About Our Club

The Heriot-Watt University Aikido Club started in 1999, and over the years has continued to grow from a single one-hour class a week up to the current three two-hour sessions. Starting in first year, and with regular training, a new student can expect to gain their black belt within the duration of an undergraduate degree.

The specific style of aikido we do, “Shodokan” (also known as “Tomiki”) is the only style that has competition, having been developed originally as a means to get aikido into Japanese universities. With this emphasis on testing and applying our techniques, it is common to see a lot of what we do being taught to the police, prison service and door staff as it all revolves around restraining and controlling an opponent without the need to damage them.

Heriot-Watt is one of the strongest university aikido clubs in the UK, having been British University Champions in 2018 and 2019, creating a regular stream of black belts and becoming student, national and world champions. We are instructed by the current Shodokan Aikido UK head coach.

Club Charter

  1. Provide an inclusive and safe training environment for all
  2. Train those interested in competition to the highest level possible, with an eventual aim of the national squad, while still allowing those less competitive minded members to be fully involved in the other aspects of the martial art
  3. Instil the morale and ethical attributes expected of a martial artist
  4. Promote the social aspect of the club, holding events outside of University times to create a friendship and team bonding

What does a typical season involve?

First semester

Students can expect to grade and achieve their first belt by November. For anyone in their second year or beyond there is an under 25s competition in October. The main focus of this semester is on easing new students into feeling part of the club, and teaching the basic elements of aikido. Early December will see any third or fourth year students taking their black belt gradings at the annual Shodokan Aikido Christmas party at a venue usually in England, but it has been held here in Edinburgh three times, and once in Spain!

Second semester

The main event of the year, the UK student nationals takes place in March, so this is the focus of this semester. In addition, there will be another grading opportunity to go up another belt.

Summer holidays

We are one of the few clubs that train throughout the holidays. As a general rule, if Oriam is open, the aikido club will be training. Depending on who is around during the holidays, we can usually increase the intensity of classes, and provide another opportunity to grade for a new belt. Every two years we go to the world championships sometime between August and September.