the dojo

Virginia Aikikai

Virginia Aikikai was founded by Pat Crosby Rokudan under the Midwest Aikido Federation (MAF) in 1997 and is affiliated with the Hambu Dojo in Japan. Pat Crosby began studying under Akira Tohei Shihan in 1977 and became a shidoin of MAF in 2001.

Richard Killblane Nodan became the instructor of Virginia Aikikai in 2011. Rich, former Airborne Ranger/Special Forces, had started his mixed martial arts training in high school with boxing and wrestling and began practicing tae kwon do in college in 1975. His military combatives training also introduced him to a number of other martial arts such as judo and hapkido. Older and seeking a more refined martial art he found aikido in 1996 and trained under a number of schools until studying under Crosby in 2003.

Virginia Aikikai continues to focus on the strict fundamentals taught by Pat Crosby with the belief that that good aikido should be built on a good foundation. Crosby teaches traditional Hambu Dojo Aikido focusing on strict practice of the fundamentals and emphasizing masa katsu agatsu - "true victory is victory over oneself." Through this methodology, students learn the strength of aikido through a study of how the body naturally moves. Equal emphasis is placed on the proper conduct of ukemi (receiving the throw) as well as nage (throwing). When Akira Tohei began practicing Aikido after WWII, the other students had to have mastered other martial arts first and Aikido was considered a finishing school for martial arts. From this experience, Tohei taught Aikido that works against any form of martial arts, which is continued in this school.

Dojo Etiquette

If you attend a class to watch, you may notice a lot of different behavior and customs. The following represents just some of the customs of a dojo, included here so you may understand what is happening at a class.

Proper behavior and manners are an important part of the practice. One of the key aspects of Aikido is the respect for your Sensei, your fellow students, your dojo, and yourself.

1. When entering or leaving the dojo, and when stepping onto or off the mat, bow in the direction of O-Sensei's picture. This is a tradition of showing respect to O-Sensei, the founder of Aikido.

2. Shoes are to be taken off when entering the dojo, and zori (sandals or thongs) worn in the mat area. Zori should be lined up at the edge of the mat.

3. Immediately after stepping onto the mat, students should bow respectively to the shrine - the most proper style is from seiza. Five minutes before the class is scheduled to start, students should arrange themselves in a straight line of proper rank, (higher rank on the right side). Kneel in seiza and await the instructors arrival on the mat. Mediation calms the mind; everyone in the dojo should be silent during meditation.

4. When the instructor comes onto the mat he/she and the students bow to O-Sensei's picture. The students then bow to the instructor formally opening the class.

5. The instructor should be referred to as Sensei during class instruction and not by his/her first name.

6. When the instructor claps, quickly sit down, listen and watch attentively. when the instructor indicates that practice is to resume, bow to the instructor and promptly resume practicing. Change partners when the instructor indicates. When changing partners during class, one should acknowledge both your former partner and your new partner with a bow.

Tests for Promotion

Testing is not competitive in the sense that one loses and another wins. Testing is done to show that you have developed skills in a particular area and the ranking system is based on both a sound knowledge of specific techniques and time spent on the mat for the purpose of learning the techniques. A candidate's performance as Uke (the attacker) is observed as closely as his or her performance as Nage (the one who is attacked).

Practitioners advance from 5th Kyu through 1st Kyu, obtaining a brown belt after passing the 2nd Kyu test and a black belt after passing the Sho-Dan test. A black belt indicates not an expert, but a senior student. On average, students practicing at least 3 hours per week and applying themselves seriously take about 6 years to achieve the rank of shodan.

The following is the Midwest Aikido Federation Promotional Test requirements:

5th Kyu (60 practice days)

  • Shomenuchi Ikkyo (omote and ura)
  • Shomenuchi Iriminage
  • Katatetori Shihonage (omote & ura)
  • Ryotetori Tenchinage
  • Tsuki Kotegaeshi
  • Ushiro Tekubitori
  • Kotegaeshi Morotetori
  • Kokyuho

4th Kyu (80 practice days)

Shomenuchi Nikkyo (omote & ura) Yokomenuchi Shihonage (omote & ura) Tsuki Iriminage Ushiro Tekubi Sankyo (omote & ura) Ushiro Ryokatatori Kotegaeshi Suwari Waza: Shomenuchi Ikkyo (omote & ura) Katatori Nikkyo (omote & ura) Katatori Sankyo (omote & ura)

3rd Kyu (100 practice days)

Yokomenuchi Iriminage (2 ways) Yokemnuchi Kotegaeshi Tsuki Kaitenage Ushiro Tyokatatori Sankyo (omote & ura) Morotetori Iriminage(2 ways) Shomenuchi Sankyo (omote & ura) Suwari Waza: Shomenuchi Iriminage (omote & ura) Shomenuchi Nikkyo (omote & ura) Hanmi Handachi: Katatori Shihonage Katatori Kaitennage (ushi & soto mawari*)

2nd Kyu (200 practice days) (brown belt)

Shomenuchi Shihonage (omote & ura) Shomenuchi Kaitennage (omote & ura) Yokomenuchi Gokyo Ushiro Tekubitori Shihonage (omote & ura) Ushiro Tekubitori Jujinage Ushiro Kubishime Koshinage Morotetori Nikyo (omote & ura) Hanmi-Handachi: Shomenuchi Iriminage Katatetori Nikkyo (omote & ura) Yokemenuchi Kotegaeshi Freestyle-2 persons

1st Kyu (300 practice days)

Katatori Menuchi-5 techniques Yokemenuchi-5 techniques Morotetori-5 techniques Shomenuchi-5 techniques Ryotetori-5 techniques Koshinage-5 techniques Tantotori Hanmi-Handachi (Ushiro Waza)- 5 techniques Freestyle-3 persons

Sho-Dan (400 practice days) (black belt)

All of 1st Kyu requirements Tachitori Jotori Henkawaza** Freestyle-4 persons

Ni-Dan (600 practice days)

Attended 2 seminars per year after Sho-Dan. All of Sho-Dan requirements Tachitori-2 persons Freestyle-5 persons Kaeshiwaza***

San-Dan (700 practice days)

Attend 2 seminars per year after Ni-Dan. Exam Content to be determined by examiner at the time of the exam. Note: Counting the required number of practice days begins from zero after each successful exam.

* uchi & soto mawari (both inside and outside movements)

** Henka waza (switching from one technique to another. Examiner will call the first technique.)

*** Kaeshi-waza (counter techniques. Uke applies technique on nage who reverses it. The original tchnique will be specified by the examiner, e.g., to apply sankyo against nikyo.)







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