Frequently Asked Questions

What is Aikido?
Aikido a an effective and powerful martial art that also emphasizes a peaceful resolution to any conflict.

What does the word "aikido" mean?
Literally "ai" means harmony, "ki" means energy, and "do" means path.  Taken with more liberal interpretation, it means the way or
path of harmonizing with the energy of the universe.  Some say is means the art of peace. The Founder of aikido felt that the heart
of martial arts is to protect others and create peace in the universe, and he designed aikido to be a tool on that path.

How is aikido different from other martial arts?
Unlike many other martial arts, aikido does not teach punching, kicking, and board breaking.  Aikido uses blending, balance
taking, throws, and joint locks.  

What type of aikido does River City Aikido practice?
Our lineage stems from the aikido that has been taught and practiced in Iwama, Japan.  It has come to be known as Iwama-ryu.  
Literally Iwama school or style.  River City Aikido is a very traditional dojo, with high expectations for etiquette and respect.

What distinguishes Iwama-ryu aikido from other types of aikido?
All martial arts have their strengths and practical applications, and so it is sometimes difficult to compare.  Just as people have
different personalities, so do martial arts.  Iwama-ryu has a reputation for a strong, practical style, rather than the more flowing,
energy focus in other styles.  Iwama-ryu definitely has flow in every technique.  However, basics are covered in a systematic way
that demands a more static approach for beginners.  Flow comes with experience and grows out of knowledge of basics.

Another aspect that distinguishes Iwama-ryu from others is the focus on weapons practice.  

What weapons do you practice with?
We practice with the wooden sword (bokken) and the wooden short staff (jo).  Less prominent are knife defense techniques, with a
wooden knife (tanto).  Many of the movements in aikido are based on the body positioning and movement in classical samurai
fighting arts.  Aikido takes the sword techniques, spear techniques (yarijutsu), and grappling techniques (jujutsu) of ancient
Japanese martial arts and synthesizes them into a modern approach.

Doesn't aikido have a "spiritual" component?
To be clear, aikido is not "religious."  In our aikido practice there is no "worship" of anything.  The philosophy of aikido is to create
harmony within yourself and in your world, which can be seen from a spiritual perspective.  

Aikido is a very internal martial art and requires you to work on awareness.  Awareness of self, of yourself in relationship to others,
of your surroundings.  Daily practice which expands and deepens your awareness will also begin to feel spiritual.

As your aikido practice begin to mature you may begin to realize that what seemed esoteric and spiritual at the beginning
becomes simplified and commonplace.  You may begin to see that there are many aspects of life that are "spiritual" but also very
mundane.  Through aikido practice you learn how to navigate those situations with awareness and centeredness.
Is River City Aikido the dojo for me?
The first thing you should do is look around at a few websites online, or do some research into the different types of martial arts
(karate, kung fu, tae kwon do, jujitsu, judo, kendo, Kali, Bagua, Hapkido), and decide what best fits your personality.  There are
even different schools (styles) of aikido around Richmond, and one may fit your style better than the other.  

One big aspect is your connection with the instructor.  Give sensei (the instructor) Brian Hill a call (804-387-2279) or email him at
bthill70@gmail.com.  Ask questions, get to know him, see if you connect.  Then if you are still interested, come by and watch a
practice.  You should have a sense that the training is serious and purposeful, and yet there is a light feeling and people are
having fun.  Talk to one or two of the students, and get the inside scoop.

One of the main instructors in our lineage once said that he believes there are three main ways to evaluate a dojo:
1.)  Do the sensei's techiniques work?
2.)  Are the students having fun?
3.)  Are the new students being taken care of?

Once you've decided you want to train with River City Aikido, call sensei and let him know you are coming.
Getting Started