Academy of Martial Arts Tankyushin, Aikido, Judo, Karate

  1. Who can join?
  2. What kind of clothing or equipment do I need to practice?
  3. How fit or strong do I have to be to start training?
  4. What should I expect in a typical martial arts class?
  5. Is martial arts study safe?
  6. How long does it take to earn a black belt?

Who can join?

There are classes for everyone — men, women, youths, and children from the age of five and up. Students are encouraged to progress at their own pace in keeping with their individual level of fitness.

What kind of clothing or equipment do I need to practice?

Beginner students need nothing other than regular gym clothes. A tee shirt and a pair of shorts or sweat pants will suffice. No footwear is required as we practice barefoot on tatami or training mats. Those students who continue on beyond the introductory stage are expected to purchase a standard white cotton gi or training uniform. Uniforms in most adult and children sizes are available for purchase at the Academy. All other training equipment is provided by the Academy.

How fit or strong do I have to be to start training?

No particular background or predetermined level of physical fitness is necessary as a prerequisite to participation. While regular training invariably improves students’ strength and overall fitness, aikido’s effectiveness typically relies on redirecting an attacker’s energy to the defender’s advantage. This is achieved by blending with the attack through proper body movement (tai sabaki), thereby unbalancing and neutralizing the attacker, instead of utilizing brute force. Many people of average or below average strength and fitness have gone on to become accomplished students and teachers of aikido.

What should I expect in a typical martial arts class?

All classes are led by a certified black belt teacher and often have one or more others assisting. The Academy teaching staff prides itself on the high teacher/student ratio. Classes uniformly begin with a brief meditation followed by a warm-up period aimed at warming and stretching all of the body’s principal muscle groups. This usually includes some aerobic activity aimed at increasing students’ heart rate in preparation for introducing aikido-specific exercises such as:

      1. learning how to roll or fall without injury;
      2. performing escapes from hand and body restraints;
      3. learning basic attack avoidance through body shifts;
      4. introducing aikido techniques aimed at disarming and/or controlling an attacker;
      5. participating in randori — a form of free-flowing practice where the defender learns to address multiple attackers using prescribed or appropriate freestyle defenses.

Classes end with a cool-down designed to slow students’ heart rate to resting. This is followed by a final meditation period.

All classes are open to visitors. You are welcome to contact the Academy in order to arrange a meeting with the head teacher who will answer all of your questions.

Is martial arts study safe?

No physical activity is completely without risk, however, it is worth noting that aikido-related injury tends to be rare. Students are never made to feel pushed or rushed. Regular class attendance [twice per week] is encouraged in order for students to progress efficiently and safely. Rules of conduct in the dojo [etiquette] are well explained and followed at all times in the interest of creating and preserving an organized, safe, and enjoyable training environment for everyone. Prospective students with medical concerns are asked to discuss this with their teacher before signing up and may be required to provide a note from their physician.

Martial arts have always been taught safely at the Academy of Martial Arts, Lancaster Road. Students are provided quality, individually tailored instruction according to their needs and ability and are always encouraged to progress at their own pace.

How long does it take to earn a black belt?

This is a common question put to teachers by new or prospective students. The short answer is it takes years. On the other hand, students quickly come to realize that one’s rank pales in importance as compared to the training in and of itself. Typically, the diligent student who attends class routinely will progress well and will be invited to a ranking examination once per year. It’s fair to say the longer students study aikido, the less importance they attribute to the color of their belt. Teachers and senior students often joke that the real purpose of an aikido belt is to hold up your pants!

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