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Frequently Asked Questions
(General) For questions more specific to training, please see our Students FAQ.

When Does the Next Course Begin?
What ranking system does Aikido of Monterey use?
How Long to Earn a Black Belt?
What Does the Triangle-Circle-Square Mean?
What is the Symbolism of the AOM Logo/Patch?

top When Does the Next Course Begin?

When one is born into this world, one's life on earth begins. This does not mean, however, that the rest of the world stops and a new 'course' begins. Aikido, like life, moves according to natural law, and therefore is a continuous stream. We ask the beginner to view Aikido, not as a course, but as a lifelong learning experience. There is no new course beginning... you simply start by stepping into the stream (or onto the mat) when YOU feel ready.

Periodically we will be conducting special classes specifically for those new to Aikido or the martial arts in general. These classes emphasize the particular falling skills which will help you to feel safer and more comfortable in the general classes. (Please see Events Calendar.)

top What ranking system does Aikido of Monterey use?

As in other Japanese martial arts, Aikido utilizes the "kyu" and "dan" system of ranking. Generally, the Aikidoka (Aikido student) begins with 5th kyu and improves this standing upward through the kyu ranks until reaching 1st kyu. After passing the black belt test, one is awarded the rank of "shodan" (first degree black belt), and there after works up through the dan ranks. The highest rank in Aikido is 10th dan.

Although in Japan most Aikido-ists with "kyu" rank wear white belts, in most of the United States colored belts have been introduced. A white belt is worn through the 5th kyu; the blue belt is worn by 4th and 3rd kyu, and the brown belt is worn by 2nd and 1st kyu.

Ranking demonstrations are held periodically throughout the year. Because of the nature of Aikido philosophy, which promotes harmony and non-conflict, tournaments are non-existent in Aikido, and instead, well-executed performances of the arts becomes the criteria for promotion. In addition, consideration is given to the Aikidoka's character, attitude, seriousness, and diligence.

top How Long to Earn a Black Belt?

A common question is "How long will it take for me to get a black belt?". It is, of course, impossible to predict at the outset of Aikido training when a person will reach the lowest black belt level of "shodan", since what is offered by the dojo (school) is not a "package course", but a general program for life-long growth . Factors such as age, physical condition, natural ability, an open and humble attitude, diligence in practice -- all affect one's progress. However, it has been common for many to reach shodan level in from three to four years.

It should also be remembered that in Japan, a shodan black belt holder is merely considered to have reached the stage of being a serious student and not necessarily as having achieved a mastery of the art. Indeed, since Aikido is more than just an art, but is in fact a "way", one does not ever "accomplish" or "master" Aikido . One can only master the art of being oneself.

top What Does the Triangle-Circle-Square Mean?

All Aikido techniques have, included in them, the triangle, circle, and square.

The unified symbols, triangle-circle-square, are frequently found in Aikido reference. These three signs are symbolic of the breathing exercise of koto dama (literally, "word-spirit", a Shinto practice based on the concept that certain sounds are imbued with, or help connect us with, the Universal Energy). In the words of the Founder:

"When the triangle, the circle, and the square become one, it moves in spherical rotation together with the flow of ki, and the aikido of sumi-kiri appears."

We also relate each of these symbols to the basic principles behind all of the techniques in Aikido:

The triangle, representing conflict, and the initial principle of getting off the line of attack.

The circle, representing harmony; the circular, wave-like movements which serve to blend our energy with that of our opponent.

The square, representing resolution, good humor, and inner stability; the pin or throw which brings about a peaceful reconciliation with our partner.

top What is the Symbolism of the AOM Logo/Patch?

The patch design is intended to reflect a blending of several characteristic features of both the Monterey Bay area and the art of Aikido.


  • Dark Blue symbolizes the characteristic deep blue color of the Pacific ocean. It is also the traditional color of the hakama for the Yudansha of Aikido of Monterey.
  • Light Blue represents both the clean, clear skies as well as the variety of colors to be found in the waters surrounding Monterey Bay. Blue traditionally symbolizes nobility and fidelity.
  • White symbolizes peace, purity, and spirit. It also recalls the foamy intermingling of air and water in the ocean surf, and the cooling blanket of coastal fog which occasionally visits Monterey Bay.

Circular Shape: The overall shape is that of a Circle, suggesting continuity, flow, and centeredness. It is one of the three traditional symbols of Aikido.

Wave Design: The stylized Wave is representative of the ocean waves of Monterey Bay as well as the dynamic, fluid, spherical-wave movements of Aikido.

Offset Pattern: The dark blue circle is intentionally offset to suggest the foremost principle of Aikido when engaging an opponent: getting "off the line" of attack.

Stylized Yin-Yang: The wave is intended to suggest the Yin-Yang, which is a traditional symbol representing Harmony (Ai). The imbalance between the white and dark blue areas works upon our mental image of the balanced Yin-Yang to evoke a sense of transition; of a dynamic, unresolved, implied movement; changing, evolving, progressing inexorably towards completion: just as one might envision the wave continuing to curl; that what we see is but a frozen moment in the spiral. And as the ocean can not remain forever in one state, but flows with the Energy (Ki) of the waves, so too are we moved to find our own balance. Such is the nature of a Way (Do).

The Art of Peace - Morihei Ueshiba
18 Your heart is full of fertile seeds, waiting to sprout. Just as a lotus flower springs from the mire to bloom splendidly, the interaction of the cosmic breath causes the flower of the spirit to bloom and bear fruit in this world.
Aikido of Monterey · 1251 10th Street, Monterey CA 93940 · info@aikidomonterey.com · 831.375.8106

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