Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Aikido?
    Aikido is a defensive, nonviolent, Japanese martial art in which we overcome opponents by using their own power against them. We do this by developing our timing and reflexes, and some practical knowledge of anatomy.
    (What are some good ways to get a solid grip on a hand? How far can you turn a hand before the rest of the body has to turn? How can you bring the strength of your entire body to bear on that one little hand? How can you reduce their power to keep them from coming to the aid of their hand? How can you convince them to reach just a little farther than they should? How can you telegraph "sitting duck with no plan to dodge"?)
    You don't have to out-muscle a much larger person. Just a hand. Which you are bigger than. Never fight a fair fight.

  2. What is Kokikai?
    Kokikai is a style of Aikido which has a particular take on how to go about using your opponent's energy. The key is that relaxed, energetic movement is faster and stronger than tense, stiff movement. It is also healthier! So we cultivate not only our reflexes but also our posture, positivity, and sense of calmness.
    So these lessons are applicable in both fight and non-fight situations.
    A sweet side-effect is that positive bio-feedback of successful technique should actually help us de-stress.

  3. What kind of exercise is this?
    You can expect stretching, cardio, and strength training (and rolling on the floor is a bit of a back massage). In your first class, you may not experience them in the amount and proportions you prefer! Once you get the hang of things, you will find yourself more able to strike your own balance.

  4. Do I have to have any prior experience in martial arts or otherwise to join?
    No! All you need is enthusiasm and interest. As you practice, you will become more flexible, strong, coordinated, balanced, and comfortable with the way the human body moves.

  5. What should I wear?
    Sweatpants and a t-shirt or sweatshirt would be great - something you can move around in. Please remove all jewelry including necklaces and large earrings. Simple wedding bands are probably all right.
    You may want to invest in a Gi (uniform) if you intend to continue. These cost about $50-$60 and last for years. They can be found on Amazon and in Chinatown, and once in a while we put in a group order.

  6. What does a class look like?
    You can come watch a class before actually getting on the mat. We will encourage you to join in, though, so here's a preview:

    When you try an exercise or a technique, look for the difference between what you are doing and what the instructor did. Then aim to decrease that difference.

  7. How much does it cost?
    Club dues are $40 per year. That makes us one of the least expensive martial-arts clubs on campus. There are also fees to test for belt levels, which start at $60. There is a fee of $50 a year for membership in the national organization. The first one is covered by the fee for the first belt test.

  8. How often are belt tests done?
    The short answer: Don't worry about it. Focus instead on constantly improving coordination of mind and body.
    But if you're really insistent: Testing depends upon individual attendance and progress. There are minimum time and attendance requirements. You are not tested very often. If you practice regularly, expect to be tested at most twice in your first year. After that you will probably be tested only once a year.
    It's best if you get to see a test before it's time for your own. If that doesn't work out, usually we stage a demo test with someone who has done it before.

  9. What and where is Multi-purpose Court #2?
    Multi-purpose Court #2 ("Multi-Court 2," for short) is a re-purposed squash court in the east corner of W32, DuPont Athletic Center. Here are visual directions.
    (It used to be known as Squash Court 5. And the "Multi-purpose Room" is a different place.)
    It is lined with accordion-folding mats that have just the right sink and just the right bounce.

  10. Do I need to be an MIT Affiliate to train with the club?
    You need to have access to MIT's athletic facilities. For details on who is eligible and how to get an athletic card, visit MIT Recreation Member Services.
    In addition, this is an MIT Club Sports club, so you must be a student, staff, faculty, or a spouse or registered partner of one of these to become a member.

  11. I'm not an MIT Affiliate. Where else in Boston can I study Aikido Kokikai?

Well, if you have any other questions feel free to send e-mail to kokikai-officers@mit.edu.


Thanks to the Kokikai Aikido Ann Arbor club for providing much of the substance of this page.