Aikido exercises

We recommend you do the Aikido class warmup regularly, to keep from losing flexibility. If you can’t remember the exercises, this website might help.

If any of these exercises hurt, STOP! You are not doing it correctly. Relax your body and breath slowly and deeply.

We usually do these ones before practice:

#2-9, 11, 13-16, 31, 37, 39-44.

(I think that #5 is just the ura version of the nikkyo wrist exercise.)

Usually before #37, we do an inversion. From sitting, roll back and put your feet on the mat over your head for ten seconds. This SHOULD NOT hurt your neck.

#49 is a good exercise if you have a mat or soft carpet.

Do an abdominal breathing exercise before you start: 

Stand with your feet under your shoulders, spine straight, legs slightly bent. Breathe in through your nose as deeply as possible, consciously using your diaphragm and pushing your lower abdomen forward with your abs for a count of four. Let your shoulders relax backwards. It is useful to visualize pushing the air down to your tanden (near the navel).

Breathe out gradually through your mouth for a count of eight until your lungs feel almost empty.

Repeat three times.

After you finish all the exercises, do mokuso — sit in seiza with you eyes half closed, breathing slowly and deeply, until your mind is calm (sometimes, it takes a while!)

These exercises are not intended as calisthenics, but to awaken ki in the body and improve health and flexibility. Don’t even think about breaking a sweat. Suburi is better for stamina and calisthenic purposes.


When I run into challenges at the dojo – including the ones we now face with the pandemic – I remind myself of what things were like at Hombu Dojo in 1945.

• The war had just ended and Tokyo was occupied by foreign soldiers.
• Martial arts practice was completely outlawed.
• The city was a wreck, virtually destroyed by bombing.
• Part of the dojo’s roof had been blown off by a bomb and water was seeping into the interior.
• Homeless people from the neighbourhood were living on the tatami.
• Almost all the members were conscripted, missing or dead.
• O-sensei had moved far away to Iwama with a small core of deshi.
• The economy was in ruins and no one had any money. There were very few jobs. Many people were starving.

I’m inspired by the dedication of the second Doshu, 24 years old at that time, in gradually turning that situation around, starting almost from zero in building the Aikikai into one of the largest martial arts organizations in the world.

Of course, as things slowly returned to normal, he got tremendous help from O-sensei in addition to many other brilliant and committed sensei.

Compared to that, our problems are minor. If we have gained anything from Aikido, I hope it is resilience, flexibility, toughness, courage and a sense of community.

The problems we are facing with the pandemic are very real, but we will solve them.

Dojo news March 19, 2020

I hope everyone is keeping well during this enforced shutdown. Yumi and I are fine as far as we know – you can be infected with COVID-19 without symptoms.

That’s why all classes have been canceled until at least April 5. People can feel perfectly healthy and still be passing the virus on to others. I don’t want the dojo to be the cause of serious illness for an elderly or unhealthy family member, or anyone else for that matter. And in the interests of the community, we fully support the suggestion to “flatten the curve” through social isolation.

It is a very strange time. People are avoiding each other on the sidewalks and public activity has almost ground to a halt. Many of us are spending most of our time at home, now. One thing that made it more concrete for me was watching the Sumo championships in Japan on TV, with no spectators in attendance. That was kind of surreal – the screaming audience is always a big part of the show.

It is at a time like this that we need Aikido practice, as part of the normal, weekly routine that helps us keep fit and deal with stress. Unfortunately, at least for a few weeks, you are going to have to do that practice at home.

Don’t forget to stretch, if nothing else – do the regular warm-up for 10 or 15 minutes once a day, so you don’t start to lose flexibility. The weather is getting nicer, so going for long walks or a run is a good option.

Tai sabaki is also very useful practice. Do “soto tenkan” 20 or 30 times from proper hanmi — tenkan, 180 deg. hip twist, repeat… focusing on correct posture, balance and breathing. Doing them without that kind of awareness is a waste of time… doing 20 good ones is better than doing 1,000 careless ones.

