safetyAs our Aikido school maintains its popularity, we continue to make our members aware of the rigid safety policies of our dojo. We practice a potentially dangerous art which has inherent risks. For this reason, it is paramount that we all make practice as safe as possible.

Safety is one of the reasons for the strict discipline in every aikido dojo, including ours. Safety is the reason that you must follow Sensei’s instructions exactly and without question, and your actions should not deviate from those instructions.

Safety is one of the reasons that we practice cooperatively with each other and offer no resistance. Not only does it aid your learning, but as uke (the person receiving the technique), it is safer to go with the flow during a technique and take ukemi (roll out) safely, than it is to resist.

Safety is not just the responsibility of the instructor in charge of the class. Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Once you enter the dojo, you must be aware and stay aware of what is going on around you. You must also accept personal responsibility to play your part in safe practice.

One of the principal safety measures in our dojo is embedded in the Aikido Yuishinkai syllabus itself. It is taking Ukemi. The art of ukemi (defensive falling) is not only 50% of the learning required in Aikido, but the way that all aikido students keep themselves safe during practice. To opt out of ukemi (forwards & backwards rolling and breakfalling) for any reason puts you at risk of being injured during practice. Seniors who can’t or won’t learn or implement the art of ukemi put themselves in even more danger because there is an assumption across all dojos that anyone wearing a hakama or a black belt can take ukemi with enough skill not to injure themselves.

It is because of safety concerns that we demand strict adherence to instructions given by our instructors. The class instructor is responsible for the activities undertaken by the class; the only one with a lesson plan; and the only one who has an overview of what everyone in the class is doing. By not following requests and instructions to the letter means you could you be placing yourself at risk, as well as endangering others.

We have a policy of allowing people to sit out of any activity they choose. However, that does not mean you can learn only part of the art. We expect you to embrace the entire art as taught by Maruyama Sensei. Therefore, you cannot expect to grade to a higher rank if you don’t have all of the necessary skills contained within the art of Aikido Yuishinkai. Even though only some of the open hand techniques, disarming techniques and weapon kata are examined during a grading demonstration, it is also necessary to gain prociency in (amongst other things) ukemi, extending Ki, folding the hakama, leading the warm ups, and leading practice.

Section 1 – safe practice

Here is a list of other things you are expected to do to ensure safe practice of Aikido in a safe environment:

  • When laying out the mats, it is important that there is a safety buffer zone around the outside of the mats. This area should be clear of all obstacles. This distance should be a minimum of one (1) meter of clear space around the edge of the mats. Any obstacles that can’t be removed must be protected in some way (e.g. cushioned)
  • Any systemic obstacles and dangers on or near the mats should be brought to the instructor’s attention
  • We come into close contact with the mat surface on a regular basis so it is important that the mats are vacuumed at least weekly to maintain them in as clean a condition as possible
  • Spectators should be well clear of the mat
  • Weapons should not be stored near edge of mat
  • Weapons should not be laid on the mats or on the floor between the mats as they represent a danger if stepped on or rolled on
  • All techniques that result in throws and pins should be directed to the outside of the mat at all times. The aim is to avoid collision
  • Throws, pins and ukemi (defensive falling) practice performed by different groups should always be performed in the same direction. Falling backwards or rolling forwards in a direction that is different to another group creates a high risk of collision
  • When practicing in pairs, the person performing the technique (nage) is responsible for the safety of the person receiving the technique (uke). Before throwing uke, nage must ensure there is sufficient empty mat area for uke to land safely
  • When practicing in threes, nage is still responsible for the safety of uke however, the 3rd person represents an extra layer of protection by being vigilant and acting as lookout and protector
  • When practicing in teams, a senior is usually nominated as the person in charge of each team and oversees practice within that team. Nage is still responsible for the safety of uke. Other members of the team not practicing a technique or awaiting their turn should remain aware of activity around them. They should be ready and able to move rapidly; and should not impede the practice or place themselves in danger
  • At times, the instructor will restrict groups to different mat zones either verbally or with markers. It is your responsibility to ensure that you and every member of your group stays within your designated zone
  • If you see any obstacle that looks like danger or any behaviour on the mat that appears inappropriate or dangerous or is inconsistent with the instructor’s instructions please do something about it. Remove the obstacle or in the case of inappropriate, dangerous or inconsistent behaviour, tell the instructor

Practicing Aikido (or not) is always your choice. At any time, you may sit out of an activity. Whether you are injured, feel unwell, or assess that an activity is beyond your present capability, you always have the right to choose.

Remember that in learning Aikido you are also learning the traditions and etiquette of Aikido. We therefore ask that you do not refuse to participate in traditional and etiquette-related activities such as bowing, respecting the rank of those senior to you and folding the hakama of an instructor. If you do that (i.e. refuse) as an intermediate or senior, you are setting a very poor example for those coming behind you.

Section 2 – injury, illness and bleeding

One of the most important requirements of long term Aikido training is sustained good health, which includes an injury-free body. It is difficult to practice when you are sick or injured. It can also be unsafe for others.

