Starting out in Aikido can be a exciting time, every thin gis so new and you get a whole new world opened up to you. After a few weeks or so you have a pretty good idea that this will be your new hobby and you want to get yourself kitted out.
So what to wear for Aikido
Specific Aikido Gi don’t really exist with almost all clubs wearing lightweight Judo Gi. There’s not a massive variation between Gis in essence, but you want a white colour not unbleached yellow and a nice soft canvas so it’s comfortable and not stiff. You also want 100% cotton, not a cotton / polyester mix. The final criteria is that it’s lightweight but tough. A pretty hard thing to know until you’ve bought one and trained in it for while, but once you have found one hang onto it and rebuy when needed.
So what else will you need in Aikido? Well depending on you club, you may need Hakama. Again, depending your club, you may need Black or Blue. Not all clubs start you off with Hakama with some only wearing them from 2nd or 1st kyu grades. Whenever, you buy them you ideally want fairly thick material with a soft back padding.
The final item to wear for Aikido are Zori Sandals. Not for training in but for getting yourself on and off the mat. Dirty feet are not a welcome thing onto any training mat and the Zori Sandals are the real deal
What are the Aikido Weapons?
Every Aikido club is different on how and when they use weapons, some start straight away, others wait some time. Some incorporate them into normal training, drills and throws, while others keep them quite separate. Either way and whatever your specific club does you’ll need one of each and most probably a case to carry them in
What Bokken to Buy
The wooden version of a Katana or Samurai Sword, used in many Japanese styles and great for training.There can’t be much variation in bokken, right? Wrong. Actually there is a huge variation in the bokken you can buy. Bokken are made in all kinds of wood but Red Oak Bokken and White oak Bokken are the most common. The other types of wood used tend to up massively in price. Wood such as Hickory, Cherry and Ebony.
Is there any difference between red and white oak? No, not really.
Some will claim, one is lighter or more flexible, or stronger even one has better Qi flow.
This may be true if you are comparing two individual bokken, but overall wood is so variable you can’t be that broad. It all depends where the tree grew, which part of the tree the wood was taken, how the wood was treated post cut. There are so many factors, it’s impossible to say.
So it boils down to which particular bokken you like the feel off and trust me, they will all feel slightly different. Get them all down off the shelf and have a feel. You will like one over the others, that is the one you want.
What Jo Staff should I buy?
Exactly the same advice a above regarding buying can be given for Jo staffs, no difference at all. Almost do a blind test and pick the one that feels best. It doesn’t matter if it’s a red oak Jo staff or a white oak jo staff. It’s all down to personal preference.
Any other Aikido Equipment?
The only piece of equipment that may come in useful for Aikido practitioners is a Carrying Case for your Bokken andJo.
Most Jo Staff cases are simply canvas bags, but to be honest they tend to wear out quickly. The impact of dropping your weapons into them quickly wears out the bottom and after a short time your weapons will drop out the other end. I’d personally steer clear of these.
Try and get something more robust. Like a vinyl Jo staff case, if one has a lining in it that is even better as it will keep your weapons in better condition when you’re transporting them around.
Hope this is useful and enjoy your training.
You Can buy all of these and more in our Martial Arts Shop in Bristol or online at www.ensomartialarts.com
Watch our video on all the Judo Gi available at Enso martial Arts: