Nippon Kan Questions and Answers for Beginning Students
Q. How much experience does Nippon Kan have in teaching Aikido to beginners?
A. Since Nippon Kan opened in 1978, over 20,000 students have participated in Nippon Kan Beginning Aikido classes.
Q. Will I be able to do a martial art if I have no experience?
A. In our experience, a few of our beginning students have done martial arts in the past, but most students have had no experience in the martial arts before coming to Nippon Kan. Our beginning classes are carefully crafted to appeal to beginning students with no martial art experience and are fun and engaging!
Q. How many students will be in the Beginner’s class?
A. Depending on the season, there are usually 10 to 20 students in each class. Many of our more advanced members join the classes to provide more one-on-one assistance at the beginner level.
Q. is there any support for beginners?
A. Yes! To help you achieve your goal of completing the Nippon Kan Beginning Aikido Class, we have designated a special Beginner’s Support Staff (BSS) just for you! You can identify them by the green ribbon that will be attached to their belts. These special BSS staff members have recently completed the Nippon Kan Beginning Aikido class series and have been training at Nippon Kan from 6 months to 2 years. Having recently been beginners themselves, these staff members will be able to help you with any questions you might have or thoughts or concerns.
Q. What are the qualifications of the Instructors teaching Aikido at Nippon Kan?
A. Instructors at Nippon Kan are not selected for their technical skills and experience alone, but are selected also for their personality and ability to teach others in a leadership position.
In addition to our qualified instructors, Nippon Kan also has a Beginners Support Staff (BSS) who are there to answer questions and support your practice at Nippon Kan. BSS members have been practicing at Nippon Kan from 6 months to 2 years; so they are able to easily relate to the Beginner experience!
Q. What is the age range of students at Nippon Kan?
A. Nippon Kan has students ranging in age from 7 to 80! However in our Beginners’ classes the usual age range is 20’s -30’s, from many different professions and backgrounds.
Q. Can women train at Nippon Kan?
A. Since the practice of Aikido relies more on technique than strength, we have many
women that practice at Nippon Kan; many that have achieved black belt ranking and have
played important roles in Nippon Kan’s instruction and activities. So the answer is
YES, women are more than welcome to practice at Nippon Kan!
Q. What is the structure of the Aikido practice at Nippon Kan?
A. All classes begin with warm-up stretching lead by the class instructor. After warm-ups, the instructor will demonstrate a technique in great detail with careful explanation. Students then pair with other students to practice the technique shown. Beginning students usually pair with BSS or other more advanced members for one-on-one instruction. Students change partners regularly through the class to practice with different partners.
Q. How are students promoted?
A. All students who complete the 12 classes of their beginners’ class will receive a graduation certificate. Any beginning student who attended at least 6 of the 12 classes are eligible to join Nippon Kan as a regular member. As a regular member, students are welcome to take classes, join activities and seminars suited to their experience level and rank. Promotions are based on attendance in both classes and activities and technical development. Examinations are held on the first Saturday of every month.
Q. How many times are Beginner classes held each week?
A. There are 4 Beginners class sessions offered on a rotating basis. For each session, classes are held twice a week for six weeks. During the six-week session, there are many opportunities to make up any missed classes in other on-going sessions.
Q. How many classes are available after Beginner’s class?
A. Nippon Kan offers 18 classes per week to our regular members and general, beginning,
technical, advanced and weapons classes are available every week. Membership is only
$50.00 per month and there are NO contracts, fees or long term commitments to join.
Q. Is practice hard?
A. Although Aikido has been described as “moving Zen”, it is a Japanese martial art
with a lot of movement. More than anything, Aikido requires practice, and a commitment
to learn at your own pace. In our Beginner classes, safety is the highest priority therefore
Beginner classes are designed to start with soft whole-body movements; stretching,
twisting, turning, falling down safely and getting up safely. The practice is well
balanced to develop proper movement and breathing coordination. Aikido practice develops
“Ki” a concept of mind-body interaction.
