Training at Aikido RVA

Class Structure

The class structure at Aikido RVA is quite simple, everyone practices in the open and unified class format. There is no beginner or advanced classes.  We do not practice Aikido self defense techniques according to one’s rank or physical skill.  We feel that this is the most effective to learn because each class, students will have an opportunity to practice with various skill levels.

Call to Order

You may have visited other Aikido schools and watched class and noticed a formal opening. It usually the tradition of the school to call the class to order prior to being the their workout.  A formal opening is also the tradition at Aikido RVA.

Warm Ups

The warm-up procedure varies, but usually involves 15-30min of static stretching and calisthenics.

Body Movement – Taiso

The taiso exercises done each class are the very building blocks of our techniques, designed to coordinate our minds and bodies. The Taiso movements mimic the basic elements need to perform our self-defense techniques. This movement enters into muscle memory over time and helps train your body to response to attacks with proper form quickly and efficiently.

Falling Techniques – Ukemi

The falling techniques is called ukemi and is designed to teach the aikidoka how to fall properly.  Students learn how to fall from a from a seated position, kneeling position as well how to fall forwards, backwards and other unsuspected positions.


We regularly practice defense against  knife, sword and staff. Each class will consist of jo and/or bokken kata practice. These are the katas of Aikido, developed directly from sword and weapons practices.  They purpose is to teach us grace and fluidity, and help us to understand that our empty hand techniques originated from weapons techniques.

Aikido Self Defense Techniques – “Waza”

Suenaka Sensei incorporated all of O’Sensei’s teaching in his self-defense.  The result is a style, combined with his extensive experience in real-world self-defense.  The result is a martial art that is “street effective’ yet respectful of all living things.  During each class we practice the basic Aikido techniques in order to become proficient in this unarmed form of self defense.  These basics techniques are designed to momentarily distract or off-balance an attacker in to get away.

Additional Training Opportunities

We further enhance our study of Aikido by attending Summer camp at Cheraw State Park in Cheraw S.C., the annual Hombu Seminar.  At these events, student from the affiliated dojos come together to learn directly from Sensei Suenaka as well as his senior students.  We also attend seminars lead by Sensei Suenaka which are held throughout the year at various affiliated dojos.

Testing and Rank Promotion

Promotions are based on attendance, ability to perform techniques, ki testing and more importantly, development of character and attitude.  Requirements are the same for both men and women.  Rank promotion is usually held once a year and there are five belt ranks prior to black belt.  However, students enjoy the art so much that rank in or of itself becomes secondary to the sheer joy of practice.