Meditation and breathing are also very useful practices. If you aren’t already familiar with a meditation system, meditate on technique. Try to quiet your mind and then vividly visualize yourself performing a technique repeatedly. This will have a good effect on the relevant neural pathways as well as highlight for you any gaps in your understanding of technique. We can clean those up later.

I highly recommend weapons practice as something you can practice alone. Most of you know the basic jo and bokken suburi by now and some know the jo kata. If you don’t and need advice, get in touch with me and I will help. Again, doing them with awareness and commitment a few times is better than just waving the wood around a hundred times.

If your jo or bokken are in the dojo and you need them to practice, let’s get together. I will be in the dojo this Saturday, March 21, from 1:00 to 2:00 PM, so you can pick up your weapons or any other property you have there if you wish.

This kind of hiatus can also be an opportunity to do some Aikido reading. Saturday would be a good time to borrow a book or two from the dojo library.

Since we are not regularly there, we need to check in on the dojo from time to time. I don’t mind doing it myself occasionally, but I know that most of you key-holders live much closer than I do.

All that would be involved is collecting the mail (let me know if there is any), checking that all the doors are locked, all the heat and fans are off and that there is nothing unusual going on (e.g. flooding or signs of break-in).

While the Judo club has ceased operations, an agent has been showing the space to prospective tenants. Last time, he left the ceiling fans running.

If you would be able to check the dojo out for ten minutes at some time in the next couple of weeks, please let me know when you might be able to do that.

As you know, this is happening against the backdrop of our move at the end of May. I will keep you up to date with the progress on that front. In a way, it’s a good thing that our lease ended when it did… If we had gotten stuck with super-high rent at a time when no students would be joining, it would have been a very dangerous situation.

We will be back in operation as soon as we can. Officially, we are closed until April 5. I will advise you closer to that time on where things stand.

Also, I want to keep in touch. If you have any questions or concerns at all or just feel like communicating, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by email or call 416.465-2823. If you are having problems and there is some way I can help, just let me know.

We can get through this together.

Hope to see a few of you on Saturday (at an appropriate distance, of course!)

COVID-19 cancellations

We have decided to close the dojo temporarily as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This difficult decision was based on information provided by medical organizations, recommendations by government, guidance from the Canadian Aikido Federation and the decisions of other dojos.

The health of our members and the community has to be our highest priority.

Accordingly, we plan to cancel all classes from Tuesday, March 17 until April 5. At that time we will review the situation and send out an update. If it looks like we can open sooner, we will let you know.

If you prepaid your dues, your renewal will be extended by the length of the closure.

Please check your email for news and see the website for updates.

Let me know if you have any concerns or suggestions.

And please keep in touch, to let us know how you are doing. And feel free to comment on any of our upcoming Facebook posts.

A note on COVID-19 from the CAF

CAF COVID-19 Advisory – March 16, 2020

Thank you to the many Dojo Chos and Aikido participants who have been diligently providing the Board with updates on their perspectives of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic. The health and safety of our CAF family is a paramount responsibility of the CAF Board.

With all of your input, the Board has been monitoring the spread ofthe virus since it was declared a pandemic. We have had some specific conversations with various dojos about the situation. Everyone has been responding to their local conditions with care and diligence.

There is an abundance of information about the pandemic in the media. Each dojo has municipal, provincial, national and international information and recommendations available to them. The CAF Board has been following the Health Canada website closely. Here are the links:• Government of Canada – Santé-Publique – Français• Government of Canada – Public Health – English

To date, some dojos are continuing practice, some are modifying their practice (i.e., weapons only) and some have cancelled practiceand upcoming seminars. At this point in time there has not been a Health Canada recommendation the CAF can use to give direction for the dojos to follow.

The 2020 CAF Summer Camp page has some information specific to the upcoming Camp. Please continue to monitor that page for updates.

Furthermore, the Board respects each dojo’s intent to protect the health of its participants. Member dojos need to monitor their local authority’s recommendations diligently. This pandemic is forecast to be a long-term battle. After the immediate health of our participants is safe, dojos are advised to start thinking about their strategies to respond to the upcoming financial and operational effects of the virus.

The Board will continue with further updates to inform dojos so they can continue to make good decisions.

