The Martial Art of Aikido

Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba who is known as "O-Sensei", or "great teacher." As a young man, he was considered a master of sword arts and jiu jitsu. Over time, he modified existing techniques and principles of other arts into what became Aikido. 

Aikido literally means "the way of harmonious energy." While most martial arts focus on self defense via blocking attacks and counter striking, O-Sensei's Aikido focused more on redirecting the energy of an attack and diffusing it. As the attacking energy is redirected, the attacker is led off balance and thrown or pinned. Techniques often also utilize joint manipulation to help facilitate taking balance and stopping the attack. There is also a strong emphasis on multidirectional awareness and training for multiple attackers from different directions. 

For most practitioners, Aikido becomes a life long pursuit, slowly learning techniques and applications through devoted practices. many practitioners feel that the benefits of training extend to their daily lives, work, and hobbies, creating improved focus, coordination, balance, calmness, and conflict resolution skills. As we train in Aikido in San Luis Obispo we try to remain true to the traditional AIkido principles.

Aikido Dojo Etiquette

First Time Visit

Your first time on the mat is free so that you can try out Aikido without any pressure. To make the process easier, please arrive 10 minutes early to fill out a waiver and introduce yourself. It is best to wear comfortable clothes such as a T-shirt and sweatpants. We also ask that you refrain from using perfumes and scented lotions and from consuming any drugs or alcohol before coming to train.

Dress Code

As a sign of respect for the dojo, no shoes are allowed on the mat. Shoes can be removed upon entering and placed on the shoe rack to the right of the door.

When you are new to the dojo, comfortable clothes are allowed for training. Students that choose to continue training after their first month are encouraged to purchase a gi. Some "experienced" gi are available for purchase from the dojo. A new gi can also be purchased from one of the sites on the Resources page. 

General Etiquette

Students are encouraged and expected to:

  • Call their teacher "sensei"
  • Focus on their own training and not on teaching others, unless asked to do so by the teacher
  • Bow to senior students whenever possible to support their learning


Dojo: a Japanese term meaning "place of the way"

The dojo is a training ground, a sanctuary, and, most importantly, a safe environment in which we can learn about ourselves and learn new skills. Unlike a gym where you just come and go, a dojo is a place where people work together with the sincere, focused, and determined attitude of "shugyo," or "forging of the spirit". Being part of a dojo is a commitment that involves respection for yourself, for the art and the dojo, and, most of all, for each other.

Dojo-cho: owner/administrator of the dojo

Our dojo-cho are Michele Simone, Paul Stallman, and Russ Rayburn. In a more formal dojo, they would be the only instructors referred to as "Sensei". In our dojo, students are encouraged to call each instructor "sensei" out of respect.

Sensei: a Japanese term meaning "teacher"

The dojo-cho and the sensei volunteer their time and are responsible for maintaining the dojo as a safe place to learn. They put their energy, commitment, and teaching (and sometimes personal finances) into making the dojo a useful and inspiring place to learn.

Yudansha: a Japanese term referring to a student that has reached a "dan" (black belt) ranking

Yudansha are students that have achieved a black belt ranking but are not the instructors. When training one-on-one with them, they are normally the first to practice the demonstrated technique.