First things first: Don’t be scared. Your first class of Shodokan Aikido will be a lot of fun!
Sometime before the class make sure you contact the instructor or the club to let them know you are going to attend. Then check you know exactly where the dojo is, you don’t want to be late for your first session (if you can’t help it because of public transport, don’t worry, it happens). Most clubs require you to complete a simple health questionnaire and provide your contact details.
Ideally you’ll need to change into your martial art uniform or Dogi. If you don’t have one bring along a clean pair of tracksuit bottoms and a loose fitting t-shirt. Most clubs have dedicated changing rooms for men and women. Get changed and head for the training room / hall.
Make yourself known to someone who is already there. If they are not the instructor they will look after you until the instructor arrives and then introduce you.
Once the class is ready to begin everyone will line up in grade order. You will normally be on the far right of this line of people. The instructor will ask everyone to ‘Seiza”, which means sitting position, on your knees. Basically you are going to copy everything from here onwards. There will be some bowing and then the warm-up exercises will begin.
The basic warm-up might feel quite hard if you haven’t done any of them before, that’s perfectly normal. Just take it easy and follow the instructions from your Sensei. Depending what other grades are present the instructor will usually tailor the class content around their abilities. Again, as you are a beginner, they will take you through the absolute basics step by step.
At the end of the class everyone lines up in grade order again, kneels and bows again to signify thanks and that the class has ended. You will now have completed your first Aikido class!
Its pretty standard that beginners feel utterly confused during their introduction to Shodokan Aikido. This can last for a year or more. Martial Arts are foreign to many of us and it takes time to understand and allow our bodies to move in certain ways.
A lot of clubs usually go for a drink afterwards where you can get to know some of the club members a little more. Although this isn’t compulsory but worth it if you have time!
If you have read this and would like to try Aikido check out the Try Aikido page.