Zenshin  Kokoro  Aikido

Annai - Guidance (on training including)...

1)  Obligation

2)  Rules of the Dojo

3)  Attitude, Spirit & Focus

4)  Terminology

5)  Training & Practice

6)  Grades & Standards

7)  Exercises

8)  Break-fall & Rolling Techniques

9)  Warnings and Caution


1:  Giri - Obligation

If You Are Considering Training:

  • You have a responsibility to the instructor(s), to other students and to yourself to inform the instructor(s) of any medical condition, treatment or injury that may have an affect on your ability to practice and train safely.
  • You can always have a word in confidence if you prefer.
  • If in doubt you should consult with and seek the opinion of your Doctor/Physician/Specialist and discuss your intention, prior to actually engaging in the practice and training of a martial art or any physical/sports endeavour.


Budo Licence:

  • You must obtain appropriate insurance cover in order to train and practice, such cover is available with your Budo Licence Application form from the school/association you join.
  • Our Budo licences are via the UMAIG: United Martial Arts International Guild.


2:  Kiritsu - Rules (of the Dojo) Respect

  • Consideration and respect for Aikido / Bushido, to others, to yourself.
  • When you attend the Dojo, try to ‘attend’ fully, to focus the mind, the body and the spirit.
  • Arrive for the class in good time.

Hygiene and presentation:

  • Personal hygiene and a clean gi are very important (see note on obi/belts in the section on Kyu – Grades / Téido – Standards below)
  • Finger and toe nails should be kept clean and tidy
  • No outdoor footwear to be worn in the dojo
  • No jewellery to be worn (risk of damage or injury): Wedding rings can be taped over.
  • If training in ‘everyday clothes’ do not carry anything in pockets.
  • NOTE:  we sometimes conduct classes with everybody wearing ‘everyday’ clothing (whatever you would usually wear during an average/normal day rather than a Gi) and weapons training then utilizes more contemporary weapons.  This is to demonstrate that the techniques we practice and train in are effective both inside and outside the Dojo.


  • Bow when you enter or leave the Dojo
  • Bow towards the Kamiza when you step onto or leave the tatami/mat
  • Bow to the instructor when you receive guidance/instruction
  • Bow to your training partner(s)

Please note that bowing is not in any way a religious gesture, it is a matter of etiquette and respect


Additional learning resources:

  • To facilitate and deepen your training and practice, there are a number of recommended books on Aikido / Budo / Bushido listed on the Links page of this website.  You can use the link to Amazon to check customer reviews and order the books (as well as an immense range of other books and goods) direct.



3:  Taido - Attitude,    Shin - Spirit,    Kime - Focus

Development within Zenshin Kokoro Aikido is based on several precepts, however…


Your aim may be to practice Aikido as a martial way/art, a ‘practical’ style.

Your aim may be to practice Aikido to develop health, focus and balance.

You may aim to practice Aikido as an effective hybrid of the two.

Whatever your reason(s) for starting on the path….,

…there are no short cuts.


Bu – Martial:

At Zenshin Kokoro Aikido we train with a martial intent;

We do not practice leaping around each other, gymnastics or falling down for no reason, that is just playing, it is not Aikido/Bushido.


To develop properly in Aikido or any other martial way or art, takes, honesty, discipline, dedication; and practice, to improve practice, to improve practice.


Who can train?:

Anyone with correct attitude


With respect, currently our youngest student is 6, our eldest is 75, and none of us get younger; so if you’re somewhere in between those ages you’ll probably be fine!


4:  Terminology

In our school we use Japanese terminology for Aikido techniques and principles

….do not worry…

Explanations and guidance are given in English.

You may be surprised at how quickly you start to recognise the names of techniques and will eventually start using them as a matter of course.

However, emphasis is on doing, not saying.



Terminology can vary from one school to another, for example:

The standard ‘first attack’ is a single wrist grab; ‘right to right or left to left’ and, depending on the school of Aikido you attend, the attack may be referred to as;

‘ai hamni’ or *‘first form’ or ‘katate tori hantai’ or ‘kosa dori’ or ‘kosa mochi’

Confused yet?? …Read on…

*first form can also refer to a defence technique – ikkyo (first immobilization).


Do not be concerned about any of this; simply follow the guidance you are given in the particular school you go to.



We may not be Japanese; and we do not pretend to be.

In practicing Aikido we practice a Japanese Martial Way/Art, and in doing so we respectfully follow the traditional ways and words.

Similarly for example, if you choose to learn Karate or Judo, you will usually hear Japanese terminology being used in those schools as a matter of course-

…because it is tradition.


Attitude to training/practice:

Practice appropriately to your level, you will progress.

Do not be in competition with another; egotism and arrogance are inappropriate

Focus on your training, and on learning to be aware

In our school there is a healthy development of attributes of correct practice (including martial principles), encouragement (including appropriate guidance), spirit (including strength of mind) and humility (including an unassuming attitude).

