Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I join the dojo?

Visitors are always welcome, and no appointment is necessary.  Watching a class will give you the opportunity to see a wide variety of ages, body types, and levels of experience.


What do I need to begin training?

Gym clothes, such as sweats, which cover your knees and elbows, are all you need.  It is not necessary to purchase a uniform [gi] or wooden weapons before you start, but you should do so soon after joining the dojo.


How often should I attend class?

Attending class at least two to three times a week will tend to produce visible progress.  If you are able to attend more often, you should do so.


Do you have children's classes?

Yes! We have youth classes.  Prospective youth dojo members must be at least 08 years old. Please see our Kids Aikido page for a discussion of this subject.


I have old injuries or a chronic condition that interferes with ability to move easily. Will I be able to practice?

It depends on the nature of the injury or condition. Generally, if you are capable of walking without assistance, you should be able to train at some level. Of course, you should consult your doctor before you begin training, and discuss your condition with the chief instructor.


Can aikido be an effective method of self-defense?

Yes. Aikido forms the basis of many law enforcement and correctional systems unarmed self-defense programs. The key to effective self-defense training is cultivation of the proper attitude. Physical technique alone is not sufficient to prevail in a conflict. The student of aikido learns through practice that attack and defense are really one thing.


What do visitors need to know when entering the Dojo for the first time? 

The instructors and members of Sakura Dojo want all visitors to come in and feel welcome.  Visitors are invited to enter the dojo at any time, and watch any class that is in session.  Often, the instructors may not be able to immediately answer your questions; but please don't feel that you are being ignored.  We will be happy to answer any questions after the class has finished!  We are always interested in growing our family of dedicated students.


Do I need to buy any weapons? 

You will be encouraged to purchase your own training weapons.  There are training weapons available for everybody to use.


What if I'm late for class? 

Sometimes, it is unavoidable to arrive late for class. That is OK!  Better to be late than to not practice.  Go ahead and get dressed, warm up and stretch out on your own.  When you are ready, sit at attention ("seiza style") until the instructor in charge invites you onto the mat.


Are there any special personal appearance or hygiene requirements? 

All students are expected to keep good hygiene.  Uniforms should be washed regularly, and fingernails and toenails should be trimmed neatly and closely.  This is to prevent injury to yourself and others. If you have long hair, you are encouraged to keep it tied (in a ponytail for example)


Is it a problem if I wear jewelry? 

Students are requested to remove all jewelry before class.  This is partially to maintain a clean, uniform training environment.  Most importantly, however, this is to prevent injury.  Aikido practice includes close physical contact with others and the mat (such as rolls), as well as very quick movements and grappling.  All of this can result in rings, earrings, watches, bracelets and necklaces catching fingers and skin on yourself and others, creating unpleasant injuries.  Although students occasionally wear tight fitting, smooth wedding rings, students are encouraged to remove rings as well, or place tape over them.


I wear glasses. Is this a problem? 

Many students have vision problems.  It is perfectly acceptable to wear regular glasses to practice, though of course protective "sports" glasses are even safer.  The nature of Aikido practice is such that with a little care, glasses will not be damaged or cause injury.  Contact lenses work very well.


What if I have to leave the mat during class? 

Sometimes, due to injury, emergency, or other need, you may have to leave the mat while class is in session; this is OK.  Please do not leave while the instructor is demonstrating a technique; however, if you need to step off the mat, it's best to get the instructor's attention or permission first so they know what is happening. Once you have addressed the problem, you may step back on the mat.  As always, be sure to bow when stepping on or off the mat, and do not interrupt the instructor when they are demonstrating a technique.  Please don't leave the mat unless you have a reason.


What if Aikido seems too difficult for me?

Beginning the study of Aikido can be very daunting.  Unlike many arts, all techniques are practiced with a partner - who will be actively resisting your efforts.  You must learn new ways of moving, which can make you feel clumsy.  You will probably be surrounded by people who make the things you have difficulty with look effortless and graceful.  You will learn to roll and fall to avoid injury, which can be frightening at first - and can generate a wealth of bruises and stiff joints until you become comfortable. 

We want all new students to know that is natural.  Even more importantly, every single person in the Dojo has gone through the exact same experience!  In fact, just about any senior student can probably share humorous stories of when they were beginners too.  It takes a lot of guts to enter a new school, filled with strangers, and commit to the long process of training in a martial art. 

So hang in there!  We all know how discouraging it can be, but before you realize it you will be helping others! 


Are there any belts and ranks before black belt? 

There are 06 junior (white belt) ranks, and a different test to progress between each.  We do not use colored belts, only white or black.


How do I progress? 

Testing eligibility requires a minimum number of classes attended, a minimum period of time (between a few months and a year between tests, depending on rank), and skill level.  You should also keep track of classes and seminars you have attended.  Your instructor will nominate you for a test.  It is considered rude to ask.  There are no "surprise" tests; special classes will be conducted to rehearse test techniques and to demonstrate "practice" tests.


What happens if I stop training?

Sometimes, for health or personal reasons, students feel they must stop training for an extended period of time, for months or even years.  The student may have to travel, devote more time to their family or work, or even just explore the need to "try other things."  Since Aikido is meant to complement and strengthen your everyday life, we understand this, and do not think poorly of students that must take time off. 

No matter how long a student has been away, however, they will be welcomed back without question.

Come Join us Today

Clemson Martial Arts Center

Sakura Dojo

391-1 Old Greenville Highway

Clemson SC 29631



+1 864 5566033+1 864 5566033


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MON-FRI 12:00 PM-8:15 PM

SAT 10:00am - 12:00PM



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