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Frequently Asked Questions

Aikido Orlando Dojo

Welcome To the Aikido Orlando Dojo!

We are located at 3764 Howell Branch Rd, Winter Park, FL 32792. Please refer to our brochure for dates, times and costs of classes. The following is a list of common questions that people might have about Aikido. Please feel free to ask any of the instructors or students if you have additional questions or concerns.

What do visitors need to know when entering the Dojo for the first time? 

The instructors and members of Aikido Orlando Dojo would like you to feel welcome.  Visitors are invited to enter the dojo at any time, and watch any class that is in session.  Often, the instructors may not be able to immediately answer your questions; but please don't feel that you are being ignored.  If the activities during the class don't permit it, we will be happy to answer any questions after the class has finished.

Can I try out a class before I join the dojo?

Yes, as a matter of fact, we would like you to try a class before you join the dojo. Aikido is a commitment and we would like to provide you with information and experience to enable you to make a best decision for you. Only you know if Aikido is right for you at this time in your life.

Experienced *Aikidoists* who are visiting from other dojos are welcome with a $10 mat fee.

What do I need to begin training? 

Gym clothes, such as sweats, which cover your knees and elbows, are all you need.  It is not necessary to purchase a uniform (gi) before you start, but you should do so soon after joining the dojo.

Do I need to get a uniform to practice Aikido?

No, to start, just wear a t-shirt and loose-fitting pants, which cover your knees and elbows. If you decide that Aikido is for you, you can purchase a gi at the dojo as part of our beginner’s package.

Is it a problem if I wear jewelry?

Students are requested to remove all jewelry before class.  This is partially to maintain a clean, uniform training environment.  Most importantly, however, this is to prevent injury.  Aikido practice includes close physical contact with others and the mat (such as rolls), as well as very quick movements and grappling.  All of this can result in rings, earrings, watches, bracelets and necklaces catching fingers and skin on yourself and others, creating unpleasant injuries.  Although students occasionally wear tight fitting, smooth wedding rings, students are encouraged to remove rings as well, or place tape over them.

I wear glasses. Is this a problem?

Many students have vision problems.  It is perfectly acceptable to wear regular glasses to practice, though of course protective "sports" glasses are even safer.  The nature of Aikido practice is such that with a little care, glasses will not be damaged or cause injury.  Contact lenses work very well.

What if I have to leave the mat during class?

Sometimes, due to injury, emergency, or other need, you may have to leave the mat while class is in session; this is OK.  Please do not leave while the instructor is demonstrating a technique; however, if you need to step off the mat, it's best to get the instructor's attention or permission first so they know what is happening. Once you have addressed the problem, you may step back on the mat.  As always, be sure to bow when stepping on or off the mat, and do not interrupt the instructor when they are demonstrating a technique.  Please don't leave the mat unless you have a reason.

Do you offer any discounts, like for families, etcetera?

We offer full time college student (with a valid ID) and multiple family members discounts. Please ask the instructors for details.

Do you have children's classes?

Yes. We have Kids classes.  Please see our Kids Aikido page for a discussion of this subject.

Do I have to be in good physical shape to do Aikido?

You don’t need to be in good physical shape to start Aikido. As with any kind of regular exercise, doing Aikido several times per week can only improve your physical condition and stamina.

How is Aikido differerent from other Martial Arts? 

Unlike most martial arts, Aikido has no competitions. Aikido is a defensive art that does not emphasize strikes. Students work cooperatively to maximize their understanding and execution of techniques.

Is there a lot of kicking and punching?

In Aikido, there is very little punching, and even less kicking. Aikido students learn, rather, how to fall properly and to roll safely. Students also learn to move more flexibly and improve their posture.

How does it benefit health?

Aikido is motion in action.  It reduces stress physically and mentally and increases stamina.

I have old injuries or a chronic condition that interferes with ability to move easily. Will I be able to practice?

It depends on the nature of the injury or condition. Generally, if you are capable of walking without assistance, you should be able to train at some level. Of course, you should consult your doctor before you begin training, and discuss your condition with the one of the instructors.

Am I too old, or too little, or too young to learn Aikido?

Aikido is for all ages; men and women; boys and girls. People of all ages practice Aikido.  All you need is the desire and commitment to learn. You do not have to be strong or big to do Aikido. Aikido is not about the strength that you have, but in using the strength of the attacker (uke). O-Sensei, the founder of Aikido, was formidable in his practice even into his eighties. 

I would be starting at an older age and I'm a little worried about falling, rolling, and stuff like that. How would I fit in?

