I went along to my first aikido class purely because I wanted to support my friend in setting up a new local class. I never for a second thought that I would end up hooked. I am naturally clumsy and graceless and thought, especially after my first class, that I was completely irredeemably hopeless. However, I found myself going back the next week and the weeks after, determined to prove my inner saboteur wrong. The teaching was (and is) so brilliant and the class atmosphere so genial and supportive that I couldn’t help but want to be a part of it. There is a strong social element to aikido and the fact that you have to work with other people to succeed is a huge bonus for me. This is something you are not likely to find in other exercise classes and means you are more likely to go back and to keep pushing to improve. I don’t just feel that I’ve built fitness and strength in the past few months, but also lasting friendships and new social opportunities.
The Shodokan family is not only one of the greatest sporting communities that I believe to be out there, but also one of the most widespread ones. From the moment I started at Invicta with all the amazing instructors and kyu grades, to now (four years down the line, training at Shodokan York), I have always felt at home with aikido.
I started out knowing absolutely nothing about martial arts, and now often teach others about them, as well as competing in student nationals, learning from Shihan and spectating at the World Opens. It’s been an amazing experience overall, and I hope it will continue to be for many more years into the future!