Q: What are the differences between Aikido, Jujitsu, Judo, and Karate?
A: Aikido is characterized by flowing circular movement that maximizes use of the attacker’s momentum to break their balance allowing for the most efficient use of technique to defeat them. Judo is more concerned with the proper application of leverage to throw a fully resisting opponent. Karate focuses on effective and powerful striking to discourage or disable an attacker. Jujitsu employs techniques that are found in all these arts but takes a shorter more direct approach than similar Aikido techniques, using joint pain to force compliance and more striking than is typically found in either Aikido or Judo.
Q: How long does it take to achieve the rank of black belt?
A: With regular class attendance and regular participation at national clinics it typically takes approximately four years to obtain the rank of shodan (first degree black belt).
Q: Are there competitions or tournaments?
A: There are currently no competitions or tournaments being held in the United States.
Q: Is there a religious significance to the opening and closing ceremonies in a traditional class?
A: It is important to remember that the opening and closing ceremonies observed are lifted from an Eastern culture where bowing is used not as a sign of worship but both as a greeting and a show of respect. In traditional classes both the students and the teachers bow to one another at the beginning and end of class after a brief period of meditation. This meditation is in place to remind the participants to put everything else that has happened throughout the day aside to benefit as much as possible from training and to be mindful of their practice partner’s safety. Bowing shows respect to both the teacher for sharing his or her knowledge with the student and to the student for being a willing vessel for that knowledge. There is no religious meaning to these ceremonies and students that have further questions or concerns about these matters should discuss them with the head instructor.
Q: Do I need to be in particularly good shape in order to attend classes?
A: While a certain basic level of fitness is necessary to avoid injury, being in the best of shape is not necessary to begin your training. Diligent students can expect a certain level of improved fitness simply from applying themselves to their practice.
Q: How often are students eligible for belt exams?
A: A student’s first belt exam is usually conducted after they have attended approximately twenty workouts. Understandably, further examinations require a larger commitment of time. It is important to note that some students progress more rapidly than others and that patience is required to allow one’s technique to improve naturally.
Q: Do I have to have a uniform (gi) to attend classes?
A: A gi is not required to begin attending classes, although it is strongly encouraged to allow for better freedom of movement. However, a uniform is required for students at the first rank exam and beyond.
Q: What is the USYBA and why do I have to pay registration dues for this organization?
A: The USYBA is the national organization that oversees the practice and promotion of Yoseikan Budo. This organization not only legitimizes the participants’ rank, but also provides technical support and upper level training to both senior and junior level students alike. The registration fees and annual dues paid to USYBA help ensure that such training remains not only available but affordable.
Q: Is previous martial arts experience necessary or preferred as a beginning student?
A: Not at all. In fact, previous martial arts training can be both a benefit and a hindrance for a beginner. It is important to have a beginner’s mind no matter what level of skill a student achieves.