play a game of trying to decide what I would call a technique that sensei demonstrated. I was lucky to have a sensei who was patient and understanding. It didn't hurt that often it was just sensei and three of us newbies. I think he was just happy that we were interested :p

Hope this helps.


Johan Tibell
03-20-2002, 04:22 AM
There's a great danger in getting too comfortable with a technique. You could stop looking at what is actually done and at the same moment you stop learning. My sensei often solve this by doing the technique in perhaps 2-4 different ways. After he's done demostrating he says something like 'Iriminage, 3 different variations' and then we're supposed to do them all. Common reaction: "Three different!?!".

- Johan

03-22-2002, 09:00 AM
I will review the ki exercises and see where they might fit into my off-time efforts. The stretching started great and I was able to touch my toes for the first time in years. It has slowed down now but that's okay. I seem to be much smarter now than 20 years ago as far as expecting quick fixes.

My last two training sessions (Wednesday AM and Thursday PM) have been with a different instructor. From my basic perspective, he seems to be teaching from a slightly different point of view. On the one hand, it's nice to learn things without a rote mentality and be able to compare and contrast. On the other hand, I feel the confusion factor rising. It was fun last night and I'm not particularly stiff even though I did (simple) breakfalls for the first time. :eek:

Anyway, thanks again for the thoughtful suggestions.

Nick P.
03-22-2002, 05:22 PM
Follow these 3 steps to Perfect Aikido:
1) Go to class.
2) Watch Sensei.
3) Enjoy.
Four years after starting, that's how simple it has become. Now, if only I could move with my center, keep my hands in front of me, keep my back straight, not stand straight up, be a better uke...

03-22-2002, 06:04 PM
I'd say that the most important thing would be to train for the sake of training. They call this a budo since we're not here for the destination -- we're here for the path or the "getting there"...

-- Jun

Carlos Rivera
09-30-2006, 07:59 PM
Just to keep it simple:

1- Train with joy

2- Watch Sensei

3- Go to seminars

4- Don't be too hard on yourself, let your Sensei guide you

5- Enjoy the camaraderie with your fellow aikidoka at your dojo and everywhere else!

6- Last, but not least. . .smile! :cool:

10-01-2006, 03:46 AM
maybe a good book on what ever style your studying or similar, I used "the fundamentals of aikido" to get me through my first year and still use it now.

glad your enjoying it to me that's the biggest thing.

10-01-2006, 08:26 AM
IMHO, relax, breath, and enjoy yourself.
The quickest way to any destination/goal (and possibly beyond), is to enjoy the present.
To go further faster, go slow.

10-01-2006, 11:00 AM
SInce this thread is four years old, he's probably passed his first test by now...

Jorge Garcia
10-01-2006, 01:06 PM
I was once told to just stay on the mat or keep going to class. No matter what problem, no matter what question, what pain, or what person you don't like. No matter what distraction or what personal issues come up, just keep going to class on a regular basis. Try your best, be there to learn, make it about Aikido and not anything else and relax and enjoy.
Everything else will fall into place if you have a good instructor.

10-02-2006, 11:32 AM
when i first srarted aikido i was very keen to learn, like yourself, dont worry its still confusing to us all..........but seriously if you want to train more out of class, maybe ask one of the higher grades if they could come round your house for maybe 1 hour a week to give you some helpfull hints and advice, i know it really helped me and i still do it and will for as long as i live. you can learn at your own pace in your house, so when your next in class you maybe understand a little more. i hope this helps. :) :ai: :ki: :do: :)

Mark Uttech
10-08-2006, 06:30 AM
Confusion is actually good! It only lets you know that you are learning something new.
In gassho,

10-08-2006, 10:15 AM
The best thing to do is simply to train. The more you train, the better your mid and body become at processing what is given when you are training. Another thing I can say is to forget about gradings (not in the sense don't do them), since they are once in a while.

10-09-2006, 07:27 AM
Hi Wayne,
Good home work exercises:
1. cutting with a bokken (just the basic cut, moving off centre line) - maybe about 300 at a time. Excellent for developing body movement and hip power.
2. keeping physically fit (press-ups, sit-ups, running/swimming, circuits)
3. Get a heavy punch bag and practise punching (and/or kicking) to improve speed and power*
4. get two house bricks, stand in horse stance and throw them up and catch them using your fingers only - this helps develop grip strength.

(*) Since real aikido is 80/90% atemi (according to Ueshiba), I think it is important to be able to strike at any instant. The techniques open up your opponent for these strikes, but unless you practise serious full power striking you will never develop the reactive ability to apply 80/90% of real aikido!

Develop the simple things well and forget about anything complex. Don't worry about progression in terms of grades. Keep grading, but focus on what you have to do at the moment.

10-09-2006, 08:41 AM
3. Get a heavy punch bag and practise punching (and/or kicking) to improve speed and power*

Practicing with a heavy punch bag without any knowledge of how to punch correctly or how to train correctly can result in injuries, so be sure to ask for safety pointers from someone who trains in boxing or thai boxing.

Gernot Hassenpflug
10-09-2006, 09:05 AM
Here are some basic ideas for watching: don't focus on one thing so that you can't see the whole shape of both participants. Do try to see what the feet/legs/hips/waist are doing first (say, two times, left and right), then look at what upper body/arms/hands are doing as a result of the lower body motion. What uke does is almost incidental, I would not try to get any "effect".

Al Williams
10-10-2006, 06:57 AM
Take your boken home and cut.
Get sensei to give you points to work on.
Footwork in the kitchen, footwork in the bathroom, footwork in the garden. No footwork in the bedroom- that may lead to footwork in the spare room.