Aikido is a Japanese martial art that was formed by Morihei Ueshiba, later know as O’Sensei (Great Teacher). Morihei Ueshiba founded what we now call Traditional Aikido/Aikikai. You May have heard of other forms of Aikido like Yoshinkan or Tomiki. These styles do have some foundation from the traditional style, however, the arts themselves were founded by different people.
Nearly every beginner I have met has at some point or other asked what we call the golden question. “Is this what Steven Seagal does”?
The answer is yes it is, however over the years Seagal Sensei’s form has changed somewhat from the traditional style. It is still more or less the same, but it is more formally known as Tenshin style, with a very slight difference.
If Aikido is going to be your chosen martial art, I would advise the following:
Bear in mind that Aikido is probably one of if not the most difficult and complex of the martial arts. You must be committed from day one.
You will walk into your first class and watch the Sensei perform techniques that will blow your mind. It is very difficult and time-consuming, however, if you stick at it and work through the beginner stages, you will feel that your Aikido will start to come to life. You will feel that it is probably boring just holding uke’s wrist and waiting for the technique but this is your starting block and you must work through it in order to set off on the path to becoming a great Aikidoka.
For those of you wanting to start or even just try Aikido, please remember that there is no competition in Aikido and no score tables for you to try and become number one. You have to ask yourself, What do I want to gain from Aikido? Is it a Black Belt? Is it knowledge of self-defense? or is it everything Aikido has to offer?
Whatever your reasons for studying Aikido, Make sure you are ready to commit to not only the physical side of Aikido but the discipline side as well.
I have studied Aikido for only 3 years and I am one week away from my Shodan examination. In the beginning, I looked up to all the “Black Belts” because they wore Black Belts, but now after training hard for 3 years and studying the more spiritual side Aikido has to offer, I do not see how a black belt would make me any better after my grading than I was before. The black belt to me now is recognition that I have been trained well in the basics and have reached a good level of understanding in AIkido. I believe very strongly that you only start to learn martial art once you have reached a certain level of understanding (such As Shodan). If I am successful, my journey is just beginning.
If you go into Aikido just wanting a Black Belt and nothing else, then you will find that you are missing vital ingredients to becoming a great Aikidoka.
Make sure you find the right Sensei. This is very important. If you find a Sensei who is obsessed with promoting his name and grade then this is not the kind of tuition you should be looking for. You need a Sensei who is dedicated to his club and students (not himself). If you have a Sensei who sincerely enjoys watching YOU progress, not in rank, but ability then you have hit the jackpot.
I wish you all the best of luck and maybe I will see you on the mat one day.
Written by Ashley Scholefield, White Rose Aikikai