Andrew V Parker's life one post at a time

Time on the mat

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Late last year a friend at work made a comment about how many days he’d trained at his Aikido Dojo over the year, and how he was hoping to train more in 2010. This prompted me to look at how much time I’d spent on the mat.


I hadn’t kept an accurate record for 2009, so I was only able to come up with a rough estimate. My training mostly consisted of classes for Aikikai Hombu Dojo Beginners Gakko, which was twice a week for about 10 months. Most weeks I also attended a Saturday morning class, although by the end of the year I was training some other week-nights as well. My best guess it that I trained about 105 days, or about 135 hours. Not bad, but at that rate it’s a long road to 10,000 hours!

Following the adage of you can’t improve what you don’t measure, I started keeping a record of my training.


‘Aikido Hours Training 2010’

The graph above shows my time spent in class broken down by month. The colours indicate the type of class:

  • green – (初心者) Beginners Class at Aikikai Hombu Dojo
  • blue – (中級) Intermediate Gakko at Aikikai Hombu Dojo
  • red – (一般) Regular Class at Aikikai Hombu Dojo
  • purple – (特別) other classes

I got off to a reasonable start to the year, especially considering Hombu Dojo was closed for the first week. However around the end of February I came down with a series of colds, and this kept me off the mat for the first three weeks of March.

Thankfully I was mostly recovered by April, which saw the start of my second semester in Intermediate Gakko. I finally started attending “Ippan” (regular) classes on the 3rd floor of Aikikai Hombu Dojo Tokyo, which are a lot more challenging than beginner classes. I trained 5 days in a row for the first time.

In May I made the switch to morning classes for weekday classes (other than Intermediate Gakko), and training started to feel like part of my regular rhythm. I spent most of my time in beginners classes, trying to concentrate on basics for the Embu Taikai, but I was also able to observe my Sempai training for his 2段 (2nd dan) test and even act as uke for some of his training sessions which was a lot of fun.

I continued training 4 or 5 days a week through most of June, until my knee became unstable (overstressed from my stretching?), which has kept me out of training for the last week of June and most of July (a bit of a worry for my upcoming 1級 test).

My total training time for the first half of the year was 102 hours (82 lessons on 75 days), nearly reaching my total for the whole of 2009 in only 6 months. I hope to train even more in the second half of 2010, and will be aiming to reach 220 hours for the year.

Most importantly I think my Aikido has improved from the extra time on the mat.