Your first lessons is FREE so you can try before you buy
The first time can be scary. Many people become a little apprehensive or nervous when faced with new situations: so in order to calm those nerves down, here is how it generally happens.
Come and play!
Since you're reading this, you must at least be considering Aikido. Why not come along to the next session? The best way to find out what Aikido is all about is to come along and try it out, or at the very least, come and watch. Beginners are always welcome - even if you want to just try it out for one session to see if you like it.
When and Where
We meet Wednesdays in Greenhills Community Centre from 19:00 - 21:00 and on Thursdays at the Belgard Community Centre from 19:00 - 21:00. We recommend that you arrive 5 or 10 minutes early so you can meet one of our instructors.
What to Wear
Wear something loose, that isn't going to hamper your movement: Something like tracksuit bottoms and a T-Shirt is perfect.
OK, so you've found the dojo (training hall), you're wearing your old jogging bottoms, what happens next?
The main thing would be to meet one of our instructors, and meet some of the members of the club. In doubt, just ask anyone present, all members are keen to help newcomers.
You can take your shoes, socks, coats and any other bits and pieces into the hall. Also take off any jewelery and anything else that might get caught in clothing and damaged. Empty your pockets of everything that might fall out, such as wallets, purses and mobile phones (best to switch off if possible).
Students all line up facing the instructors. We line up in grading orders, so typically beginners are on the left, and the higher grades on the right.
The highest grade present will say "seiza", meaning "kneel down".
Shortly after, he/she will say "Sensei no rei", which means "bow to the teacher". We all bow forward to the teacher, while they bow toward us. That's only the Aikido way to salute and saying "thank you for being there".
If you get lost at any point, just follow someone next to you. Don't worry! Everyone was a beginner at some point, and we all made mistakes. No-one will laugh, and the instructor will probably show you, or get someone to show you the right movement.
We spend a little while getting warmed up and stretched. We start by running around the mat to get the old ticker going. We then spend a couple of minutes loosening up joints - Not stretching, just moving each joint to the maximum range of movement, so that it is nice and loose and easy to move later. Follow the instructor or someone next to you if you need direction.
Next up, we normally loosen up the wrists with several specific stretching exercises. Because Aikido techniques often involve wrist and arm locks, we stretch the wrists out beforehand so that when the techniques are applied, we don't cause damage to the wrist. Don't worry, some of these exercises do involve some weird grasps and manipulation of your hands and arms, someone will come and show you exactly what to do.
Once warmed up and stretched, we often do some more exercises such as sit ups. Don't worry if you can't do everything, only do what you can. You won't be told off if you need to stop for a breather. Your stamina will improve in time.
Breakfalls - Ukemi
In Aikido, we spend a lot of time falling and getting back up. We have specific ways of falling so we don't get injured and we can do the techniques again and again.You will be shown the basics so you can start to train safely. During practice, your partners will be aware of your abilities and will take it easy.
Once you are loose and warm, we get on to the meat of the session. The sensei (teacher) will gather everyone around, and demonstrates a really simple technique - against one of the higher grades (coloured belts).
Everyone splits up into pairs, and you spend the next two minutes trying to work out which way up your hands are supposed to be before you start, and you realize that the really simple technique is actually really quite hard - the sensei just made it look easy. After a minute or so, the sensei will come over and show you again how it is done properly - and you just start to get the idea when he calls everyone back to look at the next technique.
After a few more techniques, all seemingly easy but with hidden complexities that mean you end up facing the other way - or holding the wrong arm - you find a technique which you can do! When you grab here, step just there, twist the wrist like so, and apply pressure like that - and this is the point at which you realize that Aikido really works and is very effective.
All too quickly, you all line up again and by looking at the clock, you realize two hours have slipped by - it doesn't seem like it!. After a couple more bows, you make your way off the mat (bowing again to the mat on the way off) and before we get changed, we put the mats back in the store room (everybody gives a hand regardless of rank).
When all is done, you start putting your shoes and socks back on, feeling warm and slightly tired - but feeling like you've really learnt something different, and that you're now part of the group.
You are now ready to go home. Hopefully, you would have had some fun and will want to come back for more!
The first lesson is free. You try before you buy. Subsequently, the cost is for adults €10.00 and €5.00 students/ unemployed per class. For the first few sessions, you'll be covered by the club's insurance. If you decide you would like to continue training you can arrange insurance with the club secretary. You do not have to buy a suit (Gi) until after your first grading.
We look forward to meeting you. If you have any questions please let us know via our form at the bottom of the page and we will do our best to answer all your questions and ease your worries or concerns.