Dan Jones, President CAF

Coronavirus update

In view of the current situation with the coronavirus and in the interests of the safety of members, their friends and families, we will make a few changes to the dojo schedule.

As I mentioned previously, all children’s classes are cancelled for the next three weeks at least.

Starting tomorrow and for the immediate future, all classes will be weapons training — jo or bokken.

The 10 AM class on Saturday, March 15 will be an hour and a half long. The second class is canceled, But please be prepared to stay for a discussion of the situation.

Do not worry if you do not have a jo or bokken of your own – one will be loaned to you.

Don’t worry if you have no experience with this kind of practice… We will start at the beginner level.

Keep an eye on the monthly schedule posted on the website for any further changes. As well, we will send out emails promptly, advising you of the current schedule.

If you feel sick, even slightly, do not come to the dojo. If you have been in contact with someone who potentially has the  coronavirus, do not come to the dojo. In either case, I recommend that you seek medical attention and self-quarantine.

Please bear in mind that, especially in the early days, you can be spreading the disease without having any symptoms yourself.

If it looks like the dojo has been exposed to coronavirus, all classes will be canceled. If the authorities recommend that activities like ours be suspended, all classes will be canceled.

Check the website for an up-to-date schedule.

It’s a tough time and I don’t like making this decision, but we have to be realistic and reasonable.

Kids’ classes cancelled for three weeks

To parents and guardians of kids’ class members:

As you probably know, in view of the risks posed by COVID-19, public school classes in Ontario are being cancelled from the start of March break (this Saturday, March 14) until April 5.


To protect the health of all our students and their families and friends, our kids’ classes will be cancelled during this time and will reopen when the schools reopen. 

I am very reluctant to do this, but the health of our students has to come first.

Members will be notified promptly of any change to the schedule of regular adult classes.

If you have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

Keep well!

Coronavirus concerns

In view of the growing concern about the coronavirus, I wanted to share our preliminary plans for the dojo.

Please note the following:

  • If you feel sick, even slightly, do not come to the dojo.
  • If you have attended a “mass” event where you were in immediate proximity to other people (sports, theatre, church) in the past week, please reconsider coming to the dojo.
  • If you start to cough or sneeze during class, do so into your sleeve or facecloth and leave the mat right away.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after class, and use the hand sanitizer.
  • If the virus spreads in Toronto, the classes will focus on non-contact (i.e. bokken and jo) practice.
  • Everyone should help in cleaning the dojo more frequently.
  • We will cancel classes if so directed by authorities.
  • We will follow any guidelines provided by the CAF.
  • We will monitor the situation closely.
  • Watch your email and the website for updates regarding cancellations, etc.

Please help protect your own health and the health of your fellow members.

Please let us know if you have any concerns or suggestions.

Learning to ride…

Aikido is like learning to ride a bicycle, sort of.

Many things have to work together simultaneously… leaving one out prevents success.

Hands on handlebars, feet on pedals, steady pedaling action, posture upright, eyes on the road, good balance during turns, etc. The body has to be unified in a comparable way for Aikido technique to work.

Beginners see advanced practitioners riding hands-free or racing or riding a unicycle and want to do the same things right away. There are a few preparatory stages to go through first, like training wheels, just as there are in Aikido.

The senior student a beginner is practicing with is ideally kind of like the dad who runs alongside the child on the bike, holding it steady while the child figures out the movement, rather than challenging the kid and making it impossible for him/her to learn quickly.

And it is good for both bicycling and Aikido novices to practice falling safely!

What are you going to do?

“I want to improve my Aikido practice.”

“Excellent — what are you going to do?”

“Well, I want to practice intensely for my next test.”

“We’ll help. What are you going to do?”

“I’ll attend as many classes as I can before the test.”

“Good plan. What are you going to do?”

“I’ll practice the techniques I have trouble with more intensely.”

“You should. What are you going to do?”

Pause… “Well, shihonage is a problem, so I’ll work on that first.”

“I see. What are you going to do?”

Long pause… “I’ll stay on the mat after class tomorrow night and ask one of the seniors to help me with it.”

“Great. That would be a good thing to do.”