Our first aikido class was probably an unusual experience for you. New movements and customs, Japanese words and phrases, and some really strange exercises. It usually takes a couple of weeks before gaining understanding and feeling more comfortable with the new language - body language and spoken language.
After doing some preparatory exercises, we did some self introduction and we received some basic introduction to Aikido: The meaning of the name "Aikido" and also overview of our two months aikido basics workshop.
The first thing that we learn is rei. Rei means respect, and we show it by bowing to each other before and after mutual practice, and also after receiving instruction or explanation.
rei - bowing
During an aikido class, rei helps us to show mutual gratitude and to create respectful atmosphere. In life, aikido teaches us that in order to resolve a conflict with another person, it important to try overcoming negative feelings by showing respect amidst the differences between our views and ideas. Contradiction with someone's ideas, does not necessarily makes that person an enemy. This attitude has been taught and practiced for hundreds of years. Great zen masters taught it to some of the greatest samurai warriors of Japan. In crucial moments, negative feelings in your mind are like a grain of sand in the eye.
After we learned how to bow, we moved on to practicing correct standing up and sitting down which was followed by learning aikido's kamae (basic stance) which is called hanmi (half body).
correct standing and sitting
kamae / hamni - aikido's basic stance
The third part of our class was dedicated to learning how to fall safely to the rear. In aikido class and also in daily life, falling safely is an essential ability. The song says "everybody falls sometimes" and it is actually true. Aikido teaches our body how to fall and get up unharmed and safe from injury.
The last part of the class acquainted us with aikido's first taisabaki (body movement) called tenkan. Tenkan enables us to turn and make a step to the rear, so we avoid getting hit by blending with the attack and relocating to a safer location. This exercise is usually done in pairs, and after learning to do it "solo" for a lesson or two, we will move on to paired practice.
Here are some Japanese terms that you will probably be hearing every class:
to wish for something
domo arigato gozaimasu
thank you very much
合氣道 - aikido
合 ai - harmony
氣 ki - energy, will, feeling
道 do - way, path, method, way of life
構え kamae - readiness, basic stance
半身 hanmi - oblique stance
受け身 ukemi - receiving [with/through] the body
正座 seiza - formal sitting
体捌き tai sabaki - body movement
転換 tenkan - changing direction by turning our body by 180 degrees and stepping to the rear
座り技 suwari waza - seated techniques
呼吸 kokyu - breathing
I wish you a pleasant and fruitful aikido workshop. Please feel free to contact me with any question or thought.