600 Penn Avenue
West Reading, PA, USA
ZIP Code 19611
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I get started in aikido?
A: Come in and watch a class. If you decide you would like to try aikido, you may train for one week free. After that, you may sign the appropriate paperwork and become a member.
Q: Is there a contract to sign?
A: No. Dues are paid on a monthly basis.
Q: Who benefits from the monthly dues?
A: The students do. AWR is a Not-For-Profit Organization; there are no paid employees or instructors. Everyone pays the same monthly dues regardless of rank or position in the dojo. Everyone is expected to take part in cleaning, maintaining, and caring for the dojo.
Q: Do I need to buy a gi and/or hakama immediately?
A: No. You may begin training in sweats and a t-shirt to start. If you have another gi from another dojo or art, you may also wear that. However, it is appropriate to wear a white belt if unranked in aikido.
Q: What kind of ranking system and belts are used in aikido?
A: The ranking system at AWR is fairly simple. There are “kyu” ranks and there are are “dan” ranks. 6th through 4th kyu wear a white belt, 3rd through 1st kyu may wear a brown belt, and dan ranks wear a black belt. Please know that rank does not come quickly or easily in aikido; it generally takes six to eight years of training for a shodan (1st dan).
Q: Are there kata in aikido?
A: While there are not traditional solo kata (as there are in karate, tae kwon do, etc), the method of practice is kata-like in that there is a prescribed attack and a prescribed technique for defense, in order to practice the particular techniques during class. “Jiyuwaza,” or free form, is practiced at more advanced levels. There are some weapons kata that are taught and practiced.
Q: Are there weapons in aikido?
A: Yes. We train with the bokken, jo, and tanto. Much of aikido technique is based on Japanese sword technique (specifically the school of Yagyu Shinkage Ryu), thus the bokken is used to help demonstrate and clarify principles of movement and technique. We also practice defending against armed attackers using the bokken, jo, and tanto.
Q: Will I need to buy weapons immediately?
A: No. There are weapons at the dojo for use during class. If you want to practice weapons kata at home, you may purchase your own weapons. This is recommended after you are sure you want to continue your aikido practice.