Q: What is Aikido?

A: Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art with deep roots in samurai tradition. On first seeing the art many people are surprised at how dance-like it looks. There are several reasons for this, but the most important is that Aikido, like dance, involves blending with someone else’s movement and energy. In Aikido the purpose of this blend is to use the attacker’s force and intent as a means to subdue and control him or her. To accomplish this Aikido uses joint locks, hip throws, sweeps and projections. In the traditional art, punches and kicks as you might expect to see them in karate are not used defensively, though strikes to anatomical weak points (atemi) are sometimes employed as a means of disrupting an attack or distracting the attacker, and students do learn to defend against strikes.

I’m interested in beginning to train Aikido? What’s the best way for me to start?

A: There are two ways to start practice at the dojo. You could take our twice-yearly Beginners Course. But if a course is not scheduled in the near future (event calendar), you can start by first coming in to watch a class; and then, if you like what you see, you can attend the next Basic class that suits your schedule. Just plan to come a little early so we can take care of the paperwork. It’s that simple.

Can older people practice Aikido?

A: There really is no upper age limit in Aikido. As long as you’re healthy enough for exercise, you can practice Aikido. You will, of course, need to adjust your training to your own physical limitations and we at Aikido of Madison do everything we can to support you in doing that.

At what age can my child begin Aikido?

A: We don’t usually let children start practicing until they are 6 years old. Occasionally, though, we do allow 5-year olds to start if they are advanced for the age (i.e., able to pay attention and follow instructions reasonably well).

What are the fees to train at Aikido of Madison?

A: Monthly fees:
Regular adult members: $75
Students (high school, college, etc): $55
Children: $50
Yearly membership dues:
Adults: $15
Children: $10

How long does it take to get a black belt?

A: If you train regularly (three times a week or more), it usually takes a minimum of 5 years to attain first-degree black belt. It’s worth pointing out, though, that we view the black belt as just the beginning of your serious training. In Japanese, the word for first-degree black belt is “shodan,” which means “beginner level.”

Is Aikido effective for self defense situations?

A: Yes, Aikido can be quite effective for self defense. In fact, Aikido or Aikido-like techniques are often taught to police in self-defense classes. But at the same time, self defense is not the primary emphasis in Aikido training. Aikido is primarly an art in which we learn a way of dealing flexibly and appropriately with any conflict situation you find yourself in, be it at home, at work or in a bar. As such, it is intended to be something that you can pursue for your entire life, if you choose to do so.