I'm not very coordinated or athletic can I still learn Aikido?
Anyone can learn Aikido.  There are Aikidoka who have limited mobility or are recovering from strokes and other physical aliments.  These people use Aikido as an integral part of their physical rehabilitation therapy.  There are also those who use Aikido to enhance their emotional and mental wellness. Everyone has challenges, and all can successfully train to learn Aikido.

Many people think that they need to be athletic or in top physical condition to learn a martial art.  One of the many great things about Aikido is that students are encouraged to train at their own pace.  This is particularly important in the early stages when learning new movements slowing and deliberately is the key to developing good form.  In time, with frequent and consistent training, nearly everyone becomes more physically fit, has improved balance, and develops better coordination.

I'm a female at 5 ft tall and 100 lbs - how can I possibly throw that big guy?
Aikido does not teach how to throw or harm anyone. Training focuses on understanding physical dynamics and body movement.  Add “internal power” techniques to this mix, and anyone can learn to overcome an attacker(s) regardless of their physical size or numbers.

Aikidoka learn to adjust techniques to the circumstances. Two people, one who is 6’3″ – 240 lbs facing an opponent standing 5′ – 100 lbs, are just on opposite ends of the same situation.

More importantly, Aikido techniques rely on blending with an opponent’s energy (commitment of the attack) and redirecting that energy. This can be accomplished no matter your size or physical strength, or for that matter your opponent’s size or physical strength.

The image of “throwing” someone that is frequently seen when an Aikido technique is executed is in realty the attacker saving himself from what would otherwise be a serious injury.  This is known as ukemi, taking a safe and protective movement (frequently a roll or safety fall) to avoid injury.  This is the other half of Aikido training.  All students learn to safely take ukemi in a variety of situations.  In fact, each time someone practices Aikido technique, there is someone else practicing to safely survive that technique.

I worry that I'll hold other students back because it takes me a while to learn anything physical.
Often a beginning level student worries that they will hold back a more advanced student.  This is exactly the opposite of what happens when training with someone who has more experience. An experienced student understands better than anyone how the beginning student feels because they were once standing in the exact same place.  Training with a less experienced person, the senior student must slow down and break things down into bite-size pieces.  They have another opportunity to learn what makes things work.  From this viewpoint, both students get a huge benefit by training together.

Often people forget that no matter how long one trains, be it one or a thousand hours, everyone either has more or less training experience.  There will be times when you have a training partner with less experience than yourself.  You are then responsible to help guide your partner. At other times, you will be the less experienced person and responsible for allowing your partner to guide you.

How long will it take me to learn Aikido?
Learning is a lifelong journey.  Everyone learns at their own pace.  There are time frames used for rank examinations. These are minimum training periods before one can become eligible to qualify for their next ranking level.  There are variables, such frequency and quality of training, that need to be considered.

Most Aikidoka consider their learning to be ongoing.  However, one is considered versed in all the basic techniques by the time they receive 1st kyu rank.  Some people can achieve this skill level in 3-4 years; others  take much longer. 1st kyu is the highest level one can attain before being awarded black belt ranking. So the initial grading of skills are steps towards proficiency (kyu rank).  A 1st degree black belt is considered to be someone who has all the requisite skills to begin working towards mastery of Aikido.

How often should I train or attend class?
Train as often as you can.  However, beginning students are encouraged to pace themselves.  Attending a class 2-3 times per week is a good schedule as it provides sufficient time for bodies to heal from a particularly demanding training session.  Let your body tell you what is enough and what is too much.  There is also a mental learning capacity that needs to be developed over time.  Too much information in a short period of time is a challenge. Allow time for things to sink in.

When are classes?
The Livingston Aikido dojo has classes scheduled 2 times each week.  Every class is 90 minutes. Often there is also “free open mat” training time before and after class.  In addition, we usually have at least 1 workshop monthly that provides an additional 3-4 hours of training.

Students wishing to travel to Big Sky Aikido dojo in Bozeman may do so to attend any of their scheduled classes.  The Bozeman dojo offers training classes 5 times during the week for various skill levels. However, students are requested to attend all the weekly classes at our Livingston dojo first before adding any classes in Bozeman.

What should I wear to my first class?
Normal workout attire consists of a serviceable dogi (Aikido uniform); however, if you do not have a “gi,” wear comfortable and baggy clothing.  A pair of sweatpants and loose fitting tee shirt is sufficient.  Women should wear a “sports type” top underneath their clothing.

New students should plan to obtain a dogi to work out in as soon as they enroll.   The dojo offers a standard white gi for purchase, and we can help order the correct size.  These cost approximately $75 (slightly more for extra large sizes).  Alternatively, you can purchase a gi through martial arts retailers and online suppliers.  Either way most people find that they need to make some alteration to their gi, be it shorten sleeves or hemming pants as the one-size-fits-all approach of most manufacturers usually misses the mark.

Aikido training follows traditional Japanese custom which includes not wearing shoes indoors.  When you arrive at the dojo, please take off your shoes and place them on the shoe rack/area that will be noticeable near the entrance. Practice is conducted barefoot.

Also upon entering and exiting the dojo, it is common respect to make a bow towards the center of the room.  Everyone’s polite respect by following this etiquette is appreciated!

What are the costs?
Students who enroll with a one-year membership enjoy the best monthly rate of $75.  But an annual commitment is not required. You may elect a month-to-month membership of $90. More details can found under the Enroll tab of this website.

There is a one-time enrollment fee of $100 to cover administrative and affiliated costs.  From time to time, we have a Special Introductory Offer that will include  one-two months of training classes,  enrollment fee, and a new dogi offered for a single discounted price.  Please check with the dojo office or advertisements found elsewhere on this website for these deals.