The study and enjoyment of Aikido is far more important than rank. In general, classes in an international Yoshinkan Aikido dojo unfold in the following manner:
Beginning and Ending Ceremonies
Vary from dojo to dojo. See Dojo Customs for a discussion of common approaches in Aikido dojos.
As with any physical activity, it is essential that both Aikido students and instructors include a good warm-up in their personal training. In general, the class warms up together. Students will line up after bowing in and the sensei will lead the warm-up with a variety of stretches and movements.
The sensei may at times designate one of their students to lead the class warm-up.
Kamae (Basic Stance) Yoshinkan Aikido techniques are composed of a series of movements known as basic movements. There are 6 main Basic Movements taught to beginner students and subsequently these movements will be continually practiced and refined throughout a student's Aikido career. The 6 basic motions are:
- Tai no henko ichi (Cross step in body change)
- Tai no henko ni (95 degree pivot)
- Hiriki no yosei ichi (Elbow power #1)
- Hiriki no yosei ni (Elbow power #2)
- Shumatsu dosa ichi (After class exercise #1)
- Shumatsu dosa ni (After class exercise #2)
Following the warm-up and basic motions, the sensei will select a series of techniques the class will learn and practice. The class may be taught as one unit or broken up according skills, belts, or particular needs of the students (e.g. A student may work on specific techniques needed for an impending belt test). Senior belts - black and brown - will usually assist with instruction when called upon by the sensei.
Although there is a pattern to the classes, the format is by no means rigid to the exclusion of the students' input. Decision by consensus is an important aspect of the dojo. Instructors and students regularly meet informally to discuss ways of improving classes, and any ideas or decisions arrived at by the class are incorporated into the classes. The fostering of an enjoyable learning atmosphere is paramount for all involved with the dojo.