Aikido practice follows the traditions of a Japanese dōjō ‘training place’. The atmosphere is quiet, calm and focused. We begin with a seated bow. There follow about ten minutes of warming up (aiki taisō), then some rolling practice (ukemi) and footwork exercises (tai sabaki). Most of the class is given over to partner practice.
After the instructor demonstrates, students practise in pairs. Each student takes turns in the role of attacker (uke) and defender (tori). Most classes usually end with some free practice. The class then concludes with another seated bow.
Sometimes classes include training with wooden weapons: bokken ‘wooden sword’, jō ‘staff’, or tantō ‘(wooden) knife’. These help to develop good body mechanics, sharpen the focus, and give insight into the origins of aikido techniques.
New students gradually learn traditional dojo etiquette (rei). These customs and habits are centred around expressing respect: self-respect, respect for your training partner, respect for the instructor and the art, and respect for the place you train in.