Frequently Asked Questions
Are all Aikido Dojos the same?
On the outside you may see many similarities among dojos. Most Aikido practitioners (aikidoka) wear traditional martial arts uniforms with the addition of a hakama (long pleated trousers that are traditional in samaurai arts. Most dojos traditionally have a picture of the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba (Osensei) in a prominent place at the head of the class (called a Shomen) that is like an altar or a place to focus one's gratitude and appreciation for the art of Aikido. The Shomen might be elaborate or simple or somewhere in between.
In addition, the flowing movements in aikido interactions may look very much the same from dojo to dojo, but this is also where the differences in styles and approaches start to become apparent. Aikido schools fall generally into two camps. Some practice Aikido as a martial art with a purpose similar to other martial artists, that is to limit or destroy the attacker's ability to control or destroy the aikidoka by controlling the attacker, ultimately throwing him or pinning him to the ground. Others focus on the spiritual aspects of the art, striving for non-violence in the midst of attack. These two schools of thought regarding Aikido practice are often called "hard" and "soft" styles.