Q. What is the difference between Nippon Kan and other Aikido dojos in Denver?
A. Nippon Kan Founder, Gaku Homma Sensei was the last live-in student (uchideshi) to the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba. Homma Sensei practiced Aikido directly from the Founder and cared for him daily. Therefore Nippon Kan is lead by a first generation instructor under the Founder Ueshiba. There are no other dojos in Colorado instructed by a direct student of the Founder Ueshiba. Link here for more information on Homma Sensei and all Nippon Kan instructors
There are a few dojos in the Denver area but none with the tradition, lineage or experience of Nippon Kan. Tomiki Aikido and Ki Aikido in Denver are different forms of Aikido derived from early teachings of the Founder Ueshiba.
Q. What is the atmosphere like in Aikido classes at Nippon Kan?
A. The philosophy of the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba was that “Aikido is not a martial art to be used to defeat an opponent; it is a martial art to be used to understand one’s self”. In keeping with this philosophy, Nippon Kan Aikido has no tournaments or competitions. Practice is held in a peaceful atmosphere of cooperation, encouragement and shared learning.
Q. What is the Beginners class curriculum?
A. Nippon Kan has been teaching beginning Aikido classes in Denver for over 35 years. Based on these decades of experience, a well-rounded curriculum has been created that introduces many of Nippon Kan’s basic techniques and applications. The classes are informative, fun and highly instructional. We do not offer any “free trial classes”, but instead offer a six-week curriculum designed especially for beginners.
Q. What do I need for Beginners class?
A. There is no equipment or uniform required for Beginners class. Just wear something loose and comfortable. Students are not required to buy a uniform until after they have completed the Beginners class and have decided they would like to continue with their practice. Uniforms are available in the Nippon Kan office for $60.00.
Q. May I observe a class?
A. Nippon Kan has observation from Monday-Friday from 5:30 to 6:30 pm. and Sat-Sun at
8:45 am. You may observe part of a class during these times and our staff will be available
to answer any questions you might have.
Q. What else does the Nippon Kan facility have to offer?
A. There are dressing rooms and showers available to all students and a secure area in the office to store student valuables during class times. Nippon Kan also houses Domo Restaurant and as a student you are eligible to order special meals at Domo’s Musubi Bar at special student rates!
Q. What other events and projects are held at Nippon Kan?
A. Community service has been part of the Nippon Kan curriculum for the past 20 years and there are opportunities to prepare meals for the homeless on a monthly basis, bi-annual beautification projects with Denver Parks and Recreation and other special international projects during the year.
- Denver parks beautification and reclamation projects
- Homeless meal service project with the Denver Rescue Mission
- Live-in student leadership training (uchideshi) programs
- Denver school cultural field trip program
- World-wide martial art support and development programs
- Used computer redistribution program world-wide
- Monthly rice donation program in Bangladesh, Myanmar and the Philippines
- And many more…read more AHAN articles on the Nippon Kan web site at http://www.nippon-kan.org/ahan/ahan.html
Q. What is the benefit of learning Aikido?
A. The practice of Aikido develops attitude, confidence and character in many ways.
You can see this in our students at Nippon Kan; come and see for yourself!
Q. What do we study at Aikido Nippon Kan?
A. Please feel free to stop by the dojo and observe a class for a few minutes. Our trained
office staff will be happy to answer any questions you might have. For a detailed description
of Nippon Kan’s operations, programs and projects, Homma Sensei’s book, Aikido Sketch
Diary: Dojo 365 Days, is available on this website at http://www.nippon-kan.org/home/sketch_diary.html
and is highly-recommended reading.
Q. When are Youth classes offered?
A. Youth program classes are offered every Saturday, beginning at 10:00 am., for students 7 to 15 years of age. Nippon Kan currently has over 80 young members enrolled in our Youth program making it the largest Youth program offered in Colorado. There are several classes available in our Youth program and children and their parents are welcome to come down and observe a class at 10:00 am each Saturday. Classes are $25.00 per month and more information is available at http://www.nippon-kan.org/email/youth.html
Nippon Kan’s philosophy on teaching children is detailed in Homma Sensei’s on-line book: Children and the Martial Arts—An Aikido Point of View, is highly-recommended reading. http://www.nippon-kan.org/home/children-and-the-martial-arts.html
Q. What if I’ve practiced Aikido before, or what if I’m a member of another dojo?
A. Aikido Nippon Kan welcomes students of any Aikido style. Please observe a general class for a few minutes and choose a class level you are comfortable with. You are welcome to join us!