This thread quickly drifted slightly off topic, and I take the liberty to revive it although pretty cold.
Justin Smith wrote:
I've sat in on a few aikido classes at different dojos to 'test the water' before joining.
One thing I observed is that Japanese is spoken for counting, to say thank you, and for, I think, some basic 'commands'.
So I'm wondering, while language is obviously not mandatory for learning a martial art, do you think it would be helpful for a beginner to learn some basic Japanese (say thank you, and the numbers from 1 to 10) prior to joining a class? And if so, besides the terminology for aikido techniques, is there anything else in Japanese that would be helpful to learn?
Prior to joining class - no I do not think so. Beginners are not expected to understand all the Japanese terms, you learn them eventually. In the middle of the first term, though, it certainly is a help to learn as much of the Japanese stuff you encounter - for many people one of the trickiest part of their first grading test is to remember the names of the techniques! and sure it helps if you learn a little Japanese outside of aikido class. If you like to learn languages, sure go ahead and you will have some use from it.