While our aikido club is training in the evenings, the other side of the gymnasium is being used for acrobatic gymnastics.
They practice the same routines over and over again. And I mean over and over again. Most weekday evenings for hours and hours. I must have heard the each music track a thousand times, and the noise can get a little distracting.
Sometimes a pair will get it slightly wrong, and they’ll have to stop and start again. Seeing it so often, you can forget quite what they are doing. Even though some of them are world junior champions, and a lot of them are British champions.
I stumbled across some clips on YouTube of the gymnasts, which reminded me how impressive they are at their sport.
This is a clip of two of the boys in the gym we use:
It’s a salutory lesson that it’s not practice that makes perfect but “perfect practice makes perfect”. Their effort and concentration is terrifying and inspiring all at the same time.
We try to make beginners welcome and comfortable on their first night. We all been there: the only one not wearing a gi and not knowing what to do.
What to wear: It’s fine to turn up in loose fitting casual clothes, such as tracksuit bottoms and a T shirt. As you’ll be doing breakfalls, you need to avoid wearing anything with belts and buckles. If you have a judo or karate gi, then wear that. Otherwise, get a gi when you’ve decided you wanted to stick with aikido. The judo dogis are harder wearing;the karate gis are a lot cooler to wear. Most people in our club wear karate gis.
Beginners wear a white coloured belt, which usually comes with a gi.
Bring water: The gymnasium we use is well heated, so most people bring a bottle of water with them to drink and stay hydrated. Most of us go to the gymanisium’s bar after class, and drink then too. If you drink alcohol afterwards, make sure you also drink some water too. Otherwise you might wake up with a bad hangover.
If you need a break: If you need to stop and take a break, or if you need to leave the mat for any reason, make sure you tell the sensei.
Outdoor shoes: You’re not allowed to wear outdoor shoes on the gymnasium mats, so bring some indoor shoes, such as flip flops, socks, sandals or zori (japanese sandals)
Apart from that: Turn up, enjoy, have fun. Don’t worry if you can’t remember anything – it will start to make sense over time.