I have been attending classes at Aberdeen Banyu Hatten Aikido Club for around eight months now and have thus far thoroughly enjoyed the lessons and the company. The class is opened, overseen and in some cases, taught, by the lead instructor, Mike Haft sensei (2nd Dan) and occasionally visited by Geoff Flather sensei (7th Dan.)
A Normal Class:
A normal class will begin with the standard ettiquite (Bowing etc. and any important details that need to be addressed) followed by a light warm up session. When I say light warm up session, I mean light. There are no conditionining exercises, simply a short jog, sidestep then run around the mat followed by some stretching and then hand exercises and Ki exercises. The hand and Ki exercises are basically small exercises designed to teach you basic principles which will come in useful early on. They can be very confusing to beginners, but a more experienced student is usually assigned to newcomers to assist.
After some rolling practice, instruction will begin. The students are seperated into groups according to grades and assigned an assistant instructor. This allows the bulk of the teaching to be done by the assistant instructors and allows the lead instructor to oversee and go from group to group, offering help when needed. This system allows everyone to receive tuition, with the exception of the assistant instructors of course.
The class is held on a mat in the the middle of a large sports hall. This gives us plenty of space but also has its drawbacks. Most noticably, the noise level. We can share the hall with a football match, another Martial Arts class and two badminton games simultaenously. This can sometimes cause issues with concentration and even hearing instructions.
There is no sparring in the most obvious sense of the word (I.e: Two people are pitted against each other and are allowed to use any technique that they know of against each other) but all techniques are obviously attempted with a receiving partner (reffered to as uke) Partners are switched often to give everyone experience with opponents of various sizes.
Occasionally, harassment tests are given. Essentially, the student receives punching attacks from a group of senior students and must utilize any of the moves on his or her syllabus to stop the attacker. This provides a rare insight into how the student reacts under pressure.
Mats are laid out at the start of every class. Equipment such as weapons are brought by some of the more senior members and the instructors and shared out around the class. The weapons are seldom in high demand as usually only a small part of the class will require them. Protective equipment etc. is not necessary.
We have about an eighth of the hall to ourselves, this allows 15+ students to train easily, with room for expansion if the need arises in the future.
Because the class is relatively small (usually around 12 non-instructors) this allows for groups of four to be taught by an assistant instructor each whilst the lead instructor can oversee. Good ratio.
A fairly relaxed attitude is taken to the classes though obviously safety is taken seriously. Chatting about non-aiki related topics is not common during class, though discussions about other Martial Arts are and can be distracting. Friendships amongst students are quickly formed, especially during club evenings out (To a restaurant or bar etc.)
I wouldn't exactly call most of the techniques 'grappling' though a better word escapes me. I will simply say that the techniques are a lot more fluid than seen in some grappling arts and allow you to maintain balance.
Weapons are part of the syllabus for higher ranks. Having not yet reached these ranks, I cannot comment on this, though our teacher sometimes teaches a little Iaido to those interested and only on Thursdays.
Please note that the pictures are from a Club grading, at a different location.
- Classes cost £6 per lesson (£5 for the unemployed/students)
- Children are welcome, depending on age (enquire on the forum)
- For more information, check the website.
Review done using this template, and this as inspiration.
Thank you to Petter and PSanderson.
Just a few additions to the above review, striking is also taught though the reviewer hasn't been present when it has been.
In reference to aliveness, again, the reviewer hasn't been present when advanced levels of training has been done, there is plenty of aliveness but with defined roles of attacker and defender as is in keeping with the nature of the art. We do occasionally do some sparring in the more traditinal sense but it is not a regular feature of training.