Aikidoists practice in a spirit of cooperation. Aikido practice is intense and focused, but also enjoyable. We constantly learn from each other through working with senior students or through helping beginners learn how to move their bodies. We also work hard, so come prepared to sweat as well!
At the beginning of class, students should line up in seiza (kneeling) facing the picture of O Sensei. It is permissable to sit with one's legs crossed if kneeling is uncomfortable. Sensei will clap twice to notify students that class is about to begin. Ideally, students should be lined up and ready to practice before Sensei claps. Practice begins when Sensei bows in to the class. The first 30 minutes of class consists of warm-ups, stretching, and basic exercises, followed by a short break. Following the break Sensei will call a student forward (usually by rank)and will demonstrate the technique that the students should practice. When Sensei feels the technique has been sufficiently demonstrated, Sensei and Uke (attacker) will bow to each other. At this point the class should bow as well. As a matter of politeness, someone should bow in to Sensei's Uke as quickly as possible for practice. Regardless of rank, whoever serves as Uke for Sensei is always the first to practice the technique.
Students will bow in to one another until each student is paired up, although occasionally students must work in groups of three. One student will be the Nage (defender) and the other the Uke (attacker). It is polite for the student of lower rank to be Uke first. Uke will attack Nage four times and then the two students will switch roles.
If a student has difficulty with a technique, he or she should always politely solicit Sensei's attention and ask for help. Once Sensei has demonstrated the technique again, bow and thank Sensei. Don't be afraid to let Sensei know if you still don't understand -- we're not here to be perfect; we're here to learn. It is much better to wait for Sensei's help than to interrupt another student or to offer instruction to another set of students. If another student other than your partner asks for help, politely redirect them to Sensei.
Tatsumakai Aikido strives to make practice as safe as possible; however, students do occasionally become injured. Let Sensei know as soon as possible when this occurs and before leaving the mat.
At the end of class, students will line up as at the beginning of class to bow out. Afterwards, students will be asked to bow to and thank their partners of the evening. Students then gather around the picture of O Sensei for announcements and dismissal. Once class is complete, students are expected to help clean up the dojo.