What to Expect

Essential Japanese Terms

Term Pronunciation Meaning
Ki /kē/ The personal energy we train to develop
Sensei /’sen¸sā/ Instructor
Hai /hī/ Yes!
Rei /rā/ Bow
Uke /’ü¸kā/ The student playing the role of attacker against whom one applies the Aikido technique being practiced
Seiza /’sā¸zə/ Formal sitting position:

Class Format

At the beginning of class, students sit seiza at the back of the mat facing the front. The instructor enters the mat and sits seiza-also facing the front. A senior student provides cues for the class to bow:

Cue Meaning Explanation
“Shomen ni rei” Bow towards the front of the mat Most Aikido dojos have a shrine bearing an image of Aikido’s founder, Morihei Uishiba, located at the front of the mat. In short, we bow first to the founder. Note that the founder is generally referred to as “O Sensei.”
“Sensei ni rei” Bow to the instructor The instructor bows towards the students, and the students bow towards the instructor.

After stretches and warm-ups, the instructor will demonstrate a technique. Once demonstrated, the instructor will break the class into groups for the purpose of practicing the technique shown. At the end of each technique’s practice time, the instructor will clap once—at which time all students return to the back of the mat to receive a demonstration of the next technique.

At the end of class, students again bow to the front of the mat and bow to the instructor. Students finish class by bowing to each of the classmates with whom that student has practiced.