Aikido Chuseikan of Tampa Bay specializes in offering instruction in Aikido to adults (women and men ages 16 and older). We do not have separate classes or regular signup periods for new beginners; instead we prefer our new members to mix in right away with our full community, and benefit from training with the full range of experience and skill of our other members. Don’t worry – you will feel very welcomed and fit right in; we don’t judge new members based on their inexperience, and our classes are structured so that everybody gets to train at their own level with personal attention from the teachers. However, we do have a special fundamentals class offered each Thursday for members who wish to focus on basic, structured technique.
It’s a long-standing point of humor among our teachers that sometimes we will have visitors watch a fundamentals class, and say “well, that’s just not realistic! I can’t see how that will be useful for self defense!” On other nights, we will have visitors watch an advanced class, and say “well, that’s amazing, but I can’t see myself ever being able to do any of that!” It’s important to experience a full range of classes to get a sense of how we ease new members into building basic skills all the way through performing at spontaneous and advanced levels.
Getting started is easy! We understand it can be a little scary making that first step, but all great adventures start with a sense of anticipation. Simply call or email us using the information on the “contact” page, and our Dojo administrator will contact you and talk to you about your questions and interests. Alternately, you can simply bring yourself to our Dojo during (or preferably up to 30 minutes before) any regularly scheduled adult Aikido class. You will be made welcome, be introduced, and invited to either watch a class or participate (please be prepared by wearing loose-fitting, comfortable workout clothes, or a Karate or Judo uniform, or you will be given a uniform when you sign up). If you want to get a “jump start,” simply click on one of the startup packages shown on the welcome page of our website!
On your first day, you will be shown how to wear your uniform and tie your belt. An instructor or senior student will show you some basics of how to protect yourself by falling safely and under control – an important life skill! You will be introduced to our customs, etiquette and exercises – we observe traditional Japanese etiquette in our Dojo. You won’t be expected to have to learn any Japanese, especially right away, and you will be able to follow along through the warmup quite easily. After warmup, the instructor will show some technique, and you will be paired with a friendly partner who will help you explore and learn the technique together. Instruction generally builds up to more advanced principles throughout the duration of the class, and you will take turns performing and receiving techniques with a variety of partners throughout class. Mostly, on your first day, you should expect to have fun.
What you will achieve will depend on what you invest into your training. One of the beautiful aspects of Aikido is that you can depart every class with some new insight or improvement. Over time, you will grow more and more confident in dealing with difficult situations, more and more relaxed and comfortable managing attackers, and more perceptive about how human emotions, human ego, and the human body work together. You will quickly appreciate how those insights apply in your daily life, your work, your relationships. How quickly and how far down the path to mastery you travel, and what your particular path looks like, is up to you! Mostly, what you can expect to achieve is the discovery and appreciation of your own path, and the manifestation of your own personal strengths.
“Aikido really interests me, but I’m just not physically in shape enough to be a martial artist.” Aikido is not a martial sport, where you are pitted in physical contests against matched opponents. It is a life art, which means it is a practice and philosophy for your life, your entire life. Aerial acrobatics may be very impressive when you are in your twenties, but their usefulness will be limited if you cannot perform or apply them in your 30s, 40s, or 50s! The Aikido you discover will look different than anyone else’s, and as an expression of your own body and life it will provide a path that will provide results and challenges that fit your unique situation. If you have the mindset and will to embrace Aikido, it will reward you no matter your physical situation.