Everyone is expected to train at a level accessible to their partner. Learning how to receive technique is part of Aikido practice. You learn it and incorporate it at your own level and pace. More "athletic" or experienced training partners also benefit by using their time with you to improve the clarity and sensitivity of their skills. Aikido is inclusive by nature and that is reflected in the Aikido Orlando Dojo experience and community.
In the Aikido Orlando Dojo we offer “Low Impact Aikido” classes. Those classes are prepared for students with physical limitations. You can start with low impact and later, when your stamina and fitness level improve you can safely transition to regular classes or continue to study and practice Aikido without hard falls and rolls.

Can I learn to defend myself with Aikido?

Aikido is a martial art, and can be used in self-defense. It takes time and practice however, to become proficient in Aikido—ideally, Aikido practice is a lifetime study... However, if you are interested in self-defense of an immediate nature, please let us know. Throughout the year we organize and offer Aikido based self-defense training sessions that are specifically focused on self defense in modern times.

How long will it take until I am proficient?

That depends on what you mean, and there's no way of predicting how long it takes anyone to reach any level of proficiency—whether that's from the perspective of self-defense or personal growth. If you're interested in becoming a living expression of Aikido then simply make attending practice part of your life, embrace the lessons of the art, and it will come. When you view the path and the destination as one, then any impatience surrounding the question disappears.

What "style" of Aikido do you practice?

Do you know what a "style" is? It's a self-imposed boundary on the bigger picture. The Aikido Orlando Dojo does not subscribe to any "style" of Aikido. The Founder didn't, and we don't either. We believe that stylistic Aikido equals limitations.  With that said, our instructors come from two primary lineages, Takemusu Aikido Association (Iwama) led by Bill Witt Shihan and United States Aikido Federation led by Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan. These linages influenced our training and might be interpreted by some as styles.

Is Aikido practical for self-defense? 

Yes. Aikido allows one to re-direct an attack, and pin or throw an opponent without causing injury to the attacker.  This is what makes the art so unique.

Why do I see only black belts and white belts in classes?

Aikido has no visible ranking system, although there are ranks. One is promoted to the next level by means of testing. After you have completed the practice-day requirement, you are expected to show proficiency executing those techniques at your level.

How long does it take to become a Black Belt in Aikido?

To achieve a high proficiency in any sophisticated physical skill, it takes time, energy and patience. A black belt status, or Shodan, in Aikido typically requires several years of study. The actual length of time depends on student’s own dedication and frequency of practice.

Are there competitions in Aikido?

Aikido does not hold competitions or tournaments to see who is the best fighter. The philosophy of O-Sensei, the founder, stressed harmony—not competition. In Aikido, we learn to control ourselves, not another. Randori, or practice with multiple attackers, is used to test how well Aikido principles are incorporated into a student’s practice.

If there are no competitions, how do you obtain rank?

Aikido has two major ranking levels, the kyu level (which has 6 levels) and the (dan) black-belt levels.  At the completion of a number of hours, specific to each kyu and black-belt level, you can test to obtain that ranking.   Here, at Aikido Orlando Dojo, we are committed to your path of training.

What if I'm late for class? 

Sometimes, it is unavoidable to arrive late for class. That is OK!  Better to be late than to not practice.  Go ahead and get dressed, warm up and stretch out on your own.  When you are ready, sit at attention ("seiza style") at the edge of the mat until the instructor in charge invites you to participate.

Are there any special personal appearance or hygiene requirements? 

All students are expected to keep good hygiene.  Uniforms should be washed regularly, and fingernails and toenails should be trimmed neatly and closely.  This is to prevent injury to yourself and others. If you have long hair, you are encouraged to keep it tied (in a ponytail for example).

What is the ratio of women to men in Aikido Orlando Dojo?

On average, there are more women who practice and become instructors of Aikido than in other martial arts. At Aikido Orlando Dojo for example, 30% of our membership is female.

Why do people bow to the picture at the front of the Dojo?

We bow to the picture of O-Sensei in order to show our respect for the martial art that he developed and that has spread worldwide.

What is the "skirt" that is worn?

The skirt-like pants that are worn by Aikido practioners is called a 'hakama'.  This is a traditional piece of samurai clothing.  Typically, a hakama is worn by blackbelt-level practitioners although at Aikido Orlando Dojo we allow it to be worn at earlier levels.

Map to Dojo

Dojo Address

The Shoppes at Howell Branch
3764 Howell Branch Road
Winter Park, FL 32792

Dojo Phone: (321) 295-7590

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