Your first steps to get started with Aikido will mean doing a bit of research, probably for a couple of weeks.
Go to your local library and borrow one or two books about Aikido. Skip through them, but don’t read too deeply. You may end up doing a different style in a week or two, so you don’t want to confuse things at this stage. Make a few written notes of stuff that interests you, and leave it at that.
Next, you need to find a dojo in your local area, or one that is within an easy travelling distance for you. Then find another martial arts school as your second choice, and maybe even a third.
Ideally you want to be able to watch classes in more than one martial arts style. Even Aikido has several different styles, including Aikikai, Yoshinkan and Shodokan Aikido.
Go and watch an Aikido class. Observe the whole procedure from start to finish, from the warm-up exercises to the end of the class. That’s usually from 1 to 2 hours. Be sure to talk to the instructor or whoever approaches you afterwards, and be polite and non-committal at this stage.
If anyone tries to sign up for classes then and there, I’d suggest you want to run – don’t walk – out of there. You are in the wrong place! But even if they are great about everything, and you liked what you saw, you still don’t want to rush things and sign up immediately.
You could regret it later, and there are more places to go, people to see…
Now go to another Aikido dojo, if one exists, and check them out in the same way. Be polite and non-committal again. Tell them you are checking out the competition as well. And if there isn’t another Aikido dojo, just go and watch a Judo class, a Jujitsu group or some other martial art. Do this even if you don’t want to learn those martial arts, because you will need to have some reference points to help evaluate what style and which school will best suit your requirements.
Once you have seen a few different classes, and preferably different styles as well, it’s time for you to choose. Go with your gut feeling about the people. That’s what I have always done.
Once you have signed up by filling in the forms and paying for your first few lessons or your first month, you will need to buy a training uniform.
Go to your local martial arts supply shop and buy a Keigo-Gi after the instructor tells you what type to buy. For Aikido, Judo or Ju Jitsu it will probably be a thick cotton Judo-gi or do-gi with a white belt, but let your teacher tell you exactly what to buy.
Now you have a dojo and an instructor, it’s all up to you.
You need to turn up to every training session and work hard. Do what your teacher and your fellow students show you to do… The rest of the steps to learn your chosen martial art will follow naturally from there.
I hope you enjoy your journey, and that you do it for many good years!