10 ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
July 1, 2020
1) HOW OFTEN SHOULD I ATTEND CLASS?
3 DAYS A WEEK is the suggested minimum for the training to begin to take hold in your body, and mind. However; it is difficult to maintain such a schedule in today's fast-paced world. Consider committing to at least two days out of the week -one weekday, and one weekend class. In between, try repeating the exercises performed at the beginning of each class -"warm-ups" and fundamental movements such as sliding, stepping, and turning- to keep your body limber and ready for the next time you visit the dojo!
2) WHEN SHOULD I GET A UNIFORM OR WEAPONS?
If you've already committed to becoming a member, then a training uniform should be your first purchase, after that it should be weapons (bokken, jo, & tanto). The below links are approved sites to obtain these. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask an instructor.
3) SHOULD I ONLY ATTEND CLASSES FOR BEGINNERS?
ALL CLASSES are structured by the instructor to consider the various skill levels of every member present. So don't worry about a class being "too much" or "holding senior members back". If you are more comfortable in our Saturday mornings, Aikido Fundamentals, and Ukemi Basics class (which is designed to allow students a greater understanding and application of the fundamental basics of aikido; stance, movement, striking, and weapons) surely it's a good starting point! Once you become more comfortable and confident with the requirements of training, do not limit yourself to one day, or class, or one group of training partners.
4) DO I NEED TO LEARN JAPANESE?
Not at all! While you will hear many Japanese terms in class, they are training tools, just like the wooden sword, or staff, or knife. The practice seeks to train your mind as well as your body, so it's understandable if the words you hear are confusing! Try out this terminology guide, or student study guide to help you get better with the things you hear in class like: "onegaishimasu" or "sokumen iriminage" and "seiza," and don't be afraid to ask questions of your senior members or even the instructors.
5) IS ETIQUETTE IMPORTANT?
Absolutely. It is said that budo begins and ends with etiquette. A calm mind feeds a relaxed body, which creates a serene personality. The physical rigors of practice helps us to become "undisturbed" mentally, emotionally, and physically, by the many chaotic and unsavory occurrences in life. We adopt a number of traditional Japanese customs to better remind ourselves of the focus of training, as well as to become more aware of our surroundings, aiding us in becoming kinder to ourselves and others. Removing our shoes before entering the dojo is the most common of these, as well as bowing in thanks and gratitude to our partners, before getting on, or off the mat. Others you will learn as you go, read this Shinjinkai Etiquette Guide to brush up on things, and remember that there will always be someone around to help you along the way.
6) SHOULD I PRACTICE ZEN ALSO?
It is strongly encouraged! Our lineage of martial practice stresses the importance of Rinzai Zen as a vehicle for improving self through rigorous and focused training. So, we won't force you to practice, but you should definitely give it a try, we think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the benefits.
7) HOW DO I RECOVER FROM ACHES?
Nothing beats a hot shower, or a bath soak. But always remember to stretch before and after class, as well as apply normal recovery medicines (ice, ointments, etc.) and if you have a specific question about something do not hesitate to bring it to the attention of an instructor immediately.
8) HYDRATE & REFUEL
As we do not sell food nor beverages at Shinjinkai, each member is responsible for maintaining their hydration and food intake. Bring a water bottle, or fruit snack (bananas, strawberries, & grapes are the more popular ones...) to help you provide fuel to the body and mind prior to, and concluding classes. Then there is always going to the local eatery with fellow members as a bonus!
9) UNIFORM MAINTENCE
It is recommended to clean your uniform after every class, (soaking it in a container of hot water, with a cup of Oxyclean solution, is a dojo secret for keeping your aikido dogi pristinely white) martial practices extends to how you care for yourself -and others- physically, mentally, and emotionally, which includes your appearance. Be certain to maintain proper hygiene (clipping your nails,
10) WHAT SHOULD MY FOCUS BE DURING CLASS?
HAVING FUN! There is enough going on during class without unnecessarily burdening yourself with needles worries. Learn to enjoy the rigors and challenges of practice, allow yourself to be thrown fully into each class, and you'll find that you'll feel more alive after class, than before you began!