There is no elitism; neither egotism nor arrogance is tolerated.

Applying the proper attitude in your Aikido practice and training can help you to develop and maintain a sense of awareness, and can assist in how you deal with an attack or aggressive incident, and by becoming less and less fazed or intimidated by your attacker(s) (armed or unarmed) as well as the aftermath of an incident.

  • For inspiration…, click on.. [Insights]


5:  Keiko - Training and Practice

Techniques and practice:

Techniques are demonstrated (one at a time) and, generally, students pair up to practice the technique they have just observed.


Kumi tachi (Paired sword practice)

Weapons training:

Weapons practice with bokken, jo and tanto, is an integral part of Aikido; training with such weapons assists in the development of co-ordination, focus, balance, distance, timing, spirit and awareness.

It is important to practice and train with the right attitude physically, mentally and with proper spirit in order to develop in Aikido and to acquire the most benefit from the time and effort you and your fellow students put in.

If you are unsure about something, don’t guess, ask.

Be patient and work with your partner(s) to develop the principles and understanding of each technique.


[  At times life can be frustrating, or pleasing, so…[


If you feel like you are not doing very well in your practice/training-

‘Maybe you feel you are having a poor training session’

Do not be despondent or feel inferior, work on your technique and remember – it is part of your gradual development.


If you feel like you are doing really well in your practice/training-

‘Maybe you feel you are having a great training session’

Do not be complacent or feel superior, work on your technique and remember – it is part of your gradual development


Be considerate of yourself and others….

Genuine humility and courtesy - part of a samurai’s strength, not weakness.

Learn all you can as tori*, nage* (pronounced nagay)

And as uke* (ookay), it will strengthen your Aikido practice

Both sides* are of equal importance - as in the Yin and Yang symbol[.


Integrity     Balance     Health     Unity     Courtesy     Spirit


An additional consideration for our junior students (6-15 yrs)

  • It is very important that all students pay attention to the instructions they receive during Aikido class
  • Take great care when training and practicing Aikido…
  • Behave sensibly while in the dojo.
  • Do not fool about or ‘play fight’ during training, especially during weapons training.
  • If you have any questions, ask the instructor(s).
  • Aikido is effective but takes a lot of practice to do properly. 

Outside and away from the dojo

  • Outside of the dojo remember your training and standards. 
  • Do not show off what you learn and do not try to bully others
  • Do not allow others to bully you.


If you are being bullied, let your parent/guardian know, or if at school let your teacher know, or for further advice click on… Anti-Bullying


If you are worried about being ‘online or have worries about the internet, there is advice available… click on Safety on line


  • Aikido is for the benefit of all and it must be remembered that a young person’s body (for instance the musculo-skeletal system) may still be in the relatively early stages of development, and so throughout the duration of the Aikido class, it is important that juniors take care during the practice of break-falls and defence techniques, learn them properly and do not attempt any excessive moves that may cause injury or unnecessary discomfort to themselves or others.
  • Respectfully it should also be remembered that such classes are neither a crèche nor a playschool and it is the responsibility of parents/guardians that they observe their child/children in order that an extra safeguard is assured.
  • Any concerns should be brought to the attention of the instructor(s).




6:  Kyu - Grades  &  Teido - Standards

How long does it take to receive a black belt?

I’ve received enquiries like that a few times by those without the correct attitude to a martial Way or Art and I always reply the same way..

‘Oh.. about 15 minutes if you go to a store and buy one.’

Curiously those type never stay to train, no loss.

If grading and status (an ego trip) is all that you are after then think again… because in that case whatever obi/belt you wear (whether white, a colour or black) it will not necessarily denote quality…


Quality is proven by the standard of your ability,

your attitude and integrity.


In Zenshin Kokoro Aikido- grades are earned; no exceptions.

The higher the grade, the greater the responsibility

  • Development, attitude, competency and understanding are continually assessed.
  • The syllabus and process for the grading is dictated by the sensei.
  • Sempai(s) (senior kyu grades) may be invited to assist in a kyu grading.
  • Candidate(s) will be requested/required to demonstrate a number of techniques and a level of understanding appropriate to the grade been tested for.
  • Where appropriate, weapons forms/techniques will be included as part of the grade being tested for.
  • There is no charge for a grading and each successful candidate receives an obi (belt) and a numbered certificate (a record of which is kept in the school’s archive).
  • You should try to retain a sense of Shoshin- the ‘beginner’s mind’ and never become complacent or too eager to grade.


What colour belt?

  • We, by tradition, use the western way for grades- symbolized by coloured obi/ belts although, out of respect when visiting certain other organisations, our students are free to wear their white obis as a courtesy to their hosts.



  • In some schools/organizations the mudansha (kyu grade students) maintain the white belt up until yudansha (dan grade) so as to keep everyone ‘even’.


