– Aikido focuses on self-defense. Students learn to move with rather than against attackers, take them off balance, and control or repel them with throws and pins. Dedicated training builds the skills to both perform and receive martial techniques with power and fluidity.
– Aikido is full body exercise that builds strength, stamina, flexibility, agility, balance, and coordination. Regular practice leads to a strong, stable body structure and smooth, powerful movement.
– Students learn to stay calm and focused under pressure. Aikido has been referred to as “Zen in motion” because of its meditative qualities. It fosters improved attention, self-awareness, and emotional stability, and it can eventually lead towards spiritual enlightenment.
– Sometimes called “The Art of Peace,” Aikido’s philosophy can be used to overcome personal and social struggles in everyday life. Aikido principles of resolving conflict through harmony, awareness, and balance are applicable both on and off the mat.
– Aikido brings together people interested in cultivating themselves and their relationships with others. Our dojo is a community of people from many different countries, cultures, and walks of life, all training together in an environment of mutual trust and respect.
One of the things that is special about Aikido as a martial art is that powerful, effective technique does not rely on strength or size. Perhaps this is why women have played a prominent role in the tradition of Aikido in general and Florida Aikikai in particular. Women began training with O Sensei early on in the formation of Aikido, and today many of the top instructors in the United States Aikido Federation are women. Among these prominent teachers is our own Penny Bernath Sensei, 6th Dan, Shihan, who travels internationally to teach Aikido and regularly instructs our Saturday morning advanced classes. Additionally, many Florida Aikikai advanced black belt instructors are women with decades of training experience, including Lynne Morrison, Octavia Pereyra, Virginia Becart, Janet Lowe, and Gerry Streeter.
At Florida Aikikai, we adhere to the ranking and testing structure of the United States Aikido Federation. Based in the traditional Japanese Kyu/Dan system, this structure provides students with a way to focus their training on technical principles in order to build a solid foundation for advanced aikido practice. Most adult students complete their first test and achieve their first rank (6th kyu) within their first few months of practice. This first test includes the basic elements of training, such as stance, fundamental movements, safe falling, and common attacks. As training progresses, tests become less frequent and cover a broader range of techniques. For most students, reaching first black belt (shodan) requires five to ten years of training. Full testing requirements can be viewed