20 things that any Aikidoka can do to enjoy their Aikido more

Yay!  My first list.  I’m going to list some things that anyone, no matter what level, but especially if you are a beginner, can do to enjoy their Aikido practice.  Let’s get right into it:

  1. Practice on your own.  Even Ueshiba said that an instructor can only impart a small fraction of the lessons in Aikido.  That’s a hint to do some keiko on your own time.
  2. Read some books.  Not just about Aikido, but any martial art.  Not just martial arts – there are all sorts of books that might make your Aikido light bulb go off.
  3. Visit other Aikido dojos.  Especially the ones in your own city.  These other dojos are your family also.  You should make a point to make friendly with them.  For extra credit, when you visit, bring a gift – usually a bottle of sake is nice.
  4. Invest in a nice set of bokken and jo.  I personally own a set of Iwama styled ken and jo, made of Japanese white oak.  I was a bit hesitant to order them at first because they were on the pricey side, but once I got my hands on them, I fell in love.
  5. Practice weapons of some sort.  Whether it is suburi or kata or kumi.  Whether it is Saito Sensei or Saotome Sensei.  Whether it’s Aikiken, Iaido, Kali, or Okinawan Kubodo.  Weapons practice always does something good for you.
  6. Learn to fold a hakama.  You don’t want to be the person that shows up with their hakama crumpled and stuffed lazily in a duffle bag.  Plus, you never know when you will be asked to fold someone’s hakama.
  7. Learn how to take ukemi.  This seems like a no brainer, but really, the art is literally hidden in the ukemi.  I tell anyone that really wants to get good at Aikido two things: 1) take lots of ukemi 2)takes lots of ukemi.
  8. Earn your Shodan.  No, not so you can write your book or open your own school.  Do it so that you can train with the big dogs at the seminars.  Do it so that when you go to seminars, the guest instructor may pull you aside to share some insight.  That’s all.
  9. Go to seminars.  Any chance you can.  Just do it.
  10. Take notes.  About anything.  Add as much detail as possible.  Add diagrams and illustrations.  Add pictures from your own camera or the internet.
  11. Video everything you can.  Seminars.  Daily class.  Your own practice.  Your students.
  12. Participate in discussions on internet forums.  There are some really nice people out there that share all sorts of knowledge on these boards.  Some of them might be someone you met at a seminar.  Some of them might live on the other side of the world.  And you can access them easily via the internet.
  13. Write about your experience.  And share it.  It could be as simple as writing a email to someone.  It could be a blog.  It could be an article for a magazine or website.
  14. Watch videos.  There are so many videos out now.  Between what you can buy, and what you can watch for free on sites like Youtube, there’s no reason to not be watching videos.
  15. Take your instructor out for dinner.  Or your student.  Or your fellow training partner.  Hang out, enjoy each other’s company outside of the dojo.
  16. Come a little early, stay a bit later.  Get to the dojo early if you can.  Help with any setting up.  Talk to any visitors that may arrive.  Sneak in an extra long warm up.  Stay a bit after class if you can.  Help put things away.  Work a bit more on something else.
  17. Focus on your worst technique.  My teacher told me that to get better, one should practice their worst technique until it is their best technique.  Then repeat.
  18. Become an expert.  Aikido is the sum of interconnected parts.  For example, one could practice everything in Aikido by only focusing on ukemi, or weapons.  Pick a part that you think you have a knack for, and go at it.  Pretty soon, you will have a basis for a growing level of expertise, because you have specialized.
  19. Find someone that you can’t pin or throw.  There is a lot to learn in success, and a lot to learn in not succeeding.  When you realize what you don’t know, what you are not good at, that’s when you can really start to take command of your own progress.
  20. Contribute to the art.  Don’t be the person that just shows up when they feel like, ho-hum and such.  Learn Aikido so that you can transmit it, improve it, share it with others.  Take care of your teachers.  Things like simply coming to every class, or always paying on time are always really appreciated.  Take care of your fellow Aikidoka – always a smile and a hug.

25 Responses to 20 things that any Aikidoka can do to enjoy their Aikido more

  1. Pingback: 20 Ways to Enjoy Your Aikido « Daily Aikido

  2. Wow – good list, thank you 🙂

    I’ve just finished my first week of Aikido, as a beginner I’m especially interested in things like this. Some of the ideas here had already occurred to me on a “I wonder if it would help if I did _______ ?”. It’s nice to see that at least some of my ideas weren’t blue sky impractical 🙂

  3. autrelle says:

    I’m glad you like! Enjoy your journey!