So in addition to observing safe practices on the mat, good health practices, both on and off the mat, are critical to maintaining a safe environment for everyone.

  • One of the first techniques you learn in Aikido is Ukemi – the art of defensive falling. Instruction starts in the Beginner’s Course and Ukemi practice never ceases. It is critical that you develop the ability to be able to fall correctly and safely because it underpins safe Aikido practice. It also plays a significant role in self protection outside the dojo.
  • All injuries must be reported to the class instructor. It is often the case that you don’t realise that you are injured until you go home and cool down. If that is the case, please let us know as soon as possible, even if that is at the next class or by email. We need your feedback to be able to take action.
  • When you return from a significant period of illness or injury, you must discuss you practice capability with the instructor. It is a mistake to think you can immediately return to your pre-illness or pre-injury levels of competence. It is important that you cease or sit out activities that cause you discomfort. Accordingly, the instructor will encourage you to modify your practice if required e.g. no forward rolling, no sit down backwards rolling etc
  • It is your responsibility to tell the instructor of any infectious disease you may have or any condition that might affect the health of others. The most common infectious disease is a cold or flu. We understand your commitment to practice but in the interests of protecting your fellow students please do not come to class when you are sick with a cold, flu or any other infectious disease.
  • The instructor has the right to exclude any student from class. Whilst this rarely occurs, it is done to protect the other people in the class. Reasons are usually associated with an obvious injury or poor health of a student, including obvious symptoms of colds and flu. Occasionally it can be related to discipline or inappropriate behaviour
  • The instructor may also ask you for a written medical clearance before allowing you to return to class. We understand that some students are keen to return from injury or illness, but they can also represent a danger to themselves or to their fellow students.
  • When returning from injury or when nursing a minor injury, it is the student’s responsibility to disclose the injury to the instructor and to every training partner. It is our practice to put tape of your Gi in the form of a cross (x) to mark the injured or sensitive body part.
  • If you are bleeding or have blood on you or if you have blood on your Gi then you must leave the mat immediately. This also applies to a cut or an open wound that has the potential to bleed during practice. Most cuts are caused by long fingernails, toenails and items of jewellery worn on the mat. Occasionally, the cause can be accidental collision with another student or accidental contact with a wooden weapon.
  • Any student who has come into contact with blood may not return to the mat until blood has been cleaned off, bleeding has stopped and the wound is appropriately dressed. Any blood affected area of the mat should not be used until cleaned and disinfected with dilute bleach solution (5.25% sodium hypochlorite). Gloves should be used when treating or come into contact with blood. Disinfectant, dressings, gloves and bleach are located in the First Aid kit. If you have come into contact with blood and are concerned, seek further medical advice.

Section 3 – Safe behaviour

Self discipline and self control are two of the cornerstones of Aikido. Like any other martial art, Aikido starts and finishes with respect. These attributes, together with the expectations set out below, form the foundation of safe practice for everyone.

  • Griffith Aikido institute Inc. exists to practice and foster the Art of Aikido. We believe that Aikido is for everyone. We do not discriminate on the grounds of gender, race, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, disability or age
  • Our values include committed training, safe practice, loyalty and respect. That is, loyalty and respectto the dojo, instructors and each other
  • Aikido is a highly participative art, learned by ‘doing’. Focus and concentration are required to practice effectively and safely. For that reason, you are encouraged to keep any talking during practice to a minimum, and any talking that is done should relate to Aikido
  • Aikido skills are learned by cooperative practice. Unless otherwise instructed by your instructor, you should not resist techniques because part of your learning is feeling and experiencing the technique being applied and learning to go with the flow towards a safe outcome
  • It is good manners to sit in silence while receiving instruction you’re your instructor. If you have a question, please do not interrupt, but ask it after Sensei has finished talking and demonstrating
  • Inappropriate behaviour inside or outside the dojo, or on the mat will not be tolerated. This includes abuse, harassment (including sexual harassment), bullying and intimidation
  • Wrestling on the mat or any other form of clowning around, roughhousing, horseplay or physical competitive behaviour will not be tolerated
  • If you are practicing with a student who is lower in rank, you must practice to their level. That usually means going slower; not forcing the person into a forward or backward roll and not causing pain
  • Everyone is different when it comes to applying wrist locks and pins. Be aware that many people are inflexible and cannot take much joint pressure. Apply pressure very slowly. Be alert to Uke tapping the mat or tapping them selves. This is your signal to release the pressure immediately. Joint lock pressure should never be applied to anyone under the age of 18 years.
  • Griffith Aikido is a female friendly Aikido club. Please take care when practicing grabs and holds on females. Shoulder grabs are performed wide at shoulder level, not at lapel or chest level. A bear hug from behind is not a wrap around grab. It is performed just below the shoulders with hands joined and extended to the front
  • Just as cooperative practice is the key to increased skill and competence, cooperation and teamworkgets the mats laid out, vacuumed and rolled up again.