  • In other schools mudansha wear different colour belts of grade in order to immediately identify those who have a greater level of ability and understanding and those who may not.

Obis/Belts, Ability and Attitude

No matter what the Way or Art, no matter the colour of the obi you wear or whatever your grade,- it is your attitude, your conduct and your ability that will reflect your true level.


Hygiene and your Dogi & Obi:

Some schools suggest that the obi/belt should not be washed (thus the obi gradually darkens- allegedly indicating the owner’s ‘experience and knowledge’ and to wash the obi would ‘wash’ away the knowledge of the owner!)

Ok, but what if the owner lost his/her obi?  Would their knowledge disappear with it?  No.

Also upon success of reaching Dan grade does not the student receive a black belt to replace the white/previous colour?

With all due respect…your uniform/belt should be washed after every class, hygiene is important.


All things are not exactly even

Due to the varied structure, interpretation and diversification of syllabus, and standards in training, (occasionally even within same organisations) it can be seen that supposedly ‘same grade’ students may display considerable differences in ability and understanding.

We are all individuals of course, but there ought to be an overall balance in relation to the syllabus, the ability of the individual, and the grade that person is awarded.


Any instructors who give grades merely to encourage attendance, or as favours or for financial gain only serve to cheapen the very core of Bushido.


7:  Taiso / Undo - Exercises


In many Dojos, after the rei has been taken and before commencing practice of techniques, it may be customary to sit in seiza and spend a few moments preparing and focusing the mind for the training ahead, and then in order to minimise the risk of injury, have a loosening up or warm up session of taiso / undo (exercises).


In ZKA students are advised not to overstretch or force any of the exercises or moves.


The exercises are done at an easy up to moderate pace, dependent on the student’s ability, and in a relaxed manner.

These may include a variety of twisting, mobility and stretching exercises, to loosen up and ease the body.

Do not go extreme… the idea is to improve yourself… not injure yourself.

More specific Aiki taiso (Aiki exercises) may be included at any time in order to develop the ability and promote the understanding of, posture, movement, timing, balance, focus, energy, and awareness


8:  Kaiten Ukemi - rolling breakfalls
Ukemi Waza - breakfall techniques

After the initial loosening up there follows a session of various break-fall and rolling exercises and techniques, these help students to develop their ability, progress and confidence to roll or land safely and minimise the risk of injury e.g. after having been thrown/pushed/tripped.

Kaiten Ukemi  ‘Rolling breakfall’

A relaxed attitude will help you develop proficiency your break-falling techniques.

It is well known that with practice the student becomes more relaxed and composed; this in turn helps their break-falling abilities which in turn raises their confidence and also helps to improve their Aikido generally- so the circle develops.

In essence –

A relaxed attitude will help in all of your Aikido.

At the end of the training session some classes may have a ‘cooling or warm-down’ session, and may be followed by a short period of Mokuso (meditation or focus exercise).


9) Warning and Caution…

Training and risks:

  • Remember that whilst all reasonable care is taken it must be accepted by everyone (including practitioners, visitors and observers) that the risk of injury, and certainly the potential for injuries, is inherent in the practice and training of Aikido/Bushido/Martial Ways and Arts.


  • You should be aware and understand that by undertaking to practice and train in a martial way/art you are agreeing to the fact that such risks exists and you are accepting of those responsibilities and of those risks of your own choosing and that you expressly agree that no instructor or other member of the school of Zenshin Kokoro Aikido may be held responsible for any injury, or liable for any claim for any such injury, howsoever caused during training.


Aikido will not suit everyone

Some well intentioned people will not have the commitment and correct attitude to be a student of Aikido or other martial discipline.

But of course, if you do not take the first step, you will never know for certain!

The movies and myth:

‘Movie trivia / Mixed blessings’- The media sometimes helps to promote Budo yet a common misconception is caused by the less than factual portrayal usually of the ‘hero(s)’ in martial arts films.

Many of these type of films are good entertainment- not real!


‘Five Minute’ Wonders

Some people watch such films and get carried away- thinking that they can join a martial arts school and within days or weeks they will be able to enter into battle against fifty or so ‘bad guys’ and walk away with little more than a scratch! (those type rarely last more than one class); then again, any ‘instructors’ who exploit such misconceptions should know better.

Some people will say they’ve done this martial art and that martial art but they mean that they may have been to a few classes and given up.


Be realistic; to train properly in Aikido, Bushido, takes a great deal of commitment and practice- it is real life- not an action/martial arts film!

Common sense should prevail.


We are all different (body types/personalities) yet practicing Aikido correctly and with proper attitude, the benefits can promote improved health, conditioning and well-being, body alignment/posture and help reduce stress.

Although Aikido is considered available for anyone to practice; realistically it will not suit everyone- just as any other martial training class or other activity- different people have different degrees of interest.


To develop properly in Aikido or any other martial way or art, takes, honesty, discipline, dedication; and practice, to improve practice, to improve practice.

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