  4. Eric Holcomb says:

    Nice list!

    I am especially curious about your #1 item up there. What sort of solo training do you do? That is an area that I’ve always wanted to improve but have found challenging.

    Your #17, training on ones worst technique until it is the best, is also excellent. In my case, it’s not so much a technique but whole category — ushiro waza have always been a challenge… Dang! Now I really want to go roll around! 🙂

    Thank you,

  5. autrelle says:

    I think that training on your own means two things:
    1)Solo training
    2)Any training that you do outside of the class
    I think that for solo training, the most effective things I have done for my Aikido are weapons and ukemi. I have a nice suburito that a friend made for me, and whenever I’m feeling a bit unstable or weak, I’ll swing it about 300 times a day for a month. Besides that, any cross training is great as long as it doesn’t confuse your Aikido practice. For example, if I take a Wing Chun class, I see lots of Aikido in what they do. That doesn’t mean that I can come to Aikido class and Lop Sao someone in the face, nor can I go the the Wing Chun class and throw someone with Ago Ate. The point is to keep the pistons firing, methinks.

  6. autrelle says:

    Ushiro waza has a lot in common with mae waza. Compare kosadori, morotedori, and katadori menuchi to ushiro ryotedori, ushiro ryokatadori, and ushiro eridori waza. It’s basically a matrix once you get the idea. I’ll write about that tonight.

  7. Eric Holcomb says:

    I look forward to reading your latest thoughts!

  8. Pingback: Ura Waza — 後ろ技 « Little House In Ise

  9. Fine list. I’d agree with you in all points but #18. Doesn’t “specialising” mean leaving the rest undone?
    I’d prefer to ‘unspecialise’, to broaden the technical proficiency as much as possible.

    Best regards,
    Jochen Schepers

  10. autrelle says:

    Nah. Like I said, I believe all facets of Aikido are interconnected. I liken specialising to “using one to strike (learn) the many.” In that way, if you actually understand one thing, you understand ten things, rather than seeing ten techniques and only understanding one or two things.

  11. userhacker says:

    Great list! regarding taking notes: I noticed once that a famous tennis player was always reading a list before the match. Turns out she was reminding herself of the things she wanted to focus on in that match. I started a similar list for aikido and it has grown to a few pages. I try to read through it before class a few times each month. Reminds me of where my head needs to be. I also keep a database of techniques with notes, which has been helpful pre-testing.

  12. autrelle says:

    That’s a great idea!

  13. Hi, I’m Marco and I’m writing from Italy.
    I’ve found the beginning of this post on the newsletter of AikidoJournal… and so I’m arrived in your web space. I’ve found very interesting… and true what You’ve wrote about how to enjoy our Aikido practice, also by my personal experience. I’ve an Aiki Blog too, and, if you agree, I’ll translate and post your article in Italian in next days. Your main page was just linked to my home page in “Aikime friends”. I hope this will be nice for you. If you will want to read something of me, there is a translating tool on my Blog… is not like to read in my language, but it’s something. Happy to have found you, I wish you’ll enjoy your practice more and more in the future. Take care.


  14. aikidude says:

    nice.. i’ll have to post a link here soon!!!

  15. autrelle says:

    Nice – I’ll do the same!

  16. Pingback: Aikidocki rachunek sumienia | Aikido Shin Dojo Blog

  17. Pingback: 10 kroków aby odkryć swoje Budo na nowo at zanshin

  18. Sandy says:

    Very nice post! I’ve just started about 3mths ago, and the journey has been challenging and fun!
    Regarding #4, do you have recommendation on where to get Iwama ken and jo? I understand the differences of a regular and an Iwama ken, but I’m not too sure about the specification of the Iwama jo.

  19. Pingback: 20 Ways to Enjoy Your Aikido | Daily Aikido

  20. Matt says:

    Came across this site via the @DailyAikido twitter feed. As a relatively new student to Aikido, I really liked this list, since it’s not always easy to figure out “what else can I do to work on my technique?”

  21. Eddie deGuzman says:

    Hi Autrelle,
    I ran across this list when someone jumped to my site from here. Very good points indeed! Similar thoughts are always on my mind.

    Train well,

  22. autrelle says:

    Same to you! Cheers!

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  24. Pingback: 20 things that any Aikidoka can do to enjoy their Aikido more | He tells me to sing...so I sing...

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