Beginners class in 2016

09. January 2017

Aikido Trial Course –  Lots of Fun on the Mat


In October 2016 our dojo hosted many new participants for our new beginners course. The well-prepared advertising for the trial course paid off and created much interest in our course.

The mats were quickly laid out thanks to all the efforts with so many new helping hands. Once the mats were in place it was time to start class. Our new participants together with our advanced students, sitting in seiza, waiting for class to begin. Gabi Bixel (3. Dan, Fukushidoin) began class with a short explanation of the basic principles of aikido followed by a short warm-up. In order for the new students to practice the first technique, basic ukemi – receiving the technique and learning to fall were demonstrated and practiced. Under the guidance of Gabi and with the support of the advanced students, the beginners quickly learned how to safely roll backwards onto the mat, then it was time to demonstrated and try their hand at their first experience of an aikido techniques. Everyone selected a partner and now it was time to test it out.

The newcomers quickly realized how difficult it is to execute a completely new movement for the first time – feet just want to go in all directions – right foot wants to go forward when the left foot is the one that should go forward. When the steps were finally corrected, the hands suddenly did not know what to do. We could hear laughter and saw people scratching their heads, but you could also see that they had fun with their first efforts. After some experimentation, many beginners found a way to do the technique and put their partners into a backwards roll onto the mat. Now it was time for the next technique.

Gabi demonstrated the second technique and explained which aspects of the movement were important so the technique could really work then everyone found a new training partner and tried to copy the technique that Gabi was demonstrating. Not such an easy task, but with the support of the advanced students and the help of the instructor everyone could find a way to do the movements.The goal of this first class was certainly not to execute a perfect technique, difficult also for advance aikido practitioners to do so. Rather, it should provide a first impression of what aikido is, how it can be practiced and where it could lead. The class hour was over before we knew it. All newcomers had a great time. All had much fun, but also heavy heads with all the new ways to move their bodies. They were amazed by what they could do, but also by what they could not do. They said that they discovered whole groups of new muscles that they have never used in the past and now those muscles were a bit on the aching side!

Highly motivated we continued on the following Wednesday. This time David Ross (4. Dan, Shidoin) was teaching the class. David explained that aikido was strongly influenced by traditional Japanese martial arts. A central motif is “Rei”, which can be translated as respect and appreciation, a bow. Respect is shown by a formal bow upon entering the dojo, and at the beginning and end of every practice. After a short warm-up, David repeated the basic positions, right and left hanmi, as well as step sequences with turns: tenkan, kaiten, irimi and irimi-tenkan. Then we moved on to the first technique, Ai-hanmi Ikkyo, which David demonstrated with an advanced student. This technique required a new way of falling, so once again everyone was learning how to fall safely. After a little experimentation with this new way of falling everyone chose a new partner and the technique was practiced. Starting from this technique, David developed a series of variations, but slowly increased the level of difficulty.Also this class was over far too quick. At the end, everyone sat in a row on the mat opposite the kamiza and the class was ended with a bow in seiza.

We finished the course with a Christmas party in December that provided us the opportunity to get to know each other outside of the training atmosphere of the dojo. We all had a nice evening with good wine, delicious food and great company at one of our favorite Italian.

Gabi Bixel, 3. Dan Fukushidoin