Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Aikido different from other martial arts?
Aikido is considered a “defensive” martial art, because the techniques focus on responding to an attack. If there is no attack, there is no need to use Aikido. The techniques also aim to resolve the conflict while protecting everyone involved from lasting harm. This goal requires a different mindset from martial arts in which the aim is to defeat the opponent. A saying in Aikido is “True victory is victory over oneself.”
What style of Aikido is this?
At Austin Ki Aikido, we practice Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido, commonly called “Ki Aikido” in English. The Japanese name means “Aikido with mind and body unified”; our teaching style emphasizes mind-body coordination as the key to effective action. The nickname “Ki Aikido” comes from our emphasis on “ki” — a Japanese word that can be translated as spirit, mind, or energy. In our practice, Ki can be thought of as attention, intention, or connection, which is enhanced by calmness and relaxation.
What makes this Aikido style unique?
In addition to Aikido, our practice includes a parallel discipline called Shin Shin Toitsu Do, or the “Way of Mind-Body Unity”. This is also called “Ki development”. This training focuses on the principles of mind-body coordination in ordinary life. These principles exist independently of any martial technique, and underlie effective physical action. They include remaining centered, relaxing, moving with awareness and intention, and working with natural forces such as gravity. These principles are taught through exercises, breathing, meditation, and a form of feedback known as “Ki testing”.
How active are Aikido classes?
Beginning level classes are moderately active. They are usually not a sustained aerobic workout, but they are more active than “moving meditation”. They usually begin with warm-up exercises and practice in rolling and falling; this is followed by instruction in Aikido techniques, in which, alternately, an instructor demonstrates and explains, and then students work with each other to practice what was shown.
What do I need to know to practice Aikido?
Not much. No previous knowledge of or experience with martial arts is required.
What if I have physical limitations?
We will try to accommodate any physical limitation. Please contact us to discuss your needs. For example, kneeling, falling, and rolling are traditional in Aikido, but are not essential to its principles, so it’s possible to practice without doing those things.
Do I need a uniform?
No. You can wear any loose comfortable clothes in which you can move easily. Wear pants that cover your knees; we spend a lot of time on our knees, and longer pants will protect you from mat burn.
If I want a uniform, where can I get one? What should I get? How do I wear it?

Austin Ki Aikido does not normally sell the martial arts uniform, also known as a “dogi” or “gi”. You may be able to buy one from another martial arts dojo, from a thrift store, or from online vendors. Occasionally (once or twice a year), if there are several students who want to buy a gi, we sometimes place a group order from a vendor who gives us a volume discount.

Uniforms for Aikido can be either karate-style or judo-style. Karate-style gi jackets have ties to hold them closed, but are always worn with a belt for Aikido. Judo-style gis are made of heavier fabric, do not have jacket ties, and require a belt to keep the jacket closed. Judo-style gis are slightly more traditional for Aikido, but they are also hotter to wear in the summer. Some online vendors sell Aikido-specific gis, which have shorter sleeves and reinforced knees; these features are convenient but not required.

Only three colors of belts are worn at Austin Ki Aikido: white, brown, and black. Beginners wear a white belt, and continue to wear it through the first few rank tests. If your gi does not come with a belt, we can probably provide you with one. If you’re not sure how to tie the belt, just ask, and a teacher or another student can show you how.