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Why Practice Aikido?
Primarily, Aikido develops self-improvement. Aikido is more than a study of physical techniques; proper etiquette, attitude and behavior are also emphasized. Throwing and falling are stressed equally - your partner is not an opponent, but an assistant: you learn the technique by being thrown, and practice the technique by throwing.
Aikido has an ethic: to defend oneself without vengeance, to forgive your enemies, and to harmonize with any attack of any description.
Aikido techniques are a guide to a peaceful way of life: to avoid confrontations, harmonize with unavoidable conflict, and maintain grace under pressure. Because Aikido doesn't depend on physical strength, it is especially attractive to women, children and older adults.

O Sensei's 3 principles of Aikido are:
* Masa katsu... Victory over form or correct style of victory
* Agatsu... Victory over self
* Kiatsu Haya hi... Victory faster than light

Aikido has no tradition of competition. The Aikidoist betters him- or her- self without dominating others. There are tests and ranks, however, but these signify mastery of particular techniques, rather than conferring status or precedence of one person over another. For instance, lining up to bow-in is not ordered by rank.

Class Etiquette

If you attend a class to watch, you may notice unfamiliar behaviors and customs. Below are listed some of the customs of a dojo, so you can understand what is happening at a class.

Proper behavior and manners are an important part of the practice. One of the key aspects of Aikido is the respect for your Sensei, your fellow students, your dojo, and yourself.

1. When entering or leaving the dojo, and when stepping onto or off the mat, bow in the direction of O-Sensei's picture. This is a tradition of showing respect to O-Sensei, the founder of Aikido.

2. Shoes are to be taken off when entering the dojo, and zori (sandals or thongs) worn near the mats. Zori should be lined up at the edge of the mat.

3. Immediately after stepping onto the mat, students should bow respectively to the shrine - the most proper style is from seiza. Five minutes before the class is scheduled to start, students should arrange themselves in a straight line of proper rank, (higher rank on the right side). Kneel in seiza and await the instructors arrival on the mat. Mediation calms the mind; everyone in the dojo should be silent during meditation.

4. When the instructor comes onto the mat he/she and the students bow to O-Sensei's picture. The students then bow to the instructor formally opening the class.

5. The instructor should be referred to as Sensei during class instruction and not by his/her first name.

6. When the instructor claps, quickly sit down, listen and watch attentively. when the instructor indicates that practice is to resume, bow to the instructor and promptly resume practicing. Change partners when the instructor indicates. When changing partners during class, one should acknowledge both your former partner and your new partner with a bow.

Tests for Promotion
Testing is not competitive. Testing allows you to demonstrate skills in a particular area and the ranking system is based on both a sound knowledge of specific techniques and time spent on the mat for the purpose of learning the techniques. A candidate's performance as Uke (the attacker) is observed as closely as his or her performance as Nage (the one who is attacked).

Practitioners advance from 5th Kyu through 1st Kyu wearing a white belt, and a black belt after passing the "Shodan" test. A black belt indicates not an expert, but a senior student. Progress of an individual will vary greatly depending on prior martial experience, body awareness and level of effort. Shown below, Shodan - 400 practice days, could theoretically take as little about 4 years at, practicing dilligently twice a week or about 100 times per year.

The following are the Midwest Aikido Federation Promotional Test requirements.
MAF Glossary of Terms
5th Kyu (60 practice days)

The first term is the attack, the second is the aikido technique used in the counter. i.e. shomenuchi (downward cut/strike to the forehead) countered with "first form" ikkyo, an arm lock. Omote and Ura refer roughly to "front" and "back."

Shomenuchi Ikkyo (omote and ura)
Shomenuchi Iriminage
Katatetori Shihonage (omote & ura)
Ryotetori Tenchinage
Tsuki Kotegaeshi
Ushiro Tekubitori
Kotegaeshi Morotetori

4th Kyu (80 practice days)

Shomenuchi Nikkyo (omote & ura) Yokomenuchi Shihonage (omote & ura) Tsuki Iriminage Ushiro Tekubi Sankyo (omote & ura) Ushiro Ryokatatori Kotegaeshi Suwari Waza: Shomenuchi Ikkyo (omote & ura) Katatori Nikkyo (omote & ura) Katatori Sankyo (omote & ura)

3rd Kyu (100 practice days)

Yokomenuchi Iriminage (2 ways) Yokemnuchi Kotegaeshi Tsuki Kaitenage Ushiro Tyokatatori Sankyo (omote & ura) Morotetori Iriminage(2 ways) Shomenuchi Sankyo (omote & ura) Suwari Waza: Shomenuchi Iriminage (omote & ura) Shomenuchi Nikkyo (omote & ura) Hanmi Handachi: Katatori Shihonage Katatori Kaitennage (ushi & soto mawari*)

2nd Kyu (200 practice days) (brown belt)

Shomenuchi Shihonage (omote & ura) Shomenuchi Kaitennage (omote & ura) Yokomenuchi Gokyo Ushiro Tekubitori Shihonage (omote & ura) Ushiro Tekubitori Jujinage Ushiro Kubishime Koshinage Morotetori Nikyo (omote & ura) Hanmi-Handachi: Shomenuchi Iriminage Katatetori Nikkyo (omote & ura) Yokemenuchi Kotegaeshi Freestyle-2 persons

1st Kyu (300 practice days)

Katatori Menuchi-5 techniques Yokemenuchi-5 techniques Morotetori-5 techniques Shomenuchi-5 techniques Ryotetori-5 techniques Koshinage-5 techniques Tantotori Hanmi-Handachi (Ushiro Waza)- 5 techniques Freestyle-3 persons

Sho-Dan (400 practice days) (black belt)

All of 1st Kyu requirements Tachitori Jotori Henkawaza** Freestyle-4 persons

Ni-Dan (600 practice days)

Attended 2 seminars per year after Sho-Dan. All of Sho-Dan requirements Tachitori-2 persons Freestyle-5 persons Kaeshiwaza***

San-Dan (700 practice days)

Attend 2 seminars per year after Ni-Dan. Exam Content to be determined by examiner at the time of the exam. Note: Counting the required number of practice days begins from zero after each successful exam.

* uchi & soto mawari (both inside and outside movements)

** Henka waza (switching from one technique to another. Examiner will call the first technique.)

*** Kaeshi-waza (counter techniques. Uke applies technique on nage who reverses it. The original tchnique will be specified by the examiner, e.g., to apply sankyo against nikyo.)

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