On Training: Aikido is for Everybody

Tanimoto Sensei Taching in Italy, 2014 Ukes: Alan Pellegrini, Arturo Bassato Photo Credit: Aikido Aishinkan Italy

Tanimoto Sensei teaching in Italy, Ukes: Alan Pellegrini, Arturo Bassato (2014)
Photo Credit: Aikido Aishinkan Italy

 “Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. ~O’Sensei”

Everyone is unique. There are no two people alike. Some people are short, some people are tall, some are skinny, while others are big, some people are muscular, some people are flexible, some people are young, others are old… the list can go on and on.

In Aikido, we cherish each other’s differences and individual uniqueness. If you have ever gone inside an Aikido Dojo, I am almost certain you would see all kinds of people practicing on the mats. People of all ages, people with different builds, men and women, all join in training, and enjoying themselves while learning this art. This is a norm in daily practice, and everyone is welcomed, everyone is taught, and everyone is valued.


In training, we work in pairs to learn. Someone tall and big can be paired with someone short and skinny. Someone old can be paired with a very athletic youth. We train with all kinds of people and this is encouraged in Aikido.  In doing different techniques and exercises with different people, we train how to use our bodies just as they are, in the best way we can.

We train with what we already have and we work to discover more of ourselves.

The young can train like young people, the old can train like old people. Tall people train like tall people. Short people can train like short people. Aikido is using exactly what we have to our advantage. In Aikido, it is even more common to see old people throw young people better and more powerfully! You and I have the potential to be proficient in the art, regardless of our physical qualities. This, of course, depends greatly on the skill of an Aikido teacher to adjust his teaching to the individual needs of his students.

Overcoming Ego

If we are training correctly, we can never be frustrated with one another. This is because Aikido training is in itself, the process of overcoming ourselves. If an Aikidoka truly seeks to train earnestly, he should get rid of bias. As an example, it is counter-productive to presuppose that a tall or big person can do iriminage  better while shihonage comes easy for those who are shorter or smaller. This kind of thinking is unfair, premature, and is a perfect example of sour-graping– an alibi to keep us from trying harder:

Have you been in the shoes of the person you are referring to? Maybe that person spent countless years training those skills, tirelessly adding little tweaks here and there to maximize the efficiency and ease of his movements?


Training to improve our attitude is as important as training to improve our skills.

The other’s training is not your problem, it is your Sensei’s. Training should be done without comparing and competing with others. Instead, the Aikidoka should seek to constantly improve himself when training with different people.

The Best Me I Can Be

Training in Aikido according to the words of the founder is to continuously “tighten the slack, toughen the body and polish the spirit“. It is turning perceived “weaknesses” into strengths.

As with everything in life, we should be wary of being complacent in the course of our training. Complacency devitalizes drive, enfeebles passion and is the bane of creativity.  The basic requirement in training is to never give up. To be complacent is to stop improving. There is always a better way.

Aikido is meant for everybody; and the goal of training is for us to become the best version of ourselves, on and off the mats.


(Please also see: “Aikido Beginner’s Guide: 11 Misconceptions About Training in Martial Arts“)



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